John 16


Christ warns his disciples, and foretells the persecutions

they should receive from the Jews, 1-4.

Foretells his death, and promises them the Comforter, 5-7.

Points out his operations among the Jews, and in the world,


His peculiar influences on the souls of the disciples, 12-15.

Speaks figuratively of his death and resurrection, at which his

disciples are puzzled, 16-18.

He explains and illustrates the whole by a similitude, 19-22.

Shows himself to be the Mediator between God and man, and that

all prayers must be put up in his name, 23-28.

The disciples clearly comprehend his meaning and express their

strong faith in him, 29, 30.

He again foretells their persecution, and promises them his

peace and support, 31-33.


Verse 1. These things have I spoken] Particularly what is

mentioned in the two last chapters.

Be offended.] ιναμησκανδαλισθητε, That ye should not be

stumbled. May not fall away from the faith, nor receive any injury

to your souls, as that man does to his body who stumbles, or falls

over a stone, or block, in the way which he has not discovered.

Verse 2. They shall put you out of the synagogues] They will

excommunicate you, and consider you as execrable, and utterly

unworthy to hold any commerce with God by religion; or with man by

civil fellowship. See Clarke on Joh 9:22. In these excommunications

they were spoiled of all their substance, see Ezr 10:8, and see also

Heb 10:34, and deprived of their character, their influence,

and every necessary of life. Though the Jewish people had the most

humane laws, yet they were a most vindictive and cruel people.

That whosoever killeth you, &c.] This Paul found; for more than

forty Jews bound themselves under a curse that they would neither

eat nor drink till they had killed him, Ac 23:12, 13; and

agreeably to this, it is said, in that Tract of the Talmud which

is entitled Bammidbar, R. xxi. ad. Num. xxv. 13: "He who sheds the

blood of the ungodly, is equal to him who brings an offering to

God." What the Zealots did is notorious in history. They butchered

any person, in cold blood, who, they pretended to believe, was an

enemy to God, to the law, or to Moses; and thought they were

fulfilling the will of God by these human sacrifices. We had the

same kind of sacrifices here in the time of our Popish Queen Mary.

May God ever save our state from the Stuarts!

Verse 3. Because they have not known the Father]

See Clarke on Joh 15:25.

Ignorance of the benevolence of GOD, and of the philanthropy of

CHRIST, is the grand fountain whence all religious persecution and

intolerance proceed.

Verse 4. At the beginning] I would not trouble you by speaking

of these things pointedly at first, when I chose you to be my

disciples, but have referred them to the present time, lest you

should be discouraged; and now only declare them because it is

absolutely necessary that you should be put upon your guard.

Verse 5. None of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?] In

Joh 13:3, Peter had asked,

Lord, thither goest thou?-and Thomas much the same in Joh 14:5,

both of whom had received an answer. But now, at the time when

Jesus was speaking this, none of them asked this question, because

their hearts were filled with sorrow: Joh 16:6.

Verse 7. It is expedient-that I go away] In other places he had

showed them the absolute necessity of his death for the salvation

of men: see Mt 20:19; 26:2; Mr 9:31; 10:33, Lu 9:44; 18:32.

This he does not repeat here, but shows them that, by the order of

God, the Holy Spirit cannot come to them, nor to the world, unless

he first die; and consequently men cannot be saved but in this


Verse 8. He will reprove] ελεγξει, He will demonstrate these

matters so clearly as to leave no doubt on the minds of those who

are simple of heart; and so fully as to confound and shut the

mouths of those who are gainsayers. See Ac 2:1, &c.

The world] The Jewish nation first, and afterwards the Gentile

world; for his influences shall not be confined to one people,

place, or time.

Verse 9. Of sin] Of the sin of the Jews in not receiving me as

the Messiah, though my mission was accredited by the very miracles

which the prophets foretold: see Isa 35:3-6. This was literally

fulfilled on the day of pentecost, when the Spirit was given; for

multitudes of Jews were then convinced of this sin, and converted

to God. See Ac 2:37.

If we take this prediction of our Lord in a more general sense,

then we may consider that it is one of the grand offices of the

Holy Spirit to convince of sin, to show men what sin is, to

demonstrate to them that they are sinners, and to show the

necessity of an atonement for sin; and in this sense the phrase,

περιαμαρτιας, may be understood, and in this sense it is used

in multitudes of places in the Septuagint, but the words, because

they believe not in me, restrict the meaning particularly to the

sin of the Jews in rejecting Jesus as the Messiah.

Verse 10. Of righteousness] Of my innocence and holiness,

because I go away to my Father; of which my resurrection from the

dead, and my ascension to heaven, shall be complete proofs. Christ

was treated by the Jews as an impostor; as a magician; as one

possessed by the devil; as a wicked person, seducer, and

destroyer of the law. His vindication from these charges he

chiefly referred to the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, who, by his

influences on the minds of the people, and by his eloquence and

energy in the ministry of the apostles, convinced both the Jews

and the Gentiles that the sentence of the Jewish rulers was unjust

and infamous, and that the very person whom they had crucified was

both Lord and Christ-Lord, the great governor of the universe; and

Christ, the Lord's anointed, the promised Messiah. It was a matter

of the utmost consequence to the Christian cause to have the

innocence and holiness of its founder demonstrated, and the

crime of the Jews in putting him to death made manifest to the

world. This also has been literally fulfilled: the universe that

has heard of him believes the righteousness and innocence of

Jesus; and the Jews, his persecutors, are confounded and execrated

throughout the habitable globe.

Verse 11. Of judgment] Of the false judgment of the Jews in

condemning the Lord Jesus, who, as some think, is intended here by

the ruler of this world: see Joh 14:30. Others think that

Satan is meant whose usurped power over the world was now to be

greatly restrained, and by and by totally destroyed: see

Joh 12:31; Col 2:15; Re 11:15; 12:10, 11. Perhaps our Lord's

meaning is, that as a most astonishing judgement, or punishment,

was now about to fall upon the Jews, in consequence of their

obstinate infidelity, the Holy Ghost, by the ministry of the

apostles, should demonstrate that this judgment, severe as it

might seem, was amply merited by this worst of all people; and may

we not say that their continuance in the same crime sufficiently

vindicates the judgment of God, not only in its being poured out

upon them at first, but in continuing to pursue them?

It is necessary to observe that it was one office of the Spirit

to convince of a judgment to come; and this he did particularly by

the apostles, in declaring that God had appointed a day in which

he would judge the world by him whom he had appointed for that

purpose: Ac 17:31. And we find that while Peter was asserting

this doctrine at Caesarea, Ac 10:42, the Holy Spirit was poured

out on the Jews and the Gentiles which were present, Ac 10:44,

&c., and many were converted unto the Lord.

One general exposition may be given of these three verses. The

Holy Spirit will convince the world of sin committed, and guilt

and condemnation thereby incurred. Of righteousness-of the

necessity of being pardoned, and made righteous through the blood

of the Lamb, who, after being offered up for sin, went to the

Father, ever to appear in his presence as our intercessor: and of

judgment-of the great day thereof, when none shall be able to

stand but those whose sins are pardoned, and whose souls are made

righteous. In all that our Lord says here, there seems to be an

allusion to the office of an advocate in a cause, in a court of

justice; who, by producing witnesses, and pleading upon the proof,

convicts the opposite party of sin, demonstrates the

righteousness of his client, and shows the necessity of passing

judgment upon the accuser.

The faith of the Gospel discovers unto us three different states

of man: it shows him: 1. Under sin, in which there is nothing but

infidelity towards God, because there is no faith in Jesus Christ.

2. Under grace, in which sin is pardoned, and righteousness

acquired by faith in Christ; who is gone to the Father to carry

on, by his intercession, the great work of redemption.

3. In the peace and glory of heaven, where Christ will reign

with his members; the devil, with his angels and servants, being

banished into hell by the last judgment.

Thus, in the Christian revelation, we are made acquainted with

three grand truths, which contain the sum and substance of all

true religion.

The first is the general corruption of human nature, and the

reign of sin till the coming of Christ.

The second is the reparation of our nature by the Lord Jesus,

and the reign of righteousness by his grace: Ro 5:21.

The third is the condemnation of sinners, and the total

destruction of the kingdom of sin, and of all the power of the

devil, by the last judgment.

Verse 12. Ye cannot bear them now.] In illustration of these

three points, Christ had many things to say; but he found that his

disciples could only bear general truths; yet, in saying what he

did, he sowed the seeds of the whole system of theological

knowledge, and heavenly wisdom, which the Holy Spirit of this

truth afterwards watered and ripened into a glorious harvest of

light and salvation, by the ministry of the apostles. Dr.

Lightfoot supposes that the things which the apostles could not

bear now were such as these:

1. The institution of the Christian Sabbath, and the abolition of

the Jewish.

2. The rejection of the whole Jewish nation, at the very time in

which they expected to be set up and established for ever.

3. The entire change of the whole Mosaic dispensation, and the

bringing the Gentiles into the Church of God.

Verse 13. He will guide you] He will consider your feeble infant

state; and, as a father leads his child by the hand, so will the

Holy Spirit lead and guide you.

The Vulgate, and some copies of the Itala, read, He will TEACH

you all truth; but this and more is implied in the word οδηγησει,

he will lead; besides, this reading is not acknowledged by any

Greek MS.

He shall not speak of himself] He shall teach nothing contrary

to what I have taught you:

But whatsoever he shall hear] Of the Father and me, that he

shall speak, and thus show the intimate consent between himself,

the Father, and Christ. It is one conjoint testimony, in which the

honour and glory of the holy Trinity, and man's salvation are

equally concerned.

And he will show you things to came.] He will fully explain

every thing that may now appear dark or difficult to you; will

give you such a knowledge of futurity as shall, in all necessary

cases, enable you to foretell future events; and shall supply

every requisite truth, in order to make the new covenant

revelation complete and perfect.

Verse 15. All things that the Father hath are mine] If Christ

had not been equal to God, could he have said this without


And show it unto you.] As Christ is represented the Ambassador

of the Father, so the Holy Spirit is represented the ambassador of

the Son, coming vested with his authority, as the interpreter and

executor of his will.

Verse 16. A little while] He had but a few hours to live.

And ye shall not see me] I shall be hidden from your view in the


Again a little while] In three days after my death:

Ye shall see me] I will rise again, and show myself to you. Or,

As I am going by my ascension to the Father, in a short time, ye

shall see me personally no more; but in a little while I shall

pour out my Spirit upon you, and others through your ministry; and

ye shall see me virtually in the great and wonderful work which

shall then take place in the hearts and lives of men.

This may also refer to his coming again to destroy the Jewish

state, and also to judge the world; but how can this latter be

said to be in a little while? Because a thousand years are but as

a day in the sight of God: Ps 90:4.

Verse 18. What is this that he saith] They knew from what he had

said that he was to die, but knew not what he meant by their

seeing him again in a little time.

Verse 20. Ye shall weep and lament] To see me crucified and laid

in the grave.

But the world shall rejoice] The chief priests, scribes,

Pharisees, and persecuting Jews in general, will triumph, hoping

that their bad cause is crowned with success.

But your sorrow shall be turned into joy.] When ye see me risen

from the dead.

It is very evident that our Lord uses the word world, in several

parts of this discourse of his, to signify the unbelieving and

rebellious Jews.

Verse 21. For joy that a man is born] ανθρωπος is put here for a

human creature, whether male or female; as homo among the

Romans denoted either man or woman.

Verse 22. Your joy no man taketh from you.] Or, shall take away.

Some excellent MSS. and versions read the verb in the future

tense. Our Lord's meaning appears to have been this: that his

resurrection should be so completely demonstrated to them, that

they should never have a doubt concerning it; and consequently

that their joy should be great and permanent, knowing that the

atonement was made, the victory gained, and the kingdom of heaven

opened to all believers. Therefore it is said, Ac 4:33,

that with great power did the apostles give witness of the

resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

Verse 23. Ye shall ask me nothing.] Ye shall then be led, by

that Spirit which guides into all truth, to consider me in the

character of Mediator in the kingdom of God, and to address your

prayers to the Father in my name-in the name of Jesus the

Saviour, because I have died to redeem you-in the name of Christ

the Anointer, because I have ascended to send down the gift of the

Holy Ghost.

Verse 24. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name] Ye have not

as yet considered me the great Mediator between God and man; but

this is one of the truths which shall be more fully revealed to

you by the Holy Spirit.

Ask] In my name; and ye shall receive-all the salvation ye thus

request; the consequence of which shall be that your joy shall be

full-ye shall be thoroughly happy in being made completely holy.

Verse 25. In Proverbs] That is, words which, besides their

plain, literal meaning, have another, viz. a spiritual or

figurative one. I have represented heavenly things to you through

the medium of earthly.

The time cometh] viz. the interval from his resurrection to his

ascension, which consisted of forty days, during which he

instructed his disciples in the most sublime mysteries and truths

of his kingdom. Ac 1:3.

Verse 26. I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for

you] I need not tell you that I will continue your intercessor:

I have given you already so many proofs of my love that ye cannot

possibly doubt this: besides, the Father himself needs no entreaty

to do you good, for he loves you, and is graciously disposed to

save you to the uttermost, because ye have loved me and believed

in me as coming from God, for the salvation of the world.

Verse 28. I came forth from the Father] With whom I existed from

eternity in glory.

Am come into the world] By my incarnation.

I leave the world] By my death.

And go to the Father.] By my ascension. These four words contain

the whole economy of the Gospel of man's salvation, and a

consummate abridgment of the Christian faith. This gave the

disciples a key to the whole of our Lord's discourse; and

especially to that part, Joh 16:16, that had so exceedingly

embarrassed them, as appears by Joh 16:17, 18.

Verse 29. Lo, now speakest thou plainly] The disciples received

more light now, on the nature of Christ's person and office, than

they had ever done before.

Verse 30. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things] Is not

the following the meaning of the disciples? We believe that thou

art not only the Messiah who camest out from God, but that thou

art that God who searchest the heart and triest the

reins, and needest not to be asked in order to make thee

acquainted with the necessities of thy creatures; for thou

perfectly knowest their wants, and art infinitely disposed to

relieve them.

Verse 31. Do ye now believe?] And will ye continue to believe?

Ye are now fully convinced; and will ye in the hour of trial

retain your conviction, and prove faithful and steady?

Verse 32. The hour cometh] Ye shall shortly have need of all the

faith ye profess: ye now believe me to be the Omniscient; but ye

will find difficulty to maintain this faith when ye see me seized,

condemned, and crucified as a malefactor. Yea, your faith will be

then so shaken that ye shall run away, each striving to save

himself at his own home, or among his kindred.

Verse 33. That in me ye might have peace.] I give you this

warning as another proof that I know all things, and to the end

that ye may look to me alone for peace and happiness. The peace of

God is ever to be understood as including all possible

blessedness-light, strength, comfort, support, a sense of the

Divine favour, unction of the Holy Spirit, purification of heart,

&c., &c., and all these to be enjoyed in Christ.

In the world ye shall have tribulation] Or, as most of the very

best MSS. read, εχετε, ye have-the tribulation is at hand; ye

are just about to be plunged into it.

But be of good cheer] Do not despond on account of what I have

said: the world shall not be able to overcome you, how severely

soever it may try you.

I have overcome the world.] I am just now going by my death to

put it and its god to the rout.

My apparent weakness shall be my victory; my ignominy shall be

my glory; and the victory which the world, the devil, and my

adversaries in general, shall appear to gain over me, shall be

their own lasting defeat, and my eternal triumph.-Fear not!

Luther writing to Philip Melancthon, quotes this verse, and adds

these remarkable words: "Such a saying as this is worthy to be

carried from Rome to Jerusalem upon one's knees."

ONE of the grand subjects in this chapter, the mediation of

Christ, is but little understood by most Christians. Christ having

made an atonement for the sin of the world, has ascended to the

right hand of the Father, and there he appears in the presence of

God for us. In approaching the throne of grace, we keep Jesus as

our sacrificial victim, continually in view: our prayers should be

directed through him to the Father; and, under the conviction that

his passion and death have purchased every possible blessing for

us, we should, with humble confidence, ask the blessings we need;

and, as in him the Father is ever well pleased, we should most

confidently expect the blessings he has purchased. We may

consider, also, that his appearance before the throne, in his

sacrificial character, constitutes the great principle of

mediation or intercession. He has taken our nature into heaven; in

that he appears before the throne: this, without a voice, speaks

loudly for the sinful race of Adam, for whom it was assumed, and

on whose account it was sacrificed. On these grounds every

penitent and every believing soul may ask and receive, and their

joy be complete. By the sacrifice of Christ we approach God;

through the mediation of Christ God comes down to man.

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