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.
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(7) Nevertheless I tell you the truth.—The words He is about to utter are words of strange sound for the ears of disciples, and He prefaces them by an appeal to His own knowledge and candour in dealing with them, as in John 14:2. The pronoun bears the weight of the emphasis, “I, who know all.”

It is expedient for you that I go away.—“There is no cause,” He would say, “for the deep sorrow which has filled your hearts. It is for your advantage that I, as distinct from the Paraclete, who is to come, should go away” (John 14:16). Yes; for those who had left all to follow Him; for those who had none to go to but Himself (John 6:68); for those whose hopes were all centred in Him, it was—hard and incomprehensible as the saying must have seemed—an advantage that He should go away.

For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you.—Better, . . . the Advocate will not come unto you. (Comp. Excursus G.) For the connection between the departure of Christ and the coming of the Advocate, comp. Notes on John 7:39, and Acts 2:33. We may not fathom the deep counsels of God in which the reason of these words is to be found; but the order fixed in these counsels was that the Son of Man should complete His work on earth, and offer the sacrifice of Himself for sin, and rise from the dead, and ascend to the Father’s throne, before the Advocate should come. The Son of Man was to be glorified before the Spirit was to be given. Humanity was to ascend to heaven before the Spirit could be sent to humanity on earth. The revelation of saving truth was to be complete before inspiration was to breathe it as the breath of life into man’s soul. The conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment could only follow the finished work of Christ.

But if I depart, I will send him unto you.—Our translators have sought to show the distinction between the words used in the earlier clauses, “I go away,” and that used here, “I depart”; but probably few English readers will have observed it. The former word means, “I go away from you,” the latter, “I go away to the Father.” For the thought of this clause, comp. Note on John 14:16; John 15:25.



John 16:7 - John 16:8

We read these words in the light of all that has gone after, and to us they are familiar and almost thread-bare. But if we would appreciate their sublimity, we must think away nineteen centuries, and all Christendom, and recall these eleven poor men and their peasant Leader in the upper room. They were not very wise, nor very strong, and outside these four walls there was scarcely a creature in the whole world that had the least belief either in Him or in them. They had everything against them, and most of all their own hearts. They had nothing for them but their Master’s promise. Their eyes had been dimmed by their sorrowful hearts, so that they could not see the truth which He had been trying to reveal to them; and His departure had presented itself to them only as it affected themselves, and therefore had brought a sense of loss and desolation.

And now He bids them think of that departure, as it affects themselves, as pure gain. ‘It is for your profit that I go away.’ He explains that staggering statement by the thought which He has already presented to them, in varying aspects, of His departure as the occasion for the coming of that Great Comforter, who, when He is come, will through them work upon the world, which knows neither them nor Him. They are to go forth ‘as sheep in the midst of wolves,’ but in this promise He tells them that they will become the judges and accusers of the world, which, by the Spirit dwelling in them, they will be able to overcome, and convict of error and of fault.

We must remember that the whole purpose of the words which we are considering now is the strengthening of the disciples in their conflict with the world, and that, therefore, the operations of that divine Spirit which are here spoken of are operations carried on by their instrumentality and through the word which they spake. With that explanation we can consider the great words before us.

I. The first thing that strikes me about them is that wonderful thought of the gain to Christ’s servants from Christ’s departure. ‘It is expedient for you that I go away.’

I need not enlarge here upon what we have had frequent occasion to remark, the manner in which our Lord here represents the complex whole of His death and ascension as being His own voluntary act. He ‘goes.’ He is neither taken away by death nor rapt up to heaven in a whirlwind, but of His own exuberant power and by His own will He goes into the region of the grave and thence to the throne. Contrast the story of His ascension with that Old Testament story of the ascension of Elijah. One needed the chariot of fire and the horses of fire to bear him up into the sphere, all foreign to his mortal and earthly manhood; the Other needed no outward power to lift Him, nor any vehicle to carry Him from this dim spot which men call earth, but slowly, serenely, upborne by His own indwelling energy, and rising as to His native home, He ascended up on high, and went where the very manner of His going proclaimed that He had been before. ‘If I go away, I will send Him.’

But that is a digression. What we are concerned with now is the thought of Christ’s departure as being a step in advance, and a positive gain, even to those poor, bewildered men who were clustering round Him, depending absolutely upon Himself, and feeling themselves orphaned and helpless without Him.

Now if we would feel the full force and singularity of this saying of our Lord’s, let us put side by side with it that other one, ‘I have a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless, to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.’ Why is it that the Apostle says, ‘Though I want to go I am bound to stay?’ and why is it that the Master says, ‘It is for your good that I am going,’ but because of the essential difference in the relation of the two to the people who are to be left, and in the continuance of the work of the two after they had departed? Paul knew that when he went, whatever befell those whom he loved and would fain help, he could not stretch a hand to do anything for them. He knew that death dropped the portcullis between him and them, and, whatever their sore need on the one side of the iron gate, he on the other could not succour or save. Jesus Christ said, ‘It is better for you that I should go,’ because He knew that all His influences would flow through the grated door unchecked, and that, departed, He would still be the life of them that trusted in Him; and, having left them, would come near them, by the very act of leaving them.

And so there is here indicated for us-as we shall have occasion to see more fully, presently,-in that one singular and anomalous fact of Christ’s departure being a positive gain to those that trust in Him, the singularity and uniqueness of His work for them and His relation to them.

The words mean a great deal more than the analogies of our relation to dear ones or great ones, loves or teachers, who have departed, might suggest. Of course we all know that it is quite true that death reveals to the heart the sweetness and the preciousness of the departed ones, and that its refining touch manifests to our blind eyes what we did not see so clearly when they were beside us. We all know that it needs distance to measure men, and the dropping away of the commonplace and the familiar ere we can see ‘the likeness’ of our contemporaries ‘to the great of old.’ We have to travel across the plains before we can measure the relative height of the clustered mountains, and discern which is manifestly the loftiest. And all this is true in reference to Jesus Christ and His relation to us. But that does not go half-way towards the understanding of such words as these of my text, which tell us that so singular and solitary is His relation to us that the thing which ends the work of all other men, and begins the decay of their influence, begins for Him a higher form of work and a wider sweep of sway. He is nearer us when He leaves us, and works with us and in us more mightily from the throne than He did upon the earth. Who is He of whom this is true? And what kind of work is it of which it is true that death continues and perfects it?

So let me note, before I pass on, that there is a great truth here for us. We are accustomed to look back to our Lord’s earthly ministry, and to fancy that those who gathered round Him, and heard Him speak, and saw His deeds, were in a better position for loving Him and trusting Him than you and I are. It is all a mistake. We have lost nothing that they had which was worth the keeping; and we have gained a great deal which they had not. We have not to compare our relation to Christ with theirs, as we might do our relation to some great thinker or poet, with that of his contemporaries, but we have Christ in a better form, if I may so speak; and we, on whom the ends of the world are come, may have a deeper and a fuller and a closer intimacy with Him than was possible for men whose perceptions were disturbed by sense, and who had to pierce through ‘the veil, that is to say, His flesh,’ before they reached the Holy of Holies of His spirit.

II. Note, secondly, the coming for which Christ’s going was needful, and which makes that going a gain.

‘If I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart I will send Him unto you.’ Now we have already, in former sermons, touched upon many of the themes which would naturally be suggested by these words, and therefore I do not propose to dwell upon them at any length. There is only one point to which I desire to refer briefly here, and that is the necessity which here seems to be laid down by our Lord for His departure, in order that that divine Spirit may come and dwell with men. That necessity goes down deeper into the mysteries of the divinity and of the processes and order of divine revelation than it is given to us to follow. But though we can only speak superficially and fragmentarily about such a matter, let me just remind you, in the briefest possible words, of what Scripture plainly declares to us with regard to this high and, in its fullness, ineffable matter. It tells us that the complete work of Jesus Christ-not merely His coming upon earth, or His life amongst men, but also His sacrificial death upon the Cross-was the necessary preliminary, and in some sense procuring cause, of the gift of that divine Spirit. It tells us-and there we are upon ground on which we can more fully verify the statement-that His work must be completed ere that Spirit can be sent, because the word is the Spirit’s weapon for the world, and the revelation of God in Jesus must be ended, ere the application of that revelation, which is the Spirit’s work, can be begun in its full energy.

It tells us, further, {and there our eyesight fails, and we have to accept what we are told}, that Jesus Christ must ascend on high and be at the right hand of God, ere He can pour down upon men the fullness of the Spirit which dwelt uncommunicated in Him in the time of His earthly humiliation. ‘Thou hast ascended up on high,’ and therefore ‘Thou hast given gifts to men.’ We accept the declaration, not knowing all the deep necessity in the divine Nature on which it rests, but believing it, because He in whom we have confidence has declared it to us.

And we are further told-and there our experience may, in some degree, verify the statement,-that only those, in whose hearts there is union to Jesus Christ by faith in His completed work and ascended glory, are capable of receiving that divine gift. So every way, both as regards the depths of Deity and the processes of revelation, and as regards the power of the humanity of Christ to impart His Spirit, and as regards the capacity of us poor recipients to receive it, the words of my text seem to be confirmed, and we can, though not with full insight, at any rate with full faith, accept the statement, ‘If I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you.’

That coming is gain. It teaches a deeper knowledge of Him. It teaches and gives a fuller possession of the life of righteousness which is like His own. It draws us into the fellowship of the Son.

III. Lastly, note here the threefold conflict of the Spirit through the Church with the world.

‘When He is come He will convict the world’ in respect ‘of sin and of righteousness and of judgment.’ By the ‘reproof,’ or rather ‘conviction,’ which is spoken about here, is meant the process by which certain facts are borne in upon men’s understanding and consciences, and, along with these facts, the conviction of error and fault in reference to them. It is no mere process of demonstration of an intellectual truth, but it is a process of conviction of error in respect to great moral and religious truth, and of manifestation of the truths in regard to which the error and the sin have been committed. So we have here the triple division of the great work which the divine Spirit does, through Christian men and women, in the world.

‘He shall convict the world of sin.’ The outstanding first characteristic of the whole Gospel message is the new gravity which it attaches to the fact of sin, the deeper meaning which it gives to the word, and the larger scope which it shows its blighting influences to have had in humanity. Apart from the conviction of sin by the Spirit using the word proclaimed by disciples, the world has scarcely a notion of what sin is, its inwardness, its universality, the awfulness of it as a fact affecting man’s whole being and all his relations to God. All these conceptions are especially the product of Christian truth. Without it, what does the world know about the poison of sin? And what does it care about the poison until the conviction has been driven home to the reluctant consciousness of mankind by the Spirit wielding the word? This conviction comes first in the divine order. I do not say that the process of turning a man of the world into a member of Christ’s Church always begins, as a matter of fact, with the conviction of sin. I believe it most generally does so; but without insisting upon a pedantic adherence to a sequence, and without saying a word about the depth and intensity of such a conviction, I am here to assert that a Christianity which is not based upon the conviction of sin is an impotent Christianity, and will be of very little use to the men who profess it, and will have no power to propagate itself in the world. Everything in our conception of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of His work for us depends upon what we think about this primary fact of man’s condition, that he is a sinful man. The root of all heresy lies there. Every error that has led away men from Jesus Christ and His Cross may be traced up to defective notions of sin and a defective realisation of it. If I do not feel as the Bible would have me feel, that I am a sinful man, I shall think differently of Jesus Christ and of my need of Him, and of what He is to me. Christianity may be to me a system of beautiful ethics, a guide for life, a revelation of much precious truth, but it will not be the redemptive power without which I am lost. And Jesus Christ will be shorn of His brightest beams, unless I see Him as the Redeemer of my soul from sin, which else would destroy and is destroying it. Is Christianity merely a better morality? Is it merely a higher revelation of the divine Nature? Or does it do something as well as say something, and what does it do? Is Jesus Christ only a Teacher, a Wise Man, an Example, a Prophet, or is He the Sacrifice for the sins of the world? Oh, brethren, we must begin where this text begins; and our whole conception of Him and of His work for us must be based upon this fact, that we are sinful and lost, and that Jesus Christ, by His sweet and infinite love and all-powerful sacrifice, is our soul’s Redeemer and our only Hope. The world has to be convicted and convinced of sin as the first step to its becoming a Church.

The next step of this divine Spirit’s conviction is that which corresponds to the consciousness of sin, the dawning upon the darkened soul of the blessed sunrise of righteousness. The triple subjects of conviction must necessarily belong to the world of which our Lord is speaking. It must be the world that is convinced, and it must be the world’s sin and the world’s righteousness and the world’s judgment of which my text speaks. How, then, can there follow on the conviction of sin as mine a conviction of righteousness as mine? I know but one way, ‘Not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is of God through faith.’ When a man is convinced of sin, there will dawn upon the heart the wondrous thought that a righteousness may be his, given to him from above, which will sweep away all his sin and make him righteous as Christ is righteous. That conviction will never awake in its blessed and hope-giving power unless it be preceded by the other. It is of no use to exhibit medicine to a man who does not know himself diseased. It is of no use to talk about righteousness to a man who has not found himself to be a sinner. And it is of as little use to talk to a man of sin unless you are ready to tell him of a righteousness that will cover all his sin. The one conviction without the other is misery, the second without the first is irrelevant and far away.

The world as a world has but dim and inadequate conceptions of what righteousness is. A Pharisee is its type, or a man that keeps a clean life in regard to great transgressions; a whited sepulchre of some sort or other. The world apart from Christ has but languid desires after even the poor righteousness that it understands, and the world apart from Christ is afflicted by a despairing scepticism as to the possibility of ever being righteous at all. And there are men listening to me now in every one of these three conditions-not caring to be righteous, not understanding what it is to be righteous, and cynically disbelieving that it is possible to be so. My brother, here comes the message to you-first, Thou art sinful; second, God’s righteousness lies at thy side to take and wear if thou wilt.

The last of these triple convictions is ‘judgment.’ If there be in the world these two things both operating, sin and righteousness, and if the two come together, what then? If there is to be a collision, as there must be, which will go down? Christ tells us that this divine Spirit will teach us that righteousness will triumph over sin, and that there will be a judgment which will destroy that which is the weaker, though it seems the stronger. Now I take it that the judgment which is spoken about here is not merely a future retribution beyond the grave, but that, whilst that is included, and is the principal part of the idea, we are always to regard the judgment of the hereafter as being prepared for by the continual judgment here.

And so there are two thoughts, a blessed one and a terrible one, wrapped up in that word-a blessed thought for us sinful men, inasmuch as we may be sure that the divine righteousness, which is given to us, will judge us and separate us day by day from our sins; and a terrible thought, inasmuch as if I, a sinful man, do not make friends with and ally myself to the divine righteousness which is proffered to me, I shall one day have to front it on the other side of the flood, when the contact must necessarily be to me destruction.

Time does not allow me to dwell upon these solemn matters as I fain would, but let me gather all I have been feebly trying to say to you now into one sentence. This threefold conviction, in conscience, understanding, and heart, of sin which is mine, of righteousness which may be mine, and of judgment which must be mine-this threefold conviction is that which makes the world into a Church. It is the message of Christianity to each of us. How do you stand to it? Do you hearken to the Spirit who is striving to convince you of these? Or do you gather yourselves together into an obstinate, close-knit unbelief, or a loose-knit indifference which is as impenetrable? Beware that you resist not the Spirit of God!

John 16:7-8. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth — I acquaint you with the case just as it is, and tell you the reasons of my going away, though you have not asked them. It is necessary even on your account that I should depart, because, if I go not away, and enter upon my mediatorial office, the Comforter — By whose assistance, as I told you, you are to convert the world, will not visit you: whereas, if I depart — And take possession of my kingdom; I will send him unto you — As the first-fruits of the exercise of my kingly power, to answer all the great and glorious purposes for which you and my church shall need him. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, &c. — Greek, ελεγξει τον κοσμον περι αμαρτιας, &c.; rather, he will convince the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment. So Dr. Campbell, who interprets the passage as follows: “Concerning sin — That is, their sin in rejecting me, whereof the Spirit will give incontestable evidence, in the miracles which he will enable my apostles to perform in my name, and the success with which he will crown their teaching. Concerning righteousness — That is, my righteousness, or innocence, the justice of my cause; of which the same miraculous power, exerted for me by my disciples, will be an irrefragable proof, convincing all the impartial that I had the sanction of Heaven for what I did and taught, and that, in removing me hence, God hath taken me to himself. Concerning judgment — That is, divine judgment, soon to be manifested in the punishment of an incredulous nation, and in defence of the truth.” Dr. Whitby gives nearly the same interpretation of this important paragraph; remarking that the original word, παρακλητος, here used, signifies both an advocate and a comforter; he observes, in explanation of the terms, “He performed the part of an advocate in respect of Christ and his gospel, by convincing the world of sin in their not believing on him, and of the righteousness [the innocence and holiness] of Christ; and by confirming the apostles’ testimony of him, by signs and miracles, and various gifts imparted to them, Hebrews 2:4; 1 John 5:6-8; and by pleading their cause before kings and rulers, and against all their adversaries, Matthew 10:18-19; Luke 21:15; Acts 6:10. In respect of the apostles and the faithful he also did the part of a comforter, as being sent for their consolation and support in all their troubles, filling their hearts with joy and gladness, and giving them an inward testimony of God’s love to them, and an assurance of their future happiness, Romans 8:15-16.”

16:7-15 Christ's departure was necessary to the Comforter's coming. Sending the Spirit was to be the fruit of Christ's death, which was his going away. His bodily presence could be only in one place at one time, but his Spirit is every where, in all places, at all times, wherever two or three are gathered together in his name. See here the office of the Spirit, first to reprove, or to convince. Convincing work is the Spirit's work; he can do it effectually, and none but he. It is the method the Holy Spirit takes, first to convince, and then to comfort. The Spirit shall convince the world, of sin; not merely tell them of it. The Spirit convinces of the fact of sin; of the fault of sin; of the folly of sin; of the filth of sin, that by it we are become hateful to God; of the fountain of sin, the corrupt nature; and lastly, of the fruit of sin, that the end thereof is death. The Holy Spirit proves that all the world is guilty before God. He convinces the world of righteousness; that Jesus of Nazareth was Christ the righteous. Also, of Christ's righteousness, imparted to us for justification and salvation. He will show them where it is to be had, and how they may be accepted as righteous in God's sight. Christ's ascension proves the ransom was accepted, and the righteousness finished, through which believers were to be justified. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. All will be well, when his power is broken, who made all the mischief. As Satan is subdued by Christ, this gives us confidence, for no other power can stand before him. And of the day of judgment. The coming of the Spirit would be of unspeakable advantage to the disciples. The Holy Spirit is our Guide, not only to show us the way, but to go with us by continued aids and influences. To be led into a truth is more than barely to know it; it is not only to have the notion of it in our heads, but the relish, and savour, and power of it in our hearts. He shall teach all truth, and keep back nothing profitable, for he will show things to come. All the gifts and graces of the Spirit, all the preaching, and all the writing of the apostles, under the influence of the Spirit, all the tongues, and miracles, were to glorify Christ. It behoves every one to ask, whether the Holy Spirit has begun a good work in his heart? Without clear discovery of our guilt and danger, we never shall understand the value of Christ's salvation; but when brought to know ourselves aright, we begin to see the value of the Redeemer. We should have fuller views of the Redeemer, and more lively affections to him, if we more prayed for, and depended on the Holy Spirit.It is expedient for you ... - The reason why it was expedient for them that he should go away, he states to be, that in this way only would the Comforter be granted to them. Still, it may be asked why the presence of the Holy Spirit was more valuable to them than that of the Saviour himself? To this it may be answered:

1. That by his departure, his death, and ascension - by having these great facts before their eyes they would be led by the Holy Spirit to see more fully the design of his coming than they would by his presence. While he was with them, notwithstanding the plainest teaching, their minds were filled with prejudice and error. They still adhered to the expectation of a temporal kingdom, and were unwilling to believe that he was to die. When he should have actually left them they could no longer doubt on this subject, and would be prepared to understand why he came. And this was done. See the Acts of the Apostles everywhere. It is often needful that God should visit us with severe affliction before our pride will be humbled and we are willing to understand the plainest truths.

2. While on the earth the Lord Jesus could be bodily present but in one place at one time. Yet, in order to secure the great design of saving men, it was needful that there should be some agent who could be in all places, who could attend all ministers, and who could, at the same time, apply the work of Christ to people in all parts of the earth.

3. It was an evident arrangement in the great plan of redemption that each of the persons of the Trinity should perform a part. As it was not the work of the Spirit to make an atonement, so it was not the work of the Saviour to apply it. And until the Lord Jesus had performed this great work, the way was not open for the Holy Spirit to descend to perform his part of the great plan; yet, when the Saviour had completed his portion of the work and had left the earth, the Spirit would carry forward the same plan and apply it to men.

4. It was to be expected that far more signal success would attend the preaching of the gospel when the atonement was actually made than before. It was the office of the Spirit to carry forward the work only when the Saviour had died and ascended; and this was actually the case. See Acts 2. Hence, it was expedient that the Lord Jesus should go away, that the Spirit might descend and apply the work to sinners. The departure of the Lord Jesus was to the apostles a source of deep affliction, but had they seen the whole case they would not have been thus afflicted. So God often takes away from us one blessing that he may bestow a greater. All affliction, if received in a proper manner, is of this description; and could the afflicted people of God always see the whole case as God sees it, they would think and feel, as he does, that it was best for them to be thus afflicted.

It is expedient - It is better for you.

The Comforter - See the notes at John 14:16.

7. It is expedient for you that I go away—

My Saviour, can it ever be

That I should gain by losing thee?



for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart, I will send him unto you—(See on [1866]Joh 7:39; [1867]Joh 14:15).

He doth not say it was expedient for him, though this was truth; for his human nature was not till his ascension glorified, as afterward, John 17:5; but he saith it was expedient for them. The saints may desire a dissolution, but it is for their own advantage, Philippians 1:23. Christ desires it for their advantage; because the Holy Spirit could not come upon them (as in the days of Pentecost) until he by his death had made reconciliation for iniquity; and God had so ordered the counsels of eternity, that Christ should first die, rise again, and ascend into heaven, and then he would pour out his Spirit upon all flesh, as one eminent fruit of Christ’s meritorious death and passion, Acts 2:32,33 Eph 4:11. We are not able to give certain reasons of the counsels of God; but the reasonableness of them in this very particular may easily be concluded: that the sending of the Spirit might appear to be the fruit of Christ’s death: that the Messiah’s influence upon the sending of him jointly with the Father, might appear; for he was to be sent from Christ glorified, John 7:39: that the Spirit might glorify Christ, as we have it, John 16:14; for (saith that verse) He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you: and that the world might better understand the mystery of the Trinity. The Father was by all owned to be in heaven. The Son ascended up to heaven in the presence of many witnesses. The Spirit descended from heaven with great majesty and glory, as may be read. Acts 2:2,3.

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth,.... Christ was truth itself, and could say nothing else; but he makes use of this way of speaking, to raise the attention of his disciples, and to engage their belief of what he was about to say, and of which they were not easily persuaded; which was, that however overwhelmed they were with grief and sorrow, because of his going away from them, a greater truth he could not tell them, than that this would be to their real good and advantage:

it is expedient for you that I go away; Christ's death here, as in many other places in these discourses of his, is signified by going away, a departure, taking a sort of a journey, such an one as indeed is common to all mankind; death is the way of all the earth, and which Christ took by agreement with his Father; a dark way is the valley of the shadow of death, and so it was to Christ, who went away in the dark, under the hidings of his Father's face; it is a man's going to his long home, and a long journey it is, till he returns in the resurrection morn; though it was a short one to Christ, who rose again the third day. The phrase supposes the place and persons he went from, this world and his disciples; and the place and persons he went unto, the grave, heaven, his Father, the blessed Spirit, angels, and glorified saints; and is expressive of the voluntariness of his death; he was not fetched, or thrust, and forced away, but he went away of himself; and is a very easy and familiar way of expressing death by, and greatly takes off the dread and terror of it; it is only moving from one place to another, as from one house, city, or country, to another; and shows, that it is not an annihilation of a man, either in body or soul, only a translating of him from one place and state to another. Now the death of Christ was expedient, not only for himself, which he does not mention; he being concerned more for the happiness of his people than of himself; but for his disciples and all believers; for hereby a great many evils were prevented falling upon them, which otherwise would; as the heavy strokes of divine justice, the curses and condemnation of the law, the wrath and vengeance of God, and eternal death, ruin, and destruction; as well as many good things were hereby obtained for them; as the redemption of their souls from sin, law, hell, and death; peace; reconciliation, and atonement; the full and free forgiveness of all their sins, an everlasting righteousness, and eternal life. Moreover, Christ's going away was expedient for his people; since he went to open the way for them into the holiest of all, by his blood; to take possession of heaven in their name and stead; to prepare mansions of glory for them; to appear in the presence of God for them; to be their advocate, and make intercession for all good things for them; to transact all their business between God them; to take care of their affairs; to present their petitions; to remove all charges and accusations; and to ask for, and see applied every blessing of grace unto them. The particular instanced in, in the text, of the expediency of it, is the mission and coming of the Spirit:

for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him to you. The Spirit of God in some sense had come, before the death of Christ; he had appeared in the creation of all things out of nothing, as a joint Creator with the Father and Son; he was come as a spirit of prophecy upon the inspired writers, and others; the Old Testament saints had received him as a spirit of faith; he had been given to Christ as man, without measure, and the disciples had been partakers of his gifts and graces; but he was not come in so peculiar a manner as he afterwards did; as the promise of the Father, the glorifier of Christ, the comforter of his people, the spirit of truth, and the reprover of the world: there are reasons to be given, why the Spirit of God should not come in such a manner before, as after the death of Christ. The order of the three divine persons in the Trinity, and in the economy of man's salvation, required such a method to be observed; that the Father should first, and for a while, be more especially manifested; next the Son, and then the Spirit: besides, our Lord has given a reason himself, why the Spirit "was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified", John 7:39; And the coming of the Spirit as a comforter, and the spirit of truth, was to be through the intercession, and by the mission of Christ; and therefore it was proper he should go away first, in order to send him; add to all this, that if Christ had not gone away or died, there would have been nothing for the Spirit to have done; no blood to sprinkle; no righteousness to reveal and bring near; no salvation to apply; or any of the things of Christ, and blessings of grace, to have taken and shown; all which are owing to the death of Christ, and which show the expediency of it: the expediency of Christ's death for the mission of the Spirit to his disciples, is very conspicuous; for hereby they were comforted and supported under a variety of troubles; were led into all truth, and so furnished for their ministerial work; and were made abundantly successful in it, that being attended with the demonstration of the Spirit and of power.

{2} 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.

(2) The absence of Christ according to the flesh is profitable to the Church in that it causes the Church to be wholly dependant upon his spiritual power.

John 16:7. Nevertheless, how should you raise yourselves above this λύπη! How is my departure your own gain! By its means the Paraclete indeed will be imparted to you as a support against the hatred of the world.

ἐγώ] in the consciousness of this personal guarantee.

ἵνα ἐγὼ ἀπέλθω] ἐγώ in contradistinction to the Paraclete, who is to come in His place (John 14:16); ἵνα expresses the δεῖ as divinum, as in John 11:50. On the dependence of the mission of the Paraclete upon the departure of Jesus, see on John 7:39.

John 16:7. ἀλλʼ ἐγὼἀπέλθω. “But,” or “nevertheless I tell you the truth,” I who see the whole e ent tell you “it is to your advantage” and not to your loss “that I go away”. This statement, incredible as it seemed to the disciples, He justifies: ἐὰν γὰρ μὴ ἀπέλθωὑμᾶς. The withdrawal of the bodily presence of Christ was the essential condition of His universal spiritual presence.

7. I tell you the truth] ‘I’ is again emphatic; ‘I who know, and who have never misled you.’ Comp. John 14:2.

It is expedient] So Caiaphas had said (John 11:50) with more truth than he knew; so also the taunt at the crucifixion, ‘Himself He cannot save.’ ‘That’ here = ‘in order that’ (S. John’s favourite particle, ἴνα). Comp. John 16:2 and John 12:43.

I go away] There are three different Greek verbs in John 16:5; John 16:7; John 16:10, and our translators have not been happy in distinguishing them. The verb in John 16:5; John 16:10 should be I go away: here for ‘I go away’ we should have I depart, and for ‘I depart’ we should have I go My way. In the first the primary idea is withdrawal; in the second, separation; in the third, going on to a goal.

the Comforter] The Advocate (see on John 14:16). The Spirit could not come until God and man had been made once more at one. In virtue of His glorified and ascended Manhood Christ sends the Paraclete. ‘Humanity was to ascend to heaven before the Spirit could be sent to humanity on earth.’

John 16:7. Ἐγὼ, I) who am not asked by you, and who know not to lie (who am incapable of deceiving you).—ἀλήθειαν, the truth) although ye do not comprehend the truth of this thing, which I tell you. All truth [though it seem painful] is good to the saints.—συμφέρει) It is expedient for you, in respect of the Paraclete (Comforter), John 16:7-8, “If I depart, I will send Him unto you;” and in respect of Myself, John 16:16-17, “Ye shall see Me, because I go to the Father;” and in respect of the Father, John 16:23-24, “In that day, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you.”—γὰρ, for) The office of the Paraclete is twofold, viz., towards the world in this place, and towards believers in John 16:12-13, “He will guide you into all truth.”—ἀπέλθω, πορευθῶ, if I depart not; if I go) These verbs differ: the former has more reference to the terminus a quo (the place from which the departure takes place); the latter, to the terminus ad quem (the place to which one goes his way).—οὐκ, not) It was not suitable that Jesus should be present in weakness, and the Holy Spirit present in power at the same time; ch. John 7:39, “The Holy Ghost was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified;” Acts 2:33, “Being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this;” and it was the province of Jesus to send Him, not to call Him to Himself (whilst still on earth).—πρὸς ὑμᾶς) unto you, not unto the world, although the world shall feel His ‘reproof,’ John 16:8.

Verses 7-33. -

(9) The promise of the Paraclete. Verses 7-11. - (a) The threefold conviction of the world. The extraordinary fullness of suggestion in the following words, and the strong opinions entertained by different theological schools, render interpretation a difficult task. Verse 7. - Though you are crushed with a sense of your approaching bereavement, and so imperfectly apprehend the conditions of your future power and the method which it is incumbent upon me to adopt for your consolation and the completion of my earthly work, nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is wonderful that he who is the Truth itself should have needed, in such various forms, to have reiterated and affirmed the supreme right he possessed to claim their acceptance of his veracity. The truth, then, thus solemnly asserted, because in their then frame of mind it was so utterly unpalatable and incredible notwithstanding all that he had said - the truth is, It is expedient for you that I go away. The ἵνα ἀπέλθω clause simply defines that which is expedient, profitable to the disciples. Many commentators, holding everywhere the relic force of ἵνα, say, with Meyer and Lange, that "ἵνα marks fact considered with regard to the purposes destined to be accomplished by it." Here, however, the profitableness to the disciples is the chief and solitary thought. "For you:" here lies the gist of the mystery. They might have accepted his own assurance that, bitter as the mode of his departure must be, yet they ought, to and would rejoice because he was going to the Father. How was it possible for them to rejoice so far as they were personally concerned? He answers the question, For if I go not away - and surely this solemn departure meant, as he had recently told them, by the way of death and glorification - the Paraclete, of whom I have spoken, the Spirit of truth (see John 15:26, 27), will not come to you; but if I go (πορευθῶ, to my Father; observe the form of the two conditional sentences, the degree of uncertainty as to the issue, to be determined by the result), I will send him to you (see notes on John 7:39. "The Holy Spirit," as the Divine dispensation of grace to men bringing a renewed humanity into living incorporation with its great Head, was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified). Jesus could not become the Divine Life-center of the human family, radiating from himself the full glory of a universal harmony, until he had been taken up, until he had been glorified in God. Unspeakably precious as many of our earthly gifts and friendships are, we do not apprehend them, nor profit by them to the full, until they are taken from us. The youth, submitted to the condition of perfect dependence on a parent's care and guidance, can scarcely ever reach the fullness of his manhood until he is thrown back upon the spirit of his father's counsel, apart from that father's presence, and brings into daily practice from a new standpoint the principles he has learned. So, without any hyperbole, nothing had ever been so wonderful and blessed to the human spirit as the fellowship which had prevailed between the Son of man and his disciples. They were with him, they sat at his feet, they watched his countenance, they experienced a continuous series of Divine surprises at his judgments and his mercies. They were walking by sight, as the children of Israel did, following the pillar of fire and cloud, and drinking of the living water; but they were nevertheless living by sight. Nevertheless, there was something more wonderful and gracious still, when, in his physical absence, they would have the sense of his spiritual presence. They would lose him as an earthly Friend, but they would regain him as a Divine Reality; they would discover more than his humanity in his God-Manhood. They would wield his Divine Word as their weapon, and would become the channels of his healing and convincing and judging powers. The promise, "I will send him," is the guarantee of something more than a "Christ after the flesh" could ever be. John 16:7It is expedient (συμφέρει)

From σόν together, and φέρω to bear or bring. The underlying idea of the word is concurrence of circumstances.

Go away (ἀπέλθω)

The different words for go should be noted in this verse, and John 16:10. Here, expressing simple departure from a point.

Depart (πορευθῶ)

Rev., go. With the notion of going for a purpose, which is expressed in I will send him.

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