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Bible Commentaries

The Fourfold Gospel
John 16

 

 

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Verse 1
These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be caused to stumble1.

  1. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be caused to stumble. Jesus warned his disciples of coming persecutions in order that those persecutions might not shake their faith.


Verse 2
They shall put you out of the synagogues1: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you shall think that he offereth service unto God2.

  1. They shall put you out of the synagogues. See . On the synagogue, see .

  2. Yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you shall think that he offereth service unto God. Persecutors would not only take away religious privileges, but even life itself, and they would do this as a religious act, esteeming Christians such enemies of God that God would take pleasure in their death. Paul gives us an illustration of this fanatical zeal (Acts 26:9; Galatians 1:13,14).


Verse 3
And these things will they do, because they have not known the Father, nor me1.

  1. And these things will they do, because they have not known the Father, nor me. The disciples being but few, and finding the vast majority of the nation against them, and being but unlearned Galileans, and finding the leaders--the wise, the cultured, the mighty--against them, would be tempted to doubt the correctness of their course, and to ask, "May we not, after all, be mistaken: may not those who know more be better judges in this matter than we who are so ignorant"? To forestall and prevent such questioning, Jesus asserts that the ignorance is with the rulers. Knowledge of himself and of his Father is the great and supreme knowledge, and the apostles having this were wiser than those with all other learning.


Verse 4
But these things have I spoken unto you, that when their hour is come, ye may remember them, how that I told you1. And these things I said not unto you from the beginning, because I was with you2.

  1. But these things have I spoken unto you, that when their hour is come, ye may remember them, how that I told you. It would also strengthen their faith to remember that the Lord's divine wisdom had foreseen all this trouble.

  2. And these things I said not unto you from the beginning, because I was with you. While he was with his disciples they were in no danger, for he himself bore the brunt of persecution. In the beginning, therefore, of his ministry he did not deem it expedient to dishearten his disciples by foretelling trials which were then remote. When he began to announce his approaching death, then he also began to declare that the disciple must be willing to lose his life if he would find it. See notes at Section 70, Subdivision C, at Mark 8:31-38. Some think that Matthew 5:10-12 forms a contradiction to our Lord's statement here. While the words in Matthew were spoken early enough to be classified as "from the beginning", their import is to general to permit of their being brought into contrast with this direct and personal prediction of persecution.


Verse 5
But now I go unto him that sent me; and none of you asketh me1, Whither goest thou?

  1. But now I go unto him that sent me; and none of you asketh me,
  2. Whither goest thou? The disciples had asked the Lord whither he was going (John 13:36; John 14:5), but their question had a very different meaning from that which Jesus here suggests to them. They asked it to ascertain whether his departure would a withdrawal from the world in which they could accompany him. The question which he suggests has reference to the place to which he was about to journey, that place being the home and presence of his Father. The question asked was selfish, as if the apostles had asked, "What will your departure mean to us"? The question suggested was generous, intimating that the apostles should have asked, "What will this departure mean to you"?


Verse 6
But because I have spoken these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

  1. Because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Viewing his departure from a selfish standpoint filled their hearts with sorrow; but viewing it from a generous standpoint would have filled them with sympathetic joy, because of the supreme happiness which it would bring to their Master (John 14:28). But even from a selfish standpoint the apostles would have had reason to rejoice because of the advantage which would accrue to them through the Lord's departure, for that departure would result in the advent of the Holy Spirit.


Verse 7
Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send him unto you1.

  1. For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send him unto you. Space does not permit us to discuss why the Spirit could not come until the Lord had departed, but the verses which follow give us one good and sufficient reason, for they show that his work had to do with the conviction of human hearts through the preaching of a completed gospel, and the ascension or return of Christ to heaven, and his enthronement in glory there, are essential parts of the completed gospel.


Verse 8
And he, when he is come, will convict the world1 in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment2:

  1. And he, when he is come, will convict the world. It would be the work of the Holy Spirit to take the truths respecting Christ, and, using the apostles as mouthpieces (Acts 2:1-37), to convince the world as to these truths.

  2. In respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. This convincing work was entirely in relation to Christ, the sin of disbelieving him, the righteousness revealed in him, and the power of judgment conferred upon him.


Verse 9
of sin, because they believe not on me1;
    John 16:9-11

  1. Of sin, because they believe not on me. Sin, righteousness, and a day of judgment with its reward upon one and its punishment upon the other, are three cardinal doctrines of the gospel. The Spirit convinces the world that disbelief in Christ is its fatal sin, for belief in Christ leads to forgiveness, and to the unbelieving there is no forgiveness. The least sin is a sin unto death, and is a sin eternal unless forgiven. The greatest sin, if forgiven, becomes harmless and is as if it had never been. Until the world is convinced of this great truth it feels no need of a gospel.


Verse 10
of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye behold me no more;

  1. Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye behold me no more. Again, Christianity teaches that righteousness is prerequisite to the attainment of the presence of God. Without righteousness we can never behold him, nor can we ever hope to stand before him. But this required righteousness was found in Jesus, for he returned to the Father, and abides with the Father, being seen by us no more. The Holy Spirit convinces the world that those who are found in Christ, having his righteousness, shall attain unto the presence of the Father. (Philippians 3:3-14).


Verse 11
of judgment, because the prince of this world hath been judged1.

  1. Of judgment, because the prince of this world hath been judged. Lastly, the Spirit convinces the world that Jesus is commissioned as its judge. Our Lord's resurrection is the assurance of this fact (Acts 17:31). The resurrection is such an assurance because it is an evidence of the judgment and condemnation of Satan, the head and leader in sinful rebellion against God, and he that hath power to judge the head thereby shows he had power to judge the body. Satan held the power of death over humanity, but Jesus judged him and brought him to naught by taking away this power (Hebrews 2:14,15). The cross of Christ as the source of life asserted his superiority over all other powers (Colossians 2:14,15), which implies an ability to judge them.


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

  1. I have yet many things unto say to you, but ye cannot bear them now. The doctrines of the gospel were necessarily obscure and largely incomprehensible to the apostles until time had developed the gospel facts. Jesus, therefore, forbore to speak of many things at this time, lest by doing so he should confuse the minds of his followers.


Verse 13
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth1: for he shall not speak from himself2; but what things soever he shall hear, [these] shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come.
    John 16:13,14

  1. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth. The Holy Spirit was to bring no absolutely new teaching.

  2. For he shall not speak from himself. The Son of God here claims for himself all that the Holy Spirit taught even to the declaration of things to come.


Verse 14
He shall glorify me: for he shall take of mine, and shall declare [it] unto you1.

  1. He shall glorify me: for he shall take of mine, and shall declare [it] unto you. The Spirit would bring to mind and republish in the "minds" of the apostles all the words which Jesus had spoken, and would add those things which, being now in the mind of Jesus, were really part of his teaching, but which he at this present forbore to utter, the apostles not being able to bear them.


Verse 15
All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine1: therefore said I, that he taketh of mine, and shall declare [it] unto you2.

  1. All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine. The Son's unity of interest with the Father made him possessor of all the Father's truth, as well as all the Father's counsel as to the future.

  2. Therefore said I, that he taketh of mine, and shall declare [it] unto you. As Jesus, therefore, might at this time have uttered all which the Holy Spirit subsequently taught, he rightfully claimed all the teaching of the Spirit as his.


Verse 16
A little while, and ye behold me no more; and again a little while1, and ye shall see me.

  1. A little while, and ye behold me no more; and again a little while,
  2. and ye shall see me. Having finished his digression about the Holy Spirit, Jesus here returns to his point of departure, the theme of resurrection, but the seeing here spoken of refers more especially to that spiritual communion with him previously mentioned (John 14:19-23).


Verse 18
[Some] of his disciples therefore said one to another, What is this that he saith unto us1, A little while, and ye behold me not; and again a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father?
    John 16:17,18

  1. What is this that he saith unto us, etc. Having been unable to entertain the idea of our Lord's burial and resurrection, no wonder the apostles were mystified by these allusions to it.


Verse 19
Jesus perceived1 that they were desirous to ask him, and he said unto them, Do ye inquire among yourselves concerning this, that I said, A little while, and ye behold me not, and again a little while, and ye shall see me?

  1. Jesus perceived. By his divine insight (John 2:24,25; John 6:61


Verse 20
Verily, verily1, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy2.

  1. Verily, verily. See .

  2. But your sorrow shall be turned into joy. The death of Jesus "truly" brought gladness to his enemies (Luke 22:5), and sorrow to his friends (John 20:11), but the sorrow was indeed turned to joy (Matthew 28:8).


Verse 21
A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow1, because her hour is come: but when she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for the joy that a man is born into the world.

  1. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, etc. The simile here is very apropos, according with Scriptural ideals (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5).


Verse 22
And ye therefore now have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no one taketh away from you1.

  1. And your joy no one taketh away from you. See Luke 24:52,53. The joyful hopes which come to us through the resurrection of Jesus are beyond the reach of the despoiling hand of man.


Verse 23
And in that day ye shall ask me no question1. Verily, verily2, I say unto you, if ye shall ask anything of the Father, he will give it you in my name3.
    John 16:23,24

  1. And in that day ye shall ask me no question. The coming of the Spirit would make all things clear, and the mysteries about which come to us through the resurrection of Jesus are beyond the reach of the despoiling hand of man.

  2. Verily, verily. See John 16:23,24.

  3. If ye shall ask anything of the Father, he will give it you in my name. Having spoken of his departure, and of what the Spirit would do during his absence, he now speaks of the work which he would do himself do while absent. He entered heaven as our high priest (Hebrews 9:24), and part of his priestly office is to make intercession for his people (Hebrews 7:24,25).


Verse 24
Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name1: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be made full.

  1. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name. The use of Christ's name for intercessory purposes was new to the apostles, since it was only thus employed after his ascension.


Verse 25
These things have I spoken unto you in dark sayings: the hour cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in dark sayings, 1but shall tell you plainly of the Father.

  1. The hour cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in dark sayings, but shall tell you plainly of the Father
  2. . This closing discourse was full of "dark sayings" which the disciples did not understand, but when the gospel facts were completed and when the Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, then Christ through the Spirit made all things plain to them.


Verse 26
In that day ye shall ask in my name1: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you;

  1. In that day ye shall ask in my name. Fullness of knowledge would lead them to look readily to Christ as intercessor.


Verse 27
for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from the Father1.

  1. For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from the Father. While the apostles did not believe in the voluntary exit of Jesus, it having not yet taken place, they did believe that he had come into the world as a divine being, and for this belief the Father loved them, and this love of the Father was not to be lost sight of in considering the mediatory work of Christ. In short, the Father must be looked upon as one who does not need to be interceded with because of a lack of love. Though, according to the divine plan and order, Jesus is intercessor (1 Timothy 2:5 1 John 2:1,2), yet the office is not self-assumed for the purpose of counteracting any spirit of severity in the Father, but is, on the contrary, undertaken by direct appointment of the Father, made because of the Father's love (John 3:16). Failing to recognize the Father as the fountain and source of grace, love, and mercy has led the Roman Church into gross errors. The Father being suspected of undue rigor, a like suspicion arose also as to the Son because of his nearness to the Father. Therefore the Virgin Mary was called in to intercede with and soften the obduracy of the Son. Since the deification of the Virgin Mary in 1853, she also has been looked upon with growing distrust, and the tendency has been to call upon Joseph to intercede with Mary to intercede with the Son to intercede with the Father. Thus that wonderful love of God which passes all understanding is made less than that of mere mortals who never manifested a measure of philanthropy above what is common. Against such errors Jesus guards us by causing us to understand that, if the love of the Father alone were to be considered, there would be no need for him to intercede at all.


Verse 28
I came out from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father1.

  1. I came out from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father. Birth and death are alike beyond our control. That Jesus had a divine as well as a human nature is shown by the fact that his entrance into and exit from the world were both governed by his own violation, as was also his resurrection (John 10:17,18).


Verse 29
His disciples say, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no dark saying1.

  1. Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no dark saying. They now clearly understood that as Jesus came from heaven so would he return to heaven, but they did not understand the process by which this return would be effected.


Verse 31
Now know we that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.

  1. Now know we that thou knowest all things . . . by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. The miraculous manner in which he had just read their thoughts caused them to boldly declare their faith in his divinity.


Verse 32
Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is come1, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone2: and [yet] I am not alone, because the Father is with me3.

  1. Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is come. He contrasts the faith which his disciples then professed with that utter lack of it which they would manifest in a few hours.

  2. That ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone. All their confidence in his divinity would vanish when they saw him arrested, etc., and they would seek their own safety, leaving him to his fate.

  3. And [yet] I am not alone, because the Father is with me. Much as he would feel their desertion, he would not be left utterly comfortless, because the Father would be with him. Paul speaks in a similar strain (2 Timothy 4:16-18).


Verse 33
These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye may have peace1. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

  1. These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye may have peace. Christ's return to the Father and his throne is the Christian source of peace. As none of the accumulations of evil which came upon Christ prevented him from attaining his goal, so the Christian feels that in the conquering power of Christ, he too shall rise superior to all his troubles, and this feeling brings him peace.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.

Bibliography Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 16:4". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-16.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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