John 16 Study Notes


16:1 These things refers to Jesus’s warning about persecution in 15:18-27. Stumbling refers to apostasy.

16:2 The phrase a time is coming is reminiscent of prophetic or apocalyptic expressions such as “the days are coming” (Jr 7:32; 9:25; 16:14; 31:31,38; Am 9:13; cp. Zch 14:1). On expulsion from the synagogue, see note at Jn 9:34. When anyone who kills you will think he is offering service to God most likely refers to Jewish rather than Roman persecution. Some rabbis believed that killing heretics was an act of divine worship. Note Paul’s comments in Ac 26:9-11 and Php 3:6.

16:3-4 Though the persecutors think they are serving God, they do not know God.

16:5-6 Jesus’s disciples were so self-absorbed that they could not think of the positive implications of his departure.

16:7 Reference to the Counselor (see notes at 14:16-17,25-26) harks back to the anticipated coming of the Spirit and the inauguration of the age of the kingdom in OT prophetic literature (Is 11:1-10; 32:14-18; 42:1-4; 44:1-5; Jr 31:31-34; Ezk 11:17-20; 36:24-27; 37:1-14; Jl 2:28-32).

16:8-11 The Holy Spirit will judge the world’s sin of unbelief on the basis of his righteousness. On the ruler of this world, see note at 12:30-31.

16:12-13 On the Spirit of truth, see note at 14:16-17. The Spirit’s ministry of guiding Jesus’s followers into all the truth will fulfill the psalmists’ longing for divine guidance (Ps 25:4-5; 43:3; 86:11; 143:10). Isaiah recounted how God led his people in the wilderness by the Holy Spirit (Is 63:14) and predicted God’s renewed guidance in the future (Is 43:19). The word declare (Gk anangello) occurs more than forty times in the book of Isaiah, where declaring things to come is said to be the exclusive domain of God (Is 48:14) and where God challenges pretenders to declare the things to come (Is 42:9; 44:7; 46:10; cp. Is 41:21-29, esp. vv. 22-23; 45:19).

16:14-15 The Spirit would glorify Jesus by declaring all his words and actions.

16:16-19 A little while harks back to previous instances of this expression in John’s Gospel (7:33; 12:35; 13:33; 14:19). Similar terms were used by OT prophets for announcing God’s judgment (Is 10:25; Jr 51:33; Hs 1:4; Hg 2:6) and salvation (Is 29:17). In this situation the reference is to the brief period between Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection.


Greek pronunciation [KAHZ mahss]
CSB translation world
Uses in John’s Gospel 78
Uses in the NT 186
Focus passage John 16:11,28,33

The noun kosmos (Eng cosmos, cosmic), is normally translated world and most often has negative connotations, especially in John’s writings. John provides the foundational verse about the kosmos in 1:10—“He [the Word] was in the world, and the world was created through him, and yet the world did not recognize him.” The kosmos is consistently described by John as hostile to Jesus and the things of God. The world needs the light (1:9; see 8:12) because it is in darkness (3:19). It is dead and needs life (6:33,51). The world hates Jesus (7:7) and his followers (15:18; 17:14), but it will be judged (9:39; 12:31), as will its prince (i.e., Satan; 12:31; 16:11). But as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29), Jesus “conquered the world” (16:33). God loved the world (despite its sins) and gave his Son to save the world (3:16-17).

16:20 Jesus’s prediction that his disciples’ sorrow will turn to joy echoes the experiences of God’s people in OT times (Est 9:22) and marks the fulfillment of OT prophecies (Is 61:2-3; Jr 31:13).

16:21 Jesus’s illustration of a woman in childbirth resonates with human experience. While the labor preceding birth is intense, all anguish is forgotten the moment the new child is born. Jesus elsewhere spoke of the end times as “the beginning of labor pains” and times of “great distress” (Mt 24:8,21,29).

16:22-24 In that day here refers to the time of Jesus’s resurrection.

16:25-27 These things in v. 25 refers to the entire farewell discourse. A time is coming occurs also in 16:2,32.

16:28 The depiction of Jesus as having come from the Father . . . into the world and as leaving the world and going to the Father is patterned after the portrayal of the Word of God which is sent, accomplishes its purpose, and returns to the one who sent it (Is 55:11-12; see note at Jn 1:1).

16:29-31 Despite their confident confession, the disciples are no closer to understanding than before. Jesus’s question (Do you now believe?) expresses skepticism and mild rebuke.

16:32 Jesus’s prediction of a coming hour at which his followers will be scattered (cp. 19:27) may allude to Zch 13:7 (quoted in Mt 26:31; cp. Mt 26:56; 1Kg 22:17). The sheep would desert the Shepherd and return home, and yet Jesus would not be alone due to the constant presence of his Father.

16:33 Jesus’s farewell discourse ends on a note of triumph (1Jn 2:13-14; 4:4; 5:4-5).