Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.See John 15:1 ff for the passage quote with footnotes.
John 16:1. These things have I spoken unto you.—Ταῦτα: Another recapitulation, this time of the contents of John 16:18–25, in order to the introduction of a new idea; like John 15:17; 15:11.—That ye may not be offended [ἴνα μὴ σκανδαλισθῆτε], i.e. that ye may not be disconcerted by coming in contact with the sufferings attendant upon the world’s persecution, and be made to fall from the faith, but may, rather, steadfastly approve yourselves martyrs. See Matt. 5:29; 13:21; 18:7. Christ is discoursing of the danger of becoming offended in the future; His glance pierces beyond the offence that they shall take at Him in the impending night; He reverts to it, however, John 16:32.
John 16:2. They will put you out of the synagogues [or they will excommunicate you, ἀποσυναγώγους ποιήσουσι ὑμᾶς]—He now reveals to them, by fundamental traits, the operations of the world’s hatred, announced to them by Him. First comes excommunication. See John 9:22 [and 12:42]. Jewish persecutions are meant; as a type, however, of the whole mass of declarations of excommunication and outlawry to be levelled against His followers.
Yea, and an hour cometh [ἀλλ’ ἔρχεταιὥρα].—In the form of an antithesis, ἀλλά [at, yea and] gives exceeding prominence to the following climax to the persecutions. [It introduces the contrast of a much more grievous, even bloody persecution; comp. 2 Cor. 1:9; 7:11; Phil. 3:8.—P. S.]. Lücke: They were also to experience the bloody fanaticism of the world at the hands of Jews and Gentiles. He Himself fell a sacrifice to the same, as, did later, Stephen, Acts 6:8, etc.; 2 Cor. 1:9; 1 Cor. 4:13.—That every one.—ἴνα lays stress upon the destiny of that hour. [Or, as Meyer expresses it, “that which shall happen in the ὤρα, is regarded as the object of its coming; comp. 12:23.”—P. S.].—Will think that he doeth God sacrificial service [ἴνα πᾶς ὁ ἀποκτείνας ὑμᾶς δόξῃ λατρείαν προσφέρειν τῷ θεῷ].—Serve God by offering unto Him a sacrifice.—λατρεία in the sense of worship, service rendered to the Deity [comp. Rom. 12:1; Heb. 9:1, 6, etc.]. The performance of the curse-sacrifice, Cherem, as the last and highest form of excommunication, was looked upon as a religious act. That the idea of a Cherem is present in this place is proved by the expression προσφέρειν, a term which Lücke seems not precisely to understand, whilst Meyer observes: “This axiom of Jewish fanaticism is well known: “omnis effundens sanguinem improborum æqualis est illi, qui sacrificium facit. Bammidbar Rabba, f. 329.” Comp. Matt. 10. Τῷ θεῷ “is primarily expressive of Jewish fanaticism: Gentile fanaticism, however, was substantially the same.” Lücke. The Gentile world also was acquainted with the curse-offering and performed it in manifold ways. See 1 Cor. 4:12.
John 16:3. And these things will they do unto you.—This verse contains 1. consolation for the disciples in regard to their persecutions—conveyed in the intimation that these persecutions will not arise on account of anything in the disciples themselves; this involves the presupposition of their normal behaviour. 2. The thought is suggested that the persecutors will overweeningly imagine themselves to be raised above the disciples on the platform of intelligent judges and defenders of the truth, whilst in reality they are grovelling in the most lamentable darkness.
John 16:4. But I have spoken these things unto you.—According to Lücke, ἀλλά is an explanation: notwithstanding that nothing else can be expected, I have, etc. But it has just been necessary for Him to inform them that these very things must be expected. Meyer interprets the ἀλλά as a breaking off. But enough: these things (thus much) have I told you beforehand, etc. [So also Alford]. A later recollection of the prophetic fore-announcements shall serve to strengthen faith,—faith in the trustworthiness of the Lord as well as in the divinely normal course of things, see John 13:19. Hence correctly Tholuck (after Cyril, Gerhard): But, so little is it My intention to affright you with these things, that I have told you of them only in order that, etc.
I told you not from the beginning.—In what respect do the words: Because I was with you, serve as an elucidation? 1. So that I could comfort you (Aug., Lücke). Against this view it may be said: they were then not in need of comfort. 2. The hatred of the world touched Me alone (Chrysostom, Luth., Meyer, etc.). 3. Because ye were then too weak to bear such sayings (Erasmus, Calvin). 4. Because He now promises them the help of the Spirit, He can also tell them of suffering (Bengel, Tholuck). The meaning may be simply this: because I thus had it in My power to tell you at any time and had neither inclination nor need to tell you something painful and oppressive too soon; now, however, for the reason assigned, I am obliged to tell you, in order that ye may not be astonished at experiencing sufferings, of whose coming I have forewarned you. Further motives, as, for instance, forbearance towards their hitherto gradual development, etc., are not excluded by the above. But according to the Synoptists, Christ foretold such sufferings to the disciples at a much earlier time (Matt. 5:10 ff.; 10:16 ff.; 24:9). Deliverances upon this diversity:
1. Here φοβερώτερα έκείνων are announced (Euthymius, Chrysostom).
2. Christ before spoke minus aperte (Grotius, Bengel).
3. Now He proclaims the cause of the world’s hatred (Lampe).
4. As a farewell-word the revelation was a new one (Luthardt). [So also Alford: in reference to His immediate departure.—P. S.]
5. Earlier intimations of a more general and less definite character are reported by the Synoptists in agreement with later and more definite ones (Meyer).
6. Those earlier predictions probably belong to the time when Jesus delivered His last discourses (Beza, Maldonatus).
7. The expression here recorded by John can hardly be justified (De Wette).
8. Tholuck: Those utterances were of an isolated cast; Christ has here more expressly declared the principial position of the disciples. This view must be illustrated more in detail: (1) in the Sermon on the Mount, Matt. 5:10, the prediction is couched in such general terms that the disciples might apprehend it as referring to a participation in transient “throes of the Messiah,” soon to be succeeded by the appearance of the kingdom of God. (2) In the Apostolic Instructions, Matt. 10, the momentary predictions are, in accordance with the ideal order of things, amplified through later additions. Even to the adoption of the eschatological items. (3) The eschatological sayings, Matt. 24, were uttered but a day or two previously; hence they coincide ideally with our date.
John 16:5. But now I go [ὑπάγω] to Him that sent Me.—The motive for His present full enlightenment of them with regard to their future, in order that, together with what is sad, He may tell them the most gladdening things.—And none of you asketh Me—This seems to be at variance with John 13:36; 14:5. The sense, however, is as follows: ye give yourselves up to the sad thought that I go away and make no inquiries as to the glad thought: whither, namely, to the Father. Calvin: “Audito meo discessu expavescitis, neque enim reputatis, quo discedam, vel in quem finem.”1 They cling to the ruins of their old expectations with regard to the Messiah’s kingdom and are afraid to venture a leap into the new views of life, however urgently the solemn mood of the Lord presses them thereto.
John 16:6. Sorrow hath filled your heart.—Sorrow and only sorrow. John 16:6 is explanatory of the mild reproach John 16:5,—none asketh Me: whither? They do the opposite; they linger at the fact of His departure and its immediate and sad results, as revealed to them by Him; they stay at the ὑπάγω, not at the πρὸς τὸν πέμψαντα. The course of ideas, therefore, is perfectly clear; De Wette and Lücke are under some misapprehension when they fain would improve it by reading John 16:6 before καὶ οὐδείς. Even the construction of Olshausen seems to be superfluous; he introduces a period and pause after πέμψ. με and makes John 16:6 follow as a question.
John 16:7–11. The Holy Ghost as the strength of their victory over the world.
[This whole passage (7–12), relating to the mission of the Holy Ghost, is unmeaning and incomprehensible to the carnal mind, but unspeakably precious and comforting to the spiritual; it touches on the deepest questions of doctrine, and on the practical discipline of our hearts and lives. With a few great strokes, as Olshausen remarks, Christ depicts all and every part of the ministry of the Holy Ghost in the world, His operation on individuals as well as the mass, on believers and unbelievers alike. Comp. here the remarks on pp. 440 f., and the Critical Notes to the five Sermons of Julius Charles Hare (late Archdeacon of Lewis and Rector of Hertsmonceux) on John 16:7–11, entitled: The Mission of the Comforter (2d ed., republ. Boston, 1854). These notes betray a rare familiarity with patristic and German exegesis, and contain by far the ablest and fullest exposition of our passage in the English language; yet they are wholly unknown to continental commentators and are ignored even by Wordsworth.—P. S.]
John 16:7. But I tell you the truth, etc.—Prominence given to the cheering results of His departure, as also to that departure itself. [But, ἀλλά, notwithstanding, nevertheless, refers to the λύπη in John 16:6.—P. S.]. I tell you; ἐγώ [I myself, in opposition to υμεῖς, the sorrowing disciples (5, 6), and in the consciousness of personal ability to remove their sorrow by sending the Comforter.—P. S.].—It is expedient for you that I [for My part] should go away [συμφέρει ὑμιν ἴνα (expressing the divine necessity and intention), ἐγὼ ἀπέλθω (depart from this world, leave you).—P. S.] “Ἵνα marks the fact of His going away, considered with regard to the purposes destined to be accomplished by it.
[With this passage should be compared John 7:39 and the notes pp. 258 f. The sending of the Spirit to men as the Spirit of redemption and adoption, presupposes the offering of the atoning sacrifice, the glorification of Christ’s humanity and His elevation to His mediatorial throne. Συμφέρει ὑμῖν, it is profitable, expedient for you (comp. 2 Cor. 8:18; 1 Cor. 6:12), indicates that the post-pentecostal dispensation of the Spirit who makes us partakers of the whole fulness of Christ and His completed redemption, is higher and more blessed than the dispensation of the Son in the state of His humiliation, as this was higher than the dispensation of the Father before Christ’s advent. Christ’s departure, in itself considered, without the consequent sending of the Paraclete mentioned in the last clause of this verse, would be the greatest calamity that could have befallen the disciples. For there never was any communion upon earth that could at all be compared in blessedness with their daily intercourse with their Lord and Master, who was dearer to them than life itself. But they lived then more in sight than in faith, and depended too much on His visible presence and His human form, like children upon the presence of their parents. They had to lose Christ as a mere man in order to find Him again as God exalted on His heavenly throne, from which He might send them His Spirit as it never had been sent before, establish His kingdom and convert through them the whole world. The book of Acts proves what they gained in independence and self-government, in strength and endurance of faith by the withdrawal of Christ’s visible presence. Archdeacon Hare (Note C., p. 234) ingeniously turns this passage against the Church of Rome, which has indeed preserved the true confession of Christ against all Christological heresies, but has been unable to recognize how it was expedient for Christ to go away. “She has never been content, unless she could get something present, a vicar, images, outward works, actual sacrifices, with priests to offer them up, real flesh and real blood. She chose rather to defy the evidence of the senses, than not to have an object of sense.” She has, as Augustine (Serm. 270, quoted by Hare, p. 232) says of Peter, “loved the Lord Jesus Christ as a man loves man, as the carnal loves the carnal, not as the spiritual loves true Majesty.”—P. S.]
For if I go not away, etc. [ἐὰν γὰρ (ἐγὼ) μὴ ἀπέλθω (depart, leave you), ὁ παράκλητος οὐκ ἐλεύσεται πρὸς ὑμᾶς, ἐὰν δὲ πορευθῶ (go to My Father), πέμψω αὐτὸν πρὸς ὑμᾶς].—Explanation see in DOCTR. AND ETHICAL No. 15. Augustine: “Si alimenta, quibus vos alui, non subtraxero, solidum cibum non esurietis.” The expression here becomes sublime; it is indued with ghostly severity and heroic boldness.
John 16:8. And when He is come, etc. [καὶ ἐλθὼν ἐκεῖνος].—Solemn and triumphant exaltation of spirit, and proclamation. The witness of the Spirit, announced John 15:26, is now, in accordance with its subject-matter, power and effect, declared to be a threefold victory over the world. Mention is not made of the disciples for the simple reason that, as bearers of the Spirit, they seem to vanish, utterly from sight in His glory. [Godet, ΙΙ. 519: “Voici la description de la victoire morale que, par l’organe des disciples, le Saint Esprit remportera sur le monde. Le discours de saint Pierre à la Pentecôte et ses effets sont le meilleur commentaire de cette promesse.”—P. S.]
He will convict2 the world ἐλέγξει τὸν κόσμον περὶ ἁμαρτίας, κ.τ.λ.].—By His testimony. The ἐλέγχειν of the Holy Ghost is variously construed:
1. In the sense of a judgment. Chrysostom: They shall not do such things unreproved; on the contrary, sentence shall be passed upon them; similarly Theophylact [Erasmus, Wetzel] and others. De Wette: “The idea of judgment is conclusive.” A one-sided and abstract upholding of the punitory consideration; in opposition also to the idea of conviction, which in the forum itself is distinct from the passing of sentence, as is the latter, again, from the infliction of punishment. The κρίσις here spoken of is the judgment upon the devil. [The patristic interpretation to reprove, strafen, conveys a very inadequate description of the work of the Spirit, and gives no clear sense when applied to righteousness and judgment.—P. S.]
2. A convicting, a bringing to a consciousness of the truth, in such wise that decision must ensue, resulting either in faith or in impenitence (Calvin, Lampe, Bengel, Lücke, etc).
Exposition No. 1 must not be confounded with the doctrine of the Holy Ghost’s disciplinary office (Tholuck), in accordance with which Luther’s translation: strafen, discipline, reprove, likewise conveys an excellent meaning.3 The operation of the Holy Ghost is never external but always internal; His testification addresses itself to the human consciousness,—never to the intellectual consciousness alone, but invariably to the moral consciousness as well, the conscience. And inasmuch as this is true, the world, in being convicted, is always reproved as well, through the judgment of the Spirit. Now the power of Christ’s saying is involved in the idea that the Holy Ghost, as the Paraclete of the persecuted Apostles, turns the tables upon their adversaries,—reverently be it said; He prosecutes the persecuting world, brings it to judgment, and, in its totality as world, as sinner, convicts it. Thus, with checkless superiority, He executes an ideal judgment upon the whole world. The conversion of the world, or its confirmation in impenitence, is a result resting not solely in the impressions of the Holy Ghost, but in the diverse reactions of men, some turning to belief, others hardening themselves in unbelief. Under this all-powerful ἕλεγχος, however, the world, as an ungodly world, advances towards its dissolution; after the accomplishment of the ἔλεγχος it no longer exists. (See John 17:23; 1 John 2:17). The meaning, therefore, is as follows: He shall reprovingly convince—convict—the world in His judgment, and, by convicting it, occasion its disintegration into the two portions of the saved and the judged, neither of which is any longer a world. (See John 3:20; 8:46; 1 Cor. 14:24). The conviction of the world ensues in three acts.
Be it observed that the point of view taken by Christ in describing the following events, is that of the consummation of the things predicted; hence He employs the Present tense.4 On the three themes see Tholuck, p. 384.
[Ἐλέγχειν in Homer and earlier Greek authors means chiefly to rebuke, to reprove, to reproach; so also in Luke 3:19; 1 Tim. 5:20; Tit. 1:13; Rev. 3:19. But in the phraseology of the courts of justice and of the schools the verb expresses demonstration, conviction and refutation of an opponent by fair and conclusive arguments. “In ἐλέγχειν,” says Lücke, “is always implied the refutation, the overcoming of an error, wrong,—by the truth and the right.” So the word is used Matt. 18:15; Tit. 1:9; James 2:9 (ἐλεγχόμενοι ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου ὡς παραβάται); John 8:9 (ὑπὸ τῆς συνειδήσεως ἐλεγχόμενοι, being convicted by their conscience); 8:46 (τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν ἐλέγχει με περὶ ἁμαρτίας, which of you, convicteth Me of sin?). The last passage comes nearest to our own. The ἔλεγξις here meant is a conviction (Ueberführung), by which the sinner is proved to be such and becomes conscious of his sin and guilt, is “pricked to the heart” and “smitten in conscience” (comp. Acts 2:37), and brought to a crisis that he will either sincerely repent and be converted (1 Cor. 14:24), or harden his heart and bring upon him condemnation (Acts 24:25; Rom. 11:7 ff.). The divine intention of this convicting agency is the salvation of the sinner; for the Holy Spirit, like Christ Himself, was sent not to condemn the world, but to save it (comp. John 3:17). This view of ἐλέγχειν is substantially held by Calvin and Beza, who translate it convincere, Lampe, Bengel (arguet), Lücke, Olshausen, Tholuck, Stier, Meyer, Hare (l. c. p. 355 ff.), Alford, Wordsworth, Barnes (“convince men that they are sinners and cause them to feel this”), Godet (convaincre de tort ou d’erreur, ici à la foi de l’un et de l’autre).—The world, ὁ κόσμος, is the object of the Spirit’s convicting agency and must not be confined to the Jews or to the heathen or to the ungodly, but be extended to all men (comp. John 3:16; 12:31) who come under the influence of the Spirit and the preaching of the gospel. Calvin: “The term world comprehends those who were to be truly converted to Christ, as well as hypocrites and reprobates. For the Spirit reproves men through the preaching of the gospel in two ways. Some are seriously impressed, so that they willingly humble themselves, willingly subscribe to the sentence by which they are condemned. Others, although they are convicted and cannot escape from the position of a criminal, yet do not heartily yield, nor submit themselves to the authority and dictation of the Holy Spirit; nay, rather being constrained they inwardly fret, and in their perplexity cease not to cherish obstinacy of mind.” Calvin aptly quotes, in illustration, 1 Cor. 14:24–5: “If all prophesy, and there come in an unbeliever or an ignorant man, he is convinced (ἐλέγχεται) by all, he is judged by all; and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is truly in you.” Godet: “Si le monde est l’objet de la répréhension du Saint-Espirit c’est donc encore dans un but de salut.”—The threefold objects of the conviction are sin, which belongs to men, righteousness, which belongs to Christ, judgment, which is executed on Satan by the overthrow of his kingdom and the establishment of Christ’s kingdom. He who is convicted of sin, passes over either to the righteousness of Christ, or to the judgment of Satan (see Bengel). The triple ὅτι defines the substance and ground of the triple ἔλεγχος, and is=εἰς ἐκεῖνο ὅτι, in that, inasmuch as (comp. 2:18; 9:17; 11:51). The omission of the article before the three nouns gives them the widest sense. The natural man has some slight perception of sin, righteousness, and judgment, as is evident from the writings of the heathen and infidels, and the penal codes of all nations; but it is only the Spirit of God who, appealing to the inner law of our conscience, and unfolding the higher law of God, especially the atoning sacrifice and divine-human fullness of Christ, leads us to a living, practical knowledge and personal conviction of these three facts, and traces them to their fountain-head and culminating point—sin to unbelief, righteousness to Christ, and judgment to Satan. Moreover, the natural man, with all his knowledge of sin, cannot get rid of its power. The great aim of the Spirit is to deliver man from his sin and from the judgment to come, and to make him partaker of the righteousness of Christ. The actual proof of this threefold work of the Spirit is found in the Acts of the Apostles, who were His organs, and is daily repeated in the history of the Church throughout the world; for the Spirit’s convictive work goes on in unbroken succession wherever the gospel is preached, producing everywhere the same effects unto condemnation and salvation, and will go on to the end of time, as long as there is a world to be converted. There is, however, another work of the Spirit, which is not touched upon here, the work of the sanctification of those who have come out of the κόσμος. Our Lord speaks here of the great help of His disciples in their warfare with the world and in laying the foundations of Christianity. Within the Church the blessed gifts and graces of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, etc. (Gal. 5:22, 23; 1 Cor. 12–14; Rom. 12), will necessarily manifest themselves.—As to the interpretation of this profound and comprehensive passage there is a substantial agreement among orthodox commentators, yet with characteristic differences of theological schools and creeds. See the details below.—P. S.]
John 16:9. With respect to sin [περῖ—concerning, on the subject of, in respect to—ἁμαρτίας].—Act the first.—That they believe not on Me.—ὅτιon explicative: inasmuch as. Interpretations:
1. He will discover to them the sin they commit in not believing on Me (Euthymius Zigab., Lücke;—“He will convince them that their unbelief is sin, is wrong,” Meyer).5 But to the truth of this interpretation it were requisite that unbelief should be the object—not sin. And, moreover, the thought would not be a particularly comprehensive one. But above all, the view is subverted by the circumstance that the three terms: sin, righteousness, judgment, are mentioned with perfect universality, and unconditionally, in accordance with the universal operation of the Spirit.
Therefore, 2. The passage has reference to sin simply, which, as the Holy Ghost shall convince the world, consists in, is rooted in, in its different phases comprehended in, and, finally, made manifest in, their not believing on Me (Apollinar., Calvin [qualis in se sit hominum natura], De Wette [also Wetzel and Godet]. Only De Wette’s construction of the case is obscure; he opines that the Saviour’s words have reference solely to the unbelief of the impenitent as contrasted with believers, according to John 3:36. That unbelief is not prior, but subsequent, to the act of ἔλεγξις. It is sin too, beyond a doubt; sin, however, of a particular kind, since it is unpardonable. Believers themselves do not attain unto faith without, through the medium of the conviction of the Spirit, perceiving the identity of their sin with the unbelief hitherto cherished by them. The rejection of Christ is the central appearance of all the sins of all the world; light is thrown thereupon by the spiritual manifestation of Christ’s divine exaltedness above all the world. The old world makes a distinction between sin and unbelief, and even ventures to consider the latter a very meritorious thing; on that point, the views of the world shall be subverted by the Holy Ghost.
[Bengel: “Infidelitas est confluens peccatorum omnium et omnibus pejor.” Alford: “This unbelief is not a mere want of historical faith,—but unbelief in its very root,—the want of a personal and living recognition of Jesus as the Lord (1 Cor. 12:3) which, wherever the Spirit has opened His commission by the planting of the visible church, is the condemning sin of the world.” On this point Luther, in his usual forcible and graphic style, makes some remarks which show how much deeper he penetrated into the marrow of the Scriptures on the doctrines of sin and grace and the depths of faith and unbelief than the fathers, not excluding even Chrysostom and Augustine. “The unbelief spoken of in the text,” says Luther, “is not merely that which is planted by Adam in man’s nature, but plainly this, that men believe not in Christ, that is, when the gospel of Christ is preached, in order that we may confess our sins, and through Christ seek and obtain grace. For when Christ came, the sin of Adam and of the whole human race, namely, their previous unbelief and disobedience, was taken away before God by Christ’s sufferings and death; and He built a new heaven of grace and forgiveness; so that the sin, which we have inherited from Adam, shall no longer keep us under God’s wrath and condemnation, if we believe in this Saviour. And henceforward he who is condemned must not complain of Adam and of his inborn sin: for this Seed of the woman, promised by God to bruise the head of the serpent, is now come, and has atoned for this sin, and taken away condemnation. But he must cry out against himself, for not having accepted or believed in this Christ, the devil’s head-bruiser and sin-strangler. Thus every man’s danger rests with himself; and it is his own fault if he is condemned; not because he is a sinner through the sin of Adam, and deserving of condemnation by reason of his former unbelief; but because he will not accept this Saviour Christ, who takes away our sin and condemnation. True it is indeed, that Adam has condemned us all, inasmuch as he brought us along with him into sin and under the power of the devil. But now that Christ, the second Adam, is come, born without sin, and has taken away sin, it cannot longer condemn me if I believe in Him; but I shall be delivered from it through Him and be saved. If, on the other hand, I do not believe, the same sin and condemnation must continue; because He who is to deliver me from it, is not taken hold of: nay, it will be a doubly great and heavy sin and condemnation, that I will not believe in this dear Saviour, by whom I might be helped, nor accept His redemption. Thus all our salvation and condemnation depend now upon this, whether we believe in Christ or no. A judgment has at length gone forth which closes heaven against all such as have not, and will not receive, this faith in Christ. For this unbelief retains all sin, so that it cannot obtain forgiveness, even as faith removes all sin. And hence without this faith everything is and continues sinful and condemnable, even in the best life and the best works which a man can perform; which although in themselves they are praiseworthy and commended by God, yet are corrupted by unbelief, so that on account thereof they cannot please God; even as in faith all the works and life of a Christian are pleasing to God. In fine, without Christ everything is condemned and lost; in Christ everything is good and blessed; so that even sin, which continues in our flesh and blood, being inherited from Adam, can no longer hurt or condemn us.”—I add Olshausen’s explanation, which well agrees with the foregoing extract: “In the first place the Spirit makes sin manifest, not however in its outward character,—in this respect the Law awakens the knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20),—but in its inward deep root. Now this is nothing else than unbelief, which we may call the mother of all sinful actions: but unbelief itself is, in its most glaring form, unbelief in the Incarnate Christ. The inability of recognizing this purest manifestation of the Divinity implies utter blindness.” Stier and Hare may also be profitably consulted on this passage.—P. S.]
John 16:10. With respect to righteousness [περὶ δικαιοσύνης6].—Act the second. Here, again, righteousness simply is manifested. Christ’s exaltation to the throne of glory is the central appearance of God’s righteousness; we say, of God’s righteousness in Christ, God’s righteousness in His providence, God’s righteousness in believers, in the conscience of unbelievers even,—an appearance illuminated by the spiritual manifestation of Christ’s world-reconciling and glorifying operations.
Meyer thinks that “things of entirely diverse natures are mingled together” in these words (Leben Jesu, II. 1385).7 So Paul might seem to him to mingle things of different natures, Rom. 3:26, but the δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ is but one.
1. By Chrysostom, Beza, etc., Lücke, Meyer, the passage is construed to mean the righteousness of Christ (“guiltlessness,” which is too weak a term in this connection); comp. 1 Tim. 3:16.8 This view, Tholuck thinks, is untenable in the absence of a μου in connection with δικαιοσύνη; in addition to this objection, we would state that “the going to the Father” and “the seeing Christ no more,” must receive their share of consideration.
2. By Cyril, Augustine, Calvin, Luther, Gerlach, Stier, it is interpreted as significant of the righteousness that comes of faith, in the Pauline sense.9 Controverted by Tholuck on the ground that in the writings of Paul δικαιοσύνη is the central idea, but in those of John that position is occupied by ζωή. Hence he thinks to interpret the word in accordance with the Johannean usage exemplified elsewhere (1 John 2:29; 3:7, 10), as indicative of moral purity or “Rechtbeschaffenheit” (righteous nature, to use the abortive term that has sprung up of late). But if we consider that the moral purity of Christ is infinitely positive, that it is the moral purity not of a child, but of the Lord of glory, we find that this exposition coincides with No. 1; irrespective of the fact that the lack of μου might with equal justice be complained of here.—Besides, the word is introduced entirely without limitation. The old world pronounced the Lord a sinner (John 9:24); in His crucifixion it set Him forth as sin itself, as the enemy of man κατ’ ἐξοχήν, and treated Him as such;—the Holy Ghost will subvert the world’s old views in reference to Christ and, together with these, its views of the righteousness of God and the human life itself.
The expression, and ye see Me no more [καὶ οὐκέτι θεωρεῖτέ με], is interpreted by Meyer as an affectionate participation in the disciples’ grief at their parting—an idea utterly incongruous with the context. It is likewise in accordance with righteousness that Christ, in His exaltation, is removed from the sinful world until His appearance in judgment; hence His kingdom this side of eternity must be a kingdom of the cross, and the world can reach Him only through faith.10 The full glory of righteousness is still in the hereafter with Christ, and not until the Last Day shall it appear.
[The explanation of δικαιοσύνη has caused more difficulty than that of ἁμαρτία. Commentators are divided, as has already been stated, on the question whether δικαιοσύνη here means the personal and inherent righteousness of Christ (as maintained by the ancient Greek and the majority of modern exegetes), or the communicated, justifying righteousness apprehended by faith (as vigorously advocated by the reformers and recently by Stier). Dr. Lange rightly sides with the former view, but gives it, in his own original way, the most comprehensive meaning, in accordance with his exposition of the δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ in Rom. 1:17; 3:26. (Comp. my annotations in the Comm. on Rom., pp. 74 f., 134 ff). To me it is very clear that the personal righteousness or absolute sinless perfection of Christ is meant, and not justification by faith (although this, of course, rests on the former), for the following reasons: 1. δικαιοσύνη is plainly the opposite to ἁμαρτία, and Christ is the subject of “righteousness,” as the world is the subject of “sin.” (Stier and Alford, who take δικ. in the sense of justification of the sinner, consistently make κόσμος the subject not only of ἁμαρτίας but also of δικαιοσύνης and κρίσεως, which is unnatural). The absolute holiness of Christ is the only full and proper antithesis to the sin of the world, which centres in unbelief, as the mother of sins from Adam’s disobedience down to the rejection of Christ in our day. 2. The explanatory ὅτι πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, etc., refers to Christ, not to us, and gives the proof of His righteousness, not ours. It was by the triumphant exaltation of Christ to the right hand of the Father and His invisible reign, that He, who had been sent to death as a “sinner,” yea as a blasphemer and impostor (John 18:30; 9:24), was vindicated by God Himself and demonstrated by the testimony of the Paraclete, through the apostles, as the δίκαιος, the pure and holy one (comp. Acts 2:33 ff.; 3:14; 7:52; Rom. 1:4; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 2:1, 29; 3:7). The other interpretation would require the mention of Christ’s expiatory death (comp. 6:51; 17:19), as the explanatory ground of justification, rather than His exaltation to glory. 3. John uses δικαιοσύνη always in its proper sense of righteousness (1 John 2:29; 3:7, 10; Rev. 19:11), not of justification, which corresponds to the Greek δικαίωσις—a term unknown to John’s vocabulary. 4. He expresses the Pauline idea of justification in opposition to condemnation not so much in its legal as in its moral aspects and in connection with its effects upon the soul by the familiar phrase: “He that believeth on Christ, hath eternal life” (John 3:16; 4:14; 5:24; 6:27, 40, 47; 12:50; 1 John 2:25; 5:11, 13).—It is perfectly true, however, that according to John as well as Paul, Christ’s righteousness becomes our righteousness by faith. Christ is the Lord our Righteousness. He did not come down to lead a holy life for Himself, for He was holy from eternity, but for our benefit, that we may become partakers of His righteousness, and so also sharers of His exaltation to the Father in glory. It is in this way that Archdeacon Hare, Dean Alford, and Bishop Words-worth endeavor to combine the two interpretations. “If the conviction of righteousness,” says Hare (p. 135 f.), “which the Spirit works in us, were merely the conviction of God’s righteousness, or of Christ’s, we could only fall to the ground with awestruck, palsied hearts: we could no more venture to look upon Christ, than the naked eye can look upon the sun. But when we are thoroughly convinced that Christ’s righteousness is our righteousness, the righteousness which He purposes to bestow upon mankind,—that He came to fulfil all righteousness, not for His own sake but for ours, in order that He might give us all that we lack out of His exceeding abundance,—then indeed a bright ray of joy and comfort darts through the heart, startling the frost-bound waters out of their yearlong sleep. Then the soul, which before was a wilderness and a solitary place, solitary, because God was far from it,—yea, the barren desert of the heart rejoices and blossoms like the rose. All its hidden powers, all its suppressed feelings, so long smothered by the unresisted blasts of the world, unfold like the rose-leaves before the Sun of Righteousness; and each and all are filled and transpierced with its gladdening, beautifying light.” Comp. also the note of Alford, who closely follows Stier.—P. S.]
John 16:11. With respect to judgment, etc. [περὶ δὲ κρίσεως, ὅτι ὁ ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου κέκριται].—Act the third. Elucidation of the judgment. The prince of this world appears therein as judged. The judgment executed upon the devil through the death and resurrection of Christ, is the central appearance of all God’s judgments in the history of the world until the end of the world; an appearance fully illuminated by means of the spiritual manifestation of the cross, or the accursed tree,—to which Satan brought Christ,—as the sign of victory. Thus the Holy Ghost subverts the old view of the world, which made misfortune and the cross a sign of reprobation, but held the momentarily successful issue of Satanic plots to be a sign of the favor “of heaven.” To that principiary judgment, consummated on the cross, the victory over the tempter in the wilderness (Matt. 4.), and that over the traitor in the midst of the disciples (John 13:30), were introductory: it must, however, as the consummation, be distinguished from those. This principiary consummated judgment has been in process of development throughout the world’s history ever since the time of Christ and shall become evident on that day when the world is judged.
[For a full and able practical exposition of this conviction of judgment see Hare’s fourth Sermon (pp. 162 ff.) and his ample notes. Luther is quite in his element here, when, in his bold, defiant, triumphant tone, he carries on as it were the word of God, and applies it to his own times. “Christ,” says he, “here speaks very grandly and boldly. Not only, He says, shall all emperors, kings, princes, or others, who rage against God’s word, be condemned along with their judgment, but the prince of this world himself, who has more might and strength in his little finger than all the world together. And the gospel shall not only be judge over flesh and blood, nay, not only over some of Satan’s angels or devils, but over the prince himself, who has the whole world mightily in his hands, and is the all-wisest, mightiest and thereto the all-fiercest enemy of God and His Christians, so that everything which is great, mighty and wicked among men is nothing in comparison with him….Therefore it behooves us not to dread or care for their judgment and condemnation, because we hear that it shall not harm us, but is already powerless, being condemned by God’s contrary judgment, so that they shall not work or effect anything against us, however fiercely they rage against us with their condemnation, persecution and murder, but must finally and forever remain under condemnation, which is passed against them both by God, and by us who judge after and by His word. And Christendom shall maintain the supreme judgment, and shall abide, as it has done hitherto, in spite of the devil and the world.” This is the same spirit that breathes in Luther’s “Ein’ feste Burg.”—P. S.]
John 16:12–15. The Holy Ghost as the Spirit of the development of Christianity, and of the revelation of the future.
John 16:12. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. [Ἔτι πολλὰ ἔχω λέγειν ὑμῖν, ἀλλ’ οὐ δύνασθε βαστάζειυ ἀρτι].—Ye cannot bear them now. Βαστάζειν. Cannot bear them mentally; i.e. in the first place, ye are intellectually unable to comprehend them; doubtless, however, it also means, ye are morally incapable of supporting them. What is Jesus’ meaning? Interpretations:
1. New articles of doctrine are intended. Tradition and its dogmas. Roman Catholic exegetes, Meyer also in measure. The latter does not pretend that the πολλά are specified, but he too conceives of the relation of new to old as additional (“for neither can we imagine the oral instruction of the Apostles to be fully set down in their Epistles”); he does not consider the new as an organic development of the old.
2. Sufferings to be endured by the disciples.
3. New forms of truth, in itself already familiar. Thomas Aquinas: “Non nova fidei mysteria, sed novo tantum modo (sc. altiori) docebit.”
4. New developments and applications of truth already known. Ancient Protestant interpretation, Lücke.
5. The entire ecclesiastical development of doctrine. Hegelian exegetes. Against this view Tholuck remarks: “The latter extension is manifestly in opposition to the context. Doubtless the promises made to the apostolic disciples, including those contained in the Sermon on the Mount and in Matt. 10, must admit of an application to the disciples generally;—they can, however, only relatively be thus applied; even Hofmann, II., 2, 245 ff., says in reality nothing more than this. Now the persons here addressed are none other than those μάρτυρες ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς, John 15:27, those to whom John 17:18 applies, for whom He prays first, John 17:9, reserving His petitions for other believers on Him until later, John 16:20.” Against the “development view” see Tholuck still further, p. 387. We agree with him in thinking that reference is not again had to the general development of Christian doctrine; that having already been treated of in John 14:26. Tholuck, with justice, directs attention to the expression: τὰ ἐρχόμενα ἀναγγελεῖ; the term ἀναγγελεῖ, be it observed, occurs three times in succession.
Hence 6. Christ has in view the apocalyptic disclosures of apostolic Christianity in its more developed stage; revelations, for instance, concerning the perfect emancipation of Christianity from Judaism, Acts 10, set forth also in the life of St. Paul, Eph. 3:8, 9; preëminently those eschatological revelations reposing upon evangelical premises, which appear in the Revelation of St. John, in the Epistles to the Thessalonians, Rom. 11:25; 1 Tim. 4:1. Thus Albertus M.: “Non solum futura in tempore, sed magis æterna, ad quorum amorem inflammabunt.” Tholuck. The æterna are not to be excluded, we admit; the ultima, however, occupy the foreground of the picture. Of course these proclamations of things to come are principially contained in the communications hitherto made to the disciples, especially in the eschatological discourses of the Lord. Nevertheless, the theocratic and apocalyptic revelations as subsequently received by the Apostles (Acts 10; 2 Thess. 2; the Apocalypse), constituted new matter in the development of the kingdom of God, never before revealed with such distinctness.
John 16:13. But when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into the whole (full) truth. [Ὅταν δὲ ἔλθῃ ἐκεῖνος, τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας, ὁδηγήσει ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν ἀλήθειαν πᾶσαν].—See the TEXTUAL NOTES. Lachmann’s reading suits the apocalyptic items of apostolic experience far better than does that of Tischendorf: ἐν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ πάσῃ. The emphatic position of πᾶσα is indicative of the new points of revelation.—On The Spirit of truth, see John 14:17.
[Rightly understood, this important passage proves the sufficiency of the Scriptures. The πᾶσαν after τ. ἀλ. expresses the truth in its completeness or totality; comp. John 16:22: τὴν κρίσιν πᾶσαν. The article is important: the whole truth, the full truth. The A. V. (into all truth), and all the preceding E. Versions, as also Luther in his G. V. (in alle Wahrheit, instead of die ganze or volle Wahrheit), miss the sense of the original by omitting the article. It is not omniscience or any kind of speculative or scientific truth which is promised, but the full knowledge of living, practical truth as it is in Christ, and as it relates to our soul’s salvation. The Bible is not a universal encyclopædia of knowledge, but an infallible guide of religious faith and moral practice. Luther corrects his faulty translation in his comments. “This truth,” he says, “which the Holy Spirit is to teach them, is not such a doctrine and knowledge as reason of itself can understand and hit upon…for the Holy Spirit and Christ’s Church do not concern themselves with things which are subject to man’s understanding and which belong to this temporal life and to worldly rule…but treat of far other matters, how God’s children are to be begotten out of sin and death unto righteousness and everlasting life, how God’s kingdom is to be established and the kingdom of hell to be destroyed, how we are to fight against the devil and to overcome him, how to cheer, strengthen and uphold faith, so that a man shall continue alive in the midst of death, and even under the consciousness of sin shall preserve a good conscience and the grace of God.” Alford: “All the truth, viz. on those points alluded to in John 16:12….The Lord had told them the truth and nothing but the truth, in spiritual things, but not yet the whole truth, because they could not bear it. This the Spirit should lead them into, open the way to it, and unfold it by degrees. No promise of universal knowledge, nor of infallibility, is hereby conveyed; but a promise to them and us, that the Holy Spirit shall teach and lead us, not as children, under tutors and governors of legal and imperfect knowledge, but as sons (Gal. 4:6), making known to us the whole truth of God. This was in a special manner fulfilled to them, as set to be the founders and teachers of the churches.”—Yet in a certain sense, the Spirit of God alone can lead us into all truth, even in temporal and human things, since the love of truth is inseparable from the love of God, and the perfect knowledge of truth from the knowledge of God, which comes from the Spirit of God, the true illuminator of the human intellect darkened and distorted by sin and its bosom companion, error. See some excellent remarks on this passage by Hare, 1. c. Note B., pp. 224 ff.—P. S.]
For He shall not speak of Himself. [Οὐ γὰρ λαλήσει ἀφ’ ἑαυτοῦ, ἀλλ’ ὃσα ἂν ἀκούει (ἀκούσῃ) λαλήσει, καὶ τὰ ἐρχόμενα ἀναγγελεῖ ὑμῖν].—See above John 14:26. Luther: “Thus He imposeth a limit and measure (a basis and principle) to the preaching of the Holy Ghost Himself; He is to preach nothing new, nothing other than Christ and His Word;—to the end that we might have a sure sign, a certain test, whereby to judge false spirits.” Thus the Spirit is conditioned by the Son, as the Son is by the Father, John 5:19.
Whatsoever He hath heard [heareth; on the different readings, ἀκούει, ἀκούσῃ, ἀκούσει, see TEXT. NOTES.—P. S.].—I.e. such historical things as He, as the Spirit of believers and of the Church, has heard from Christ, either directly or indirectly: 1. Heard from Christ (Olshausen, Kling, etc.); 2. from God (Meyer); 3. from both (Luthardt [Alford, Godet]). A hearing from God on the part of the Spirit, a hearing independent of history, is not a clear idea at all; it would, moreover, set the revelation of the Spirit, as a separate one, by the side of that of the Son.—Things to come.—See notes on John 16:12. [Tὰ ἐρχόμενα are especially the eschatological doctrines scattered through the Acts and the Epistles and most fully in the Apocalypse; see Rev. 1:1; 22:6, 20.—P. S.]
[John 16:14. He will glorify me, ἐκεῖνος ἐμὲ δοξάσει.—The Son reveals and glorifies the Father, the Spirit reveals and glorifies the Son. ἐκεῖνος is emphatic and clearly implies, as this whole discourse does, the personality of the Holy Spirit, ἐμέ is also emphatic. The Spirit alone gives us a living knowledge of Christ as our Lord and Saviour, and makes us partakers of His very life and all His benefits. The sole aim of the Son is to glorify the Father, the sole aim of the Spirit to glorify the Son. A mysterious rivalry, so to speak, of divine love, whose very essence is to do all for the beloved. How much more should man’s sole aim and end be to glorify God.—P. S.]
For He will take of what is Mine [ὃτι ἐκ τοῦ ἐμοῦ λήμψεται καὶ ἀναγγελεῖ ὑμῖν].—This, too, in reference to what the Spirit shall proclaim. Everything that shall appear until the arrival of the great Epiphany, is not only actually enclosed in Christ, but also germinally expressed in His word. [Alford. “This verse is decisive against all additions and pretended revelations subsequent to and besides Christ; it being the work of the Spirit to testify and to declare the things of Christ, not anything new and beyond Him. And this declaration is coincident with inward advance in the likeness and image of Christ (2 Cor 3:17, 18), not with a mere external development.” Comp. also Wordsworth in loc.—P. S.]
John 16:15. All things that the Father hath, etc. [Πάντα ὃσα ἔχει ό πατήρ, ἐμά ἐστιν̇ διὰ τοῦτο εἶπον ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ ἐμοῦ λαμβάνει καὶ ἀναγγελεῖ ὑμῖν].—As the entire ante-Christian revelation of the Father, through the medium of the creation and the Old Testament, is embraced in Christ (Col. 2:3, 9; 2 Cor. 1:20), so Christ is also the source of the entire post-Christian development of the new world until the Epiphany, together with all the revelations concerning that advent. Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever, Heb. 13:8.
[Here again, as in John 15:26, we have an incidental, but all the more convincing argument for the Trinity, both in its internal relation, as a living intercommunion and interpenetration of Father, Son, and Spirit in self-communicating infinite love, and in its external, self-revealing action upon the world for its salvation. The essential unity of Father, Son, and Spirit is implied in πάντα—ἐμά ἐστιν and ἐκ τοῦ ἐμοῦ, the tripersonality is clearly taught in the verbs ἔχει of the Father, εὶπον of the Son, λαμβάνει and ἀναγγελεῖ of the Spirit. Christ distinguishes Himself both from the Father and from the Spirit, and yet claims the whole fulness of the Father (πάντα ὅσα ἔχει), as His own (comp. Col. 2:3), and communicates His fulness to the Spirit. The unlimited πάντα reveals His consciousness of the astounding grandeur of His person and mediatorial work. At the same time we must infer from this passage a certain subordination, not indeed of essence (for this is one and the same, and is incapable of division or multiplication), but of dignity and office; for the Son derives His life from the Father (comp. John 5:26 ἔδωκεν τ υἱῶ ζωὴν ἕχειν ἐν ἑαυτῷ), and the Spirit takes and receives His fulness from the Son. The present λαμβάνει (the true reading against λήψεται of Elz., which is a correction from John 16:14) indicates a standing relation and permanent function, which necessarily precedes the future ἀναγγελεῖ and refers, like the future δοξάσει and λήμψεται, John 16:14, to the economical Trinity, the pentecostal and post-pentecostal action of the Spirit in His relation to the exalted Saviour and to the Church. Calvin correctly: “Hic non tam de arcana et intrinseca, ut sic loquar, potentia disserit guam de injuncto sibi erga nos officio. Denique suas divitias prædicat, ut nos ad fruendum invitet.” Olshausen: “This passage has special importance for the proper conception of the Scripture doctrine of the Trinity (comp. Matt. 28:19), in that it clearly exhibits the living, interexistence of Father, Son and Spirit, and is equally opposed to the Arian subordination and to a mechanical, wooden, though orthodox co-ordination of the persons of the trias.” Meyer explains the whole passage: “I have a full right to designate the divine truth which He (the Spirit) will reveal as My property, for all which the Father has, i.e., according to the context, the whole possession of the truth of the Father (der gesammte Wahrheitsbesitz des Vaters) belongs to Me as the Son who was in intuitive communion with the Father (1:18), who came out from the Father (8:42), who am consecrated (10:30) and sent to fulfil His work, who also continually live and move in the Father and the Father in Me (17:10). Observe the emphatic and comprehensive πάντα ὃσα, as the major proposition to the conclusion from the general to the particular; hence the less to be restricted to the announcement of the future (with Grotius and Hengstenberg).” Alford: “This verse contains the plainest proof by inference of the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity.”—P. S.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The first subject which has engaged our attention is the relation which the disciples sustain to the departure of the Lord, chap. 13. In reference to this the καινὴ ἐντολή is given them. Then follows an intimation of relation to the Lord in heaven. In view of that, they have received the promise of the Holy Ghost; first as the Spirit of Christ and the Church in general, subsequently as the Spirit of knowledge and enlightenment, chap 14. By means of this Spirit they are to abide in Christ, like the branches in the vine, in order to the production of true fruit. In order, first, to the production of brotherly love, the specific fruit of Christianity. This brings us to a consideration of the mutual relationship of the disciples, and, further, to their attitude towards the ungodly hatred of the world. In view of this latter, the Holy Ghost is promised them, as the Spirit of martyr faithfulness, chap 15:26–16:6 After which, their relation to the divine destiny of the world is treated of. In order to the realization of this, the Spirit of victorious strength, mighty to the overcoming of the world, is promised them, chap 16:7–11. Finally, the discourse turns upon their relation to the development of Christianity in the world and the development of the world in Christianity, a process to continue until the consummation of all things. In reference to this last-named relationship, they receive the promise of the Spirit of apocalyptical annunciation, chap 16:12–16. It is then promised them that they shall celebrate a new life in spiritual communion with Christ, chap 16:17–27, and in conclusion the Lord bestows upon them a momentary foretaste of the Pentecostal feast, with a view to strengthening them for His departure, chap 16:28–33.
2. Chapter 15 contains a dissertation upon the glorification of this present life through its conversion into an heavenly one, by means of that spiritual fellowship with the heavenly Christ which is enjoyed by the disciples here. This heavenly life shall be revealed in a two-fold manner: (1) by the cordial brotherly love and fellowship of Christians; (2) by the fact that they, by their spiritual life, excite the hatred of the whole ungodly world, yet manfully stand their ground against it and overcome it with the testimony of Christ, in the strength of the Holy Spirit.
3. CHRIST THE REAL VINE. Earthly things mere shadows and similitudes of heavenly realities.—The most prominent symbols of Israel in the Old Testament are the palm tree (see Ps. 92:12), the olive tree (Jer. 11:16), and especially the vine, or the vineyard (see Gen. 49:11; Is. 5:1 and the New Testament parallels; Jer. 2:21; Ezek. 17:6, 7, 8, etc.). The vine, first cultivated and improved by Noah, though he was not the first to drink of its fruit (Matt. 24:38; see Calwer Naturgeschichte), was especially fitted to be the symbol of Israel by the contrast of its insignificant appearance and its fine and generous nature (baseness and dignity); by the contrast of its immense need of culture and training and its generous fruit which not only refreshes, but inspirits man; by the contrast of its useless, dead wood and the fulness of blessing which waits upon its living branches; by the fair shade of its magnificent leaves, the sweet perfume of its delicate blossoms, the healthful, even healing refreshment of its generous clusters, the festive effect of its juice and its wine upon the human intellect and heart (Ps. 104); by the contrast of its natural tendency to put forth its strength in luxuriant branches and its tendency when under cultivation, to bear rich fruit; finally, by the contrast of its misgrowth as evidenced by sour, wild grapes and its thriftiness as evinced in sweet, ripe clusters. But being the symbol of Israel, it is also, together with Israel itself, the symbol of the New Testament kingdom of God. Hence Christ is the real Vine in respect of His connection with mankind, in particular, the believing portion of mankind, the Theocracy, the kingdom of God, the Church. In this figure there appears the true idea of the universe, and particularly of the kingdom of God. It is a noble plant; hence it demands the care which we perceive to have been exercised by divine Providence in the history of the world, and it is destined to bring to maturity the precious fruit of refreshment to the human heart, the fruit of the divine and blessed life of love, the fruit of heavenly, festal mirth and joy attendant upon that life. But the simile, as enlarged upon in the text, will be our best informant as to the manifold relations of the life of Christ, adumbrated in the symbol of the vine. Believers are regarded as the branches, in respect of their close connection with the Lord. Their need of suffering finds a parallel in the demand of the branches for the pruning knife. Their remaining in the Vine is considered as a remaining in it, not in respect of the external connection of the wood simply, but in respect of the internal connection consisting in the fruit-bearing impulse; in view of this latter connection, the wild wood on the vine itself is degenerate and must needs be lopped off. Finally, the exceeding combustibility of the withered branches which have been cut off, is taken into consideration. See the EXEGETICAL NOTE.
It is worthy of remark still further, that the figure of the Vine has not the following for its meaning alone: viz. the Father hath planted Christ in mankind; its full sense is this: He hath made Him the foundation of mankind and the world; He hath made Him the principle and the centre of them. It is apparent at once that the parable has a special bearing upon the contrast of the disciples who have remained faithful, and Judas.
The figure of the Vine and the Branches is supplemented in reference to other of Christ’s relations to His people, by the symbols of the Shepherd and the Flock, the Head and the Members, the Corner-stone and the Stones built upon it, the Bridegroom and the Bride.
4. Without Me ye can do nothing. The Christian life is so entirely dependent upon Christ, so entirely and organically dependent, that a man can accomplish nothing Christ-like and God-like without the most cordial connection with Christ. We might go still further and affirm: without the Logos no man can do anything at all, not so much as exist (Heb. 1:3); but here we are speaking of a doing of the Vine. And as, on the one hand, this doing is purely dependent on Christ, so, on the other hand, it is an organic co-living, co-working with the Vine, not a mere efficiency through mechanical impulsion. The passage is, in truth, utterly subversive of the views entertained by Pelagius; at the same time, however, it does not confirm the Augustine doctrine in its extravagances.
5. Love is the source of the Vine and its history. The love of the Father to the Son appears in the figure of the Vine-tiller who has planted the Vine and tendeth it; the love of the Son to the disciples is revealed in His appropriation of them to Himself as His branches and His communication to them of His heart’s life. They must prove themselves to be true branches by fruits of love. Christ now adds warnings to the consolations hitherto presented by Him.
6. But as the fire of the grape is evinced by its producing a joyous enthusiasm, so the fire of Christ’s love is manifested in the joy of His Holy Spirit; and it is designed to be manifested as the spirit of joy in and through the disciples also, John 15:11–17. First as a mutual brotherly love. It is conjointly only that the single clusters, the single branches, make the wine of joy.
7. Abide in My love.—I.e., continue to experience and contemplate My love. This is the idea of justification by faith. It is conditional upon the keeping of Christ’s commandments, i.e. obedience to His word. The justification of the disciples, John 15:9, rests in the righteousness of Christ, John 15:10. They develop in perfect joy, or in the life of the Holy Ghost and the fruits of brotherly love. See Note on clause 2 of John 15:10.
8. Love, as joy in personal life (a prototype of that rapture which is the effect of the vine, Ps. 104.), is exercised in the centering of a man’s aspirations upon the living of a life in the Spirit, hence, also, upon the perfect joy of a mind fully conscious of fellowship with God and Christ, and of the possession of eternal life in the kingdom of love.
9. The farewell discourses a foretaste of the Pentecostal feast. See Note on John 15:15.
10. Servant and friend. See Notes on John 15:14 and 15.
11. Love being the gravitation of hearts and minds, in personal conduct, towards the centre of all personal life, it is thence evidenced that it is a fundamental characteristic of the world to hate, for, as an ungodly world, it gravitates, with a perverted force, toward the finite, toward things impersonal or unsubstantial, out into darkness and into the midst of death. Hate stands in the centre of evil betwixt falsehood and death, just as love occupies the centre of good between light and life. And as these last three characteristics are the fundamental traits of Christ, so, in like manner, the first three are the characteristics of the Prince of this world (John 8:44) and, hence, of the world itself. Now if its peculiar propensity be to hate, it is natural that this propensity, diametrically opposed as it is to the Spirit of Christ, should first attain to full development by feeding upon Him and then spend itself upon the disciples.
12. The consummation of sin, in view of the word of Christ, John 15:22. Unbelief the second fall.
13. Promise of the Holy Ghost (see Note to John 15:26). The disciples have need of Him: (1) that they may not be overcome by the hatred of the world; (2) that they may overcome the world with the Spirit of love.
14. The shame and sufferings of Christ fraught, for His disciples, with the peril of becoming offended at Him; a peril made manifest in its full magnitude by the night of passion; rendered impotent, however, as far as His people were concerned, by His warning proclamation. See Note to chap. 16, John 16:1.
15. Christ must needs go away, in order that the Holy Ghost might come. His departure was not necessary, as some might think, simply because He had to send Him, for He was perfectly able to summon Him hither while Himself still abiding in this world; it was necessary that His disciples should, from viewing Him with the eye of sense, come to look upon Him with the eye of the spirit; that they should pass from a contemplation of separate details of His life to the view of it as a total. He must be completely withdrawn from them, in order to become fully alive in them and to be formed in them. They must first despair utterly of His external glory, before His inward and eternal glory could arise upon them.—They must be completely submerged in the depths of their inner selves, in order that they might be fully translated into Him. See Leben Jesu, II. 1379.
16. The personality of the Holy Spirit. The three great operations of the Holy Ghost at His coming. See Notes on John 16:8–11.
17. The work of the Holy Ghost in its relation to the work of Christ. See Notes on John 16:12, 13. On the theological distinction of four offices of the Holy Ghost see works on doctrinal theology.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Christ’s parable of the Vine, and its interpretation: 1. As expressive of the Christian’s cordial, vital fellowship with Christ; 2. of his faithful fellowship of love with the brethren; 3. of his firm fellowship of salvation with the hating world; 4. of his victorious spiritual fellowship with the Holy Ghost.—Heavenly things not symbols of earthly things, but the converse.—How does Christ found His heaven upon earth?—Saying concerning the Vine: 1. The Vinedresser and His ministry; 2. the Vine and its operations; 3. the branches and their work; 4. the fruit and its effect.—he genuine and the false branches, or the difference between a merely extrinsic connection with Christ and a lively connection, grounded within, at the same time that it is outwardly evident.—The solemn position of the Christian in the figure of the branch: 1. Dependence upon Christ is the condition of his life (without Me, etc.); 2. he must be purged by the Father’s knife (John 15:2); 3. he may lapse from his connection with the Vine and go to destruction (may run wild, be lopped off, cast away, dried up, gathered, burnt); 4. he must evidence his branchhood by the noblest fruit.—The solemn and glorious position of the Christian in the figure of the branch: 1. The solemn position: see the foregoing remarks; 2. the glorious position: a. a planting of God, an object upon which God’s eye ever rests; b. one with Christ in a historical and spiritual connection; a partaker in His salvation and His Spirit; c. one with all the faithful in the communion of salvation and the Spirit; d. destined to refresh and rejuvenate the fainting world in her sickness and hour of death.—The wine of love is designed to inspire the world, worn out with hatred, with new vigor.—The great and decisive difference between true and false branches: 1. The outward semblance of similarity (or the semblance of superiority on the part of the wild shoots); 2. the inward difference: a. these spend themselves in the finest and most precious fruit, those in the most useless wood; b. these kindle a beautiful fire of life, those are consumed in the flame of death.—As the vine is more a child of the heavenly sun than of the earthly soil, so is the Christian.
The abiding in Christ: 1. Whereby conditioned: the keeping of His commandments, i.e. the preservation of His word in the obedience of faith; 2. Wherein consisting: in abiding in the contemplation and experience of His love; 3. How blessed: with the blessing of the word, with the blessing of prayer, with the blessing of the work, of joy, of the Spirit.—Christ’s love to His people, the model for their brotherly love: 1. The greatness of His love (in laying down His life); 2. the cordiality and intimacy of His love (friends); 3. the freedom of His love (chosen you); 4. the holiness of His love (established you that ye might bring forth fruit).—It is only in the faithful exercise of brotherly love that Christians overcome the hatred of the world.—The attitude of Christians towards the hatred of the world: 1. They think on the experience of the Lord (clear view); 2. on their vocation (valiant imitation); 3. on the guilt of the world (steadfastness in being hated without a cause); 4. on the Holy Ghost’s office as Witness (faithful martyrdom).—The world’s hatred of witnesses of the Gospel: 1. A hatred of Christ; 2. a hatred of the Father; 3. a suicidal hatred of the cause of her own life.—The flight of the world before the power of personal life: 1. From the truth of it (Pantheism); 2. from the demonstration of it (unbelief of the Gospel); 3. from the founding of it (turning away from the love-kingdom of Christianity).—The witness-ship of the faithful in the witness-strength of the Holy Ghost: 1. This witness-ship calls for this witness-strength; 2. this witness-strength demands this witness-ship.—The Lord’s warning against offence at His shame and cross.—The excommunication and outlawry to which the world sentences the witnesses of Jesus: 1. In a (brutal or polished) secular form; 2. in ecclesiastical form; 3. in a sectarian form.—That ye may remember, John 15:4.
Christ’s home-going in its two-fold effect upon the disciples: 1. In its deeply distressing effect upon their natural feeling; 2. in its highly exalting effect upon their life of faith.—The departure of the first Comforter, the arrival of the second.—Why must it be that Christ must go away? See the DOCT. and ETH. NOTES.—The infinitely quiet and secret, and yet all-powerful, victorious entry of the Holy Ghost into the world.—His office 1. In the world: an office of attesting, convincing, reproving and judging; 2. In the Church: an office of guiding, explaining, revealing, and of glorifying Christ.
The convincing and convicting of the world: 1. In respect of its subject: a. of the one sin in which all sins are embraced; b. of the one righteousness wherein all righteousness is manifested and fulfilled; c. of the one judgment in which all judgments are decided and grounded. 2. In respect of its effect: the convincement of men’s opinions, minds, consciences, hearts.
How the Holy Ghost loads the children of truth into all truth: 1. He leads them, not away from Christ (roving, visionary spirits), but unto Christ (Spirit of the Church); 2. He adheres to gospel words and facts and explains them (whatsoever He shall hear); 3. He unfolds what there is of a prophetic nature in Christian truth—the love of the future; 4. He glorifies the Christ to come in the present of the Church’s life.—The Holy Ghost as the Mediator of the perfect community of possessions existing between Christ and Christians.—How He conducts them into the whole inheritance of God, John 15:15.
On the Gospel for the Sunday after Ascension Day, John 15:26–16:4. Pray for the coming of the Spirit when the hatred of the world arrays itself against you.—For this hottest of temptations, God affords help by the sending of the Holy Spirit.—The martyrdom of Christians begins simultaneously with the true Christianity of the Spirit.—The coming of the Holy Ghost considered with reference to the riches of His names: 1. The (other) Mediator; 2. the (other) Helper; 3. the (other) Awakener; 4. the (other) Comforter.—The marvellous coming of the Comforter: 1. How it adds new sufferings to the old ones (the sufferings of the martyrs); 2. how it transforms the old sufferings together with the new ones into joy.—The martyrdom of true Christianity and the inquisition of false.—The ban of the sanctuary and the ban of fanaticism.—The cross of patience and the cross as the standard of persecution (crusades against the Albigenses and Waldenses).—The horrible festivals of faith of religious persecutions (autos-da-fe: in a broader sense “festivals of faith”).—The perseverant patience of the Saints.
On the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday after Easter, chap 16:5–15. The sending of the Holy Ghost: 1. Dependent upon a painful condition (the departure of Christ); 2. glorious in its intrinsic value (victory over the world); 3. heavenly in its aim (the communion of the Holy Ghost, the glorification of Christ, the communion of goods with the Father).—As all the sad moments in the life of Jesus have been changed into joyful ones, so it is with His departure: 1. How this holds good with regard to all the earlier moments (His birth in poverty, His pilgrimage under the form of a servant, His death on the cross); 2. and how it is specially applicable to His going home through the medium of His departure from earth.—The Ascension, viewed under its two-fold aspect: 1. Wrapped in the gloom of Good Friday,—one with Good Friday; 2. bathed in the light of Easter and Pentecost,—one with Easter and Pentecost.—Christ’s going away—or not until Christ went away, did He come to us in His most glorious form.—How the Lord meets His disciples’ extreme depression (which does not so much as venture the question: Whither goest Thou?) with the loftiest elevation of His spirit (the word: It is expedient for you).—Weaning of the babes of the Spirit, John 16:7.—Wonderful relation between Christ and the Holy Ghost: 1. Christ must go in order that the Spirit may come; 2. the Spirit is not permitted to speak of Himself, to the end that Christ may remain.—The office of the Comforter an office of reproving: 1. True reproof as a comforting: 2. true consolation as a reproving.—The operations of the Spirit: 1. In the world (John 16:8–11); 2. in the Church (John 16:12–15).
STARKE: ZEISIUS: Just as a vine-dresser treateth his vine, doth the Heavenly Father deal with the Lord Christ in His bitter afflictions, and He dealeth even thus, in measure, with all His faithful people.—LUTHER: God is a Master who possesseth the art of making things that are meant for our hindrance and injury turn to our advancement and profit; whatsoever would kill us, must conduce to our life; whatsoever would plunge us into sin and condemn us, must aid in strengthening our faith and hope, in adding power to our prayer, and bounty to the answering of it.—HEDINGER: If God lay not the knife to the vine, its strength is consumed in useless shoots.—The word of the gospel the blessed means of bringing men to a condition of purification.—ZEISIUS: O the dignity, O the glory, of being a branch on the living Vine!—Love and obedience are bound up together.—CANSTEIN: The love of God, of Christ and of a Christian maketh a three-fold cord that never can be broken.—O inexpressible felicity, to be exalted to the friendship of God!—HEDINGER: Christ will have no forced selection of men, no soldiers by compulsion, no timorous slaves, but children, brethren, friends.—CANSTEIN: The dignity of being God’s friend, James 2:3. Rom. 8:15.—The gospel does not make slaves, but freemen, children, heirs.—On John 15:16. Grace doth in all things anticipate us.—1 Pet. 2:12, 16.—Blessed is the man whom God loveth, though the whole world hate him.;—A Christian is a cross-bearer.—The member must conform to the example of the Head.
John 15:23. That which is done to the Lord Jesus and His members, be it good or evil, is done unto God Himself.
John 15:24. The greater unbelief, the heavier damnation.—LUTHER: There is no vice and no wickedness to which the world is so inimical as to the name of Christ and His gospel.
John 15:27. A Christian should bear witness to Christ by word and by confession, by his life and walk, and by suffering, and that with a single view to God’s honor.
On John 16:1; Luke 8:13.—ZEISIUS: As Cain persecuted Abel, so the false Church still persecutes the true, so misbelievers still persecute true believers, hypocrites and mouth-Christians those who are Christians in sincerity, Gal. 4:29.
John 16:5. Ibid.: The whole Christian life a constant going to the Father.
John 16:8. HEDINGER: The Spirit is not idle.—ZEISIUS: Everything, from the highest to the lowest, is subject to the Holy Ghost in His office of Reprover.—The reproving office of the Holy Ghost is as necessary to men as salt is to meat.
John 16:9. Unbelief is a sin such as reason knows nothing of; the Holy Ghost must make it manifest.—Unbelief a cause of all sin, distress and misery in time and eternity.
John 16:12. CANSTEIN: Faithful preachers must, in the execution of their office, have regard to the condition of their hearers, that they may discover what they are able to comprehend.
HEUBNER: Spiritual strength flows from Christ into believers as really as sap from the stem penetrates into the branches.—The Father, the efficient cause of the entire redemptive provision in Christ; He hath set and planted and tended Christ.—Pruning is painful; it is effected by grievous trials, but it is good and salutary, more blessed than to be lopped off and cast away.
John 15:6. If it is a sad and menaceful thing to see one’s physical strength declining, and sensibly to draw nearer dissolution, what must spiritual consumption and decay be.
John 15:7. Steadfast abiding in Jesus: Jesus calls it the hearing of prayer, because everything in a man who has a living religion, turns to prayer—his thoughts, etc.—Jesus’ friendship the reward of the faithful.
John 15:15. A notable test of friendship—not to be making many presents, but to open the heart, to give that; that is more than to bestow all riches.—My openness towards another is a decisive mark of the confidence that I place in him. Jesus revealed to the apostles whatsoever He had heard from the Father; His most sacred thoughts, emotions, sentiments, therefore—the whole counsel of God.
John 15:1–16. The cordial and intimate connection of Jesus with His people.
John 15:17–27. An exhortation to patience even amidst persecutions.
John 15:17. The very commands of Jesus are love.—It is a great consolation for a persecuted, hated Christian to know that he has a like fate with Jesus. There is then, thus teaches Christ, a hatred towards Him, an antipathy to His person. To imagine that these were possible only in the case of personal acquaintance with Jesus, would be to judge superficially. Hate has an intellectual spring in intellectual beings; to this day there exists hatred toward Jesus.
John 15:27. And ye also shall bear witness. This passage is manifestly discriminative of a double testimony of the Apostles: a divine and a human testimony (inspired testimony and that founded upon what had come under their own observation).
John 16:1, 2. A description of the sufferings of the first confessors of Christ, in particular, the martyrs (in the note, p. 457); a register of the histories of the martyrs.—Are religious persecutions to be laid to the charge of Christianity? No.—Religion, the supreme good, is exposed to the utmost abuse; to the danger of being made a cloak for malice and hate and the shedding of blood.—Gospel far the Sunday after Ascension Day: John 15:26–16:4.—How Christ has been glorified in His Apostles. The call of the ancient martyrs to the later Christian world.—John 16:6. There is a true and a false grief at separation from our friends.
John 16:5–15. The divine enlightenment of the Apostles a fruit of Christ’s departure.—Brotherly correction a duty of love.—The ministry of reproof of Christian teachers.
GERLACH: The glorification of God centres in the prosperity of the Church of Christ.—The redeemed disciple is Jesus’ friend, without thereby ceasing to be His servant (that he is then, however, in a higher sense).—Chap. 16. He will not speak of Himself. These words are an irrefragable testimony to the personality of the Holy Ghost.
BRAUNE: Everything that one friend can say to another concerning the spirit of the Christian Church, concerning the harmony in which she must live, her purity of morals, activity in love and increasing illumination, concerning the confidence which she must needs possess, and her separation from the wrong, is here uttered in the trustful tone of parting love (Herder).—Purification is not effected without pain; even vine-branches are said “to bleed,” when they are pruned.—Only let no breach be made in the bond of peace through vain glory or wrangling; else will prayer in Jesus’ name be hindered, everything will become worm-eaten and go to destruction (Rieger).—On John 16:2.
John 16:7. It is expedient for you that I go away. A saying of wondrous magnitude.—The Spirit’s work in regard to the world is comprised in the threefold operation of impressing her with a consciousness of sin, a consciousness of the holiness of Christ, the Redeemer from all sin, a consciousness of the impotence of the Wicked One; a conviction of the latter fact is adverse to the establishment of the devil’s kingdom.
GOSSNER, John 15:2: Something must show itself; faithfulness must be evidenced; otherwise, if there be no result at all, a heavy judgment of God ensues.—Persecutors of Christians do not themselves constitute the vine-dresser; they are but pruning-knives; God is the Vine-dresser who guides the knife and casts it into the fire when it has entirely served His purpose (after Luther).
John 15:3. Through the word; The branches derive their holiness (purity) from the Vine.—Everywhere are all things ascribed to the word; not alone purification, as in this passage, but 1 Pet. 1:23 regeneration, Jas. 1:18, 21 the whole of salvation.
John 15:4. This, the spiritual indwelling of Christ in us, is all-important.
John 15:20. Either we must not profess to be servants of Christ, or we must put up with His cross. A good servant will not sit in the chimney-corner whilst his master’s life is in jeopardy.
John 15:24. Men do not care to have the name of haters of God, enemies of God; yet nevertheless, they put that name in practice in their works.
John 15:26, 27. There are in the Church two inseparable witnesses for Jesus Christ: His Spirit and His word.
John 16:2. This hour, when it is thought to be a species of religious service to persecute the truth and the witnesses for the truth,—this hour is come; it is, and it shall cease only with the end of the world.—Since the rise of the Spanish Inquisition, it has burnt, from the year 1481 to 1808, no less than 34,358 Christians in person and 10,049 in effigy, etc.—Unbelief. And so this or that thing is not the sin that damns thee. The Holy Ghost says: this is the sin,—that thou believest not on Jesus; this condemns thee.
John 16:13. Such is the double office of the Holy Ghost: first He reproves and corrects, then He leads and guides, as a mother does her child.—All parties and sects, all speakers and gabblers, insist upon it that they have the Holy Ghost, and consequently demand that belief should be accorded to their words. But if we grasp for support these words of Jesus, we can repel them all, etc. Do but compare what they say with the word of Christ.
SCHLEIERMACHER: Concerning the purifying—purging—of the branches. The Lord has shown us in these words the uninterrupted progress of the Christian Church in purification, presupposing, at the same time, its continual development.—Clean for the word’s sake; It is the whole connection of His words, a connection discoverable, of course, in every individual word of His.—The word was the only means by which He could unite men to Himself, just as it is our sole power of communication with each other.—If we would not be involved in the destiny of being sundered from connection with the divine and higher life, and of being profitable only through the ashes that remain of us—if we would not have it so, then must this be the great rule of our whole life: without me ye can do nothing.—The Lord here abolishes all those distinctions, so often made by men, between things spiritual and secular, things temporal and eternal. In whatever sphere of life we may be, our work, if done without Christ, is nothing; and its nothingness shall ever become more and more manifest. There is no strength or fruitfulness in aught without Him.—The Comforter in His stead. In all who believe on the name of the Lord, the strength of truth is to become a life and a continual activity, proper and peculiar to themselves. For this cause His bodily, personal presence must be withdrawn, to the end that, with the help and through the strength of the divine Spirit, all things that Christ had given them might develop into a peculiar (personal) life,—a life independently self-communicative and filling the whole human world with the same blessing.
BESSER: If the devil’s ill-will were the only thing needful, he would soon lay his knife to our throats and stifle us with his manure and the stench of it. But God taketh him in his hand and saith: Devil, I know well that thou art a murderer and miscreant, but I will make such use of thee as I will; thou shall be but My pruning-knife; the world and all that cleaveth unto thee shall be dung for My beloved vineyard, that it may prosper and improve (Luther).—If thou wilt not suffer the evil to be taken away from thee, thou wilt have to suffer thyself to be taken away (Bengel).—To abide—that is the whole. Constancy, says Bernard, is the king’s daughter, the sum of the virtues and the perfection of them, etc. But what an affable and friendly command is this of His: Abide in Me.—The vine may live without the branches, and, instead of one that is cut off, may put forth three fresh ones, but the branch can not live without the vine.—Casting away, drying up, gathering, throwing into the fire, burning, are the five degrees of that judgment whose execution is dependent upon the long-suffering of God.—John is the faithful minister of the Comforter in the three grand departments of the latter: through his Gospel he reproves [convicts] the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment, through his Epistles he guides it into all truth, through his Revelation he proclaims things to come.
On the Gospel for the Sunday after Ascension Day, John 15:26–16:24. SCHULTZ: What should be the conduct of the true Christian when experiencing the world’s enmity to the kingdom of God.—RAMBACH: The persecutions of Christianity as a loud-tongued testimony to its worth.—GRUENEISEN: That our testimony and that of the Spirit belong together.—FLOREY: How edifying for us the memory of the martyrs of the first centuries of Christianity.—MUELLENSIEFEN (Zeugnisse von Christo, 1st collection, p. 101): Testimony to Christ: 1. How the Holy Ghost testifies of Christ; 2. how we, through the Holy Ghost, should testify of Christ.—KAPFF: The promise of the Holy Ghost: 1. How definitely bestowed by the Lord; 2. how much needed by us; 3. to whom fulfilled.—AHLFELD: The Holy Ghost is to testify of Christ, 1. in us; 2. through us.—STIER: The Holy Ghost’s testimony to Christ: 1. How necessary for the world it was and is; 2. how it has really existed in the Church throughout all ages; 3. how it may and ought to be given through us also.—STEINHOFER: The government which, from His throne, the Lord Jesus exercises amongst men on earth: He leads us, 1. by His Spirit; 2. amidst the contradictions of the world; 3. to the glory of Himself and His Father.
On the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday after Easter, John 16:5–15. DRAESEKE: Let not your heart be full of mourning.—HOSSBACH: The Redeemer’s glorification in us through the Holy Ghost.—REINHARD: That God’s Spirit reproves the world in our days just as emphatically as He ever did.—GÖRWITZ: What is requisite to make us regard our departure from the world as a going home to the Father?—W. HOFFMANN (“Ruf zum Herrn”): The Holy Ghost testifies ofJesus; that is the beginning of His ministry to the world; He glorifies Jesus; that is the end and aim of His ministry to the believer.—STEINHOFER: The three principal things in which the Holy Ghost’s operation and work upon the hearts of men appear. He labors at man’s heart for the purpose of convincing him, 1. on account of sin, 2. on account of righteousness, 3. on account of judgment.—FUCHS: What consolation have we at the departure of our loved ones who have fallen asleep in the Lord?—AHLFELD: Rejoice ye at the arrival of the Comforter; 1. Rejoice for the sake of Him who sendeth Him; 2. rejoice for the sake of what He doeth.—HEUBNER: The vocation of every true Christian, to reprove the world: 1. What is demanded by this vocation; 2. what binds us to it; 3. what renders us fit for it.—BURK: Want of faith in Jesus (Christ) the greatest, nay, the one only sin.—RAUTENBERG: It is good for you that I go away; A strong word of consolation: 1. from the mouth of the Redeemer; 2. from the mouths of departing redeemed ones.—Ibid.; That we are still unable to bear as much as the Lord hath to say to us.—HARLESS: The Holy Ghost’s testimony against the world, at once reproof and comfort.
[CRAVEN: From HILARY: Ch. 15. John 15:1, 2. The useless and deceitful branches He cuts down for burning.—By pruning the branches we make the tree shoot out the more.—Ch. 16. John 15:15. This unity hath no diversity; nor doth it matter from whom the thing is received, since that which is given by the Father is counted also as given by the Son.—From AUGUSTINE: Ch. 15 John 15:1. He says this as being the Head of the Church, of which we are the members, the Man Christ Jesus; for the vine and the branches are of the same nature.
John 15:2 God’s culture consists in extirpating all the seeds of wickedness from our hearts; in opening our hearts to the plough of His Word; in sowing in us the seeds of His commandments; in waiting for the fruits. of piety; [and in pruning.]—Every branch; who is there so clean that he cannot be more and more changed? He cleanseth the clean, i. e. the fruitful, that the cleaner they be, the more fruitful they may be.
John 15:3. Christ performs the part of the husbandman as well as of the vine.
John 15:4. Abide in Me and I in you—not they in Him as He in them; the branches do not confer any advantage upon the vine, but receive their support from it.—As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, etc. Great display of grace! He strengtheneth the hearts of the humble, stoppeth the mouth of the proud.—He who thinks he bears fruit in himself is not in the vine; he who is not in the vine is not in Christ; he who is not in Christ is not a Christian.
John 15:5. Without Me ye can do nothing; He does not say, Ye can do little.—Much fruit; Christ, though He would not be the vine, except He were man, yet could not give this grace to the branches, except He were God.
John 15:6. The branches are as contemptible, if they abide not in the vine, as they are glorious, if they abide.—One of the two, the branches must be in—either the vine or the fire.
John 15:7. His words abide in us, when we do what He has commanded, and love what He has promised.—When His words abide in the memory, and are not found in the life, the branch is not accounted to be in the vine.—So far as we abide in the Saviour we cannot will anything that is foreign to our salvation.
John 15:9. As the Father hath loved Me, etc.; This is the source of our good works,—they proceed from faith which worketh by love; but we could not love unless we were first loved.—The grace of a Mediator is expressed here.
John 15:10. These words do not declare whence love arises, but how it is shown.
John 15:11. What is Christ’s joy in us, but that He deigns to rejoice on our account? And what is our joy, which He says shall be full, but to have fellowship with Him? He had perfect joy on our account, when He rejoiced in foreknowing and predestinating us; but that joy was not in us, because then we did not exist: it began to be in us when He called us. And this joy we rightly call our own, this joy wherewith we shall be blessed; which is begun in the faith of them who are born again, and shall be fulfilled in the reward of them who rise again John 15:12. Where then love is, what can be wanting? Where it is not, what can profit?—This love is distinguished from men’s love to each other as men, by the words, as I have loved you.—To what end did Christ love us but that we should reign with Him?
John 15:13–15. Great condescension! Though to keep his Lord’s commandments is only what a good servant is obliged to do, yet, if they do so, He calls them His friends.—Shall we therefore cease to be servants as soon as ever we are good servants? There are two kinds of servitude, as there are two kinds of fear. There is a fear which perfect love casteth out; which also hath in it a servitude, which will be cast out together with the fear. And there is another, a pure [filial] fear [and with it a filial servitude] which remaineth for ever.
John 15:16. Ineffable grace! For what were we before Christ had chosen us, but wicked and lost?—He does not choose the good; but those, whom He hath chosen, He makes good.
John 15:17. Love is this fruit (Gal. 5:22).
John 15:18–21. Thou refusest to be in the body, if thou art not willing with the Head, to endure the hatred of the world.—Our Lord, in exhorting His servants to bear patiently the hatred of the world, proposes to them an example than which there can be no better and higher one, viz., Himself.
John 15:21. For My name’s sake; i.e. in you they will hate Me, in you persecute Me, your word they will not keep because it is Mine.
Ver 22. By sin here He means not every sin, but a certain great sin, which includes all, and which alone hinders the remission of other sins, viz. unbelief
John 15:23, 24. How could they hate one whom they did not know (John 15:21)? If the Jews were asked whether they loved God, they would reply that they did love Him, not intending to lie, but only being mistaken in so saying [through mistake as to His real character]. For how could they who hated the Truth, love the Father of Truth? They did not know that the Truth was born of God the Father, and therefore they did not know the Father Himself. Thus they both hated, and also knew not, the Father.
John 15:25. A man hates without a cause who seeks no advantage from his hatred; thus the ungodly hate God.
John 15:26, 27. The Holy Spirit by His testimony made others testify; taking away fear from the friends of Christ, and converting the hatred of His enemies into love.
John 16:4. These things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember, etc. The night of the Jews was not permitted to mix with or darken the day of the Christians.
John 16:7. Christ departing in the body, not the Holy Ghost only, but the Father and the Son, came spiritually.
John 16:9. It makes a great difference whether one believes in Christ, or only that He is Christ; for that He was Christ even the devils believed; but he believes in Christ, who both hopes in Christ and loves Christ.
John 16:11. Satan is judged in that he is cast out; or, that he is destined irrevocably for the punishment of eternal fire.
John 16:13. The Holy Spirit both teaches believers now all the spiritual things they are capable of receiving, and also kindles in their hearts a desire to know more.
[From CHRYSOSTOM: Ch. 15 John 15:2. By fruit is meant life, i.e. that no one can be in Him without good works.
John 15:4, 5. Having said that they were clean through the word which He had spoken, He now teaches them that they must do their part.—Without Me ye can do nothing; the Son contributes no less than the Father to the help of the disciples.
John 15:6. Cast forth as a branch; i.e. shall not benefit by the care of the husbandman: is withered, i e. shall lose all that it desires from the root, all that supports its life, and shall die.
John 15:8. He now shows that they themselves (true disciples) should be invincible, bringing forth much fruit.
Ver 11. As if He had said, If sorrow fall upon you I will take it away, so that ye shall rejoice in the end.
John 15:15. All things, i.e. that they ought to hear.
John 15:17. These things (John 15:13–15) I command you that ye love one another; I have said this (these things) not by way of reproach, but to induce you to love one another.
John 15:18. As if to say, I know it is a hard trial, but ye will endure it for My sake.
John 15:19. He consoles them still farther by telling them, the hatred of the world would be an evidence of their goodness, so that they ought rather to grieve if they were loved by the world.
John 15:19–21. Ye must not be disturbed at having to share My sufferings, for ye are not better than I.
John 15:26. He calls Him not the Holy Spirit but the Spirit of Truth, to show the perfect faith that is due to Him.
John 16:7. Nevertheless I tell you the truth, etc., as if He had said, Though your grief be ever so great, ye must hear how it is profitable for you that I go away.
From GREGORY: Chap. 15. John 15:12. When all our Lord’s sacred discourses are full of His commandments, why does He give the special commandment respecting love, if it is not that every commandment teaches love, and all precepts are one? As all the boughs of a tree proceed from one root, so all the virtues are produced from one love; nor hath the branch, i.e., the good work, any life, except it abide in the root of love.
John 15:12–15. The highest, the only proof of love is to love our adversary, as did the Truth Himself.—Our Lord came to die for His enemies, but He says that He is going to lay down His life for His friends, to show us that by loving, we are able to gain over our enemies, so that they who persecute us are by anticipation our friends.—Whoso in time of tranquillity will not give up his time unto God, how in persecution shall he give up his soul?
John 15:19. The dispraise of the perverse is our praise.—He proves himself no friend to God who pleases His enemy; and He whose soul is in subjection to the Truth, will have to contend with the enemies of that Truth.
John 16:7. As if He said, If I withdraw not My body from your eyes I cannot lead you to the understanding of the Invisible, through the Comforting Spirit.
From ALCUIN: Chap. 15. John 15:4–7. All the fruit of good works proceeds from this root.—He Who hath delivered us by His grace, also carries us onward by His help.—He that abideth in Me, by believing, obeying, persevering, and I in Him, by enlightening, assisting, giving perseverance, the same, and none other, bringeth forth much fruit.—From THEOPHYLACT: Chap. 15 John 15:8. The fruit of the Apostles are the Gentiles.
John 15:15. As if He had said, The servant knoweth not the counsels of his Lord; but since I esteem you friends, I have communicated My secrets unto you.—From DIDYMUS: Chap. 15 John 15:26. The Holy Spirit He calls the Comforter, a name taken from His office, which is not only to relieve the sorrows of the faithful, but to fill them with unspeakable joy.
John 16:13, 14. The Holy Ghost would lead them by His teaching and discipline into all truth, transferring them from the dead letter to the quickening Spirit, in whom alone ail Scripture truth resides.
[From BURKITT: Chap. 15 John 15:1, 2. The vine doth most fitly symbolize Christ in His office for, and relation to, His people—1. As being weak, mean and small in outward appearance; 2. As being plentifully fruitful of sweet fruit; 3. In that the fruit thereof is pressed that it may be drink unto men; 4. As being the root from which all the branches derive their nourishment and fruitfulness.—The Father is the husbandman, He—1. ingrafts all the branches into this vine; 2. takes notice what store of fruit every branch brings forth; 3. daily tends His vineyard that it may bring forth fruit abundantly.—There are two sorts of branches, some fruitful, others unfruitful; some are branches only by external profession [mechanical connection], others by real implantation [ingrafting].—The true touchstone whereby to discern one sort of branches from another, is not by the fair leaves of profession [not by connection with the church], but by the substantial proofs [fruits] of a holy conversation.—In the most fruitful branches there remains much corruption to be purged out.—The Husbandman’s hand manages the pruning knife of affliction; He had rather see His vine bleed than be barren.—Such branches as, after all the Husbandman’s care, remain unfruitful, shall be finally cut off and cast away, as was Judas.—He purgeth it, by His word and Spirit, by ordinances and providences, by mercies and actions [afflictions].
John 15:3. Now are ye clean; such as are justified and [partially] sanctified, are in Christ’s account clean notwithstanding their many spots.—Through the word; the word of Christ is the instrumental cause of a believer’s cleansing.
John 15:4. Abide in Me, and I in you; abide in Me, not only by an outward profession, but by a real and fiducial adherence, and I will abide in you by the influences of My Spirit.—The union between Christ and His members is mutual.—Believers themselves, without daily dependence on Christ and constant communications of grace from Him, can do nothing.
John 15:6. Such as have had a long standing in God’s vineyard, and contented themselves with a withered profession, are in danger of having God’s blasting added to their barrenness.
John 15:7. Observe here—1. A glorious privilege declared, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you; 2. The condition of this privilege, If ye abide in Me and My words abide in you.
John 15:8. Our Lord here exhorts His followers to a holy fruitfulness by a double argument—1. One drawn from the glory of God; 2. The other from their own advantage, so shall ye be My disciples, i.e. hereby ye shall have evidence and prove yourselves to be My disciples.
John 15:9. What a comparison is here! As the Father hath loved Me so have I loved you! This love is—1. real; 2. operative; 3. eternal; 4. immutable.—Continue ye in My love; it should be the care of every Christian to preserve the sweet sense and inward diffusion of Christ’s love in his own soul.
John 15:10. As our obedience to Christ is the best evidence of our love to Him, so it is the best means to preserve us in the sense and assurance of His love to us.
John 15:11. Our Lord declares the reasons of His urging fruitfulness on His disciples—1. That His joy might remain in them, i.e. that the joy He had in their holiness might remain with Him; 2. That their joy in Him might be full, this arises from the former.
John 15:12. Christ’s love unto believers is both an obligation unto mutual love, and a pattern for it.
John 15:13. Christ’s love in laying down His life for His people a matchless love.
John 15:14. Christ invites His people to obedience by the honorable title of friends.—Ye are My friends, etc.—1. Actively, you will manifest yourselves to be My friends; 2. Passively, I will declare Myself to be your friend.—Learn 1. How condescending is the love of Christ—He calls His servants, friends; 2. How glorious the believer’s relation to Christ; 3. How grateful [excellent] is obedience to Christ; 4. Our conformity to Christ consists, not so much in imitation of what He did, as in obedience to what He prescribed—some of His actions are inimitable, but all His commands are obeyable; 5. Nothing short of obedience will evidence the truth of our relation to Christ.
John 15:15. Henceforth I call you not servants, i.e. not mere servants, not that they were to be exempted from obedience—All Christ’s disciples are His servants; and all His servants are His friends, in regard of intimate communion and tender usage.—After His resurrection He called them brethren, John 20:17; the dignity of believers is a growing dignity—the longer they follow Christ, the higher privileges are accorded them.
John 15:17–21. With what frequency and importunity our Lord pressed the duty of mutual love upon His disciples; from this learn—1. The great importance of the duty; 2. The great averseness of our hearts to its performance.—The argument our Saviour uses to press His disciples to mutual love, viz., that the world would hate them.—The considerations propounded by Christ to comfort His disciples under the world’s hatred—1. His own usage by the world; 2. This hatred is evidence that they are not of the world; 3. Their relation to Him as servants to a master; 4. The goodness of the cause for which they suffer, viz., Christ’s name’s sake.
John 15:19. Ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world; 1. The children of God, though in the world, are not of the world either in Spirit or conversation; 2. The difference between them and worldlings is of God’s making.
John 15:21. For My name’s sake; the great quarrel of the world against the disciples of Christ, whatever may be pretended, is for the Name of Christ.
John 15:22. Sins of ignorance are, as it were, no sins, compared with those committed against light.—Sins committed against gospel light are of aggravated guilt, as against the very remedy.—The gospel, whore it is plainly preached, takes away all excuse from sinners.
John 15:23–25. Let men pretend to never so much respect for God, yet if they hate Christ and despise His gospel, they are haters of God.—The miracles wrought by Christ surpassed all others in number, kind, and manner.
John 16:1. All afflictions are so trying that the best of Christians have need to be guarded against them lest they should be offended.
John 16:2. The being under one trial will not shelter from another.
John 16:3. Ignorance of the Father and the Son the ground of the world’s hatred against Christians.
John 16:4. Christ is so tender of His disciples, that He will not put them under the hardness of suffering until they be prepared for it.
John 16:7. It is expedient for you that I go away, etc. The presence of the Holy Spirit with us is a greater comfort and advantage, than the presence of Christ in the flesh amongst us.
John 16:8–14. Our Lord declares the advantages that would redound by the coming of the Comforter—1. To the world, John 16:8–11; 2. To the Apostles, John 16:13; To Himself, John 16:14.
John 16:9. Of sin, i.e., of their sinful state and nature, of the large extent of sin, and particularly of the sin of unbelief.
John 16:10. Of righteousness, i.e., of the insufficiency of all human righteousness, or (and) of a complete and perfect righteousness in Me imputable to sinners for their perfect justification.—Because I go to My Father and ye see Me no more; as though He had said—Hereby you may be satisfied that by My active and passive obedience [righteousness] I have fully satisfied my Father’s justice for you, and you shall never be charged or condemned; because, when I go to heaven, I shall abide there in glory with My Father, and never be sent back again—ye shall see me no more—as I must have been, had anything been omitted by Me.
John 16:11. Of judgment, i.e., that Jesus is both Lord and Christ, that He had power to judge Satan, the prince of the world, and that He did by His death put down the kingdom of darkness.
[From M. HENRY: Chap. 15. There fire four words to which our Lord’s discourse in this chapter may be reduced: 1. Fruit, John 15:1–8; 2. Love, John 15:9–17; 3. Hatred, John 15:18–25; 4. The Comforter, John 15:20, 27.
John 15:1–8. Christ discourses concerning the fruit, which His disciples were to bring forth, under the similitude of a vine; observe—I. The doctrine of this similitude: that—1. Christ is (1) the vine, i.e., (a) planted, not spontaneous, (b) having an unpromising outside, (c) a spreading plant, (d) whose fruit honors God and cheers man, (2) the true vine, as opposed to (a) counterfeit, (b) type; 2. Believers are the branches, i.e, (1) supported by the unseen root, (2) many, (3) yet meeting in one root, (4) insufficient to stand (and be fruitful) of themselves; 3. The Father is the husbandman, i, e., (1) the proprietor, (2) the land-worker, γεωργόςς, though the earth is the Lord’s, it yields Him no fruit unless He work it, (3) the husbandman, having care of the vine and all the branches, by planting, watering, [pruning], and [thus] giving the increase. II. The duties taught us by this similitude—1. To bring forth fruit; this duty is urged by (1) the doom of the unfruitful, John 15:2; (2) the promise made to the fruitful, John 15:2 [increased culture in order to increased fruitfulness]; (3) the duty of showing forth the power of the benefits they have received, John 15:3; (4) the glory that will redound to God, John 15:8; (5) the comfort and honor that will come to ourselves, John 15:8, so shall ye be my disciples; 2. To abide in Christ in order to fruitfulness, consider (1) the duty to abide in Christ by faith, (2) the necessity of so doing in order to fruit-fulness, John 15:4, 5; (3) the fatal consequence of forsaking Christ, John 15:6; (4) the blessed privilege of those who abide in Him, John 15:7.
John 15:2. Farther fruitfulness is the blessed reward of former fruitfulness.—The purging of fruitful branches is the care and work of the great Husbandman, for His own glory.
John 15:3. There is a cleansing virtue in the Word, as it works grace and works out corruption.
John 15:4. The knot of the branch abides in the vine, and the sap of the vine abides in the branch, and so there is a constant communication between them.
John 15:5. We depend upon Christ, not only as the vine upon the wall for support, but as the branch on the root for sap.
John 15:6. Withered; They that bear no fruit, after a while will bear no leaves.—Fire is the fittest place for withered branches, for they are good for nothing else.
John 15:7. See here—1. How our union with Christ is maintained, by the Word; 2. How our communion with, Him is maintained, by prayer.—They that abide in Christ as their heart’s delight, shall have through Christ their heart’s desire.—If we abide in Christ and His Word in us, two things are promised—1, that we will not ask for anything but what is proper to be done for us; 2, that we shall have an answer of peace to all our prayers.
John 15:8. The fruitfulness of all Christians is to the glory of God—1, By their good works many are brought to glorify God; [2. Good works manifest the beauty of His law, and the power of His gospel.—E. R. C.].
John 15:9–17. Christ who is Love itself discourses concerning a fourfold love,—I. The Father’s love to Him, He tells us that—1. The Father did love Him (John 15:9); 2. That He abode in His Father’s love (John 15:10); 3. That He thus abode because He kept His Father’s law (John 15:10). II. His own love to His disciples, though He leaves them He loves them: Observe—1. The pattern of this love, as the Father hath loved Me, etc.; 2. The proofs and products of this love, which are (1) His laying down His life for them (John 15:13), (2) His taking them into a covenant of friendship (John 15:14, 15), (3) His freeness in communicating His mind to them (John 15:15), (4) His choosing and ordaining them to be the prime instruments of His glory in the world (John 15:6). III. The disciples’ love to Him, this is enjoined in view of His love to them; He exhorts them to—1. Continue in His love, i.e., keep up their love; 2. Evidence their love by keeping His commandments. IV. The disciples’ love one to another; this is (John 15:12)—1. Recommended by Christ’s pattern; 2. Required by His precept.
John 15:9. A strange expression of the condescending grace of Christ! As the Father loved Him who was most worthy, so He loved them who were most unworthy.
John 15:10. Ye shall abide in My love, as a dwelling-place.
John 15:13. This is the love wherewith Christ hath loved us, He is our ἁντίψυχος—Bail for us, body for body, life for life, though He knew our insolvency and foresaw how dear the engagement would cost Him.—The excellency of the love of Christ beyond all other love; others have laid down (passively) their lives, Christ gave up (actively) His.
John 15:16. The treasure of the gospel was committed to the disciples that it might be—1. propagated; 2. perpetuated.—Those whom Christ ordains should and shall be fruitful.—Whatever ye shall ask, etc. Three things set forth for our encouragement in prayer—1. That we have a God to go to who is a Father; 2. That we have a good name to go in; 3. That an answer in peace is promised.
John 15:18–25. Christ discourses concerning hatred: Observe—I. Who they are that hate, viz., the world, i.e., the children of this world as distinguished from the children of God, called the world as indicating their—1. number, 2. confederacy, 3. spirit. II. Who they are that are hated—1. The disciples of Christ; 2. Christ Himself; 3. God the Father (John 15:23, 24).
John 15:19. Whom Christ blesseth, the world curseth: the favorites of Heaven have never been the darlings of the world.
John 15:20. The fruits of the world’s hatred—1. persecution; 2. rejection of doctrine.
John 15:19–21. The causes of the world’s hatred against Christians—1. They do not belong to it; 2. They belong to Christ, for my name’s sake; 3. Its ignorance of God.
John 15:22. Observe—1. The excuse they have who have not the gospel; 2. The aggravated guilt of those who reject the gospel.
John 15:23, 24. In hating Christ the world hates God; deists are in effect atheists.
John 15:25. Enmity to Christ is unreasonable.
John 15:26, 27. Christ speaks of the Comforter, promising—I. That He should maintain Christ’s cause in the world notwithstanding all opposition. II. That the Apostles by His assistance should have the honor of being Christ’s witnesses.
John 15:26. The Spirit is spoken of as—1. A Person; 2. A divine Person proceeding from the Father.—The offices of the Spirit—1. One implied in His title Comforter or Advocate; 2. Witnessing for Christ.
John 15:27. The Spirit’s working is not to supersede, but to engage and encourage ours.—They are best able to preach Christ that have themselves been with Him; ministers must first learn Christ and then preach Him.
Chap. 16. Christ by His words—I. Wounds, John 16:1–6: II. Heals by the assurances that He—1. would send them the Comforter (John 16:7–15); 2. Would visit them again at His resurrection (John 16:16–22); 3. Would secure to them an answer of peace to all their prayers (John 16:23–27); 4. Was now returning to His Father (John 16:28–32); 5. By virtue of His victory over the world Would give them peace in Himself.
John 16:1–6. Christ dealt faithfully with His disciples when He sent them forth, for He told them the worst of it, that they might sit down and count the cost.
John 16:1. The disciples of Christ are apt to be offended at the cross.—Our Lord by giving notice of trouble, designed to prevent its being a surprise; Being forewarned we are forearmed.
John 16:2. Behold two swords drawn against the followers of Jesus, that of—1. Ecclesiastical censure; 2. Civil power.—Many a good truth has been branded with an anathema, and many a child of God delivered to Satan. God’s people have suffered the greatest hardships from conscientious persecutors.
John 16:3. The true reason of the world’s enmity to Christians, because they have not known the Father nor Me: Note—1. Many that pretend to know God are ignorant of Him; 2. They that are ignorant of Christ cannot have any right knowledge of God.
John 16:4. When sufferings come it will be of use to remember that Christ has told us of them.—As Christ in His sufferings had, so we in ours should have, an eye to the fulfilling of the Scriptures.
John 16:5, 6. As though He had said, Instead of inquiring after that which will comfort, you pore upon that which looks melancholy.—An humble believing inquiry into the design and tendency of the darkest dispensations would help to reconcile us to them.—It is the common fault and folly of melancholy Christians to dwell only on the dark side of the cloud.—Nothing is a greater prejudice to our joy in God, than the love of the world.
John 16:7. It is expedient, etc.—1. Those things often seem grievous that are really expedient; 2. Jesus is always for that which is most expedient for us.—The glorified Redeemer is not unmindful of His Church on earth—though He departs, He sends the Comforter; nay, He departs that He may send Him.
John 16:8. Convincing work is the Spirit’s work.—The Comforter begins His work by convincing—first opens the wound, and then applies the remedy.
John 16:9. The Spirit convinces of Sin, its—1. fact; 2. folly, 3. filth; 4. fountain—corrupt nature; 5, fruit—death.—He fastens especially on the sin of unbelief as—1. The great reigning sin; 2. The great ruining sin; 3. That which is at the bottom of all sin.
John 16:10. of righteousness, i.e., Christ’s righteousness—1. His personal righteousness; 2. His righteousness communicated to us for our Justification.—Christ’s ascension is the great argument proper to convince men of this righteousness; if He had left any part of His work unfinished He had been sent back again.
John 16:11. Of judgment, because the Prince of this world is judged, the devil was judged, was discovered to be a great deceiver and destroyer; judgment was entered against him and in part executed; he was cast out—1. from the heathen world, when his oracles were silenced and his altars deserted; 2. from the bodies of men in Christ’s name; 3. from the souls of people by the grace of God working with the gospel of Christ; 4. as lightning from heaven.—A good argument wherewith the Spirit convinces of judgment—1. Of inherent holiness and sanctification, Matt.12:18; 2. of a new and better dispensation of things; 3. of the power and dominion of the Lord Jesus (Isa. 42:1–4); 4. of the final day of judgment.
John 16:12–15. See what a teacher Christ is! None like Him for—1. copiousness; 2. compassion.
John 16:13–15. The Spirit promised—1. To guide the apostles; 2. To glorify Christ.—To guide, taking care—1. That they should not miss their way; 2. That they should not come short of their end.—Into all truth—into—1. The whole truth; 2. Nothing but the truth.—The Spirit glorified Christ—1. By His coming; 2. By leading the disciples into the truth.
[From PRESIDENT EDWARDS: John 16: John 16:9. Of sin, etc. The greatest sin in the world is sin against the Gospel, contempt of and opposition to Christ; and the greatest evidence of man’s sin is his ill treatment of Christ, His Gospel and followers.
John 16:10. Of righteousness, etc. Christ’s ascension was the brightest evidence that He had suffered wrongfully; it confirmed the righteousness of His words, doctrines, design in coming into the world, and promises.
John 16:11. Of judgment, etc. It is the greatest evidence of Christ’s might and kingly power to overcome and dethrone Satan; and the greatest manifestation of His high judicial authority to judge and condemn this great rebel, and to execute vengeance upon him.
From SCOTT: John 15:1. The union of the divine and human nature in Christ, and the fulness of the Spirit in Him, resemble the root of the vine, deriving the fertilizing juices from a rich soil; and His mediatorial work, like the stem, conveys these to all believers.
John 15:1, 2. As professed Christians, we appear to belong to this vine; but woe to them who have no other union than what consists in notions, sacraments, and forms.
John 15:9. As the Father hath loved Me, so, etc. No love of man to his dearest friend ever was comparable to His love to us, when strangers and enemies.
John 15:18–20. We cannot experience worse usage than our Master met with; and we ought not to be offended or grow weary of well-doing, if we meet with no better.—
Chap. 16. John 16:2, 3. How fallacious the opinion that God will accept every man who is sincere in his religion, whatever that religion may be.—Humble docility, implicit belief of Scripture, and a disposition unreservedly to do the will of God, are essential to godly sincerity.
John 16:6, 7. Our hearts are often filled with sorrow at events highly advantageous.
John 16:8, 12. Sin, righteousness, and Judgment; On these subjects all who would be honored as instruments in converting sinners, should be frequent, copious, alarming, encouraging, distinguishing; but in matters less essential they would do well, after the example of Christ, not to press them on their hearers before they are able to bear them.——From A PLAIN COMMENTARY (Oxford)
Chap. 15. John 15:1, 2. The vine is a tree which not only admits of pruning, but whose very productiveness depends on the judicious use of the pruning-knife.—Delightful is it to find writers about the Grape-Vine, who had nothing less in view than the illustration of the Gospel, becoming our instructors in such passages as the following;—“It is hardly possible to plant a Vine in any situation in which it will not thrive … The truth is that the roots of the Vine possess an extraordinary power of adapting themselves to any situation in which they may be planted, provided it be a dry one. They will ramble in every direction in search of food, and extract nourishment from sources apparently the most barren. In short, they are the best caterers that can possibly be imagined; for they will grow, and even thrive luxuriantly, where almost every other description of plant or tree would inevitably starve.… Pruning and Training are so closely connected together, that they almost constitute one operation. In pruning a Vine, regard must be had to the manner in which it is afterwards to be trained; and, in training it, the position of the branches must, in a great measure, be regulated by the mode in which it has previously been pruned…. The old wood of a Vine is not only of no use, but is a positive injury to the fertility of the plant. … The sole object in view in pruning a Vine is to increase its fertility.… Although by pruning a Vine its fertility is increased, its existence is no doubt thereby shortened (?). The severing of a healthy branch from any tree is, without doubt, doing an act of violence to it; the effects of which are only overcome by the superior strength of the vegetative powers of its roots.” (CLEMENT HOARE on the Cultivation of the Grape-Vine).
John 15:5. And I in him; The branch bears fruit, not because it abideth in the Vine, but because in it the Vine abideth.
John 15:12. Love ye one another even unto death, as even unto death I have loved you.
John 15:15. The servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth; “It is not necessary that he should! The common soldier is neither expected nor permitted to know the plans of the commander.” (ROBERT SCOTT).
John 15:22. “He meaneth they had no color of plea, nothing to pretend by way of excuse.” (SAUNDERSON).
John 15:24. Without effort, by a more word, He showed that all creation was obedient to His will, from Him, as from an inexhaustible fountain, flowed forth healing virtue equal to the needs of all.
John 16:7. What must be the value of that great blessing which was given to them, which is given to us, to compensate for the loss of His visible presence!
John 16:8. “He shall so bring home to the world its own sin, My perfect righteousness, God’s coming judgment, shall so convince it of these, that it shall be obliged itself to acknowledge them.” (TRENCH).
John 16:9. Under one great head of unbelief the guilt of the world is gathered up and comprised; unbelief is therefore a sin of the heart, not a mere error of the understanding: a fault not a misfortune.
John 16:15. “Our God is One, or rather very Oneness, and mere Unity, having nothing but itself in itself, and not consisting (as all things do beside God) of many things. In which essential Unity of God, a Trinity personal nevertheless subsisteth, after a manner far exceeding the possibility of man’s conceit. The works which outwardly are of God, they are of such sort in Him being One, that each Person (in the Divine Unity) hath in them somewhat peculiar and proper. For being Three, and they all subsisting in the essence of One Deity, from the Father, by the Son, through the Spirit, all things are. That which the Son doth hear of the Father, and which the Spirit doth receive of the Father and the Son, the same we have at the hands of the Spirit as being the last, and therefore the nearest unto us in order, although in power the same with the second and the first.” (HOOKER.)
[From STIER: Chap 15, John 15:1–6. Our Lord’s language in reference to the Vine and its branches is connected by a three-fold foundation with the whole system of the sacred language of figures—1. Nature in itself; 2. The prophetic phraseology which interprets nature; 3. The recently instituted Supper.—”Since God was constrained to give His vineyard up to ruin, He separated for Himself this Vine, and designed it to be a beginning from which a great increase should take its rise.” (LUTHARDT).—Bread and wine are correlated as the flesh and blood in man’s personality; hence Christ is the bread of life, the corn of wheat in the general, inasmuch as from His body and life the Church is nourished, but as He gives His life to death for that purpose, and in His blood makes us especially partakers thereof, He is also the Vine. The juice of the grape, the juice of stem and branches generally which is to be glorified, as it were, into a spirituous energy, is, according to the profound phraseology of Scripture, the blood and life of the noble plant. [This “has its classical analogies in the αιμα βοτρυων of Ach. Tatius, the sanguis terræ of Pliny, the rivarum frigidus sanguis of Cassiodorus.”] John 15:1. The true Vine: The Vine in nature is only a figure and symbol pointing to Me.
John 15:1, 2. He explains that all the sufferings which both He and they should encounter are no other than (the manifestation of) the diligent care and watchfulness which a vinedresser bestows upon the vine and its branches.
John 15:1, 2. They are “Christians” (branches) who have the Word and Sacraments, but receive them in vain; and to these the preacher should earnestly apply this saying! They are indeed planted in the vineyard like that fig-tree, Luke 13:6—even grafted for a beginning into the Vine.—The fruit which the Vine-dresser desires is, in its general principle, only the consummation and ripening of our own regeneration; as the cluster, so to speak, is the glorified form and manifestation of the virtue of the branch.—Every thing here goes strangely against appearances! An inexperienced person might say, For what purpose is this crooked and unsightly tree in this beautiful garden? [And why] the unpitying cutting away of so many shoots seemingly so green and healthy?—EVERY branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth, etc.: Purging is applied without respect of person, sparing none, according to the vine-dressing rule which aims at fruit, and the utmost possible fruit.
John 15:3. “That which is clean bears fruit; that which bears fruit becomes also (more) clean.” (HILLER).—All the cultivation and care of disciplining grace is efficient only on the condition of our receiving and faithfully keeping His word; Christ, the Vine, at once begins by His word to cleanse, and thus is Himself the Vine-dresser.
John 15:4, 5. On Me has become in Me inasmuch as the connection of the shoots with the stem is no mere joining on, but there is a participation of the same juice flowing from one into the other.—So act by your abiding that I, as I gladly would, may abide in you.—Without our abiding in Him, there is no abiding of the Lord in us; as without our receiving Him there is no such coming as ends in His indwelling.—“The question here is not of external doing, and general influence upon men, but of the holy power to save ourselves and others, through deliverance from sin and death.” (SCHMIEDER).—Leaves and sour grapes are not fruit.
John 15:6. Our Lord indicates “the stages of apostasy and rejection” (ZELLER.)—1. The solitary ground (apostasy), if a man abideth not in Me; 2. the five stages of judgment, the accomplishment of which begins in time, is fulfilled in eternity—(1) casting forth (the appearance of life continuing), (2) withering (the appearance of life departed), (3) gathering, (4) casting into the fire, (5) burning.—Concerning the damned the present (καιεται) may always be used; they burn, or feed the fire.
John 15:7. Only those who wilfully forsake Me can ever thus burn; only apart from Me ye can do nothing and fall to ruin, In Me ye can do all things!—If His words remain in us, His prayer pre-eminently remains in us.
John 15:8. “This means not only that our works appear in the world honorable as good fruit, but that they are carried up to heaven and offered to God, so that He accepts them as His especial honor and highest service” (LUTHER).—Those may take courage whose light the people will not regard.—” Therein, that ye bring forth much fruit, is My Father glorified, and I shall have in you genuine disciples who will do Me honor.” (KLING.)
John 15:9, 10. The common life, which from the vine-stock pervades the branches and produces their precious clusters, is love. Love is the first root-principle in God, the first living germ in us; and perfect love, as God loves, is also the last ripe fruit.—We can think of nothing beyond this, nothing greater to be promised than that the love, in which the Father and the Son through the Spirit are eternally one, shall be poured out also in us.—All love, like all righteousness, is livingly imputed, communicated, and implanted in us at once, from the Father through Christ.—In Christ the eternal love of the Father appears as the sole, abiding, impulsive principle of all His life and suffering, of all His acts and of all His love.
John 15:11. My joy is pre-eminently the joy which He Himself has, but then immediately the words might remain in you makes it the joy which He gives.—Your joy is by no means only their joy, ‘joy in Him and in His work,’ but the gladness in God which flowed from Him into them.
John 15:12, 13. Our Lord graciously condescends so deeply to a comparison with our human relations, that He, as it were, leaves out of sight for a time the all-embracing, and in the solitary sense atoning, character of His death. “The Lord does not speak (primarily) of the redeeming design of His death, but of that point in great love which we may recognize and imitate.” (RICHTER).—Jesus calls even sinners and enemies, whom He desires to save, His friends, inasmuch and because He is first their friend. “The love wherewith, according to St. Paul, He dieth for sinners is at the same time the love whereby, according to St. John, He maketh the disciples His friends. He dies for sinners only because in the fulness of His love He regards them as friends.” (LUECKE).
John 15:15. The proof of the relation of friendship is that open, confidential, unrestrained communion, the typical expressions of which are found—in Abraham’s case, Gen. 18:17—that of Moses, Ex. 33:11—of the pious generally, Ps. 25:14; Prov. 3:32, etc.
John 15:16. Though the Lord calls us friends, this does not imply an equality; He calls His followers afterwards even brethren, but they all the more reverently call Him only their Lord and their God.—The love between us began with Me and not with you.—Ordained (ἔθηκα) you, etc. The branches become elevated, as it were, themselves into new vines of the second degree, since the Lord sets them to bear fruit.—“He who is united with Christ, obtains thereby the true independence, and stands before God as a personality pervaded by Christ.” (FIKENSCHER).—I have planted and appointed you that ye should bring forth fruit, that is, that ye should secure fruit by your effectual prayer.
John 15:17. By all these My discourses and commandments I would specially point you to that one (commandment) which I would confirm in your hearts, that ye love one another!
John 15:17, 18. There is need that ye should be all the more closely united in My love, for the world hateth you.
John 15:18. The most conscientious and tender Christian is the most likely to fall into the temptation of seeking the cause of the world’s hatred solely in himself, of thinking that if he were perfect in goodness, love, humility, and meekness, the evil of the world must needs be overcome; and this might lead to a false compliance: Against such trouble and temptation the Lord arms us beforehand: “If the most holy love upon earth found no better return, if He did not succeed, if He could not in His wisdom avoid hatred when it arose against Him, all the more fiercely as His pure love more brightly beamed upon it—how could we hope altogether to escape this hatred?—or do we vainly imagine that we can surpass the love and prudence of our Lord?” (DIETZ.).—The world cannot love you, it must hate you as it hates Me!
John 15:19. This world would not indeed love you. (for it cannot truly love at all!)—but its own in you.—”Although worldly men often quarrel fiercely, which is one of the characteristics of corrupt nature, Tit. 3:3, yet these enmities are only about particular conflicting interests: in the great essentials there is always a perfect accord among them.” (LAMPE).—The I has a twofold emphasis: as to the world, its hatred is reduced to hatred against Himself; as to the disciples it is impressed upon them that He alone is the origin of their new life.—Therefore, etc. The hatred of the world becomes to us a precious note (sign) that we are His—not indeed the first and only mark: as the second note it neither begins our test nor must we seek it or wish it; but if, alas, it incessantly comes, then it is time to comfort ourselves in the reflection that the love of the world would be a sad condemnation; Luke 6:26; Gal. 1:10; Jas. 4:4, etc.
John 15:20. The consolation has an undertone of demand, that they should rejoice and feel themselves honored in being counted worthy to suffer as He suffered.—“It belongs to the perfection of a disciple, who would be as his Master, that
he should encounter the hatred of the world.” (BRAUNE).—The general tolerance of a tolerant world is always grazing the limits of its liberality; when the I have chosen you out of the world is obtruded upon them in all its earnestness, then begins their exclusion, their ban, their rage.—If they have kept, etc. Let not their hatred cause you to keep back this word; and also, Oppose the world with your word alone, do nothing more, for the rest suffer patiently as I have suffered.
John 15:21. This sin is practical, persevering, opposing unbelief.
John 15:22. “Ignorance would be otherwise an excuse”—but here it is in the fullest sense inexcusable.—Sin enough they have; but all their sin would have been forgiven and taken away through Christ, if they had received Him in faith.
John 15:23. One of the many consequences that result from the unity of the Father and the Son; he that seeth Me, seeth—he that believeth in Me, believeth in—he that loveth Me, loveth—he that hateth Me, hateth—the Father!—He that can hate Jesus, the manifestation of God in the flesh, must bear in himself hatred to God.
John 15:24. “My works, Me, and the Father, in them—to see and yet to hate; these two irreconcilables are reconciled by a God-hating world!” (LUECKE.)
John 15:25. The last solace for the hatred to Christ which the God-hating world exhibits, lies in the counsel of the divine wisdom which foretold all this.—“In sin there is neither reason nor righteousness” (BERLENB. BIBEL).—“Hatred without cause is worse than idolatry or blood-guiltiness.” (TALM. JOMA.)
John 15:26, 27. While the Spirit previously testifies of Christ to the disciples themselves, and then through them to the world, He becomes at the same time a Counsellor, Helper, Intercessor, Representative, for the disciples.—How will He testify and what? He will not immediately (by any personal manifestation as the Son) bear witness, but in and through you: further, He will testify that which ye have already seen in Me, that which ye have already heard of Me—nothing besides, essentially different or new.—Then shall ye actually bear witness; and more, then will your testimony be the testimony of the Spirit, who will make you infallible in this vocation and function.—Not a speculative idea, but a historical fact, is the ground-work of the world’s salvation.—We (of the present day) first livingly experience and receive, through the New Testament Scriptures, the life, deeds, and sayings of our Lord, as eye and ear witnesses of the second degree; then we also wait humbly for power from on high; and then it is our obligation and right to testify with power and success what we have seen and heard in historical conviction and living experience.
John 16:1, 2. It has been said that excommunication is a greater evil than bodily persecution, yet the Lord does not here so regard (present) it: he who is strong in the truth may suffer that truth to be called a lie without being much aggrieved; but to our weakness, and our unsinful natural love of life, the death of martyrdom must ever be the crown of patience and endurance.—O that unhappy thinking, into which the hatred of unbelief may be blinded and hardened, while it seeks to justify itself before God!
John 16:3. Even the true Church should and must cast out, for the sake of truth and love; but it belongs to the false synagogue to treat those differing in faith with hatred which reaches unto persecution, and putting to death as λατρεία—It becomes us to mourn over our blind persecutors, and, like Stephen, to continue the Lord’s own intercession for those who know not what they do.
John 16:5. We should never be too idle or too sorrowful to investigate and inquire from the impulse of faith and love, and with an eager desire for saving knowledge.
John 16:6. The same disciples afterwards, when the risen Lord ascended to heaven, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, without any sorrow for the separation (Luke 24:52).—“Under this gentle rebuke there lies a tacit consolation. While He accuses their negligence in not putting the question, Whither goest Thou, He gives them their own excuse, that their omission was due to excess of sorrow.” (LAMPE.)—“The Lord knoweth our frame, and of what stuff we are made. And of this we can remind Him, Heb. 4:15.” (BERLENB. BIBEL.)
John 16:7. In precise opposition to the disciples’ view, that to Him, the pure and holy One, death would be no suffering or ruin, but their irreparable loss, the Lord points, in silent contrast, to the fact that to Him the departure to the Father through the death of a sinner, for sin’s sake, would indeed be very bitter (John 12:27)—but all the more does He turn it into an it is expedient for you. Thus speaks the love that looks not at its own.—The primary thought which, in the analogy of human relations generally, finds here its grandest application, is—that only after the withdrawal of the sensible presence of a teacher and master, his abiding and influential spirit is truly set free and penetrates our being.—“Before He went away, (the Christ after the flesh), the Christ after the Spirit could not come. When the former vanished, the latter appeared.” (DRAESEKE.)—In all fellowship with the sufferings of Christ, which might seem to us to be His going away from us, the Comforter repeats to us His prototypic word of consolation—It is expedient for you!
John 16:8. “The Apostles were to convince the unbelieving and hating world, maintain their right against it, and conquer it by the truth they testified.” (ŒTINGER.)—The sentiment, so often misunderstood and perverted, that the world’s history is the world’s judgment, has its truth in this working and judging of the Spirit, this final preparation for the judgment to be revealed, which, again, must tarry for its consummation until that personal appearance of the Son to which the Spirit points the Church.—“The reproof, that is, the bringing to view of our own unrighteousness, could not be without a gracious revelation and offer of the true righteousness; even the judgment is exhibited before the world only in order, where possible, to turn its thought to Him, who frees all who believe from condemnation. (SCHLEIERMACHER.)—The reproving office necessarily precedes the comforting. The Paraclete does not, properly speaking, perform “a strange work, before He comes to His own work, that of comforting, and preaching grace.” (LUTHER.)—In the three great words ἁμαρτία, δικαιοσύνη, κρίσις, the Lord names the three all-embracing, essential elements of truth and its whole procedure. Not until the Holy Ghost has explained these words, does the world know what sin, righteousness and judgment are.—The production of an experimental and perfect knowledge of these three words is the office of the Spirit alone, and that as Spirit,—by the mediation, indeed, of the word and the work, yet only so far as these are made inwardly efficient in the heart and conscience.
John 16:9. The ὅτι gives us the thing signified in sin, righteousness, judgment, tells us what kind of sin, righteousness and decision of judgment, He means.—The Lord means first specifically the sin of unbelief. This is no mere error, but the foundation and crown, the fruit and kernel, the true essential substance of all sin of the evil will.—“The Holy Ghost reproves the world of lying when it pretends that its unbelief is honest doubt, etc.” (RICHTER’S Hausbibel).—The reproof of unbelief is at once a proffer of faith (and) an offer of all strength and grace requisite in order to it.
John 16:10. “The Holy Ghost convinces the world of righteousness: partly, that it must necessarily have a righteousness; partly, that it cannot find that righteousness in itself; partly, that it should seek such righteousness in Christ.” (RIEGER.)—The ὑπάγειν denotes here, as in John 16:7, a ministering, obtaining, redeeming departure.—The not seeing must refer to faith in the Invisible. The righteousness of Christ, to be laid hold of in faith, is thus arrayed against the sin of unbelief.
John 16:11. Even the Holy Ghost (who was to do away with all accommodations and strip off all Jewish embellishments of the truth) does not put an end to the teaching concerning a Devil, but rather begins it anew.—The great cause is lost by the enemy of God, the author of all sin and unrighteousness, the blinder of men’s minds into unbelief of a Saviour; and it is won for the world, in which he has no longer either power or right.—The future judgment to which the world is proceeding, under the deciding testimony of the Spirit, is founded on the judgment which has been already accomplished through the departure of Jesus, and which is presented to the minds of men by the Holy Ghost.—The Spirit’s ἔλεγχος separates mankind into two classes, each consisting of three sorts of men. Among those who accept this ἔλεγχος, we distinguish the penitent who acknowledge their sin, the believing who are justified in Christ, the holy who are perfectly delivered from Satan’s power in the full accomplishment of their sanctification. Among those who persistently oppose, there are the abiding sinners, unbelievers, condemned.—Satan is either condemned to our advantage if we lay hold on righteousness, or we remain with him in condemnation if we continue as the world in sin.—Will ye then be, and be forever, the Devil’s? Will ye be condemned with him?—The three-fold office of the Holy Ghost has a corresponsive reference to the prophetical, high-priestly, and judicial offices of Christ.
John 16:12. Ye cannot bear it, is a more gracious and stronger expression than if He had said, Ye cannot receive it. The Lord considers the weakness of their oppressed minds. A further development and exposition of these great things would have altogether weighed them down, without the understanding which the Spirit should first bring.—Prematurely to pour out to people the whole truth, is not only useless, but it is also positively hurtful.
John 16:13. The living teaching of the Spirit is a guidance and leading into truth, in more senses than one. First, because it must assuredly presuppose, bring with it, require, a constantly corresponding practical obedience,—hence bringing no more to the inner and true understanding than the life is ripe for and fully willing to be guided by. “The Spirit will lead, the Christian must therefore walk with Him.” (BRAUNE). Then, secondly, the Spirit gives, as we see in the case of the Apostles, His solutions and explanations according to the need and the occasion (Matt. 10:19, 20)—just as in part at least the laws of Moses were given according to the emergencies which required them. “In the activity of his vocation a man attains the region of truth,” says BRAUNE. Thus, while the leading into of itself indicates a gradualness, in opposition to the mechanical and childish notion that the Apostles at one bound were established in all truth on the day of Pentecost, we have to seek the reason and the measure of this gradualness, both externally and internally; partly, in the internal ripening and progress of the Apostles themselves in their own sanctification, with which their knowledge keeps pace—and partly in the stages of the way in which their vocation as witnesses led them through the world.—“If the Holy Ghost may not speak of Himself, and (out of Himself—O Preacher! how canst thou draw thy preaching out of thyself, out of thine head (or even heart)”! (GOSSNER.)—Let nothing of thy preaching and testimony come from thine own mere impulse and will to know and to teach, before the Spirit hath taught and impelled thee!
John 16:14. The glorification of Jesus Christ will be consummated before His disciples and in them, only by the Holy Ghost. He shall glorify Me—in this the Lord names the inmost centre of the whole truth, around which the periphery of its manifold development revolves; as also the most decisive test for every spirit of lying.—“What preaches Jesus, and leads to faith in Him, is of the Holy Ghost. For as the Son speaketh of the Father and glorifieth the Father, even so speaketh the Holy Ghost of the Son and glorifieth the Son.” (LUTHER).—“The full harmonious close of all the words of Jesus is Spirit; the testimony of Jesus is the kernel and spirit of all the prophets.” (ŒTINGER.)—The Holy Ghost testifies of Jesus (John 15:26)—this is the beginning of His office in the world; He glorifies Jesus—that is the goal and end of His office in believers.—The glorification of Christ before us must coincide with the appropriating establishment of His image in us.—There is no other receiving of this glorifying light, no other living growing and becoming perfect in it than that which takes place according to 2 Cor. 3:17, 18.
John 16:15. The honor of the Father could not be left without its positive expression; we have found this pervading all these farewell discourses, but the Trinitarian expression and winding up of all culminates in this passage.—Thus, there is opened to us a glimpse into the living blessed bond of love in receiving and giving in the eternal ground of the triune essence of the Godhead.—“This is the circle; round and complete; all Three, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in one eternal Divine nature:—thus the Holy Ghost is Himself true God, without any difference, only that He hath it both from the Father and the Son.” (LUTHER).
[From BARNES: John 15:1. Christ really and truly gives what is emblematically represented by a vine.—A vine yieldsproper juice and nourishment to all the branches, whether these be large or small.
John 15:2. Every branch in Me; Every one that is a true follower of Me—that is united to Me by faith—and that truly derives grace and strength from Me, as the branch does from the vine.—It is a union of friendship, of love, and of dependence; a union of weakness with strength; of imperfection with perfection; of a dying nature with a living Saviour; of a lost sinner with an unchanging Friend and Redeemer. It is the most tender and interesting of all relations; but not more mysterious or more physical than the union of parent and child, of husband and wife (Eph. 5:23), or friend and friend.—He taketh away: The vine-dresser cuts it off’; God removes such in various ways: 1. By the discipline of the church; 2. By suffering them to fall into temptation; 3. By persecution and tribulation, by the deceitfulness of riches, and by the cares of the world. (Matt. 13:21, 22), by suffering the man to be placed in such circumstances as Judas, Achan, and Ananias were—such as to show what they were—to bring their characters fairly out, and to let it be seen that they had no true love to God; 4. By death.—To bear fruit is to show by our lives that we are under the influence of the religion of Christ; and that that religion produces in us its appropriate effects.
John 15:4. Live a life of dependence on Me, and obey My doctrines, imitate My example, and constantly exercise faith in Me.
John 15:5. We see hence, 1. That to Christ is due all the praise for all the good works the Christian performs; 2. That they will perform good works just in proportion as they feel their dependence on Him, and look to Him; 3. That the reason why others fail of being holy is because they are unwilling to look to Him and seek grace and strength from Him who alone is able to give it.
John 15:8. Bear much fruit: Abound in good works; be faithful, zealous, humble, devoted, always abounding in the works of the Lord. This honors God, 1. Because it shows the excellence of His law which requires it; 2. Because it shows the power of His gospel, and His grace that can overcome the evil propensities of the heart, and produce it; 3. Because the Christian is restored to the divine image, and it shows how excellent is the character after which they are formed.—The Saviour says those who bear MUCH fruit are they who are His disciples.—No one should take comfort in the belief that he is a Christian who does not aim to do much good.
John 15:9. So have I loved you: Not to the same degree, but with the same kind of love—deep, tender, unchanging; love prompting to self-denials, toils, and sacrifices to secure their welfare.—A strong reason why we should continue in His love, 1. Because the love which He shows for us is unchanging; 2. It is the love of our best Friend—love whose strength was expressed by toils, and groans, and blood; 3. As He is unchanging in the character and strength of His affection, so should we be—thus only can we properly express our gratitude, thus only show that we are His true friends; 4. Our happiness here, and for ever, depends altogether on our continuing in the love of Christ.
John 15:16. Bring forth fruit: This is the great end for which Christians are chosen.—Your fruit should remain: This probably means, 1. That the effect of their labors should be permanent on mankind; 2. That their labor should be unremitted.—He that expects or desires to grow weary and cease to serve Christ, has never yet put on the Christian armor, or known anything of the grace of God.
John 15:19. If ye were of the world: If you were actuated by the principles of the world—if, like them, you were vain, sensual, given to pleasure, wealth, ambition, they would not oppose you.
John 15:22. We may understand this as teaching, 1. That they would not have been guilty of this kind of sin; 2. They would not have been guilty of the same degree of sin.
John 16:1. Learn, 1. That if Christians were left to themselves, they would fall away and perish; 2. That God affords means and helps beforehand to keep them in the path of duty; 3. That the instructions of the Bible and the help of the Holy Spirit, are all granted to keep them from apostasy; 4. That Jesus, beforehand, secured the fidelity, and made certain the continuance in faith, of His apostles—seeing all their dangers, and knowing all their enemies; and, in like manner, we should be persuaded that “He is able to keep that which we commit to Him against that day.” 2 Tim. 1:12.
John 16:7. It is expedient for you, etc.; 1. 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 clearly the design of His coming than they would by His presence; 2. While on the earth the Lord Jesus could be bodily present but in one place at one time; 3. It was an evident arrangement in the great plan of redemption, that each of the Persons of the Trinity should perform a part; 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.
John 16:8–11. Here is presented a condensed and most striking view of the work of the Holy Spirit.
[From OWEN: John 15:6. There is no true branch of the Vine that does not bear some fruit.—Those who have no living connection with Christ, represented by abiding in Him, are to be cut off eventually even from the outward and visible connection with His body, and cast forth.
John 15:7. The word of Christ is His own presence: where that dwells and forms the rule of conduct, He dwells.—Ye shall ask what ye will, etc. This is not a promise, as some absurdly suppose, that every request made by Christ’s disciples shall be granted; but that such petitions as result from His indwelling word, and are therefore in accordance with the mind of the Spirit, shall be heard and answered.
John 15:8. We should be cautious not to refer the bearing of fruit to the external results only which crown a life of activity in the service of Christ; the main reference is to the growth of grace in the soul, the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23).—So shall ye be, etc. The condition of discipleship in the school of Christ.
John 15:9. The connection between Christ and His followers is one of love, having the same characteristics as that which subsists between the Father and Son.
John 15:10. Not only is obedience the proof of true discipleship, but it is here declared to be the very means of indissolubly uniting the soul to Christ.
John 15:16. The verb rendered have chosen, literally signifies, to choose out for one’s self, i.e. for one’s own use, or in accordance with one’s own pleasure; hence it signifies a choice with the idea of favor, approval and love.—Ye have not chosen Me: No one ever chooses Jesus in this evangelical sense of the word, until inclined thereto by the sovereign purpose and grace of God through Jesus Christ.—Should go and bring forth fruit: A picturesque expression denoting living energy and activity, a going forth under a profound sense of responsibility; and an addressing of one’s self with all one’s powers to the service assigned one.
John 15:19. It is only in opposition to truth, and in hatred to the followers of Jesus, that the men of the world are united, and it is in reference to this hatred to everything that is good, that the world is said to love its own.
John 15:24. Miracles must be connected with a holy life and true words, to have any power and significancy (as being from God).
John 15:26. Comforting is an important function of the Spirit’s office, though it constitutes but a small portion of His work as the Helper and Guardian of the saints on earth.—The preposition in from the Father implies that the original abode of the Spirit was with God.
John 16:1. Offended, “Hindered by stumbling- blocks such as are mentioned in the next verse.” (CROSBY)
John 16:10. “The world’s only possible righteousness is in the grasping of the unseen and ascended Christ, and they will be convinced of that by God’s Spirit either to salvation or damnation.” (CROSBY.)
John 16:14. He shall glorify Me, announces the great object of the Spirit’s mission; as all that He reveals has reference to Christ, so in the fulness and clearness of His revelation is Christ glorified, 2 Cor. 4:6.]
[So also Alford: None of you inquires into the nature (ποῦ being emphatic) of My departure, so as to appear anxious to know what advantages are to be derived from it.—P. S.]
[The E. V. translates reprove (Luther: strafen), but gives in the margin convince, which is much better. See TEXT. NOTES, and the exegesis below.—P. S.]
[This reproving and punitive action of the Holy Spirit is only the negative side of the ἐλέγχειν here spoken of; the positive side is the salutary action, which leads to godly repentance and conversion. Luther describes the Strafamt with his usual force. See the eloquent passage admirably translated by Hare, l. c. p. 357 f. The following is a specimen: “Christ gives here His apostles and the preachers of the gospel the highest authority upon earth, that they must rebuke the world with their preaching, and that all men must for God’s sake be subject to their preaching, and must suffer themselves to be rebuked by it, if they would receive God’s grace and be saved. Verily, this is a vast grasp in a word, and the beginning of a war which was to be great and arduous, that these few mean, poor beggars, the Apostles, are to stir up the whole world, and to bring it upon their shoulders. For what is meant by the world? Not one or two of their fellows; but all emperors, kings, princes, and whatever is noble, rich, great and learned, wise, or anything upon earth; all these are to be rebuked by their preaching, as being ignorant, unrighteous, and condemned before God, with all their wisdom, righteousness, and power, which they hitherto had had and made boast of.—The world cries out furiously, when this sermon begins, that it is a mischievous, intolerable sermon, producing dissension and confusion, giving rise to disobedience, insurrection, tumult. And we cannot wonder at these complaints; for it is a vexatious matter, that the preachers should take upon themselves to reprove all, without distinction, and should allow none to be just and good before God. Who can deem it right or reasonable that this sermon should breed such a hubbub, and bring about changes and innovations so that the whole former religion and worship, with so many beautiful ceremonies of such long standing, should be despised, and should fall? And the most vexatious thing of all is, that they who undertake the work of rebuking, are not high and mighty, learned or otherwise eminent men, but poor, mean, unknown, despised fishermen, and such folks as everybody would class with beggars and vagabonds.”—P. S.]
[Hare, p. 65: “That which was to be effected by His Spirit in tile Church during the whole course of ages down to the end of the world, He concentrates, as it were, into a single point of space, and a single moment of time; even as our eye, with the help of distance, concentrates a world into a star.”—P. S.]
[Similarly Chrysostom, Theophylact, Grotius, Hammond, who refer at the same to signs and wonders and other external proofs as the principal means by which men are to be convinced of the sin of their unbelief.—P. S.]
[The Rhemish version, as usual, follows here the Vulgate and translates justice (justitia), on which Hare (p. 371) makes the following instructive observations: “The Latin word is more appropriate here than in many other cases: though even here the corresponding Saxon word better expresses the vital principle dwelling and working in the soul; while the Latin, in conformity to the predominant character of the language, and of the nation whose image that language reflects, relates rather to outward acts and conduct. The difference is analogous to that which we find in the translations of the sixth beatitude, where, instead of the pure in heart, the Rhemish Version is led by the Vulgate, beati mundo corde, to put ‘Blessed are the clean of heart.’ I trust it is neither unjust nor fanciful to look upon these two words as in some measure symbolical of the distinctive characters of the Reformed churches and of that of Rome, that is to say, so far as each answers to its peculiar principle and idea. The former seek purity, and cannot be satisfied without it, and therefore are always oppressed with a deep consciousness of impurity; the latter aim at cleanness, which may be attained in a high degree, and by means of outward acts. So may justice; but righteousness is unattainable. I do not mean that the Romish Church is altogether regardless of purity and righteousness, or the Reformed of cleanness and justice. Specific distinctions are seldom absolute, but relative, and are formed by the predominance of one or other of the constitutive elements, by the development of that which had been latent, the coming forward of that which had been kept in the background, the superiority of that which had been subordinate. Neither are the cleanness and justice inculcated by the Church of Rome irrespective of purity and righteousness; nor are the purity and righteousness, the ideas of which were the beacon stars of the Reformation, irrespective of cleanness and justice. Indeed it would be utterly impossible for either to exist without some admixture of the other. But the error, which is the caricature and corruption of each church, and has evermore lifted up its head therein, marks its tendency by its main danger: and this in the Church of Rome has been the proneness to Pelagianism, in the Reformed Churches the aptness to run into Antinomianism. Our modern impugners and revilers of the Reformation have never duly recognized these main distinctions between the two great branches, into which the Western Church since that event has been divided. Hence they have gone blindly astray in their judgments upon each, blaming and praising inconsiderately and irrelevantly, nay, at times blaming where they ought to have praised, and praising where they ought to have blamed, even as in their own theology they want to turn back the hands of the world’s great clock, and to pull down to cleanness and justice, to rudiments of outward acts and observances,—touch not, taste not, handle not,—instead of urging and helping us to that inward purity and righteousness, which we are to seek from the Comforter, and which He alone can give.”—P. S.]
[Omitted in the fifth edition of Meyer.—P. S.]
[So also Maldonatus, Bengel, Olshausen, Barnes, Bäumlein, Godet, Owen.—P. S.]
[In this sense: The Spirit convinces the world also of the necessity of justification for the sinner (so that κόσμος would be the subject of δικαιοσύνης as well as of ἁμαρτίας); for after my atoning death I go to the Father and will work invisibly for you. This is substantially also the interpretation of Erasmus, Melanchthon, Lampe, Donne, Storr, Hengstenberg, Alford. Its chief representative is Luther, the almost inspired teacher of justification by faith. See the rich and full extracts given from him in fresh, racy Saxon English by Hare, pp. 441 ff., which are true in themselves and in opposition to Romish work-righteousness, and yet miss the proper sense of our passage. Ebrard adopts the same interpretation in the modified sense: the righteousness which the world ought to have, but has not. But in this case, as Meyer justly objects, the ἔλεγξις περὶ δικαιοσύνης would substantially amount to the same thing as the ἔλεγξις περὶ ἁμαρτίας.—P. S.]
[Hare, p. 139: “In that Christ went to the Father, He gave the most certain demonstration of His righteousness. In that we see Him no more, He renders it easier for us to make His righteousness ours. Were He still living upon earth, were He walking about before our eyes, it would not be so … .So long as He continued with His disciples, they lived by sight, rather than by faith. Sight, as belonging to the world of sense, partakes of its frailties and imperfections. To put forth all its power, faith must be purely and wholly faith. It is so even with the human objects of faith and love. So long as they continue in the flesh, our faith in them, our love for them is imperfect. The infirmities of the flesh cleave to it. Their corruption must put on incorruption,—they must be transfigured by death,—they must pass away from this world of sight,—we must see them no more;—then may our faith and love towards them become pure and holy and heavenly and imperishable. When our love springs from the root of faith, then alone may it hope to blossom through eternity.”—P. S.]
A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.IV
HIGHER UNION OF THE FARTHER AND THE HITHER WORLD AT THE NEW TESTAMENT EASTER AND PENTECOST. GLORIFICATION OF CHRIST THROUGH THE HOLY GHOST AND OF THE FATHER THROUGH CHRIST. THE GOING AND COMING AGAIN OF THE LORD. THE CHURCH’S WATCHWORD: A LITTLE WHILE. SYMBOLISM OF SORROW, OF NATAL PANGS AND JOYS. GOOD-FRIDAY GRIEF AND EASTER JOY IN THE LIFE OF THE LORD AND THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
(Pericope for Jubilate Sunday, John 16:16–23; Rogate, John 16:23–30)
16A little while, and ye shall not see me [and ye no longer11 behold me, οὐχέτι θεωρεῖτέ με]: and again, a little while, and ye shall [will] see me [ὄψεσθέ με], because 17I go to the Father.12 Then [Therefore] said some of his disciples among themselves [to one another, πρὸς ὰλλήλους], What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me [behold me not]: and again, a little while, and ye shall 18[will] see me: and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith [we know not what 19he is speaking of, οὐχ οἴδαμεν τί λαλεῖ].13 Now14 Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye inquire among yourselves of [Do ye inquire of this among yourselves, περὶ τούτου ζητεῖτε μετ’ αλλήλων ὅτι] that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me [and ye behold me not], and again, a little while, and ye shall [will] see me? 20Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall [will] weep and lament, but the world shall [will] rejoice; and [omit and]15 ye shall [will] be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall [will] be turned into joy. 21A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born intothe world. 22And ye now therefore [So ye also now] have16 sorrow: but I will [shall] see you again, and your heart shall [will] rejoice, and your joy no man [no one] taketh [will take, ὰρεῖ,17] from you. 23And in that day ye shall [will] ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name [If ye will ask the Father anything],18 he will give it you [in my name]. 24Hitherto have ye [ye have] asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall [will] receive, that your joy may be [made] full.
25These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs [parables, παροιμίαις; but19 the time cometh [the hour is coming] when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs [parables], but I shall show [tell] you plainly of [concerning, about] the Father. 26At [In] that day ye shall [will] ask in my name: and I say not unto you [I do not tell you] that I will [shall] pray the Father for you: 27For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out [forth] from God [from the Father].20
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
[Olshausen states the connection thus: Before the Spirit can fulfil His blessed work, a painful separation is necessary. But the μικρον suggests a more natural connection: The promised coming of the Comforter with His disclosures of the whole truth, spoken of John 16:13–15, is near at hand. The Lord now speaks of His speedy withdrawal with its joyful effect after a brief season of mourning. The mode of expression is purposely enigmatical, to stimulate the disciples. θεωρεῖτε and ὄψεσθε are not co-ordinate; the former refers to the bodily, the latter chiefly, though not exclusively, to the spiritual vision on the day of Pentecost, which, however, goes on to its final completion at the parousia. Comp. John 14:19.—P. S.]
“John 16:16. A little while.—The determination of time is not the same as John 14:19. In the latter passage the term is one reaching from the night of Maundy Thursday to Easter Day; in the present chapter the one little period is resolved into two small or lesser ones (after a sacred divide et impera, we might say). The first “little while” reaches to the death upon the cross; it amounts, therefore, to about one day; the second extends from that death to the resurrection, and, hence, amounts again to one day.—And ye will no more behold Me [καὶ οὐκέτιθεωρεῖτέ με].—According to Meyer, reference is not had to the resurrection in this place either, but to the spiritual viewing of Christ in the activity of the Paraclete. To accord with this view, the not seeing for a little while must likewise be merely spiritual. Better Tholuck: With still more directness than in John 14:19, our thoughts are led to Christ’s resurrection, on the occasion of which His disciples did see Him again. [Ebrard, Hengstenberg, Ewald, Weiss likewise refer ὄψεσθε to the resurrection, but this seems inconsistent with John 16:23: “In that day ye shall ask Me nothing,” comp. with Acts 1:6, 7, where the disciples did ask the Lord concerning the time of the establishment of His kingdom. Alford assumes in all these prophecies a perspective of continually unfolding fulfilments; the ὄψεσθε began to be fulfilled at the resurrection of Christ, then received its main fulfilment at the day of Pentecost, and shall have its final completion at the great return of the Lord hereafter.—P. S.]—For I go away to the Father.—I go away, not to abide in Sheol. Because I go to the realm of life, I can also soon manifest Myself again; manifest Myself here and thence,—there and in the future. After a little while, ye shall continually be seeing Me again and seeing Me more thoroughly than ye have ever yet seen Me; ye shall view Me with the eyes of the spirit and of living knowledge, because I am with the Father in the kingdom of life, as He that liveth.—And thus, together with the resurrection, there is embraced the entire manifestation of Christ through future ages until His coming;—a manifestation whose principle is contained in His resurrection. Luthardt: In the transient return of the Risen One they are to see a pledge of the Parousia an opinion which Meyer groundlessly combats). On the genuineness of the words: for I go, etc., see the TEXTUAL NOTES.
John 16:17. What is this whereof He saith: a little while (τὸ μικρόν)?—The excitement and mutual questionings of the disciples in regard to the mysterious saying of the Master, are themselves of a somewhat mysterious nature. They passed by the first μικρόν, John 14:19, without stumbling. In the first place, the double μικρόν seems to stagger them. Formerly He said: “A little while, and the world will behold Me no more; ye, however, will behold Me;”—now He says: “A little while, and ye will not behold Me.” But He goes on to declare further: “and again a little while, and ye will see Me,” i.e. view Me in a more glorious way. And as a reason for all this is assigned His going to the Father.—Now behold Me no more.—This seemed to denote His death; now view Me again;—and this to be indicative of His glorious appearing to judgment. Should the first ensue, in what respect could the second be? or the second, then wherefore the first? And, assuming the second, I how was it possible for them to view Him better than they had done before, if He went to the Father? Thus, they have a foreboding of the greatest, the most mysterious changes, but the greatest mystery of all to them is still that all these things are to happen in a short space; here, we must observe, they make their final stand, viz., at the stress borne by τὸ μικρόν. And it is upon this, in accordance with the purpose of the Lord, that the accent should now fall; it is here that they should stand still. The pain of parting, just pressed upon them by Him in its full greatness and startling, trying power, must now be viewed by them from the other side, as a suffering, sharp but short, no longer analogous to the agony of death, in the natural world, but, rather, to the anguish of travail, as a swift transition from the depths of woe to the heights of joy. As to how the apostles, and with them all Christians, have learned this saying, see the DOCTRINAL and ETHICAL NOTES.
John 16:19. Now Jesus was aware.—See John 6:61. It was His desire to lead them to this point; He now offers them an explanation, the magnitude and certainty of which are introduced by a: verily, verily.
John 16:20. Weep and lament [κλαύσετε καὶ θρηνήσετε ὑμεῖς].—The intensity of the anguish imminent upon them, vividly portrayed. The ye will is placed, in indication of their great contrast to the world, immediately before the words: The world will rejoice [ὁ δὲ κόσμος χαρήσεται].—The weeping and lamenting has for its subject, together with the death of the Lord, the apparent downfall of the hopes they had built upon the imminent kingdom of God and redemption of Israel.—ye will be sorrowful [ὑμεῖς λυπηθήσεσθε], emphatically: plunged in sorrow.21 The expression is partly characteristic of the depth of their desolation, partly introductory to the second antithesis and, hence, descriptive of the measure of their joy. Not alone shall, for them, joy follow upon sadness; their joy shall grow out of their sadness, sadness shall be changed into joy; consequently, the bottomless depth of their sorrow shall be the heavenly measure of their joy. Their dying with Christ was the condition of new life with Him. [Alford: εἰς χαρὰν γενήσεται, not merely changed for joy, but changed into, so as itself to become—so that the very matter of grief shall become matter of joy; as Christ’s cross of shame has become the glory of the Christian, Gal. 6:14.—P. S.]
John 16:21. The [A] woman, when she is in travail [ἡ γυνὴ ὅταν τίκτῃ, λύπην ἔχει. Mark this touching proof of the Saviour’s sympathy with suffering humanity and woman’s deepest trial (Gen. 3:16).—P. S.] The woman [ἡγυνή]. This is the universal rule; hence the definite article.22 When she is about to be delivered or to give birth, she hath sorrow. Not alone physical pangs or throes, but likewise mental pressure, solicitude and anguish.—Her hour [ἡ ὥρα αὐτῆς, her (appointed) time]. For woman the fateful hour of tribulation.—But when she is delivered of the child [ὅταν δὲ γεννήσῃ τὸ παιδίον—not necessarily masculine (puer), but indefinite]. The anguish is forgotten—merged in the joy that a human being is born into the world. This is the rapturous thought of maternity. The child is a human being (ἅνθρωπος), a mystery of personal, infinite life. See Gen. 4:1—Into the world [ὅτι ἐγεννήθη ἄνθρωπος εἰς τὸν κόσμον]. Not into the natural life only: into the Cosmos and for it; in order to the full development and moulding of it.—In the Old Testament also, the pangs of a travailing woman are used as a symbol of that grief which is turned into joy,. Is. 21:3; 26:17; 37:3; 66:7; Hos. 13:13.
John 16:22. And ye now therefore have sorrow.—Explanation of the symbol, for the immediate comprehension and need of the disciples. Ye are like a travailing woman, in your sorrow; soon ye will also rejoice exceedingly. At this Meyer stops, in antithesis to older and more extended interpretations. Even Tholuck observes: “in the case of the disciples, the subject of their sorrow did indeed turn into a subject for their joy; their joy—we may say—was the recompense of their anguish; it was not, however, born of their anguish.” Against this view we will cite the remark of Lücke: “The death-hour of Jesus was for the disciples the natal hour of new life.” Thus, not in the change of the subject alone did the joy lie, but in the change of their condition, as well; only by the death of their old view of the world and by their fundamental renunciation of it, their dying with Christ, did they become capable of understanding the import of His resurrection and of rejoicing over that resurrection as they should.” Prominence is given to this thought by Tholuck also. And exegesis is justified, on this point, in passing beyond the proximate application of the figure in accordance with the practical needs of the disciples at that time. Most undoubtedly, the death of Christ is, according to Apollinaris, Chrysostom, Olshausen and others, the agonizing travail of humanity, from which labor the God-Man issues, glorified, to the eternal joy of the whole body of mankind.23 De Wette’s remark: “the living Christ is subjectively the offspring of the mental productivity of the disciples,” is open to misapprehension, for this reason, if for none other, viz. that mental productivity is an attribute of man, and not of woman. According to Luthardt, the subject treated of is the new birth of the Church, her transition to a state of glorification, an occurrence simultaneous with Christ’s coming to the Church.24 This view would completely obliterate the words: a little while, as well as the reference to Christ. Upon this fact, however, we must insist: namely, that man is perfectly born to the world only in his second, heavenly state of existence, in the resurrection, and that, inasmuch as this is conceded, before the resurrection of Christ no human being had been fully born into the world, whilst with Christ’s resurrection, the birth of One Man into the world did at once make manifest this new world, and involve the co-geniture of the new humanity for this new world (with Christ dead, risen, transplanted into the heavenly existence). And thus, again, He was born of the travail-pangs of the Theocracy, the whole of the old humanity in its higher tendency, its longing for salvation; these pangs truly centered in His heart; at the same time, however, they thrilled through the members of believers and became the mortal agony of their old view of the world. (See Is. 26:17; 66:9; 1 Cor. 15:47; Rev. 12:1.)
Your heart will rejoice.—Meyer considers this as relative to the communication of the Paraclete, in opposition to the just view of most commentators, who assume it to have reference to the resurrection.—And this your joy—no man will take from you. It is the beginning of the eternal life in the heavenly existence, in which heaven and earth are intrinsically united.
John 16:23. And in that day ye will ask nothing of Me.—This is the great, endless day, beginning in their souls with the beaming of the Easter Day. The day when they shall see Christ personally again and gaze upon Him spiritually. This seeing again includes the fact that the living Christ is then born in the disciples (De Wette); but this, the subjective festalness of the day is conditioned upon the objective dawn of the day of Christ. The glory of this festal day is depicted: 1. in the assurance that the disciples will ask the Lord nothing—an intimation of the enlightenment of the Spirit; 2. that, in the Spirit of sonship, they shall acceptably pray in Jesus’ name, with perfect certainty of a hearing and of the reception of miraculous power; 3. that, thus praying, they shall have an entrance into the spiritual life of consummate joy. The Lord explains the first promise by the announcement that they shall at that time enjoy unbounded spiritual intercourse with Him which condition of affairs existing, He will unreservedly reveal divine things to them. The second and third promises He explains by telling them that they shall experience the Father’s love in direct communion with Him. Hence it is the day of full, heavenly communion with the triune God, the Holy Ghost, the Son and the Father.
Ask—inquire of—Me nothing.—Chrysostom and others interpret ἐρωτᾶν as expressive of requesting. According to Johannean usage it might bear this meaning. And we should be forced thus to interpret it, if, from John 16:23–27, there were presented but a succession of fresh items in the promise. In that case, this first proposition would contain the general promise: on that day ye shall have nothing more to desire, to request, but shall experience the fullest content, for, first, ye shall have the hearing of your prayers granted you in My name, etc. But in John 16:25 the promise of John 16:23 οὐκ ἐρωτήσετε, is, from the stand-point of the future, further explained; similarly, John 16:26 and 27 are explanatory of the promise of John 16:23: Whatsoever ye shall ask—petition—the Father for, etc.—Accordingly, the meaning is: Ye shall in that day ask—inquire of—Me nothing. That is, their immature disciplehood and pupilage—that condition in which they were continually becoming astonished or startled at something, and were consequently led into many questionings (for instance chap. 14 and John 16:17), failing, however, to put the true and decisive question (John 16:5)—shall come to an end and be replaced by the higher condition of enlightenment. The condition of enlightenment is a condition of ever-living revelation—revelation suited to all the true needs of the intellectual spirit, 1 John 2:20.
John 16:23. If ye will entreat the Father for anything.—Introduced by a verily, verily. Hence, it is upon the following promise that the principal weight lies. Christ divides their wants into intellectual and practical ones, the need of complete revelation and that of finished redemption; in laying particular stress upon the latter, He brings out the fact that the new life of knowledge is conditioned by the new life of prayer in the practical appropriation of salvation. We consider the reading ἄν τι to be established not only by the Codd. (see the Note), but also by the consideration that the principal emphasis should here rest upon the filial invocation of the Father, a circumstance unconsidered in Meyer’s decision for ὅ τι ἄν after Cod. A.
He will give it you in My name.—[Notice here the right reading.—P. S.] See John 14:26. Just as the name of Christ, as the living view of His personal manifestation, and the experience of His salvation, is the medium of their prayer (a fact presupposed in the invocation of God as the Father, namely, the Father of Christ in the first instance), so a hearing on the part of the Father is allotted them through the name of the Son, i.e. the unfolding of the fulness of blessing, the divine power in His manifestation, His salvation and purpose. The name of Jesus, therefore, is not merely the “motive,” but also the medium. The clearer, objective radiance of Christ’s manifestation is the means by which God endows believers with more abundant power of prayer and more bountiful answers to it.
John 16:24. Hitherto ye have asked for nothing.—Not simply for the reason that they lacked divine illumination (Meyer), or because Christ Himself was not yet perfected (Hofmann), but because they prayed, as yet, with the reservations of their old view of the world, their old Messianic hope, not in that submission to the Messianic name of Christ and to His work, to which they should attain by means of the cross.
That your joy may be made full.—See John 16:22 and John 15:11. Glorious condition of the blessed spirit-life. Also an ultimate end of the life of prayer (ἵνα). Christ’s exhortation to prayer manifestly has for its aim Pentecostal prayer for the Holy Spirit as the Mediator of that joy which should be their portion in the unanimity of love. Unanimity of prayer (Acts 2) is the yearning of love. Unanimity in the Holy Ghost is the fulfilling of love, and that is the experience of heaven upon earth.
John 16:25. These things have I spoken unto you in parabolic discourses [ἐνπαροιμίαις],—The course through which the disciples, as unripe scholars, have hitherto been passing, with Christ for their Teacher, is here brought to a conclusion; hence it is that He contrasts the accommodative method which He has hitherto employed, with the system of instruction that He intends pursuing in future. The proximate reference of ταῦτα is, we admit, to the last discourse upon the saying, a little while (John 16:17), and, in particular, to the parabolic word concerning the travailing woman. But we must not (as does Meyer) limit its application to the above; the incorrectness of such limitation is proved by the plural ἐν παροιμίαις itself (Tholuck). Even the reference of the word to all those matters of which Christ has hitherto been speaking, inclusive of His discourse concerning the Vine (Luthardt), fails to do full justice to this summary. The moment of the close of the Teachership till now exercised by Christ in the circle of disciples, could not remain without a designation of deep significance. Jesus characterizes the entire method which He has hitherto pursued amongst the disciples, as a speaking ἐν παροιμίᾳ. If it was necessary that He should speak much to the people in parables or complete similitudes, whilst to the disciples His deliverances were direct (Matt. 13), He still had been compelled until now to speak to the latter also in figurative expressions [see Notes on John 10:6 and 15:1, pp. 317 and 461]. Be it observed in this connection that even the figure-less saying remains a dark and simile-like conception to the unenlightened, while to the enlightened man the very concretest figure is illuminated by the idea of the Spirit (see the Revelation).25
But the hour cometh.—There shall be a great hour in that great Easter-Sunday of renewed meeting and of the Spirit,—an hour when the boundaries and wrappings of Christ’s teachership, His revelation, shall fall. The Lord illustrates this new stand-point in a concrete manner, by repeating the two promises John 16:23 and 24.
But … plainly—openly—without concealment—with freedom of speech—free-spokenly (παῤῥησία). As a substantive, παῥῥησία is sometimes subjective (perfect frankness), sometimes objective (perfect openness and freedom from concealment); and, the one signification being inconceivable without the other, it is, as a general thing, susceptible of both interpretations at once. These remarks are likewise applicable to the adverb in question, formed by the Dative of the substantive. It means—the objective sense predominating—: without reserve, with plainness, directness. According as Christ institutes a contrast between His whole future speaking in the Spirit and His speaking hitherto, it is assumable that He has in mind, in the first instance, the last parabolic saying concerning the travailing woman, at the same time intending, however, to characterize His whole style of speech hitherto, and, in antithesis to that, the new style in future employed by Him.
John 16:26. In that day ye will ask.—Present petitions. From the complete manifestation of Christ through the Spirit, a manifestation realized, for them, in their enlightenment, there shall issue, as the product of the full knowledge-life, the true prayer-life in the name of Jesus. Worthy of note is the distinction: αἰτήσεσθε, ἐρωτήσω. [Bengel: Cognitio parit orationem. Lücke: “The more knowledge, the more prayer in the name of Jesus.” Alford: “The approaching the Father through Him shall be a characteristic of their higher state under the dispensation of the Spirit.”—P. S.]—And I do not say unto you. According to Aretius, Grotius and others, this is an intimation to the effect that Jesus will also pray for them: I will not so much as mention that, etc. According to Lücke and others, on the other hand, it is declarative of the directness of prayer to the Father,—a directness removing the necessity for intercession.26 According to Meyer, this offers no contradiction to John 14:16; 17:19, for the reason that those passages treat of the intercessions of Christ previous to the time of the Paraclete. But yet John had received the Paraclete when he wrote 1 John 2:1 (comp. Heb. 7:25; Rom. 8:34), a fact to which Meyer himself recurs later. The intercession of Christ for believers anointed with the Spirit, has, however, a different character. It is no longer a mediation whereby immediateness must be effected, but one by which it is carried to perfection; consequently, a mediation continually merged more and more in immediateness. His intercession has reference then to the development of reconciliation into sanctification. Also, this is the sense of our passage: even though I shall pray the Father for you, it will not be as though the necessity were upon Me of procuring you the favor of the Father, or the Spirit of son ship; on the contrary, ye shall learn that the ye Father Himself doth love you and communicate Himself unto you.
John 16:27. For He Himself, the Father loveth you.—i.e. not: “without My intercessory mediation” (Meyer), but with the Holy Ghost the love of the Father doth also directly manifest itself unto you. The Christian life alternates between moods when, on the one hand, life’s immediateness in God, on the other hand, its mediation through Christ, is felt; this immediateness being, however, modified by the fact of its existence in the name of Christ, and this mediation also appearing in the glorification effected by the Spirit. The Present denotes the proximity of the communication of the Spirit, or, rather, the already beginning ante-celebration of this communication as that of the Spirit of sonship, Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6.—Because ye have loved Me. “Because ye are they (ὑμεῖς emphasized) who have loved Me.” Meyer. Love to Christ in faith in His name is the medium through which believers experience the Father’s love or the consolation of their sonship.—And have believed that I came forth from the Father (see John 8:42). This decided belief in the divine personality of Christ is the foundation and the proof of their love for Christ, For in the disciples, faith was not developed as another and secondary thing, from love to Jesus, but germinant faith, in the form of loving devotion, unfolded into this, faith’s knowledge, The Perfects denote the festalness of the moment, which was anticipative of the Pentecostal time. That Christ regards the belief in His wondrous outgoing from the Father as the basis for the consummation of faith in Him, is evidenced by the following.
John 16:16.—[The text. rec. reads οὐ, not; but οὐκέτι, no longer, is supported by א. B. D. L., Orig., Vulg., Syr., etc., and adopted by Lachmann, Tischend. (ed. viii., against οὐ of his former edd.), Tregelles, Alford, Westcott and Hort. Lange follows it, and says, in opposition to Meyer, who considers οὐκέτι an interpretation from John 16:10 and 14:19, that it agrees better with the contrast between θεωρεῖτε and ὄψεσθε.—P. S.]
John 16:16.—[The words ὅτι (ἐγὼ) ὺπάγω πρὸς τὸν πατέρα in the received text are supported by A. and retained by Lachmann and Lange (who accounts for their omission on the ground of their seeming inconsistency with ὄψεσθέ με), but they are wanting in א. B. D. L., Orig., etc., and dropped by Tischend., Alford, Treg., Westc. and H. It looks as if they were inserted to suit John 16:17.—P. S.]
John 16:18.—[On minor differences of reading in John 16:17 and 18 see Alf. and Tischend. ed. viii.—P. S.]
John 16:19.—[Lange with Lachm. retains οὖν (after ἔγνω) which is backed by A. and suits the Johannean style, but Tregelles, Alf., Tischend., W. and H. omit it in accordance with א. B. D. L.—P. S.]
John 16:20.—[δέ, but, before λυπηθήσεσθε is omitted by Lange in accordance with א. 1 B. D. L., Tischend. (ed. viii., against his former edd.), Alf., etc. It marks a contrast which has already been presented.—P. S.]
John 16:22.—[ἔχετε is supported by א.* B. C., etc., and adopted by Lange, Tregelles, Alf., Tischend., Westcott and H.; the future ἕξετε, which Lachmann prefers with A. D. L. and א.c, seems conformed to the fut. in John 16:20. Meyer, on the contrary, thinks that ἔχετε is conformed to ἔχει in John 16:21 and to νῦν.—P. S.]
John 16:22.—[The rec. αἴρει, taketh, is supported by א. A. C. D.2, L., approved by Lange, Tischend. (viii.); the future ἀρεῖ, will take, is adopted by Lachm., Alford, Tregelles, Westcott and Hort, in accordance with B. D., Vulg., Orig.—P. S.]
John 16:23.—[ἄν τι, si quid, if anything, is the correct reading, adopted by Tischend., Alf., etc., in accordance with B. C. D. L., etc., instead of the rec. ὅσα ἄν. The best authorities put ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου after δώσει ὑμῖν, not before (as the text. rec. does). Christ is the medium of all communication between the Father and the believer.—P. S.]
John 16:25.—[ἀλλ’, but, is omitted by Tischend. and Alford, but retained by Lange with Lachmann on the authority of A. C.3 D. He claims also B., but B. as well as א., according to Tischend. ed. viii., sustain the omission.—P. S.]
John 16:27.—[The text. rec. and Tischend ed. viii. read θεοῦ (from John 13:3) with א.* A. C.3, etc., but א.ca B. C.* D. L. X., Syr., etc., Lachm., Lange, Tregelles, Alford, Westcott and Hort give the preference to πατρός.—P. S.]
[Alford: “Λυπηθήσεσθε goes deeper than the wailing and weeping before: and plainly shows that the whole does not only refer to the grief while the Lord was in the tomb, but to the grief continually manifesting itself in the course and conflict of the Christian, which is turned into joy by the advancing work of the Spirit of Christ:—and, in the completion of the sense, to the grief and widowhood of the Church during her present state, which will be turned into joy at the coming of her Lord.” David Brown: “At the same time the sorrow of the widowed Church in the absence of her Lord in the heavens, and her transport at His personal return are certainly here expressed.”—P. S.]
[In the German, as in the Greek lang., the definite article is generic; but the use of the article in Greek and in German corresponds, in this case, to its omission in English; comp. ὁ δοῦλος, 15:15.—P. S.]
[Olshausen: “Hence the proper import of the figure seems to be, that the Death of Jesus Christ was as it were an anguish of birth belonging to all Humanity (ein schmerzvoller Geburlsact der ganzen Menschheit) in which the perfect man was born into the world; and in this very birth of the new man lies the spring of eternal joy, never to be lost, for all, inasmuch as through Him and His power the renovation of the whole is rendered possible.” Alford adopts this view, and applies the same to every Christian who is planted in the likeness of Christ. His passing from sorrow to joy—till “Christ be formed in him,” is this birth of pain. “And the whole Church, the Spouse of Christ—nay, even the whole Creation, συνωδίνει, till the number of the elect be accomplished, and the eternal joy brought in. And thus the meaning which Luthardt insists on as against the above remarks of Olshausen, viz. the new birth of the Church, is in inner truth the same as his.”—P. S.]
[Comp. Wordsworth in loc. (after Augustine): “In a secondary and wider sense, the Church in this world is the woman in travail; she is in travail with souls for the new birth to grace and glory (Gal. 4:19). She groans in the pangs of parturition even till the great day of Regeneration, the day of the glorious reappearing of Christ, and the general resurrection and new birth to immortality (Rom. 8:22). Then humanity will cast off its grave-clothes, and be glorified for ever with Christ.”—P. S.]
[So also Alford: παροιμία, properly, a proverb:—but implying generally in Scriptural and oriental usage something dark and enigmatical; see especially Sir. 6:35; 8:8; 39:3; 47:17: ‘in dictis tectioribus,’ Bengel. This is true of the whole discourse—and of the discourses of the Lord in general, as they must then have seemed to them, before the Holy Spirit furnished the key to their meaning. Olshausen remarks that all human speech is a παροιμία, only able to hint at, not to express fully, the things of God; and that the Lord contrasts the use of this weak and insufficient medium with the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit which is a real imparting of the divine nature and life.—P. S.]
[So also Alford: “Christ is setting in the strongest light their reconciliation and access to the Father.”—P. S.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
(On John 16:16–33.)
1. In the preceding section Christ clearly distinguishes His presence with the disciples fromDOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
(On John 16:16–33.)
1. In the preceding section Christ clearly distinguishes His presence with the disciples from the future presence of the Holy Ghost with them. But now He reveals to them the prospect of Himself speedily being with them again in a new form. By this can be meant, in the first instance, nothing else than the Resurrection, with its manifestations; that, however, is at the same time a symbol and pledge of the general fact of their future meeting;—of their meeting by means of viewing Christ in spirit, of their meeting on the way to the Father and in the Father’s House, and of their meeting in the Parousia. With the Holy Ghost He Himself shall re-appear to them in His glory. The new day of Christ is but one day, and also the eternal seeing of Him again in faith is essentially one seeing.
2. A little while [John 16:16]. The one and the other μικρό ν are symbolical of the alternation of Good Friday and Easter periods in the Church; an alternation regularly continuing until the day of Christ’s appearing. The Apostles studied this μικρόν their whole lives long; but when proclaiming, as they did, ever and anon, during the tribulations of the early Church: the Lord cometh quickly, it is the last time, the last hour, they announced a religious date, established through the fellowship of the Christian spirit with the Spirit of God and Christ, before whom a thousand years are as one day and one day as a thousand years (2 Pet. 3:8); and it is a decided mistake of modern exegetes to be continually regarding this religious date of a lofty, apostolic view of the world, as a chronological date of chiliastic error. The same Paul who, in a religious sense, proclaimed: “The Lord cometh quickly” (1 Thess.), in the second Epistle to the Thessalonians opposed the chronological misunderstanding by the declaration: The Lord cometh not so soon; and the same John who wrote the words: “It is the last hour” (1 John 2:18), did in Revelation likewise depict the grand succession of the ages until the appearing of Christ.
3. John 16:20. The distress of the disciples, the joy of the world. And the joy of the disciples? Here the Lord has not carried out the parallel, for the joy of the disciples is to be the Evangel for the world, and only to the impenitent portion of the world shall it be an occasion of lamentation. Hence homilists, in completing the second antithesis also, are but conditionally correct. Only the impenitent world with its distressful lamentations, forms a contrast to the joy of the disciples.
4. [John 16:21] The sufferings of Christ were the birth-pangs of the Theocracy, which made themselves felt in the disciples, the true children of the Theocracy. Christ’s resurrection, however, was, in reality, the birth of the eternal man into the eternal world, simultaneously with which birth the new mankind, as a whole, was born into the world. When He died, the great work of God was finished; when He rose, the eternal God-Man was perfected. With Him the Church, the new mankind, was born. On this birth see Rev. 12:1; on the First-born, Col. 1:18; on the congenitive humanity, Col. 3:1. Comp. the note on Cl. 1 of John 16:22, p. 497.
5. John 16:22. All Christianity is an alternation of mourning and joy, as the natural life is an alternation of joy and sorrow; parting grief and joy of meeting, in the highest sense. Joy not to be taken away. An alternation in spiritual, as in natural things, but in an inverse order.
6. Verily, verily, etc. (John 16:23): the solemnly asseverated, absolute hearableness of prayer in that degree in which it is prayer; and His Amen a prophecy of a hearing, spoken by the Spirit of prayer.
7. The Christian life is a spiritual life in which inquiries and researches are transformed into entreaties and experiences, John 16:24. That great day of New Testament spiritual life is a day when men shall live in the communion of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, a day when men shall walk in the manifestation of heaven upon earth. See notes to John 16:23.
8. Perfect joy, and life in the Spirit are one. An exhortation to Pentecostal prayer. See note to last clause of John 16:24.
9. [John 16:25.] To a man in an unenlightened state, every discourse, even one which in a direct manner presents ideas to the mind, becomes a parabolic speech; to a man in a condition of enlightenment, every discourse, even the figurative, parabolical one, becomes an undraped word of revelation; just as the unconverted man has, in addition to the [Mosaic] Law another Law in the Gospel, while the converted man finds, added to his Gospel, another Gospel in the Law. Law and symbol are the indivisible forms of revelation for the pious of tender age; the law for the heart and conscience, the symbol for the understanding; whereas, on the other hand, the Gospel and spiritual speech are the inseparable forms of revelation for the believer who has attained to maturity; see note to John 16:25. Life in the Spirit is a life in the ever new revelation, in the everlasting Gospel, Rev. 14:6.
10. [John 16:26.] In the life of the faithful, Christ’s intercession coincides with the immediate prayer of the Holy Spirit within the heart (Rom. 8:25), in which latter prayer the manifestations of the Father’s love are announced.
11. [John 16:28.] The one half of the life of Christ,—namely, His personal coming, as the Son of God, from the Father—is the key to the other half—His going, in divine glory, to the Father.
12. [John 16:29, 30.] The disciples, in obtaining from the Lord their first general view of His entire life and course, also experienced a foretaste of the Holy Spirit. For the Holy Spirit is the divine life in its central unity. Hence the first illumination touching the life of Christ and of all the divine manifestations in general, completed in the ascension, is the instrumentality for the reception of the Holy Ghost; as the anointing of the Holy Ghost is the instrumentality for the full, undivided view of the life of Jesus in its unity. The unit is needful and unity indispensable. This is so much a law of life, that always with the dismemberment of the patchwork of knowledge, life takes its departure, but with its centralization, life is evolved. For this cause, poly-history is an inanimate, true science a living, thing. For this cause, legality through ordinances is lost in death, while from central saving faith it develops an abundant life in God-like virtues. Even the pantheistic feeling of all-oneness (Alleinsgefühl) displays a rich shimmering of spirit; but a shimmering as false as pantheism itself, in its antagonism to personality. We do not doubt that the disciples had, in that moment, a glimpse of Pentecost.
13. This glimpse was, however, the last moment of their pre-Pentecostal enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is the blossom of the new life—a blossom, in prophetic times, so gloriously unfolding in the prophetic word. But enthusiasm must first pass through mortal suffering, to the end that it may set into fruit, into fire-proof disposition of mind. Such trial, therefore, was now imminent even upon the disciples, according to John 16:32.
14. John 16:33. Christ’s peace in the faithful on earth, is heaven upon earth. They have this peace in Him; in the world they have anguish. What is yet wanting to the fulness of peace, shall be supplied by the courage and confidence inspired by the thought that He has overcome the world. Peace is made entire by cheerful confidence, as salvation through patience, Rom. 8:26; see 1 John 5:4.
15. Christ alone, and yet not alone in His hour of suffering. See note to last clause of John 16:32.
16. The farewell-discourses of Jesus: discourses speaking peace, warning, consolation, victory. John 16:33.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
(On John 16:16–33.)
How heaven and earth are now through Christ already made one in reality, with a view to their one day becoming one in actual manifestation also.—The great word of the Lord: a little while; 1. A little while and ye shall not see Me; 2. a little while and ye see Me again.—How we, in company with the disciples, have to make a lifelong study of the words: a little while.—Alternation betwixt Good Friday and Easter periods: 1. In the life of Christ, 2. in that of the Church, 3. in that of the individual Christian, 4. in that of the whole present age of the world.—The history of the natural birth of man, a symbol of the history of the higher life.—Christ, as the First-born from the dead, is the First-born for the kingdom of everlasting life.—The blossom of the highest heavens in the low, earthly world.—The brightest day (John 16:23), preceded by the darkest hour (John 16:32).—The Christian life as the joy of fresh seeing: 1. The seeing of Christ again, perfect joy; 2. perfect joy a pledge of all Christian re-seeing, John 16:22.—And on that day: 1. Easter-day as Sunday, 2. Sunday as Easter-day.—The new and great God’s Day of the Resurrection: 1. One day as a thousand years; 2. a thousand years as one day.—How all our questioning and searching should terminate in faithful prayer, John 16:23.—Acceptable prayer, John 16:23, 24.—Prayer in the name of Jesus.—The distinction of parabolic speech and spiritual speech: 1. In the word of revelation; 2. in the word of the Church; 3. in the ear of the Christian.—Tokens of salvation in fidelity to Jesus: 1. Prayer urged in His name guarantees us His intercession; 2. love to Him is our guaranty that the Father loves us; 3. the belief that He has come unto us from the Father is our guaranty that He has gone for us to the Father; 4. the word that He has spoken unto us is our guaranty that He will tell us all things.—The blissful moment of the disciples a foretoken of their darkest hour.—Even though the congregation be scattered, Christ standeth firm on the battle-ground.—Christ alone and not alone.—How Christ hath armed His people for their warfare, John 16:33.
The Christian’s peace in the tribulation of the world: 1. How the peace of Christ and tribulation in the world demand one another; 2. the peace of Christ a source of tribulation in the world; 3. tribulation in the world a token of the peace of Christ.—The peace of Christ as a victory over the tribulation in the world: 1. How, as peace in Christ, it calls forth tribulation in the world; 2. how, as peace through Christ, it inspires courage and cheerfulness, and exalts a man above the tribulation of the world.
On the Pericope Jubilate (Gospel for the Third Sunday after Easter), John 16:16–23. Christianity, as the highest vicissitude betwixt sorrow and joy, contrasted with the worldly life as the highest vicissitude of joy and sorrow.—The word of the Lord, a little while: 1. An enigma to the disciples (John 16:16–19); 2. a prophetic type in the mouth of the Lord (John 16:19–22); 3. a blissful contemplation and experience in the new life of the children of His Spirit.—The natal hour of the natural man a type of the natal hour of the kingdom of God: 1. Symbol of the woman; 2. symbol of the child.—Every human being a token of the change between sadness and joy in the kingdom of God: 1. With anguish expected and born; 2. jubilantly received and welcomed into life.—The winning of life from out the peril of death: 1. In the natural life; 2. in the spiritual life.—Out of supreme renunciation the fulfilment of all desires, John 16:23.—The weeping and lamenting of the godly,—how it is changed into filial entreaties, proffered with heavenly confidence.—In the way of Christ all lost, all gained.—The heaviest hour (John 16:21), the womb of the most glorious day (John 16:23).—The word of the Pericope: Be joyful!
On the Pericope Rogate (Gospel for the Fifth Sunday after Easter), John 16:23–30. The new life of the faithful in the day of salvation: 1. A new speaking of believers to the Lord (ask nothing, ask in the name of Jesus); 2. a new speaking of the Lord to believers (not through parables, but through the immediate word of the Spirit); 3. a new order of conversation (He anticipates all their questions with His answers).—The day of salvation: 1. A day of blissful silence in view of the revelation of Christ (John 16:23); 2. a day of blissful prayer in view of the revelation of the Father (John 16:26).—The new life a praying in the name of Jesus: 1. A new craving, in contemplating His heavenly personality, for the full manifestation of the personal kingdom; 2. a new praying, trusting in the victorious right of His personality; 3. a new striving in the strength emanating from His personality.—The old and the new order of things in the Kingdom of God: 1. A communion of disciples, a communion of apostles (John 16:23); 2. a praying in general, an asking in His name; 3. an asking for the renunciation of all things; an asking for the granting of all things; 4. a parabolic word, a word of spirit and knowledge; 5. the consciousness of human love to the Lord, the consciousness of being divinely loved by the Father; 6. belief in the mission of Christ, belief in the life of Christ as perfected in the humiliation and exaltation.—How Christ’s discourse concerning the Pentecostal time procured for the disciples the first blissful ante-celebration of that Pentecostal time.—The word of the Pericope: Pray!
STARKE: Of the disciples’ state of mourning and rejoicing.—HEDINGER: Our tribulation is temporal, 2 Cor. 4:17; Is. 54:7; Ps. 30:5.—Men are always desiring to know how it shall fare with them in the world; here they are informed: They shall experience a constant alternation of joy and sorrow.—Men often do not understand the best consolation, it being, for the most part, enveloped in what appears to them the greatest cross.—CRAMER: It is a vexatious order of things in this world, that the godly weep, and the wicked laugh, believers mourn, and sinners rejoice, Job 21:7; Jer. 12:1; Ps. 73:3. But there shall follow a different alternation in which all will be reversed.—The best cometh last.—Woman is saved through child-bearing, if she abide in the faith, 1 Tim. 2:15—If the physical birth be so hard, what must the spiritual be!—O blissful pains, blessed labor! 2 Cor. 12:10.—Worldly joy is unstable, and an evil hour sweepeth all away, but the joy of eternal life hath no end, 1 Pet. 1:4.—On John 16:26. Teachers particularly, as also other Christians, must accommodate themselves to the weak as much as is possible, and deal with them according to their simplicity, if they desire that their labor should not be in vain among them.—HEDINGER: God leads from one glory to another, until the face of Christ is fully uncovered.—There is still much of the knowledge of God, our heavenly Father, in arrears to us; but what we do not learn here, we shall certainly know in heaven.—As wine issues from grapes when they are pressed, and as spices, when bruised, give forth a powerful odor, so the tribulation of believers beareth glorious fruits, Eph. 6:13.—Nowhere in the world is there rest for a child of God, but (everywhere) anguish only; in Christ, however, his Redeemer, he finds peace.
LISCO: The spiritual (and not simply spiritual) re-seeing, i.e. the new spiritual fellowship with Jesus, is for His people the ground of an indestructible joy.—GERLACH: The death of Christ, with all its effects upon His people, was the birth-pain of the new man upon earth; from His death there issued forth a new mankind unto the resurrection.—The joy which at that time sprang up, was an imperishable one, for the new man was, through Christ’s resurrection, born forever, i.e. the redemption, with its infinite, eternal results, might not cease, but must grow into infinitude. The last words (ye shall ask me nothing) are to be understood similarly to Jer. 31:34. The condition upon which ye then, after the Holy Ghost has led you into the whole truth (John 16:13), shall enter, sustains the same relation to your present one that the condition of a mature and intelligent man bears to that of a child, who must frame a separate question with regard to each thing, because he is ignorant of the centre and connection of the whole.—The whole, full meaning of the name of Jesus was first explained to them by His death and glorification.—In the filial relationship itself, the free love of the Father is sovereign, so that in that relationship we have free access to Him.—BRAUNE: Jesus does not say: a child; He says,—that a man is born—a man, still undeveloped, yet present, with all his hopeful powers, dispositions and destinies, in the child. The very pangs pierced the spring of out-gushing joy.—Tears are oft-times the dew-drops on the grass and the flower, by which names man is designated, Is. 40:7; John 26:17; 66:7; Jer. 4:31.—Every affliction (religiously applied), is a birth, in which the new man, or some gracious addition to the new man, is born.—Where religion is, there is prayer; but as the one varies, so also does the other. In Homer the Priest is called a Pray-er.
HEUBNER: The application of this saying to parting and meeting is very obvious and almost worn out. But the saying is deeper. It is the key to the knowledge of divine Providence.—(In sooth, the highest meeting of blessed spirits in the kingdom of Christ has the most perfect depth and is a final aim of Providence.)—The words: “A little while,” contain much consolation for those who are in bodily distress, poverty, sickness,—for those who sorrow, etc.—The impatient man, indeed, would fain object: that is no μικρό ν—it is a μακρόν—Why does God part good men?—Hear His word, 1. Thou mourner; 2. thou child of fortune; 3. thou presumptuous sinner, 4. thou faithful and godly Christian!—We should regard the thought of the future meeting not simply as a joyous one, but also as a thought full of solemnity and warning. For many a one the re-seeing of others will be fearful.—Our spiritual life, also, is subject to vicissitudes. At one time we see Christ; at another we see Him not. The Christian’s art is patiently to wait.
John 16:17,18. God’s ways are often dark sayings to us also. The joy of the world is a brief joy, the suffering of the just is a brief suffering.—The recollection of sufferings endured out of love to, and for the sake of, God, is that which gives sanctity and dignity to joy.
John 16:21. This simile reveals the tender interest which Jesus felt in mother-woes and mother-joys. Hence it must be refreshing to sensitive and pious mothers. Jesus bestowed a glance upon them. (Veith.)—Worldly joy and the dead Christ; spiritual joy and the living Christ.—Vigorous pangs are an indication of vigorous births; it is so also in spiritual things.—(Fenneberg): The children of God have three kinds of birthdays: 1. The natural one. Then they weep; their kinsmen rejoice, 2. The new birth. Then, also, do they often weep piteously; the angels in heaven rejoice. 3. The day of death (celebrated among the martyrs in the ancient Church as a birth-day). Their end is not without tears and woe, but after that an eternal rejoicing begins.
Jubilate-Pericope. [John 16:16–23.] HEUBNER: The grief of the Apostles at their separation from Jesus: 1. Description (source, effects). 2. Application.—The tender love of Jesus for His weak, mourning disciples.—Of prayer in Jesus’ name: No Christian prayer remains unheard.—Kant would not pray; but in his last hours he folded his hands. Spinoza could not pray, and wept because he could not.—Ability to pray is a sure indication of our own inner life, of our Christian condition. When we pray and learn to pray in Christ’s name, there begins a new period in our life.—Prayer makes the spirit serene.
John 16:25. (Luther): His words were dark and recondite to the disciples; it was as if He spoke with them in an unknown tongue; for as yet they had no experience of what He told them and knew not what sort of a kingdom Christ would establish. Hence, in accordance with the judgment of Jesus, an entirely new life-period must set in at such time as we begin to pray in Jesus’ name, nay, to call upon Himself.—In the same sense in which He now leaves the world—personally, therefore—He had come forth from God.
John 16:30. Now we know, etc. Whence did they know this? Because Jesus could thus read their hearts.
Rogate-Pericope. [23–30.] HEUBNER: Spirit of Christian prayer.—Close connection of our praying with our whole Christian piety,—Prayer the breath of spiritual life.—Doubts as to the blessing of prayer.—Causes of the non-hearing of prayer.—Prayer as the highest honor.
John 16:32. When thou art deserted of all, fear not, so God but be with thee.—Who stands with Christ, and cleaves to Him, takes part in His victory.
GOSSNER: The humble and ingenuous man, failing to understand some passage in God’s word, asks and learns; the proud and disingenuous man takes occasion thereat to despise or reject that word.
John 16:19. Jesus advances to meet those who honestly desire truth and helps them out of their doubts. He anticipates their questions.—All is brought forth in anguish.—He Was taken from them then (at His ascension); not so joy, Luke 24:52.—Since that time they do ever see Him in spirit; He is at home with them; they are His house and His dwelling-place, John 14:23; Heb. 3—There is a saying that people who have seen spectres are never glad any more, so long as they live. One who has seen Him can never grow sad. It is a privilege of God’s children to pray to the Father in Jesus’ name.—This promise: Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, etc., presupposes that our hearts and minds are in harmony with the Saviour.
John 16:27. Men, have such sorry thoughts about the Father, as if He were a hard man, with whom a legion of intercessors must speak for us and constrain and compel Him, as it were. But the Son of the Father tells a very different tale about Him.
John 16:28. Thus must we too leave the world, if we would approach the Father.—His eternal outgoing, or birth from the Father, His coming and being born in the flesh as Man, His regeneration (birth of glorification)—by means of His death, resurrection and ascension—unto an everlasting, divine-human life in glory, are three births worthy of our wonder and admiration and constraining our worship.
SCHLEIERMACHER: The glorifying of the Lord forms part of the essential and imperishable work of the Holy Ghost.—The form of the Redeemer is set up for all ages in imperishable glory within the souls of the faithful, through the work of the Spirit whom He has poured out upon His Church.—The Father loveth you because, etc. The Father loveth us in the Son and will also be loved only in the Son.—I am not alone. He would comfort us with this truth,—that though we, from weakness, should leave Him alone, He yet is not alone, but His Father is with Him.—How could we derive comfort from the thought that the Lord has overcome the world, if we were not assured that He has overcome the world in our hearts.
BESSER: The final aim of all God’s dealings with Christians, especially of all our experience in prayer, is this: “that our joy may be perfected.” Not seeing occasions sorrow, seeing occasions joy. It is a blessed thing that back of the little while of sorrowful not seeing, so soon over and gone, there lies a future of joyful seeing which shall never pass away.—The seeing again: The Pentecostal coming and seeing forms the central point, that of Easter is preparatory thereto, that of the last day is its completion.—And thus did the ancient Church understand the matter, for she has taken the Gospels for the four Sundays from Jubilate to Exaudi all out of the farewell-discourse in which Easter and Pentecost tones ring out together.—His speech is triply incomprehensible to them: in the first place, they know not what sort of a seeing shall succeed the not seeing; in the second place, they meditate fruitlessly upon the marvellous because (“because I go to the Father”) and are unable to lay hold on the glorious fruit of His departure; lastly and thirdly (this they purposely thrust forward as particularly enigmatical), the hasty alternation between seeing and not seeing, the little while, they regard as wonderful exceedingly.—The sigh of St. Bernard: O thou little, little while, how long thou art! And the still more ancient sigh of David: Lord, how long! (Ps. 6:3; 13:1, 2; 89:47).—We must have patience if we would arrive at the true Jubilate.—Ps. 30:11.—Is. 26:17–20.—In those forty hours of travail the disciples wept and wailed as if there were on earth none but sinners godlessly laughing in their sin and sinners helplessly weeping over their sin (Stier).—“There is none whom the heavenly Father calleth Benjamin (son of my right hand), whom the Church, his mother, hath not first called Benoni (son of my sorrows)” (J. Gerhard).—Rev. 12—John 20:20, comp. with Luke 24:52.—A white sheet (carte blanche), says Spener, subscribed beneath with His holy name, to be filled in above by ourselves with our petitions.—“If I do not deserve that my prayer should be heard, nevertheless Christ, in whose name I offer the same, doth abundantly deserve a hearing.” (Luther).—If ever a request is denied us, it is because it is out of tune with the grand petition: Grant us but salvation.—“Whoso saith ‘Our Father,’ doth embrace in this one prayer the forgiveness of sins, justification, sanctification, redemption, sonship and heirship to God, brotherhood with the Only-begotten One, and the whole plenitude of the gifts of the Holy Spirit” (Chrysostom).
John 16:26, 27. How should He not love those who become one with Him in the love of the Beloved?—“Threefold is the way which Christ trod for the salvation of the children of men: The way of love (from heaven to earth), the way of obedience (unto the death on the cross), the way of glory (return to the Father”).—J. Gerhard. (According to John 16:28, however, the way is a twofold one.)—Ye shall be scattered, Zech. 13:7; Matt. 26:31.—The Father is with me. John Huss comforted himself with this saying in his lonely dungeon.
John 16:33. It is the peace of Shiloh (Gen. 49:9, 10; Is. 9:6, 7; Rev. 5:6), of the celestial Solomon, Song 8:10.—“Peace in Christ is that on which all Christian essence reposes. This peace shall have no end in time, but is itself the end of all our holy endeavors” (Augustine).—In order that we might have peace in Him, did the Lord speak these things. His word brings us peace.—Peace must triumph over anguish.—“’Tis won! ’Tis won! He crieth; danger and trouble are over. We need not struggle and war. All is done already. The world, death and the devil lie vanquished and prostrate; heaven, righteousness and life are victorious” (Luther).36
[CRAVEN: From AUGUSTINE: John 16:16–22. The bringing forth is compared to sorrow, the birth to joy, which is especially true in the birth of a boy.—And your joy no man taketh from you: their joy is Christ.—Nor yet in this bringing forth of joy, are we entirely without joy to lighten our sorrow, but, as the Apostle saith, we rejoice in hope: for even the woman, to whom we are compared, rejoiceth more for her future offspring, than she sorrows for her present pain.
John 16:23. The word whatsoever, must not be understood to mean anything, but something which with reference to obtaining the life of blessedness is not nothing. That is not sought in the Saviour’s name, which is sought to the hindering of our salvation; for by, in My name, must be understood not the mere sound of the syllables, but that which is rightly signified by that sound. He who holds any notion concerning Christ, which should not be held, does not ask in His name. But he who thinks rightly of Him, asks in His name, and receives what he asks, if it be not against his eternal salvation: he receives when it is right he should receive; for some things are only denied at present in order to be granted at a more suitable time.
John 16:24. This full joy is not carnal, but spiritual, and it will be full when it is so great that nothing can be added to it.—And this is that full joy, than which nothing can be greater, viz. to enjoy God, the Trinity, in the image of Whom we are made.
John 16:26. At that day ye shall ask in My name: What shall we have to ask for in a future life, when all our desires shall be satisfied? Asking implies the want of something.
John 16:30. He asked questions of men not in order to learn Himself, but to teach them.
John 16:31. He reminds them of their weak tender age in respect of the inner man.
[From CHRYSOSTOM: John 16:21. He shows that sorrow brings forth joy, short sorrow infinite joy, by an example from nature; A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, etc.—By this example He also intimates that He loosens the chains of death, and creates men anew.
John 16:23. It was consolatory to them to hear of His resurrection, and how He came from God, and went to God: the one was a proof that their faith in Him was not vain; the other that they would still be under His protection.
[From GREGORY: John 16:33. As if He said, Have Me within you to comfort you, because you will have the world without you.—From BEDE: John 16:21. As a man is said to be born when he comes out of his mother’s womb into the light of day, so may he be said to be born who from out of the prison of the body, is raised to the light eternal.—From ALCUIN: John 16:20. This speech of our Lord’s is applicable to all believers who strive through present tears and afflictions to attain to the joys eternal. While the righteous weep, the world rejoiceth; for having no hope of the joys to come, all its delight is in the present.
John 16:21. The woman is the holy Church, who is fruitful in good works, and brings forth spiritual children unto God.—As a woman rejoiceth when a man is born into the world, so the Church is filled with exultation when the faithful are born into life eternal.—From THEOPHYLACT: John 16:24. For when your prayers shall be fully answered, then will your gladness be greatest.
John 16:27. The Father loves you, because ye have loved Me; when therefore ye fall from My love, ye will straightway fall from the Father’s love.
[From BURKITT: John 16:16–22. How unreasonable it is to arrogate to man’s understanding a power to comprehend spiritual mysteries, yea, to understand the plainest truths, till Christ enlightens the understanding.
John 16:20. The different effects which Christ’s absence should have upon the world, and upon His disciples.
John 16:22. The joy of the saints may be interrupted, it shall never be totally extinguished.
John 16:28. To pray in the name of Christ, is, 1. To look up to Christ, as having purchased for us this privilege; 2. To pray in the strength of Christ, by the assistance of His grace, and the help of His Spirit; 3. To pray by faith in the virtue of Christ’s mediation and intercession.
John 16:25. The clearest truths will be but dark mysteries, even to disciples themselves, till the Holy Spirit enlightens their understandings.
John 16:30. The knowledge and experience of Christ’s omniscience, may and ought fully to confirm us in the belief of His Deity.
John 16:32. God was with Christ, and will be with Christians in a suffering hour, in His essential presence, in His gracious and supporting presence.
John 16:33. Hence learn, 1. That the disciples of Christ in this world must expect and look for trouble; 2. The remedy provided by Christ against this malady: In Me ye shall have peace. Christ’s blood has purchased peace for them, His word has promised it to them, and His Spirit seals it up to their souls.—I have overcome the world, I have taken the sting out of every cross, the venom out of every arrow.
[From M. HENRY: John 16:16. It is good to consider how near to a period our seasons of grace are, that we may be quickened to improve them while they are continued.—The Spirit’s coming was Christ’s visit to His disciples, not a transient, but a permanent one, and such a visit as abundantly retrieved the sight of Him.—Thus we may say of our ministers and Christian friends, Yet a little while, and we shall not see them. It is but a good night to them whom we hope to see with joy in the morning.
John 16:18. The darkness of ignorance and the darkness of melancholy commonly increase and thicken one another; mistakes cause griefs, and then griefs confirm mistakes.—Though we cannot fully solve every difficulty we meet with in scripture, yet we must not therefore throw it by, but revolve what we cannot explain, and wait till God shall reveal even this unto us.
John 16:19. The knots we cannot untie, we must bring to Him who alone can give an understanding.—Christ takes cognizance of pious desires, though they be not as yet offered up.—This intimates to us who they are that Christ will teach: 1. The humble that confess their ignorance. 2. The diligent that use the means they have.
John 16:20. Believers have joy or sorrow, according as they have or have not a sight of Christ.—The disciples were sorrowful and yet always rejoicing (2 Cor. 6:10); had sorrowful lives, and yet joyful hearts.
John 16:21, 22. Applicable to all the faithful followers of the Lamb, and describes the common case of Christians—1. Their condition and disposition are both mournful; sorrows are their lot, and seriousness is their temper. 2. The world, at the same time, goes away with all the mirth. 3. Spiritual mourning will shortly be turned into eternal rejoicing.—The sorrows of Christ’s disciples in this world are like travailing pains, sure and sharp, but not to last long, and in Order to a joyful product.—Christ’s withdrawings are just cause of grief to His disciples. When the sun sets, the sunflower will hang the head.—Three things recommend the joy: 1. The cause of it; I will see you again. 2. The cordialness of it; Your heart shall rejoice. 3. The continuance of it; Your joy no man taketh from you.—Note—1. Christ will graciously return to those that wait for Him, though for a small moment He has seemed to forsake them, Isa. 54:7. 2. Christ’s returns are returns of joy to all His disciples.—Joy in the heart is solid, secret, sweet, sure.
John 16:23–27. An answer to their askings is here promised, for their further comfort. Now there are two ways of asking, asking by way of inquiry, that is the asking of the ignorant; and asking by way of request, and that is the asking of the indigent. Christ here speaks of both—1. By way of inquiry, they should not need to ask. 2. By way of request, they should ask nothing in vain.—The promise itself is incomparably rich and sweet; the golden sceptre is here held out to us, with this word, What is thy petition, and it shall be granted?—We are here taught how to seek; we must ask the Father in Christ’s name.—Perfect fruition is reserved for the land of our rest; asking and receiving are the comfort of the land of our pilgrimage.
John 16:24. Here is an invitation to them to petition. It is thought sufficient if great men permit addresses, but Christ calls upon us to petition.
John 16:26, 27. Here are the grounds upon which they might hope to speed, which are summed up in short by the Apostle (1 John 2:1). We have an Advocate with the Father—1. We have an Advocate; 2. We have to do with a Father.
John 16:27. The character of Christ’s disciples; they love Him, because they believe He came out from God.—See what advantage Christ’s faithful disciples have,—the Father loves them, and that because they love Christ.—Believers, who love Christ, ought to know that God loves them, and therefore to come boldly to Him as children to a loving Father.
John 16:28–33. Two things Christ here comforts His disciples with: 1. An assurance that, though Ho was leaving the world, He was returning to His Father; 2. A promise of peace in Him, by virtue of His victory over the world.
John 16:29, 30. Two things they improved in by this saying (John 16:28): 1. In knowledge, Lo, now Thou speakest plainly; 2. In faith, Now we are sure.—When Christ is pleased to speak plainly to our souls, and to bring us with open face to behold His glory, we have reason to rejoice in it.—Observe—1. The matter of their faith; We believe that Thou camest forth from God; 2. The motive of their faith—His omniscience.—Those know Christ best, that know Him by experience.—These words, and needest not that any man should ask Thee, may speak either: 1. Christ’s aptness to teach; or, 2. His ability to teach.—The best of teachers can only answer what is spoken, but Christ can answer what is thought.
John 16:31, 32. As far as there is inconstancy in our faith, there is cause to question the sincerity of it, and to ask, “Do we indeed believe?”
John 16:32. Many a good cause, when it is distressed by its enemies, is deserted by its friends.—If we at any time find our friends unkind to us, let us remember that Christ’s were so to Him.—Those will not dare to suffer for their religion, that seek their own things more than the things of Christ.—Even then, when we are taking the comfort of our graces, it is good to be reminded of our danger from our corruptions.—A little time may produce great changes, both concerning us and in us.—Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. A privilege common to all believers, by virtue of their union with Christ—1. When solitude is their choice; 2. When solitude is their affliction.—While we have God’s favorable presence with us, we are happy, and ought to be easy, though all the world forsake us.
John 16:33. It has been the lot of Christ’s disciples to have more or less tribulation in this world. Men persecute them because they are so good, and God corrects them because they are no better.—In the midst of the tribulations of this world, it is the duty and interest of Christ’s disciples to be of good cheer.—Never was there such a conqueror of the world as Christ was, and we ought to be encouraged by it; 1. Because Christ has overcome the world before us; 2. He has conquered it for us, as the Captain of our salvation.
[From A PLAIN COMMENTARY (Oxford): John 16:16. He shows that on His departure depended His mysterious presence.
John 16:29, 30. Faith admits of degrees; and one of the periods is here marked when the disciples made a clear advance in this heavenly grace.
John 16:33. It was not the object of the present Divine Discourse to gratify curiosity, or to solve doubts (for that was reserved for the Holy Ghost); but to administer heavenly consolation.
[From STIER: John 16:16–24. There is, as for Himself the breaking through death into life, so for the disciples a deeply penetrating, fundamental change from sorrow to joy.—As this way of the disciples through sorrow to joy between the cross and the resurrection of our Lord was already for themselves something preparatory and typical, it becomes to us a type of the way which all His future disciples have also to pass through;—a way through that godly sorrow which at first distinguishes them fully from the world, into the joy of faith, and life in the Holy Ghost.
John 16:20. This rejoicing of the world is the keenest sword to weakness and unbelief, as well as to the true dependence of the sorrowful disciples trusting in God (Ps. 42:10).—The sorrow is itself to become joy; it is not merely to be lost in, or exchanged for, joy, but the subject and ground of the sorrow becomes the subject and ground of the joy. The cross of our Lord is glorified into an eternal consolation; out of the sorrow at the cross and the sepulchre, because in it there was the believing and loving seeking of the Crucified, is born their joy in the Living, Risen One.—Those who weep, bear already the precious seed which rises again into sheaves of joy—“on the flood of tears we float out of ruin.”
John 16:21. Under the cross of their Lord the disciples learned to sorrow for sin, as they had never been taught before. They saw and they tasted with Christ, as far as in them lay, the sin of the world, and they saw, moreover, their own sin in it.—The way from sorrow to joy was to the first disciples as the pangs of birth for the outburst of resurrection-gladness. None of us appropriates, in true personal experience, the joy of Easter and Pentecost until the passion-sorrow has first prepared the way.
John 16:22. “One feast followed another after the passion, in which they had Sorrow: at the resurrection He saw them again, but (we would add) they saw not Him yet in full clearness, they had not their full joy through fear of the Jews; first at the ascension, when they saw Him go to the Father (βλεπό νων αὐτῶν, Acts 1:9), their hearts rejoiced; but this also would have vanished as a beautiful dream if the Comforter had not assured them at Pentecost that no man should take from them their joy.” (BECK.)—The last fulfilment of this promise reaches forward to the end of the church’s victory, and this joy of the heart is the contrast of the world’s joy turned into mourning (Is. 45:13, 14).—The world which, with or without Christ, would evade the thought of sin and death, the deepest ground of all sorrow, can secure its joy only by the dissipation of its inmost nature, and by becoming deaf to its voice. Therefore its joy is loud, while yet silent joy is alone genuine and profound.—The world is satisfied without satisfaction.—We lose not the heart’s peace in the midst of all the tribulation which may befall.—The root and principle and strength of their joy cannot be touched, however afflictions may come.—The child bearing woman is (further) the Church through the Spirit within her.—As the sum of all: Every disciple of Jesus through his entire life, the Church of Christ as a whole down to the end of the days, learns and experiences in the cross of Christ that true sorrow which genders joy, receives and enjoys this as the fruit of the resurrection and Pentecost in a progressive measure ever approaching perfection—until the great Day dawns, which will be followed by no night. John 16:23. In the eternal glory, which will be the final issue of all temporal adversity, all our past doubts will be solved, all our complaints silenced, and all our questioning answered for ever.
John 16:23, 24. Now, in the bright hope of that great day, ask and pray as ye have never done before!—As in the Old Testament way of holiness the problem had ever been to learn better how to pray, so also we have in the practice of prayer in the name of Jesus the only way of progress toward perfect holiness, knowledge and joy of heart. All the discourses, exhortations, encouragements of our Lord, find their ultimate aim in directing us to perfect prayer.—Ask, so shall ye receive! Many, alas, who only half pray, and do not urge their knocking even to pressing in, cannot afterward receive even what they have prayed for! But persistent prayer “obtains for me the blessing that I can receive, and appropriates that which the Father gives,—actually obtains the hand which enables me to lay hold of and receive the heavenly gifts.” (RIEGER.)
John 16:26. The state of perfection which knows no need is not yet; there is still the asking, and yet it is the same day. We seal every prayer with a doxology reaching forth, in confident and tranquil trust, toward the future eternity; and thus it is already the same day in the light of which we ask and receive the answer.
John 16:27. This word most decisively overturns that false notion concerning the redemption which attributes to the Father a wrath which is to be extinguished, and not also that reconciling love which from eternity needed not first to be propitiated.—Christians who believe, to whom Christ has revealed this in all its clearness, cannot too often be reminded of this; “think not too little of the love wherewith ye are loved!” Not merely has the Father Himself already loved them as He loves all the world and every creature, but He loves them with that especial love which He bears to those in whom He finds Christ’s word, and through faith in it Christ Himself, who stand before Him clothed in the garment of the righteousness of His Son.
John 16:28. To what end did He come into the world, but to become the Saviour of sinners? Again, to what end and in what way does He return to the Father, but that He may accomplish eternal redemption through death, and diffuse from on high the fruits of His redeeming work?
John 16:31, 32. It is true that ye do believe, but how soon will my passion make manifest your real and great weakness!
John 16:32. “Whosoever well ponders this, will hold firm his faith though the world shake, nor will the defection of all others overturn his confidence; we do not render God His full honor, unless He alone is felt to be sufficient to us.” (CALVIN.)
John 16:33. In these last words He “condenses the sum of the instruction which He had ministered to the disciples at the last supper.” (NITZSCH.)—Tribulation is certainly not alone “the violence and enmity of the world, which causes grief and anxiety to the disciples.” For all this would not interrupt our peace, if the persecution did not meet with and excite weakness of faith, and the temptation sinful desire, in us. We must call to mind the θλίψις of the woman in child-birth, a tribulation from within and of herself.—Who is he, where is there one, that overcometh the world, except he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? “In Him all overcome who rejoice to be the world overcome by Him.” (NITZSCH).
[From BARNES: John 16:20. The apparent triumphs of the wicked, though they may produce grief at present in the minds of Christians, will be yet overruled for their good.
John 16:31. 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.
John 16:32. Pain is alleviated, and suffering made more tolerable by the presence and sympathy of friends; He died forsaken.—It matters little who else forsakes us, if God be with us in the hour of pain and of death.—The Christian can die, saying, I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
John 16:33. The world is a vanquished enemy. Satan is an humbled foe. And all that believers have to do is to put their trust in the Captain of their salvation, putting on the whole armor of God.—From OWEN: John 16:30. There was doubtless much darkness and error in their mind, much unbelief and sin yet to be eradicated from their heart; but yet their words were sincere, their love deep and tender, and their faith, imperfect as it was compared with its power after their baptism of the Spirit, embraced all His declaration.
John 16:32. God the Father did not leave His beloved Son to enter alone upon His great redemptive work, but was with Him through all the scenes of His bitter agony. [The Father was ever with the Son; but was not His presence hidden from the consciousness of Jesus in the last hour, when He exclaimed, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?—E. R. C.]. John 16:33. Here is the ground of all faith, confidence, and hope; only as the soul rests in Jesus, can it attain to that spiritual peace which is the foretaste of blessedness above.]
[Here follow a number of themes for sermons, which are omitted.—P. S.]
I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.V
GLORIFICATION OF CHRIST’S HOME-GOING THROUGH HIS GLORIOUS COMING INTO THE WORLD FROM THE FATHER. (PRE-CELEBRATION OF THE DAY OF PENTECOST IN A PRECURSORY PENTECOSTAL MOMENT OF THE DISCIPLES. THE FIRST RAY OF THE COMING ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE DISCIPLES.)
28I came forth from27 the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave theworld, and go to the Father. 29His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thouplainly [ἐν παῤῥησίᾳ], and speakest no proverb [parable]. 30Now are we sure [we know, οἴδαμεν] that thou knowest [οἶδας] all things, and needest not that any man31should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. Jesus32answered them, Do ye now believe? [Now ye do believe.]28 Behold, the [an] hour cometh, yea, is now [omit now]29 come, that ye shall [will] be scattered [Zech. 13:7] every man [every one] to his own, and shall [will] leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
33These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might [may] have peace. In the world ye shall have [ye have, ἔχετε]30 tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
John 16:28. I came forth from the Father and am come into the world [Ἐξῆλθον ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ ελήλυθα εἰς τὸν κόσμον πά λιν ἀφίημι τὸν κό σμον καὶ πορεύομαι πρὸς τὸν πατέ ρα. Bengel: “Re-capitulationem maximam habet hic versus.” Meyer: “A simple, grand summary of His whole personal life.” Mark the symmetry of the four clauses: ἔξήλθον, ἐλήλυθα, ἀφίημι, πορεν́ομαι humiliation and incarnation, death and exaltation.—P. S.]—Solemnly Christ throws the individual elements of His discourse into a concentric expression, one representative of the unity of the whole picture of His life and, hence, declarative to the disciples of the cause of His going back to the Father in an extraordinary manner. He was, namely, obliged so to return because He had come forth from the Father thus wonderfully. The one half of His life, the way from heaven to earth, in faith surveyed by the disciples, demands the other half. The words of Jesus thus give them, for the first time, a clear view of His entire life, and, together with this bestowment, convey to them a ray of the pentecostal Spirit. For enlightenment through the Holy Ghost is, concretely taken, one with the survey and unitous view of the life of Jesus in its totality.
John 16:29. Lo, now speakest Thou plainly [Ἴδε, νῦν ἐν παῤῥησίᾳ λαλε͂ς, καὶπαροιμίαν οὐδεμίαν λέ γεις]—Behold, i.e. with astonishment do they perceive that He even now speaks to them in this new way. We cannot subscribe to Lücke’s and Tholuck’s unconditional approval of the words of Augustine: illi usque adeo non inlelligunt, ut nec saltem se non intelligere intelligant.31 Christ Himself recognizes that some great thing is now going on within them, John 16:31. They do but make the mistake of regarding this momentary view enjoyed by them in the radiance of one beam of the promised Spirit, as the beginning of an uninterrupted enlightenment and festival of the Spirit. Now, say they with emphasis, now Thou speakest plainly; even now do we perceive that Thou art able to anticipate by Thy disclosure every question that we might still have desired to ask Thee.
John 16:30. Now we know, etc.—That they really understood Christ’s saying, in respect of its fundamental thought, is proved by the declaration: by reason of this we believe [ἐντούτῳ)—propter hoc—πιστεύ ομεν. ὅτι ἀπὸθεοῦ ἐξῆλθες]—I.e. from the belief that Thou didst personally and miraculously come forth from God, faith draweth the deduction and reconcileth us to the fact that Thou wilt in like manner go to the Father. Ἐν τού τῳ (propter hoc), therefore, does not mean: on account of this that Thou hast just imparted to us, we do now believe that Thou earnest forth from the Father,—but—in accordance with the words of Jesus—: supported by this conviction that Thou didst come forth from the Father, we believe the rest also. The first half of Thy life doth explain to us the second. And thus is also Meyer’s interpretation set aside: they confess to have found a new and special reason for positiveness in their existent belief in the divine origin of Christ. [Meyer makes on dependent on ὅτι and indicative of the object (not the ground) of faith.—P. S.]
John 16:31. Ye do now believe [̓́Αρτιπιστεύετε Comp. John 16:27, πεπιστεύ κατε ὅτι, etc., and 17:8, ἐπίστευσαν ὅτι, etc.—P. S.]—In reading the sentence as a question, with Euthym. Zigab., Olshausen and others,32 we should overlook the fact that Christ actually acknowledges the upsoaring of their faith,—a fact evidenced by the very restriction that follows. Lücke dubiously declares against the reading of the proposition as a question; Meyer is more decided in his recognition of the concession therein expressed;33 Bengel takes said concession in too unconditional a sense: nunc habeo, quod volui et volo; opposed to the latter view are the restrictive ἄρτι and the subsequent words of Christ. [Bengel takes the following words as intended to strengthen the faith of the disciples against the gathering storm.—P. S.]
John 16:32. Behold, the hour cometh.—Not the hour when your faith shall cease (see Luke 22:32), but the hour when it shall fail to stand the test,—when, therefore, it shall be characterized as an enthusiasm or rapture. The impulse and inspiration of faith must mature into the settled mind of faith.—It is already come [ἐλήλυθεν], saith the Lord, with a presentiment of the approaching crisis.—That ye will be scattered [ἵνα σκορπισθῆτε ἕκαστος εἰς τὰ ἵδια], with ἵνα; this is the destiny of the hour. See Matt. 26:31; Zech. 13:7. [The passage of the prophet Zechariah, from which the σκορπισθῆτε of our text is taken is more fully quoted by Matthew and reads thus: “Awake, O sword against My Shepherd, and against the man that is My fellow” (My associate, My equal, nearest kinsman=the Messiah), “saith the Lord of hosts: smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered” (the dispersion of the disciples at the crucifixion, and then of the Jewish nation), “and I will turn My hand upon the little ones” (the humble followers of Christ, the poor of the flock). Comp. the Notes in Com. on Matthew, p. 478.—P. S.]—To his own business or interests. We would not translate εἰς τὰ ἵδια: to his own property or home.34 Comp. Is. 53:6. A man’s peculiar possessions were no hindrance to the κοινωνία, but the latter was shaken by the circumstance of every man’s seeking safety in his own way.—And leave Me alone [κἀμὲ μόνον ἀφῆτε]. To this degree shall their faith waver.—Going one’s own way, and leaving Christ alone, are reciprocal ideas. [This allusion implies a rebuke, most gently and lovingly expressed, but all the more deeply and humbly to be felt afterwards by the disciples. As a man, Christ was keenly alive to the law of sympathy, and their temporary desertion in the hour of need, when a friend proves to be a friend indeed, must have wounded Him to the quick; but the absence of human help was more than made up by the constant presence of His heavenly Father, and in the clear consciousness of this presence, He soared calmly and serenely over the clouds of loneliness caused by the unfaithfulness of men.—P. S.]
And (yet) I am not alone. [καί—adversative, and yet, an emphatic and pathetic use of καί, accompanied by a pause and unexpectedly introducing the opposite, as often in John (see Meyer and Alford)—οὐκ εἰμὶ μόνος, ὅτι ὁ πατὴρ μετ̓ ἐμοῦ ἐστιν—P. S.] One of the sublimest and profoundest sayings. He will remain confident of the counsel, guidance, approval and presence of His Father and will preserve this confidence even throughout the darkest moment (Eli, Eli, etc.). [The exclamation on the cross, Matt. 27:46, proceeded from a momentary feeling of desertion by the Father, with an underlying faith in His presence; hence He addressed Him still as His God, and His will continued subject to Him, as in the agony of Gethsemane. Comp. the Notes on Matthew, p. 526.—P. S.]
John 16:33. These things have I spoken, etc.—[The concluding farewell word of these farewell discourses, revealing the deepest tenderness and suavity of affection, and indicating the one object: to give them His peace in this evil world, with courage and strength to overcome the world on the ground of His own triumph which He sees already completed.—P. S.] The reference of ταῦτα is not necessarily to the last ταῦτα alone; it refers to the whole of the farewell-discourses. We must recollect that the denial of Peter, and the disciples’ inability to follow the Lord, form the starting-point of these discourses. To this thought, the occasion of the farewell-discourses, He has now, at their conclusion, returned. In their despondency they shall be preserved from despair.—That in Me ye may have peace [ἵνα ἐν ἐμοὶ εἰρήνην ἔχητε]. In antithesis to the tribulation prepared for them by the world. In Me: Luther: In My word; Tholuck: In vital communion with Me (after Gerhard, Lampe).35 We may not apprehend the antithesis in as purely objective a sense as attaches to it when applied to the ripened Christian; it has its subjective side as well. Through faith in His word and through the keeping of the same, they were in Christ to an extent that sufficed for the preservation of their peace; but also in the world still, to an extent that necessitated their endurance of a tribulation perilous to their souls. This was their final departure out of the world to Fu communion with Him. Hence there was need for the exhortation: be of good cheer, and for the subsequent high-priestly, intercessory prayer.
[On εἰρήνη comp. notes on John 14:27; on θλῖψις, 16:21; 15:18 ff. Peace embraces all that constitutes rest, contentment and true happiness of heart on the basis of the Christian salvation and vital union with Christ. Tribulation is both persecution from without and distress from within. The happiness of Christians in this life is subject to frequent interruptions and disturbances from their own remaining infirmities and sins as well as from an ungodly world. Yet deep down at the bottom peace continues to reign, however much the surface of the ocean of life may be agitated by wind and storm.—P. S.]
But be of good cheer [ἀλλὰ θαρσεῖτε]—The strengthening of their weakness in their impending tribulation. [A living commentary of this θαρσεῖτε is especially the apostle Paul; comp. Rom. 8:37; 2 Cor. 2:14; 4:7 ff.; 6:4 ff.; 12:9; his speech before Felix and Festus, etc. (Meyer).—P. S.]—I have overcome the world. [ἐγὼ νενίκηκα τὸν κό σμον, “not, only before you, but for you, that ye may be able to do the same;” comp. 1 John 5:4, 5. Ἐγὼ—I, not you—is emphatic and gives prominence to that unique personality, whose victory secures all subsequent victories and makes His church indestructible.—P. S.] In the spirit of the farewell-discourses, this is the anticipatory celebration of His victory, or the perfect assurance of victory, expressed in an anticipatory celebration. It was the more proper, however, for this future event to be expressed in the Perfect tense for the reason that His whole course hitherto had been a victory over the world. The threefold victory over its lust, in particular, was decided in the story of the temptation in the wilderness (Matt. 4); the first of the three great victories over the anguish of the world was decided in the triumph over Judas (see John 13:31). These were the pledge of the full accomplishment of His victory. Be of good cheer, i.e. this victory shall also conduct them past the tribulation which is in the world. This joyfulness of believers, in reliance on the victory of Christ, first displays itself in the life of the apostles (see Rom. 8; 1 John 5:4, etc.)
[With a cheering shout of victory Christ closes His farewell-discourses to the disciples; but this was an anticipation of faith, which was to be realized by the omnipotent power of God; and hence, going forth to the last and decisive conflict with the prince of darkness, He pours out His heart in prayer to the Father for Himself, His disciples, and the whole future congregation of believers. See next chapter.—P. S.]
John 16:28.—Codd. B. C. L. X., Lachmann, Tischendorf read ἐκ; Cod. A. [C.2 text. rec.], etc. παρά, which might be a dogmatical modification [or a repetition of the παρά in John 16:27].
John 16:32.—Νῦν [text. rec.] is wanting in א. A. B. C.1
John 16:31.—[I read ἄ ρ τ ι π ι α τ ε ύ ε τ ε not as a question, but, with Luther, Lange, Meyer, Stier, Alford, Godet, as a concession (comp. John 16:27; 17:8). Christ recognizes the present faith of the disciples, but shows how weak it was. Now (ἄρτι is emphatic) ye believe, but how soon will your faith be shaken! So also Godet: “Maintenant, vous croyez, il est vrai; mais bientôt, que ferez-vous! ”—P. S.]
John 16:33.—The ἕξετε [ye will have] which Lachmann gives in accordance with B.D., has not sufficient authority to sustain it against ἔχετε [ye have, which is supported by א. A. B. C., etc.—P. S.]
[“They so little understand Him as not even to understand that they did not understand; for they were as babes (parvuli enim erant).” Similarly Lampe: “They are annoyed that they should be accounted by their Master as unskilful and in need of another Teacher … And thus they go so far as to contradict Christ and dispute His plain words, and deny that He was speaking enigmatically to them.” This is too strong. The disciples caught a glimpse at the truth and hastily inferred that the pentecostal time had already come for the ἐν παῤῥηίᾳ λαλεῖν. Calvin: Exultant ante tempus perinde acsi quis nummo uno aureo divitem se putaret. The stress lies on νῦν, as contrasted with the future λαλήσω and ἀπαγγελῶ, John 16:25.—P.S.]
[Also Calvin, E. V., De Wette, Tischendorf, Hengstenberg, Ewald; comp. 1:51; 13:38; 20:29.—P. S.]
[So also Bengel, Stier, Alford, Godet. See TEXTUAL NOTE3.—P. S.]
[So Meyer: Scine eigene Aufenthaltstätte; Godet: dans leur domicile. The sense depends on the connection: in John 19:27 τὰ ἴδια means John’s home; while in John 1:11 it means the Jewish people. Here we are to understand more generally their own ways and interests which the disciples had left before in order to follow Christ; comp. Luke 18:28, where Peter says: ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν πάντα καὶ ἠκολουθήσαμέν σοι. So also Bengel and Alford.—P. S.]
[So also Meyer: “Living and moving in Me.” Comp. 15:7. “This presupposes the return from the scattering in John 16:32,—the branches again gathered in the Vine” (Alford).—P. S.]