John 16


16 “I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. 3 And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. 4 But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.


5 But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

8 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11 about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

BARCLAY: We have here an almost perfect summary of the work of the Spirit. The word that John uses of the work of the Spirit is the word elegchein (ἐλέγχω, Greek #1651), translated convince by the Revised Standard Version. The trouble is that no one word can translate it adequately. It is used for the cross-examination of a witness, or a man on trial, or an opponent in an argument. It has always this idea of cross-examining a man until he sees and admits his errors, or acknowledges the force of some argument which he had not yet seen. It is, for instance, sometimes used by the Greeks for the action of conscience on a man’s mind and heart. Clearly such cross-examination can do two things — it can convict a man of the crime he has committed or the wrong that he has done; or it can convince a man of the weakness of his own case and the strength of the case which he has opposed. In this passage we need both meanings, both convict and convince. Now let us go on to see what Jesus says the Holy Spirit will do.

  1. The Holy Spirit will convict men of sin. When the Jews crucified Jesus, they did not believe that they were sinning; they believed that they were serving God. But when the story of that crucifixion was later preached, they were pricked in their heart (Acts 2:37). They suddenly had the terrible conviction that the crucifixion was the greatest crime in history and that their sin had caused it. What is it that gives a man a sense of sin? What is it that abases him in face of the Cross? In an Indian village a missionary was telling the story of Christ by means of lantern slides flung on the white-washed wall of a village house. When the picture of the Cross was shown, an Indian stepped forward, as if he could not help it: “Come down!” he cried. “I should be hanging there not you.” Why should the sight of a man crucified as a criminal in Palestine two thousand years ago tear the hearts of people open throughout the centuries and still today? It is the work of the Holy Spirit.
  2. The Holy Spirit will convince men of righteousness. It becomes clear what this means when we see that it is Jesus Christ’s righteousness of which men will be convinced. Jesus was crucified as a criminal. He was tried; he was found guilty; he was regarded by the Jews as an evil heretic, and by the Romans as a dangerous character; he was given the punishment that the worst criminals had to suffer, branded as a felon and an enemy of God. What changed that? What made men see in this crucified figure the Son of God, as the centurion saw at the Cross (Matthew 27:54) and Paul on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:1-9)? It is amazing that men should put their trust for all eternity in a crucified Jewish criminal. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is he who convinces men of the sheer righteousness of Christ, backed by the fact that Jesus rose again and went to his Father.
  3. The Holy Spirit convinces men of judgment. On the Cross evil stands condemned and defeated. What makes a man feel certain that judgment lies ahead? It is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is he who gives us the inner and unshakable conviction that we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.
  4. There remains one thing which at the moment John does not go on to mention. When we are convicted of our own sin, when we are convinced of Christ’s righteousness, when we are convinced of judgment to come, what gives us the certainty that in the Cross of Christ is our salvation and that with Christ we are forgiven, and saved from judgment? This, too, is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is he who convinces us and makes us sure that in this crucified figure we can find our Saviour and our Lord. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and convinces us of our Saviour.

“Satan is only a pretender to the title “ruler of this world” (Cyril), ruling over those who, in a perverse way, love the world rather than the world’s maker (Bede)”. ~ Elowsky, J. C. (Ed.). (2007). John 11–21 (p. 196). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

The Spirit of Truth (John 16:12-15)

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

BARCLAY: To Jesus the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, whose great work is to bring God’s truth to men. We have a special name for this bringing of God’s truth to men; we call it revelation, and no passage in the New Testament shows us what we might call the principles of revelation better than this one.

  1. Revelation is bound to be a progressive process. Many things Jesus knew he could not at that moment tell his disciples, because they were not yet able to receive them. It is only possible to tell a man as much as he can understand. Example of school work (addition before algebra). God’s revelation to men is like that. He teaches men what they are able and fit to learn. This most important fact has certain consequences.
    1. Helps to explain worrying passages of the Old Testament, like the herem (the ban – to wipe out entire peoples). Jews grasped the truth that purity of religion must be safeguarded. Whereas they only understood it in part, Jesus revealed the truth (preserve purity of religion by converting the heathen rather than destroying him). Revelation has to be that way; God can reveal only as much as a man can understand.
    2. It is the proof that there is NO end to God’s revelation. One of the mistakes men sometimes make is to identify God’s revelation solely with the Bible. That would be to say that since about A.D. 120, when the latest book in the New Testament was written, God has ceased to speak. But God’s Spirit is always active; he is always revealing himself. It is true that his supreme and unsurpassable revelation came in Jesus; but Jesus is not just a figure in a book, he is a living person and in him God’s revelation goes on. God is still leading us into greater realization of what Jesus means. He is not a God who spoke up to A.D. 120 and is now silent. He is still revealing his truth to men.
  2. God’s revelation to men is a revelation of ALL truth. It is quite wrong to think of it as confined to what we might call theological truth. The theologians and the preachers are not the only people who are inspired. When a poet delivers to men a great message in words which defy time, he is inspired. When H. F. Lyte wrote the words of Abide with me he had no feeling of composing them; he wrote them as to dictation. A great musician is inspired. Handel, telling of how he wrote The Hallelujah Chorus, said: “I saw the heavens opened, and the Great White God sitting on the Throne.” When a scientist discovers something which will help the world’s toil and make life better for men, when a surgeon discovers a new technique which will save men’s lives and ease their pain, when someone discovers a new treatment which will bring life and hope to suffering humanity, that is a revelation from God. All truth is God’s truth, and the revelation of all truth is the work of the Holy Spirit.
  3. That which is revealed comes from God. He is alike the possessor and the giver of all truth. Truth is not men’s discovery; it is God’s gift. It is not something which we create; it is something already waiting to be discovered. At the back of all truth there is God.
  4. Revelation is the taking of the things of Jesus and revealing their significance to us. Part of the greatness of Jesus is his inexhaustibleness. No man has ever grasped all that he came to say. No man has fully worked out all the significance of his teaching for life and for belief, for the individual and for the world, for society and for the nation. Revelation is a continual opening out of the meaning of Jesus.

There we have the crux of the matter. Revelation comes to us, not from any book or creed, but from a living person. The nearer we live to Jesus, the better we will know him. The more we become like him, the more he will be able to tell us. To enjoy his revelation we must accept his mastery.

Sorrow Will Turn into Joy

16 “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 Then some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying to us, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They said, “What does he mean by this ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’? 20 Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. 22 So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

Peace for the Disciples

25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. 26 On that day you will ask in my name. 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. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.”

29 His disciples said, “Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. 33 I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”

The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition. (1993). (Jn 16). Washington, DC: National Council of Churches of Christ.

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