"And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son ... (John 14:13-14)

"And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:13-14)
This statement by Jesus has been mistranslated* by those not understanding the relationship between Jesus and his disciples - those he was addressing in this statement.

Out of context and self-centered

Many sectarian teachers like to take this and other statements by Jesus out of context of his audience, circumstance and surrounding statements. They propose that Jesus is saying that we can ask Jesus for anything - be it wealth, fame, success in one's job or winning a football game - in Jesus' name, and it will be done.

This teaching is not only self-centered. It diametrically opposes Jesus' teachings. It is erroneously putting Jesus - God's representative - and therefore God Himself into a position of being our servant. As if our position is the enjoyer and God's position is to serve us. We just order up some wealth or success from God and His representative and it will be delivered to us. As if God and Jesus were our waiters.

This absolutely contradicts Jesus' teachings that we are God's servants and our natural position is to love and serve God (do His will). This position of doing God's will means that we do what He wants, not that He does what we want.

But since these ecclesiastical sectarian teachers who claim to be Jesus' representatives do not see themselves as God's servants - because they want to enjoy life separately from God - they take mistranslated statements like this out of context to mean that Jesus wants us to ask him for stuff so that we can enjoy a life of wealth and success.

Understanding the context, circumstance, audience

To understand Jesus' statement as it is, we must be clear about the time, the circumstance and the audience. Jesus is speaking directly to his closest disciples here, just prior to him being arrested and executed for his teachings. His body will be murdered at the hands of the institutional temple priests and the Romans, and he is preparing his students to go out and continue his service by teaching others what he has taught them.

This is evidenced by his prior statement:
"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." (John 14:12)
Jesus says "because I am going to the Father" because he knows he will be leaving his body shortly - when it has been murdered - and will be returning to the spiritual realm to be with God.

He says, "anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing" because what he has "been doing" is teaching about God. He wants his disciples to also teach others about God.

And the reason he says, "he will do even greater things than these" is because his disciples (and his disciples' disciples) will be reaching out to those beyond whom Jesus taught to. They will teach Jesus' message to a wider audience as they disperse and teach to their respective communities.

The translation

There are two areas of mistranslation here.

The first relates to "in my name," and the second is "whatever you ask" and "you may ask me for anything."

The phrase "in my name" comes from the Greek phrase ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί. The word "name" is being translated from the Greek word ὄνομα (onoma). While Thayer's lexicon indicates ὄνομα can mean "name," it can also mean "the name is used for everything which the name covers, everything the thought or feeling of which is aroused in the mind by mentioning, hearing, remembering, the name, i.e. for one's rank, authority, interests, pleasure, command, excellences, deeds etc."

We can also provide evidence from other translations from ὄνομα (onoma) elsewhere in the Gospels. For example, Jesus said:
"Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward." (Matt. 10:41)
Here the combination of εἰς (eis), ὄνομα (onoma) and προφήτης (prophētēs) - which could be translated to "in the name of a prophet" is being translated to "because he is a prophet";

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." (Matt. 10:42)
Here the combination of εἰς eis, ὄνομα onoma and μαθητής (mathētēs) - which could be translated to "in the name of my disciple" is being translated to "because he is my disciple"'

"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life." (Matt. 19:29)

In my name or for my sake?

Here ἐγώ (egō) ὄνομα (onoma), ἕνεκα (heneka) - which could be translated to "for my name's sake" is being translated to "for my sake."

Just as in the above verses, the use of "in my name" not only doesn't make much sense but also twists the meaning of Jesus' statement. The use of "name" here is relating not specifically to Jesus' physical name, but rather, to what Jesus represents. Jesus' mission, in other words.

This is clarified by the next part of his statement, being translated to "so that the Son may bring glory to the Father." While this is not a completely correct translation of the Greek phrase, ἵνα δοξασθῇ ὁ πατὴρ ἐν τῷ υἱῷ, the translation clearly indicates that the supposed phrase "in my name" is attached to Jesus' bringing "glory to the Father." The two cannot be separated. Jesus cannot be separated from his service to God.

We also cannot separate this statement by Jesus from his previous statement mentioned above:
"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." (John 14:12)

The real meaning of this statement

The bottom line is that Jesus was trying to tell his disciples that because of his devotion to the Supreme Being - because he wants to please the Supreme Being - he will continue to be available to his disciples. Even after he left his body, he will be there to help guide them and help them to carry on his message.

He wasn't trying to tell his disciples that he would give them "anything" as in fame and fortune or winning football games. The word "anything" is being taken from the Greek root word τις (tis), which means, according to the lexicon, "a certain," or "a certain one." In this context, it means something particular - not an all-inclusive "anything."

Rather, Jesus was trying to communicate that he would be there for them regardless of how difficult the circumstance was, to guide them spiritually. No matter what, he would be there for them, in any circumstance, to help them in their spiritual mission to serve him.

This is what a loving spiritual Teacher tells his beloved students. Those who carry on his mission and message are pleasing to such a Teacher, and such a Teacher is representing God, loving God and therefore pleasing to God. This means that by pleasing their Teacher, Jesus' disciples would also be pleasing God.

This requires an intimate loving relationship between the spiritual Teacher and his students. Serious students who come to love their Teacher have gotten to know his devotion to God and his mercy towards them. And their Teacher is loving God and thus loving everyone, including his students.

Such a relationship is rich and deep. It is not a superficial, passing relationship. It encompasses humility, commitment and an attitude of servitude. The reason why Jesus called some of his students "disciples" is because they had given their lives to him. They had made a commitment to spend their lives in his service, and thus in the service of God. And after Jesus left his physical body they continued that service, teaching Jesus' teachings in public squares and marketplaces.

What does Son of God mean?

This concept of Jesus' service to God ("doing God's will" or "bringing glory to the Father") brings us to another mistranslation.

The Greek word being translated to "son" is υἱὸς. The word υἱὸς can be translated to "son" in the context of a physical father-son relationship. But, according to the lexicon, this is only "generally used of the offspring of men" and "in a restricted sense, the male offspring (one born by a father and of a mother)."

The lexicon also states that υἱὸς is "used to describe one who depends on another or is his follower." This indicates that within a spiritual context, the word translates to "dependent follower" or "devotee," rather than to "son." And someone who follows and depends upon another can also be described - when there is love involved - as a "loving devotee" or even a "loving servant."

These alternative definitions are confirmed by the use of υἱὸς elsewhere by Jesus:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons [υἱὸς - servants or devotees] of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
and Jesus' teacher, John, said this:
"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become sons [υἱὸς - servants or devotees] of God. (John 1:12).
And there are multiple references to "sons of God" among the English Bible translations:
When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. (Genesis 6:2)
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:4)
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. (Job 1:6)
Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. (Job 2:1)
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:7)
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14)
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19)
When "servants" or "devotees" is used rather than "sons", suddenly all of these statements now make sense. Being a servant of God is consistent with many other statements by Jesus, such as:
"For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." (Matt. 12:50)
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21)
These indicate that Jesus is not making a claim to be God's "only begotten son." Such a claim would make God impotent. Is the Supreme Being - who created the entire physical universe with all the solar systems and living beings - only capable of having just one son? That would be an absurd statement.

Rather, as discussed elsewhere, the idea of "only begotten" comes from the Greek word μονογενής (monogenēs), which can mean "only" or "single of its kind" according to the lexicon, but also, according to its use among many ancient Greek texts, to mean "unique," "special," "privileged," or "favorite" as well. When we derive that the relationship being discussed is related to God, we can only conclude that what is being discussed is ones' spiritual relationship with God. In this case, a "unique," "privileged" or "favorite" relationship.

So what we are talking about is not an "only begotten son." What we are talking about is a relationship as God's "intimate loving servant," or "intimate representative." (The lexicon also states that υἱὸς can also refer to a representative.) A person who is exchanging a confidential and special loving relationship with the Supreme Being, and one who is representing the Supreme Being.

It is also clear from the Gospels that Jesus did not come in his own name, rather, came in God's Name. This is why he said, and then his disciples chanted, as Jesus entered Jerusalem:
"Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord." (Matt. 21:9/39, Mark 11:9, Luke 13:35, John 12:13)
As Jesus states in this statement, he has come to glorify God. Glorifying God also includes glorifying God's Holy Name.

Why the mistranslation?

The reason for the mistranslations* of this (John 14:13-14) and other verses by ecclesiastical (professional) translators employed to translate the Gospels for pay (and not out of loving service) is because these translators themselves had not entered into the type of intimate relationship that existed between Jesus and his disciples. Neither had they entered into such a relationship with any bonafide spiritual Teacher. They may have been elected to a professional post by a council or political committee or chosen for the translation work because of their experience with languages.

They are not qualified to translate the meaning of Jesus' statements because they have no entrance into the love that exists between Jesus and his disciples, and Jesus and God. They have no vision to understand these relationships because they have not experienced them.

Let's use an example. Let's say a U.S. businessman goes to a meeting in China for a billion-dollar negotiation with a large Chinese corporation, and because he doesn't speak the language, the company hires a translator to attend the meeting and translate for him during the meeting.

Let's say the company selects a mother from a rural farm to do the translation. She knows English but not much about business. Then during the negotiation, the businessman says to his Chinese counterparts, "let's just cut a deal on this right now so I can go home."

Because the rural-farmer-mother translator from China has little business experience and has never heard this expression "let's cut a deal," she thinks that the businessman wants to tear up (i.e., "cut") their contract and leave the meeting. So she says in Chinese, something to the effect of "He says he wants to tear up our agreement and leave."

This will obviously offend the Chinese, and the meeting - along with their business relationship - will likely be over.

In the same way, because these ecclesiastical professional translators did not have personal experience with the intimate relationship existing between Jesus and his disciples - or a bonafide spiritual Teacher and his disciples - their translations often cannot appropriately translate the meaning of some of Jesus' statements.

This doesn't mean they may not have had at least a partly sincere motive to translate correctly. But their lack of experience creates mistranslations, just as the rural Chinese woman in the analogy above.

The other critical issue is that most of these translators - even over the centuries of different translations - were professional translators. They were either indentured or getting paid to perform the translations. Their services were not voluntary (and thus not based on loving service).

As for those "clergy" or "scholar" translators of more recent centuries, their degrees are business transactions: They paid tuition - and passed the tests - to receive those degrees in religion. They also thus have no experience in the love between Jesus and his students, because their teachers were professional teachers - "professors" - who taught them in exchange for lavish institutional/seminal salaries that indebted them to those institutions and doctrines.

Furthermore, all of these translators over the centuries have been employed by the same organizations that have professed other erroneous interpretations about Jesus' life and teachings (such as Jesus' being God) in order to gain followers and bolster the political clout of these institutions.

This has created a virtual monopoly on the terminology of these translations, because if even one of these paid ("scholar" or "clergy") translators were to translate into anything other than into what is acceptable to these institutions and their fundamental Nicene creed-based philosophy, that person would likely lose their job or at least be removed from their translation post. They would also likely be ostracized - just as the Roman Catholic Church did to many who disagreed with their precepts. (Except that for a good twelve centuries, the Roman Catholic Church also burned at the stake or imprisoned those who disagreed with their precepts.)

It is no wonder that everyone over the last 17 centuries has 'towed the company line' with these translations. Today it may be losing one's job and being ostracized by the organization and community. A few centuries ago, it was being burned at the stake.

Far from these hardened, self-centered hearts and institutions that have promoted doctrines of Jesus being our servant - that we can ask him to do anything and he will do it, including win football games, make us wealthy, heal our dog or make us famous - Jesus actually was discussing an intimate loving service relationship that existed between him and the Supreme Being - and his loving mercy for all of us who are lost in this dark physical world. He was also speaking from a place of love for his disciples - who were committed to serving Jesus, and by virtue of this, committed to God.

It is easy to twist out of this intimate relationship something that is not there. It might be compared to twisting a flower. A flower can be twisted easily because it is tender and fragile. While changing the meaning of Jesus' words with erroneous translations and interpretations will not destroy or erase Jesus' tender love for his disciples and for the Supreme Being, they can certainly make those relationships more difficult to understand.

Yet if we are serious, they can never impede upon our opportunity to regain our own intimate loving relationship with the Supreme Being, as Jesus clearly taught:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)

*Here is the translation of Jesus' statement from the Gospels of Jesus:
Whatever you request in my name, that I will do, so that the Creator will be glorified by His Representative. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it." (John 14:13-14)