Chapter 16

 

16:1 "I have told you all these things so that you will not fall away.

 

The reason why He had spoken all these warnings and given them promises (from chapter 14 up to here) was that they should not be taken unawares  and not falter and fall away when they happened.  "The remembrance of what He had told them would in time of trial confirm their faith in Him who had shown that He foreknew all and their confidence in His promise of the help of the Holy Spirit" (Annotated Paragraph Bible)

 

16:2 They will put you out of the synagogue, yet a time is coming when the one who kills you will think he is offering service to God.

 

The extent of this persecution will know no  limits. Those who profess to know God will cast them out from their synagogues and seek to take their lives believing that they are doing God a service. Paul the apostle is a perfect example of this before He received Jesus Christ as His Saviour (Acts 26:11 and Gal. 1:13). This was the charge that the Lord made against Him on the Damascus road  (Acts 9:4). Some of the worse persecution of Christians has been carried out by those who profess to know God.

 

16:3-4 They will do these things because they have not known the Father or me. But I have told you these things so that when their time comes, you will remember that I told you about them. "I did not tell you these things from the beginning because I was with you.

 

The truth of the matter is that they do not even know God or His Son, Jesus Christ. When the persecution comes they will remember His words and they will count it a privilege that they should suffer for Him whom they love. The Lord revealed things to His disciples gradually through the few years He was with them and so He reveals Himself and His ways to us, a step at a time. While He was with them He protected them from the fierce onslaughts of His enemies but now He was going away they would have to face the full brunt of the world's hatred against Him, however, they had the promises and received the promise of the Holy Ghost to help them, and so have we. His grace is sufficient for us when men shall say all manner of things against us, abuse, hate and persecute us.  

 

A New Relationship with God - The Indwelling Christ and the Indwelling Holy Spirit

 

16:5 But now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking me, 'Where are you going?

 

Although Christ had told his disciples he was leaving them, telling them where he was going and why (John 14:2), they did not really understand and had not asked him any questions about it.

 

16:6 Instead your hearts are filled with sadness because I have said these things to you.

 

Yet they felt great sorrow - grief similar to that you feel when faced with the fact that a loved one is about to die. So in their hearts did they begin to understand that he was telling them that he was going to die? When a loved one's death is imminent and certain, we begin to grieve before they actually die.

 

16:7 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I am going away. For if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you.

 

Although Christ's leaving them would, for a while, bring grief, he wanted them to see that it was to their advantage that he was going away. These simple words, going away, refer to his crucifixion, resurrection and his return in power and glory to heaven to sit beside the throne of his father (Mark 16:19). Although Christ had lived among them for so long, it was only when Christ was glorified that he could live in them by the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 5:16 and Col. 1:27). This regeneration, or being born again, is the work of the Holy Spirit. Until his return to heaven, Christ could not ask the Father to give him the Holy Spirit to pour out and fill his people with, an indwelling presence of the Spirit never before known, called in the Bible the baptism of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). Notice that Christ never speaks of sending the Holy Spirit to the world. He sends him "to you" - to indwell believers. Now that the Spirit has come to indwell believers, he continues, through them, his work in the world.

 

16:8 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.

 

In the world he will convince (bring into the light, show things as they really are) men of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

 

16:9-11 Concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

 

In revealing the true state of man the Holy Spirit reveals to men that all have sinned. That they are guilty and undone before a holy God and that without trusting Christ they are eternally doomed. He reveals the way of salvation that is by faith in Jesus Christ who died and rose again that men might have their sins forgiven and be made right with God. He reveals the truth of the eternal judgment which is to come on all those who choose to remain prisoners of sin and Satan, the defeated and condemned ruler of this world, rather than allow Christ to set them free. Those who reject Christ will share the devil's fate in the lake of fire, and the Holy Spirit is the One who makes men aware of this reality.

 

16:12 "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

 

Jesus only taught what his followers were able to understand - they were not yet in a position to understand all his teaching, for they were not yet born of the Spirit. Their spiritual eyes were not opened and they were still natural men (1 Cor. 2:14). When they were born again they would be spiritual, able to discern spiritual things and helped so to do by the Holy Spirit who would live within them (1 Cor. 2:12).

 

16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but will speak whatever he hears, and will tell you what is to come.

 

The Holy Spirit would instruct the disciples in all God's ways. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to understand the scriptures, separating truth from error, for he is the Spirit of Truth. Vincent says "The Spirit does not reveal all truth to men, but He leads them to the truth as it is in Christ. The meaning is not, He will show you some things to come, but the things that are to come, or the things that are coming." Jesus explains that the Holy Spirit does not work alone, but as the third person of the Trinity works together with the other members of the Godhead. What he teaches is not individually his own, but the Word of the Triune God.

 

16:14-15 He will glorify me, because he will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; that is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you.

 

In these verses Jesus again affirms the truth of the trinity. For as the Holy Spirit makes Christ known to the believers, he will be making the Father known also (John 14:9).

 

 

Sorrow will Turn to Joy

 

16:16 In a little while you will see me no longer; again after a little while, you will see me.

 

Jesus turns his attention once more to his coming death, the following day. In "a little while" - in less than 24 hours Christ would be dead and buried. But in another little while, 3 days, he would rise again and reveal himself to them before returning to his Father. When he returned to the father they would see him in a different way, with the eye of faith, and his glory within (Heb. 2:9, 2 Cor. 5:7 and 1 Pet. 1:8).

 

16:17-19 Then some of his disciples said to one another, "What is the meaning of what he is saying, 'In a little while you will not see me; again after a little while, you will see me,' and, 'because I am going to the Father'?" So they kept on repeating, "What is the meaning of what he says, 'In a little while'? We do not understand what he is talking about." Jesus could see that they wanted to ask him about these things, so he said to them, "Are you asking each other about this — that I said, 'In a little while you will not see me; again after a little while, you will see me'?

 

This time the disciples do want to ask Jesus what he means, for they have no idea.

 

16:20 I tell you the solemn truth, you will weep and wail, but the world will rejoice; you will be sad, but your sadness will turn into joy.

 

Jesus is still talking about his death and resurrection. On the following day the disciples would begin to sorrow, weep and mourn for their dead Lord and Saviour, their dashed hopes and dreams. At he same time, the world, the enemies of Christ, would rejoice that he was dead (compare the reaction of the world to the death of God's two witnesses in Rev. 11:10) However, the world's rejoicing will do it no good, for the disciples sorrow would turn into joy. Their joy would be due in the assurance the risen Christ gives them of sins forgiven, death defeated, reconciliation, peace with God and eternal life.

 

16:21 When a woman gives birth, she has distress because her time has come, but when her child is born, she no longer remembers the suffering because of her joy that a human being has been born into the world.

 

When a mother has a baby, she goes into the sorrow and pain of child birth. So would the disciples suddenly be plunged into sorrow by Christ's death. But when the baby is born, so long as the mother is healthy, she will soon forget the pain of delivery. It will no longer be important, for her child is born! Her sorrow turns to joy, as her baby is alive!

 

16:22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you

 

So the disciples sorrow turn into everlasting joy which nothing could ever take from them, for Christ is alive, the head of a new creation that we together with him might live forever.

 

 

Immediate Access into God's Presence for all His Children

 

16:23 At that time you will ask me nothing. I tell you the solemn truth, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.

 

By Christ's resurrection we are brought into a new relationship with God. Being born of the Spirit we become his children. Christ lives in us. By his death, resurrection and abiding life Christ has given us access into the presence of God. So whilst we come through him we come directly to the Father himself in prayer, and are assured that He will hear and answer (Heb. 10:19-20).

 

16:24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive it, so that your joy may be complete.

 

Until this time, the disciples had not entered into this new relationship with God and so were not aware of the Father in the way Christ intended they soon would be. So they had not yet asked God in Jesus name, for they did not yet enjoy the direct access into His presence that Christ would give. Very soon they would and so Jesus says "ask and receive!" Not only will our joy be full in this new relationship but Christ's would also be full.

 

16:25 "I have told you these things in obscure figures of speech; a time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in obscure figures, but will tell you plainly about the Father

 

In his earthly ministry Christ used figures and parables to explain his teaching. However, after his resurrection He would through the Holy Spirit make his teachings clear and plain, and the disciples, now filled with the Holy Spirit, would be able to receive spiritual truth directly into their renewed spirits and then impart it to others. This exposition and clarification of Christ's teachings are found in the epistles.

 

16:26-27 At that time you will ask in my name, and I do not say that I will ask the Father on your behalf. For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

 

The disciples would not have to ask Christ to go as an intermediary who would ask the father for them. Christ is our mediator - his death once for all is sufficient atonement for sin, his abiding life is the reason we are eternally secure. What Christ has done for us means that we can come at any time into the Father's presence ourselves. We come through Christ, but directly to God. It is not like when Moses went to God for the people and then brought God's word back to them. Christ's mediation is greater than that, for He has purchased for all God's people personal access into God's presence. The reason for this relationship "The father himself loves you" is because we have trusted in and love the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour. We have become his children - born into his family (John 1:12-13).

 

16:28 I came from the Father and entered into the world, but in turn, I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.

 

This simple utterance gives the great sweep of the divine plan. Christ refers to his incarnation when he says I came from the father and entered the world. Now he refers to his death, resurrection and accession as he says I am leaving the world to go back to the Father.

 

16:29-30 His disciples said, "Look, now you are speaking plainly and not in obscure figures of speech! Now we know that you know everything and do not need anyone to ask you anything. Because of this we believe that you have come from God.

 

The disciples claim to understand this. So you are going back to the Father! Now we understand, that is plain language. But was it as plain as they thought? Not really. They still did not understand the way Christ had to go - the way of the cross - or why it had to be that way.

 

16:31-32 Jesus replied, "Do you now believe? Look, a time is coming — and has come — when you will be scattered, each one to his own home, and I will be left alone. Yet I am not alone, because my Father is with me.

 

Jesus' words, "Do you now believe?" imply they had not fully understood. He knew that they could not yet. Coming back to the immediate events of the night, Jesus tells them that they would all leave him and flee for their own safety. Christ would be left alone to face the trials that awaited him, and ultimately the cross. But he was not alone, for God the Father was with Him.

 

16:33 I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage — I have conquered the world.

 

This desertion is inevitable, but Christ assures his disciples of His continued love, for even as he faced death, he was in charge of all things (John 10:17-18). That is why they could have peace in the world in spite of tribulation, for Christ has overcome the world.

New Testament Christian Gospel of John 16 Biblical Studies

 

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