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The Resurrection and Ascension of Christ Will Prove the Disciples’ Comfort in Time of Persecution
1-6. The Persecution of the Apostles predicted. This section repeats many of the ideas of the previous chapter (see John 15:18-24). The reason of the anticipated persecution is ’because they (the persecutors) have not known the Father nor Me’ (John 16:3); i.e. because they have mistaken the character of the service which the Father requires of them. They think that He requires strict observance of the Ceremonial Law; what He really requires is worship in spirit and in truth, according to My teaching.
1. Offended] i.e. that your faith should not be shaken (RV ’made to stumble’).
2. Out of the synagogues] i.e. excommunicate you: see John 9:22, John 9:34; John 12:42 and cp. Matthew 10:17. Doeth God service] more precisely, ’offereth sacrifice to God.’ There was a Jewish saying, ’Every one that sheddeth the blood of the wicked, is as he that offereth a sacrifice.’
4. The time] RV ’their hour,’ i.e. the hour of your enemies’ apparent triumph. Ye may remember] The Apostles’ persecutions would be easier to bear, if it was clearly understood that they were foreordained by God and foretold by Christ: cp. John 13:19; John 14:29. I said not unto you at (RV ’from’) the beginning] Some intimations of the coming persecutions had been given in the earlier charge to the Twelve (Matthew 10:16),.but only now does our Lord bring the matter prominently forward. Because I was with you] While Christ was with the Apostles, they were in no danger of persecution, and therefore there was no need to speak to them about it. But since persecution was to begin after His death, and His death was now impending, it was necessary for Him to begin to speak to them about it.
5. None of you asketh me] The Apostles were so much disturbed by the thought of Christ’s imminent death, and their own approaching persecutions, that they had no heart to enquire about the glorious abode to which Christ was going, and to which they also would one day go.
7-15. The work of the Comforter in the world and in the Church.
7. It was better for them that Christ’s personal presence should be withdrawn, in order that His spiritual presence might be nearer to them than ever, or, rather, might for the first time truly begin. This would be effected by the coming of the Holy Ghost, when He. who was now ’with’ them, would be ever ’in’ them. If I go not away] The glorification of Christ’s humanity through the indwelling Spirit was not complete till the Resurrection and Ascension, hence not till after the Ascension could the Spirit of the glorified Christ be given. Comforter] see on John 14:18.
8. Reprove] RV ’convict.’ The Gk. word, which also occurs John 3:20; John 8:9; (AV) John 8:46, means to prove a person in the wrong, hence to convict. The Holy Ghost will ’convince’ or ’convict’ the world, by placing before it the claims of Christ with a force and clearness that cannot be evaded. The result will be twofold. Some will be ’convicted by their own consciences’ (John 8:9), or ’pricked to the heart’ (Acts 2:37), and so repent and believe (Acts 2:38). Others will be hardened in their sin and unbelief (Romans 11:8), and be ’convicted’ of wilful blindness in the sight of God and good men.
9-11. The Holy Ghost, through the apostolic preaching, and through the new power of holiness manifested in the lives of believers, will convince mankind, (1) of their sin and folly in rejecting Christ; (2) that Christ is a sincere and righteous teacher, and not, as they had thought, an impostor, as will be clearly demonstrated when the Father has raised Him from the dead and set Him at His right hand in heaven; (3) that the unspiritual system of religion which they have hitherto professed, and which has led them to reject Christ, is of the devil and not of God, that God Himself has condemned it, and that therefore they must condemn it too.
This passage is an extremely difficult one, and various other interpretations of it are given.
11. Judgment] i.e. condemnation. The prince] i.e. Satan: see John 12:31; John 14:30. The Resurrection is the proof that Satan and the world (i.e. the opponents of Jesus) are condemned by God.
12, 13. This promise of divine guidance to the Apostles as teachers, justifies us in accepting their writings as specially inspired. The promise, however, is not exclusively to them, for in all time (and not least in our own) the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church into all truth.
13. Into all truth] RV ’all the truth,’ i.e. all that is necessary to the salvation of souls and to the well-being of the Church. It should be noticed that the Church’s apprehension of truth is regarded as progressive.
Things to come] Here the prediction of events is regarded as one of the functions of true prophecy.
14, 15. One of the leading Trinitarian passages in the NT. In it (1) the three Persons are clearly distinguished; (2) their relative subordination is clearly taught, the Father giving His all to the Son, and the Son communicating His all to the Spirit; (3) their equality of nature is distinctly affirmed, for the Son receives from the Father ’all things whatsoever the Father hath’ (see RV), i.e. His whole nature and attributes, and communicates them to the Spirit.
14. The Spirit would glorify Christ, by progressively revealing the full sense of what Christ had taught them.
16-24. The Apostles’ Sorrow turned into Joy.
16. Ye shall see me] (1) with bodily sight during the forty days; (2) with spiritual vision after Pentecost (see on John 14:18-19).
20. But the world shall rejoice] ’My enemies will rejoice at My death, and the apparent failure of My designs.’
22. I will see you again] The reference is both to the Resurrection and to the coming of the Spirit.
23. In that day] i.e. the time beginning at Pentecost. Ye shall ask me nothing] RM is preferable, ’Ye shall ask me no question,’ i.e. about the true meaning of My words, for all will then be clear to you. He will give it you] RV adds ’in my name,’ i.e. for My sake.
24. Hitherto.. name] because prayer in the name of Christ presupposes His glorification.
25-33. Last Words. Temporary defeat in the present will be followed by final victory.
25. In proverbs] RM ’in parables.’ Very many of our Lord’s discourses were dark and enigmatical to the Apostles, until the coming of the Holy Spirit furnished the key to their meaning. Mere words can only hint at, not fully express, the things of God. It requires the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit to bring home to the soul God’s message of salvation. The time] i.e. the dispensation of the Spirit beginning at Pentecost.
26. I say not.. that I will pray the Father for you] ’After Pentecost you will have direct access to the Father. You will ask directly for what you need in My name, and no longer will it be needful for you, as it is at present, first to come to Me, and to ask Me to bring your needs before the Father.’ This text does not deny Christ’s heavenly intercession (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1), but only such a view of it as would make it a barrier between the Father and the prayers of His children.
30. Needest not that any man should ask thee] Thou didst answer our questions before we asked them, for Thou didst know what questions were in our minds.
30, 31. Jesus shows that He can read the thoughts of their hearts in a deeper sense than they imagined. He knows precisely what their faith is worth, and prophesies their immediate desertion of Him. In Matthew 26:31 = Mark 14:27 this prophecy is said to have been delivered at the Mount of Olives, or at least on the way thither. This favours the view that the discourses John 16:15-17 were delivered on the way to the Mount of Olives.
32. To his own] i.e. to his own house; see John 1:11; John 16:32; John 19:27; Luke 18:28; Acts 21:6. Yet I am not alone] Only for a few awful moments upon the cross (Matthew 27:46) was our Lord’s conscious communion with His Father interrupted.
33. I have overcome the world] See the sublime vision in the Revelation, where Christ goes forth ’conquering and to conquer’ (Revelation 6:2). The victory of Christ over the world, and the victory of believers through that victory, are favourite themes of the fourth evangelist (see 1 John 2:13-14; 1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:4; Revelation 2:7, Revelation 2:11, Revelation 2:17, Revelation 2:26; Revelation 3:5, Revelation 3:12, Revelation 3:21; Revelation 12:11; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 17:14; Revelation 21:7).
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on John 16". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent