JOHN 16

NOTES ON JOHN 16

Subject of the passage
This chapter continues the ministry of the Lord Jesus to His apostles as He prepared them for going out into the world with the gospel after He had gone back to heaven. They must first learn to expect opposition, even from the Jewish authorities. He then assures them that the Spirit would come to do the work in the hearts of men that they could never do, that is, to convict them. Once they get into the world they will be confronted with many situations that will bring them to an end of themselves. In that circumstance they must learn to ask for guidance. They will also need to be strong in their faith, and not be overcome by the opposition of the world.

Structure of the passage

(a) Verses 1-5 Opposition from the authorities
(b) Verses 6-15 Operations of the Holy Spirit
(c) Verses 16-27 Outcomes of His departure
(d) Verses 28-33 Overcoming the world

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN CHAPTER 16, VERSES 1 TO 15:

16:1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.

16:2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

16:3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor Me.

16:4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.

16:5 But now I go My way to Him that sent Me; and none of you asketh Me, Whither goest Thou?

16:6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.

16:8 And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

16:9 Of sin, because they believe not on Me;

16:10 Of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more;

16:11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

16:12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

16:13 Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come.

16:14 He shall glorify He: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you.

16:15 All things that the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall shew it unto you.

(a)   Verses 1-5     Opposition from the authorities

16:1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.

These things have I spoken unto you- a reference to the warnings of His departure in the previous chapters. He had prepared His disciples for the hatred of the world, 15:18,19; and persecution, 15:20-21. He had sent them into the world, but He had promised that the Spirit of truth would be sent to them, 15:26,27, so that they could testify in such a world effectively.
That ye should not be offended- He does not want them to be caused to stumble on the pathway as He sends them forth into a hostile world. The enemy of the truth will do his best to put obstacles in their way, but His words spoken beforehand will preserve them.

16:2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

They shall put you out of the synagogues- this shows that the Jewish authorities will be hostile to Christian truth. Perhaps the apostles did not expect enmity from that quarter. To be put out of the synagogue does not mean physically removed from the building, but rather, excommunicated from every aspect of Jewish life. This would mean they could not buy or sell, have employment, or any contact with fellow-Jews. There would be no-one prepared to conduct their wedding, or their funeral. This is a severe action, and shows the depth of feeling against the things of Christ.
Yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service- not content with rejecting them from the social and religious life of Israel, they think them worthy of the same treatment as they gave to their Leader. We see this expressed by Saul of Tarsus, who “persecuted this way unto death”, Acts 22:4, and consented to the death of Stephen, verse 20. He said himself that “I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which things I also did, in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them”, Acts 26:9, 10.
Saul thought that by doing these things he was serving God, for at that point he rejected the Deity of Christ. As the Lord had said to His disciples, as He forewarned them of these things, “But all these things will they do unto you for My name’s sake, because they know not Him that sent Me”, John 15:22. They thought Him to be a blasphemer, and as such should be killed. And so also should His followers be killed.
The apostles needed to be warned to expect these things, for they might become unsettled if learned rabbis like Saul disagree strongly with them. They were only ordinary men, most of them simple unsophisticated fishermen, so they need to be reassured beforehand. In this way the Lord imposes His authority on the situation, and strengthens them so they are not over-awed by religious men.

16:3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor Me.

And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor Me- despite all He did to reveal the Father, the majority of the men in high places rejected His testimony. They did not know the Father because they did not know Him. They thought they knew and served the God of Israel, but when He sent His Son, they cast Him out as a blasphemer. The apostle Paul confessed that he had persecuted “ignorantly, in unbelief”, 1 Timothy 1:13.

16:4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.

But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them- He did not tell them to depress or discourage them, but to do the reverse, to nerve them for the fight. The test for a prophet was whether his prophecy came true, Deuteronomy 18:20-22. So the Lord gives His disciples short-term prophecies so they may be encouraged when the way is hard, for they will realise He was fully aware of what the future held for them. He had told them about the following things:

1. His arrest, trial, scourging, crucifixion and rising again, Mark 10:32-34.

2. His betrayal by Judas, John 13:18-21.

3. The denial by Peter, John 13:38. By specifying the time of the denial in relation to the cock crowing, the Lord imposed extreme conditions on His prophecy.

4. The scattering of the disciples, despite their vow to not do so, John 16:31,32.

5. That He would re-gather them in resurrection, Matthew 26:31,32. This implies that He would rise quickly, which they did not believe.

6. His departure to heaven, John 14:28,29.

7. The coming of the Spirit at Pentecost.

As these things came to pass one by one, then they would indeed remember His words and be encouraged, despite the circumstances. And so may we have confidence in His word.
And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you- He left these matters until just before His departure and death, because that was when they needed to know them. To tell them at the start of His ministry would distract them. In any case He had sent them out at first to preach an imminent kingdom, and the idea of His departure was not in view then. It was only as the kingdom was rejected that the emphasis changed, and He began to speak of His going away.
His absence will be a great test for them, but they need to believe in Him as they believe in God, John 14:1. They have not seen God, yet they believe. They will no longer see Him, but they must keep on believing. This is even more important for believers today, for we have never seen Him. But we have the written testimony in the New Testament of those who did see Him, 1 John 1:1-4.

16:5 But now I go My way to Him that sent Me; and none of you asketh Me, Whither goest Thou?

But now I go My way to Him that sent Me- when He was in the temple courts at the Feast of Tabernacles, the Lord had taught in the treasury, near to the place where the Sanhedrin met and deliberated. He had used almost the same words then as are found here, for He said, “I go My way”, John 8:21. Instead of going the way that the rulers wanted Him to go, He goes the way His Father wanted Him to go.
Here, it is not the hostile rulers that are being served notice that He is in control, but the apostles, who are being encouraged by the fact that He is not the victim of circumstances, but is carrying out His Father’s will. He will return to the one who sent Him, having, in words He would soon speak, “finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do”, John 17:4. He would not go back with some of the task undone.
And none of you asketh Me, Whither goest Thou? They were too occupied with themselves and their sorrows. Peter had asked this question in 13:36, but the Lord knew that he was only asking because he thought he was able to follow Him, so he clearly did not think in terms of going to heaven. His expectation was that the Lord was going to claim the throne of David, and he wanted to be associated with that. Subsequently, the Lord had revealed that Judas would betray Him, so He was clearly going to be delivered to the Gentiles, and not the Gentiles delivered to Him. Perhaps they feared to ask in case He had even more bad news to tell them. He does not rebuke them for not asking, but points out they had not asked, so that He could give them the information they needed.

(b)   Verses 6-15   Operations of the Holy Spirit

16:6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart if they had asked for clarification, they would have learnt that going to the cross was a necessary stage on the path to glory. In this way, their sorrow would have been tempered by the joy of knowing that He was going back to the Father with glory.

16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.

Nevertheless I tell you the truth- despite them not asking, He tells them nevertheless. The pronoun “I” is emphatic, as if to say, “I, the one who has foretold the truth that I am going away, have the authority to tell you the consequences of My going away”. Despite causing them to sorrow, nevertheless it was in their best interests to know the situation as it really was, and not as they imagined it to be. Even though they had not asked, they needed to know.
It is expedient for you that I go away- that is, it was a profitable thing for them if He went away. They no doubt thought it was a disaster, but the reverse was the case. Far from losing out by His departure, they gain. There are many advantages that come to the believer because the Lord has gone back to heaven, and He now proceeds to explain one of them, the coming of the Spirit. His presence in the believer’s heart is critical, for it is through this that Christian things are made good to us.
For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you- the Spirit will do many things, but here He is said to comfort, strengthening their hearts in Christ’s absence. He will do in them what Christ did when with them. Simeon had been waiting for the consolation of Israel, and he found that consolation, (the word has the same idea as comforter in this verse), in Christ the Messiah, Luke 2:25.
John has already told us in one of his explanations that “the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified”, John 7:39. But there was also the fact that Christ’s going away involved the work of the cross. Until that sacrificial work had been done, sinners could not be saved and cleansed. The Holy Spirit cannot indwell an uncleansed heart.
But if I depart, I will send Him unto you- here the Son sends; in the previous phrase, the Spirit is said to come, implying that His will is operative; in 14:26, the Father sends in the Son’s name, that is, in full recognition of who and what His Son is to Him. So the whole of the Godhead is united in this matter. The same had been true at the baptism of Christ in the Jordan, for the Father spoke, the Son saw, the Spirit descended, Matthew 3:16,17. Notice that there are no qualifications to this promise. They do not have to earn Him, but receive Christ’s gracious gift.

16:8 And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement:

And when He is come- note the confidence the Lord has that His prayer to the Father will be answered, and the Spirit will be sent. Peter can say on the day of Pentecost that “being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear”, Acts 2:33. This is the only place in the book of Acts that a disciples speaks of God as Father, emphasising that Peter is drawing on what he heard the Lord say in the upper room in John 14:16.
He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement- there are three things involved in the word “reprove”. There is the idea of convicting a person as guilty. There is the condemning of that person. And there is a convincing of the truth of the gospel as the remedy for their sin and guiltiness.
There is a sense in which the actual coming of the Spirit did these three things as far as the world in general is concerned, but there is also a sense that He does them in individuals in the world, for the word is “when He is come”, not “by His coming”.
The apostles were sad because the Lord was leaving them, and sending them into a world that would be hostile to them because they brought the truth of the gospel into a world of error. They might think themselves inadequate for the situation, as indeed they were at that time, but the coming of the Spirit would change all that, and they would be helped mightily as the Spirit sovereignly worked in the hearts of men. They will not need to devise strategies and invent means to convince men, for the Spirit would do the work. It would be their task to simply “preach the word”, 2 Timothy 4:2. How the Spirit convicts is told us in the next three verses.

16:9 Of sin, because they believe not on Me;

Of sin- He convicts them of their sin so that they consider their way; He condemns them for their sin and their false views about it; He convinces them of the truth of the gospel.
Because they believe not on Me- it is not that the only sin they are convicted of is the sin of unbelief. Rather, it is that the reason they are still in a state of sin is that they do not currently believe on Him, despite the fact that He has been on this world and brought the truth of God within their reach.

16:10 Of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more;

Of righteousness- the Spirit convicts men because they are devoid of righteousness; He condemns them for being unrighteous; He convinces them that their only hope is the righteousness that God imputes to those who believe.
Because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more- whilst He was here, the Lord upheld the righteousness of God in an unmistakeable way. He who is “Jesus Christ the Righteous”, 1 John 2:1, is no longer here to “preach righteousness in the great congregation”, Psalm 40:9. The Spirit convicts of righteousness instead of, as before, Christ doing it. His going to the Father was a vindication of the stand He took for the truth when He was on earth. The fact they would see Him no more reminds us that He was here in the flesh, and therefore was real man, able to be seen. Righteousness has been upheld perfectly by a man, but He has now gone. The Spirit carries on His work.

16:11 Of judgement, because the prince of this world is judged.

Of judgement, because the prince of this world is judged- those who remain under the influence of this world’s prince will share his judgement. The Spirit convicts men of walking “according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience”, Ephesians 2:2. They had the opportunity of following Christ, but chose not to do so, and the Spirit convicts them of that. He also condemns that position, but convinces of the solution, even to believe the gospel and follow Christ. The prince of this world is judged because he spurred men on to crucify God’s Son.

16:12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

I have yet many things to say unto you- the teaching of the Lord Jesus when here on earth did not exhaust the store of wisdom that was available. Luke hints at this when he writes at the beginning of the Acts, “all that Jesus began to do and teach”, Acts 1:1, which implies that the Book of Acts would record the way in which He continued to do and teach through the preaching of the apostles. He “came and preached peace to them who were afar off, and them that were near”, Ephesians 2:17. The apostles “preached everywhere, the Lord working with them”, Mark 16:20.
But ye cannot bear them now- so it was not that the Lord did not finish His teaching ministry in time. That could never be, for God is never late, nor does He fail. The word “bear” has to do with carrying a burden, and the weight of truth that was to be unfolded to these men was more than they could carry in their current state. The Levites in the time of the Tabernacle had a heavy task, for they were responsible for moving the tabernacle. In the case of the Gershonites and Merarites, this involved the lifting of heavy materials onto wagons for transportation; in the case of the Kohathites they were required to bear the heavy tabernacle furniture on their shoulders. They would certainly feel the weight of their burdens. The apostles would also have a burden, that of the weighty truths concerning Christ and the church they would be entrusted with making known. There were at least five reasons why they were not able to bear such a burden at that point, as follows:

First, they were in a distressed state because of the news that He was leaving them.
Second, they were about to forsake Him and flee, so the boldness needed to set out new truth was not in their hearts as yet.
Third, they did not have the Spirit indwelling them, so the power to preach New Testament truth was lacking. Their preaching for the previous three years or so had been evangelistic, and consisted of the repetition of what they had heard Him say.
Fourth, they were still not clear about God’s programme in relation to Israel, as is seen by their question in Acts 1:6.
Fifth, there were mysteries yet to be revealed, but that would be done through the apostle Paul, who at this point was not a believer.

16:13 Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come.

Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come- the word “howbeit” signals a change. Something is going to happen to enable them to bear the weight of the truth that is about to be revealed. Their lack of readiness to bear the truth would be remedied. Since the burden they will bear is truth, it is appropriate that the Spirit, when He came upon them at Pentecost, should come in character as Spirit of truth. He is the Spirit who is intimately associated with the truth, and necessarily so, because God is the God of truth, and the Spirit is God. It is not that He would then become the Spirit of truth, for He had associated Himself with the truth Christ had made known during His earthly ministry.
The word from heaven when Christ was on the Mount of Transfiguration was “Hear ye Him”, Matthew 17:5. If God had some misgiving about the ministry of Christ, that exhortation would not have come from heaven. In fact, just previously the Lord Jesus had deliberately set His saying alongside the word of the Father. Peter had learnt something from the Father, and then the Lord adds, “And I say also unto thee”, 16:18. In other words, it is as if He says, ‘What you learned from the Father you learned through Me, and I am now adding to that word’. If that had been presumption, the word “Hear ye Him” would not have been uttered.
The word “come” is in that tense which signifies a decisive event, not a prolonged process. One moment they would not have the Spirit, the next moment they would. And immediately they would be able to preach, as we see from a reading of the account of the events on the Day of Pentecost, in Acts 2. Note that the Lord is confident that the Holy Spirit will come, which shows He is sure that the Father will respond to His request to send Him, 14:16; Acts 2:33.
He will guide you into all truth- like an expert tour guide, who is able to show tourists who have never visited a place before, the interesting features of a particular region, so the Holy Spirit, fully acquainted with the truth, is able to guide the apostles into that truth. Since the Spirit came because Jesus was glorified, John 7:39, then a vast area of truth opens up before the minds of the apostles, and we find this truth in their writings in the New Testament. Needless to say, this truth is spiritual; it is not truth about the physical world, as if the apostles became brilliant scientists in a moment. The fact that the Lord promises this, (and all His promises are honoured), shows that it will come to pass. So when the apostle Paul spoke of his ministry as fulfilling the word of God, Colossians 1:25; or when he wrote about a time when it could be said, “that which is perfect is come”, 1 Corinthians 13:10; or when Jude writes about “the faith once delivered unto the saints”, by which he means “once for all” delivered, Jude 3; and when the Lord warns in the last chapter of the New Testament against adding to the words of the book, Revelation 22:18,19, we know that God’s revelation of truth is complete.

If we do not know what it is that should not be taken from or added to, how can we avoid the judgement which comes to those who do take away or add? It must be the case that God has done what He said He would, preserve His word. The Authorised Version is the evidence that He has done so.

For He shall not speak of Himself- this does not mean that the New Testament epistles will contain no information about the Holy Spirit, for that is clearly not true. What it does mean is that the Spirit will not speak independently of the Father and the Son. The fact that He guides into all Divine truth shows that He is familiar with it all, hence the word “for” at the beginning of this phrase. We are being led on gradually here as we listen to the Lord teaching His own. We learn the Spirit will guide into all truth “for” He does not speak of Himself, “but” whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak. The Lord goes on to explain this in the next statements.
But whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak- the Lord Jesus said of Himself, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me”, John 7:16; “I speak to the world those things I have heard of Him”, John 8:26, (the “Him” referring to the Father); “and the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent me, John 14:24; “all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you”, John 15:15. These quotations show His complete insight into the mind and will of His Father. He was privy to the counsels of the Godhead. His coming into manhood had not altered that intimacy. The prophet spoke beforehand of this in the words, “He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth Mine ear to hear as the learned”, Isaiah 51:4. He did not hear as the ignorant, but as the learned one. Learned persons converse with those of equal standing with themselves in matters familiar to them. They go over well-trodden territory as they discuss their particular field of knowledge and expertise. They do not hear one another to learn, but to rehearse what they know. So it is with the Lord Jesus. He awoke each morning to commune with His Father about that part of the Divine Counsels was relevant to Him for that day. He did not awake to discover what the counsels were, but to discuss what bearing they had on the day that was before Him.
We are used to the idea that in the Book of Genesis God is heard communing with Himself. For example, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness”, Genesis 1:26; “And the Lord God said, the man is become as one of Us“, 3:22; “Go to, let Us go down, and there confound their language”, 11:7. But in the passages from the New Testament from John chapters 7,8,14 and 15 quoted above we learn that the Persons of the Godhead still commune with One Another. So to be able to hear the Father is to claim Deity.
What is true of the Son is now said to be true of the Holy Spirit, for if the Son hears the Father, then so does the Spirit; He too is privy to Divine counsels and conversation. What He hears He transmits to the apostles, so they have the truth as the Godhead knows it. The apostle Paul could write, “we have the mind of Christ”, 1 Corinthians 2:16. The “we” in this context meaning the apostles. This gives their writings a very special character, and as such should be received and believed. Note that is “whatsoever” He hears, so the Spirit passes on all that we need to know of Divine truth.
And He will shew you things to come- that is, “the things coming He will announce to you”. It is not a question of showing as by visions, but making truth known so that it can be taken in by the apostles and transmitted into inspired preaching and writing. This is not a specific reference to the Book of the Revelation and other prophetic parts of the New Testament, for all the truth that was to be disclosed by the Spirit after Christ had gone back to heaven could be described as “things to come”.
The word “shew” is literally “to announce tidings”, so the idea is of the Spirit having direct access to heavenly counsels, but also bringing back tidings from those counsels to apostles on the earth. Caleb and Joshua brought back tidings about Canaan, (the place that contained “things to come” for Israel), after they had explored that land; in the same way the Holy Spirit is able to tell of heavenly things from first-hand knowledge of the mind of God.

16:14 He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you.

He shall glorify Me- this expression does not begin with the word “and”, so is not a further work that the Spirit will do. Rather, it is the result of the work that has just been detailed. By the speaking and announcing of Divine truth, the Spirit will glorify Christ. This means that various aspects of the glory of Christ will be presented to our minds, and as a result we shall have an enhanced appreciation of His excellencies, and He will be magnified in our hearts. A magnifying glass does not make an object physically bigger, but it makes it bigger in our eyes, and enables us to appreciate its features in more detail. So Christ cannot be more glorious that He is, but He can be magnified in our eyes as the Spirit points out His virtues.
When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God granted him his request, and displayed that glory not only by allowing a glimpse of it to be seen, but also by speaking, Exodus 33:18-23; 34:6-8. So now, the glory of God is seen in the face of Jesus Christ, and those glories are told out in the words of Scripture, coming as they do from the Holy Spirit whose ministry it is to glorify Christ. How important, then, to continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, for by this means the glories of Christ are presented to us.
Since the Holy Spirit indwells the gathered companies of God’s people as they meet in assembly fellowship, then the end result of each meeting should be that Christ is magnified. Paul calls this coming together for the better, in 1 Corinthians 11:17.
For He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you- this is the process by which Christ is glorified. The Spirit not only hears truth, but receives it from the Godhead to infallibly impart it to the apostles, and through their writings to us. In particular what He receives is that which Christ describes as “Mine”. Since when this is transmitted to believers it glorifies Christ, then we may say that the truth that the Spirit is said to receive here is especially about Christ. No doubt the major part of this has to do with the mysteries that are unfolded in the New Testament epistles, which bring out truth that was even hidden from the Old Testament prophets. Such themes as the principles at work in His death; the consequences of His resurrection; the implications of His ascension; His headship of the church; His priesthood; the fact that He will head up all things, whether in heaven or earth; that He is the Last Adam; that believers shall be conformed to His image even as to the body; that He will have the church as His bride, and other things besides. Perhaps all these things are summed up in the phrase “the mystery of Christ”, Colossians 4:3.

16:15 All things that the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you.

All things that the Father hath are mine- there is a common possession of truth in the Godhead. One does not withhold from another, for they are one. Indeed, persons of the Godhead cannot, by their very nature, do anything independently of one another, or else they would not be One God. This is why the Lord Jesus said “The Son can do nothing of Himself”, John 5:19. He was not indicating that in some way He was powerless to act. (After all, it is as Son that He describes Himself thus, so the fact that He shares the nature and essence of God is in view). Rather, He was claiming Deity, in that Divine persons cannot do anything independently of one another. A man may do things independently of another man, and also independently of God, because men are individual units. But the persons of the Godhead are one in essence, and cannot act contrary to one another.
Therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall shew it unto you- the word “therefore” has the sense of “because of this”. The Lord Jesus claims here to have just reason to use the words “take of Mine”. Because the word “take” implies that the Father is handing things to Christ, and since all the things the Father has the Son has as well, then the Lord is perfectly justified in saying “shall take of Mine”, and not “shall take of the Father’s”. The three Persons of the Godhead are interacting in this matter as the Spirit takes from the Father the things of the Son.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN CHAPTER 16, VERSES 16 TO 33:

16:16 A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me, because I go to the Father.

16:17 Then said some of His disciples among themselves, What is this that He saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me: and, Because I go to the Father?

16:18 They said therefore, What is this that He saith, A little while? we cannot tell what He saith.

16:19 Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask Him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me?

16:20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

16:21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

16:22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

16:23 And in that day ye shall ask Me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you.

16:24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

16:25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.

16:26 At that day ye shall ask in My name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:

16:27 For the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God.

16:28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.

16:29 His disciples said unto Him, Lo, now speakest Thou plainly, and speakest no proverb.

16:30 Now are we sure that Thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask Thee: by this we believe that Thou camest forth from God.

16:31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?

16:32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.

16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

(c)   Verses 16-27   Outcomes of His departure

16:16 A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me, because I go to the Father.

A little while, and ye shall not see Me- this is further gentle preparation for His departure. There are two different words for see used in verses 16-19. When it is “not see”, it means to not discern or acknowledge something. When it is “see”, it means “to gaze with wide-open eyes, as at something remarkable”. The little while is from the moment He spoke the words until when He was laid in the tomb. After that, they neither saw Him physically, nor did they discern the significance of His short stay in the tomb, or acknowledge those things He had told them about it. We read that after the Lord had foretold His death, and that He would rise again the third day, “And they understood none of these things: and the saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things that were spoken”, Luke 18:34. They did not disbelieve He would rise again, for all shall rise. They did not realise He would rise quickly. This was withheld from them so that they could not be accused of imagining the resurrection. They had to be convinced of its truth by the actual event, not by the words foretelling it.
And again, a little while, and ye shall see Me- this time the short period is when He was actually in the sepulchre, after which they would see Him again. When they did so, they would do so with eyes wide-open in amazement, so to speak.
Because I go to the Father- this seems strange at first, as if the Lord says “Ye shall see Me because I go to the Father and will be unseen”. The point is that He promises to show Himself in resurrection so that they may verify that the one they knew on earth is the one they saw go into heaven. The reason why they would see Him was that He needed to be seen to ascend to the Father. They were not qualified as apostles unless they could testify to His ascension, Acts 1:22. To be a witness to His resurrection they must see His ascension, because there is a link between the two events, as Peter declared in Acts 2:29-36. The reason why Christ’s tomb was empty was because He had been raised by the Father and lifted to heaven. He was raised from the dead and given glory, as if there was nothing between the opened tomb and the throne of God, 1 Peter 1:21.

16:17 Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that He saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me: and, Because I go to the Father?

Then said some of His disciples among themselves- they perhaps were in such a state of mind, having had notice that He was leaving them, that their early readiness to ask Him questions has been dampened. So they question things among themselves. In verse 29, they will say, “Lo, now speakest Thou plainly, and speakest no proverb”. So they distinguished between two ways of speaking, obscurely, and in proverbs. In verse 16 He deliberately spoke obscurely, so that they might ask Him to explain. This would introduce the idea of asking, which He develops in verses 23-26. In verses 21-22 He speaks in a proverb to show that He knew what their feelings would be during the “little while”, and afterwards.
What is this that He saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me- they do not realise that He will only be in the tomb a few days. They will not have to wait for the “resurrection of the last day”, to see Him again.
And, Because I go to the Father? They separate “”see Me” from “Because I go to the Father”. They should have kept the sentence intact, and asked what He meant, instead of putting their own construction on the words. We should learn the lesson from this, and not try to reconstruct scripture to make it mean what we think it ought to mean. We shall find ourselves puzzling about it even more, just as the disciples were here; and all because they had not asked.

16:18 They said therefore, What is this that He saith, A little while? we cannot tell what He saith.

They said therefore, What is this that He saith, A little while? we cannot tell what He saith- now they separate another phrase from its context. No wonder they cannot tell what He is saying. We shall not understand scripture aright either, if we take it out of its setting. Remember the three rules for interpreting scripture, Context, Context, and Context.

16:19 Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask Him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me?

Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him- He can read their thoughts, and knows whether they are sincere. As the psalmist said of God, “Thou understandest my thought afar off”, Psalm 139:2. It is not just that God knows our thoughts, but that He also understands them as to their motives, the “thoughts and intents of the heart”, Hebrews 4:12. The Lord waited for John to ask who the traitor was, 13:22-25, but there He wanted to give the sign of the sop so that Judas would go out, and His spirit could be free to teach the true disciples further.
And said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me? The way they are hesitant to ask Him, but ask among themselves illustrates their current lack of communion with Him. He had spoken in a way they did not understand in order to highlight this. They will change after Pentecost, as verse 23 indicates. They will then go to the Father by the Son in the power of the Spirit.

16:20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice- their Saviour would be “the song of the drunkard”, and the authorities would think they had achieved their purpose. The “verily, verily” shows He has authority and confidence as He prophesies these things. His short-term prophecies, having been fulfilled, will encourage confidence in the long-term ones. Notice that the Lord does not directly answer the problem they have about the phrase “a little while”. He does answer indirectly, however, in the illustration of the travailing woman, in the next verse. Normally, a woman is in travail for a matter of hours, not of years. So just as the woman sorrows, so will they, but just as she does so for a relatively brief time, so their sorrow also will be for “a little while”.
And ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy- they would not be sorrowful and joyful at the same time, as if having mixed thoughts. The change from sorrow to joy would be as marked as the change from death to resurrection.

16:21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come- here is the proverb they will speak of in verse 29.
But as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world- the homely illustration will give them comfort as they realise He knows how they will be feeling. A mother endures the pain because she knows there will be a happy result. So the disciples should bear the pain of knowing He had been crucified and slain, knowing also there would be eternally happy results for Him and for all who would believe. They would know the joy of His resurrection, and the sorrow they had known when He was in the grave will never return.

16:22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

And ye now therefore have sorrow- He discerns that sorrow is already in their hearts, as He said in verse 6, and that it would continue for a little while yet. He knew “strong crying and tears” Himself, Hebrews 5:7, so He is fitted to sympathise fully with us in our sorrows. The reason why they have sorrow, (“therefore”), is the same as why a woman has sorrow. She does not sorrow that she is going to have a child, but she sorrows because of the pain that precedes the birth. They should try to see things in that light. What travail they would have in the next few hours, as He is arrested, tried, sentenced and crucified! But they should see it as part of a process that was sure to end in joy.
But I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice- even though He would leave them to go to the cross, He would rise from the dead and meet with them again. (Note the personal touch, not simply that He would rise from the dead, but that He would see them). The joy of seeing Him in resurrection would give them a joy that could not be spoiled, despite what might happen. The apostles rejoiced they were “counted worthy to suffer shame for His name”, Acts 5:41. The Lord said, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted the prophets which were before you”, Matthew 5:11,12. Even these things would not spoil their joy, any more than the hatred of men had spoiled the Lord’s joy as He served His Father’s interests in His earthly ministry.
And your joy no man taketh from you- a mother has joy when her child is born, but that continues after he is born, so Christ’s emergence from the grave will ensure unbroken joy for His people. His resurrection is the guarantee that all that causes believers sorrow has been dealt with in principle. Once they have shared His resurrection, there will be fulness of joy in the Father’s presence for them, Psalm 16:11; Acts 2:28.

16:23 And in that day ye shall ask Me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you.

And in that day ye shall ask Me nothing- there had been reference to the coming of the Spirit in 14:16-26, and the Lord had used the expression “in that day” as referring to the time after Pentecost when they would have the Spirit within. This shows that the “little while” refers to a past time, despite the way hymn writers use the phrase.
In verses 16-20 the disciples discussed amongst themselves what the Lord meant when He spoke of “a little while”. He had deliberately spoken in a slightly obscure way so that they would realise their need of help to understand. This prepares them for the time when He will not be with them to answer their queries, and also gives Him an opening to explain what provision He will make for them.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you- “Verily, Verily”, is a phrase unique to John’s gospel. It introduces a development in doctrine; difficult doctrine; denied doctrine; doubted doctrine; definite doctrine; delightful doctrine, and above all, Divine doctrine. The Lord had taught them to say “Our Father”, and to ask for things in that way, but He did not instruct them to ask in His name. His example prayer ended in this way, “for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen”, Matthew 6:14. Now the emphasis is on asking the Father in the name of the Son.

16:24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name- as the quotation from His model prayer quoted above shows, they had not asked in His name yet. This will change, for God would send forth His Spirit into their hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father’, Galatians 4:6. And because of this, they would appreciate the relationship into which they had been brought as God’s sons, and the Holy Spirit’s cry becomes their cry also, as Romans 8:15 indicates with the words, “ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, ‘Abba, Father'”. Because they will know the Father in a deeper way, they will have confidence to ask in the light of what His thoughts about His Son are.
Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full- instead of enquiring among themselves, as they had just done, the Lord exhorts them to ask for themselves, once they have the Spirit within them. Now that the Spirit has come at Pentecost, all believers have Him within to teach them, and they will know therefore the things appropriate to associate with the Name of God’s Son. Because they ask for suitable things, they will receive them.
T
he Lord here anticipates three things. First, that they will find their joy in having their requests answered by the Father. Second, because those requests will be in harmony with the character of God’s Son, they will be intelligent as to His character, as the Spirit teaches them. Third, because the things of the world cannot give them true joy, He expects that they will only desire the things of God, and not try to complement them with the supposed joys of earth.
No doubt the apostle John remembered these words as he opened his first epistle, for he recalled the way in which he had seen and heard the Lord when He was here, and then recorded this for us, so that we might have fellowship with Divine persons in the things of Christ, with the result that our joy would be full. His words were, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us); that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full”, 1 John 1:1-4.

16:25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.

These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs- in response to their speaking amongst themselves, He gave them the illustration of a woman in pain, but whose pain and sorrow is turned to joy. This did not fully answer the question about the “little while” directly, but encouraged them to think the thing through. As believers we are expected to think about the things we read in the scriptures.
But the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father- this would be when He spoke through the Spirit’s ministry to them. This shows that He has not given up teaching His own. It is simply that it is done in a different way now that the Spirit indwells each believer. He had already told the apostles that “At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you”, 14:20. So the coming of the Spirit would enable them to understand more fully His relationship with the Father, and their relationship to Him. This is the foundation of everything else, for it covers the whole range of relationships, whether between Divine Persons and each other, or Divine persons and believers.

16:26 At that day ye shall ask in My name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:

At that day ye shall ask in My name- they will ask in line with what the Spirit reveals to them about the Son. This is normal Christian prayer, so the Lord can state that that is how they will pray, for there is no other effective way. They will not necessarily mention the Son’s name at the end of the prayer, (for that is not what “ask in My name” means), but the whole content of the prayer will be in harmony with who He has revealed Himself to be.
And I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you- they will be in such an intimate relationship with the Father, (because they will have the Spirit of (adoption) sonship indwelling them, Romans 8:14), that they will not need the Lord to intervene, but will go straight to the Father through Him, see Ephesians 2:18. Of course it is true that He “ever liveth to make intercession for us”, Hebrews 7:25, but that has to do with supporting us as we pass through trials down here. The context in John 16 is of praying to the Father for ourselves about any matter that concerns us, including those trials.

16:27 For the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God.

For the Father Himself loveth you- the reason the Father will be well-disposed to our approach to Him is because He loves us. And that love has a two-fold cause.
Because ye have loved Me- our Father is sensitive to reactions to His Son. If there are those that genuinely love Him, then He loves them in return. The intensity of that affection will be learned from the Son’s prayer in the next chapter, for He will say, “and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me”, 17:23. This is completely beyond human understanding; to think that any should be loved by the Father in the same manner as He loves His Son! This is a very powerful indicator of the closeness of the relationship of the believer to the Father. It no doubt derives from the truth expressed at the beginning of 17:23, “I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one”. The Father is completely involved in all His Son is, (“Thou in Me”). In the same way, the Son is completely involved in all we are in Him, (“I in them”). It is in a sense inevitable that the Father will love us, for the Son is in us, and He loves us as He loves Him, as the end of the verse says.
And have believed that I came out from God- this is the basic reason why the believer loves the Son. All that was involved in Him coming from the presence of God, such as His self-humbling; His taking the form of a servant; His real manhood; His grace and truth when He was here; His work at the cross; all these things endear Him to to them. The apostle Paul, referring to his conversion, wrote “And the grace of our Lord Jesus was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus”, 1 Timothy 1:14. His response to Christ’s grace was faith and love, the two things that endear a believer to his Father.

(d)   Verses 28-33   Overcoming the world

16:28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.

I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world- this is a very comprehensive statement, and takes in all that He was in eternity, all that He was willing to become as He came amongst men.
Again, I leave the world, and go to the Father- the word “again” divides the verse into two concepts, first His coming from the Father, ending with the sorrow of the cross, and second, His going back to the Father, with the joy of the throne. And in between, there was His reaction to the world, and the world’s reaction to Him. His attitude to the world was one of love to men; the attitude of the world was one of hate, so He left it. But before He left it He expressed His love in the most profound way, by dying on a cross. It is this that draws souls to Himself, and why they love Him. Once He has drawn men to Himself, He goes back to His Father in heaven so as to minister to their needs.

16:29 His disciples said unto Him, Lo, now speakest Thou plainly, and speakest no proverb.

His disciples said unto Him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb- He had deliberately spoken to them less than plainly in verse 16, but now the apostles say He speaks plainly. He had spoken in a proverb in verse 22, but now He speaks in direct terms.

16:30 Now are we sure that Thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask Thee: by this we believe that Thou camest forth from God.

Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask Thee- they were hesitant to ask Him about the little while, and they thought the illustration of the woman in travail to be a digression, but now they realsie he has been answering their unasked questions, and this shows them He knew what was in their hearts and minds without them telling Him. This tells them He is indeed one with the Father, for it is only the Lord who can read the hearts of men.
By this we believe that Thou camest forth from God- the light is beginning to dawn upon them, and gives a foretaste of how they will understand after Pentecost. If He came out from being with the Father, He must be equal with Him. If He is equal with Him, He must know the hearts of men, because God alone knows the hearts of men, Jeremiah 17:10. Because of this, He does not need His people to ask Him things, since He knows beforehand what they are thinking, and supplies the answer through the Spirit through the Word. They stop short of saying He came forth from the Father; they still need to advance in appreciation of His relationship with the Father. But that will come “in that day”, after Pentecost, as He had said already, “In that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you”, 14:2

16:31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?

Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? Since they have said they believed, (and He had exhorted them to this in 14:1), then He prepares them for the fact that their faith will be put to the test. His going to the Father will be for their spiritual profit, to strengthen their faith, but also will test their faith. He puts it in question form so they challenge their own hearts. He knew their hearts already, so He is not expecting them to answer Him. He is not suggesting that He does not think they believe. Rather, He is preparing them for the onslaughts of the world, and is asking them so that they ask themselves the question. Having come to a satisfactory conclusion they can face the world. Sadly, they seem not to have done this, as the next verse shows.

16:32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.

Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone- in just a short space of time they would forsake Him and flee in Gethsemane, and every one would be scattered and go home. He would be left to face the cross alone. This is the “now come”. But the “hour” would extend throughout the present age, which is marked by hostility to Christ. To live in such a world needs faith that is genuine, and can stand the opposition of the thinking of the world.
And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me- His relationship with the Father is eternal and Divine, so cannot be affected by the circumstances of time. But even though He would be deserted by them, and each disciple would be alone in his own home, He would not be on His own. He was ever conscious of the Father’s approval of Him. He does not say “I will not be alone”, as if referring to a limited time, but “I am not alone”, a statement of the situation at all times.
We could illustrate this by noting that the inwards of the sin offering were offered on the altar of burnt offering in the same way as the peace offering was, Leviticus 4:8-10. The inwards represent the inner workings of the heart of Christ. They were not affected by being forsaken on the cross. His feelings for the Father remained constant. The peace offering typifies Christ as the Man in harmony with God at all times, the sin-offering typifies the man who was forsaken because of our sins. But the altar of burnt offering is the place where an entirely acceptable and approved sacrifice was offered. Thus at that altar was brought together the feelings of Christ, the sin-bearing of Christ, and the acceptability of Christ.

16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace- He prepares their hearts for the turmoil that will be in their minds as they reflect on the way they had deserted Him in the garden. And what happened then has happened in different ways many times since, as we have not been faithful as we ought. We shall not have peace by dwelling on past failure, but we will definitely have peace as we relate our circumstances to His circumstances. This is peace “in Him”, as we see how He reacted to adversity.
In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer- the world gives the believer nothing but tribulation, but He gives the power to overcome it, as He overcame it. He overcame it through the consciousness of His relationship with the Father.
I have overcome the world- He can speak in the past tense that He has overcome the world, either as regards His life, which is about to end, or because He anticipates the results of His work at Calvary, John 12:31.

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