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Bible Commentaries
John 16

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

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Verse 1

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

That ye should not be offended — As with a thing unexpected and intolerable. Darts foreseen are dintless. Crosses coming on the sudden find weak minds secure, make them miserable, leave them desperate.

Verse 2

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

Whosoerer killeth you, … — Maximinian, the persecutor, thought that the blood of Christians would be a well pleasing sacrifice to his gods: Christianorum sanguinem Diis gratissimam esse victimam. (Tertul.) Budaeus thinks that the apostle, 1 Corinthians 4:13 , alludes to those heathenish expiations, wherein certain condemned persons were brought forth yearly with garlands upon their heads, and offered up as sacrifices to their gods, in time of any contagious infection especially; and these they termed καθαρματα and περιψηματα . At Colon certain divines preached, that the death of certain heretics (as they called them) should pacify the wrath of God which then plagued Germany grievously with a strange kind of sweating sickness. (Budaeus in Pandect.) In the sixth Council of Toledo, it was enacted that the king of Spain should suffer none to live in his dominions that professed not the Roman Catholic religion. King Philip, accordingly, having hardly escaped shipwreck, as he returned from the Low Countries, said he was delivered by the singular providence of God to root out Lutheranism, which he presently began to do, professing that he had rather have no subjects than such. Another Catholic king said that if he thought his shirt were infected with that heresy, he would tear it from his own back, and rather go woolward; nay, if any member of his body had caught the contagion, he would cut it off, that it might creep no further. O sancta simplicitas! Oh holy candour, said John Huss, when at the stake he observed a plain country fellow busier than the rest in fetching fagots.

Verse 3

And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.

Because they have not known — Through blind zeal. "The dark corners of the earth are full of cruelty," saith the Psalmist. And "they shall not destroy in all mine holy mountain;" "for knowledge shall cover the earth, as the waters do the sea," Psalms 74:20 ; Isaiah 11:9 . See Trapp on " John 15:21 "

Verse 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.

Ye may remember, … — And act, what I have foretold and taught you. The difference between divinity and other sciences is, that it is not enough to know, but you must do it; as lessons of music must be practised, and a copy not read only, but written after. Non est haec umbratilis philosophia, sed quae ad usum et praxin aptanda. (Calvin.)

Verse 5

But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?

None of you asketh me, … — This they had asked him, but not as well paid of his going; this he would have of them, and of us, when we part with friends that die in the Lord, say as he, Tulisti liberos quos ipse dederas; non contristor, quod recepisti; ago gratias, quod dedisti. (Jerome ad Julian.)

Verse 6

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

Sorrow hath filled your hearts — So that you are, for the time, not more uncomfortable than uncounsellable. Thus also it fared with those Israelites in Egypt; their ears were so full of gall, that meek Moses even lost his sweet words upon them, Exodus 6:9 . Passions are headstrong, and can hear no counsel:

" Fertur equis auriga, nec audit currus habenas. "

Verse 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.

I will send him unto you — This our Saviour often repeats, that they might once take notice of it, as an inestimable favour, that God should pour forth his Spirit upon all flesh, Joel 2:28 . What so precious as spirit? what so vile as flesh? It is received among the Turks, that when Christ said that though he departed, he would send them a Comforter, it was added in the text, And that shall be Mahomet; but that the Christians in malice toward them have razed out those words. Is not this the efficacy of error

Verse 8

And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

And when he is come, … — This text had been easy, had not commentators made it so knotty.

He will reprove — Or undeceive the world, by refuting those odd conceits and erroneous opinions, that men had before drunk in, and were possessed of, ελεγξει . Ita ut nihil habeat, quod praetexat. He shall clearly convince them of the hatefulness of sin, of the necessity of getting righteousness, both imputed and imparted; both that of justification, inherent in Christ, imputed to us, and that of sanctification also, imparted by Christ, inherent in us; this latter is here called judgment, as it is likewise Matthew 12:20 . Till he bring forth ( εκβαλη ) judgment to victory; that is, weak grace (called before a broken reed, smoking wick) to perfect conquest over corruption. Cum vi quadam, frustra obsistente Satana. Compare with this text that of the apostle,1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 Corinthians 6:11 ; Such were some of you ( scilicet, mundus immundus ), but ye are (in general) washed from your sins, of the hatefulness whereof ye are now clearly convinced; and (in particular) ye are sanctified by the Spirit of our God, and ye are justified in the name, that is, by the merit, of the Lord Jesus the righteous, who is the propitiation for our sins.

Verse 9

Of sin, because they believe not on me;

Of sin, because they believe not in me — Our Saviour points out the greatest of sins, unbelief; which was the first sin, and is still the root of all the rest, Hebrews 3:12 . It is a sin against the gospel, and rejects the remedy, that bath of Christ’s blood, to the which even the princes of Sodom are invited, Isaiah 1:10 . It gives God the lie, and subjects a man to the rigour, coaction, and curse of the law.

Verse 10

Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

Of righteousness, because, … — What strength is there in that reason? This: Christ took upon him to be our surety, and he must acquit us of all our sins ere he can go to his Father.

Verse 11

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

Of judgment, because the prince, … — Satan is, by the mighty work of the Holy Ghost, cast out of his trenches, forts, cages, castles, heaven of men’s hearts, οχυρωματα , 2 Corinthians 10:4 ; corruption is dejected, though not utterly ejected, Luke 10:18 ; "The Spirit lusteth against the flesh." So that as we cannot do what good we would, because of the flesh; so neither what evil we would, because of the Spirit.

Verse 12

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

But ye cannot bear them now — Because your spirits are dulled with worldly sorrow. But the Spirit shall be unto you a powerful removens, prohibens.

Verse 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.

He will guide you into all truth — Many are the benefits that we receive by the Spirit. "The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth," Ephesians 5:9 . This our Saviour delivers to his disciples at several times, and by degrees, as they could bear it. Here he represents him as a guide to godliness. Simeon was brought into the temple by the instinct of the Spirit. Paul would have gone to a certain place, but the Spirit would not suffer him. Lo such is the working of the Holy Ghost still in men’s hearts, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delighteth in his way," Psalms 37:23 . Kings suffer their children to ride with them, but yet set tutors and governors to overrule them. So here. And because Delicata res est Spiritus Dei, therefore we must observe and obey his motions, which are the sound of his goings, the footsteps of his anointed, Psalms 89:51 . We should lay ourselves (as instruments) open to the Spirit’s touch, submit to his discipline, as Paul did, Galatians 2:20 . And this requires a great deal of self-denial.

Verse 14

He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

He shall glorify me, … — And if the Holy Ghost could not use any better means to glorify Christ, than to take his excellencies, and hold them out to the world, what should ministers, the mouth of the Holy Ghost, do rather?

Verse 15

All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

All things that the Father hath, … — So that if we can but marry the heir, we have all. The Father saith unto him, as he did to his eldest son, Luke 15:31 ; "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine;" therefore we may go boldly to him for all things needful for life and godliness. When Joseph sent to Jacob, that Pharaoh had put all into his hands, he was not a little comforted that one so near to him in nature was so able to accommodate him. Let us also come boldly to the throne of grace, since our flesh and blood hath all power to do us good. Christ, as mediator, is able to make all grace abound toward us, that we "always, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work," 2 Corinthians 8:8 . Well might Ignatius say, Ignis, crux, et diaboli tormenta in me verdant, tantummodo ut Iesum nanciscar. The fire, the troubles and the torments of the devil change me, only merely so I may find Jesus.

Verse 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 "little" seemed a long while to them, so that they began to doubt (though it were but the third day after his death) whether or not it were he that should redeem Israel,Luke 24:21; Luke 24:21 . ( Dubito, a duo et ito, Becman. Sic Διστασις .) God’s help seems long, because we are short. A short walk is a long journey to feeble knees. It is but for a moment in his anger that God hides his face from his, though it should be during life; he hath an eternity of time to reveal his kindness in. And to say that God hath cast you off, because he hath hid his face from you, Isaiah 54:7-8 , is (saith Mr T. Goodwin) a fallacy fetched out of the devil’s topics. When the sun is eclipsed, foolish people think it will never recover light, but wise men know it will; and at such a time, though the earth lack the light of the sun, yet not the influence thereof; so neither are the saints at any time without the power, heat, and vigorous influence of God’s grace, when the light and comfort of it is confined.

Verse 18

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?

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

We cannot tell what he saith — We know here but in part; the greatest part of our knowledge is the least part of our ignorance, saith one. Man’s heart, saith another, may be compared to a vessel, the means to a pipe; the Spirit of God to the wheel that beats the water into the pipe; the minister is the servant that opens the cock. (August.) And then the reason why we know but in part is, either the cock always runs not, or not always in the same measure; and sometimes our vessels are filled with other things (as the apostles here were with worldly grief and the conceit of an earthly kingdom), and so they run over; and usually our vessels run over, and lose what we received by the means.

Verse 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, … — He graciously prevents their requests, so he doth ours often; and usually in Scripture the answer is given, the question concealed. God thereby providing for men’s infirmity, who are ready to ask such odd questions, as the disciples here do, to the discovery of their own dullness.

Verse 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.

Ye shall weep and lament — So long as ye abide in this valley of tears, as the Septuagint render that, Psalms 86:6 ; εις την κοιλαδα του κλαυθμωνος . In hoc exilio, in hoc ergastulo, in hac peregrinatione, in hac valle lachrymarum, In this banishment, in this prison, in this sojourn, this valley of tears, as Bernard hath it. "My tears have been my meat," saith David, Psalms 42:3 , alluding to the hart, which, being pursued, sheds tears. These, instead of gems, were the ornaments of David’s bed, saith Chrysostom. The Church’s eyes are as the pools of Heshbon, ever glazed with the tears of compunction or compassion, Song of Solomon 7:5 . Tertullian speaketh of himself, that he was born to nothing else but sorrow and mourning. Athanasius, by his tears, as by the bleeding of a chafed vine, cured the leprosy of that tainted age. Jerome, writing of his own life, saith that there were furrows in his face and icicles from his lips with continual weeping.

But the world shall rejoice — The merry Greeks of the world laugh themselves fat, and are so afraid of sorrow that they can never find time to be serious; counting it no sport unless they may have the devil their playfellow; no mirth but madness; no venison sweet but that which is stolen. These are forbidden to rejoice in anything, Hosea 10:1 . Etiam si laeta tibi obveniant omnia, non est tamen quod laeteris. Even if your gladness exceed in all respects, it is not yet true gladness. (Ribera.) But if they do, there is a snare or cord in the sin of the wicked, to strangle their joy with; "but the righteous sing and rejoice," Proverbs 29:6 . Woe be to mirth mongers, that fleer To laugh in a coarse, impudent, or unbecoming manner. ŒD when they should fear, Luke 6:25 .

But your sorrow shall be turned into joy — God shall soon give you beauty for ashes, the oil of gladness for the spirit of heaviness, …; he shall turn all your sighing into singing, all your laments into laughter, your sackcloth into silks, your ashes into ointments, your fasts into feasts, your wringing of hands into applauses, …

Verse 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 — The sorrow of a saint is often compared to that of a travailing woman, Isaiah 26:17 ; Jeremiah 6:24 , … 1. In bitterness and sharpness; which made Medea say, that she had rather a thousand times be slain in battle than once bring forth a child: Millies in belle perire mallem, quam semel parere. 2. In utility; it tends to a birth. 3. In hope and expectation, not only of an end, but also of fruit. 4. In that there is a certain set time for both. And Finis edulcat media. The end sweetens the means. (Keckermann.)

Verse 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 — No sorrow like to that, when we see not Christ in his favour. He hides his love often, as Joseph did, out of increasement of love; and then we cannot see him for crying; as Mary Magdalene could not, she was so bleared. But when he seemeth farthest from us, his heart is with us; and he must needs look through the chinks, as in the Canticles, to see how we do, as that martyr expresseth it. (Saunders, in a letter to his wife and friends.) There is a presence of Christ that is secret, when he seems to draw us one way, and to drive us another, Song of Solomon 5:6 .

Verse 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, …q.d. Ye shall be so exact and so expert, that you shall not need to ask such childish questions as hitherto ye have done. This is like that of the prophet, "They shall not each man teach his neighbour, saying, Know the Lord! for they shall all know me, from the least to the greatest," Jeremiah 31:34 ; "They shall be all taught of God." Cathedrum in caelo habet qui corda docet, saith Augustine. And Quando Christus docet, quam cito discitur quo docetur? So St Ambrose, Nescit tarda molimina spiritus sancti gratia. When the Spirit undertakes to teach a man, he shall not be long in learning. Now all God’s people have "the unction that teacheth them all things," 1 John 2:20 . And as in pipes, though of different sounds, yet there is the same breath in them; so is there the same spirit in Christians of all sizes.

Verse 24

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

Hitherto ye have asked nothing — To what ye should have asked, and might have obtained. Prayer, as those arrows of deliverance, should be multiplied, 1 Kings 13:19 ; the more often we come to God the better welcome; neither can we anger him worse than to be soon said or sated. It was more troublesome to Severus the emperor to be asked nothing than to give much: Molestius erat ei nihil peti, quam dare. When any of his courtiers had not made bold with him he would call him, and say, Quid est cur nihit petis …, What meanest thou to ask me nothing? So Christ here.

Ask, that your joy may be full — Pray, that ye may joy. Draw water with joy out of this well of salvation. David was excellent at this. His, heart was often more out of tune than his harp. He prays, and then cries, "Return to thy rest, O my soul." In many of his Psalms the beginnings, are full of trouble, as Psalams 6, 22, and 51 but by that time he prayed a while, the ends are full of joy and assurance, so that one would imagine saith Peter Moulin, that those Psalms had been composed by two men of a contrary humour Hudson the martyr, deserted at the stake, went from under the chain; and having prayed earnestly, was comforted immediately, and suffered valiantly.

Verse 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, … — He spake plain enough, but they were so slow of hear and dull of hearing, that they thought he spake to them in riddles and parables. Legum obscuritate non assignemus culpae scribentium, sed inscitiae non assequentium. (Sex. Cecil. apud Gell.) So though the prophet dealt with the people as with little ones newly weaned, mincing and masticating their meat for them, laying before them "precept upon precept, line upon line," …, yet was he to them (through their singular stupidity) as one that lisped half words, or spake in a strange tongue, Isaiah 28:10-12 . Ac si btaeais esset labiis.

Verse 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, … — Christ had promised them further light, but yet expects they should pray for it. Prayer is a putting the promises in suit; we must pray them over ere we get the performance, Ezekiel 36:37 . Christ himself was to ask of his Father the world for his inheritance, …,Psalms 2:8; Psalms 2:8 ;

Verse 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 — We say majesty and love cannot dwell together. Non bene conveniunt, nec in una sede morantur maiestas et amor: because love is the abasing of the soul to all services. But it is otherwise in God; majesty and love meet in his heart; so that of his own free accord he will give us anything we ask, and as it were prevent a mediator, crowning his own graces in us.

Verse 28

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

Again, I leave the world, … — So Plotinus the philosopher, when he died, said, το εν εμοι θειον αναγω επι το πρωτογονον θειον . ( Sponte etiam non rogante me. Ut apud Hom. σπειδοντα και αυτον οτρυνειν .) Nay, Julian the apostate (if Marcellinus may be credited) went out of the world with these words in his mouth, Vitam reposcenti naturae, tanquam debitor bonae fidei, redditurus exulto.

Verse 29

His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb.

His disciples said unto him — How apt are we to overween our little nothing of knowledge or holiness, to swell with big conceits of our own sufficiency! and, when we see never so little, to say presently, with her in the poet, Consilii satis est in me mihi? (Araehne ap. Ovid;) to think we understand (as St Paul hath it) "all mysteries, and all knowledge!" 1 Corinthians 13:1 . How truly may it now be said of many, as Quintilian saith of some in his time, that they might have proven excellent scholars, if they had not been so persuaded of themselves already "Conceitedness cuts off all hope of proficiency," η οιησις εστι της προκοπης εγκοπη .

Verse 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 we are sure, … — What! not till now? Nicodemus was before you then, John 3:2 . But better late than never: Nunquam sero, si serto.

Verse 31

Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?

Do ye now believe? — I know, ere trouble comes, you are jolly fellows. But it is easy to swim in a warm bath: and every bird can sing in a sunshine day. We shall see shortly what you can do. "If ye faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small," Proverbs 24:10 . Hard weather tries what health; hot service, what courage.

Verse 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, … — So bladder-like is the soul, that filled with earthly vanities, though but wind, it grows great and swells in pride; but if pricked with the least pin of piercing grief, it shriveleth to nothing.

Verse 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 have I spoken — This sermon of our Saviour then would be read in time of trouble. It hath virtutem pacativam, if mixed with faith.

That in me ye might have peace — Though surcharged with outward troubles. Josiah died in peace, according to the promise, though slain in war. True grace, like true gold, comforts the heart; alchemy gold doth not.

In the world ye shall have tribulation — There is no avoiding it; it is not a paradise, but a purgatory to the saints. It may be compared to the Straits of Magellan, which is said to be a place of that nature, that which way soever a man set his course, he shall be sure to have the wind against him. (Heyl. Geog.)

I have overcome the world — Therefore we are more than conquerors, because sure to overcome beforehand, Romans 8:37 . We are triumphers, 2 Corinthians 2:14 . We need do no more, then, as those in Joshua, but set our feet on the necks of our enemies, already subdued unto us by our Jesus.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 16". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/john-16.html. 1865-1868.
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