John 16:31
Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(31) Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe.—Comp. Note on John 1:50. Here, as there, the words do not necessarily ask a question; and, although many expositors prefer to take them interrogatively, a sense more in harmony with the context is got by understanding them as an assertion. Our Lord did not doubt their present faith (John 17:8); but He knew that the hour of their full illumination had not yet come, firmly as they believed it had. Their present light was as the flash of the meteor—brilliant, but passing away. The clear and steadfast light of day was in the future, of which He has spoken to them. They think the hour of full knowledge has come. He sees the time when they shall all be scattered and leave Him alone, close at hand. It is this thought which He expresses to them—“Now ye do believe: Behold, the hour cometh . . .”

16:28-33 Here is a plain declaration of Christ's coming from the Father, and his return to him. The Redeemer, in his entrance, was God manifest in the flesh, and in his departure was received up into glory. By this saying the disciples improved in knowledge. Also in faith; Now are we sure. Alas! they knew not their own weakness. The Divine nature did not desert the human nature, but supported it, and put comfort and value into Christ's sufferings. And while we have God's favourable presence, we are happy, and ought to be easy, though all the world forsake us. Peace in Christ is the only true peace, in him alone believers have it. Through him we have peace with God, and so in him we have peace in our own minds. We ought to be encouraged, because Christ has overcome the world before us. But while we think we stand, let us take heed lest we fall. We know not how we should act if brought into temptation; let us watch and pray without ceasing, that we may not be left to ourselves.Do ye now believe? - Do you truly and really believe? This question was evidently asked to put them on a full examination of their hearts. Though they supposed that they had unshaken faith - faith that would endure every trial, yet he told them that they were about to go through scenes that would test them, and where they would need all their confidence in God. When we feel strong in the faith we should examine ourselves. It may be that we are deceived; and it may be that God may even then be preparing trials for us that will shake our faith to its foundation. The Syriac and Arabic read this in the indicative as an affirmation - "Ye do now believe." The sense is not affected by this reading. 31-33. Jesus answered … Do ye now believe?—that is, "It is well ye do, for it is soon to be tested, and in a way ye little expect."

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—A deep and awful sense of wrong experienced is certainly expressed here, but how lovingly! That He was not to be utterly deserted, that there was One who would not forsake Him, was to Him matter of ineffable support and consolation; but that He should be without all human countenance and cheer, who as Man was exquisitely sensitive to the law of sympathy, would fill themselves with as much shame, when they afterwards recurred to it, as the Redeemer's heart in His hour of need with pungent sorrow. "I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none" (Ps 69:20).

because the Father is with me—how near, and with what sustaining power, who can express?

Some read the words, (not as a question), You do now believe. It is well you believe at last, you had reason enough to have believed before this time.

Jesus answered them, do ye now believe? Not as calling their faith in question; or as denying they had any; or as despising it for the smallness of it; but as reproving them for their security, vain confidence and boasting, as if their faith was so very strong that it would never be moved; and perhaps for the lateness of it too: the words may be read affirmatively, without an interrogation, "ye do believe now"; they are in the Syriac and Arabic versions read imperatively, "believe ye now". Though the "now" is left out by the former, which is not to be spared, for the emphasis lies on it; and a regard seems to be had both to time past and to come. The words carry in them a tacit reproof, that they believed no sooner, or were not before this time more established in their faith, when he had been so long with them, and they had heard so many discourses from him, and had seen so many miracles wrought by him: however, it was not too late, and they would do well to go on believing; but it is suggested to them they would meet with something that would try their faith: and it is as if Christ had said, ye believe in me now, while I am with you, and all things go according to your mind; but what will you do anon, when I shall be taken from you, be apprehended by mine enemies, be delivered into the hands of the Gentiles, be crucified, die, and be laid in the grave? will ye believe then? one of you will betray me, another deny me, and all will forsake me, and some express their doubts about me. Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 16:31-32. Since ἄρτι must bear the emphasis, and since Jesus could not and would not doubt of[184] the faith of the disciples at this moment, ἄρτι πιστ. is not to be taken interrogatively, with Euth. Zigabenus, Calvin, Wetstein, and several others, including Kuinoel, Olshausen, De Wette, B. Crusius, Tischendorf, Hengstenberg, Ewald (according to the analogy of John 1:51, John 13:38, John 20:29), but concessively:Now, just now, ye believe, but how soon will ye become vacillating?” οἱ λέγοντες ΠΙΣΤΕΎΕΙΝ ΦΕΎΞΕΣΘΕ ΜΙΚΡῸΝ ὝΣΤΕΡΟΝ, ΚΙΝΗΘΕΊΣΗς ὙΜῶΝ ὙΠῸ ΤΟῦ ΦΌΒΟΥ Τῆς ΠΊΣΤΕΩς, Apollinarius. The faith itself did not pass away (hence there is no contradiction to John 16:27, comp. Luke 22:32), but it did not stand the test of self-denial and of heroism. This must first appear in the school of conflict and experience.

ΚΑῚ ἘΛΉΛΥΘΕΝ] so immediately at hand is it.

ἽΝΑ] See on John 16:2.

ΕἸς ΤᾺ ἼΔΙΑ] into His own, i.e. His own place of sojourn (John 19:27; Plat. Pol. 8, p. 543 B). Opposite of κοινωνία, which is thus rent asunder: ἈΠΌΣΣΥΤΟς ἌΛΛΟς ἈΠʼ ἌΛΛΟΥ, Nonnus, comp. Plat. Gorg. p. 502 E: ἕνεκα τοῦ ἰδίου τοῦ αὑτῶν ὀλιγωροῦντες τοῦ κοινοῦ. On the prediction itself comp. Matthew 26:31, and on its fulfilment Matthew 26:56.

ΚΑΊ] The emphatic and …, which (with a pause to be supplied in thought) unexpectedly introduces the contrast. See on John 7:28.

οὐκ εἰμὶ μόΝΟς, Κ.Τ.Λ.] The calm, clear self-consciousness of the Father’s protection, elevated above all human desertion, comp. John 8:29. The momentary feeling which appears in Matthew 27:46 is not in conflict with this.

[184] “He will not punish them nor discountenance them, as those who are as yet weak and without understanding, but answers them in the most friendly manner, as though He should say: Ye are good pious children, you may probably imagine that you understand and believe, and it is indeed true that you now believe, as you in truth acknowledge from the heart that He went forth from God (which is ever the true faith), but ye know not how it will go, and how weak your faith is,” etc., Luther.

John 16:31. To this enthusiastic confession Jesus makes the sobering and pathetic reply: Ἄρτι πιστεύετε; Do ye now believe that I am God’s Representative? Is this your present attitude? ἰδοὺ, ἔρχεται ὥρα καὶ νῦν ἐλήλυθεν, “Behold, the hour is coming and is come,” so imminent is it that the perfect may be used.—ἵνα σκορπισθῆτεἀφῆτε. Cf. 1Ma 6:54. ἐσκορπίσθησαν ἔκαστος εἰς τὸν τόπον αὐτοῦ. In John 10:12 the wolf σκορπίζει τὰ πρόβατα. Cf. especially Mark 14:27. εἰς τὰ ἴδια frequently of one’s own house, cf. John 19:27; Acts 21:6; Esther 5:10; Esther 6:12. Here perhaps it is somewhat less definite, “to his own” is better than “to his own house”. It includes “to his own interests,” or “pursuits,” or “familiar surroundings,” or “private affairs,” or all these together. Those whom He had gathered round Him and who believed in Him were yet destined to fail Him in the critical hour, and were to scatter each to his own, for the time abandoning the cause and Person who had held them together, leaving their loved Master (John 16:27) alone.—καὶ οὐκ εἰμὶ μόνοςἐστι, “and (yet) I am not alone, because the Father is with me”. This presence supplies the lack of all other company. He was destined to lose for a time the consciousness even of this presence, Matthew 27:46.

31. Do ye now believe?] The words are only half a question (comp. John 20:29). The belief of which they are conscious is no illusion, but it is not yet as perfect as they in their momentary enthusiasm suppose. ‘Now’ means ‘at this stage of your course;’ it is not the word used by the Apostles (John 16:29-30), but another of which S. John makes much use. The one (nûn) regards the present moment only, ‘now’ absolutely; the other (arti) regards the present in relation to the past and future, ‘at this crisis.’ Comp. John 16:12, John 13:7; John 13:19; John 13:33; John 13:37, &c.

John 16:31. Ἄρτι πιστεύετε, ye now believe)[368] An Epiphonema [Exclamation subjoined after the demonstration of some weighty truth.—Append.] in reference to the whole doctrine of Christ [given utterance to with great gratification of mind.—V. g.] Your faith is ἄρτιος, perfected, suitable or apt. Now I have what I wished (when I said, Believe ye, in ch. John 14:1), and still wish, ye believe, John 16:30; John 16:27; ch. John 17:7, “Now (νῦν) they have known that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee;” ch. John 20:29, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” I now proceed forwards. [The Imperative is the prevalent form, wherewith He urges them, from ch. John 14:1, until in this passage there results the altogether absolute Indicative.—Not. Crit. As often as aught of the Divine power puts itself forth in a soul, there may be frequently observed a turning point of this kind.—V. g.]

[368] So Lachm. also stops both in the Greek and the Vulgate Latin. The Engl. Vers. and Tisch. less appropriately put an interrogation at πιστεύετε; Do ye now believe?—E. and T.

Verse 31. - Jesus answered them, Now, at this stage in my self-revelation, do ye believe? It seems as though the whole of Christ's ministry turns on their acceptance of his claims. If he should pass from the world and return to the Father, and leave behind him none who had discovered and become intensely convinced of his Divine nature, the whole work he had done would be, humanly speaking, a failure. An almost womanlike passion of desire breathes through the inquiry, "Do ye now believe?" or, as some commentators (Gorier and Meyer) translate it indicatively, "Now ye believe." There is truly no essential difference whether it be taken interrogatively or indicatively. Both forms mean, "I have at length brought you to the point of faith. The kingdom of God is now established, and the prince of this world cast out. But a terrible trial awaits the new-born faith." Christ had warned them of the treachery of the absent one, of the approaching denial of the foremost of their number, and he now gives them another warning of the severity of the trial which awaited them all. The power and permanence of their faith may be open to doubt, but not its essential quality. Their faith may not stand firm on that awful night, but it will ultimately prevail, and Christ rejoices in the fact that his words have at last evoked this genuine response. In the prayer which follows (John 17:8) he thanks God "that they have known verily that I came forth from thee, and have believed that thou hast sent me." John 16:31Now (ἄρτι)

See on John 13:33. With reference to the coming time of greater trial.

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