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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
John 16

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-33

John 16. There is no break between chs. 15 and 16. Jesus has told them beforehand, so that His death and their suffering may not daunt their faith, as the Baptist was "offended" by the course of the ministry, which did not correspond to his Messianic expectation. They must expect actual excommunication. Their execution will be thought an acceptable sacrifice to God (cf. the Jewish comment on Numbers 25:13, "He who sheds the blood of a transgressor should be thought of as if he had offered an offering"). There is no reference in John 16:2 to the rebellion of Bar-Kochba (John 5:43*). This hostile attitude will be due to men's ignorance of God and His Messenger. In after time they will remember His warning. It was not necessary to give it while He was with them. But now He must go to the Father. Instead of thinking of the purpose of His departure they are merely overcome with grief. But in reality His going is their gain, for He will send the Paraclete (cf. John 15:26). When He comes He will convince the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. The fate of God's Messenger would raise the questions. On whose side was the sin, and on whose the righteousness? It would thus involve a judgment. The Spirit of truth would convince men of sin, for it would become clear that the error lay with those who had rejected God's appointed Messenger; of righteousness, for it would appear that the death was not a malefactor's just punishment, but a going "to the Father" (cf. Isaiah 57:1), who pronounced in His favour by receiving Him, and so their loss in being no longer able to see Him would prove real gain, of judgment, for the verdict which the Prince of this world would succeed in getting passed against the Christ would be seen to be in reality the condemnation of those who passed it. The Paraclete's work would be not only to convince but also to teach. The earthly teaching was not final. It had been limited by the disciples' capacity to understand. The Spirit of truth would lead them into all truth. (Cf. the saying in the Hermetic literature of Hermes Nous (Mind): "Nous entering the pious soul leads it into the light of knowledge"; cf. also Wisdom of Solomon 9:11.) Like the Christ, the Spirit does not speak on His own authority, but what He hears, including the meaning of the events about to happen. He will glorify the Christ by taking of His and showing to the disciples. "Glory" in this gospel generally means the true nature of a thing, which shines out from it, as the radiance of the sun. The Spirit will continue Christ's task of making known to men His nature and work, and therefore the nature and work of God, so far as men can grasp it. But Jesus will Himself return (John 16:16). All the language used in these discourses cannot be interpreted of His coming "in the Spirit" as a substitute for the common expectation of the Parousia, which is thus supposed to be altogether spiritualised. They contain something beside "transmuted eschatology." After a little while absence, but only for a little while, after which they shall see. There is here nothing inconsistent with the hope of an almost immediate return in glory. The disciples are perplexed. How are they to reconcile this with what He has said of a journey to the Father? Does not that involve more than a little while? Jesus replies to their difficulties, which He perceives, that length is relative to the issues involved. The night of sorrow, like the hours of travail, is long till it is forgotten in the joy of morning, in the light of which it shrinks into insignificance. Even the thought of His going causes them sorrow, much more the reality. But His return will bring heartfelt joy (Isaiah 66:14), and permanent, compared with which the sorrow will indeed be "a little while." Whatever the interval, it will be such as to secure the desired results. And in that day of reunion, they will not have to go on asking Him questions (mg.). The Father Himself will give whatever they ask in His name." Hitherto His language has been veiled in parable. Hereafter He will be able to speak plainly. And in that day of final reunion, they shall ask for what they need "in His name," and He will not have to ask the Father for them. Their intercourse with the Father will be direct, who loves them for their love of the Christ. He left the Father to come into the world, and now He leaves the world to go to the Father. In these words the disciples see the fulfilment of His promise to speak plainly. His reading of their perplexity has convinced them of His knowledge. Now they need not question. They are convinced of His Divine mission. Their assertion is met by the warning that very soon they will be scattered and desert Him. But the Father is with Him. Now He has taught them all that is necessary for their peace. The affliction which must come while they are in the world need not destroy it. He has overcome the real power of the world.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on John 16:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/john-16.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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