John 16:1-33 . DISCOURSE AT THE SUPPER TABLE CONCLUDED.
1-5. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended--both the warnings and the encouragements just given.
2. They shall put you out of the synagogue--( John 9:22 , 12:42 ).
the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service--The words mean religious service--"that he is offering a service to God." (So Saul of Tarsus, Galatians 1:13 Galatians 1:14 , Philippians 3:6 ).
5. But now I go my way to him that sent me--While He was with them, the world's hatred was directed chiefly against Himself; but His departure would bring it down upon them as His representatives.
and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?--They had done so in a sort ( John 13:36 , 14:5 ); but He wished more intelligent and eager inquiry on the subject.
6, 7. But because I have said these things . . . sorrow hath filled your heart--Sorrow had too much paralyzed them, and He would rouse their energies.
7. It is expedient for you that I go away--
| My Saviour, can it ever be |
That I should gain by losing thee?
8. And when he is come, he will, &c.--This is one of the passages most pregnant with thought in the profound discourses of Christ; with a few great strokes depicting all and every part of the ministry of the Holy Ghost in the world--His operation with reference to individuals as well as the mass, on believers and unbelievers alike [OLSHAUSEN].
he will reprove--This is too weak a word to express what is meant. Reproof is indeed implied in the term employed, and doubtless the word begins with it. But convict or convince is the thing intended; and as the one expresses the work of the Spirit on the unbelieving portion of mankind, and the other on the believing, it is better not to restrict it to either.
9. Of sin, because they believe not on me--As all sin has its root in unbelief, so the most aggravated form of unbelief is the rejection of Christ. The Spirit, however, in fastening this truth upon the conscience, does not extinguish, but, on the contrary, does consummate and intensify, the sense of all other sins.
10. Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more--Beyond doubt, it is Christ's personal righteousness which the Spirit was to bring home to the sinner's heart. The evidence of this was to lie in the great historical fact, that He had "gone to His Father and was no more visible to men":--for if His claim to be the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, had been a lie, how should the Father, who is "a jealous God," have raised such a blasphemer from the dead and exalted him to His right hand? But if He was the "Faithful and True Witness," the Father's "Righteous Servant," "His Elect, in whom His soul delighted," then was His departure to the Father, and consequent disappearance from the view of men, but the fitting consummation, the august reward, of all that He did here below, the seal of His mission, the glorification of the testimony which He bore on earth, by the reception of its Bearer to the Father's bosom. This triumphant vindication of Christ's rectitude is to us divine evidence, bright as heaven, that He is indeed the Saviour of the world, God's Righteous Servant to justify many, because He bare their iniquities ( Isaiah 53:11 ). Thus the Spirit, in this clause, is seen convincing men that there is in Christ perfect relief under the sense of sin of which He had before convinced them; and so far from mourning over His absence from us, as an irreparable loss, we learn to glory in it, as the evidence of His perfect acceptance on our behalf, exclaiming with one who understood this point, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth: Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died; yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God," &c. ( Romans 8:33 Romans 8:34 ).
11. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged--By supposing that the final judgment is here meant, the point of this clause is, even by good interpreters, quite missed. The statement, "The prince of this world is judged," means, beyond all reasonable doubt, the same as that in John 12:31 , "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out"; and both mean that his dominion over men, or his power to enslave and so to ruin them, is destroyed. The death of Christ "judged" or judicially overthrew him, and he was thereupon "cast out" or expelled from his usurped dominion ( Hebrews 2:14 , 1 John 3:8 , Colossians 2:15 ). Thus, then, the Spirit shall bring home to men's conscience: (1) the sense of sin, consummated in the rejection of Him who came to "take away the sin of the world"; (2) the sense of perfect relief in the righteousness of the Father's Servant, now fetched from the earth that spurned Him to that bosom where from everlasting He had dwelt; and (3) the sense of emancipation from the fetters of Satan, whose judgment brings to men liberty to be holy, and transformation out of servants of the devil into sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. To one class of men, however, all this will carry conviction only; they "will not come to Christ"--revealed though He be to them as the life-giving One--that they may have life. Such, abiding voluntarily under the dominion of the prince of this world, are judged in his judgment, the visible consummation of which will be at the great day. To another class, however, this blessed teaching will have another issue--translating them out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son.
12-15. when he, the Spirit of truth, is come . . . he shall not speak of himself--that is, from Himself, but, like Christ Himself, "what He hears," what is given Him to communicate.
he will show you things to come--referring specially to those revelations which, in the Epistles partially, but most fully in the Apocalypse, open up a vista into the Future of the Kingdom of God, whose horizon is the everlasting hills.
14. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine and show it unto you--Thus the whole design of the Spirit's office is to glorify Christ--not in His own Person, for this was done by the Father when He exalted Him to His own right hand--but in the view and estimation of men. For this purpose He was to "receive of Christ"--all the truth relating to Christ--"and show it unto them," or make them to discern it in its own light. The subjective nature of the Spirit's teaching--the discovery to the souls of men of what is Christ outwardly--is here very clearly expressed; and, at the same time, the vanity of looking for revelations of the Spirit which shall do anything beyond throwing light in the soul upon what Christ Himself is, and taught, and did upon earth.
15. All things that the Father hath are mine--a plainer expression than this of absolute community with the Father in all things cannot be conceived, though the "all things" here have reference to the things of the Kingdom of Grace, which the Spirit was to receive that He might show it to us. We have here a wonderful glimpse into the inner relations of the Godhead.
16-22. 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--The joy of the world at their not seeing Him seems to show that His removal from them by death was what He meant; and in that case, their joy at again seeing Him points to their transport at His reappearance amongst them on His Resurrection, when they could no longer doubt His identity. 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.
23-28. In that day--of the dispensation of the Spirit (as in John 14:20 ).
ye shall ask--inquire of
me nothing--by reason of the fulness of the Spirit's teaching ( John 14:26 , 16:13 ; and compare 1 John 2:27 ).
24. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name--for "prayer in the name of Christ, and prayer to Christ, presuppose His glorification" [OLSHAUSEN].
ask--when I am gone, "in My name."
25. in proverbs--in obscure language, opposed to "showing plainly"--that is, by the Spirit's teaching.
26. I say not . . . I will pray the Father for you--as if He were not of Himself disposed to aid you: Christ does pray the Father for His people, but not for the purpose of inclining an unwilling ear.
27. For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me--This love of theirs is that which is called forth by God's eternal love in the gift of His Son mirrored in the hearts of those who believe, and resting on His dear Son.
28. I came forth from the Father, &c.--that is, "And ye are right, for I have indeed so come forth,and shall soon return whence I came." This echo of the truth, alluded to in John 16:27 , seems like thinking aloud, as if it were grateful to His own spirit on such a subject and at such an hour.
29, 30. His disciples said, . . . now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb--hardly more so than before; the time for perfect plainness was yet to come; but having caught a glimpse of His meaning (it was nothing more), they eagerly express their satisfaction, as if glad to make anything of His words. How touchingly does this show both the simplicity of their hearts and the infantile character of their faith!
31-33. Jesus answered . . . Do ye now believe?--that is, "It is well ye do, for it is soon to be tested, and in a way ye little expect."
the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone; and yet I am not alone--A deep and awful sense of wrong experienced is certainly expressed here, but how lovingly! That He was not to be utterly deserted, that there was One who would not forsake Him, was to Him matter of ineffable support and consolation; but that He should be without all human countenance and cheer, who as Man was exquisitely sensitive to the law of sympathy, would fill themselves with as much shame, when they afterwards recurred to it, as the Redeemer's heart in His hour of need with pungent sorrow. "I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none" ( Psalms 69:20 ).
because the Father is with me--how near, and with what sustaining power, who can express?
33. These things I have spoken unto you--not the immediately preceding words, but this whole discourse, of which these were the very last words, and which He thus winds up.
that in me ye might have peace--in the sublime sense before explained.
In the world ye shall have tribulation--specially arising from its deadly opposition to those who "are not of the world, but chosen out of the world." So that the "peace" promised was far from an unruffled one.
I have overcome the world--not only before you, but for you, that ye may be able to do the same ( 1 John 5:4 1 John 5:5 ).