Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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JOHN - Chapter 16

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John 16

Supplemental Commentary:


1.  The Last Supper  13, 1 -- 17, 26 (continued)

16, 1-5:  Persecution Predicted.  Some details are now given of the persecution already foretold.  The section 16, 5 ff is closely connected; the Advocate will support them in their trials.    1.  Scandalized: recall the circumstances of 6, 61, when many of Christ's followers withdrew; cf. also 16, 32.    2.  Cf. 9, 22; 12, 42; Acts 8, 1-4; 9, 1; Phil. 3, 6.  Sharers in the execution of one condemned by the Law naturally thought they were doing the will of God.  Cf. Ex. 32, 29; Deut. 13, 8; 17, 7.  Offering worship: by performing a religious act.    3.  Cf. 8, 19; 15, 21.    4.  Cf. 13, 19; 14, 29.  This prediction is to prepare them for the shock when it comes.  I did not tell you: there had been some previous warning (Matt. 5, 11 f; 10, 14.16; 20, 23; Luke 6, 22; 12, 4; 21, 12), but the present one has two novel features: they are His representatives, and what is done to them is done as a religious act (St. Thomas).  Because I was with you: this makes a great difference.

16, 6-33:  The Role of the Advocate.  This is the third main topic of the discourse, and complements the thought in 14, 15-26.  It falls into three parts.

6-11:  The Advocate and the world.    5.  No one of you asks me: Peter and Thomas had done so earlier: 13, 36; 14, 5.28; but the situation has changed.    7.  Cf. 14, 16 f; 15, 26; 7, 39.  The coming of the Holy Spirit is one of the providential fruits of our Lord's sacrifice.  In Acts and the Epistles there is  much evidence of the working of the Spirit in the Church, and it is accepted as the result of Christ's oblation.    8-11.  Convict: bring conviction relative to these truths.  It implies the obstinate disposition of the world.  The Advocate is pleading the cause of our Lord.  The world: including more than the Jews.  In the following three charges, because explains why the world is convicted, rather than directly specifies its offense.    9.  Of sin: the world is made to realize that, refusing to believe in Christ, it remains in its guilt.    10.  Of justice: Christ's return to His Father proves that His cause was just, while His leaving the world is especially chargeable to its opposition.    11.  Of judgment: in the Passion a divine judgment was passed on the ruler of this world: cf. 12, 31; Eph. 2, 2-10; 6, 12; Col. 2, 14 f; Heb. 2, 14.  With him were judged his followers.

12-15:  The Advocate will complete the Apostles' knowledge.    12.  Many things: 15, 15.  The Acts and the Epistles contain new elements in the Christian revelation; see Acts 10, 15; Rom. 11, 25; 1 Cor. 7, 12; 15, 23; 1 Thess. 4, 14; 2 Thess. 2, 3; 2 Pet. 3, 7 f.    13.  The Greek text reads, "He will guide you to the whole truth."  Cf. Ps. 24, 5.  The teaching of the Spirit, as that of the Son, is the Father's.  Whatever he will hear conveys the same thought.  If this is addressed to the Apostles alone, it means that revelation closed with the Apostolic age (cf. Council of Vatican, Denzinger, 1836, 2021); if it extends beyond them, it can only apply to fuller knowledge of truths already revealed.  The things that are to come: see predictions of the future in Acts 11, 28; 21, 11; 27, 22; and cf. 1 Cor. 14, 24 f; Eph. 4, 11.    Vv.14 f emphasize the identity of the Spirit's teaching with that of the Son.  He will glorify me by completing Christ's teaching, as Christ had glorified the Father by delivering His message; cf. 5, 19; 8, 26.40; 15, 15.  (See also Denzinger, 1787.)  The passage indicates most clearly the Blessed Trinity; unity of nature, distinction and relation of persons.  The Father communicates this nature to the Son; the Father and the Son to the Holy Spirit.

16-24:  Joy at Christ's Return.    16.  The Greek text lacks because I go to the Father, which probably found its way here from v.10.    17f.  They could not reconcile His departure and quick return.    19.  The Greek text makes this a question: cf. 2, 25; 6, 62; Mark 9, 31.  Christ again reveals His supernatural knowledge.  The next verses do not answer their question, but repeat the consoling promise of his speedy return.    20.  His death will bring sorrow to the Apostles, joy to the world; His resurrection will turn their sorrow to joy.    21.  This figure is a favorite simile with the Old Testament prophets (Isa. 13, 8; 21, 3; Jer. 4, 31; 13, 21; 22, 23; 30, 6; Os. 13, 13; Mich. 4, 9), and very apt here.    22.  Cf. Isa. 66, 14; 2 Cor, 4, 14.  The fulfillment is recorded in John 20, 20.    23.  In that day, primarily of the Resurrection, but also of subsequent time.  Ask: either put a question or make a request; the former predominates in 23a, the latter in 23b.    24.  Cf. 14, 13; Matt. 7, 7 and parallels; 1 John 5, 14 f.  Thus far they have not asked in His name: He now urges them to do so.  Perfect joy is to be had in God alone.

25-33:  Conclusion of the discourse.    25.  Parables in the sense of mysterious sayings.  Most of the parables were obscure; cf. Matt. 13, 10-15.  At this time many of our Lord's statements were hardly understood by the Apostles, not yet enlightened by the Holy Spirit.  The hour is coming: mainly that of the Resurrection, but also of the subsequent mission of the Holy Spirit.    26 f.  They will then ask in His name because they will know Him as their mediator.  I do not say: Christ will not cease to be supreme mediator, but their own office too will be efficacious through Him.    28.  Cf. 6, 46; 7, 29; 8, 42; 13, 3.  Came forth at least implies His eternal generation, though His temporal mission may be primarily intended.  This is the final explanation of His leaving them.    29.  Cf. 16, 25; 17, 7.  With joy the Apostles understood the meaning of this statement.    30.  For this reason: Christ has revealed His supernatural knowledge, and thus manifested His divinity.  Cf. 1, 48 f; 4, 19.29; Ps. 7, 10; Wisd. 1, 6; Jer. 17, 9 f.    31.  But their faith was not yet complete.  The meaning of Christ's reply will vary with the location of the emphasis.  Read as interrogative, it can mean, do you at last believe? or, are you sure you believe?  If read as affirmative, it is, now indeed you believe.  In either case they are warned against the coming trial of faith.    32.  To show the insecurity of their disposition, He reveals what they will do within a few hours.  To his own house: cf. Matt. 26, 31; Mark 14, 27.  I am not alone: cf. 8, 16.19.    33.  Cf. 12, 31; 13, 31.  I have overcome the world: in conquering its ruler.  His grace raises them above all the trials of the world.  Cf. 1 Cor. 15, 57; 1 John 4, 4; 5, 4.

Confraternity Bible:

Persecution Predicted  1 "These things I have spoken to you that you may not be scandalized.  2 They will expel you from the synagogues.  Yes, the hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering worship to God.  3 And these things they will do because they have not known the Father nor me.  4 But these things I have spoken to you, that when the time for them has come you may remember that I told you.  5 These things, however, I did not tell you from the beginning, because I was with you.

The Rule of the Advocate  "And now I am going to him who sent me, and no one of you asks me, 'Where art thou going?'  6 But because I have spoken to you these things, sorrow has filled your heart.  7 But I speak the truth to you; it is expedient for you that I depart.  For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.  8* And when he has come he will convict the world of sin, and of justice, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 of justice, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; 11 and of judgment, because the prince of this world has already been judged.

12 "Many things yet I have to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will teach you all the truth.  For he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he will hear he will speak, and the things that are to come he will declare to you.  14 He will glorify me, because he will receive of what is mine, and will declare it to you.  15 All things that the Father has are mine.  That is why I have said that he will receive of what is mine, and will declare it to you.  16 A little while and you shall see me no longer; and again a little while and you shall see me, because I go to the Father."

17 Some of his disciples therefore said to one another, "What is this he says to us, 'A little while and you shall not see, me and again a little while and you shall see me'; and, 'I go to the Father'?"  18 They kept saying therefore, "What is this ' little while' of which he speaks?  We do not know what he is saying."

19 But Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, and he said to them, "You inquire about this among yourselves because I said, 'A little while and you shall not see me, and again a little while and you shall see me.'  20 Amen, amen, I say to you, that you shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.  21 A woman about to give birth has sorrow, because her hour has come.  But when she has brought forth the child, she no longer remembers the anguish for her joy that a man is born into the world.  22 And you therefore have sorrow now; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no one shall take from you.  23 And in that day you shall ask me nothing.  Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give to you.  24 Hitherto you have not asked anything in my name.  Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.

25* "These things I have spoken to you in parables.  The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in parables, but will speak to you plainly of the Father.  26 In that day you shall ask in my name; and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father for you, 27 for the Father himself loves you because you have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from God.  28 I came forth from the Father and have come into the world.  Again I leave the world and go to the Father."

29 His disciples said to him, "Behold, now thou speakest plainly, and utterest no parable.  30* Now we know that thou knowest all things, and dost not need that anyone should question thee.  For this reason we believe that thou camest forth from God."

31 Jesus answered them, "Do you now believe?  32 Behold, the hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each one to his own house, and to leave me alone.  But I am not alone, because the Father is with me.  33 These things I have spoken to you that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have affliction.  But take courage, I have overcome the world."


8: Convict: bring conviction relative to these truths.

25: There was some obscurity in all parables.  For the present Christ's words were above the understanding of the Apostles.

30: For this reason: now that our Lord speaks more plainly, they understand better, and also believe.  But He hastens to warn them that their faith is to be put to further test.