Via, veritas, et vita
The way, the truth, and the life
14:4 Et quo ego vado scitis, et viam scitis. [n. 1863]
14:4 And where I go you know, and the way you know. [n. 1863]
14:5 Dicit ei Thomas: Domine, nescimus quo vadis. Et quomodo possumus viam scire? [n. 1865]
14:5 Thomas said to him: Lord, we do not know where you go; and how can we know the way? [n. 1865]
14:6 Dicit eis Iesus: Ego sum via, veritas, et vita. Nemo venit ad Patrem nisi per me. [n. 1867]
14:6 Jesus said to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father, but by me. [n. 1867]
14:7 Si cognovissetis me, et Patrem meum utique cognovissetis. Et amodo cognoscetis eum, et vidistis eum. [n. 1876]
14:7 If you had known me, you would without doubt have known my Father also: and from henceforth you will know him, and you have seen him. [n. 1876]
1863. Supra Dominus confortavit discipulos de suo recessu, promittens eis quod accessum haberent ad Patrem, hic consequenter agit de via per quam ad Patrem accedunt. Via autem non cognoscitur sine termino; et ideo etiam agit de termino, et
1863. Above our Lord consoled his disciples because he was leaving, promising them that they could come to the Father. Now he mentions the way by which they are to approach the Father. But one does not know a way unless he also knows his destination; and so he also considers the destination.
primo proponit viam et terminum, ut eis nota;
First, he mentions the way and its destination as known to them;
secundo quae proposuit manifestat, ibi dicit ei Thomas Domine, nescimus quo vadis.
second, he explains this: Thomas said to him: Lord, we do not know where you go; and how can we know the way?
1864. Circa primum sciendum, quod Dominus dixerat: si abiero et praeparavero vobis locum, iterum veniam ad vos. Quia forte discipuli quaererent ab eo quo iret, sicut supra XIII, 36, quaesivit Petrus: Domine, quo vadis? Ideo Dominus haec sciens, dixit eis et quo ego vado scitis, et viam scitis. Vado enim ad Patrem, quem scitis per me vobis manifestum; infra XVII, 9: manifestavi nomen tuum hominibus quos dedisti mihi. Via autem per quam vado, sum ego, quem scitis; supra I, 14: vidimus gloriam eius. Recte ergo dixit quo ego vado scitis, et viam scitis: quia Patrem sciebant per Christum, et Christum per suam conversationem et praesentiam noverant.
1864. In regard to the first, note that our Lord had said: if I will go and prepare a place for you, I will come again (John 14:3). The disciples could have asked him where he was going, just like Peter did before: Lord, where do you go? (John 13:36). Our Lord knew this and so said to them, where I go you know, and the way you know. For I am going to the Father, whom you know, since I have manifested him to you: I have manifested your name to the men whom you have given me (John 17:6). And I myself am the way through which I go, and you know me: we saw his glory (John 1:14). He spoke truly, therefore, when he said, where I go you know, and the way you know: because they knew the Father through Christ, and they knew Christ by living with him.
1865. Consequenter cum dicit dicit ei Thomas etc., manifestat Dominus quae proposuit, et
1865. Next, when he says: Thomas said to him: Lord, we know not where you go;
primo praemittitur manifestationis occasio;
first, we see the occasion for this explanation:
secundo subditur propositorum manifestatio, ibi dicit eis Iesus: ego sum via, veritas et vita.
second, the explanation itself: Jesus said to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
1866. Occasio autem manifestationis fuit dubitatio Thomae interrogantis. Unde dicit ei Thomas: Domine, nescimus quo vadis, etc. Ubi attende, quod Thomas utrumque negat, quod Dominus affirmavit: nam Dominus dixit, eos et viam et terminum viae scire; Thomas autem negat se scire viam et terminum: tamen utrumque verum est. Verum est enim quod sciebant, tamen nesciebant se scire. Multa enim sciebant de Patre et Filio, quae a Christo didicerant; sed ignorabant Patrem esse ad quem Christus iret, et Filium esse viam qua iret. Difficile enim est quod eatur ad Patrem. Nec mirum, si ignorabant: quia licet Christum perfecte secundum hominem scirent, eius tamen divinitatem imperfecte cognoscebant; Iob XXVIII, v. 7: semitam eius ignoravit avis.
1866. The occasion for this explanation was the hesitation expressed in the question of Thomas. Lord, we do not know where you go; how can we know the way? Here Thomas denies the two things that our Lord affirmed. For our Lord said that they knew both the way and its destination; but Thomas denied that he knew the way and its destination. Yet both statements are true: for it is true that they knew, yet they did not know that they knew. For they knew many things about the Father and the Son which they had learned from Christ; yet they did not know that it was the Father to whom Christ was going, and that the Son was the way by which he was going. For it is difficult to go to the Father. It is not surprising that they did not know this because although they clearly knew that Christ was a human being, they only imperfectly recognized his divinity: that path no bird of prey knows (Job 28:7).
Et subdit quomodo possumus viam scire? Cognitio enim viae dependet ex cognitione termini: quia ergo terminus ignotus est nobis, I Tim. VI, 16: lucem habitat inaccessibilem, quem nullus hominum vidit, sed nec videre potest, ideo via eius est nobis investigabilis, secundum illud Rom. XI, 33: investigabiles viae eius.
Thomas says, how can we know the way? Knowledge of the way depends on knowledge of the destination. And so because we do not know the destination, he dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see (1 Tim 6:16), we can not discover the way: how inscrutable his ways! (Rom 11:33).
1867. Consequenter cum dicit dicit eis Iesus: ego sum via, veritas et vita, ponitur quaesitorum manifestatio. Duo autem Dominus manifestanda proposuerat eis. Primo quidem viam et terminum eius; secundo quod utrumque scirent.
1867. Then when he says, Jesus said to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life, the question is answered. Our Lord was to answer about two things: first, about the way and its destination; second, about their knowledge of both:
Primo ergo manifestat primum;
First, therefore, he manifests the first;
secundo secundum, ibi si cognovissetis me, et Patrem meum utique cognovissetis.
second, at, if you had known me, you would without doubt have known my Father also.
Circa primum duo facit.
He does two things about the first:
Primo manifestat quid sit via;
first, he states what the way is;
secundo quid sit terminus, ibi nemo venit ad Patrem nisi per me.
second, what should be the end, no man comes to the Father, but by me.
1868. Via autem, ut dictum est, est ipse Christus: et ideo dicit ego sum via etc. Quod quidem satis habet rationem: nam per ipsum accessum habemus ad Patrem, ut dicitur Rom. V, 2. Competit etiam proposito quo intendit declarare dubitationem discipuli dubitantis.
1868. The way, as has been said, is Christ himself; so he says, I am the way. This is indeed true, for, as stated in Romans (Rom 5:2), it is through him that we have access to the Father. This answer could also settle the uncertainty of the faltering disciple.
Sed quia ista via non est distans a termino, sed coniuncta, addit veritas et vita; et sic ipse simul est via, et terminus. Via quidem secundum humanitatem, terminus secundum divinitatem. Sic ergo secundum quod homo, dicit ego sum via; secundum quod Deus, addit veritas et vita. Per quae duo terminus huius viae convenienter designatur.
Because this way is not separated from its destination but united to it, he adds, and the truth, and the life. So Christ is at once both the way and the destination. He is the way by reason of his human nature, and the destination because of his divinity. Therefore, as human, he says, I am the way; as God, he adds, and the truth, and the life. These last two appropriately indicate the destination of the way.
Nam terminus huius viae finis est desiderii humani, homo autem duo praecipue desiderat: primo quidem veritatis cognitionem, quae est sibi propria; secundo sui esse continuationem, quod est commune omnibus rebus. Christus autem est via perveniendi ad veritatis cognitionem, cum tamen ipse sit veritas; Ps. LXXXV, 11: deduc me, Domine, in veritate, et ingrediar in via tua. Christus etiam est via perveniendi ad vitam cum tamen ipse sit vita; Ps. XV, 11: notas fecisti vias vitae. Et ideo huius viae terminum per veritatem et vitam designavit: quae duo supra I de Christo dicta sunt. Primo quidem quod ipse sit vita: unde in ipso vita erat, deinde quod sit veritas, quia erat lux hominum; lux autem veritas est.
For the destination of this way is the end of human desire. Now human beings especially desire two things: first, a knowledge of the truth, and this is characteristic of them; second, that they continue to exist, and this is common to all things. In fact, Christ is the way to arrive at the knowledge of the truth, while still being the truth itself: teach me your way O Lord, that I may walk in your truth (Ps 85:11). Christ is also the way to arrive at life, while still being life itself: you could show me the path of life (Ps 16:11). And so he indicated the destination or end of this way as truth and life. These two were already applied to Christ: first, he is life: in him was life (John 1:4); then, he is truth, because the life was the light of men (John 1:4), and light is truth.
1869. Sed notandum, quod haec duo proprie et per se Christo conveniunt. Veritas enim convenit ei per se quia ipse est Verbum. Nihil enim aliud est veritas quam adaequatio rei ad intellectum, quod fit quando intellectus concipit rem prout est. Veritas ergo intellectus nostri pertinet ad verbum nostrum, quod est conceptio eius. Sed tamen licet verbum nostrum sit verum, non tamen est ipsa veritas, cum non sit a seipso, sed ex hoc quod rei conceptae adaequatur. Veritas ergo intellectus divini pertinet ad Verbum Dei. Sed quia Verbum Dei est verum a seipso, cum non mensuretur a rebus, sed res intantum sint verae inquantum ad similitudinem eius accedunt: inde est quod Verbum Dei est ipsa veritas. Et quia nullus potest veritatem cognoscere nisi adhaereat veritati, oportet omnem qui veritatem cognoscere desiderat, huic verbo adhaerere.
1869. Note that both truth and life belong properly and essentially to Christ. Truth belongs essentially to him because he is the Word. Now truth is the conformity of a thing to the intellect, and this results when the intellect conceives the thing as it is. Therefore, the truth of our intellect belongs to our word, which is its conception. Yet although our word is true, it is not truth itself, since it is not true of itself but because it is conformed to the thing conceived. And so the truth of the divine intellect belongs to the Word of God. But because the Word of God is true of itself (since it is not measured by things, but things are true in the measure that they are similar to the Word) the Word of God is truth itself. And because no one can know the truth unless he adheres to the truth, it is necessary that anyone who desires to know the truth adhere to this Word.
Vita autem proprie convenit sibi: quia omne quod aliquam operationem ex se habet, dicitur vivens; non viventia autem dicuntur quae ex seipsis motum non habent. Inter operationes vitae praecipuae sunt operationes intellectuales: unde et ipse intellectus dicitur vivens, et actio eius est vita quaedam. In Deo autem idem est intelligere et intellectus: unde manifestum est quod Filius, qui est Verbum intellectus Patris, est vita sua.
Life also belongs properly to Christ: for everything which has some activity from itself is said to be living, while non-living things do not have motion from themselves. Among the activities of life the chief are the intellectual activities. Thus, the intellect itself is said to be living, and its activities are a certain kind of life. Now in God the activity of understanding and the intellect itself are the same. Thus it is clear that the Son, who is the Word of the intellect of the Father, is his own life.
Sic ergo Christus seipsum designavit viam, et coniunctam termino: quia ipse est terminus habens in se quidquid desiderari potest, scilicet existens veritas et vita.
This is the reason why Christ referred to himself as the way, united to its destination: because he is the destination, containing in himself whatever can be desired, that is, existing truth and life.
1870. Si ergo quaeras, qua transeas, accipe Christum, quia ipse est via; Is. XXX, v. 21: haec est via, ambulate in ea. Et Augustinus dicit: ambula per hominem, et pervenies ad Deum. Melius est enim in via claudicare, quam praeter viam fortiter ambulare. Nam qui in via claudicat, etiam si parum proficiscatur, appropinquat ad terminum; qui vero extra viam ambulat, quanto fortius currit, tanto magis a termino elongatur.
1870. If then, you ask which way to go, accept Christ, for he is the way: this is the way, walk in it (Isa 30:21). And Augustine says: walk like this human being and you will come to God. It is better to limp along on the way than to walk briskly off the way. For one who limps on the way, even though he makes just a little progress, is approaching his destination; but if one walks off the way, the faster he goes the further he gets from his destination.
Si vero quaeras quo vadis, adhaere Christo, quia ipse est veritas, ad quam desideramus pervenire; Prov. VIII, 7: veritatem meditabitur guttur meum etc.
If you ask where to go, cling to Christ, for he is the truth which we desire to reach: my mouth will utter truth (Prov 8:7).
Si quaeris quo permaneas, adhaere Christo, quia ipse est vita. Prov. VIII, 35: qui me inveniet, inveniet vitam, et hauriet salutem a Domino.
If you ask where to remain, remain in Christ because he is the life: he who finds me finds life and will have salvation from the Lord (Prov 8:35).
Adhaere ergo Christo, si vis esse securus: non enim poteris deviare, quia ipse est via. Unde qui ei adhaerent, non ambulant in invio, sed per viam rectam; Prov. IV, v. 11: viam sapientiae monstrabo tibi. E contra dicitur de quibusdam: viam veritatis habitaculi non invenerunt. Item non potest decipi, quia ipse est veritas, et docet omnem veritatem; infra XVIII, 37: in hoc natus sum, et ad hoc veni, ut testimonium perhibeam veritati. Item non potest perturbari, quia ipse est vita et vitam dans; supra X, 10: ego veni ut vitam habeant, et abundantius habeant. Nam, ut Augustinus dicit, Dominus dicit ego sum via, veritas et vita, tamquam diceret qua vis ire? Ego sum via. Quo vis ire? Ego sum veritas. Ubi vis permanere? Ego sum vita. Non enim, ut Hilarius dicit, in erratica ducit ille qui est via, nec illudit per falsa qui veritas est, neque in mortis relinquit errore qui vita est.
Therefore, cling to Christ if you wish to be secure, for you cannot get off the road because he is the way. And those who hold on to him are not walking off the road but on the right road: I have taught you the way of wisdom (Prov 4:11). But some are just the opposite: they did not find the way of truth to dwell in (Ps 107:4). Again, they cannot be deceived, because he is the truth and teaches all truth: for this I was born, and for this I came into the world, that I should give testimony to the truth (John 18:37). Further, they cannot be troubled, because he is the life and the giver of life: I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). Augustine says that when our Lord said I am the way, and the truth, and the life, he was saying in effect: how do you want to go? I am the way. Where do you want to go? I am the truth. Where do you want to remain? I am the life. As Hilary says, he who is the way does not lead us on erratic paths; he who is the truth does not deceive us with falsehoods; and he who is the life does not abandon us to death.
1871. Vel aliter. Tria sunt in homine quae ad sanctitatem pertinent, scilicet actio et contemplatio et intentio: et ista perficiuntur a Christo. Nam activam exercentibus Christus est via; in contemplativa vero perseverantibus Christus est veritas: sed activorum et contemplantium intentionem dirigit ad vitam, scilicet aeternam. Docet enim ire, et praedicare pro futuro saeculo. Sic ergo Dominus est nobis via qua imus ad ipsum, et per ipsum ad Patrem.
1871. Here is another interpretation. In human beings, holiness involves three things: action, contemplation, and one’s intention. These are brought to perfection by Christ. Christ is the way for those in the active life; he is the truth for those who stand firm in the contemplative life. And he directs the intention of both those in the active and contemplative life to life, eternal life. For he teaches us to go and preach for the sake of the age to come. So, the Lord is our way by which we go to him, and through him to the Father.
1872. Sed cum ipsemet qui via est, vadit ad Patrem, numquid ipse est sibi via?
1872. But when he, who is the way, goes to the Father, is he the way for himself?
Sed, ut Augustinus dicit, ipse est via, et qui vadit per viam, et quo vadit: unde ipse per seipsum ad seipsum vadit. Nam ipse inquantum est homo, via est: unde per carnem venit, manens ubi erat; et per carnem vadit, non relinquens quo venerat; per carnem etiam ad se redit veritatem et vitam: nam Deus venerat per carnem ad homines, veritas ad mendaces, vita ad mortales. Est enim Deus verax, omnis autem homo mendax: Rom. III, 4. Cum autem se ab hominibus abstulit, atque illuc ubi nemo mentitur, carnem suam levavit, idem ipse qui Verbum caro factum est, per carnem suam ad veritatem, quae est ipse, remeavit. Et simile est si dicerem: et mens mea, dum loquor aliquibus, ad eos exit, nec tamen me relinquit: cum autem tacuero, quodammodo ad me redeo, et cum illis quibus loquor, maneo. Sic ergo Christus, qui nobis est via, etiam sibi ipsi, idest carni, factus est via, ut ad veritatem et vitam iret.
As Augustine says, he is the way, and the one who walks on the way, and how one goes on the way; hence, he goes through himself to himself. For he, as having human nature, is the way. Thus, he came through his flesh, yet remained where he was; and he went through his flesh, without leaving where he had come from. Also, through the flesh he returned to himself, the truth and the life. For God had come, through his flesh, to us, the truth to liars, the life to mortals: God is truthful, and every human is a liar (Rom 3:4). And when he left us, and took his flesh up to that place where there are no liars, this very Word who was made flesh returned, through his flesh, to the truth, which is himself. For example: when I speak to others, my mind goes out to them, yet it does not leave me; and when I am silent, in a certain sense I return to myself, yet still remain with those to whom I spoke. And so Christ, who is our way, became the way even for himself, that, for his flesh, to go to the truth and the life.
1873. Consequenter cum dicit nemo venit ad Patrem nisi per me, manifestat quod quaesitum fuerat quantum ad terminum viae. Via autem, quae est Christus, ut dictum est, ducit ad Patrem. Sed quia Pater et Filius sunt unum, ideo haec via ducit etiam ad seipsum. Et ideo dicit Christus se esse terminum viae. Nemo, inquit, venit ad Patrem nisi per me.
1873. Then when he says, no man comes to the Father, but by me, he answers what was asked about the destination of the way. The way, which is Christ, leads to the Father. Yet, because the Father and the Son are one, this way leads also to himself. And so Christ says that he is the terminus of the way: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
1874. Sed sciendum quod, sicut Apostolus dicit, nemo novit quae sunt hominis, nisi spiritus eius qui in ipso est, quod intelligendum est nisi inquantum homo vult se manifestare. Secretum autem suum manifestat quis per verbum suum: et ideo nullus potest venire ad secretum hominis nisi per verbum hominis. Quia ergo et quae Dei sunt nemo novit nisi Spiritus Dei, nullus potest venire ad notitiam Patris nisi per Verbum suum, quod est Filius eius; Matth. XI, 27: neque Patrem quis novit nisi Filius. Et sicut homo volens revelare se verbo cordis, quod profert ore, induit quodammodo ipsum verbum litteris vel voce, ita Deus, volens se manifestare hominibus, Verbum suum conceptum ab aeterno, carne induit in tempore. Et sic nullus ad notitiam Patris pervenire potest nisi per Filium. Unde supra X, 9, dicit: ego sum ostium. Per me si quis introierit salvabitur.
1874. Note that the Apostle says: for what person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? (1 Cor 2:11), that is, provided one does not choose to reveal his own thoughts. A person reveals what is hidden within by his words, and it is only by the words of a person that we can know what is hidden within. Now no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God (1 Cor 2:11), therefore, no one can acquire a knowledge of the Father except by his Word, which is his Son: no one knows the Father except the Son (Matt 11:27). And just like one of us who wants to be known by others by revealing to them the words in his heart, clothes these words with letters or sounds, so God, wanting to be known by us, takes his Word, conceived from eternity, and clothes it with flesh in time. And so no one can arrive at a knowledge of the Father except through the Son. Thus he says: I am the door. If any man enter by me, he will be saved (John 10:9).