John 16 Continued

12.  “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

The Lord had many things He still wanted to tell the disciples, but He knew He could not do so yet, for they could not yet bear them.  This brings obvious questions to our minds.  When would He tell them these things, then, since He would soon be leaving them?  How would they be made able to bear them?

13.  “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

This verse provides us the answer to the two questions we would naturally ask from the previous verse.  The answer to both questions is the Holy Spirit.  Christ would tell them what He wanted them to know through the Spirit, and through the Spirit they would be made able to bear them.  He, when He had come, would guide them into the truth, for He is the Spirit of truth.  Moreover, He would not speak on His Own authority, but rather what He heard.  Can there be any doubt that the things He heard are the very things Christ had yet to speak to His disciples, but could not yet speak?  Just as the Lord Jesus did not speak His Own words, but rather the words given Him by the Father (John 14:24,) so the Spirit would not speak His Own words, but the words given to Him by the Son.  He would also reveal to these disciples the things to come.  The Lord still had many things in mind to accomplish during these disciples’ lifetimes, and the Spirit would reveal all these things to them as they needed to know them, and as they were able to bear them.  He would be their Helper indeed!

14.  “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.

The Spirit will glorify Jesus Christ, for He is going to take what belongs to Him and give it to the disciples.  This would include things like the Lord’s knowledge, His wisdom, and His divine words.  The disciples would display these things, and the Lord Jesus Christ would be glorified, for all men would know that these were the disciples of the Lord.

15.  “All things that the Father has are Mine.  Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

Why could the Lord say that the Spirit will take of what is His, rather than of what is His Father’s?  Would not the Spirit’s ministry be guided by the Father, just as the Son’s was?  The Lord answers this question here.  He can say this because all things that the Father has are His.  Thus, the Spirit could take from the things of the Lord Jesus, and it would be the same thing as taking from the things of the Father.  You cannot make a difference between what is owned by One and what is owned by the Other, for they are both the same.

16.  “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.”

This was true, for in just a little while the Lord was going to His death.  Thus, when He was dead and in the grave, they would not see Him.  But only a little while after that and they would see Him, for He would rise again from the dead.  The reason they will see Him again is because He is to go to His Father.  If the Father had not accepted the sacrifice the Son made, then He would never have been raised to go to Him.  Yet the Father did accept it, for the Lord Jesus pleased Him in every way, as it was inevitable He would do, being the perfect Son.  Thus, He was raised to go to the Father, and that is why the disciples would see Him again.

17.  Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?”

The disciples were confused by this statement, and tried to puzzle it out among themselves.  What did the Lord mean by this?  Imagine if you were in their shoes and did not know what was about to happen regarding His arrest, death, burial, and resurrection.  Surely we can see how this statement would have been confusing to anyone who did not know the amazing things that were about to happen.

18.  They said therefore, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’?  We do not know what He is saying.”

How could they not see Him in a little while and then see Him a little while after that?  What was He talking about?  This is what they are wondering.

19.  Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’?

It seems that they did not ask the Lord Himself what He meant, but were just discussing it among themselves.  Perhaps they did not want to admit to the Lord that they did not understand what He was saying.  The Lord, however, knew exactly what they were discussing, and that they wanted to ask Him about it, though they seemed reluctant to do so.  Thus, He asks them if this is what they are inquiring among themselves.  Of course, He knows that it is.  He is asking this question for the purpose of showing that He knows what they are talking about, and so that they will realize what He is about to say is the answer to their confusion.

20.  “Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.

This weeping and lamenting that the disciples would do occurred when the Lord was arrested and crucified.  At that time the world would rejoice.  The world here is comprised of the religious leaders at that time who were the Lord’s enemies.  They not only engineered His death, but they also rejoiced to see their plans come to fruition.  Their rejoicing, however, would be the sorrow of the disciples.  Yet the disciples’ sorrow would be turned to joy.  That would happen when the Lord was raised from the dead.

21.  “A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.

This is the way it is with a mother in labor.  She has anguish and sorrow for a time, but all that is forgotten for the joy when a child is born.  In the same way, the disciples would forget all about their sorrow when the Lord was raised from the dead.  It is not that it would literally pass from their memories, but that it would pass from their experience.  They might think of it, but when they did it would not cause them to start sorrowing afresh, as sorrow would normally do when one remembers that the one who died is still dead.  Rather, this memory of sorrow would only remind them of the joy that they had when they realized the Lord has been raised, and still have knowing that He is alive.

22.  “Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

They were now about to have sorrow because of the Lord’s death.  Yet when He saw them again their hearts would rejoice.  And of course no one could take that joy away from them from then on, for never again will the Lord die.  This joy, then, would last forever!

The Lord’s death was what would cause the new nation of Israel to be born, the nation that God would establish under the new covenant.  That nation was about to go through its birth pangs, if you will, with the Lord’s death.  Yet once the Lord was raised, all that was necessary for that world to come into existence would be completed.  Once that nation is born indeed, no one will be able to take away the joy of those who dwell in it!

23.  “And in that day you will ask Me nothing.  Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.

This verse is made most confusing by the English translation here, for it appears that the Lord tells the disciples that they will ask Him nothing in that day, and then He tells them to ask Him things in that day.  The difficulty is caused by the fact that there are two different Greek words for “ask” being used here.  The first word is erotao, which has to do with asking someone to do something.  It is the word used back in verse five when the Lord said, “None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’”  In other words, they were not asking Him to explain to them where He was going.  Thus, in this verse, they will not ask Him to explain anything in the day when they see Him again and this causes their heart to rejoice.

The second “ask” in this verse is the Greek word aiteo.  It means to ask someone to give you something, particularly an inferior asking a superior.  Though they will not need to ask the Lord to explain things then, the Lord does want them at that time to ask the Father to give them the things they need in His name.  Then, they receive the same promise He gave them back in John 14:14: that whatever they ask the Father in the Lord Jesus’ name, He will give it to them.  Yet remember that “whatever” here has a context.  The context is the things that the Spirit would give them back in verses 12-15.  They needed to be given much knowledge and guidance in that day to come when they would hold such important positions before the Lord.  They would get this guidance from the Lord Himself through the Spirit, for whenever they would ask He would give it to them.

24.  “Until now you have asked nothing in My name.  Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

This verse clearly demonstrates that the words “whatever” and “nothing” have a context, as well as that the phrase “in My name” is important.  For we know that the disciples had asked the Lord to give them things in the past.  For example, when the two brothers James and John asked the Lord through their mother, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”  (Matthew 20:21b.)  Or when they asked the Lord concerning the Canaanite woman, “Send her away, for she cries out after us,” but He didn’t do it.  (Matthew 15:23b)  They had asked the Lord for things, yet they were not the things the Lord was talking about in the context here, and even if they were they had not asked for them in His name, for they had not yet received His permission to ask for them.  Up until this point the disciples had not had the opportunity to ask for any of these things in the Lord’s name.  Yet now the Lord was giving them His permission to ask for these things from the Holy Spirit, and He promised that when they asked they would receive them, and their joy would be full.  This helps us understand the Acts period, and see how the disciples received these gifts of knowledge and wisdom from the Holy Spirit that enabled them to conduct the amazing ministry we see them having there.

25.  “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father.

The “figurative language” here is the word paroimia.  It means a “wayside saying.”  It is a different word from the more common parabole, which is usually translated “parable.”  The Lord was telling them that up until now He had spoken to them in wayside sayings.  Yet the time was coming when He would no longer do this, but would tell them plainly about the Father.  Ultimately, this will take place in God’s kingdom, when the full truth about God will be revealed to all men, these disciples not least of all.  Yet certainly even after His resurrection during His forty-day ministry with these disciples, the Lord spoke much more plainly to them the truths that they needed to know about the Father.

26.  “In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you;

Now in this day He is speaking of, they will ask in the Lord Jesus’ name.  “Ask” is again here aiteo, having to do with asking God to give them something.  They will ask, and the Lord is not going to tell them that He will pray the Father for them.  “Pray” here is the other word for ask, erotao, that means to ask someone to do something.  The Lord will not have to ask the Father to do what the disciples asked Him to do.

27.  “For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.

The reason He would not have to ask the Father for them is that the Father Himself loves them.  The word here is phileo, the word for friendship love.  The Father loved them as friends.  It could not be that the Lord loves them and the Father doesn’t, for the Two are One in whom they love, just as they are in all things.

The Father loves them because they have loved the Lord Jesus, just as He does.  He also loves them because they believe that He came forth from God.  That is not as if He came out of God and was therefore separated from Him.  No, He came forth as an extension of God to the world.

28.  “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world.  Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.”

He explains that He came forth from the Father and has come into the world.  Again, this is as an extension of God to the world.  Then, He tells them He is about to leave the world and go back to the Father.  This happened very shortly after this.

29.  His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech!

I would guess that the disciples were having to try their hardest, and were still only grasping some of what the Lord had been telling them up to this point.  Surely we can sympathize, for the things we have been studying in the last three chapters are very hard to fully grasp and understand.  Yet now the disciples understand what the Lord is saying, and so they speak up here and affirm that now He is speaking plainly to them, and not using wayside sayings, as He had been doing.  Now they understand what He meant.  Surely, He could not have spoken more plainly than the last verse.  Now they knew what He meant when He said He was leaving them, and they would see Him no more.  He was going back to the Father.  They might not have liked the idea that He was leaving them, but at last they understood what He meant and where He was going.

30.  “Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You.  By this we believe that You came forth from God.”

Remember, the context to this is that the Lord had said, “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.”  (John 16:16.)  This had caused them great puzzlement, and they were asking among themselves what the Lord meant.  They had not asked Him, and yet He had answered their question without even hearing it, for He knew by divine knowledge what they wished to ask Him.  Therefore, the disciples say here that now they are sure that the Lord knows all things, and has no need of anyone questioning Him, but knows what they wish to ask before they ask it.  Then, they proclaim that by this they believe Him that He came forth from God.  This brings us back, for the first time in many verses, to the purpose of the book of John: to produce believers in the truths that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, so that believing they may have life in His name.  All the material John chooses to write about is chosen based on this great objective.  Here, we see the disciples believing that Christ came forth from God because He could know the question a person had and answer that question even before that person asked Him.  So the question arises: do you believe this truth about Jesus Christ?  Do you believe that He came forth from God, indeed, that He was an extension of God to the world, being God Himself?  These disciples are an example of men who believed, but the important question for you is, do you believe?

31.  Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?

The Lord questions them.  Do they now believe?  They did, but their belief was about to be tested most severely, as the Lord is about to reveal to them.

32.  “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone.  And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.

The hour was coming, and even then had arrived.  In past verses, I have suggested that this phrase could be a parenthesis added in by John, the author of this book, saying that the hour the Lord was speaking of had arrived since He spoke these things.  Yet in this case, the hour that the Lord was speaking of had even then arrived.  It could be that even as the Lord spoke these words here, the clock turned over a new hour, the very one in which this would take place.  So, the hour had come in which the disciples would be scattered, each to his own, and would leave the Lord alone.  “His own” means his own things, and often is used of a person’s own house.  Of course, the disciples were far from their homes in Galilee, and were not about to scatter there.  Yet when the Lord was arrested, they did all scatter, and each went to his own hiding place to save himself from being caught up in the arrest, trial, and sentencing of the Lord.  And the sad truth is that, in spite of the belief they had just claimed, they were going to leave their Lord alone in that very hour of His greatest trial.  Yet even then, He assured them, He would not be alone, because His Father is with Him.  It would not be until He was on the cross that He would proclaim, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  (Mark 15:34)

33.  “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

The Lord had spoken these things to them so that in Him they might have peace.  Remember, this peace has the idea of a joining together, and the peace the Lord gives is a joining together with God.  In Him, they would experience such a peace, and that is why He had spoken these words to them.  He did not mean that they would have peace or be joined together with the world (the kosmos, the order of men that then existed and had rule over the land.)  No, there they would face tribulation (or testing.)  Yet He assures them that they can be of good cheer regarding this.  They need not fear the testing of the world, for He has overcome the world.  We can be of good cheer because of this as well.  For as strong as it may seem to us, the Lord is able to overcome the world we live in just as easily as He did the world of that day.  What a blessed truth this is!  How great to know a God Who is able to overcome our world!