John 16:1-33

Submitted by admin on Mon, 2022-12-19 14:23.

Posted in | printer-friendly version »

Initially, Jesus did not tell his disciples about the hatred that would be directed against them because of being his disciples. He did not want to stumble them, frightening them to the point that their fragile faith could have given out. (16:1)

With the passage of time, their faith had grown and become stronger. Moreover, in view of his imminent departure, Jesus recognized that it was essential for them to know what they would be experiencing. They would be expelled from the synagogues. The hour or time would come when unbelievers would imagine that they were serving God by killing the disciples. Unbelieving fellow Jews would come to view them as apostates, as persons who were followers of a false Messiah and who posed a threat to the traditional Jewish ways. As the book of Acts reveals, murderous hatred flared up because of regarding the disciples as speaking against Moses, the temple, and the law. (Acts 6:13, 14; 21:27-31) Based on the penalty the law set forth for apostasy, they would have regarded themselves as doing God’s will by killing the disciples. (16:2; see Deuteronomy 13:6-10.)

The hateful action of unbelievers would stem from their knowing neither the Father nor Jesus. Their traditional views blinded them so that they could not perceive the things of God. Unable to see in Jesus the perfect reflection of his Father, they could not recognize him as the Son of God and so could not possibly know the Father whom they had never seen. (16:3)

The “hour” or time was bound to come when the disciples would face persecution and even death. Having been prepared in advance for this, they would then recall what Jesus had told them. While he was with them, the hatred was primarily directed at him, and he came to their defense when others raised an issue about them. (Compare Matthew 12:1-8; 15:1-9.) Therefore, it was not vital for them to know at the start just what might happen to them because of being his disciples. As Jesus said, “I did not tell you these things from the beginning, for I was with you.” (16:4)

The situation would soon be different. Jesus would be going back to the one who had sent him, his Father. Earlier, Peter had asked, “Lord, where are you going?” (13:36) Thomas, in response to Jesus’ telling the apostles that they knew the way to the place where he was going, said, “Lord, we do not know where you are going.” (14:5) In neither case, however, were the words focused on what this would mean for Jesus. Peter’s question related to why he would not be able to follow, and the words of Thomas indicated that the disciples did not know the way to the place where Jesus was going. With apparent reference in relation to himself, Jesus said, “Not one of you asks me, Where are you going? But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.” Within themselves, they were pained upon hearing that Jesus would no longer be with them. Overwhelmed by their sadness, they did not reflect on what it would mean for him to return to his Father. Therefore, they did not make any inquiry about where Jesus would be going or concerning anything else that specifically related to him in connection with this departure. (16:5, 6)

In view of their sadness, Jesus reassured them, “I am telling you the truth, It is better for you that I am going away; for if I do not go away, the paraclete will not come to you.” Upon going away, Jesus would send them the paraclete. As a man on earth, he dealt with the limitations human existence imposed. His activity was confined to a comparatively small geographic area, and he could only be with them in one specific location at a time. The paraclete, however, would be with them at all times and in every location where they would be spreading the message about the Son of God. Accordingly, from the standpoint of what would be accomplished, it was really in the best interests of the apostles for him to depart and for them to benefit from the paraclete or from another helper. (16:7)

As to what would be accomplished through the powerful working of the paraclete, Jesus said, “That one [ekeínos, masculine gender to agree with the masculine gender of paraclete (parákletos)] will reprove the world about sin and about righteousness and about judgment.” Jesus then explained the way in which the paraclete would reprove the world, exposing the wrong of those who persisted in unbelief. As in John chapters 14 and 15, so also in chapter 16, masculine pronouns are used when the apparent or intended antecedent is “paraclete” (parákletos). The Greek word for “spirit” (pneúma) is neuter gender, and this explains why both masculine and neuter pronouns appear in the narration that includes Jesus’ words about the paraclete, the “spirit of the truth.” (14:16, 17; 15:26; 16:8)

They were guilty of sin, rejecting the clear evidence that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. This evidence included his miraculous works (healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and soundness of body to the crippled and the lame, and raising the dead). With God’s spirit operating through them, the apostles would perform like miraculous works, further confirming the sin of the world’s refusal to believe in Jesus to be inexcusable. (16:9)

Unbelievers misrepresented the Son of God, slandering him as being a man in league with the demons, a lawbreaker, and a deceiver. (Compare Matthew 12:24; 27:63; Luke 23:2.) His return to his Father and, therefore, his disciples’ no longer seeing him proved that he was righteous in every way. At the same time, this revealed that a right standing with his Father could only be obtained through faith in him and the forgiveness made possible through his sacrificial death. The imparting of the spirit to the disciples established that he had returned to his Father and received the spirit from him. Empowered by the spirit, the disciples boldly testified that Jesus had been raised from the dead and exalted to the right hand of God and that, through him alone, forgiveness of sins was possible. (Acts 2:33, 36, 38; 3:14-21; 5:29-32; 13:27-39) Thus their testimony, backed by miracles, proved to be the spirit’s witness about righteousness. (16:10)

Through his death in faithfulness to his Father, Jesus defeated the powers of darkness. This, too, would be a feature of the spirit’s testimony. It would be a witness about judgment, for the ruler of the world had been condemned and exposed as unable to turn Jesus away from doing his Father’s will. No longer could Satan hold people in slavery by means of the fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14, 15) The visible manifestation of the spirit’s operation through the disciples bore witness to the reality of Jesus’ resurrection, exaltation, and triumph over the power of the enemy, proving that Satan had been judged. This also confirmed that Jesus would be the judge of all, both the upright and the unjust. (Acts 17:31) All who defiantly persisted in unbelief would, like Satan, be condemned. (16:11; compare Matthew 25:41.)

Jesus wanted to tell the apostles much more, but he knew that they were then not prepared to “bear” it. This suggests that they would have been troubled or overwhelmed, unable to comprehend his words. (16:12)

With the arrival of the paraclete, the spirit of the truth, they would come to understand, being guided into all the truth. Everything that would be conveyed to them would be completely trustworthy and would meet their needs. The paraclete would not be functioning independently (speaking “of his own”) but would be reliably making known what had been heard from Jesus and ultimately from the Father and would declare or reveal things to come. In the context of Jesus’ words, the “things coming” appear to relate to what lay ahead for him, and the spirit would enable the apostles to see how the Scriptures and his words were fulfilled. (Compare John 2:22.) Through the spirit, the Son would be glorified or honored, for the spirit would be announcing or revealing what had been received from him. (16:13, 14)

As the unique Son, Jesus shared everything with his Father. “Everything the Father has,” Jesus said, “is mine.” Therefore, although the Father is the ultimate source of the spirit, Jesus could say that the paraclete received from what is his and then would make announcement to the apostles. (16:15)

Again indicating why the apostles would need another paraclete or helper, Jesus reminded them about a change to come. In a little while, they would no longer see him, and then in a little while they would see him. (16:16)

This puzzled the disciples, and some of them talked among themselves as to what he meant about not being seen and then being seen, and regarding the words “because I am going to the Father.” They found it impossible to comprehend what he meant respecting “a little while” and concluded that they did not know what he was talking about. (16:17, 18)

Discerning that the disciples wanted to ask him about what he had said, Jesus illustrated the developments that lay ahead. After expressing his solemn introductory words, “Amen, amen [Truly, truly], I say to you,” Jesus told the apostles that they would weep and mourn, but the world of unbelievers would rejoice. Whereas they were pained, their pain or sadness would be changed to joy. When the hour or time has come, a woman, during the birthing process, experiences pain. After the birth of the baby, however, she does not remember the distress but is happy that a boy has been brought into the world. (16:19-21)

Applying the illustration about the woman, Jesus said that while the disciples were then experiencing pain or sadness (with apparent reference to his departure), they would see him again. Their “heart” or they, in their inmost selves, would rejoice upon seeing him, and no one would be able to take their joy away. After his resurrection, the disciples did see Jesus again, and this filled them with boundless joy. Having been given the evidence that he was alive, their joy continued, with no one able to rob them of it by wrecking their faith in him and his word. Moreover, as their resurrected Lord, with all power in heaven and on earth having been granted to him, he would be able to respond to their appeals even after his return to his Father. (16:22)

“In that day,” seemingly referring to the time when he would again be with his Father, Jesus said that the disciples would not ask him anything. This may mean that all things would become clear to them, as they would have another helper, the spirit. The “asking,” however, could apply either to asking questions or to making requests. If requests, petitions, or appeals are meant, this would indicate that it would not be necessary to direct these to Jesus in order to receive a favorable hearing, for the Father would respond to all requests made in the name of his Son. This significance is explicit in the New Century Version, “In that day you will not ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you anything you ask for in my name.” Moreover, Jesus would continue to be concerned about them. Up to this particular point, they had not made any appeals in his name or in recognition of his being their Lord. Jesus now, with a solemn assurance (“Amen, amen [Truly, truly], I say to you”) told the disciples to ask in his name or on the basis of his authority, and they would receive the things for which they made their requests. This would result in their joy being made complete. All such requests would of necessity harmonize with the divine will and be directed to the Father in recognition of the Son. (16:23, 24)

Jesus had used figures of speech when talking to the disciples, but he told them that the “hour” or time would be coming when he would no longer do so. He would use clear or plain speech when telling them about the Father. (16:25)

“In that day” or at that future time, the disciples would make their appeals in Jesus’ name or in full recognition of his authority. This, however, did not mean that Jesus would have to ask his Father to respond to the prayers of his disciples. As Jesus said, “I am not saying that I shall ask the Father about you.” This would not be required, for the Father himself loved the disciples because they loved his Son and believed that he had come from him. (16:26, 27)

When coming into the world of mankind, Jesus came from the Father. His departure meant that he would be leaving the world and returning to him. In view of Jesus’ clear statement that he would be going back to his Father, the disciples appear to have understood his words. This prompted them to acknowledge that he had spoken to them plainly and not in figures of speech. (16:28, 29)

Jesus had known that the disciples wanted to ask him about what he had meant when telling them that, in a little while, they would not see him and then, in a little while, they would see him again. He answered the question they had wanted to ask. His having done so appears to be the reason they said, “Now we know that you know everything, and you do not need to have anyone question you. On this account, we believe that you came from God.” The disciples realized that, even without a question being asked directly, Jesus would be able to anticipate it and provide the answer. They saw in what he had done for them clear evidence that he had come from God. (16:30)

Jesus, though, also knew the great test that lay ahead for the disciples and so raised the question, “Do you now believe?” While they had expressed their belief or faith in him, the “hour” or time would be coming and had, in fact, come when each of them would be scattered to his own place (not remaining together for mutual strengthening) and would leave him alone. Jesus, however, would not be alone, for his Father would still be with him. (16:31, 32)

The Son of God had prepared his disciples in advance for what would take place. “In” him or by being united to him, they would have peace, an inner calm and sense of well-being from knowing that they were loved by him and his Father and were objects of their concern and care. In the world of unbelievers, they would experience distress, persecution and intense hostility. Still, they could be courageous, for Jesus, their Lord, proved himself greater than the world. The world of mankind that was in a state of alienation from his Father had no power over him. Despite all the assaults directed against him, Jesus had not yielded. In loyal submission to his Father’s will, he would be surrendering his life. Thus, ultimately through his death, he would defeat the world and be triumphant as the unconquered one. With complete confidence, therefore, Jesus could say, “I have conquered the world.” (16:33)