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Bible Commentaries
John 16

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

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Verse 1

Joh 16:1

John 16:1

These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be caused to stumble.—Jesus foretold that these things would come to pass so that when they did happen his disciples might not be discouraged and caused to fall by appalling things coming upon them. To tell them beforehand would assure them that he was divine and would insure confidence in him. To stumble in the Bible generally means to fall into sin.

Verse 2

Joh 16:2

John 16:2

They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you shall think that he offereth service unto God.—He told them these things to prepare them for the trials, persecutions, and afflictions to which they would be subjected. [Not merely a physical driving forth, but ex­communication and deprival of all synagogue privileges. All this was to be the bitter ingredient in the cup. It is one thing to be persecuted by those whom we not only know to be wicked, but who know themselves to be wicked. But to be persecuted by those who, like Saul of Tarsus, means to do right, and think they are serving God in making us suffer is quite another thing. It is calculated to make the sufferer wonder whether he is doing right himself.]

Verse 3

Joh 16:3

John 16:3

And these things will they do, because they have not known the Father, nor me.—All these persecutions and afflic­tions they would bring upon the disciples because they neither knew the Father nor Christ. Their failure to know God and his Christ causes men to hate those who obey the laws of God. [This was to prepare them against the persecutions they would be called upon to endure. He assures them that though the zeal of their persecutors might be a “zeal of God,” yet it would not be according to knowledge. Their religious education and training gave them no real knowledge of the Father or himself. Consequently the disciples need not waver or be uncertain about their own religious status on account of persecution.] “These things” are the persecutions even unto death which Jesus had just told his disciples that they would suffer. This was evidently spoken by way of explain­ing why the world would so severely persecute them. It is but another way of saying there is eternal and uncompromis­ing enmity on the part of those who know not God and his Son Jesus Christ against those who walk with God and be­lieve on the Lord.

Verse 4

Joh 16:4

John 16:4

But these things have I spoken unto you, that when their hour is come,—[The hour of their fulfillment.]

ye may remember them, how that I told you.—[Remember­ing thus that he had predicted the sorrows, they would also remember the joys beyond and be comforted and upheld.]

And these things I said not unto you from the beginning, because I was with you.—These afflictions that would come upon them, he did not tell them in the beginning of his min­istry because he was abiding with them. But now he is about to leave them, he forewarns them that when the trials come upon them they will remember them and not be driven from faith in God and in him. [He advanced in his instruction just as they were prepared to receive it. By degrees had he revealed to the disciples the dark, rugged, and bloody path­way that they should be called upon to travel. In the begin­ning of his ministry he did not teach of these things for the reason they were not prepared to receive it. In the second year of his ministry he began to gradually unfold them, but only in the hour of his departure does he reveal to them the trials that are to come upon them. The greatest of all their trials, unless the promised comforter came, would be the departure of the Lord. While he was with them the bolts of hatred and malice would be thrust at him, but when he was gone and they represented him on the earth these bolts would hit them. As long as Jesus was with them these personal trials of the apostles would not begin, and therefore he saw no necessity of burdening their hearts prematurely with their anticipation. But now he was to be taken from them, so he unfolds it.]

Verse 5

Joh 16:5

John 16:5

But now I go unto him that sent me;—[Jesus shows him­self conscious of pre-existence, of having come from another world to which he was to return by the way of the cross. (John 17:5).]

and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?—The Fa­ther had sent Jesus into the world to perform a work; when he has reached the time to finish that work he will return to his Father. [They had asked this question (John 13:36; John 14:5), but they had become so preoccupied with themselves and the desolate condition in which his going would leave them that they had ceased to ask him. His human yearning for sympathy shows itself in this tender reproach.]

Verses 5-16

Joh 16:5-16

The Work of the Holy Spirit - John 16:5-16

Open It

1. How did you feel the last time you were separated from a friend by a move?

2. *In what way can a conscience be both good and frustrating?

Explore It

3. Where did Jesus tell His disciples He was going? (John 16:5)

4. What hadn’t the disciples asked Jesus? (John 16:5)

5. How did Jesus’ disciples feel about His leaving? (John 16:6)

6. Why was it for His disciples’ benefit that Jesus was leaving? (John 16:7)

7. *What would the Counselor do for the world? (John 16:8)

8. What would the Counselor do for the world when He came? (John 16:8-11)

9. *What did Jesus say about the prince of this world? (John 16:11)

10. *What would the Spirit of truth do for Jesus’ disciples when He came? (John 16:12-14)

11. In what way would the Spirit bring Jesus glory? (John 16:14-15)

12. When would the disciples see Jesus? (John 16:16)

Get It

13. Why do most people feel guilty when they commit a sin?

14. If you had been one of Jesus’ disciples, how would you have felt about His leaving?

15. How is the Holy Spirit convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment?

16. Of what sins is the world guilty?

17. *What role do Christians and the church play in prodding the conscience of the world?

18. *How does the Holy Spirit teach believers?

19. About what truth is the Holy Spirit presently teaching you?

20. How has the Holy Spirit used you to bring glory to Jesus Christ?

Apply It

21. *How can you seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in reaching people who are dead in their sins?

22. About what spiritual truths will you ask the Holy Spirit to teach you?

Verse 6

Joh 16:6

John 16:6

because I have spoken these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.—Peter (John 13:36) and Thomas (John 14:5) had both asked this question, but now when his going away is at hand, none ask “whither goest thou?” but sorrow fills their hearts. [They were entirely given up to their gloomy fore­bodings.]

Verse 7

Joh 16:7

John 16:7

Nevertheless I tell you the truth:—The Father provides for all things; the Son creates or embodies the purposes and provisions of the Father; and the Spirit then gives life and order to this creation, gives law to guide and promote and perfect and multiply the order created by the Father. [This is not an assertion of his veracity, as though they had doubted it, but an intimation of the necessity of its communication, and of the necessity of his departure. And now he proceeds to give grounds for the latter point.]

It is expedient for you that I go away;—[With their false ideas of an earthly political kingdom with Jesus their king, nothing could have seemed harder to receive than this. They might submit to the inevitable, but that the departure of Jesus should be expedient—desirable—this was too hard to receive.]

for if I go not away, the Comforter—[The Holy Spirit, called in the footnote “Advocate or Helper.”]

will not come unto you;—[Jesus evidently holds this up as a super-eminent gift to obtain which might well justify any sacrifice on their part, even giving up the precious companion­ship with him which had been the joy of their hearts.]

but if I go, I will send him unto you.—[The death of Christ was necessary to his glorification. For some reason not re­vealed even Jesus, here upon earth in his natural human con­dition. could not, or at least did not, confer upon them super- eminent gifts of the Holy Spirit. While he was with them the Holy Spirit reached them through him. In the future the Holy Spirit is to reach the world through them.] The work that Jesus had begun in the disciples could not be com­pleted and perfected unless the Spirit came and completed his work. The work of the Spirit was needed to complete and perfect them to dwell with God and to do the work he had chosen them to do and to fit them to enjoy the home and blessings of God forever. If they had understood these tilings they would have rejoiced at Jesus leaving them since he left to send the Spirit that they might receive the greater bless­ings.

Verse 8

Joh 16:8

John 16:8

And he, when he is come,—[It is strange in the light of these words, and, indeed, this whole conversation, that any can be found to deny the personality of the Holy Spirit, and to speak of him as a mere abstract influence. Here, as in regard to Satan, Jesus made a very uncertain use of words. if he did not know, and mean to assert, the personality of the Holy Spirit.]

will convict the world—[Not by direct work upon their hearts, but as the event shows (Acts 2:37), through the life of the apostles, declaring the wonderful works of God. He came not to the world, but “unto you,” the disciples. The world could not receive him directly (John 14:17), and never can, as the world. But the apostles received him, and through their testimony he reaches the world.]

in respect of sin,—[This convicting and convincing work of the Holy Spirit is entirely in relation to Jesus Christ. The world had no consciousness of sin in regard to him, believing him either fanatic or impostor in the claims which he made. The Holy Spirit is to show them that they are sinners against Christ.] When the Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, his first work was to bear witness that Jesus was from God, that the world had rejected and crucified him; but that God had raised him from the dead and had made him both Lord and Christ. The Spirit did this work of bearing witness of Christ through the apostles, who, under the guidance of the Spirit, bore witness themselves of the works he had done, of his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension to his Father, and the descent of the Holy Spirit who was directing the works they saw.

and of righteousness,—He not only convicted the world of sin in crucifying the Lord, but they presented him as the Holy One. through whose mission the sinner could be made righteous.

and of judgment:—Judgment in which the wrath of God against sin and the reward of righteousness would be exe­cuted. [The power with which Jesus is to be clothed to judge the world.]

Verse 9

Joh 16:9

John 16:9

of sin, because they believe not on me;—The greatest, because the sin of all sins, without which no sin could be blotted out, is the sin of unbelief in the Son of God. [He proceeds to describe the method of the Holy Spirit’s mission to the world. It is logical in character. The sin, the supreme sin, the acme of the world’s sin, is to be shown in the rejection of Jesus Christ. If the world had no other sin to answer for, this will be enough to destroy it if it shall persist in it after the Spirit has done his work.]

Verse 10

Joh 16:10

John 16:10

of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye be­hold me no more;—His righteousness in himself doing the full righteous will of God, and through his death making others righteous he went to his Father where they would no more see him on earth. [The death of Jesus, had it been perpetual, would have been a tremendous argument against his claims. But when the Holy Spirit demonstrated his res­urrection and ascension to the Father, and his power in the invisible world for good, it establishes the truth of those claims, and his consequent righteousness, beyond a peradventure.]

Verse 11

Joh 16:11

John 16:11

of judgment,—[That is, of impending judgment of the world by Christ.]

because the prince of this world hath been judged.—The evil one is the prince of this world. He became so when man, the ruler in Eden, chose to follow Satan rather than obey God. All in this world had been intrusted to man, and he transferred his allegiance of the world to him instead of God. Jesus came into the world to rescue man and the world from the rule of the devil. The final conflict was now at hand. He would surrender himself to the power of the devil, go down into the grave, and there in the devil’s own prison house overcome him, burst the bonds of death, and con­demn him as a usurper of the prerogatives of God. The prince of this world used the rulers of the kingdoms of the world to bring Jesus to the grave. [Satan’s great power was death. The world had ever been in bondage to him through death. (Hebrews 2:14-15). This power he had exer­cised even over Jesus; but this only temporarily and by per­mission. The resurrection of Jesus broke his sceptre and announced his judgment. He was a criminal at the bar in­stead of a mighty lord. But he who had power to judge the universal conqueror of humanity would certainly have power to judge the world. Thus complete and logical is the argu­ment of the divine advocate of Jesus as predicted by Jesus. For its fulfillment read Acts 2 and indeed the whole line of the apostolic ministry, which was and is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the world.]

Verse 12

Joh 16:12

John 16:12

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.—Jesus could teach only as they were able to understand and appreciate. Their dullness precluded his teaching them now. He could transfer it to the coming of the Spirit who would qualify them for, and guide them into, all truth. [The death of Christ would have a wonderful clarifying effect upon their spiritual vision, and also to give a great uplift to their moral strength, and an indescribable in­tensification to their faith. Under these changed conditions revelations, which now would be beyond their comprehension, would be clear to them, and doubtless the “forty days” (Acts 1:3) were full of these sayings.]

Verse 13

Joh 16:13

John 16:13

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth:—The mission of the Spirit to them was to complete the revelation of God’s will to them. Notwithstanding their inability to receive all the truth then, the Holy Spirit would complete the revelation to them, would guide them into all the truth. [The “you” here is specific to the apostles. “All the truth” comprehends redemption through the death of Christ, the relation of grace to the law, the conversion of the Gentiles without any Mosaic legal con­dition. In a word, the contents of the epistles and the apocalypse so far as they pass beyond those of the teaching of Jesus.]

for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak:—The Spirit, like Jesus himself, would not originate what he spoke, but would speak what he heard from the Father. The Spirit would become the representative of the Godhead on earth.

and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come.—[All the things that are revealed. This is confined to the apostles. It opens up no place for modern visionaries with their claims of new and advanced revelations. He was to declare to them not only what might be necessary for their guidance (Acts 20:22-23), but for the benefit of the church.]

Verse 14

Joh 16:14

John 16:14

He shall glorify me:—[His mission is to exalt or glorify Christ. It pertains entirely to him. It is to advance his glory that he comes.]

for he shall take of mine,—[He has nothing to communicate of his own. He takes up the work where Christ stops and carries it to completion.]

and shall declare it unto you.—He will from the Father receive the full and perfect knowledge of the Son of God, and make it known to the disciples. This was done on Pen­tecost when the Spirit revealed the full mission and char­acter of Christ to the apostles, and through them to the world. [This verse is decisive against all additions and pre­tended revelations subsequent to and besides Christ, it being the work of the Spirit to testify and declare the things of Christ, not anything new and beyond him.]

Verse 15

Joh 16:15

John 16:15

All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine: there­fore said I, that he taketh of mine, and shall declare it unto you.—Jesus and his Father are one in their character and possessions. As the Son of God, he was heir to all things, therefore in revealing the things of God, they made known those of Christ the Lord. [We are here shut up to two alternatives, either that Jesus of Nazareth is not only the Christ, but the Son of the living God, in all that those words can imply of deific attributes and essence, or that he was the most arrogant pretender that the world has ever seen.]

Verse 16

Joh 16:16

John 16:16

A little while, and ye behold me no more; and again a little while, and ye shall see me.—In a little while he would be taken from them and go into the grave where they could not see him and, in a little while he would appear again and they could see him. These things would be brought about as preparatory to his return to his Father.

Verse 17

Joh 16:17

John 16:17

Some of his disciples therefore said one to another, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye behold me not; and again a little while, and ye shall see me; and, Be­cause I go to the Father?—The apostles were still ignorant of his coming death, burial, and resurrection. He had told them, but it differed so far from their ideas of what his cause would be that they could not perceive by dying and rising again.

Verses 17-33

Joh 16:17-33

The Disciples’ Grief Will Turn to Joy - John 16:17-33

Open It

1. When might you use a figure of speech to explain something? Why?

2. What painful experiences in your life have resulted in joy?

3. *When have you enthusiastically anticipated someone’s return or arrival?

Explore It

4. How did the disciples react to Jesus’ "in a little while" statement? (John 16:17-18)

5. *What did Jesus tell His disciples would happen to them? (John 16:19-20)

6. To what did Jesus compare His disciples’ response to His departure and return? (John 16:21-22)

7. What did Jesus tell His disciples they would do when they saw Him again? (John 16:23)

8. What hadn’t the disciples done up until this point? (John 16:24)

9. What kind of language did Jesus use to speak to His disciples? (John 16:25)

10. Why did the Father love the disciples? (John 16:26-27)

11. *From where did Jesus come and to where was He going? (John 16:28)

12. Why did the disciples say that they believed Jesus had come from God? (John 16:29-30)

13. What did Jesus predict the disciples would do? (John 16:31-32)

14. What did Jesus want for His disciples? (John 16:33)

15. *Why did Jesus tell the disciples to take heart? (John 16:33)

Get It

16. How would you have responded to Jesus’ words had you been there with His disciples?

17. *What grief or sorrow in your life has God turned to joy?

18. For what can we ask the Father?

19. How has God made your joy complete?

20. *How does the knowledge of Jesus’ return make you joyful?

21. What figures of speech have helped you better understand spiritual truths?

22. What relationship do we have with the Father today?

23. What trouble do we have in the world as followers of Christ?

24. How does the fact that Jesus has overcome the world encourage you?

Apply It

25. *In the midst of trouble, on what encouraging truth from this passage will you rely?

26. Because of your restored relationship with the Father, what can you ask Him to give to you in Jesus’ name?

27. What grief or sorrow do you need to entrust to God?

Verse 18

Joh 16:18

John 16:18

They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? We know not what he saith.—They say among them­selves that they cannot understand the meaning and desired to ask him to explain it.

Verse 19

Joh 16:19

John 16:19

Jesus perceived that they were desirous to ask him, and he said unto them, Do ye inquire among yourselves concern­ing this, that I said, A little while, and ye behold me not, and again a little while, and ye shall see me?—Jesus, without being told, knew their thoughts and their desire to ask him and himself asked if they wished him to explain his meaning. [This power to read their thoughts proves he was more than human.]

Verse 20

Joh 16:20

John 16:20

Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.—The results of their grief and sorrow would be followed by joy and gladness. [This was in a few hours fulfilled. His disciples were broken­hearted and wept at the grave. “We trusted that he would restore the kingdom of Israel” was the wail of buried hopes. At the same time his enemies were rejoicing over what they thought was a glorious victory. But soon all was changed. The glad news came, “The Lord is risen.” They heard him exclaim “all authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth," then they saw him ascend into heaven, then they “returned to Jerusalem with great joy.” Their sorrow, indeed, was turned into joy.]

Verse 21

Joh 16:21

John 16:21

A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but when she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for the joy that a man is born into the world.—He illustrates by the pain and anguish of a woman in travail chased away by the joy that a man is born into the world. [The figure of a woman in travail was used to illustrate sudden sorrow and anguish. (Isaiah 21:3; Hosea 13:13; Micah 4:9). But here Jesus gives it a new application by asserting that joy comes out of the pains of travail.]

Verse 22

Joh 16:22

John 16:22

And ye therefore now have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice,—So now in his going away sorrow will fill their hearts to be succeeded by joy when they see him again.

and your joy no one taketh away from you.—Their joy shall be permanent; none shall deprive them of it. The resur­rection of Christ foretokens the resurrection to eternal life of all who believe in him. [Jesus refers to his own appear­ance to the disciples after his sufferings and resurrection, which would turn their sorrow into joy. That joy would be permanent. All enemies on earth combined with those of the underworld might assail them, but “no man could take it” away.]

Verse 23

Joh 16:23

John 16:23

And in that day ye shall ask me no question. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If ye shall ask anything of the Father, he will give it you in my name.—Then they shall be brought into immediate union with God the Father and in that state they could approach him directly without the intervention of a mediator. He will gladly answer them himself.

Verse 24

Joh 16:24

John 16:24

Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name:—As yet they had not regarded Jesus as the mediator through whom they must approach God. He had not entered upon his mediatorial work, and so they had asked nothing in his name.

ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be made full.—When he had suffered and died as a sacrifice for the sins of the world and ascended to his Father as the Great High Priest and Advocate with the Father, then they must ask in his name, as his servants and representatives, purchased by him, and the fullness of the blessings would make their joy full.

Verse 25

Joh 16:25

John 16:25

These things have I spoken unto you in dark sayings: the hour cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in dark sayings, but shall tell you plainly of the Father.—These things he teaches now in parables or illustrations, but when his death and resurrection were accomplished, he would speak plainly and they would then have learned enough to under­stand.

Verses 26-27

Joh 16:26-27

John 16:26-27

In that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have be­lieved that I came forth from the Father.—After his resurrec­tion and ascension they were to ask in his name. Then he does not say he will ask the Father for them because by their faith in him as sent of God and their love and obedience to him God would of his own love bless them.

Verse 28

Joh 16:28

John 16:28

I came out from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father.—He had been with God, had been sent forth by God into this world. Soon he would leave the world and return to God.

Verse 29

Joh 16:29

John 16:29

His disciples say, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no dark saying.—They thought they comprehended his plain statement and so claimed; but it is very doubtful if they grasped its meaning, or if they did, it slipped from them, for after his crucifixion they still did not understand that he was to die, be buried, and rise again.

Verse 30

Joh 16:30

John 16:30

Now know we that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou earnest forth from God.—By virtue of his knowing their thoughts and answering their difficulties they claim to know that he is from God and knows all things. These impressions seemingly clear at times would often vanish and their hearts would be beclouded with doubts and uncertainty.

Verse 31

Joh 16:31

John 16:31

Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?—This was asked in view of their lack of steadfastness in their faith.

Verse 32

Joh 16:32

John 16:32

Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone:—He here presents the trials that they would be called upon to undergo by which their faith would be tested. They would forsake him—all of them leave him alone. The feeling of lone­liness seems to creep over him.

and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.—He was not alone, for God never forsakes his children that are faithful to him in the darkest hour.

Verse 33

Joh 16:33

John 16:33

These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.—He transfers his own source of joy to them. In the world tribulation, perse­cution, and sorrow would come; but he had overcome the world. He had done it for them, and the Father would be with them as he had been with Jesus. They could overcome the world, too.

Questions on John Chapter Sixteen

E.M. Zerr

1. State the purpose of Christ’s words.

2. What expelling did he predict?

3. Tel! what severer fate he foretold them.

4. How would such acts be counted?

5.Why will they do all these things?

6. For what reason did Jesus foretell this?

7. Why had he not told it before?

8. What is about to happen now?

9. Tell what has filled their heart.

10. This caused what hesitancy in them?

11. Why was it expedient for Christ to leave them?

12. Who was this being to reprove?

13. Why reprove of sin?

14. Of righteousness?

15. And of judgment?

16. Who is the prince of this world?

17. Why had Jesus not said all to the disciples?

18. Tel! what the Spirit was to do for them.

19. Whose words was he to speak?

20. Tell what he was to show them.

21. What glorifying was he to do?

22. In what way would he do it?

23. What things did Jesus say were his?

24. What was to happen in a little while?

25. To what event did this refer?

26. What would determine the second "little while"?

27. State the inquiry the disciples made.

28. Was it made openly?

29. What did Jesus say they would do?

30. At that time what would the world do?

31.. How would it be changed?

32. What was to cause them to rejoice?

33. Of what were they assured?

34. When was "that day" of John 16:23?

35. Why would they ask nothing then?

36. What asking was to be granted?

37. In what name must the asking be done?

38. What form of speech had Jesus used?

39. Ten the promise he made about it.

40. Of whom was he to do this?

41. They would then ask in what name?

42. Why would Christ then not need to pray?

43. Tell why the Father would love them.

44. From where had Jesus come?

45. Why had he left his father?

46. Was this journey to be reversed?

47. Give their comment on this speech.

48. Of what were they sure?

49. This produced what belief in them?

50. What hour did Jesus predict?

51. Explain ’’his own".

52. Would not Jesus be alone?

53. For what reason had Jesus spoken this?

54. What would they have in the world?

55. Why should they be cheerful?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on John 16". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/john-16.html.
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