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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
John 16

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-14

John 16:1-3. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.

True followers of Christ must not reckon upon having the world’s commendation. At first, the Jews persecuted the Christians; then the Romans took up the cruel work, and others have continued it, in some form or other, even to this day, for the persecution of the saints has not yet ceased. There are many who still have hard times, and have to endure trials of cruel mockings for Christ’s sake. If you resolve to follow Christ men will be sure to call you old-fashioned, ridiculous, Puritanic, and I know not what besides, yet what does it matter to you if they do? Your Master foretold that it would be so.

John 16:4. 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.

Christ did not deceive his disciples concerning the treatment that would be meted out to them. He did not promise that the road to heaven would be an easy path, or flatter his followers with the notion that the cross, which they had to carry after him, had no weight in it; “These things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them.”

John 16:5-6. But now I go my way to him that sent me, and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

They were thinking more of their loss by his going away from them than of his gain in going back to his Father. If they had thought of the glory into which he was so soon to enter, they would have ceased to sorrow, and would have rejoiced with exceeding joy, but they seem to have loved themselves better than they loved their Lord; hence his absence, which ought to have given them many reasons for rejoicing, became to them a cause for grief.

John 16:7. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away:

“It is not merely for my own glory that I am going away, but my absence from you will be better for you than my continued bodily presence with you could possibly be.”

John 16:7. For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

“And he will be of more service to you than I could be even if I were to remain with you.” The presence of the Spirit of God in the Church is better for the present dispensation than even the bodily presence of Christ would be.

John 16:8-12. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

“You have not yet received the Spirit of God as you shall do after my departure, and then your capacities shall be enlarged, so that you shall be able to understand deep truths which are altogether beyond your comprehension at present.”

John 16:13. 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.

Is not that wonderful? As Jesus Christ said that he did not bear witness to himself, but spoke the words which his Father had given him, so the Spirit of God does not speak of himself, but he bears witness to the truth which Christ has revealed, and also makes known “things to come.” But he will never reveal anything contrary to that which Christ has revealed in his Word. That which is to be revealed is that truth which was from the beginning. As we are taught it by the Divine Spirit, it becomes fresh truth to us, though it was ever in Christ’s eternal mind.

John 16:14. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

Oh, that this blessed Spirit may continually show the things of Christ to us!


Verses 1-16

John 16:1. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.

Or, “made to stumble.” Christ would not have you who are his people caused to stumble by anything that happens to you. He wants you to walk without tripping; his angels bear you up in their hands lest at any time you should dash your foot against a stone. He himself, as your Guardian, comes and speaks beforehand to let you know what is to occur to you, that you may not be caused to stumble by any fresh trial that may assail you.

John 16:2. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

Christ’s disciples were to expect opposition of the most cruel kind. They were to be put away from those with whom they had long worshipped; they were even to run the risk of losing their lives; but Jesus foretold what would happen to them, that they might not be stumbled at it. Such was their Lord’s love to them that he would not have them attacked unawares; by his grace, they would hold on, and hold out, they would persevere to the end; but there would have to be a struggle, and to help them in the fight, Jesus tells them all about it before it begins. We say, “Forewarned, forearmed.” So the disciples were; and so are you. Your Lord tells you that you will not get to heaven without trials: “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” And he tells you this that it may not surprise you when it comes, that it may not act upon you like a sudden gust of wind that would upset a little ship; but that you may just keep everything in trim looking for the storm to come: “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be caused to stumble.”

John 16:3. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.

The persecuting Jews professed to be worshippers of Jehovah; but they did not know the Christ, whom he sent, and, therefore, in very truth they did not know the Father either. How can you expect that those who do not know the Father will know the Son, or any of the other children of the divine family? As they rejected the Elder Brother, will they not also reject the younger ones? Is the disciple to be above his Master, or the servant to be treated better than his Lord? Think not so; and therefore expect that you will not be known, even as the Father and the Son were not known.

“Tis no surprising thing,

That we should be unknown:

The Jewish world knew not their King,

God’s everlasting Son.”

John 16:4. 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.

Our Lord did tell his disciples something about “these things.” He did warn them to expect opposition, but he did not dwell upon that theme, he did not expatiate upon it. He did not at first give that prominence to it which he was about to do, and he explains to his disciples why he had not talked much upon that topic: “because I was with you.” It did not matter how they were opposed so long as he was with them; his society more than made up for anything they might have to suffer; and, dear child of God, if you now enjoy the presence of Christ, and the power of his Spirit, you need not mind what happens to you.

John 16:5-6. But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

They were cast down because he was going away from them. Love awoke fear. It was a hard thing for them to have to miss him; they could not tell what might happen to them when their Leader was gone from their midst. Do you wonder that they were filled with sorrow? Yet there was no real cause for grief; there was rather reason for rejoicing when they understood the true lesson of Christ’s departure. There is no real cause for your sorrow, dear friends. If you knew all things, you would rejoice exceedingly in that very thing that now most troubles you.

John 16:7. 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.

And the Comforter is better for us than the personal presence of Christ. We do not always think so; but it is true. It is better for the Church to have the Holy Spirit in the midst of her, than for Christ to be here in the bodily presence on the earth.

John 16:8. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

The world is not as yet convinced, but it is convicted; though it does not own its guilt, there is more than sufficient evidence to prove it guilty in the sight of God.

John 16:9. Of sin, because they believe not on me;

What must be the depth of human wickedness that sinners will not accept a Divine Saviour! This is the crowning, crushing proof of human guilt: “They believe not on me.”

John 16:10. Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

Christ was righteous, the righteous One, whom men rejected, for he has gone up to the Fathers side, where he could not have been if he had not perfected righteousness. The very going back of Christ to the Father’s throne proves that righteousness does exist, and convicts men of sinning against it.

John 16:11. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

The gospel judges him, and dethrones him; and as there has been a judgment of the world’s king, so there will be a judgment of the world itself.

John 16:12. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

Some teachers overload their hearers with truth till I might truly say that they pile on the agony. Truth which cannot be received is often most irksome and burdensome to the hearer; when the mind is not in a fit condition to bear any more instruction, it is cruel work to impose it. Our Lord Jesus did not so overburden his disciples: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”

John 16:13. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself;

This is a very wonderful expression: “He shall not speak of himself.” We have plenty of men, nowadays, who boast that they do speak of or from themselves; that is to say, they profess to borrow from no one, not even from God. They are original thinkers, inventors; they bring forth fresh things out of the depth of their wonderful minds; but even the Holy Ghost is here said not to “speak of himself.”

John 16:13. But whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak;

That is just our business, to hear God’s message, and then to speak it; and if the Holy Ghost does this, and if Jesus did it, we also may be glad to do the same. We are no inventors of great novelties; we are simply the message-bearers of the Most High, the declarers of the old truths which God has revealed to us.

John 16:13-16. And he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall skew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are. mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 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.

How wonderful this is! We are to see Jesus because he has gone to the Father. It looks as if that were a reason why we should not see him; but we see him better by faith, now that he has gone to the Father, than we could have seen him while he was here below covered with the veil of his humiliation. Yet it is hardly surprising that the disciples were puzzled by their Lord’s words: “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.”


Verses 1-20

This chapter contains some of the most precious words that the Lord Jesus uttered before he died upon the cross.

John 16:1. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.

Or, as the Revised Version translates it, “be made to stumble.” Christ would not have his children stumble. There is an offence of the cross, but he would not have us needlessly offended. How careful is our dear Saviour not to give us offence! We ought to be very careful not to offend him; but what condescension it is on his part that he should be careful of offending us, or of permitting us to be offended, or made to stumble.

John 16:2. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

Can you remain faithful to your Master then, when you lose your position, or your character, or men put you out of the synagogue? When you nearly lose life itself, and when they shall think they are doing God’s service by seeking to kill you, can you stand true to Christ then? The Master knew that days of bitter persecution would soon come upon his followers, so he strengthened them against those evil times that were approaching.

John 16:3. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.

It is ignorance that makes men hate God’s people and his Son: “They have not known the Father, nor me.” Truly did Paul say, “I did it ignorantly in unbelief;” and for such persecutors there is full and free forgiveness. When they turn unto the Lord, even this sin shall be forgiven them; but they will not forgive themselves for having committed it; and, like Paul, they will count themselves the chief of sinners because they persecuted the Church of God.

John 16:4. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them.

“You will then see my foresight, my care for you, my prophetic power. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. You will not be taken by surprise.” If any of you who have lately been converted should meet with great opposition, do not be surprised; Jesus has told you to expect it; and if the fire should get seven times hotter, count it no strange thing that the fiery trial has happened unto you. It has happened unto others before you, and will happen to others after you; therefore be prepared for it.

John 16:4. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.

“While I was with you, you could run to me, and tell me all about your trials and difficulties. If anybody was hard with you, I could come to your help, and comfort you. You did not need to know these things before, so I did not tell you of them. You do need to know them now, and now I tell you of them.”

John 16:5. But now I go my way to him that sent me;

Christ was going to the cross, and to the grave, and afterwards to heaven.

John 16:5. And none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?

For want of asking that question, Christ’s disciples were full of grief.

Sometimes we do not ask enough questions. We ask too many questions of doubt; it would be well if we were to ask a few more questions of believing curiosity. There are some things that we ought to wish to know; and Christ encourages his people to come to him for information.

John 16:6. But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

When a poor Christian friend is dying, you are full of sorrow because he is going away from you. Why do you not ask whither he is going? If he is going home to heaven and to glory, why, then be comforted about him; you have no cause for distress on his account.

John 16:7. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away.

“It is better for you that I should be absent than that I should be present.” Their Lord was their joy, their Leader, their Teacher, their Comforter. He is going away, and he tells them that his absence will be a gain to them. “It is expedient for you that I go away.”

John 16:7. For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him, unto you.

Now, it is better for us to have the Comforter than to have Christ here in bodily presence; for if Christ were here tonight, in this Tabernacle, where could we put him so as to be equally near each one of us? I should certainly want him up here on the platform; and you, up there in the top gallery, would say, “Well, we are a long way off; why should he not come up here?” You see, if it is bodily presence that is enjoyed, some must be near, and some must be far off; but now that Christ has gone up to heaven, his Spirit is here. Where is that Spirit? On the platform, I hope, and everywhere else. Any of you who desire it may have the Holy Spirit’s presence. The Lord says,” I will put my Spirit within you.” Better than the bodily presence of Christ is the real, though spiritual, presence of the Holy Ghost.

John 16:8. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

What, a Comforter reprove? Yes. The Holy Spirit never comforts till he has reproved. There must be a reproof of sin before there can be comfort in Christ. And while the Spirit comforts saints, he reproves the world.

John 16:9. Of sin, because they believe not on me;

The greatest sin in all the world is, not believing on Jesus. Our Lord did not say, “Of sin, because of the evil of drunkenness.” That is a great sin, a cursed sin, and there are other great sins; but Christ said, “Of sin, because they believe not on me.” That is the root sin, the foundation sin, the sin that keeps a man in his sin.

John 16:10. Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

It is God’s righteousness that takes Christ up to heaven. He has been here; he has lived a perfect life; he has died a sacrificial death; and God has shown his acceptance of him, for he has gone to his reward.

John 16:11. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

When Christ came here, there was a crisis, a judgment; and sin was judged and condemned; and the prince of the world, the chief sinner in the world, received his death-blow: “the prince of this world is judged.”

John 16:12. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

See how Christ teaches us slowly, wisely, prudently. There are some things which some of you young Christians do not know; you could not bear them if you did know them. You shall know them when you can bear them. A man with a doctrine that he cannot handle is often like a child with a tough piece of meat which he cannot bite. Give the child milk, or the crumb of the loaf. Do not put crusts into his mouth till he has teeth to bite them; do not give him meat till he can digest it. See the gentle Saviour’s way of imparting instruction. He teaches us much, but not too much at a time.

John 16:13. 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.

See, my dear brethren in the ministry, how little store the Holy Ghost sets by originality. We have men nowadays straining to be original. Strain the other way, for listen, “He shall not speak of himself,” — not even the Holy Ghost, — “He shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak.” He is the Repeater of the Father’s message, not the inventor of his own. So let it be with us ministers. We are not to make up a gospel as we go along, as I have heard some say. We are not to shape it to the times in which we live, and suit it to the congregations to which we speak. God forbid! Let this be true of every one of us, “He shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak”

John 16:14. He shall glorify me

The Holy Ghost does that; therefore, surely we, who are the preachers of the gospel, should aim at the same object: “He shall glorify me.” It should be our one desire to magnify and glorify our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 16:14-16. For he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 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.

That was a very simple statement, every Sunday-scholar understands it now; but the twelve apostles did not understand it when they heard it.

John 16:17-18. 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? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith.

They said this “among themselves.” This was not a wise course, for what can ignorance learn of ignorance? Here were disciples questioning one another; none of them knew anything, and yet they were trying to teach one another. If they had all gone to their Master, how much more quickly would they have understood his words! Take everything to Jesus. Try everything by the Word of God. Do not believe what you hear because I say it, or because somebody else says it. Go to the Word of God to learn what you need to know, and to the Spirit of God to teach you the meaning of what you read.

John 16:19-20. 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? Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament,

Christ would die; he would go away and be unseen. On the cross he would depart out of this life; in the tomb he would be hidden from his disciples: “Ye shall weep and lament.”

John 16:20. But the world shall rejoice:

But not for long; the world’s joy at Christ’s death was soon over.

John 16:20. And ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

I think we may leave off our reading at this verse, with these words to flavor our mouth all this week: “Your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” God grant that it may be so with many here present, for Christ’s sake! Amen.


Verses 1-22

John 16:1. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.

“That you should not be scandalized when you see me put to death, and when you miss my bodily presence from your midst. I want to prepare you for the shame and death that lie before me, and also to prepare you for all that lies before you, for many of you will have to drink of my cup, and to be baptized with my baptism. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended,” or ashamed, or scandalized, or caused to stumble, when they come to pass.”

John 16:2. They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

That terrible “time” did come very soon, and the Jewish and other persecutors hunted down the Christians in almost every place where they could be found. Nothing would satisfy their cruel foes but the blood of multitudes of martyrs, and many of the persecutors actually thought that they were doing God service while they were putting his children to torture and death.

John 16:3-4. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed, especially when the Lord Jesus Christ gives the forewarning; and his disciples were thus to be forearmed and braced up for the coming conflict.

John 16:4. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.

“I needed not, at the beginning of my ministry, to trouble you about these things. Even then, you and I were hated by evil men, but I was with you, so I was able to protect you from them.” The persecutors could not slay Christ’s sheep, as they desired to do, as long as their Shepherd was still with them, so his warning words were not needed while he was in their midst. Christ does not teach us everything at once; if he did, we might be so confused that we should not learn anything. Perhaps we have sometimes wished that our ears could hear more than they now do; but it is most probable that, if we could hear more, we should really understand less than we now do. Have you, at any time, had your hearing more than usually acute? If so, you must then have heard a thousand sounds which it would have been better for you not to have heard; for they so confused and confounded one another that you did not hear anything distinctly. It is just so with the mind; it is capable of receiving a certain quantity of truth; but if too much truth be placed before it at once, it produces confusion in the mind’s ear and in the mind’s eye, and we really hear less, see less, and understand less than we should do if less truth were set before us. The Master knew that his disciples were like narrow-necked bottles, which must be gradually filled, so he only revealed the truth to them as they were able to receive it.

John 16:5-6. But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

Sorrow sometimes prevents us from learning the lessons that Christ wishes to teach us. You remember that, in the garden of Gethsemane, Christ’s disciples were “sleeping for sorrow,” and so they lost some of the lessons that they might otherwise have learnt. Those who are in great trouble are often in that dazed condition in which half-awakened persons are; and there is a measure of sleepiness about us all in times of sorrow. It was so with the disciples on this occasion, and therefore they did not ask their Lord what they might have asked him if sorrow had not filled their hearts: “None of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?”

John 16:7-9. 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. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me;

Which is the head of all sin, the root of all sin, the sin which lieth in front of the door of mercy, and blocks the sinner’s way. Oh, that the Spirit of God would convince all here, who are not believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, that they are living in the greatest of all sins “because they believe not on Christ”!

John 16:10. Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

Of course, Christ would not have been received back by his Father if he had not completed the work of righteousness which his Father gave him the commission to perform. The risen and glorified Saviour is the great testimony to the righteousness both of Christ and of his gospel.

John 16:11. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

Christ has already judged the prince of the powers of evil, so you may depend upon it that he will also judge all those who are under the dominion of the traitor prince who has usurped his Master’s position and authority. Christ has summoned the dread lord of evil to his bar, and judged him. Think not, O ye who are his servants, that any of you will be able to elude the vigilance of the great Judge of all! Judgment will assuredly come to the common soldiers of the prince of darkness since their captain himself has been judged and condemned.

John 16:12. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

Here again observe the reticence of the Saviour for his disciples’ good, still graciously keeping from them what they could not bear to hear; and are not you, beloved, thankful that you do not, at this moment, know what is to happen to you in the future? It is wise for each one of us to say, —

“My God, I would not wish to read

My fate with curious eyes; —

What gloomy lines are writ for me,

Or what bright scenes arise.”

It is best for you, at present, to know but little. Prize what you do know, and be content to leave all that is not yet revealed, for “the secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever.”

John 16:13. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:

All that you need to know, and may know, he will teach you. If you cannot find your way into the heart of any truth, the Spirit of God has the clue to it, so ask him to guide you into it. There is such a thing as seeing the outside of a truth; that is good as far as it goes, but the blessedness lies in getting to the inside of the truth, the very kernel and core of it.

John 16:13-14. For he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me:

That is the distinctive mark of the Spirit of God. If any man says that he speaks by the Spirit, you can test him in this way, — does what he says glorify Christ? If not, away with him, for he is not speaking as the Holy Spirit speaks.

John 16:14-18. For he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you. 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. 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? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith.

These disciples of Christ were almost as ignorant as the rank outsiders were. Though they had been with Jesus for three years, they had not learnt what is clear enough to every Sunday-school child today, and what is certainly perfectly understood by all who are taught of God. They said, “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? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith.”

John 16:19-22. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye inquire 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? 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. 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. 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.


Verses 1-33

John 16:1. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.

The temptation is, when Christ is despised and rejected, for our hearts to begin to sink, and for our faith to fail. Therefore did Christ warn his disciples that they “should not be offended.”

John 16:2. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

The best of men are but men at the best, and they are very apt to fail when they find persecution hot against them, especially when even religious men, of a certain kind, count it to be a religious duty to persecute the people of God.

John 16:3. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.

This verse reminds us of our Lord’s prayer on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Persecution of God’s people usually arises from ignorance of God the Father and God the Son.

John 16:4. 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.

“I was your Protector; by my personal presence, I so sustained your hearts that it did not matter what trouble you fell into; but now I am going away, and therefore I give you this warning.”

John 16:5-6. But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

We sometimes endure a needless sorrow, for the asking of a single question might remove it. Our Lord says to his disciples, “If you knew where I was going, and understood my motive in going, your sorrow at my departure would be assuaged.”

John 16:7. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away:

“It is for your profit to lose my personal presence, precious as that has been to you.”

John 16:7. For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

The word “Comforter” might just as well have been translated “Advocate.” The Holy Spirit is that Divine Advocate who pleads the cause of God in us, and for us, and so comforts us. He it is who is now with Us. If Jesus Christ were still upon earth in the flesh, he could only be in one place at one time. If he were in this assembly, he could not also be in Jerusalem or in New York; but the Comforter can be in all the gatherings of the Lord’s people, and with each individual believer, the wide world over.

John 16:8-12. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

Teachers, learn wisdom from Christ. He did not try to teach his disciples everything at once; but, by teaching them one truth, he prepared them for another truth. Let us do the same with those whom we try to teach, let us dispense to them the simpler truths first, and afterwards those that are deeper and more mysterious.

John 16:13-14. 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 shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

That spirit, which does not glorify Christ, is not the spirit of God. Hereby shall ye discern between the spirit of error and the Spirit of truth.

John 16:15-16. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 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.

This is what our whole life is: “a little while.” But in that little while there are little whiles of sadness, and little whiles of gladness, — little whiles in which we have Christ with us, and little whiles in which we see him, but find him not. Blessed be God, we are going away from the land of these changing little whiles up to the place where the sun shineth in its strength for ever and ever.

John 16:17-18. 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? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith.

Sometimes, when you are reading the Bible, you will come across a text of which you will say to yourselves, “What is this? We cannot tell what he saith.” But do not give up reading the Bible because you cannot understand it. There is a great deal that a father says which his child cannot comprehend, yet it is a part of the child’s education to be with his father, and to hear some things that he does not at first understand; but by-and-by, it all becomes clear. So, believer, what thou knowest not now thou shalt know hereafter.

John 16:19. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him

They did not ask him, but they desired to do so, and a desire is a prayer. Where our blessed Master is present, the very desires of his people are prayers, even though their lips remain closed.

John 16:19-20. And said unto them, Do you 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? 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.

Oh, what a blessed promise!

John 16:21-24. 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. 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 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. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall, receive, that your joy may be full.

They had asked very little, and they had never asked even that little in Christ’s name; and there are but few Christians who do so even now. They ask for Christ’s sake, which is a good plea, but to ask in Christ’s name is better still, — when you feel conscious that you have Christ’s authority to use his name, and so can put the King’s own signature at the bottom of your petitions. There are some prayers to which a man dares not to set Christ’s seal; but when the prayer is such that Christ himself might have offered it, then we may present it in his name, and we may be certain that we shall receive what we have asked.

John 16:25-28. 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. At 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 teacheth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.

Here are four unfathomable depths: “I came forth from the Father,” —there is Christ’s eternal pre-existence. “And am come into the world,” —there is his incarnation. “Again, I leave the world,” — there is his death, resurrection, and ascension into the glory of God. “And go to the Father,” — there is his exaltation to the Father’s right hand.

John 16:29. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb.

Did you never, when reading the Bible, come across a text, that was opened up to you so sweetly that you vied out just as these disciples did “Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb.”

John 16:30-31. 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. Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?

Listen, you who imagine that you are so strong in faith, and every grace, that you think you are almost perfect: “Do ye now believe?”

John 16:32. Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone:

Ah, me! these were the men who said they believed in him; yet, in his time of trial, they fled like cowardly unbelievers. God help us, and sustain us, or we shall do as they did!

John 16:32-33. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. 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.


Verses 16-33

John 16:16. 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.

Remember that the disciples were on the verge of great trouble. Their Leader and Friend was about to be taken away from them by a cruel death. They were to be tried as they had never been tried before. The Saviour therefore prepared their minds for the trial. I have often noticed that, before a great trouble comes, the Spirit of God secretly comforts in a very remarkable manner those who are to be tried. Perhaps, tonight, without knowing it, we may be near some great affliction or sorrow. If so, may the Lord store us with comfort and strength for the coming hour of need!

John 16:17-18. There 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 shalt see me: and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith.

It was only too plain. We often do not understand our Master because we imagine that there is some deep significance in his words when their meaning lies upon the very surface. If you would understand the gospel as you understand the common talk of life, it would be wise. If we could but bring men to believe God as a child believes its mother, practically and really, then their salvation would be a very simple and speedy matter.

John 16:19-20. 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? Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice:

Sometimes the world appears to have the best of it. Its mouth is full of laughter while the child of God cannot speak for sorrow. Ah! well, there is time enough for a change. We may very well let those laugh today who will have to gnash their teeth for ever. Judge not God by your present circumstances. Take the rough with the smooth. Be willing to go to heaven up the bleak side of the hill.

John 16:20. And ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

So, the more of it the better. If your sorrow is to be turned into joy, then the more sorrow, the more joy. Happy is he who endureth trial, since his trial is to be turned into happiness.

John 16:21-22. 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. And ye now therefore have sorrow:

But your sorrow is the pang of life.

John 16:22. But I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

The joy that comes by sorrow in connection with Christ is the joy of which we shall never be bereaved. Let us thank God that there is a joy which no man can take away. Happy are they who have it.

John 16:23. 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. This is a grand promise. If we dare ask in the name of Christ, and it is not everything that we could ask for in his name ¾if our petition is such that we honestly judge that we may put Christ’s name to it; if it is a thing that Christ would have asked; if it is a thing that Christ could have asked, let us ask in Christ’s name, and the Father will give it.

John 16:24. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name:

You have not been bold enough. You have asked a few petty things, but you have never fully made use of Christ’s name. How many Christians have never learned to pray in the name of Christ! They say at the end of their petition, “For Christ’s sake.” That is good as far as it goes. I may ask a man to give me such and such a thing for the sake of another; that is good pleading so far as it goes. But if I dare to use the authority that my friend gives me to put his name at the bottom of my request, that is another and a higher thing. To ask in the name of Christ, to plead under his authority, this is to pray indeed.

John 16:24. Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

“That your joy may be full,” a ripe joy, a joy that fills your being, that sparkles in your eye, dances in your feet, leaps in your heart, an unutterable, inexpressible joy: “That your joy may be full.”

John 16:25-26. 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. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:

Though that be true,

John 16:27. For the Father himself loveth you,

What a delightful little sentence! “The Father himself loveth you.”

John 16:27. Because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.

God’s first love to us is from himself alone. Then there is another love that grows in his heart because of our love to his Son. You love your child. The reason lies in your own heart. After a while, that dear, loving, affectionate child has won a farther place in your affection, and you love him because of his choice and special love to you. Remember that Psalm, “Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.” Our love of God wins from him another love, of a different sort, although it comes from the same fountain as the first: “For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.”

John 16:28-30. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. 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.

One does not see any reason why they should have been made so strong in faith just then. But we were not there to hear Christ’s words. There is many a message, which depends upon the tone and manner of the speaker for its influence over the people who hear it. When you read the story afterwards, without the earnest manner and the living tone of the speaker, you do not see why it had such a strange effect upon his hearers. So we do not quite see here, by the calm reading of this narrative, why the disciples leaped all of a sudden into such confidence.

John 16:31. Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?

He did not feel so sure of their faith as they did. We often think we have great heaps of the gold of faith; and it glitters very brightly, but it is not the precious metal after all. So Jesus said, “Do ye now believe?”

John 16:32. 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.

These poor creatures, who were so bold and so oversure, would all be runaways. If persecution were to arise in our day, I wonder how many of us would be found true men. Ah! you think you are true blue; but you would run at the first touch of water, not to mention fire. Are there not many of us who are but poor believers? If our faith were sharply tried, would it stand the test?

John 16:33. 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.

Christ wants his disciples to have peace. Are you fretting tonight? Are you afraid of Monday? Are you fearful about the trials of the week? Christ wants you to be at peace. Be quiet. Be quiet. Let all be still within your heart, and wait your Father’s will. “In the world ye shall have tribulation:” on God’s threshing-floor the flail will be kept going. If you are a child of God, you will have to suffer. The Captain of our salvation was made perfect through sufferings; and good soldiers of Jesus Christ must expect to pass through the same experience. As long as you are here, you will be tried: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Think of that; the Christ who is about to sweat great drops of blood, and to die on the cross of Calvary, says, “I have overcome.” It is not Julius Caesar’s” Veni, vidi, vici;” but it is Christ’s “Veni, vidi, vici;” ¾“I came, I saw, I conquered:” “I have overcome.” And as he has overcome, so shall you, if you be his true follower.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on John 16:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/john-16.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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