corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.10.21
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospels
John 16

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-4

These things have I spoken to you, that you should not be offended. 2. They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the time comes, that whosoever kills you will think that he does God service. 3. And these things will they do to you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not to you at the beginning, because I was with you.

AUG. After the promise of the Holy Spirit, to inspire them with strength to give witness; He well adds, These things have I spoken to you, that you should not be offended. For when the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us (Romans 5:5), then great peace have they that love God"s law, and they are not offended at it (Psalms 118).

What they were about to suffer follows next: They shall put you out of the synagogues.

CHRYS. For the Jews had already agreed, if any confessed that He was Christ, that he should be put out of the synagogue.

AUG. Bu what evil was it to the Apostles to be put out of the Jewish synagogues, which they would have gone out of, even if none had put them out? Our Lord wished to make known to them, that the Jews were about not to receive Him, while they on the other hand were not going to desert Him. There was no other people of God beside the seed of Abraham; if they acknowledged Christ, the Churches of Christ would be none other than the synagogues of the Jews. But inasmuch as they refused to acknowledge Him, nothing remained but that they should put out of the synagogue those who would not forsake Christ.

He adds: But the time comes that whoever kills you will think that he does God service. Is this intended for a consolation, as if they would so take to heart their expulsion from the synagogues, that death would be a positive relief to them after it? God forbid that they who sought God"s glory, not men"s, should be so disturbed. The meaning of the words is this: They shall put you out of the synagogue, but do not be afraid of being left alone. Separated from their assemblies, you shall assemble so many in my name, that they, fearing that the temple and rites of the old law will be deserted, will kill you and think to do God service thereby, having a zeal for God but not according to knowledge.

These who kill are the same with those who put out of the synagogues, viz. the Jews. For Gentiles would not have thought that they were doing God service, by killing Christ"s witnesses, but their own false gods; whereas every one of the Jews, who killed the preacher of Christ, thought he was doing God service, believing that whoever was converted to Christ, deserted the God of Israel.

CHRYS. Then He consoles them: And all these things will they do to you, because they have not known the Father nor Me. As if He said, Let this consolation content you.

AUG. And He mentions these things beforehand, because trials, however soon to pass away, when they come upon men unprepared for them, are very overwhelming: But these things have I told you, that when the hour shall come, you may remember that 1 told you of them: the hour, the hour of darkness, the hour of night. But the night of the Jews was not allowed to mix with or darken the day of the Christians.

parCHRYS. And He predicted these trials for another reason, viz. that they might not say that He had not foreseen them; That you may remember that I told you of them, or that He had only spoken to please them, and given false hopes. And the reason is added why He did not reveal these things sooner: And these things I said not to you at the beginning, because I was with you; because, that is, you were in My keeping, and might ask when you pleased, and the whole battle rested upon Me. There was no need then to tell you these things at the first, though I myself knew them.

AUG. In the other three Evangelists these predictions occur before the supper; John gives them after. Still if they relate them as given very near His Passion, that is enough to explain His saying, These things I said not to you at the beginning. Matthew however relates these prophecies as given long before His Passion, on the occasion of His choosing the twelve. How do we reconcile this with our Lord"s words? By supposing them to apply to the promise of the Holy Spirit, and the testimony He would give amidst their suffering. This was what He had not told them at the beginning, and that because He was with them, and His presence was a sufficient consolation. But as He was about to depart, it was meet that He should tell them of His coming, by whom the love of God would be shed abroad in their hearts, to preach the word of God with boldness.

CHRYS. Or, He had foretold that they should suffer scourgings, but not that their death could be thought doing God service; which was the strangest thing of all. Or, He there told them what they would suffer from the Gentiles, here what from the Jews.


Verses 5-11

But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asks me, Where do you go?6. But because I have said these things to you sorrow has filled your heart. 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 to you; but if I depart, I will send him to you. 8. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:9. Of sin, because they believe not on me;10. Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you see me no more;11. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

CHRYS. The disciples, not as yet perfected, being overcome by sorrow, our Lord blames and corrects them, saying, But now I go My way to Him that sent Me; and none of you asks Me, Where do you go? They were so struck down at hearing that whoever killed them would think that he was doing God service, that they could say nothing.

Wherefore He adds, But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. It was no small consolation to them to know that the Lord knew their superabundant sorrow, because of His leaving them, and because of the evils which they heard they were to suffer, but knew not whether they should suffer manfully.

AUG. Or whereas they had asked Him above, where He was going, and He had replied that He was going where they would not come; now He promises that He will go in such a way that no one will ask Him where He goes: and none of you asks Me, Where do you go? Going up to heaven, they questioned Him not in words, but followed with their eyes. But our Lord saw what effect His words would produce upon their minds.

Not having yet that inward consolation which the Holy Ghost was to impart, they were afraid to lose the outward presence of Christ, and so, when they could no longer doubt from His own words that they were going to lose Him, their human affections were saddened, for the loss of their visible object. Wherefore it follows; But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.

But He knew that it would be for their good, forasmuch as that inward sight wherewith the Holy Ghost would console them was the better one: Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away.

CHRYS. As if He said, Though your grief be ever so great, you must hear how that it is profitable for you that I go away. What the profit is He then shows: For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you.

AUG. This He says not on account of any inequality between the Word of God and the Holy Ghost, but because the presence of the Son of man amongst them would impede the coming of the latter. For the Holy Ghost did not humble Himself as did the Son, by taking upon Him the form of a servant. It was necessary therefore that the form of the servant should be removed from their eyes; for so long as they looked upon that, they thought that Christ was no more than what they saw Him to be. So it follows: But if I depart, I will send Him unto you.

AUG. But could He not send Him while here: Him Who, we know, came and abode on Him at His baptism, yea Him from Whom we know He never could be separated? What means then, If I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you, but, you cannot receive the Spirit, so long as you know Christ according to the flesh? Christ departing in the body, not the Holy Ghost only, but the Father, and the Son also came spiritually.

GREG. As if He said plainly, If I withdraw not My body from your eyes, I cannot lead you to the understanding of the Invisible, through the Comforting Spirit.

AUG. The Holy Ghost the Comforter brought this, that the form of a servant which our Lord had received in the womb of the Virgin, being removed from the fleshly eye, He was manifested to the purified mental vision in the very form of God in which He remained equal to the Father, even while He deigned to appear in the flesh.

CHRYS. What say they here, who entertain unworthy notions of the Spirit? Is it expedient for the master to go away, and a servant to come? He then shows the good that the Spirit will do: And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.

AUG. But how is it that Christ did not reprove the world? Is it because Christ spoke among the Jews only, whereas the Holy Spirit, poured into His disciples throughout the whole world, reproved not one nation only, but the world? But who would dare to say that the Holy Ghost reproved the world by Christ"s disciples, and that Christ did not when the Apostle exclaims, Do you seek a proof of Christ speaking in Me? (2 Corinthians 13:3) Those then whom the Holy Ghost reproves, Christ reproves also. He shall reprove the world, means, He shall pour love into your hearts, insomuch, that fear being cast out, you shall be free to reprove.

He then explains what He has said: Of sin, because they believed not in Me. He mentions this as the sin above all others, because while it remains, the others are retained; when it departs, the others are remitted.

AUG. But it makes a great difference whether one believes in Christ, or only that He is Christ. For that He was Christ, even the devils believed; but he believes in Christ who both hopes in Christ and loves Christ.

AUG. The world is reproved of sin, because it believes not in Christ, and reproved of righteousness, the righteousness of those that believe. The very contrast of the believing, is the censure of the unbelieving.

Of righteousness because I go to the Father: as it is the common objection of unbelievers, How can we believe what we do not see? So the righteousness of believers lies in this: Because I go to the Father, and you see Me no more. For blessed are they which see not, and believe. The faith even of those who saw Christ is praised, not because they believed what they saw, i.e., the Son of man, but because they believed what they saw not, i.e., the Son of God. And when the form of the servant was withdrawn from their sight altogether, then only was fulfilled in completeness the text, The just live by faith (Hebrews 10:38). It will be your righteousness then, of which the world will be reproved, that you shall believe in Me, not seeing Me. And when you shall see Me, you shall see Me as I shall be, not as I am now with you, i.e., you shall not see Me mortal, but everlasting. For in saying, you see Me no more, He means that they should see Him no more forever.

AUG. Or thus: They believed not, He went to the Father. Theirs therefore was the sin, His the righteousness. But that He came from the Father to us was mercy; that He went to the Father was righteousness; according to the saying of the Apostle, Wherefore God also has highly exalted Him (Philippians 2:9). But if He went to the Father alone, what profit is it to us? Is He not alone rather in the sense of being one with all His members, as the head is with the body? So then the world is reproved of sin, in those who believe not in Christ; and of righteousness, in those who rise again in the members of Christ.

It follows, Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged--i.e., the devil, the prince of the wicked--who in heart dwell only in this world which they love. He is judged in that he is cast out; and the world is reproved of this judgment; for it is vain for one who does not believe in Christ to complain of the devil, whom judged, i.e., cast out, and permitted to attack us from without, only for our trial, not men only but women, boys and girls, have by martyrdom overcome.

AUG. Or, judged, i.e., is destined irrevocably for the punishment of eternal fire. And of this judgment is the world reproved, in that it is judged with its prince, the proud and ungodly one whom it imitates. Let men therefore believe in Christ, lest they be reproved of the sin of unbelief, by which all sins are retained; pass over to the number of the believing, lest they be reproved of the righteousness of those whom justified they do not imitate; beware of the judgment to come, lest with the prince of this world whom they imitate, they too be judged.

CHRYS. Or thus: Shall reprove the world of sin, i.e., cut off all excuse and show that they have sinned unpardonably in not believing in Me, when they see the ineffable gift of the Holy Ghost obtained by calling upon Me.

parAUG. In this way too the Holy Ghost reproved the world of sin, i.e. by the mighty works He did in the name of the Savior, Who was condemned by the world. The Savior, His righteousness retained, feared not to return to Him Who sent Him, and in that He returned, proved that He had come from Him: Of righteousness, because I go to the Father.

CHRYS. i.e. My going to tile Father will be a proof that I have led an irreproachable life, so that they will not be able to say, This man is a sinner; this man is not from God. Again inasmuch as I conquered the devil (which no one who was a sinner could do), they cannot say that I have a devil and am a deceiver. But as he has been condemned by Me they shall be assured that they shall trample upon him afterwards; and My resurrection will show that he was not able to detain Me.

AUG. The devils seeing souls go from hell to heaven, knew that the prince of this world was judged and, being brought to trial in the Savior"s cause, had lost all right to what he held. This was seen on our Savior"s ascension, but was declared plainly and openly in the descent of the Holy Ghost on the disciples.


Verses 12-15

Ver 12. I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13. However 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 show you things to come. 14. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine and shall show it to you. 15. All things that the Father has are mine; therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it to you

THEOPHYL. Our Lord having said above, It is expedient for you that I go away, He enlarges now upon it: I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

AUG. All heretics, when their fables are rejected for their extravagance by the common sense of mankind, try to defend themselves by this text; as if these were the things which the disciples could not at this time bear, or as if the Holy Spirit could teach things, which even the unclean spirit is ashamed openly to teach and preach.

But bad doctrines such as even natural shame cannot bear are one thing, good doctrines such as our poor natural understanding cannot bear are another. The one are allied to the shameless body, the other lie far beyond the body. But what are these things which they could not bear; I cannot mention them for this very reason; for who of us dare call himself able to receive what they could not? Some one will say indeed that many, now that the Holy Ghost has been sent, can do what Peter could not then, as earn the crown of martyrdom.

But do we therefore know what those things were, which He was unwilling to communicate; for it seems most absurd to suppose that the disciples were not able to bear then the great doctrines, that we find in the Apostolic Epistles, which were written afterwards, which our Lord is not said to have spoken to them. For why could they not bear then what every one now reads and bears in their writings, even though he may not understand? Men of perverse sects indeed cannot bear what is found in Holy Scripture concerning the Catholic faith, as we cannot bear their sacrilegious vanities; for not to bear means not to acquiesce in.

But what believer or even catechumen before he has been baptized and received the Holy Ghost, does not acquiesce in and listen to, even if he does not understand, all that was written after our Lord"s ascension; But some one will say, Do spiritual men never hold doctrines which they do not communicate to carnal men, but do to spiritual?

There is no necessity why any doctrines should be kept secret from the babes and revealed to the grown up believers. Spiritual men ought not altogether to withhold spiritual doctrines from the carnal, seeing the Catholic faith ought to be preached to all; nor at the same time should they lower them in order to accommodate them to the understanding of persons who cannot receive them, and so make their own preaching contemptible, rather than the truth intelligible.

So then we are not to understand these words of our Lord to refer to certain secret doctrines which if the teacher revealed, the disciple would not be able to bear, but to those very things in religious doctrine which are within the apprehension of all of us. If Christ chose to communicate these to us, in the same way in which He does to the Angels, what men, yea what spiritual men, which the Apostles were not now, could bear them? For indeed every thing which can be known of the creature is inferior to the Creator; and yet who is silent about Him?

While in the body we cannot know all the truth, as the Apostle says, We know in part (1 Cor 13); but the Holy Spirit sanctifying us fits us for enjoying that fullness of which the same Apostle says, Then face to face. Our Lord"s promise, But when He the Spirit of truth shall come, He shall teach you all truth, or shall lead you into all truth, does not refer to this life only, but to the life to come, for which this complete fullness is reserved. The Holy Spirit both teaches believers now all the spiritual things which they are capable of receiving, and also kindles in their hearts a desire to know more.

DIDYMUS. Or He means that His hearers had not yet attained to all those things which for His name"s sake they were able to bear; so, revealing lesser things, He puts off the greater for a future time, such things as they could not understand till the Cross itself of their crucified Head had been their instruction. As yet they were slaves to the types, and shadows, and images of the Law, and could not bear the truth of which the Law was the shadow. But when the Holy Ghost came, He would lead them by His teaching and discipline into all truth, transferring them from the dead letter to the quickening Spirit, in Whom alone all Scripture truth resides.

CHRYS. Having said then, you cannot bear them now, but then you shall be able, and, The Holy Spirit shall lead you into all truth; lest this should make them suppose that the Holy Spirit was the superior, He adds, For He shall not speak of Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak.

AUG. This is like what He said of Himself above, i.e., I can of My own Self do nothing; as I hear I judge. But that may be understood of Hi m as man; how must we understand this of the Holy Ghost, Who never became a creature by assuming a creature? As meaning that He is not from Himself: The Son is born of the Father, and the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father. In what the difference consists between proceeding and being born, it would require a long time to discuss, and would be rash to define.

But to hear is with Him to know, to know to be. As then He is not from Himself, but from Him from Whom He proceeds, from Whom His being is, from the same is His knowledge. From the same therefore His hearing. The Holy Ghost then always hears, because He always knows; and He has heard, hears, and will hear from Him from Whom He is.

DIDYMUS. He shall not speak of Himself, i.e., not without Me, and Mine and the Father"s will: because He is not of Himself, but from the Father and Me. That He exists, and that He speaks, He has from the Father and Me. I speak the truth; i.e., I inspire as well as speak by Him, since He is the Spirit of Truth. To say and to speak in the Trinity must not be understood according to our usage, but according to the usage of incorporeal natures, and especially the Trinity, which implants Its will in the hearts of believers, all of those who are worthy to hear It.

For the Father then to speak, and the Son to hear, is a mode of expressing the identity of their nature, and their agreement. Again, the Holy Spirit, Who is the Spirit of truth, and the Spirit of wisdom, cannot hear from the Son what He does not know, seeing He is the very thing which is produced from the Son, i.e. truth proceeding from truth, Comforter from Comforter, God from God. Lastly, lest any one should separate Him from the will and society of the Father and the Son, it is written, Whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak.

AUG. But it does not follow from hence that the Holy Spirit is inferior; for it is only signified that He proceeds from the Father.

AUG. Nor let the use of the future tense perplex you; that hearing is eternal, because the knowledge is eternal. To that which is eternal, without beginning, and without end, a verb of any tense may be applied. For though an unchangeable nature does not admit of was and shall be, but only is, yet it is allowable to say of It, was and is and shall be: was, because It never began; shall be, because It never shall end; is, because It always is.

DIDYMUS. By the Spirit of truth too the knowledge of future events has been granted to holy men. Prophets filled with this Spirit foretold and saw things to come, as if they were present: And He will show you things to come.

BEDE. It is certain that many filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit have foreknown future events. But as many gifted saints have never had this power, the words, He will show you things to come, may be taken to mean, bring back to your minds the Joys of your heavenly country. He did however inform the Apostles of what was to come, viz. of the evils that they would have to suffer for Christ"s sake, and the good things they would receive in recompense.

CHRYS. In this way then He raised their spirits; for there is nothing for which mankind so long, as the knowledge of the future. He relieves them from all anxiety on this account, by showing that dangers would not fall upon them unawares. Then to show that He could have told them all the truth into which the Holy Spirit would lead them, He adds, He shall glorify Me.

AUG. By pouring love into the hearts of believers, and making them spiritual, and so able to see that the Son Whom they had known before only according to the flesh, and thought a man like themselves, was equal to the Father. Or certainly because that love filling them with boldness, and casting out fear, they proclaimed Christ to men, and so spread His fame throughout the whole world. For what they were going to do in the power of the Holy Ghost, this the Holy Ghost says He does Himself.

CHRYS. And because He had said, You have one Master, even Christ (Matthew 23:8), that they might not be prevented by this from admitting the Holy Ghost as well, He adds, For He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it to you.

DIDYMUS. To receive must be taken here in a sense agreeable to the Divine Nature. As the Son in giving is not deprived of what He gives, nor imparts to others with any loss of His own, so too the Holy Ghost does not receive what before He had not; for if He received what before He had not, the gift being transferred to another, the giver would be thereby a loser.

We must understand then that the Holy Ghost receives from the Son that which belonged to His nature, and that there are not two substances implied, one giving and the other receiving, but one substance only. In like manner the Son too is said to receive from the Father that wherein He Himself subsists. For neither is the Son any thing but what is given Him by the Father, nor the Holy Ghost any substance but that which is given Him by the Son.

AUG. But it is not true, as some heretics have thought, that because the Son receives from the Father, the Holy Ghost from the Son, as if by gradation, that therefore the Holy Ghost is inferior to the Son. He Himself solves this difficulty, and explains His own words: All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall show it to you.

DIDYMUS. As if He said, Although the Spirit of truth proceeds from the Father, yet all things that the Father has are Mine, and even the Spirit of the Father is Mine, and receives of Mine. But beware, when you hear this, that you think not it is a thing or possession which the Father and the Son have. That which the Father has according to His substance, i.e. His eternity, immutability, goodness, it is this which the Son has also.

Away with the evils of logicians who say, therefore the Father is the Son. Had He said indeed, All that God has are Mine, impiety might have taken occasion to raise its head; but when He said, All things that the Father has are Mine, by using the name of the Father, He declares Himself the Son, and being the Son, He usurps not the Paternity, though by the grace of adoption He is the Father of many saints.

HILARY. Our Lord therefore has not left it uncertain whether the Paraclete be from the Father, or from the Son; for He is sent by the Son, and proceeds from the Father; both these He receives from the Son. You ask whether to receive from the Son and to proceed from the Father be the same thing.

Certainly, to receive from the Son must be thought one and the same thing with receiving from the Father; for when He says, All things that the Father has are Mine, therefore said I, that He shall receive of Mine, He shows herein that the things are received from Him, because all things which the Father has are His, but that they are received from the Father also. This unity has no diversity; nor does it matter from whom the thing is received; since that which is given by the Father is counted also as given by the Son.


Verses 16-22

A little while, and you shall not see me; and again, a little while, and you shall see me, because I go to the Father. 17. Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he said to us, A little while, and you shall not see me; and again, a little while, and you shall see me, and, Because I go to the Father?18. They said therefore, What is this that he said, A little while? We cannot tell what he said. 19. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said to them, Do you enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and you shall not see me; and again, a little while, and you shall see me?20. Verily, verily, I say to you, That you shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. 21. A woman when she is in travail has sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembers no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. 22. And you now therefore have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man takes from you.

CHRYS. Our Lord after having relieved the spirits of the disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit, again depresses them: A little while, and you shall not see Me. He does this to accustom them to the mention of His departure, in order that they may bear it well, when it does come. For nothing so quiets the troubled mind, as the continued recurrence to the subject of its grief.BEDE. He said, A little while, and you shall not see Me alluding to His going to be taken that night by the Jews, His crucifixion the next morning, and burial in the evening, which withdrew Him from all human sight.

CHRYS. But then, if one examines, these are words of consolation: Because I go to the Father. For they show that His death was only a translation; and more consolation follows: And again, a little while, and you shall see Me: an intimation this that He would return and, after a short separation, come and live with them for ever.

AUG. The meaning of these words however was obscure, before their fulfillment; Then said some of His disciples among themselves, What is this that He said to us, A little while, and you shall not see Me; and again, a little while, and you shall see Me; and, Because I go to the Father?

CHRYS. Either sorrow had confused their minds, or the obscurity of the words themselves prevented their understanding them, and made them appear contradictory. If we shall see Thee, they say, how do You go? If you go, how shall we see you? What is this that He said to us, A little while? We cannot tell what He said.

AUG. For above, because He did not say, A little while, but simply, I go to the Father, He seemed to speak plainly. But what to them was obscure at the time, but by and by manifested, is manifest to us. For in a little while He suffered, and they did not see Him; and again, in a little while He rose again, and they saw Him. He says, And you shall see Me no more; for the mortal Christ they saw no more.

ALCUIN. Or thus, It will be a little time during which you will not see Me, i.e. the three days that He rested in the grave; and again, it will be a little time during which you shall see Me, i.e. the forty days of His appearance amongst them, from His Passion to His ascension. And you shall see Me for that little time only, Because I go to the Father; for I am not going to stay always in the body here, but, by that humanity which I have assumed, to ascend to heaven.

It follows: Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask Him, and said to them, Do you enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and you shall not see Me; and again, a little while, and you shall see Me? Verily, verily, I say to you, That you shall weep and lament. Their merciful Master, understanding their ignorance and doubts, replied so as to explain what He had said.

AUG. Which must be understood thus: viz. that the disciples sorrowed at their Lord"s death, and then immediately rejoiced at His resurrection. The world (i.e. the enemies of Christ, who put Him to death) rejoiced just when the disciples sorrowed, i.e. at His death: You shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

ALCUIN. But this speech of our Lord"s is applicable to all believers who strive through present tears and afflictions to attain to the joys eternal. While the righteous weep, the world rejoices; for having no hope of the joys to come, all its delight is in the present.

CHRYS. Then He shows that sorrow brings forth joy, short sorrow infinite joy, by an example from nature: A woman when she is in travail has sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembers no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

AUG This comparison does not seem difficult to understand. It was one which lay near at hand, and He Himself immediately shows its application. And you now therefore have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice. The bringing forth is compared to sorrow, the birth to joy, which is especially true in the birth of a boy. And your joy no man takes from you: their joy is Christ. This agrees with what the Apostle said, Christ being risen from the dead dies no more (Romans 6:9).

CHRYS. By this example He also intimates that He loosens the chains of death, and creates men anew. He does not say however that she should not have tribulation, but that she should not remember it; so great is the joy which follows. And so is it with the saints. He said not that a boy is born, but that a man, a tacit allusion to His own resurrection.

AUG. To this joy it is better to refer what was said above: A little while and you shall not see Me, and again, a little while and you shall see Me. For the whole space of time that this world continues is but a little while. Because I go to the Father, refers to the former clause, a little while and you shall not see Me, not to the latter, a little while and you shall see Me. His going to the Father was the reason why they would not see Him. So to them who then saw Him in the body He says, A little while and you shall not see Me; for He was about to go to the Father, and mortals would thenceforth never see Him again, as they saw Him now. The next words, A little while and you shall see Me, are a promise to the whole Church. For this little while appears long to us while it is passing, but when it is finished we shall then see how little a time it has been.

ALCUIN. The woman is the holy Church, who is fruitful in good works, and brings forth spiritual children to God. This woman, while she brings forth, i.e. while she is making her progress in the world, amidst temptations and afflictions, has sorrow because her hour is come; for no one ever hated his own flesh.

AUG. Nor yet in this bringing forth of joy, are we entirely without joy to lighten our sorrow, but, as the Apostle said, we rejoice in hope (Romans 12:12); for even the woman, to whom we are compared, rejoices more for her future offspring, than she sorrows for her present pain.

ALCUIN. But as soon as she is delivered, i.e. when her laborious struggle is over, and she has got the palm, she remembers no more her former anguish, for joy at reaping such a reward, for joy that a man is born into the world. For as a woman rejoices when a man is born into the world, so the Church is filled with exultation when the faithful are born into life eternal.

BEDE. Nor should it appear strange, if one who departs from this life is said to be born. For as a man is said to be born when he comes out of his mother"s womb into the light of day, so may he be said to be born who from out of the prison of the body, is raised to the light eternal. Whence the festivals of the saints, which are the days on which they died, are called their birthdays.

ALCUIN. I will see you again, i.e. I will take you to Myself. Or, I will see you again, i.e. I shall appear again and be seen by you; and your heart shall rejoice.

AUG. This fruit indeed the Church now yearns for in travail, but then will enjoy in her delivery. And it is a male child, because all active duties are for the sake of devotion; for that only is free which is desired for its own sake, not for any thing else, and action is for this end. This is the end which satisfies and is eternal; for nothing can satisfy but what is itself the ultimate end. Wherefore of them it is well said, Your joy no man takes from you.


Verses 23-28

And in that day you shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say to you, Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. 24. Hitherto have you asked nothing in my name; ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full. 25. These things have I spoken to you in proverbs; but the time comes, when I shall no more speak to you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father. 26. At that day you shall ask in my name; and I say not to you, that I will pray the Father for you:27. For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. 28. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.

CHRYS, Again our Lord shows that it is expedient that He should go: And in that day shall you ask Me nothing.

AUG. The word ask here means not only to seek for, but to ask a question: the Greek word from which it is translated has both meanings.

CHRYS. He says, And in that day, i.e. when I shall have risen again, you shall ask Me nothing, i.e. not say to Me, Show us the Father, and, Where do You go? since you will know this by the teaching of the Holy Ghost; or, you shall ask Me nothing, i.e. not want Me for a Mediator to obtain your requests, as My name will be enough, if you only call upon that: Verily, verily, I say to you, whatsoever you shall ask the Father in My Name, He will give it you. Wherein He shows His power; that neither seen, or asked, but named only to the Father, He will do miracles.

Do not think then, He said, that because for the future I shall not be with you, that you are therefore forsaken; for My name will be a still greater protection to you than My presence: Hitherto have you asked nothing in My Name; ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.

THEOPHYL. I or when your prayers shall be fully answered, then will your gladness be greatest.

CHRYS. These words being obscure, He adds, These things have I spoken to you in proverbs, but the time comes when l shall no more speak to you in proverbs; for forty days He talked with them as they were assembled, speaking of the kingdom of God. And now, He says, you are in too great fear to attend to My words, but then, when you see Me risen again, you will be able to proclaim these things openly.

THEOPHYL. He still cheers them with the promise that help will be given them from above in their temptations: At that day you shall ask in My Name. And you will be so in favor with the Father, that you will no longer need my intervention: And I say not to you that I will pray the Father for you, for the Father Himself loves you. But that they might not start back from our Lord, as though they were no longer in need of Him, He adds, Because you have loved Me: as if to say, The Father loves you, because you have loved Me; when therefore you fall from My love, you will straightway fall from the Father"s love.

AUG. But does He love us because we love Him; or rather do not we love Him, because He loved us; This is what the Evangelist says, Let us love God, because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). The Father then loves us, because we love the Son, it being from the Father and the Son, that we receive the love from the Father and the Son. He loves what He has made; but He would not make in us what He loved, except He loved us in the first place.

HILARY. Perfect faith in the Son, which believes and loves what has come forth from God, and deserves to be heard and loved for its own sake, this faith confessing the Son of God, born from Him, and sent by Him, needs not an intercessor with the Father; wherefore it follows, And have believed that I came forth from God.

His nativity and advent are signified by, I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world. The one is dispensation, the other nature. To have come from the Father, and to have come forth from God, have not the same meaning; because it is one thing to have come forth from God in the relation of Sonship, another thing to have come from the Father into this world to accomplish the mystery of our salvation. Since to come forth from God is to subsist as His Son, what else can He be but God.

CHRYS. As it was consolatory to them to hear of His resurrection, and how He came from God, and went to God, He dwells again and again on these subjects: Again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. The one was a proof that their faith in Him was not vain: the other that they would still be under His protection.

AUG. He came forth from the Father, because He is of the Father; He came into the world, because He showed Himself in the body to the world. He left the world by His departure in the body, and went to the Father by the ascension of His humanity, nor yet in respect of the government of His presence, left the world; just as when He went forth from the Father and came into the world, He did so in such wise as not to leave the Father. But our Lord Jesus Christ, we read, was asked questions, and petitioned after His resurrection; for when about to ascend to Heaven He was asked by His disciples when He would restore the kingdom to Israel; when in Heaven He was asked by Stephen, to receive his spirit.

And who would dare to say that as mortal He might be asked, as immortal He might not? I think then that when He says, In that day you shall ask Me nothing, He refers not to the time of His resurrection, but to that time when we shall see Him as He is: which vision is not of this present life, but of the life everlasting, when we shall ask for nothing, ask no questions, because there will remain nothing to be desired, nothing to be learnt.

ALCUIN. This is His meaning then: In the world to come, you shall ask me nothing: but in the mean time while you are traveling on this wearisome road, ask what you want of the Father, and He will give it you: Verily, verily, I say to you, Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in My Name, He will give it you.

AUG. The word whatsoever must not be understood to mean anything, but something which with reference to obtaining the life of blessedness is not nothing. That is not sought in the Savior"s name, which is sought to the hindering of our salvation; for by in My name must be understood not the mere sound of the letters or syllables, but that which is rightly and truly signified by that sound. He who holds any notion concerning Christ, which should not be held of the only Son of God, does not ask in His name.

But he who thinks rightly of Him, asks in His name, and receives what he asks, if it be not against his eternal salvation; he receives when it is right he should receive; for some things are only denied at present in order to be granted at a more suitable time. Again, the words, He will give it you, only comprehend those benefits which properly appertain to the persons who ask.

All saints are heard for themselves, but not for all; for it is not will give simply, but will give you; what follows, Hitherto have you asked nothing in My name, may be understood in two ways: either that they had not asked in His name, because they had not known it as it ought to be known; or, you have asked nothing, because with reference to obtaining the thing you ought to ask for, what you have asked for is to be counted nothing.

That therefore they may ask in His name not for what is nothing, but for the fullness of joy, He adds, Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full. This full joy is not carnal, but spiritual joy; and it will be full, when it is so great that nothing can be added to it.

AUG. And this is that full joy, than which nothing can be greater, viz. to enjoy God, the Trinity, in the image of Whom we are made.

AUG, Whatsoever then is asked, which appertains to the getting this joy, this must be asked in the name of Christ. For His saints that persevere in asking for it, He will never in His divine mercy disappoint. But whatever is asked beside this is nothing, i.e. not absolutely nothing, but nothing in comparison with so great a thing as this. It follows: These things have I spoken to you in proverbs; but the time comes when I shall no more speak to you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father.

The hour of which He speaks may be understood of the future life, when we shall see Him, as the Apostle said, face to face, and, These things have I spoken to you in proverbs, of that which the Apostle said, Now we see as in a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12). But I will show you that the Father shall be seen through the Son; For no man knows the Father save the Son, and he to whom the Son shall reveal Him (Matthew 11:17).

GREG. When He declares that He will show them plainly of the Father, He alludes to the manifestation about to take place of His own majesty which would troth show His own equality With the Father and the procession of the coeternal Spirit from both.

AUG. But this sense seems to be interfered with by what follows: At that day you shall ask in My name. What shall we have to ask for in a future life, when all our desires shall be satisfied; Asking implies the want of something. It remains then that we understand the words of Jesus going to make His disciples spiritual, from being carnal and natural beings.

The natural man so understands whatever he hears of God in a bodily sense, as being unable to conceive any other. Wherefore whatever Wisdom said of the incorporeal, immutable substance are proverbs to him, not that he accounts them proverbs but understands them as if they were proverbs. But when, become spiritual, he has begun to discern all things, though in this life he see but in a glass and in part, yet does he perceive, not by bodily sense, not by idea of the imagination, but by most sure intelligence of the mind, perceive and hold that God is not body, but spirit; the Son shows so plainly of the Father, that He who shows is seen to be of the same nature with Him who is shown.

Then they who ask, ask in His name, because by the sound of that name they understand nothing but the thing itself which is expressed by that name. These are able to think that our Lord Jesus Christ, in so far as He is man, intercedes with the Father for us" in so far as He is God, hears us together with the Father: which I think is His meaning when He says, And I say not to you that I will pray the Father for you. To understand this, viz. how that the Son does not ask the Father, but Father and Son together hear those who ask, is beyond the reach of any but the spiritual vision.


Verses 29-33

His disciples said to him, Lo, now you speak plainly, and speak no proverb. 30. Now are we sure that you know all things, and need not that any man should ask you; by this we believe that you came forth from God. 31. Jesus answered them, Do you now believe?32. Behold, the hour comes, yea, is now come, that you 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. 33. These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world.

CHRYS. The disciples were so refreshed with the thought of being in favor with the Father, that they say they are sure He knows all things: His disciples said to Him, Now you speak plainly, and speak no proverb.

AUG. But why do they say so, when the hour in which He was to speak without proverbs was yet future, and only promised? Because, our Lord"s communications still continuing proverbs to them, they are so far from understanding them, that they do not even understand their not understanding them.

CHRYS. But since His answer met what was in their minds, they add, Now we are sure that you know all things. See how imperfect they yet were, after so many and great things now at last to say, Now we are sure &c. saying it too as if they were conferring a favor. And need not that any man should ask you, i.e. you know what offends us, before we tell You, and you have relieved us by saying that the Father loves us.

AUG. Why this remark? To one Who knew all things, instead of saying, you need not that any man should ask You; it would have been more appropriate to have said, you need not to ask any man; yet we know that both of these were done, viz. that our Lord both asked questions, and was asked. But this is soon explained; for both were for the benefit, not of Himself, but of those whom He asked questions of, or by whom He was asked. He asked questions of men not in order to learn Himself, but to teach them: and in the case of those who asked questions of Him, such questions were necessary to them in order to gain the knowledge they wanted; but they were not necessary to Him to tell Him what that was, because He knew the wish of the inquirer, before the question was put. Thus to know men"s thoughts beforehand was no great thing for the Lord, but to the minds of babes it was a great thing: By this we know that you came forth from God.

HILARY. They believe that He came forth from God, because He does the works of God. For whereas our Lord had said both, I came forth from the Father, and, I am come into the world from the Father, they testified no wonder at the latter words, I am come into the world, which they had often heard before. But their reply shows a belief in and appreciation of the former, I came forth from the Father. And they notice this in their reply: By this we believe that you came forth from God; not adding, and are come into the world, for they knew already that He was sent from God, but had not yet received the doctrine of His eternal generation. That unutterable doctrine they now began to see for the first time in consequence of these words, and therefore reply that He spoke no longer in parables. For God is not born from God after the manner of human birth; His is a coming forth from, rather than a birth from, God. He is one from one; not a portion, not a defection, not a diminution, not a derivation, not a pretension, not a passion, but the birth of living nature from living nature. He is God coming forth from God, not a creature appointed to the name of God; He did not begin to be from nothing, but He came forth from an abiding nature. To come forth has the signification of birth, not of beginning.

AUG. Lastly, He reminds them of their w weak tender age in respect of the inner man. Jesus answered them, Do you now believe?

BEDE. Which can be understood in two ways, either as reproaching or affirming. If the former, the meaning is, you have awaked somewhat late to belief, for behold the hour comes, yea is now come, that you shall be scattered every man to his home. If the latter, it is, That which you believe is true, but behold the hour comes, &c.

AUG. For they did not only with their bodies leave His body, when He was taken, but with their minds the faith.

CHRYS. You shall be scattered; i.e. when I am betrayed, fear shall so possess you, that you will not be able even to take to flight together. But I shall suffer no harm in consequence: And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.

AUG. He wishes to advance them so far as to understand that He had not separated from the Father because He had come forth from the Father.

CHRYS. These things have I said to you, that you might have peace; i.e. that you may not reject Me from your minds. For not only when I am taken shall you suffer tribulation, but so long as you are in the world: In the world you shall have tribulation.

GREG. As if He said, Have Me within you to comfort you, because you will have the world without you.

AUG. The tribulation of which He speaks was to commence thus, i.e. in every one being scattered to his home, but was not to continue so. For in saying, And leave Me alone, He does not mean this to apply to them in their sufferings after His ascension. They were not to desert Him then, but to abide and have peace in Him. Wherefore He adds, Be of good cheer.

CHRYS. i.e. raise up your spirits again; when the Master is victorious, the disciples should not be dejected; I have overcome the world.

AUG. When the Holy Spirit was given them, they were of good cheer, and, in His strength, victorious. For He would not have overcome the world, had the world overcome His members. When He says, These things have I spoken to you, that in Me you might have peace, He refers not only to what He has just said, but to what He had said all along, either from the time that He first had disciples, or since the supper, when He began this long and wonderful discourse. He declares this to be the object of His whole discourse, viz. that in Him they might have peace. And this peace shall have no end, but is itself the end of every pious action and intention.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on John 16:4". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcc/john-16.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology