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John 16


The World's Hatred The Coming Rejection     The Disciples and the World
(15:18-16:4a) (15:26-16:4) The Christian's Relation to the World (15:18-16:4a) (15:18-16:4a)
The Work of the Spirit   16:1-4a The Work of the Holy Spirit The Coming of the Paraclete
16:4b-11 The Work of the Holy Spirit 16:4b-11 16:4b-11 16:4b-15
16:12-15   16:12-15 16:12-15  
Sorrow Will Turn into Joy Sorrow Will Turn into Joy   Sadness and Gladness Jesus to Return Very Soon
16:16-24 16:16-24 16:16-24 16:16 16:16
      16:17-18 16:17-28
I Have Overcome Jesus Christ has Overcome the World   Victory Over the World  
16:25-33 16:25-33 16:25-28 16:25-28  
    16:29-33 16:29-30 16:29-33



This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five modern translations. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



A. The literary context runs from John 15:18-16:4a. Chapter divisions are not inspired and are much later additions, like paragraphing, capitalization, punctuation, and verse division.


B. The Holy Spirit's task to the spiritually lost is defined in John 16:8-11, His task to the saved in John 16:12-15. Samuel J. Mikolaski has an interesting summary of the Spirit's activity in the NT in his article "The Theology of the New Testament" in The Exposition Bible Commentary, Vol. 1:

"The NT doctrine of sanctification, while closely allied to justification, is nevertheless distinct from it. As in the OT, sanctification points first to the separateness-the holy transcendence of God-and second, to a moral quality and relationship that is Godlike. Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit, who unites a person with Christ and renews his life spiritually. The NT language entails the baptism in the Spirit ( 1 Cor. 12:13); the seal of the Spirit (Eph. 1:13, 14; 4:30), the indwelling of the Spirit (John 14:17; Rom. 5:5; 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Tim. 1:14), instruction by the Spirit (John 14:26; 16:12-15), the filling of the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), and the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22,23). Sanctification is related to justification, which is a standing before God (Heb. 10:10), and may be thought of as development into a new ideal" (p. 474).

C. Verse 17, like 13:36; 14:5, 8, and 22, is another question by the Apostles.


D. Many believe that the "let us go from here" of John 14:31 combined with 18:1 shows that Jesus spoke chapters 15-17 on the way to Gethsemane through the temple and streets of Jerusalem, not in the upper room.



 1"These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. 2They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. 3These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me. 4But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you."


NASB"so that you may be kept from stumbling"
NKJV"that you should not be made to stumble"
NRSV"to keep you from stumbling"
TEV"so that you will not give up your faith"
NJB"so that you may not fall away"

This Greek term (aorist passive subjunctive of skandalizō, BAGD 752) was originally used of a baited trap for catching animals. It is often translated "fall away" (cf. Matt. 13:21; 24:10; Mark 4:17; 14:27,29). Its metaphorical use in this context refers to believers not being caught unawares by the hateful actions of fellow Jews, even religious leaders.

16:2 "They will make you outcasts from the synagogue" This refers to excommunication from Judaism (cf. John 9:22,34; 12:42).

There is so much that is unknown about Jewish dis-fellowshipping procedures. There was both a temporary and a permanent exclusion from synagogue services. Later, after the fall of Jerusalem in a.d. 70, at Jamnia in Palestine, the rabbis developed a "curse oath" related to Christ by which they desired to exclude Christians from synagogue services. This is what finally forced a split between the followers of Christ and local Jewish synagogues.

▣ "everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God" This is exactly what the Jewish leaders (cf. Isa. 66:5; Matt. 5:10-12; 10:32) thought. Saul of Tarsus (Paul) is a good example of this misguided religious zeal (cf. Acts 26:9-11; Gal. 1:13-14).

16:3 "These things they will do" Sincerity and commitment to a Supreme Being are not enough. Evil, error, and fanaticism often occur in God's name.

▣ "because they have not known the Father or Me" The term "to know" refers to the OT connotation of intimate, personal relationship (cf. Gen. 4:1; Jer. 1:5). This is a strong assertion that rejection of Jesus is ultimately rejection of God (cf. John 8:19; 15:21; 1 John 5:9-12).

John often asserts the spiritual blindness and ignorance of the world (cf. John 1:10; 8:19,55; 15:21; 16:3; 17:25). However the purpose of the Son's coming was to save the world (cf. John 3:16) and reveal the Father so that the world might know Him (cf. John 17:23) through Christ.

16:4 Jesus' predictions were given as a means of encouraging the disciples faith/trust/belief in the midst of persecution and rejection (cf. John 13:19; 14:29).

"From the beginning" refers to the beginning of Jesus' public ministry and the special call of the Twelve.

   5"But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, 'Where are You going?' 6But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged."

16:5 "none of you asks Me, 'Where are You going'" It seems that Peter did ask this very question in chapter 13:36, but immediately his mind was distracted to the agony of Jesus leaving them and then the question of what would happen to them (cf. John 16:6). John 14:1-3 addresses Jesus' ascension to heaven (cf. Acts 1:9-11).

This is a good place to remind ourselves that the Gospels are not verbatim, word-for-word, transcripts of Jesus' conversations. They are summaries done years later for theological purposes. The Gospel writers, under inspiration, had the option of selecting, arranging, and adapting Jesus' words (see Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart, How To Read the Bible For All Its Worth). I do not believe they had the right to put words in Jesus' mouth. This theological structuring of Jesus' words, teachings, and actions for the evangelization of certain target audiences, probably explains many of the differences among the Gospel accounts!

16:6 "sorrow has filled your heart" This is a perfect active indicative. The Upper Room experience was one of sorrow (cf. John 14:1; 16:6,22). The term "heart" is used in the Hebrew sense of the entire person-mind, feelings, and will. See Special Topic: Heart at John 12:40.

16:7 "it is to your advantage that I go away" Jesus' physical body could be in only one place at one time, which limited His ability to both teach and minister to all of His disciples. Also, during His earthly life He focused primarily on Israel (cf. Matt. 10:6; 15:24). The coming of the Holy Spirit would open up a new era that would issue in an expanded ministry (cf. Eph. 2:11-3:13).

 The term "advantage" meant "expedient" and is also used in John 11:50 and 18:14 in connection with Jesus' death. The phrase "go away" could include all the events of Jesus' last week.

▣ "for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you" There are two third class conditional sentences in this verse which imply potential action. Jesus had to leave for the fullness of the Spirit to come! The term paraclētos can be translated "advocate," "comforter," or "helper" (cf.14:16, 26; 15:26, see full note at John 14:16). This word appears only in John's writings. It was used in Greek literature for a defense lawyer called alongside to render aid. In John 16:8-11 the Spirit acted as a prosecutor to the world, however, in John 16:12-15 the Spirit's advocacy is seen on behalf of believers.

 This same term paraclētos, is used for the Son in 1 John 2:1. The Greek root can be translated "comfort." In this sense it is used of the Father in 2 Cor. 1:3-11.

"I will send Him to you" The Spirit came from both the Father and the Son (cf. John 14:26).

16:8 "And He, when He comes, will convict the world" Notice that all three areas (sin, righteousness, judgment) of the Spirit's witness relate to the need of mankind and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. The term "convict" was a legal term for a "cross-examination."

G. B. Caird, The Language and Imagery of the Bible, p. 159, has an interesting understanding of these three areas. Convince the world that

1. it has been wrong in bringing Jesus to trial and execution

2. it has been wrong about the meaning of sin 

3. it has been wrong about the meaning of righteousness

4. it has been wrong about the meaning of judgment

If so, then the Spirit is fully revealing the gospel through the person of Jesus. Their religiosity cannot save them. Judgment awaits all who reject Jesus! "The sin" is unbelief! Jesus is the only way to life with God!

The term "world" refers to human, fallen society organized and functioning apart from God. See Special Topic at John 14:17.

16:9 "concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me" The gospel starts with a recognition of mankind's sinfulness and the need for God's righteousness (cf. Rom. 3:9-18,23; 6:23; Eph. 2:1-3). Sin is not "the" major stumbling block to salvation this side of Calvary, but mankind's unbelief in the work and person of Jesus Christ (cf. John 3:6-21; 8:24,26). The term "belief" has cognitive and emotional elements, but primarily it is volitional (see Special Topic at John 2:23). It focuses not on the believer's worthiness or performance, but on their repentant faith response to God's promises in Christ (cf. Rom. 3:21-30).

16:10 "concerning righteousness" This may refer to

1. Christ's upcoming redemptive work on Calvary and the Resurrection seen as a unit (cf. John 16:10)

2. those who think they are right with God apart from Christ when in reality it is Christ only who is right with God, seen in the Ascension


16:11 "concerning judgement, because the ruler of this world has been judged" There is a day coming when both fallen angels and sinful mankind will stand before the righteous God (cf. Phil. 2:9-11). Satan, though still a great power in this world (cf. John 12:31; 14:30; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2; 1 John 5:19), is already a defeated foe (perfect passive indicative). His children (cf. John 8:44; Matt. 13:38; 1 John 3:8-10) reap the wrath of God!

 12"I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you."

16:12 "you cannot bear them now" The term "bear" is used of an animal carrying a physical burden. Some of the things they could not understand were

1. Christ's suffering

2. Christ's resurrection

3. the world mission of the church

Modern readers must remember that in many ways the life of Christ represents a transition period. The Apostles did not understand many things until the post-resurrection appearances and the coming of the Spirit in fullness at Pentecost.

However, we must also remember that the Gospels were written years later for evangelistic purposes to certain targeted audiences. Therefore, they reflect a later, matured theology.

16:13 "the Spirit of truth" Truth (alētheia) is used in its OT connotation of trustworthiness and only secondarily in a sense of truthfulness. Jesus said that He was the truth in John 14:6. This title for the Holy Spirit emphasizes His role as the revealer of Jesus (cf. John 14:17,26; 15:26; 16:13-14; 1 John 4:6; 5:7). See note at John 6:55.

▣ "He will guide you into all the truth" This does not refer to absolute truth in every area, but only in the area of spiritual truth and the teachings of Jesus. This refers primarily to the inspiration of the authors of NT Scriptures. The Spirit guided them in unique, authoritative (inspired) ways. In a secondary sense it relates to the Spirit's work of illuminating later readers to the truths of the Gospel. See Special Topics on Truth at John 6:55 and The Personhood of the Spirit at John 14:26.


▣ "for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come" The things that are to come refer to the immediate redemptive events: Calvary, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and Pentecost. This does not refer to a prophetic ministry of foretelling the future (i.e., Agabus, Acts 21:10, see Special Topic: Prophecy at John 4:19).

The Spirit will receive truth from the Father, as Jesus did, and pass it on to believers, as Jesus did. It is not just the content of the Spirit's message that is from the Father, but the methodology (i.e., personal, see Special Topic at John 14:26) as well. The Father is functionally supreme (cf. 1 Cor. 15:27-28).

16:14-15 "He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you" The primary work of the Spirit is the lifting up and explaining of Jesus the Messiah (cf. John 16:15). The Spirit never shines the spotlight on Himself, but always on Jesus (cf. John 14:26).

"all things that the Father has are Mine" What an astonishing claim (cf. John 3:35; 5:20; 13:3; 17:10; Matt. 11:27). This is analogous to Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-22; Col. 2:10; 1 Pet. 3:22.

There is a functional order, not an inequality, within the Trinity. As Jesus reflected the Father, the Spirit reflects Jesus.

   16"A little while, and you will no longer see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me." 17Some of His disciples then said to one another, "What is this thing He is telling us, 'A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me'; and, 'because I go to the Father'?" 18So they were saying, "What is this that He says, 'A little while'? We do not know what He is talking about." 19Jesus knew that they wished to question Him, and He said to them, "Are you deliberating together about this, that I said, 'A little while, and you will not see Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me'? 20Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. 21Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. 22Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. 23In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. 24Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full."

16:16 "A little while" This phrase occurs often in John (cf. John 7:33; 12:35; 13:33; 14:19). There have been several theories of what this idiomatic phrase means.

1. the post-resurrection appearances

2. the Second Coming

3. Jesus' coming in and through the Holy Spirit

In the light of the context, number 1 is the only possibility (cf. John 16:22). The disciples were confused by this statement (cf. John 16:17-18).

16:17 "Some of His disciples then said to one another" This is another question like John 13:36; 14:5,8,22. Jesus uses these questions to reassure them and reveal Himself. It is characteristic of John that he uses dialog to reveal truth. In John there are twenty-seven conversations with or about Jesus. It is also characteristic of John that Jesus' hearers did not comprehend what He said (cf. John 16:18). He is from above; they are from below.

▣ "and 'because I go to the Father'" Jesus stated this in John 16:5 as He did in the phrase "in a little while" in John 16:16. In a sense this is a very specific Messianic reference (cf. John 13:1,3; 16:28; 17:24).

▣ "will not see. . .see" There are two different words for "see" in John 16:16 and 17. They seem to be synonymous. If so there is only one period of time being referred to and that probably was the time between Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection morning.

 Others suppose the two verbs and phrases refer to "physical" sight and "spiritual" sight and thereby refer to (1) the time between Calvary and Sunday morning or (2) the time between the Ascension and the Second Coming.

The fact that the first verb (theōreō) is present tense in both John 16:16 and 17 and the second (horaō) is future tense in both John 16:16 and 17 seem to support the synonymous theory.

16:18 "So they were saying" This is an imperfect tense which can mean (1) they were saying over and over or (2) they began to say.

▣ "What is this that He says" Those who were with Him, who heard Him and saw His miracles, did not always understand (cf. John 8:27,43; 10:6; 12:16: 18:4). This is what the ministry of the Spirit will alleviate.

16:19 "Jesus knew that they wished to question Him" Jesus often knew people's thoughts (cf. John 2:25; 6:61,64; 13:11). It is difficult to know for sure if this was (1) His divine nature; (2) insight into people and situations; or (3) both.

16:20 "Truly, truly, I say to you" This is literally "Amen, Amen" (see Special Topic 1:51). "Amen" was the OT term (aman, emeth, emunah) for "faith" (cf. Hab. 2:4). Its primary etymology was "to be firm" or "to be sure." It came to be used figuratively for the trustworthiness of God which is the background to the biblical concept of faith/faithfulness. Jesus is the only one who ever started a sentence with this term. It seems to have the connotation of "this is an important and trustworthy statement, listen closely."

▣ "you will weep and lament" This meant loud and expressive sorrow which was characteristic of Jewish grieving practices (cf. John 11:31,33; 20:11). Three times Jesus used the emphatic plural "you" when speaking of the disciples' sorrow (John 16:20 [twice] and John 16:22). Leadership means

1. servanthood

2. rejection by the world

3. persecution like the Master's


▣ "you will grieve, but your grief will be turned to joy" What a great promise to the disciples in the midst of their confusion and lack of understanding. Everything that Jesus promised this core group of disciples was fulfilled at Jesus' first post-resurrection appearance the first Sunday night after the resurrection in the upper room.

1. He would not leave them (cf. John 14:18; 16:16,19; 20:19)

2. He would come to them (cf. John 14:18; 16:16,19; 20:19)

3. He would give them peace (cf. John 16:22; 20:19)

4. He would give them the Spirit (cf. John 15:26; 20:22)


16:21 "Whenever a woman is in labor" The metaphor of a woman in childbirth is common in the Old and New Testaments. Usually it is used to emphasize the suddenness or inevitability of the birth, but here the focus is on the attitude of the mother, before and after. This metaphor is often linked with the "birth-pains" of the New Age (cf. Isa. 26:17-18; 66:7-14; Mark 13:8). This was exactly what Jesus was referring to and this was exactly why the disciples, who were still on the other side of the cross, resurrection, and ascension, did not understand Jesus' words!

16:23 "In that day" This is another Hebraic idiomatic phrase (like childbirth cf. John 16:21) which is commonly associated with the coming of the New Age (cf. John 14:20; 16:25,26).

▣ "you will not question Me about anything" There are two different words for "question" or "ask" in this verse (cf. John 16:26). The first implies "ask a question" (cf. John 16:5,19,30). If this is the proper translation, Jesus was referring to all their questions expressed in the context of chapters 13-17 (cf. John 13:36; 14:5,8,22; 16:17-18). The second term would then refer to the coming of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14:16-31; 15:26-27; 16:1-15), who will answer all their questions.

In some ways this phrase reminds me of the promise of the "new covenant" of Jer. 31:31-34, where the coming of the new age would bring a complete knowledge to all believers.

NASB"if you ask the Father for anything in My name"
NKJV"whatever you ask the Father in My name"
NRSV"if you ask anything of the Father in my name"
TEV"the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name"
NJB"anything you ask from the Father he will grant in my name"

This is an indefinite relative clause, not a conditional sentence. It must be understood that asking in Jesus' name is not simply closing our prayers with a ritual formula, but praying in the will, mind, and character of Jesus Christ (cf. 1 John 5:13). See note at John 15:16. See SPECIAL TOPIC: PRAYER, UNLIMITED YET LIMITED at 1 John 3:22.

 There is a manuscript variant related to the phrase "in My name." Should it go with "ask" or "give" or both? The context is prayer, therefore, it should probably go with "ask," although in reality, everything from the Father comes through Jesus ("My name" cf. John 14:13,14; 16:15,24,26). See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE NAME OF THE LORD at John 14:13-14.

16:24 "ask and you will receive" "Ask" is a present active imperative. This focuses on believers' prayers being persistent and ongoing. In one sense believers need only ask once, believing, but in another sense, prayer is an ongoing fellowship and trust in God, keep on asking (cf. Matt. 7:7-8; Luke 11:5-13; 18:1-8).

▣ "so that your joy may be made full" This is a periphrastic perfect passive participle (cf. 1 John 1:4). Answered prayer is a reason for our joy! Joy is a characteristic of Jesus' followers (cf. John 15:11; 16:20,21,24; 17:13).

 25"These things I have spoken to you in a figurative language; an hour is coming when I will speak no more to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father. 26In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; 27for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father. 28I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father."

16:25 "figurative language" Jesus' teachings had a two-fold effect: (1) it opened up understanding and (2) it blocked understanding (cf. Mark 4:10-11; Isa. 6:9-10; Jer. 5:21). The heart of the hearer is the key to effectual understanding. However, there were truths that even the saved could not grasp until after the Passion week events (crucifixion, resurrection, resurrection appearances, ascension) and Pentecost.

The post-resurrection appearance to the two on the road to Emmaus (cf. Luke 24:13-35) may give a clue as to how Jesus taught the Apostles (cf. John 16:25-27,29). He Himself in His post-resurrection appearances showed how the OT applied to and foreshadowed His ministry. This set the pattern for Peter's preaching in Acts (kerygma, see Special Topic at John 5:39).

"will tell you plainly" See Special Topic: Boldness (Parrhēsia) at John 7:4.

16:26 "In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf" This verse expresses an important truth. Many modern Christians feel they cannot approach God directly! However, the Bible teaches that

1. the Spirit prays for believers (cf. Rom. 8:26-27)

2. the Son intercedes for believers in 1 John 2:1

3. believers can approach God directly in prayer because of Christ


16:27 "for the Father Himself loves you" This term for "love " is phileō, which is also used in John 5:20 for the Father's love for Jesus. What a tremendous statement which reinforces John 3:16 (which uses agapaō). It is not a reluctant God whom Jesus has to placate, but a loving Father with whom Jesus works to accomplish Their redemptive purposes!

NASB"from the Father"
TEV, NJB"from God"

There are two Greek manuscript variants: (1) "God" or "Father" and (2) the presence or absence of the article. "God" appears in MSS P5, אi2, A, and N, while "the God" appears in MSS C3 and W. This seems to be the more difficult and unusual wording. It is one of the tenants of Textual Criticism (see Appendix) that the most difficult or unusual text is probably the original that scribes tended to alter. The United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament gives it a "C" rating (difficulty in deciding).

However "Father" appears in אi1 and "the Father" in B, C*, D, and L. It fits the context best.

▣ "because you have loved Me and believed that I came forth" These are two perfect active indicatives. Love and belief in Jesus set the stage for fellowship with the Father. The statement in A Translator's Handbook on the Gospel of John by Barclay Newman and Eugene Nida is very interesting:

"These statements indicate that for John the concepts of love, obedience, and faith are simply different ways of expressing one's relation to the Son" (p. 518).

For "believed" see Special Topic: John's Use of "Believe" at John 2:23.

16:28 "I came forth. . .and have come" This is an aorist tense followed by a perfect tense. Jesus was born at Bethlehem (Incarnation) and the results of His coming abide (i.e., "I am with you always," cf. Matt. 28:20).

The fact that Jesus "came forth from the Father" (cf. John 16:27,30; 8:42; 13:3; 17:8) asserts

1. His pre-existence

2. His divinity

3. His full revelation of the Father


▣ "I am leaving the world again and going to the Father" This refers to the upcoming ascension and the beginning of the ministry of the "Helper" and the intercessory ministry of Jesus (cf. Heb. 7:25; 9:24; 1 John 2:1). As pre-existence was asserted in John 1:1, so Jesus' restoration to glory and power is asserted in this verse (cf. John 17:5,24).

 29His disciples said, "Lo, now You are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech. 30Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God." 31Jesus answered them, "Do you now believe? 32Behold, an hour is coming and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."

16:29 "speaking plainly" See Special Topic: Boldness (Parrhēsia) at John 7:4.

16:30 This sentence must be understood in light of Jesus' knowing the disciples' question of John 16:19. This statement by them reflects their growing, but still incomplete, faith. They had seen and heard so much; did this event (cf. John 16:19) really function as a major turning point in their understanding? To me this sounds like one of Peter's well-intentioned but exaggerated statements (see The Jerome Biblical Commentary, p. 456).

16:31 "Do you now believe" This can be a question or a statement. Most modern English translations understand it as a question. Even at this crucial period, the faith of the Apostles was not complete. Modern believers' initial, but weak, faith is also accepted by God when they respond to Jesus based on the light that they have. The disciples lack of faith will be evident in their deserting Jesus during His trials and crucifixion.

16:32 "you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone" Apparently only John was present at the trials and crucifixion (cf. Matt. 26:31, from Zech. 13:7). John 21:1-3 suggests that several of the Apostles had gone back to fishing as a vocation.

Jesus was bereft of human companionship (cf. Matt. 26:38,40-41, 43,45), but never divine companionship (cf. John 8:16,29) until the crucifixion, when He bore the sin of all the world (cf. Matt. 27:45-46).

NASB"to his own home"
NKJV"to his own"
NRSV"to his home"
NJB"his own way"
TEV"your own home"
NIV"to his own home"

The NKJV is literal. Most English translations assume it refers to ones home. Bultmann asserts it refers to "property" or "possessions" (NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 839), referring to Jesus as the creator (i.e., John 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2).

16:33 "in Me you may have peace" This is a present active subjunctive (cf. John 14:27). Both objective and subjective peace is found and maintained in Christ. See Special Topic: Peace at John 14:27.

▣ "the world" John uses "world" in this context as human society organized and functioning apart from God. See Special Topic: Kosmos at John 14:17.

▣ "you have tribulation" The persecution that Jesus faced, they will face (cf. John 15:18-25; Matt. 5:10-12; Acts 14:22; 1 Thess. 3:3). The persecution (i.e., thlipsis) is a way to reveal Jesus' true followers.

In Revelation there is a theological distinction between "wrath" and "persecution." God's wrath never falls on believers, but non-believers' anger falls on believers. The world reveals itself as the children of Satan by their attacks on "the light of the world" (cf. John 1:1-18; 3:17-21)!

▣ "take courage" This is a present active imperative (cf. Matt. 9:2,22; 14:27; Mark 6:50; 10:49; Acts 23:11). It sounds like YHWH's words to Joshua (cf. Jos. 1:6,9,18; 10:25).

▣ "I have overcome the world" This is a perfect active indicative. Victory is assured even before Gethsemane, before Calvary, before the empty tomb (cf. Rom. 8:37; 1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 2:14; 4:7-15)! There is no ultimate dualism. God is in control.

As Jesus overcame the world by love and obedience to the Father, believers are also overcomers through Him (cf. 1 John 2:13-14; 4:4; 5:4-5; Rev. 3:21; 12:11).


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. What is the connection between chapter 15 and chapter 16?

2. In relationship to verse 5, how do we understand 13:36?

3. What is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the lost world?

4. What is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to believers?

5. Why are verses 26-27 such an important truth needed in light of modern denominational tendencies?


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