1 “I have told you all these things so that you will not fall away.tn Grk “so that you will not be caused to stumble.” sn In Johannine thought the verb σκανδαλίζω (skandalizw) means to trip up disciples and cause them to fall away from Jesus’ company (John 6:61, 1 John 2:10). Similar usage is found in Didache 16:5, an early Christian writing from around the beginning of the 2nd century a.d. An example of a disciple who falls away is Judas Iscariot. Here and again in 16:4 Jesus gives the purpose for his telling the disciples about coming persecution: He informs them so that when it happens, the disciples will not fall away, which in this context would refer to the confusion and doubt which they would certainly experience when such persecution began. There may have been a tendency for the disciples to expect immediately after Jesus’ victory over death the institution of the messianic kingdom, particularly in light of the turn of events recorded in the early chapters of Acts. Jesus here forestalls such disillusionment for the disciples by letting them know in advance that they will face persecution and even martyrdom as they seek to carry on his mission in the world after his departure. This material has parallels in the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24-25) and the synoptic parallels.
2 They will put you out oftn Or “expel you from.” the synagogue,sn See the note on synagogue in 6:59. yet a timetn Grk “an hour.” is coming when the one who kills you will think he is offering service to God.sn Jesus now refers not to the time of his return to the Father, as he has frequently done up to this point, but to the disciples’ time of persecution. They will be excommunicated from Jewish synagogues. There will even be a time when those who kill Jesus’ disciples will think that they are offering service to God by putting the disciples to death. Because of the reference to service offered to God, it is almost certain that Jewish opposition is intended here in both cases rather than Jewish opposition in the first instance (putting the disciples out of synagogues) and Roman opposition in the second (putting the disciples to death). Such opposition materializes later and is recorded in Acts: The stoning of Stephen in 7:58-60 and the slaying of James the brother of John by Herod Agrippa I in Acts 12:2-3 are notable examples.
3 Theytn Grk “And they.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here. will do these things because they have not known the Father or me.sn Ignorance of Jesus and ignorance of the Father are also linked in 8:19; to know Jesus would be to know the Father also, but since the world does not know Jesus, neither does it know his Father. The world’s ignorance of the Father is also mentioned in 8:55, 15:21, and 17:25.
4 But I have told you these thingstn The first half of v. 4 resumes the statement of 16:1, ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν (tauta lelalhka Jumin), in a somewhat more positive fashion, omitting the reference to the disciples being caused to stumble. so that when their timetn Grk “their hour.” comes, you will remember that I told you about them.tn The words “about them” are not in the Greek text, but are implied.
“I did not tell you these things from the beginning because I was with you.sn This verse serves as a transition between the preceding discussion of the persecutions the disciples will face in the world after the departure of Jesus, and the following discussion concerning the departure of Jesus and the coming of the Spirit-Paraclete. Jesus had not told the disciples these things from the beginning because he was with them.
5 But now I am going to the one who sent me,sn Now the theme of Jesus’ impending departure is resumed (I am going to the one who sent me). It will also be mentioned in 16:10, 17, and 28. Jesus had said to his opponents in 7:33 that he was going to the one who sent him; in 13:33 he had spoken of going where the disciples could not come. At that point Peter had inquired where he was going, but it appears that Peter did not understand Jesus’ reply at that time and did not persist in further questioning. In 14:5 Thomas had asked Jesus where he was going. and not one of you is asking me, ‘Where are you going?’sn Now none of the disciples asks Jesus where he is going, and the reason is given in the following verse: They have been overcome with sadness as a result of the predictions of coming persecution that Jesus has just spoken to them in 15:18-25 and 16:1-4a. Their shock at Jesus’ revelation of coming persecution is so great that none of them thinks to ask him where it is that he is going.
6 Instead your hearts are filled with sadnesstn Or “distress” or “grief.” because I have said these things to you.
7 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I am going away. For if I do not go away, the Advocatetn Or “Helper” or “Counselor”; Grk “Paraclete,” from the Greek word παράκλητος (paraklhto"). See the note on the word “Advocate” in John 14:16 for a discussion of how this word is translated. will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you.
8 And when hetn Grk “when that one.” comes, he will prove the world wrongtn Or “will convict the world,” or “will expose the world.” The conjunction περί (peri) is used in 16:8-11 in the sense of “concerning” or “with respect to.” But what about the verb ἐλέγχω (elencw)? The basic meanings possible for this word are (1) “to convict or convince someone of something”; (2) “to bring to light or expose something; and (3) “to correct or punish someone.” The third possibility may be ruled out in these verses on contextual grounds since punishment is not implied. The meaning is often understood to be that the Paraclete will “convince” the world of its error, so that some at least will repent. But S. Mowinckel (“Die Vorstellungen des Spätjudentums vom heiligen Geist als Fürsprecher und der johanneische Paraklet,” ZNW 32 : 97-130) demonstrated that the verb ἐλέγχω did not necessarily imply the conversion or reform of the guilty party. This means it is far more likely that conviction in something of a legal sense is intended here (as in a trial). The only certainty is that the accused party is indeed proven guilty (not that they will acknowledge their guilt). Further confirmation of this interpretation is seen in John 14:17 where the world cannot receive the Paraclete and in John 3:20, where the evildoer deliberately refuses to come to the light, lest his deeds be exposed for what they really are (significantly, the verb in John 3:20 is also ἐλέγχω). However, if one wishes to adopt the meaning “prove guilty” for the use of ἐλέγχω in John 16:8 a difficulty still remains: While this meaning fits the first statement in 16:9 – the world is ‘proven guilty’ concerning its sin of refusing to believe in Jesus – it does not fit so well the second and third assertions in vv. 10-11. Thus R. E. Brown (John [AB], 2:705) suggests the more general meaning “prove wrong” which would fit in all three cases. This may be so, but there may also be a developmental aspect to the meaning, which would then shift from v. 9 to v. 10 to v. 11. concerning sin andtn Grk “and concerning.” righteousness andtn Grk “and concerning.” judgment –
9 concerning sin, becausetn Or “that.” It is very difficult to determine whether ὅτι (Joti; 3 times in 16:9, 10, 11) should be understood as causal or appositional/explanatory: Brown and Bultmann favor appositional or explanatory, while Barrett and Morris prefer a causal sense. A causal idea is preferable here, since it also fits the parallel statements in vv. 10-11 better than an appositional or explanatory use would. In this case Jesus is stating in each instance the reason why the world is proven guilty or wrong by the Spirit-Paraclete. they do not believe in me;sn Here (v. 9) the world is proven guilty concerning sin, and the reason given is their refusal to believe in Jesus. In 3:19 the effect of Jesus coming into the world as the Light of the world was to provoke judgment, by forcing people to choose up sides for or against him, and they chose darkness rather than light. In 12:37, at the very end of Jesus’ public ministry in John’s Gospel, people were still refusing to believe in him.
10 concerning righteousness,tn There are two questions that need to be answered: (1) what is the meaning of δικαιοσύνη (dikaiosunh) in this context, and (2) to whom does it pertain – to the world, or to someone else? (1) The word δικαιοσύνη occurs in the Gospel of John only here and in v. 8. It is often assumed that it refers to forensic justification, as it does so often in Paul’s writings. Thus the answer to question (2) would be that it refers to the world. L. Morris states, “The Spirit shows men (and no-one else can do this) that their righteousness before God depends not on their own efforts but on Christ’s atoning work for them” (John [NICNT], 699). Since the word occurs so infrequently in the Fourth Gospel, however, the context must be examined very carefully. The ὅτι (Joti) clause which follows provides an important clue: The righteousness in view here has to do with Jesus’ return to the Father and his absence from the disciples. It is true that in the Fourth Gospel part of what is involved in Jesus’ return to the Father is the cross, and it is through his substitutionary death that people are justified, so that Morris’ understanding of righteousness here is possible. But more basic than this is the idea that Jesus’ return to the Father constitutes his own δικαιοσύνη in the sense of vindication rather than forensic justification. Jesus had repeatedly claimed oneness with the Father, and his opponents had repeatedly rejected this and labeled him a deceiver, a sinner, and a blasphemer (John 5:18, 7:12, 9:24, 10:33, etc.). But Jesus, by his glorification through his return to the Father, is vindicated in his claims in spite of his opponents. In his vindication his followers are also vindicated as well, but their vindication derives from his. Thus one would answer question (1) by saying that in context δικαιοσύνης (dikaiosunh") refers not to forensic justification but vindication, and question (2) by referring this justification/vindication not to the world or even to Christians directly, but to Jesus himself. Finally, how does Jesus’ last statement in v. 10, that the disciples will see him no more, contribute to this? It is probably best taken as a reference to the presence of the Spirit-Paraclete, who cannot come until Jesus has departed (16:7). The meaning of v. 10 is thus: When the Spirit-Paraclete comes he will prove the world wrong concerning the subject of righteousness, namely, Jesus’ righteousness which is demonstrated when he is glorified in his return to the Father and the disciples see him no more (but they will have instead the presence of the Spirit-Paraclete, whom the world is not able to receive). becausetn Or “that.” I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer;
11 and concerning judgment,sn The world is proven wrong concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. Jesus’ righteousness before the Father, as proven by his return to the Father, his glorification, constitutes a judgment against Satan. This is parallel to the judgment of the world which Jesus provokes in 3:19-21: Jesus’ presence in the world as the Light of the world provokes the judgment of those in the world, because as they respond to the light (either coming to Jesus or rejecting him) so are they judged. That judgment is in a sense already realized. So it is here, where the judgment of Satan is already realized in Jesus’ glorification. This does not mean that Satan does not continue to be active in the world, and to exercise some power over it, just as in 3:19-21 the people in the world who have rejected Jesus and thus incurred judgment continue on in their opposition to Jesus for a time. In both cases the judgment is not immediately executed. But it is certain. becausetn Or “that.” the ruler of this worldsn The ruler of this world is a reference to Satan. has been condemned.tn Or “judged.”
12 “I have many more things to say to you,sn In what sense does Jesus have many more things to say to the disciples? Does this imply the continuation of revelation after his departure? This is probably the case, especially in light of v. 13 and following, which describe the work of the Holy Spirit in guiding the disciples into all truth. Thus Jesus was saying that he would continue to speak (to the twelve, at least) after his return to the Father. He would do this through the Holy Spirit whom he was going to send. It is possible that an audience broader than the twelve is addressed, and in the Johannine tradition there is evidence that later other Christians (or perhaps, professed Christians) claimed to be recipients of revelation through the Spirit-Paraclete (1 John 4:1-6). but you cannot beartn Or (perhaps) “you cannot accept.” them now.
13 But when he,tn Grk “that one.” the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guidetn Or “will lead.” you into all truth.sn Three important points must be noted here. (1) When the Holy Spirit comes, he will guide the disciples into all truth. What Jesus had said in 8:31-32, “If you continue to follow my teaching you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” will ultimately be realized in the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit to the disciples after Jesus’ departure. (2) The things the Holy Spirit speaks to them will not be things which originate from himself (he will not speak on his own authority), but things he has heard. This could be taken to mean that no new revelation is involved, as R. E. Brown does (John [AB], 2:714-15). This is a possible but not a necessary inference. The point here concerns the source of the things the Spirit will say to the disciples and does not specifically exclude originality of content. (3) Part at least of what the Holy Spirit will reveal to the disciples will concern what is to come, not just fuller implications of previous sayings of Jesus and the like. This does seem to indicate that at least some new revelation is involved. But the Spirit is not the source or originator of these things – Jesus is the source, and he will continue to speak to his disciples through the Spirit who has come to indwell them. This does not answer the question, however, whether these words are addressed to all followers of Jesus, or only to his apostles. Different modern commentators will answer this question differently. Since in the context of the Farewell Discourse Jesus is preparing the twelve to carry on his ministry after his departure, it is probably best to take these statements as specifically related only to the twelve. Some of this the Holy Spirit does directly for all believers today; other parts of this statement are fulfilled through the apostles (e.g., in giving the Book of Revelation the Spirit speaks through the apostles to the church today of things to come). One of the implications of this is that a doctrine does not have to be traced back to an explicit teaching of Jesus to be authentic; all that is required is apostolic authority. For he will not speak on his own authority,tn Grk “speak from himself.” but will speak whatever he hears, and will tell youtn Or will announce to you.” what is to come.tn Grk “will tell you the things to come.”
14 Hetn Grk “That one.” will glorify me,tn Or “will honor me.” because he will receivetn Or “he will take.” from me what is minetn The words “what is mine” are not in the Greek text, but are implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context. and will tell it to you.tn Or “will announce it to you.”
15 Everything that the Father has is mine; that is why I said the Spirittn Grk “I said he”; the referent (the Spirit) has been specified in the translation for clarity. will receive from me what is minetn The words “what is mine” are not in the Greek text, but are implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context. and will tell it to you.tn Or “will announce it to you.”
16 In a little while youtn Grk “A little while, and you.” will see me no longer; again after a little while, youtn Grk “and again a little while, and you.” will see me.”sn The phrase after a little while, you will see me is sometimes taken to refer to the coming of the Holy Spirit after Jesus departs, but (as at 14:19) it is much more probable that it refers to the postresurrection appearances of Jesus to the disciples. There is no indication in the context that the disciples will see Jesus only with “spiritual” sight, as would be the case if the coming of the Spirit is in view.
17 Then some of his disciples said to one another, “What is the meaning of what he is saying,tn Grk “What is this that he is saying to us.” ‘In a little while youtn Grk “A little while, and you.” will not see me; again after a little while, youtn Grk “and again a little while, and you.” will see me,’ and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?”sn These fragmentary quotations of Jesus’ statements are from 16:16 and 16:10, and indicate that the disciples heard only part of what Jesus had to say to them on this occasion.
18 So they kept on repeating,tn Grk “they kept on saying.” “What is the meaning of what he says,tn Grk “What is this that he says.” ‘In a little while’?tn Grk “A little while.” Although the phrase τὸ μικρόν (to mikron) in John 16:18 could be translated simply “a little while,” it was translated “in a little while” to maintain the connection to John 16:16, where it has the latter meaning in context. We do not understandtn Or “we do not know.” what he is talking about.”tn Grk “what he is speaking.”
19 Jesus could seetn Grk “knew.”sn Jesus could see. Supernatural knowledge of what the disciples were thinking is not necessarily in view here. Given the disciples’ confused statements in the preceding verses, it was probably obvious to Jesus that they wanted to ask what he meant. that they wanted to ask him about these things,tn The words “about these things” are not in the Greek text, but are implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context. sotn Καί (kai) has been translated as “so” here to indicate the following statement is a result of Jesus’ observation in v. 19a. he said to them, “Are you askingtn Grk “inquiring” or “seeking.” each other about this – that I said, ‘In a little while youtn Grk “A little while, and you.” will not see me; again after a little while, youtn Grk “and again a little while, and you.” will see me’?
20 I tell you the solemn truth,tn Grk “Truly, truly, I say to you.” you will weeptn Or “wail,” “cry.” and wail,tn Or “lament.” but the world will rejoice; you will be sad,tn Or “sorrowful.” but your sadness will turn intotn Grk “will become.” joy.
21 When a woman gives birth, she has distresssn The same word translated distress here has been translated sadness in the previous verse (a wordplay that is not exactly reproducible in English). because her timetn Grk “her hour.” has come, but when her child is born, she no longer remembers the suffering because of her joy that a human beingtn Grk “that a man” (but in a generic sense, referring to a human being). has been born into the world.sn Jesus now compares the situation of the disciples to a woman in childbirth. Just as the woman in the delivery of her child experiences real pain and anguish (has distress), so the disciples will also undergo real anguish at the crucifixion of Jesus. But once the child has been born, the mother’s anguish is turned into joy, and she forgets the past suffering. The same will be true of the disciples, who after Jesus’ resurrection and reappearance to them will forget the anguish they suffered at his death on account of their joy.
22 So also you have sorrowtn Or “distress.” now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.sn An allusion to Isa 66:14 LXX, which reads: “Then you will see, and your heart will be glad, and your bones will flourish like the new grass; and the hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants, but he will be indignant toward his enemies.” The change from “you will see [me]” to I will see you places more emphasis on Jesus as the one who reinitiates the relationship with the disciples after his resurrection, but v. 16 (you will see me) is more like Isa 66:14. Further support for seeing this allusion as intentional is found in Isa 66:7, which uses the same imagery of the woman giving birth found in John 16:21. In the context of Isa 66 the passages refer to the institution of the messianic kingdom, and in fact the last clause of 66:14 along with the following verses (15-17) have yet to be fulfilled. This is part of the tension of present and future eschatological fulfillment that runs throughout the NT, by virtue of the fact that there are two advents. Some prophecies are fulfilled or partially fulfilled at the first advent, while other prophecies or parts of prophecies await fulfillment at the second.
23 At that timetn Grk “And in that day.” you will ask me nothing. I tell you the solemn truth,tn Grk “Truly, truly, I say to you.” whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.sn This statement is also found in John 15:16.
24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive it,tn The word “it” is not in the Greek text, but is implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context. so that your joy may be complete.
25 “I have told you these things in obscure figures of speech;tn Or “in parables”; or “in metaphors.” There is some difficulty in defining παροιμίαις (paroimiai") precisely: A translation like “parables” does not convey accurately the meaning. BDAG 779-80 s.v. παροιμία suggests in general “proverb, saw, maxim,” but for Johannine usage “veiled saying, figure of speech, in which esp. lofty ideas are concealed.” In the preceding context of the Farewell Discourse, Jesus has certainly used obscure language and imagery at times: John 13:8-11; 13:16; 15:1-17; and 16:21 could all be given as examples. In the LXX this word is used to translate the Hebrew mashal which covers a wide range of figurative speech, often containing obscure or enigmatic elements. a timetn Grk “an hour.” is coming when I will no longer speak to you in obscure figures, but will tell youtn Or “inform you.” plainlytn Or “openly.” about the Father.
26 At that timetn Grk “In that day.” you will ask in my name, and I do not saytn Grk “I do not say to you.” that I will ask the Father on your behalf.
27 For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.tc A number of early mss (א1 B C* D L pc co) read πατρός (patros, “Father”) here instead of θεοῦ (qeou, “God”; found in Ì5 א*,2 A C3 W Θ Ψ 33 Ë1,13 Ï). Although externally πατρός has relatively strong support, it is evidently an assimilation to “I came from the Father” at the beginning of v. 28, or more generally to the consistent mention of God as Father throughout this chapter (πατήρ [pathr, “Father”] occurs eleven times in this chapter, while θεός [qeos, “God”] occurs only two other times [16:2, 30]).
28 I came from the Father and entered into the world, but in turn,tn Or “into the world; again.” Here πάλιν (palin) functions as a marker of contrast, with the implication of a sequence. I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”sn The statement I am leaving the world and going to the Father is a summary of the entire Gospel of John. It summarizes the earthly career of the Word made flesh, Jesus of Nazareth, on his mission from the Father to be the Savior of the world, beginning with his entry into the world as he came forth from God and concluding with his departure from the world as he returned to the Father.
29 His disciples said, “Look, now you are speaking plainlytn Or “openly.” and not in obscure figures of speech!tn Or “not in parables.” or “not in metaphors.”sn How is the disciples’ reply to Jesus now you are speaking plainly and not in obscure figures of speech to be understood? Their claim to understand seems a bit impulsive. It is difficult to believe that the disciples have really understood the full implications of Jesus’ words, although it is true that he spoke to them plainly and not figuratively in 16:26-28. The disciples will not fully understand all that Jesus has said to them until after his resurrection, when the Holy Spirit will give them insight and understanding (16:13).
30 Now we know that you know everythingtn Grk “all things.” and do not need anyonetn Grk “and have no need of anyone.” to ask you anything.tn The word “anything” is not in the Greek text, but is implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context. Because of thistn Or “By this.” we believe that you have come from God.”
31 Jesus replied,tn Grk “Jesus answered them.” “Do you now believe?
32 Look, a timetn Grk “an hour.” is coming – and has come – when you will be scattered, each one to his own home,tn Grk “each one to his own”; the word “home” is not in the Greek text but is implied. The phrase “each one to his own” may be completed in a number of different ways: “each one to his own property”; “each one to his own family”; or “each one to his own home.” The last option seems to fit most easily into the context and so is used in the translation. and I will be left alone.sn The proof of Jesus’ negative evaluation of the disciples’ faith is now given: Jesus foretells their abandonment of him at his arrest, trials, and crucifixion (I will be left alone). This parallels the synoptic accounts in Matt 26:31 and Mark 14:27 when Jesus, after the last supper and on the way to Gethsemane, foretold the desertion of the disciples as a fulfillment of Zech 13:7: “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” Yet although the disciples would abandon Jesus, he reaffirmed that he was not alone, because the Father was still with him. Yettn Grk “And” (but with some contrastive force). I am not alone, because my Fathertn Grk “the Father.” is with me.
33 I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering,tn The one Greek term θλῖψις (qliyis) has been translated by an English hendiadys (two terms that combine for one meaning) “trouble and suffering.” For modern English readers “tribulation” is no longer clearly understandable. but take couragetn Or “but be courageous.” – I have conquered the world.”tn Or “I am victorious over the world,” or “I have overcome the world.”sn The Farewell Discourse proper closes on the triumphant note I have conquered the world, which recalls 1:5 (in the prologue): “the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.” Jesus’ words which follow in chap. 17 are addressed not to the disciples but to his Father, as he prays for the consecration of the disciples.
1996 - 2007 by Biblical Studies Press, LLC
Used by permission, All rights reserved.