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Bible Commentaries

International Critical Commentary NT

John 16

Verses 1-99

Future Persecution (16:1-4)

16:1. ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν: see on 15:11. ταῦτα covers all that has been said about future persecution (15:20), as well as about the promise of the Paraclete, who was to bear witness concerning Christ.

ἵνα μὴ σκανδαλισθῆτε. This image of the σκάνδαλα of faith, the stumbling-blocks which trip up a disciple, is very common in the Synoptists, but in Jn. only here and at 6:61 (cf. 1 John 2:10). These parting counsels were given in order that they might not be surprised or “offended” when troubles came.


2.�

δόξῃ λατρείαν προσφέρειν τῷ θεῷ, “shall think (so blind will he be) that he is offering service to God.” (λατρεία does not occur elsewhere in the Gospels.) Paul’s persecution of the early disciples was a notable instance of such mistaken zeal (cf. Acts 22:3, Acts 22:4, Acts 22:26:9, also 8:1, 9:1). A Midrash on Numbers 25:13 (cited by De Wette) has the maxim, “Quisquis effundit sanguinem impii idem facit ac si sacrificium offerat.” And among Gentiles the same fanaticism has often displayed itself. Tacitus (Ann. xv. 44) evidently thought that persecution of Christians to their death was morally justified. Many persecutors are sincere, but their sincerity does not excuse them, if they might have learnt the truth, and did not do so.


3. ταῦτα ποιήσουσιν ὑμῖν. The rec., with אDL and some vss., retains ὑμῖν, which ABΓΔΘ omit. Probably it ought to be retained (cf. 15:21).

ὅτι οὐκ ἔγνωσαν κτλ., “because they did not recognise the Father or me.” This is virtually repeated from 15:21 (where see note). That the Jews did not “know” God, and thus did not recognise Divinity in Jesus, has been said several times before (7:28, 8:19); and that “the world knew Him not” (1:10) when He came is the constant theme of the “Gospel of the Rejection.”

Ignorance, or want of appreciation of the true bearing of facts, may often be at the root of wrong doing, and it is wholesome to remember this. “When some one does you an injury or speaks ill of you, remember that he either does it or speaks it, believing that it is right and meet for him to do so. … So you will bear a gentle mind towards him … saying each time, So it appeared to him” (Epictetus, Enchir. 42). Cf. Luke 23:34, Acts 3:17, 1 Corinthians 2:8.


But the ignorance of the Jews of the true character of Jesus is always treated in Jn. as blameworthy and as deserving of punishment, for they ought to have known.

4. For ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν, see on 15:11. It is preceded by�

ταῦτα δὲ ὑμῖν ἐξ�Matthew 23:34, Mark 13:9f. = Luke 21:12f. It is true that Mt. puts his parallel passage to Mark 13:9f. as early as the tenth chapter (Matthew 10:17f.); and it is also noteworthy that persecution is foreshadowed in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:10, Matthew 5:11, Luke 6:22). But Mt. has rearranged our Lord’s sayings in such contexts as suit the frame of his narrative, and it is not surprising that he has placed the warning about persecution immediately after the charge to the Twelve. Nor is it to be thought that all the reported sayings in the Sermon on the Mount were delivered at one time: the Beatitude of the Persecuted would naturally be one of the last that would have been proclaimed, so austere a saying is it. There is, therefore, no good reason for doubting the statement which Jn. places in the mouth of Jesus, sc. that He did not speak at the beginning of His ministry of the ardua in store for His followers, although the perpetual burden of His exhortation was that they must be ready to “take up the cross.” Cf. 15:18.


The reason assigned for this reserve is ὅτι μεθʼ ὑμῶν ἤμην, “because I was with you.” That is, seemingly, as long as He was there, the attacks of His enemies would be directed against Him rather than against them; persecution of a serious kind would come upon them only after His departure.

The Coming of the Paraclete Consequent on the Departure of Jesus (vv. 5-7)

5. ὑπάγω πρὸς τὸν πέμψαντά με, repeated verbally from 7:33, where see note on ὑπάγειν. Cf. vv. 10, 17, 28, and 14:12.

καὶ οὐδείς κτλ. καί is used for�

The “going” of Jesus “to the Father” throughout this chapter refers directly to His Death, when He re-entered the world of spirit (cf. Luke 23:46). This was the moment when His mission was completed: τετέλεσται (19:30). Jn. lays no stress on the Ascension as distinct from the Resurrection of Christ (although he makes allusion to the Ascension as a specific event, 6:62). See 20:17. For him the hour of the “glorification” of Jesus was the hour of His Passion (cf. 13:31 and 14:7).


6. ὅτι ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν, sc. because He had told them of the persecutions which they would experience: see on 15:11.

λύπη is found in Jn. in this chapter only (vv. 20, 21, 22); λύπη, λυπεῖν, are never used of Jesus in the Gospels.

7. For the asseveration τὴν�Romans 9:1, 1 Timothy 2:7. Jesus had used it before, in disputation with the Jews (8:45, 46). Here, however, it introduces with solemnity the enigmatical saying “it is expedient for you that I go away,” and is used like the prelude�

συμφέρει (cf. 11:50, 18:14) ὑμῖν ἵνα ἐγὼ�Luke 8:38, Luke 9:57). (2) But the reason assigned by Jesus Himself for the profitableness to His disciples of His departure is quite different. He said that if He did not go away from them, the Paraclete would not come to them, and that the mission of the Spirit could not begin until He had gone. This is one of those profound spiritual sayings in the Fourth Gospel which cannot be fully explained; but we have it hinted at before in the evangelist’s words, “the Spirit was not yet, for Jesus was not yet glorified” (7:39). Why the Spirit’s influence could not be released during the earthly ministry of Jesus, as it was after His Passion and Resurrection, is a question to which no complete answer can be given. Perhaps it provides the supreme illustration of the gospel law that life comes only through death: a principle which is applied by Paul as well as by Jn., when he speaks of the Risen Christ (who had passed through death) as a Quickening Spirit. See further on 7:39 above.1 It has been well said that “the Coming of the Holy Ghost was not merely to supply the absence of the Son, but to complete His presence.”2

ἀπέλθω. Three verbs are used in this passage (vv. 7-9) of Jesus “going” to God; and attempts have been made to distinguish their meaning. Thus,�Mark 14:21 has ὑπάγει where the parallel Luke 22:22 has πορεύεται; in Tob. 8:21 B has πορεύεσθαι, while א has ὑπάγειν. These verbs are discussed at length by Abbott (Diat. 1652-1664), who endeavours to distinguish the Johannine usage of each: see on 7:33, and cf. 6:67.


ἐὰν γὰρ μὴ�

In the Synoptists, this promise of support and Divine help in persecution is recorded more briefly, but quite explicitly. “When they lead you to judgment … be not anxious what you shall speak …; for it is not you that speak, but the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11, Matthew 10:19, Luke 12:11, Luke 21:15). Here is assured to the apostles the help of the παράκλητος, as the advocate for their defence, who speaks through their mouths. In the present passage Jn. presents this thought more fully. The παράκλητος will not only provide their defence, but He will assume the part of the prosecutor, who convicts their accusers and the accusers of Jesus of being in the wrong. All early Christian preaching was, of necessity, apologetic and polemical. The first heralds of the gospel had to defend their new message, and were constrained to attack the Jewish and heathen doctrines in which much of evil was present. Both in defence and attack, the Holy Spirit was their unseen παράκλητος.


καὶ ἐλθὼν ἐκεῖνος ἐλέγξει κτλ. ἐλέγχειν τινα περί τινος (cf. 8:46) is a classical construction (Aristoph. Plutus, 574), “to convict one of anything.” ἐλέγχειν is to cross-examine for the purpose of convincing or refuting an opponent (the word being specially used of legal proceedings), and the ἔλεγχος may be brought to a head by means of witness or testimony.1 Philo speaks of the ἔλεγχος of a man’s conscience, and in one place identifies it with the Logos (τὸν σωφρονιστὴν ἔλεγχον, τὸν ἑαυτοῦ λόγον, quod det. pot, c. 40; cf. also c. 8). In another passage (de animal. sacr. idon. 11), when speaking of a penitent going into the Temple, he calls the ἔλεγχος or conviction of his soul (ὁ κατὰ ψυχὴν ἔλεγχος) a “blameless advocate,” παράκλητος οὐ μεμπτός. This brings together the ideas of παράκλητος and ἔλεγχος, as in the verse before us.

ἐλέγξει τὸν κόσμον (see on 1:9 for the Johannine use of κόσμος) περὶ ἁμαρτίας. Jesus had confidently asked τίς … ἐλέγχει με περὶ ἁμαρτίας; (8:46; cf. Luke 3:19 for the constr.); but the Paraclete would definitely convict the world of sin, as Jesus Himself had begun to do while He was in the flesh (7:7). This would not be until the Passion had been fulfilled (cf. 8:28; and see on v. 7 above). An early illustration of this “conviction” is given Acts 2:36, Acts 2:37, where the crowds who had heard Peter’s inspired preaching were “pricked to the heart”: cf. 1 Corinthians 14:24, 1 Corinthians 14:25. It will be observed that in vv. 7-11, as well as at 15:26, the Paraclete is spoken of, not as man’s advocate with God (1 John 2:1), but as Christ’s advocate with the world. See Introd., p. xxi.


9. Abbott (Diat. 2077) notes that in Johannine words of Jesus, μέν occurs only twice (here and at v. 22), in both cases being followed by δέ.

περὶ ἁμαρτίας μέν, ὅτι οὐ πιστεύουσιν εἰς ἐμέ. This was the sin to which He had just referred (15:22), and which He had already said (15:26) that the witness of the Paraclete would expose. It is the touchstone of moral character to discern God in Christ, as is repeatedly insisted on by Jn.: cf. 3:18, 36, 9:41, 1 John 5:10. This is “to believe on Him”: cf. 1:12, 4:39, and see 8:24.


The primary thought is of the vindication of Jesus to the world, which shall be “convicted” by the Paraclete of the sin which is inherent in its rejection of Jesus. But, although it is not directly stated here, the fact that the Spirit “convicts” of sin has been the experience of every disciple, as well as of the antagonists, of Jesus.

10. περὶ δικαιοσύνης. Syr. sin. has (at v. 8) “He will reprove the world in its sins and about His righteousness.” This brings out that the δικαιοσύνη of which the world will be “convinced” to its shame is the δικαιοσύνη of Christ. It will be “convicted of righteousness” by pointing to Christ the Righteous One (1 John 2:1, 1 Peter 3:18, Acts 3:14, Acts 7:52). The Jews, as Paul says, were “ignorant of God’s righteousness” (Romans 10:3); they had not perceived that a new type of righteousness had been exhibited in the Person of Jesus, in whom was “no unrighteousness” (7:18 above). But the words used here go deeper.


“He shall convict the world of righteousness, because I go to the Father.” Absolute Righteousness could be revealed only in the Risen Christ. With the Passion, His Revelation of the Father was completed (see on v. 5); and henceforth the Paraclete was to convince the world of the Perfect Righteousness which is in Christ revealed and made accessible to men.

It is apposite to cite here the testimony of one of the most impartial of modern historians. “It was reserved for Christianity,” writes Lecky,1 “to present to the world an ideal character, which through all the changes of eighteen centuries has inspired the hearts of men with an impassioned love; has shown itself capable of acting on all ages, nations, temperaments, and conditions; has been not only the highest pattern of virtue, but the strongest incentive to its practice; and has exercised so deep an influence that it may be truly said that the simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers and all the exhortations of moralists.” If we put this tribute into Johannine language, we shall say that the Spirit has convinced the world of the Righteousness of Christ.

ὅτι πρὸς τὸν πατέρα ὑπάγω. Cf. vv. 5, 16, 17, 19, 28; and see 7:33 for ὑπάγω. After πατέρα, the rec. inserts μου, with AΓΔΘ, but om. אBDLW.

καὶ οὐκέτι θεωρεῖτέ με, “and ye behold me no longer,” sc. with the bodily eyes, for Jesus will have entered into the region of spirit: cf. vv. 16, 17, 19. There is no contradiction between this and ὑμεῖς θεωρεῖτέ με of 14:19 (q.v.), θεωρεῖν being there used of spiritual vision. See on 2:23 for the various usage of this verb in Jn.

11. περὶ δὲ κρίσεως. As the Spirit will convict the world of its sin, and reveal the true δικαιοσύνη, thereby the spiritual significance of judgment will be disclosed (cf. 5:30, Acts 17:31). There is nothing arbitrary in the Divine judgment; it is the inevitable issue of moral laws. Good is not the same as evil, and the sharpness of the distinction is revealed by the Spirit in His assurance of κρίσις, i.e. separation or judgment. He will convince the world at once of the justice and the inevitableness of God’s judgments.

The world (see 8:23) is not yet judged; but it will be judged at last; and the assurance of this is part of the message of Christ’s Passion; for in this, which was apparently defeat but really victory, ὁ ἄρχων τοῦ κοσμοῦ τούτου (cf. 12:31, 14:30 for this title) κέκριται, “the prince of this world has been judged.” See on 12:31, where this has been said before, in similar words; and cf. 13:31, where the Passion is regarded as already begun. For this aspect of the Passion, that it is the defeat of the Evil One, cf. Hebrews 2:14, “that through death He might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” In later times, pious imagination played round the idea of the defeat and judgment of Satan, and the legend of the Harrowing of Hell, first found in the Gospel of Nicodemus, was widespread. All that is said in Jn. is κέκριται, “he has already been judged” (cf. Luke 10:18), and this will issue in final expulsion from the domain over which he claims rule (12:31).

In the fifth century Freer MS. (W), which contains the last twelve verses of Mark, there is interpolated after Mark 16:14, in which Jesus has rebuked the unbelief of the disciples, a remarkable passage which recalls the order of ideas in John 16:8-11, as follows: “And they excused themselves, saying that this age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who, through the agency of unclean spirits, does not allow the true power of God to be apprehended. Wherefore, they said to Christ, reveal now Thy righteousness. And Christ said to them, The limit of the years of Satan’s authority has been fulfilled (πεπλήρωται ὁ ὅρος τῶν ἐτῶν τῆς ἐξουσίας τοῦ Σατανᾶ), but other terrors (δεῖνα) draw near, and I was delivered up to death on behalf of those that have sinned, that they may be turned to the truth and sin no more, so that they may inherit the spiritual and incorruptible glory of righteousness in heaven. But go ye into all the world, etc.” Here we have a complaint of unbelief caused by Satan, to be cured by the revelation of Christ’s righteousness, to which Christ replies that Satan’s power is ended, that is, “he has been judged” (John 16:11). The impending “terrors” may be the persecutions foretold in John 16:2, John 16:3. In this apocryphon there may be preserved an independent tradition of words recorded in John 16:2-11.


12. ἔτι πολλὰ ἔχω ὑμῖν λέγειν κτλ. So אBL, but the rec. has λέγειν ὑμῖν. The constr. is thoroughly classical; cf. Demosth. Olynth. ii. τὰ μὲν ἄλλα σιωπῶ, πολλʼ ἄν ἔχων εἰπεῖν.

At 15:15 Jesus had assured His disciples that He had withheld from them nothing of His Father’s purpose, but this was necessarily subject to the reservation that there were some matters which they could not understand. All revelation is subject to the condition “Quicquid recipitur, recipitur ad modum recipientis.” So He now tells them that there are many things which they cannot yet bear (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:2). βαστάζειν is used figuratively (as at Acts 15:10) of “bearing” a mental burden; see on 12:6. For ἄρτι, see on 9:19: its position here at the end of the sentence gives it emphasis.

The words of this verse show that the full Christian message is not contained in such teaching as, e.g., is found in the Synoptic Gospels. That marks a stage only in the revelation of God in Christ. If the challenge “Back to Jesus” means that we may safely neglect the interpretation of His gospel put forth by the Christians of the Apostolic age, then it is misleading. It is part of the teaching of Jesus Himself, if John 16:12 truly expresses His mind, that much would be learnt of Divine things under the guidance of the Spirit, which could not have been taught with profit during His public ministry on earth.


13. We have here a new thought as to the office of the Paraclete. Hitherto He has been presented as the vindicator of Jesus to the world, by His witness (15:26), and His convincing and convicting power (16:9-11). But now He appears in a different capacity, sc. as a Guide and Teacher of the faithful (vv. 13-15). Cf. 14:26, where a short summary is given of what is said more fully here as to the office of the Spirit in relation to the Church.

ὅταν δὲ ἔλθῃ ἐκεῖνος, τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς�

In Revelation 7:17 ὁδηγεῖν is used of the Lamb leading the saints to fountains of living water; but the thought and the language of the verse before us seem to go back to the O.T. conception of the Divine leadership of Israel as a whole and of individual Israelites, which is so often expressed in the Psalms. Cf. Psalms 143:10 τὸ πνεῦμά σου τὸ ἄγιον (v.l.�Psalms 25:5 ὁδήγησόν με ἐπὶ τὴν�Psalms 107:7.


We have a similar phrase in Philo (de vit. Mos. iii. 36), who says that sometimes a guess is akin to a prophecy, for the mind would not hit on the point so directly, were not a divine spirit leading it towards the truth, εἰ μὴ καὶ θεῖον ἦν πνεῦμα τὸ ποδηγετοῦν πρὸς αὐτὴν τὴν�

In this verse, then, the work of the Paraclete as a guide is brought into close relation with what is said in the Psalms (especially Psalms 143:10) as to the work of the Spirit of Yahweh. The Paraclete is not explicitly identified with the “Holy Spirit,” a Name familiar to every Jew, until 14:26; but what is said at this point prepares us for the identification.

ὁδηγήσει ὑμᾶς κτλ., “He will guide you” sc. the apostles, to whom the words were addressed. It is natural, and in a sense legitimate, for modern readers to give the promise a wider reference, and to interpret it of a gradual revelation of the truth to the Church under the guidance of the Spirit.2 But it is not clear that the author of the Fourth Gospel would have recognised such an interpretation of the words which he records. For him, the revelation to the apostles after the Descent of the Spirit was final and complete (cf. 20:22 and Hebrews 1:1). In any case, by “all the truth” is meant here “all the truth about Christ and His Gospel”; the thought of the gradual revelation of scientific truth, and the ever-increasing knowledge of the works of God in nature, is not present in the text. The promise to the apostles did not mean, e.g., that they would be divinely guided into all truth as to economic law or as to the distribution of property (Acts 4:35). See further on 14:26.


οὐ γὰρ λαλήσει�

To report τὰ ἐρχόμενα is to predict the future, so that prophecy in the sense of prediction is included here in the work of the Paraclete. This is the only place in Jn. where any of the Pauline χαρίσματα of the Spirit is mentioned (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:29, 1 Corinthians 12:30); and Wendt would treat the words τὰ ἐρχ … ὑμῖν as an editorial addition, regarding them as out of harmony with the context.1 But we have already seen that the description of the Paraclete’s office as “guiding into truth” recalls O. T. phrases as to the work of the Holy Spirit, a main part of which, to Jewish thought, was the inspiration of the prophets. That it should be said of the promised Paraclete τὰ ἐρχόμενα�Revelation 1:1, Revelation 22:6).

To Jewish thought the expected Christ was ὁ ἐρχόμενος, the Coming One (Luke 7:20, John 6:14); and to Christian thought He is still ὁ ἐρχόμενος, for He is, in some sense, to come again. There is a hint of apocalyptic prevision of the Last Things in τὰ ἐρχόμενα�Mark 13:26). See Introd., p. clix.


14. ἐκεῖνος ἐμὲ δοξάσει. The Spirit was not to come until Jesus had been “glorified,” i.e. in His Passion (7:39); but thenceforth every fresh revelation of the Spirit, all new insight into the meaning of Christ’s gospel, would be a fresh “glorification” of Christ, an enlargement of man’s sense of His majesty. As the Son had “glorified” the Father while He was on earth (17:4), so the Spirit will “glorify” the Son after He has departed from human vision.

ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ ἐμου λήμψεται καὶ�

15. πάντα ὅσα ἔχει ὁ πατὴρ ἐμά ἐστιν. This is the perpetual claim of the Johannine Christ, repeated once more at 17:10. So Paul can speak of “the unsearchable wealth of the Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).


διὰ τοῦτο, referring to what precedes (see on 5:16). “Wherefore I said that (ὄτι recitantis) He takes of mine and shall show it unto you,” repeated from v. 14, with the slight verbal change of λαμβάνει (BDLNWΘ) for λήμψεται of v. 14 (which is retained by the rec. with אcA, the Latin vss., and Syr. sin.). This repetition of a striking phrase, a word or two being altered, is a feature of Johannine style (see on 3:16).

ἀναγγελεῖ ὑμῖν, thrice repeated at the end of vv. 13, 14, 15, is like a solemn refrain, calling special attention to the revealing office of the Spirit.

The Disciples’ Perplexity as to Jesus’ Return (vv. 16-19)

16. μικρόν, “a little while”; see on 7:33, 13:33, 14:19. Jesus dwells again and again on the nearness of His Passion.

οὐκέτι is the true reading at this point (אBDgrWNΘ); but the rec. has οὐ (assimilated to v. 17), with AΓΔ. καὶ οὐκέτι θεωρεῖτέ με is here repeated from v. 10.

“A little while, and ye no longer behold me,” sc. with the bodily eyes (see on 2:23 for θεωρεῖν). On the day after these words were spoken, He would meet death, after which they would no longer be able to look upon His face as heretofore. It is to be observed that οὐκέτι (see on 4:42) always means “no longer” in Jn., sc. that the action in question is discontinued; it does not necessarily mean “never again.”

καὶ πάλιν μικρὸν καὶ ὄψεσθέ με, “And again, a little while,” sc. the period between His Death and His Resurrection, “and ye shall see me.” ὄπτομαι, a verb always used in Jn. of the vision of spiritual realities (see on 1:51), now takes the place of θεωρεῖν. παλὶν δὲ ὄψομαι ὑμᾶς, Jesus says, in like manner, at v. 22. The “seeing” of the Risen Lord in His spiritual body, and His “seeing” of His disciples after His Resurrection, are more suitably expressed by ὄπτεσθαι than by θεωρεῖν (although cf. 20:14).

The rec. adds (from v. 10 or v. 17), after ὄψεσθέ με, ὅτι ἐγὼ ὑπάγω πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, with ANΔΘ; but the phrase is not found at this point in אBDLW or Pap. Oxy. 1781.

17. The disciples were puzzled. ὑπάγω πρὸς τὸν πατέρα (v. 10) seemed to indicate a final withdrawal of His visible presence, and yet He used the word μικρόν (v. 16), which suggested that it would be only temporary.

εἶπαν οὖν ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ κτλ. We must supply τινές. For a similar elliptical construction, cf. 7:40; and for πρὸς�

κλαύσετε καὶ θρηνήσετε. These are the verbs used of the loud wailings and lamentations customary in the East after a death. They both occur Jeremiah 22:10; for κλαίειν see on 11:31, and for θρηνεῖν cf. 2 Samuel 1:17. That the women lamented for Jesus (ἐθρήνουν αὐτόν) on the way to the Cross is told Luke 23:27; and that they were wailing (κλαίειν) on the morning of the Resurrection is mentioned Mark 16:10; cf. John 20:11 Μαριάμ … κλαίουσα. Pseudo-Peter (§ 12) adds that the apostles also exhibited their sorrow by weeping, ἡμεῖς … ἐκλαίομεν καὶ ἐλυπούμεθα. It is plain that κλαύσετε καὶ θρηνήσετε in the present passage refers to the grief which the disciples will display when their Master is taken from them.


ὁ δὲ κόσμος χαρήσεται: but the hostile world, i.e. the Jewish adversaries of Jesus, will rejoice that the Prophet whom they hate (15:18) has been removed.

ὑμεῖς λυπηθήσεσθε, referring to the inward grief which they will feel (cf. 21:17, the only other place where the verb is found in Jn.). ὑμεῖς is emphatic.

ἀλλʼ ἡ λύπη ὑμῶν εἰς χαρὰν γενήσεται. So it came to pass. ἐχάρησαν οἱ μαθηταὶ ἰδόντες τὸν κύριον (20:20). Cf.�Esther 9:22; and see Jeremiah 31:13). See also 2 Ezra 2:27.


21. ἡ γυνή, sc. any woman, what follows being universally true; Cf. ὁ κόκκος (12:24) or ὁ δοῦλος (15:15). Abbott (Diat. 1948) takes the article as indicating that it is the woman of a household, i.e. the wife, that is in question. But this is to miss the point.

The image of a woman in travail is frequent in the O.T., where the suddenness and inevitableness of travail pains are often mentioned (e.g. Isaiah 26:17, Isaiah 26:2 Esd. 16:38); but the thought of the joy which follows the pain does not occur except here. Some expositors have thought that the Birth of the Church and the travail pains of the Passion are contemplated in this passage (cf. Isaiah 66:7, Hosea 13:13, Mark 13:8); but it is over subtle and inconsistent with the context to bring in such an idea. The apostles were not in travail with the Church that was to be. The true (and only) exposition of this beautiful image is given in the verse which follows. The image provides a familiar and touching illustration of the truth that pain is often the necessary antecedent to the supreme joys of life.


22. καὶ ὑμεῖς οὖν. For the constr. see 8:38. This is the application of the image of the joy which follows the pain of childbirth. “You now, indeed (for μέν, see on v. 9), have grief,” but presently you will rejoice. ἔχετε (א*BCΔ) is to be preferred to ἔξετε of אcADLΘ.

πάλιν δὲ ὄψομαι ὑμᾶς. Here is even a greater promise than ὄψεσθέ με of v. 16: it is better to be seen of God than to see Him (cf. Galatians 4:9). This was the promise of Jesus, that He would see His disciples after He was risen.

καὶ χαρήσεται ὑμῶν ἡ καρδία The phrase is identical with that of Isaiah 66:14 (ὄψεσθε, καὶ χαρήσεται ἡ καρδία ὑμῶν: cf. also Psalms 33:21) Cf. 20:14-16, when the promise was fulfilled in the first instance. Such joy is inalienable, οὐδεὶς αἴρει�


23. ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ. This phrase occurs again at v. 26, and at 14:20; and in each case it signifies the day when the Spirit has been released, Jesus having been “glorified” (see on 7:39). The teaching of the Fourth Gospel is that the moment of consummation of the work of Jesus is the moment of His Death: τετέλεσται (19:30). After His Resurrection, He gave the Spirit to the assembled disciples: λάβετε πνεῦμα ἅγιον (20:22). The Day of Pentecost is described in Act_2 as a Day when a special gift of spiritual power was manifested, and there is nothing in Jn. which is inconsistent with such a manifestation. But for Jn. the Day of the Spirit’s Advent is the Day of the Resurrection of Jesus; and to introduce the thoughts of what happened at Pentecost into the exegesis of these Last Discourses is to make confusion. ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ signifies the new Dispensation or Era of the Spirit, which began with the Resurrection, to the thought of Jn.

ἐμὲ οὐκ ἐρωτήσετε οὐδέν. ἐρωτᾶν may mean either “to ask a question,” as often in Jn. (1:19, 21, 25, 5:12, 9:2, 15, 19, 21, 23, 16:5, 19, 30, 18:19, 21), or “to entreat, to beseech, to ask a boon” (as at 4:31, 40, 47, 12:21, 19:31, 38). We have already noted (on 11:22) that it is the verb used of the prayers of Jesus by Himself (16:26, 14:16, 17:9, 15, 20), but that it is not used elsewhere in the Gospel of the prayers of men (cf., however, 1 John 5:16).


Hence ἐμὲ οὐκ ἐρωτήσετε οὐδέν may be translated in two ways:

(1) “In that day ye shall ask me no questions,” as they had desired to do, v. 19; cf. v. 30. When the Paraclete came, they would no longer need to ask Jesus questions, such as those addressed to Him at 13:36, 14:5, 22; for the Spirit would teach them all things (14:26, 16:13). But this seems to break the sequence of thought, and there is no mention of the Spirit in the immediate context. Further, as Field points out, the emphatic position of ἐμέ before the negative and the verb, naturally suggests a comparison with τὸν πατέρα in the next clause.

(2) It is better to render, “In that day, ye shall ask nothing of me.” The visible company of Jesus would be withdrawn, so that they would no longer be able to ask favours of Him or proffer requests to Him, face to face. But there is a great compensation, and its promise is introduced by the solemn prelude�

The view that the contrast is between “asking me” and “asking the Father” has been rejected by some commentators because ἐρωτᾶν is used in the first case, and αἰτεῖν in the second. But (see on 11:22) these verbs are not sharply distinguished in later Greek (cf. Acts 3:2, Acts 3:3 for an illustration of their being used interchangeably). The general purport of the teaching of these discourses is that it will be spiritually beneficial for the disciples that their Master should depart (16:7). New sources of knowledge and spiritual power will henceforth be available for them. They will be empowered to achieve great things on earth (14:12), and their prayers will have a potential efficacy, such as could not have been before it was possible to offer them in the Name of Jesus.


δώσει ὑμῖν ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου. This is the order of words in אBC*LΔ, and is supported by Origen and the paraphrase of Nonnus. The rec. has ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου δώσει ὑμῖν, with AC3DNWΓΘ, the Syriac and Latin vss. generally.

If we adopt the former reading, which prima facie has the weight of MS. authority, the natural rendering of the sentence is, “If you ask anything of the Father, He will give it to you in my Name.” This is difficult of interpretation. It is true that Jesus speaks later of “the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my Name” (14:26, where see note), but that is a way of speaking which has parallels at 5:43, 10:25. To say that the Father gives in the Name of the Son a boon which has been sought in prayer is unlike anything elsewhere in the N.T. It is not adequate to interpret this as meaning only that the Son is the medium through which prayer is answered as well as offered. That is true in a sense (see on 14:13), but to speak of the Father acting ἐν ὀνόματι τοῦ υἱοῦ is foreign alike to Johannine doctrine and to Johannine phraseology. The phrase ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου occurs 15:16, 16:23, 24, 26, 14:13, 14, 26 (7 times in all) in these Last Discourses; and in every case (except the last, 14:26, to which reference has already been made) it has reference to the essential condition of Christian prayer, sc. that it should be offered “in the Name” of Christ.

The Greek, however, does not necessarily require us to connect ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου here with δώσει ὑμῖν, even if δώσει ὑμῖν precedes ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου. For we have seen above (on 12:13) that εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι κυρίου must be rendered “Blessed in the Name of the Lord is He that cometh,” ἐν ὀνόματι κυρίου being taken with εὐλογημένος, although ὁ ἐρχόμενος immediately precedes. In the present passage, in like manner, it is legitimate to take ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου with αἰτήσητε τὸν πατέρα, although δώσει ὑμῖν immediately precedes. The meaning, then, is exactly similar to that of 15:16 ἵνα ὅ τι ἂν αἰτήσητε τὸν πατέρα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου δῷ ὑμῖν. See notes on 14:13, 15:16. And that this is here also the true sequence of words is confirmed by the next verse, where Jesus goes on to say that hitherto the apostles had asked nothing in His Name. See on 20:31.

24. For ἓως ἄρτι, cf. 2:10, 5:17.

Hitherto they had asked nothing in the Name of Jesus. They could not have done so, nor had they before this been taught to do so. The dispensation of the Spirit had not yet begun. Not yet could a Christian disciple say διʼ αὐτοῦ ἔχομεν τὴν προσαγωγὴν … ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι πρὸς τὸν πατέρα (Ephesians 2:18).

αἰτεῖτε, “Be asking,” the pres. indicating continuous prayer; καὶ λήμψεσθε, “and ye shall receive.” The new mode of prayer has a more certain promise of response than anything that had gone before, although αἰτεῖτε καὶ δοθήσεται ὑμῖν (Matthew 7:7) had been a precept of the Sermon on the Mount (see on 14:13).


ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ ὑμῶν ᾖ πεπληρωμένη. Christian prayer issues in the fulness of Christian joy. For this thought of “joy being fulfilled,” which is frequent in Jn., see on 15:11 above, with the references there given.

Jesus Ceases to Speak in Parables, and Promises the Disciples Direct Access to the Father Who Loves Them and to Whom He Returns (vv. 25-28)

25. ταῦτα ἐν παροιμίαις λελάληκα ὑμῖν. For παροιμία, see on 10:6; cf. Psalms 78:2.

We have seen (on 15:11) that ταῦτα in the seven-times-repeated ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν refers in each case to what has immediately preceded. So here ταῦτα points back to the sayings in 16:15ff. about the approaching departure of Jesus. The apostles had not understood the meaning of ὑπάγω πρὸς τὸν πατέρα (v. 18), or of what Jesus had said about their seeing Him again. He puts it more plainly in v. 28, whereupon they reply at once that now they know what He means (v. 29). Whatever allusion ταῦτα ἐν παροιμίαις λελάληκα ὑμῖν may carry to the veiled teachings suggested by the images of the Vine (15:1) and of the Woman in Travail (16:21), or more generally by the parables of the Ministry (Mark 4:33), the primary reference here is to vv. 15-18.


For the phrase ἔρχεται ὥρα, see on v. 2 and 4:21. Here it must be equated with ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ of v. 26 (see v. 23 above). When the visible presence of Jesus was withdrawn, and when His oral teaching was replaced by the fuller teaching of the Spirit (see on 14:26), then His revelation of the Father (the central theme of His ministry), conveyed through the Spirit, would be plainer.

For παρρησία, “unreserved and open speech,” see on 7:4.

ἀπαγγελῶ. So ABC*DLWΘ, but the rec. (with N) has�1 John 1:2, 1 John 1:3), while we have�John 4:25, John 4:5:15, John 4:16:13, John 4:14, John 4:15, 1 John 1:5. It is doubtful if any distinction in meaning can be traced. παρρησίᾳ περὶ τοῦ πατρὸς�


If it be urged that�

26. ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ (see on v. 23) ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου αἰτήσεσθε (see on 15:16 for this phrase). With the coming of the Paraclete, the doctrine of the Fatherhood of God as revealed in Christ would be better understood. They would know more of God as Father, and so would be bolder and more ambitious in prayer (cf. 1 John 5:14 αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ παρρησία ἣν ἔχομεν πρὸς αὐτόν, ὅτι ἐάν τι αἰτώμεθα κατὰ τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ,�

καὶ οὐ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐγὼ ἐρωτήσω τὸν πατέρα περὶ ὑμῶν, “I do not say to you that I will entreat the Father for you” (see for ἐρωτᾷν on 11:22, 16:23), because in the dispensation of the Spirit prayer in the Name of Jesus does not fail to reach the Father and to receive its answer. The prayers of those who are “in Christ,” and offered “in His Name,” are virtually His prayers. Before the Coming of the Spirit He did pray for His disciples (14:16, 17:9, 15, 20), but here the thought is of the ideal disciple after the Spirit has descended. This does not exclude the perpetual intercession of Jesus for sinful disciples; ἐάν τις ἁμάρτῃ, παράκλητον ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν δίκαιον (1 John 2:1; cf. Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25). But the true disciple is encouraged to be bold in prayer for himself, and the reason why he may be bold is now stated.


27. αὐτὸς γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ φιλεῖ ὑμᾶς, “for the Father Himself loveth you.” There will be no reluctance in His answer to the prayers of those who love Jesus and have faith that His mission was from the Father.

Field calls attention to the “elegant Greek use” of αὐτός in the sense of αὐτόματος, proprio motu, and compares Homer, Iliad, viii. 293, τί με σπεύδοντα καὶ αὐτὸν ὀτρύνεις. This is one of the many passages in which the Greek of the Fourth Gospel does not resemble translation-Greek.

At 3:16, the love of God for the κόσμος (all mankind) has been mentioned; here and at 14:21, 23, 17:23 it is rather the special love of God for those who are disciples of Jesus that is in view (as at 1 John 4:19). Here the verb φιλεῖν is used, the only instance in which Jn. employs it to express the love of God for man; in the other passages he uses�

ὅτι ὑμεῖς ἐμὲ πεφιλήκατε, “because you are they who have loved me,” ὑμεῖς and ἐμέ being both emphasised. Here, again, φιλεῖν is used of the love of His disciples for Jesus (21:15-17 providing the only other examples of this phraseology in Jn.; but cf. Matthew 10:37, 1 Corinthians 16:22); while in 14:15, 21, 23, 24, 28,�


καὶ πεπιστεύκατε (the perfect tenses bring back the discourse from a prospect of the future to the facts of the present) ὅτι ἐγὼ παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐξῆλθον. To have believed this is to have accepted the central message of the Gospel.

παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐξῆλθον. So א*AC3NWΓ and Syr. sin. (see on 8:42). The rec. for θεοῦ has πατρός (from v. 28), with אca BC*DL. W om. the repeated ἐξῆλθον παρὰ τοῦ πατρός in the next verse.

Cf. παρὰ σοῦ ἐξῆλθον (17:8); and see on 1:14, 7:29 for παρά as expressing the relation of the Son to the Father. See on 13:3 for�

πάλιν (next, marking the sequence; cf. 1 John 2:8)�


καὶ πορεύομαι πρὸς τὸν πατέρα. We shall have this phrase again 14:12, 28; it is not to be distinguished from ὑπάγω πρὸς τὸν πατέρα (16:10, 17; cf. 7:33, 16:5 and note on 16:7).

The Disciples Now Become Confident of Their Faith, and are Warned that It Will Fail Them in the Hour of Trial (vv. 29-32)

29. The rec. adds αὐτῷ after λέγουσιν, but om. א*BC*D*NWΘ. Ἴδε, an interjection of astonished admiration; see on 1:29 for its frequency in Jn.

νῦν ἐν παρρησίᾳ λαλεῖς, “now you are speaking explicitly.” But they did not really understand, as they thought they did. The promise of teaching ἐν παρρησίᾳ in v. 25 was for a future day.

The rec. omits ἐν before παρρησίᾳ, but ins. אBCD.

καὶ παροιμίαν οὐδεμίαν λέγεις. For παροιμία, cf. v. 25; and see note on 10:6.

In the latter part of the Epistle to Diognetus, which Light-foot places at the end of the second century, there is a reference to the manifestation of the Logos, παρρησίᾳ λαλῶν (§ 11), which may be a reminiscence of this verse. See on 17:3.

30. νῦν οἴδαμεν κτλ. They were so surprised that He had discerned their thoughts, and so bewildered at His words (see v. 19), that they assure Him of their absolute confidence in Him as all-knowing. With οἶδας πάντα cf. 21:17. Jn. comes back again and again to the penetrating insight of Jesus into men’s thoughts; see on 2:25.

ἵνα τίς σε ἐρωτᾷ, “that any one shall question thee,” ἐρωτᾶν being here used in its most frequent sense of asking questions; see on v. 23 above.

ἐν τούτῳ, “by this,” ἐν being used in a quasi-causal sense, as at 13:35, where see note.

πιστεύομεν ὅτι�

31. The form of the reply of Jesus is comparable with that in 13:38, the disciples’ expression of confidence being repeated, and then a warning given. Here, however, the reply does not begin with an interrogative. The stress is on ἄρτι, coming at the beginning of the sentence (cf. Revelation 12:10).


ἄρτι πιστεύετε, “at this moment you believe.” He had just before recognised their belief as genuine, so far as it went (v. 27; cf. 17:8), and He does not question it now. But He goes on to warn them that this faith will not keep them faithful in the time of danger which is imminent.

To translate “Do ye now believe?” is inconsistent with what has gone before, and also with the position of ἄρτι in the sentence.

For ἄρτι as compared with νῦν, see on 9:19.

32. For ἰδού, see on 4:35; it has an adversative force: “At this moment you believe, it is true, but an hour is imminent when you will all abandon me.”

ἔρχεται ὥρα, “an hour is coming.” See on 4:23 and on vv. 2, 25. It is not ἡ ὥρα, which would indicate the inevitableness of the predestined hour, and this thought is not prominent yet.

καὶ ἐλήλυθεν. The time for His arrest was at hand; cf. ἐλήλυθεν ἡ ὥρα (12:23), and cf. 4:23, 5:25.

After καὶ the rec. text has νῦν (with NΘ), but om. אABC*D*L.

ἵνα σκορπισθῆτε. The ἵνα marks the predestined sequence of events. σκορπίζειν occurs again at 10:12, and we find διασκορπίζειν at 11:52.

The prophecy Zechariah 13:7, which (in the A text) runs as follows, πατάξον τὸν ποιμένα καὶ διασκορπισθήσονται τὰ πρόβατα. is cited as a prediction of the arrest of Jesus by Mark 14:27 (followed by Matthew 26:31), as well as by Barnabas (v. 12) and Justin (Tryph. 53). Jn. does not mention Zechariah, but he places in the mouth of Jesus a prediction which reproduces the significant word σκορπισθῆτε.


Cf. the verbal parallel ἐσκορπίσθησαν ἕκαστος εἰς τὸν τόπον αὐτοῦ (1 Macc. 6:54).

For εἰς τὰ ἴδια, “to his own home,” see note on 19:27 below. Cf. Appian, 6:23 (quoted by Field),�

Jn. does not tell of the disciples’ abandonment of Jesus after His arrest, as in Mark 14:50, except by implication (see on 18:15).


Jesus Bids His Disciples to Be Courageous, for He Has Overcome the World (V. 33), In the Passion, Which is His Glorification (13:31B, 32)

33. ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν: see on 15:11. Here ταῦτα seems to refer to what has been said in v. 32 about the dispersion of His disciples after their Master’s arrest (cf. 16:1, 4).

The purpose of these instructions was ἵνα ἐν ἐμοὶ εἰρήνην ἔχητε (see for εἰρήνη on 14:27). Peace can be found only in Christ (cf. 15:5-7); ἐν ἐμοί is in antithesis to ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ which follows. For κόσμος, see on 1:9; here it is “the world” which “hates” Christ’s disciples (cf. 15:18), and in which therefore “tribulation” must be their portion.

θλίψις occurs in Jn. only here and at v. 21; but cf. Revelation 1:9, Revelation 2:22 and Acts 14:22, where Paul exhorts the disciples of Antioch ὅτι διὰ πολλῶν θλίψεων δεῖ ἡμᾶς εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ.


The rec. text (cf. v. 22) has ἔξετε with D 69, but the true reading is ἕχετε, “ye are having tribulation”; their trial has begun.

θαρσεῖν occurs only here in Jn. (cf. Mark 6:50, Matthew 9:2, Matthew 9:22); but the same counsel in different words is given again 14:1, 27.


ἐγώ is the ἐγώ of dignity (see Introd., p. cxvii).

νικᾶν is rare in the LXX except in the later books, and in the N.T. except in the Apocalypse. It does not occur again in the Fourth Gospel, but is found 6 times in 1 Jn. Sometimes it is transitive, as here and at Luke 11:22, Romans 12:21, Revelation 11:7, Revelation 12:11, Revelation 13:7, Revelation 17:14, and 1 John 2:13, 1 John 2:14, 1 John 2:4:4, 1 John 2:5:4, 1 John 2:5; sometimes it is used absolutely, as in Revelation 2:7, Revelation 2:11, Revelation 2:17, Revelation 2:26, Revelation 2:3:5, Revelation 2:12, Revelation 2:21, Revelation 2:5:5, Revelation 2:6:2, Revelation 2:15:2, Revelation 2:21:7. The verb is only once used in the LXX of God as the Conqueror, sc. Psalms 51:4 (quoted Romans 3:4), νικήσῃς ἐν τῷ κρίνεσθαι; and in the N.T. it is applied to the conquests of Christ only here and at Revelation 3:21, Revelation 5:5, Revelation 6:2, Revelation 17:14. (Cf. 1 Ezra 3:12 ὐπὲρ δὲ πάντα νικᾷ ἡ�

The phrase νικᾶν τὸν κόσμον is found only here and at 1 John 5:4, 1 John 5:5. Here the majestic announcement ἐγὼ νενίκηκα τὸν κόσμον is placed in the mouth of Jesus, when His public ministry had, to all seeming, ended in failure. In 1 Jn., the apostle claims for himself and his fellow-believers that their faith is “the victory which overcomes the world.” The words of John 14:12 that they should do “greater things” than their Master did, are coming within the range of their spiritual understanding. ἐγὼ νενίκηκα τὸν κόσμον is thus a prophetic word for those who are “in Christ.”










אԠSinaiticus (δ 2). Leningrad. iv.

D Bezæ (δ 5). Cambridge. v-vi. Græco-Latin. Cc. 18:14-20:13 are missing in the Greek text, and the gap has been filled by a ninth-century scribe (Dsupp).

L Regius (ε 56). Paris. viii. Cc. 15:2-20 21:15-25 are missing.

A Alexandrinus (δ 4). British Museum. v. Cc. 6:50-8:52 are missing.

B Vaticanus (δ 1). Rome. Cent. iv.

Γ̠(ε 70) Oxford and Leningrad. ix-x. Contains Song of Solomon 1:1-13 8:3-15:24 19:6 to end.


Δ̠Sangallensis (ε 76). St. Gall. ix-x. Græco-Latin.

Θ̠Koridethi (ε 050). Tiflis. vii-ix. Discovered at Koridethi, in Russian territory, and edited by Beermann & Gregory (Leipzig, 1913). The text is akin to that of fam. 13, fam. 1, and the cursives 28, 565, 700 See Lake and Blake in Harvard Theol. Review (July 1923) and Streeter, The Four Gospels. Cf. also J.T.S. Oct. 1915, April and July 1925.

1 I have discussed this great topic more fully in Studia Sacra, pp. 117-120.

2 Gore, Bampton Lectures, p. 132.

Diat. E. A. Abbott’s Diatessarica, including his Johannine Vocabulary and Johannine Grammar, Parts I.-X. (1900-1915).

1 Cf. Lucian, Pseudol. 4: παρακλητέος ἡμῖν … ὁ Ἔλεγχος.

1 History of European Morals, ii. 8.

W Freer (ε 014). Washington. iv-vi. Discovered in Egypt in 1906. The Gospels are in the order Mt., Jn., Lk., Mk. Collation in The Washington MS. of the Four Gospels, by H. A. Sanders (1912).

1 I have discussed this point in Hermathena (1895, p. 189, and 1901, p. 340).

2 Cf. Justin (Tryph. 39), οἱ ἐκ πάσης τῆς�

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Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on John 16". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/john-16.html. 1896-1924.