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Saturday, May 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
John 16

Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical CommentaryAlford's Greek Testament Commentary

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Verse 1

1. ] ταῦτα , scil. ch. John 15:18-27 , not only the warning of the hatred of the world, but the promise of the testifying Spirit (Stier).

Verses 1-33

31 16:33. ] HIS LOVE IN KEEPING AND COMPLETING HIS OWN. And herein, Joh 13:31 to John 16:31 . ] He comforts them with the assurance that He is going to the Father .

Verse 2

2. ] On ἀποσυν . see reff.

ἀλλ ʼ, yea, and, see reff. It introduces a yet more grievous and decisive proof of their nature.

ἵνα ] “That which shall happen in the ὥρα , is regarded as the object of its coming .” Meyer.

προσφέρειν , the technical word for offering a sacrifice see reff.

λατρείαν ] “Quis-quis effundit sanguinem impii, idem facit ac si sacrificium offerat.” Jalkut Schimeoni, cited by De Wette, &c., see 1 Corinthians 4:13 . But the sense of ‘sacrificium’ must not be too much pressed, as Stier remarks, to mean in every case an expiatory offering: see reff.

Verse 3

3. ] See Luke 23:34 ; ch. John 15:21 : Acts 3:17 ; and 1 Timothy 1:13 .

Verse 4

4. ] ἀλλὰ here indicates no contrast, but only breaking off the mournful details, and passing back to the subject of John 16:1 . Cf. Æsch. Agam. 507 9. Hartung, Partikellehre, ii. p. 35. If we are to seek any contrast, it will be between the οὐκ ἔγνωσαν of the world, and the μνημονεύητε of the Church. The one know not what they are doing: the other know well what they are suffering.

ἡ ὥρα αὐτῶν , the time of their happening

ἐγώ before εἶπον is emphatic, ‘ I MYSELF:’ that it was I MYSELF who told you. A difficulty has been found in the latter part of the verse, because our Lord had repeatedly announced to them future persecutions, and that at least as plainly as here, Matthew 5:10 ; Matthew 10:16 ; Mat 10:21-28 alli [222] . freq. And hence, De Wette, Meyer, and Lücke, and even Olsh., find ground for supposing that the chronological order of the discourses has not been followed in the Synoptic Gospels. But there is in reality no inconsistency, and therefore no need for such a supposition. This declaration, as here meant , was not made before , because He was with them. Then clearly it is now made , in reference to His immediate departure. And if so, to what will ταῦτα most naturally refer? To that full and complete account of the world’s motives, and their own office, and their comfort under it, which He has been giving them. This He had never before done so plainly, though occasional mention has been made even of the help of the Spirit under such trials, see Matthew 10:19-20 .

[222] alli = some cursive mss.

μεθ ʼ ὑμ . ἤμ . ] While the Lord was with them (cf. Mat 9:15 ), the malice of the world was mainly directed against Him , and they were overlooked: see ch. John 18:8 .

In ἤμην we have the proleptical character of the discourse again manifest.

Verse 5

5. ] This is occasioned by the foregoing, but in fact begins the new subject, the condition of the Comforter’s coming .

καὶ οὐδ . ] They had (see ch. John 13:36 ; Joh 14:5 ) asked this verbally before: our Lord therefore cites the question here in some other and deeper sense than they had used it there. I believe the meaning to be: ‘None of you enquires into the NATURE ( ποῦ being emphatic) of My departure , so as to appear anxious to know what advantages are to be derived from it; but ( Joh 16:6 ) you are all given up to grief on account of what I have said, “expavescitis, neque reputatis quo discedam aut in quem finem.” Calvin.

Verse 6

6. ἡ λύπη πεπλ . ὑμ . τ . κ . ] ‘Your grief (or abstract, ‘grief’) has filled, entirely occupied, your heart (not τὰς κ ., but singular, as common to all, see Rom 1:21 ), to the exclusion of any regard of my object in leaving you.’ “These are the same disciples who afterwards when their risen Lord had ascended to heaven, without any pang at parting with Him, returned with great joy to Jerusalem, Luk 24:52 ” (Stier). “Subest huic blandæ increpationi tacita consolatio. Dum enim improbat, quod quæstionem, quo vaderet, negligant, sibi id optime perspectum esse docet. Dum negligentiæ incusat, ad excusationem tamen affert, quod ea ex tam vehementi affectu tristitiæ oriunda sit.” Lampe.

Verse 7

7. ] ἀλλά refers to the last clause ( notwithstanding, or nevertheless, as E. V.): ἐγώ , to οὐδεὶς ἐξ ὑμ . κ . τ . λ . I Myself tell you the real state of the case.

συμφέρει ὑμ . implies that the dispensation of the Spirit is a more blessed manifestation of God than was even the bodily presence of the risen Saviour.

Every rendering of this verse ought to keep the distinction between ἀπέλθω and πορευθῶ , which is not sufficiently done in E. V. by ‘ go away ’ and ‘ depart .’ Depart and go would be better: the first expressing merely the leaving them , the second, the going up to the Father.

The ἐγώ before ἀπέλθω is again emphatic: ‘that I, for my part, should leave you.’

This οὐκ ἐλεύσεται … is a convincing proof, if one more were needed, that the gift of the Spirit at and since the day of Pentecost, was and is something TOTALLY DISTINCT from any thing before that time: a new and loftier dispensation .

Verses 8-11

8 11. ] We have here, in a few deep and wonderful words, the work of the Spirit on the world set forth. This work He shall begin ἐλθών , scil. πρὸς ὑμᾶς : not, however, merely ‘ by your means ,’ but personally: so that it is not the work and witness of the Apostles which is spoken of, except in so far as they are servants of the Holy Spirit, but ( ἐκεῖνος ) His own immediate personal working.

ἐλέγξει ] It is difficult to give in one word the deep meaning: ‘ convince ’ approaches perhaps the nearest to it, but does not express the double sense of ἐλέγχειν , which is manifestly here intended of a convincing unto salvation, and a convicting unto condemnation: ‘ reprove ’ is far too weak, conveying merely the idea of an objective rebuke, whereas ἐλέγξει reaches into the heart, and works subjectively in both the above-mentioned ways. See the whole question amply discussed in Archdeacon Hare’s Mission of the Comforter, vol. ii. note K.

Lücke’s comment is valuable: “The testimony of the Holy Ghost in behalf of Christ as opposed to the unbelieving world (ch. Joh 15:26 ) is essentially a refutation , ἔλεγχος , a demonstration of its wrong and error.” All the apostolic preaching, as addressed to the world, takes necessarily this polemical form (1 Timothy 5:20 ; 2 Timothy 4:2 ; 2 Timothy 3:16 ; Titus 1:9 ; Titus 1:13 ; Tit 2:15 ). And the more difficult was the disciples’ conflict against the power of this world with only the Word for their weapon, the more comfort was it for them, that the power of God the Spirit working by this ἔλεγχος was their help. In Matthew 10:19-20 ; Luke 12:11-12 , the apologetic side of their conflict, which was in close connexion with the polemical, is brought into view. In ἐλέγχειν is always implied the refutation, the overcoming of an error, a wrong, by the truth and the right. And when, by means of the ἔλεγχος , the truth detects the error, and the right the wrong, so that a man becomes conscious of them, then arises the feeling of guilt , which is ever painful. Thus every ἔλεγχος is a chastening, a punishment. And hence this office has been called the Strafamt (punitive office) of the Spirit. The effect of the ἔλεγχος of the Divine Spirit in the world may be to harden: but its aim is the deliverance of the world. ὁ κόσμος , in John, includes those who are not yet delivered (from the power of Satan to God), who may be yet delivered , not the condemned. If the ἔλεγχος of the world is a moral process, its result may just as well be conversion, as non-conversion. Only thus did the ἔλεγχος of the Spirit answer the end of Christ’s coming; only thus could it be a cheering support to the Apostles. Certainly, the κρίσις with which the ἔλεγχος closes is condemnation , not however of the world , but of the Prince of the world ” (ii. 649 f.).

De Wette denies the salutary side of this ἐλέγχειν but he is certainly wrong: see below.

These three words, ἁμαρτία , δικαιοσύνη , κρίσις , comprehend the three great steps of advance in spiritual truth among men. Of itself the world does not know what Sin is, what Righteousness is, what Judgment is. Nor can either of these be revealed to any man except by the Spirit of God working within him. Each man’s conscience has some glimmering of light on each of these; some consciousness of guilt, some sense of right, some power of judgment of what is transitory and worthless: but all these are unreal and unpractical, till the ἔλεγχος of the Spirit has wrought in him (see Stier, ver. 306, edn. 2).

Verse 9

9. ] And the great opening of Sin to the world is to shew them that its root and essence is, unbelief in Christ as the Son of God . UNBELIEF: for, mankind being alien from God by nature, the first step towards their recovery must be to lay hold on that only safety which He has provided for them; and that laying hold is faith , and the not doing it, when revealed and placed before them, is sin . Beforetime, it was also unbelief; “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God: ” but now, for we can only believe as God has revealed Himself, it is unbelief in Christ the Son of God , the οὐ θέλετε ἔρχεσθαι πρός με : see this pointedly asserted 1 John 5:10-12 . Remember, this unbelief is not a mere want of historical faith, but unbelief in its very root , the want of a personal and living recognition of Jesus as the Lord ( 1Co 12:3 ), which, wherever the Spirit has “opened His commission” by the planting of the visible Church, is the condemning sin of the world. Of this He shall convince those who are brought out of the world, and ultimately convict those who remain in it and die in their sins (see Hare, Mission of the Comforter, vol. ii. note Q).

Verse 10

10. ] δικαιοσ . cannot be only the righteousness of Christ , the mere conviction of which would only bring condemnation to that world which rejected and crucified Him: but, as Stier remarks rightly (v. 312, edn. 2), τοῦ κόσμου must be supplied after each of the three ἁμαρτία , δικαιοσύνη , κρίσις : the conviction being of a sin that is theirs , a righteousness that is (or, in the case of condemnation, might have been) theirs , a judgment which is theirs (see below). Then, what is the world’s righteousness? Not their own, but that of the accepted Man Christ Jesus standing at the right hand of God (seen by us no more, but by that very withdrawal testified to be the Son of God, THE RIGHTEOUS ONE), manifested in the hearts of men by the Spirit to be their only righteousness; and thereby that righteousness, which they had of their own before, is demonstrated to be worthless and as filthy rags. It is the ὑπάγειν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα by which this righteousness is assured to us, and by the effect of which, the Spirit, the conviction respecting it is wrought in our hearts (see Hare, as above, note T). The condemnatory side of this part of the ἔλεγχος is, that remorse , wherewith they whose day of grace is past shall look on the perfect righteousness which might have been theirs, and on the miserable substitute with which they contented themselves.

Verse 11

11. ] As δικαιοσύνη was the world’s righteousness , and the ἔλεγχος of it was the manifesting to them how worthless it (their δικαιοσύνη after its old conception) was of their own by nature, but how perfect and complete it (the same as now newly and more worthily apprehended) is in and by Christ, so now κρίσις is the world’s judgment: on the one side, their judgment or estimate, or discrimination of things, on the other side, God’s judgment , to which it is opposed. This their judgment by nature they form in subjection to the prince of this world, the Devil, of whose power they are not conscious, and whose existence they even deny: but the Spirit of God ἐλέγξει , shall convict this judgment of wrong; shall shew them how erroneous and destructive it is, and what a bondage they have been under; shall detect to them the Prince of this world reigning in the children of disobedience, and give them a better judgment , by which they shall “not be ignorant of his devices” ( 2Co 2:11 ). But this better judgment itself is that very truth of God manifested in the Lord Jesus, by which (ch. Joh 12:31 ) the Prince of this world is cast out; by which the follower of Christ is enabled to say, “Get thee behind me, Satan;” by which the unbelieving world, and its Prince, are finally condemned in the judgment hereafter (see Hare, as above, note V).

I have preferred giving pointedly what I believe to be the sense of this most important passage, to stringing together a multitude of opinions on it: seeing that of even the best Commentators no two bring out exactly the same shade of meaning, and thus classification is next to impossible. I sincerely recommend the student to read the notes in Archdeacon Hare’s work, where he will find the whole literature of the subject, with the exception of Stier’s second edition, and Luthardt’s commentary, which have been published since.

It will be seen that in my view the subjective and objective bearing of the three words are both to be kept in sight, and that the great convictive work of the Spirit is to bring man OUT OF HIMSELF INTO CHRIST, Who (in His objective manifestation) must be made unto him (subjectively), (1) ἀπολύτρωσις , (2) δικαιοσύνη , (3) σοφία (the fourth, ἁγιασμός , not being here treated of, as being another part of the Spirit’s work, and on those who are no longer the κόσμος , see ch. Joh 17:16-17 ); and to condemn those who remain in the world finally, in all these points, as having rejected Christ. And this convictive work of the Spirit is a complex and progressive work; including the ministry of the Apostles, and every step taken towards divine truth in the history of the Church, as well as the conversion of individuals, and condemnation of the unbelieving.

Verse 12

12. ] The πολλά are the things belonging to πᾶσα ἡ ἀλήθεια in the next verse, which were gradually unfolded after the Ascension, by the Spirit.

Verse 13

13. ] ἐκεῖνος , emphatical, as in John 16:8 : see note, ch. John 7:29 .

τὴν ἀλήθ . πᾶσαν ] all the truth, viz. on those points alluded to in John 16:12 . Lücke observes that the re [223] . reading connects πᾶσαν more with ὁδηγήσει , the other with ἀλήθ . The Lord had ever told them the truth , and nothing but the truth , in spiritual things, but not yet the whole truth , because they could not bear it. This the Spirit should lead them into, open the way to it, and unfold it by degrees.

[223] The Textus Receptus or received text of the Greek Testament. Used in this Edition when elz and Steph agree

No promise of universal knowledge, nor of infallibility, is hereby conveyed; but a promise to them and us, that the Holy Spirit shall teach and lead us, not as children, under the tutors and governors of legal and imperfect knowledge, but as sons ( Gal 4:6 ), making known to us the whole truth of God. This was in an especial manner fulfilled to them , as set to be the founders and teachers of the Churches.

οὐ γὰρ λαλ . ἀφ ʼ ἑαυτ . ] The Spirit does not, any more than the Son, work or speak of Himself: both are sent, the one from the Father, the other from the Father and Son: the one to testify ὅσα ἀκούσει of the Father, the other of the Father and the Son. ὅσα ἀκ ., from God, the Father and the Son.

τὰ ἐρχ . ἀναγ . ὑμ . ] As the direct fulfilment to the Apostles of the leading into the whole truth was the unfolding before them those truths which they have delivered down to us in their Epistles, so, though scattered traces of the fulfilment of this part of the promise are found in the Acts and those Epistles, its complete fulfilment was the giving of the Apocalypse, in which τὰ ἐρχόμενα are distinctly the subject of the Spirit’s revelation, and with which His direct testimony closes: see Revelation 1:1 ; Revelation 22:6 ; Revelation 22:20 . On the whole of this verse, see Ephesians 4:7-16 .

Verse 14

14. ] Notice the emphatic ἐμέ , prefixed to the verb.

This is in connexion with Joh 16:12 and sets forth that the Spirit guiding into truth is in fact the Son declaring the truth, for He shall shew forth the glory of Christ, by revealing the matters of Christ, the riches of the Father’s love in Him ( Joh 16:15 ). “Œconomia trium testium: patrem glorificat filius, filium Spiritus sanctus.” Bengel.

This verse is decisive against all additions and pretended revelations subsequent to and besides Christ; it being the work of the Spirit to testify to and declare THE THINGS OF CHRIST; not any thing new and beyond Him. And this declaration is coincident with inward advance in the likeness and image of Christ ( 2Co 3:17-18 ), not with a mere external development.

Verse 15

15. ] Here we have given us a glimpse into the essential relations of the Blessed Trinity. The Father hath given the Son to have life and all things in Himself (Colossians 1:19 ; Col 2:2-3 ), the relation being, that the Son glorifies not Himself but the Father, by revealing the Father, whom He alone knows ( Mat 11:27 ). And this Revelation, the Revelation of the Father by Christ is carried on by the blessed Spirit in the hearts of the disciples of Christ; Who takes ( λαμβάνει , indefinite, of the office of the Spirit) of the things of Christ, and declares, proclaims, to them.

διὰ τοῦτο ] For this cause I (rightly) said.… i.e. ‘this was the ground of My asserting:’ not the reason why it was said , but the justification of it when said.

This verse contains the plainest proof by inference of the orthodox doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

Verse 16

16. ] The mode of expression is (purposely) enigmatical; the θεωρεῖτε and ὄψεσθε not being co-ordinate; the first referring merely to physical, the second also to spiritual sight. So before, ch. John 14:19 , where see note.

The ὄψεσθε began to be fulfilled at the Resurrection; then received its main fulfilment at the day of Pentecost; and shall have its final completion at the great return of the Lord hereafter. Remember again, that in all these prophecies we have a perspective of continually unfolding fulfilments presented to us: see note on ch. John 14:3 .

Verses 16-24

16 24. ] The Lord speaks of His withdrawal, and its immediate mournful, but ultimate (and those soon to begin) joyful consequences for His disciples .

The connexion is: “Very soon will the Spirit, the Comforter, come to you: for I go to the Father, without any real cessation of the communion between you and Me.” Lücke.

Verses 17-18

17, 18. ] The disciples are perplexed by this μικρόν , as connected with what our Lord had before asserted John 16:10 , ὑπάγω πρὸς τ . πατέρα . That seemed to them a long and hopeless withdrawal: how was it then to be reconciled with what he now said of a short absence? What was this μικρόν ? This connexion not being observed has led to the insertion of ὅτι ἐγὼ ὑπάγω πρ . τ . πατ . in John 16:16 .

Verse 19

19. ] The real difficulty being in μικρόν , our Lord applies himself only to this, not noticing the other part of the question: which confirms the view of the connexion taken above.

Verse 20

20. ] κλαύσ . κ . θρην . are to be literally taken: see Luke 23:27 . They would mourn for Him as dead: see also ch. John 20:11 .

ὑμεῖς , emphatic, as opposed to ὁ κόσμος . And the joy of the world found its first exponent in the scoffs of the passers-by at the crucifixion.

λυπηθ . ] This goes deeper than the weeping and wailing before: and plainly shews that the whole does not only refer to the grief while the Lord was in the tomb, but to the grief continually manifesting itself in the course and conflict of the Christian, which is turned into joy by the advancing work of the Spirit of Christ: and, in the completion of the sense, to the grief and widowhood of the Church during her present state, which will be turned into joy at the coming of her Lord.

εἰς χαρ . γεν ., not merely changed for joy, but changed into so as itself to become , so that the very matter of grief shall become matter of joy; as Christ’s Cross of shame has become the glory of the Christian, Galatians 6:14 .

Verse 21

21. ] The ‘tertium comparationis’ is ἡ λύπη εἰς χαρὰν γενήσεται : but the comparison itself goes far beyond this mere similitude.

ἡ γυνή is not merely generic, but allusive to the frequent use and notoriety of the comparison. We often have it in the O.T., see Isaiah 21:3 ; Isaiah 26:17-18 ; Isaiah 37:3 ; Isaiah 66:7-8 ; Hosea 13:13-14 ; Micah 4:9-10 .

τίκτῃ ] is bringing forth, viz. παιδίον , expressed in τὸ π . below.

ἡ ὥρα αὐτ . ] her (appointed) time.

τὸ παιδ . not necessarily masculine (“non puella sed puer,” Aug [224] ), but indefinite.

[224] Augustine, Bp. of Hippo , 395 430

The deeper reference of the comparison has been well described by Olshausen: “Here arises the question, how are we to understand this similitude? We might perhaps think that the suffering Manhood of Christ was the woman in her pangs , and the same Christ glorified in the Resurrection, the Man born; but the Redeemer ( Joh 16:22 ) applies the pangs to the disciples: how then will the ἄνθρωπος who is born apply to them?” Then, after condemning the shallow and unsatisfactory method of avoiding deep research by asserting that the details of parables are not to be interpreted, he proceeds: “Hence the proper import of the figure seems to be, that the Death of Jesus Christ was as it were an anguish of birth belonging to all Humanity ( ein schmerzvoller Geburtsact der ganzen Menschheit ) in which the perfect Man was born into the world; and in this very birth of the new man lies the spring of eternal joy, never to be lost, for all, inasmuch as through Him and His power the renovation of the whole is rendered possible” (ii. 379). And indeed the same is true of every Christian who is planted in the likeness of Christ. His passing from sorrow to joy till “Christ be formed in him,” is this birth of pain. And the whole Church, the Spouse of Christ, nay, even the whole Creation, συνωδίνει , till the number of the elect be accomplished, and the eternal joy brought in. And thus the meaning which Luthardt insists on as against the above remarks of Olshausen, viz. the new birth of the Church , is in inner truth the same as his.

Verse 22

22. ] ὄψομαι in the same manifold meaning as before noticed will see you at My Resurrection by My Spirit at My second Advent.

Verse 23

23. ] ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμ ., in its full meaning, cannot import the forty days: for, Acts 1:6 , they did then ask the Lord questions (the sense of ἐρωτᾶν , see John 16:19 ; John 16:30 , not John 16:26 , where the construction is different); nor this present dispensation of the Spirit, during which we have only the first-fruits, but not the full understanding so as not to need to ask any thing: (for is not prayer itself an asking? ) but that great completion of the Christian’s hope, when he shall be with his Lord, when all doubt shall be resolved, and prayer shall be turned into praise. The Resurrection-visiting and the Pentecost-visiting of them, were but foretastes of this. Stier well remarks, “The connexion of the latter part of this verse is, The way to οὐδὲν ἐρωτᾶν any more, is to ask and to pray the more diligently, till that day comes.”

It has been supposed wrongly that ἐμέ and τὸν πατέρα are in opposition in this verse, and thence gathered (Origen de Orat. § 15, vol. i. p. 222, λέγεται (alli [225] . λείπεται ) τοίνυν προσεύχεσθαι μόνῳ τῷ θεῷ τῷ τῶν ὅλων πατρί · ἀλλὰ μὴ χωρὶς τοῦ ἀρχιερέως , κ . τ . λ .) that it is not lawful to address prayer to Christ. But such an opposition is contrary to the whole spirit of these discourses, and asking the Father in Christ’s name , is in fact asking HIM.

[225] alli = some cursive mss.

In the latter clause, notice the right reading: He shall give it you in my name, He being, as Luthardt expresses it, the element , the region , of all communication between God and the Church. Cf. Romans 1:8 , where thanks are offered διὰ Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ .

Verse 24

24. ] It was impossible, up to the time of the glorification of Jesus ( ἕως ἄρτι , proleptical, as before), to pray to the Father in His Name. It is a fulness of joy peculiar to the dispensation of the Spirit, to be able so to do, Ephesians 2:18 .

αἰτεῖτε ] See Matthew 7:7 , and mark the difference between the command then and now, that ἐν τῷ ὀν . μου is added.

Verse 25

25. ] παροιμία , properly, a proverb: but implying generally in Scriptural and oriental usage something dark and enigmatical: see especially Sir 6:35 ; Sir 8:8 ; Sir 39:3 ; Sir 47:17 ; “in dictis tectioribus,” Bengel.

This is true of the whole discourse and of the discourses of the Lord in general, as they must then have seemed to them, before the Holy Spirit furnished the key to their meaning.

ἔρχεται ὥρα , viz. the same as that indicated in John 16:16 ; John 16:23 ; but here again, not one ὥρα only exclusive of all others, but to be understood of the several steps of spiritual knowledge.

Olshausen finely remarks, that all human language is a παροιμία , only able to hint at, not to express fully, the things of God; and that the Lord contrasts the use of this weak and insufficient medium, with the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit. This inward teaching, because it is a real imparting of the divine Nature and Life, brings with it not only prayer in the name of Jesus , but a free access to the Father Himself . This παῤῥησίᾳ λαλεῖν however, he continues, is spoken of here by the Lord in its ideal perfection (as it will hereafter be): and is only approximated to on earth; for, as long as the old man yet lives in us, we require still the Lord’s intercessory prayer (ch. Joh 17:15 ), daily washing from the pollution of the world; by which Intercession alone the faithful man notwithstanding his imperfection can enjoy in peace the grace of God vouchsafed to him.

Verses 25-33

25 33. ] Their present real weakness and imperfection, though fancied strength: their future high blessedness and share in His triumph, though in tribulation in the world .

Verse 26

26. ] “The more knowledge, the more prayer in the name of Jesus,” Lücke. “Cognitio parit orationem,” Bengel. The approaching the Father through Him shall be a characteristic of their higher state under the dispensation of the Spirit.

οὐ λέγω ὑμ . ] This has been variously understood. Grotius’s rendering, “prætereo hoc quasi minus eo quod jam inferam,” comes I believe the nearest to the truth, though it does not express the whole meaning. The Lord is now describing the fulness of their state of communion with Himself and the Father by the Spirit. He is setting in the strongest light their reconciliation and access to the Father. He therefore says, Ye shall ask the Father in My name: and I do not now say to you, I do not now state it in this form, that I will ask the Father for you as if there were no relation of love and mercy between the Father and yourselves: ( 27 ) for the Father Himself ( αὐτός , i.e. αὐτοκέλευτος (Nonnus) ‘proprio motu’) loveth you; why? Because ye love and believe on Me.

The whole mind of the Father towards mankind is Love: both in Redemption itself (ch. Joh 3:16 ), and then in an especial manner by drawing those who come to Christ ( Joh 6:44 ), and again by this fuller manifestation of His love to those who believe on and love Christ. The aim of this saying is to shew them that His intercession (which is still going on under the dispensation of the Spirit, 1Jn 2:1 ) does not imply their exclusion from access to the Father, but rather ensures that access , by the especial love which the Father bears to them who believe in and love His Son: CHRIST being still the efficient cause of the Father’s love to them, and the channel of that Love.

No stress must be laid (Lücke) on πεφιλήκατε here coming before πεπιστεύκατε , as to Faith coming after Love: probably πεφιλ . is placed first as corresponding to φιλεῖ just before: and it might be said with just as much reason that καὶ πεπιστεύκατε … contains the ground of the πεφιλ , as the converse.

Verse 28

28. ] “Recapitulationem maximam habet hic versus,” Bengel. ‘And your belief is sound: for I did indeed come forth’ … see ch. John 13:3 . “Exiit a Patre, quia de Patre est; in mundum venit, quia mundo suum corpus ostendit quod de virgine assumpsit; reliquit mundum corporali discessione, perrexit ad Patrem hominis adscensione, nec mundum deseruit præsentiæ gubernatione.” Aug [226] Tract. cii. 6.

[226] Augustine, Bp. of Hippo , 395 430

Verses 29-30

29, 30 ] The stress is on νῦν : q. d. why announce that as future , which Thou art doing now? The hour was not yet come for the ἐν παῤῥησίᾳ λαλεῖν : so that we must understand the disciples’ remark to be made in weakness, however true their persuasion, and heartfelt their confession. “Usque adeo non intelligunt, ut nec saltem se non intelligere intelligant. Parvuli enim erant.” Aug [227] Tract. ciii. 1. “Dolent, se a Magistro pro imperitis haberi, qui conciones ejus non intelligant, alioque doctore, promisso Spiritu, indigeant. Quare eo usque progrediuntur, ut Christo contradicant, et clarissima ejus verba invertant, eumque parœmiastice locutum esse negent.” Lampe, vol. iii. 350. But by νῦν they probably only mean, in John 16:26-28 .

[227] Augustine, Bp. of Hippo , 395 430

Verse 30

30. ] ‘Thou hast spoken so clearly of our feeling towards Thee, and of Thyself, that we have no occasion to ask Thee any thing; and this was what Thou didst announce would be; we know therefore, by its being so, that Thou knowest the secrets of our hearts ( πάντα by inference), and hence believe that Thou camest forth from God:’ the whole being a misunderstanding of what had gone before, John 16:23 ; John 16:25 .

Verse 31

31. ] Our Lord does not clear up their misunderstanding, but leaves that for the coming day of the Spirit. He only assures them that their belief, though sincere and loving, was not so deeply grounded in knowledge of Him and His appointed course as they imagined.

ἄρτι πιστ . is not a question: this very belief was by our Lord recognized and commended, see ch. John 17:8 , also Matthew 16:17-18 . And as Stier remarks (v. 369, edn. 2), “it was the aim and purpose of the whole prophetic office of Jesus, to prepare some first disciples (not the Apostles alone) for the reception of the Spirit of Truth and the fruits of His Death, by grounding in them firm belief in His Person.” He therefore recognizes their faith; but shews them how weak it as yet was.

Verse 32

32. ] See Matthew 26:31 , to which same prophecy the reference here is.

εἰς τὰ ἴδ ., “quæ antea propter Me reliquistis.” Bengel: see Luke 18:28 .

καὶ οὐκ εἰμὶ μ . ] and (not but: it is a pathetic use of the copulative, and a favourite one with St. John: cf., besides ref., ch. John 3:11 ; John 3:32 ; John 6:70 ; John 7:19 ; John 8:38 ; John 8:49 ; John 10:25 ; John 13:33 ; John 14:30 ; John 17:11 ; John 17:14 ; Joh 17:25 ) I am not alone: the Father can never leave the Son, even in the darkest hour of His human suffering: the apparent desertion implied in the cry “Why hast Thou forsaken me?” being perfectly consistent with this, see note, Matthew 27:46 .

Verse 33

33. ] On the first clause, especially ἐν ἐμοί , see ch. John 15:7 . This presupposes the return from the scattering in John 16:32 , the branches again gathered in the vine.

ἔχετε , of their normal state in the world.

This θλῖψις is not only persecution from the world , but trouble, inward distress, while we are in the world , ch. John 17:11 ; a comforting sign that we are not of the world (see Stier, v. 373, edn. 2).

And this latter idea is implied between the two clauses: ‘Be of good cheer; for ye belong not to the world, but to Me, who have (proleptically again, by that which is now at hand) overcome the world, so that it shall have no power over you, externally by persecution, or internally by temptations or discouragements.’ See 1 John 5:4-5 .

Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 16". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hac/john-16.html. 1863-1878.
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