THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN
CHAPTER 16
"I AM THE TRUE VINE" discourse continued:
The Coming of the Paraclete

He [Jesus] was like those sent by the householder to receive the fruits of the vineyard from the husbandmen [Matthew 21:33-39]; for He exhorted all men to render a return.  But Israel despised and would not render, for their will was not right, nay moreover they killed those that were sent, and not even before the Lord of the vineyard were they ashamed, but even He was slain by them.  Verily, when He came and found no fruit in them, He cursed them through the fig-tree, saying 'Let there be henceforth no fruit from thee' [Matthew 21:19]; and the fig-tree was dead and fruitless, so that even the disciples wondered when it withered away.  Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet: 'I will take away from them the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the scent of myrrh, and the light of a lamp, and the whole land shall be destroyed' [Jeremiah 25:10].  For the whole service of the law has been abolished from them, and henceforth and forever they remain without a feast.  St. Athanasius, Letters, 6

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In The Gospel of John chapter 15, Jesus identified Himself as the "True Vine" as opposed to Israel, the "False Vine," that did not yield the "fruit" of the conversion of the nations of the earth.  Israel was originally commissioned at Sinai to be a nation of priests (Exodus 19:5), and it is the mission of priests to bring the people to worship.  For three years Jesus traveled throughout Israel, calling the covenant people to restoration and seeking that "fruit" which Israel was expected to bear (see Jesus' parable of the fruitless fig tree from what was probably the second year of His ministry in Luke 13:6-9).  Now it was time to destroy unfruitful branches, to purify with fire the Vineyard/ Fig tree that was the Old Covenant Church.  This was expressed by Jesus' ot (a prophet's prophetic action that symbolizes God's action in salvation history) in the cursing of the fruitless fig tree in Matthew 21:18-22 and Mark 11:12-14, 20-21.  In Sacred Scripture, the vineyard and the fig tree were symbols of the covenant nation of Israel.  In Jesus' prophetic action, told in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, God was hungry for the salvation of mankind, and finding Israel's failure to produce the fruit of salvation among the Gentile nations, Jesus passed judgment on Old Covenant Israel/Judea by cursing the fig tree, which withered from its roots. 

John the Baptist had warned the Jews, even before Jesus began His ministry, that the Vineyard that was Israel/Judah was running out of time:

But when he saw a number of Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism he said to them, "Brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming retribution?  Produce fruit in keeping with repentance, and do not presume to tell yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' because I tell you, God can raise children [sons] for Abraham from these stones.  Even now the axe is being laid to the root of the trees, so that any tree failing to produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown on the fire.  I baptize you in water for repentance, but the one who comes after me is more powerful than I, and I am not fit to carry his sandals; he will baptism you with water and the Holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing-fan is in his hand; he will clear his threshing-floor and gather his wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out." Matthew 3:7-12 (also see Luke 3:7-18)

Question: In this passage from St. John the Baptist's warning in Matthew 3:7-12, what is the significance of the reference he will clear his threshing-floor?  Hint: see Daniel 2:31-36, 44-45; 2 Samuel 24:18-25; 1 Chronicles 21:18-30; 2 Chronicles 3:1.
Answer: Yahweh's Holy Temple in Jerusalem was built on top of Mt. Moriah on what had been a threshing-floor.  The Temple in Jerusalem was God's great threshing-floor where the hearts of men were laid bare.  In John Chapter 2 at the beginning of His ministry, Jesus had come to His great threshing-floor and cleansed the Temple.  And then at the end of His ministry, His first act after His triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem, was to go to the Temple, and this time He would perform the prophetic act of clearing the Temple in preparation for the judgment of Old Covenant Judah and the great harvest of souls that would begin with His resurrection.  The judgment on the Old Covenant people would be rendered by the Romans and would result in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by fire the 9th of Ab, 70AD. 

Please read John 16:1-11: The coming persecution

16:1I have told you all this so that you may not fall away [be tripped]. 2They will expel you from the synagogues, and indeed the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is doing a holy service to God. 3They will do these things because they have never known either the Father or me. 4But I have told you all this, so that when the time for it comes you may remember that I told you.  I did not tell you this [these things] from the beginning, because I was with you; 5but now I am going to the one who send me. Not one of you asks, 'Where are you going?' 6Yet [sadness has filled your heart] you are sad at heart because I have told you this [these things]. 7Still I am telling you the truth; it is for your own good that I am going, because unless I go, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8And when he comes, he will show [convince] the world how wrong it was, about sin and about who was in the right and about judgment: about sin: 9in that they refuse to believe in me; about who was in the right: 10in that I am going to the Father and you will see me no more; about judgment: 11in that the prince of this world is already condemned.

John 16:1-4: I have told you all this so that you may not fall away [be tripped].  They will expel you from the synagogues, and indeed the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is doing a holy service to God.  They will do these things because they have never known either the Father or me.  But I have told you all this, so that when the time for it comes you may remember that I told you.

Jesus wants to prepare His Apostles for the trials and sufferings that they will face.  He does not want them to be unprepared. 

Question: How many times has Jesus warned his disciples that they will be rejected by their own people and that they will be banned from religious assembly?
Answer: This is the third time (also see 9:22 and 12:42).  The word in the Greek text is aposunagogos, literally meaning "de-synagogued."  In the first century there were three degrees of excommunication.  The lightest n'zifah, "rebuke", would be a ban that would last 7 days.  The next degree was niddui, meaning "to cast out," lasted thirty days and carried a further penalty of shunning, in which people were required to stay four cubits (six feet) from the offender.  The most sever was cherem, in which the offender was treated as though he was dead. It was a fearful penalty to be excommunicated and declared as one who is dead by one's own people.

Jesus repeats that those who reject Him and reject His disciples do so because they have never "known" God the Father; and do not know Him in the context of a covenant relationship.

Question: How many times has Jesus made this statement?
Answer: This is the third time (also see 8:19 and 15:21).
anyone who kills you will think he is doing a holy service to God

We know from the rabbinic traditions and meditations on Numbers 25:1-13 concerning the action of the priest Phinehas' slaying of an apostate member of the covenant community that it came to be considered an act of sacrifice to Yahweh to kill an apostate, one who had rejected the Law.

Question: In addition to Jesus, can you think of three of Jesus' disciples whose murders in Jerusalem will be sanctioned by the Jewish religious authorities as a righteous act?
Answer:

  1. Stephen (Acts 7:55-8:2), who was murdered by stoning.  Saul, an officer of the Sanhedrin, held the coats of those who stoned Stephen.
  2.  James Zebedee (Acts 12:1-4), the brother of St. John was beheaded by the order of Herod Antipas.
  3. James Bishop of Jerusalem, the kinsman of Jesus.  The Jewish historian Josephus records that he was murdered by the order of the Jewish High Priest Ananus and the Jewish Sanhedrin (The Antiquities of the Jews 20.9.1) circa 62 AD. 

The Romans did not have any part in these murders.  The Roman governor even removed the Jewish High Priest from his office for his part in the murder of James, the first Christian Bishop of Jerusalem.

John 16:4c-6: I did not tell you this [these things] from the beginning, because I was with you; but now I am going to the one who send me.  Not one of you asks, 'Where are you going?' Yet [sadness has filled your heart] you are sad at heart because I have told you this [these things].

[....] = literal translation.  The word "heart" is in the singular.  The singular "heart" is used in John's Gospel four times in 14:1; 14:27; 16:6; and 16:22.  In the Hebrew of the Old Testament and in the Synoptic Gospels "heart" is understood to be generally the seat of decisions.  John, however, uses "heart" in an emotional context.  As to the use of the singular, contrary to the normal Greek grammar, the New Testament follows the Aramaic and Hebrew practice of what is called a "distributive singular", more evidence that although the Gospel writers are writing in Greek they are thinking in Hebrew or Aramaic.

Question: What are "these things" that Jesus did not tell them from the beginning?
Answer: The inevitability of persecution that they would have to endure for His sake.  As long as Jesus was with them the persecution was directed at Him.  When He has departed to the Father the burden of persecution will rest on them as the leaders of the New Covenant Church and the spokesmen of the Word of God.

Jesus is returning to the theme of His departure, which He introduced in chapter 7:33 when He told the Jewish crowds that He would be with them only a little longer and then would be going to "Him who sent Me."  He came back to this theme in the Last Supper discourse in chapter 13.  Now He rebukes them for not inquiring where He is going.

Question: Has no one asked where He is going?  Why does Jesus rebuke them?
Answer: Both Peter and Thomas have asked this question in 13:36 and 14:5.  Perhaps it is because previously the disciples have been more concerned with how they can follow Him than with the question of His destination.  Some scholars point to the use of the present tense in this passage and suggest that Jesus is saying "Why don't you ask me NOW where am I going?"  In fact, the disciples had interrupted Jesus' discourse three times between 14:1 and 31, but no one has asked a question since the beginning of 15:1.  Jesus seems to answer His own question by saying that it is because their hearts are all full of sorrow that they do not ask and yet if they had asked they would be comforted to know that He is going to the Father.

John 16:7: Still I am telling you the truth; it is for your own good that I am going, because unless I go, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

The promise that Jesus the Messiah would send the Spirit of God would not have surprised the disciples.  Many Old Testament texts promised the gift of the Spirit of God in the Messianic Age (for example see Isaiah 11:1-10; 42:1-4; 44:1-5; Ezekiel 36:24-27; Joel 2:28-32; etc).

Question: Why is it to their advantage that Jesus should go?
Answer: The disciples should recognize that if He is going to the Father they should be comforted because when He goes to the Father He will send them the Paraclete [God the Holy Spirit] as their Counselor and Advocate.

Question: What is the condition for the coming of the Paraclete and when will this happen?
Answer: Jesus must ascend to the Father before He can send the Paraclete. He will first give the Paraclete to the Apostles in the Upper Room on Resurrection Sunday [see John 20:22].  But Jesus' prophecy of the coming of the Paraclete to all His disciples will be fulfilled in Acts 2:1-4 on the Jewish pilgrim feast of Weeks, known in the 1st century by the Greek name "Pentecost," which means 50th day.  Pentecost was 50 days from the Feast of Firstfruits (see Leviticus 23 and the chart "The Seven Sacred Feasts of the Old Covenant" and always fell on a Sunday until the Feast of Firstfruits was changed to the 16th of Nisan by the Pharisees sometime after Jesus Resurrection.  That year the Feast of Firstfruits fell on Resurrection Sunday!  The first Pentecost of the New Covenant Church will come 50 days after Jesus' resurrection.  

[Note: Pentecost was always determined by counting 50 days from the Feast of Firstfruits as the ancients counted with no 0-place value.  Josephus records in Antiquities 13.8.4 [252] that at sometime the dates were changed and that Pentecost always used to fall on the first day of the week, which is Sunday.  If Pentecost was changed that means that First Fruits had to be changed, since the counting of Firstfruits from the Sunday of the holy week of Unleavened Bread to a Sunday fifty days later determined the date of Pentecost.  The reason for the change would be to not have either feast have a connection to the Christian celebrations of Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday].

Question: What greater blessings will the disciples be given when they receive the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit at Pentecost?
Answer:

  1. Spiritual life: Through baptism by "fire and by the Spirit" believers will be re-born into the family of God  They will receive through this new life from above the power to fulfill the requirements of God's New Covenant Law [Romans 8:4; Jeremiah 31:31] from a spiritual power that flows from a transformed life and a "circumcised heart" [Jeremiah 9:24-25; Romans 2:25] that will beget believers, through the power of baptism, as the Children of God.
  2. Spiritual strength:  to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world [Acts 1:8; 4:31] even in time of persecution [Luke 12:11-12]
  3. Spiritual knowledge: to understand and preserve the truth of Jesus' teaching in all its fullness and revelation [John 16:13].

In God's plan of salvation it is the Holy Spirit who is the principle of life from above.  The promise of verse 16:7 is fulfilled in John 20:22 when the first action of the risen Christ, who has ascended to God the Father [see 20:17], is to go to His Apostles in the Upper Room, to breathe on them and to say, "Receive the Holy Spirit."

John 16:8-11 And when he comes, he will show [convince] the world how wrong it was, about sin and about who was in the right and about judgment: about sin: in that they refuse to believe in me; about who was in the right: in that I am going to the Father and you will see me no more; about judgment: in that the prince of this world is already condemned.

The verb elenchein used in verse 8, to "show", "convince" or "prove" in the Greek, means both "to bring to light, to expose" and "to convict someone of something"

Question: In what 3 ways does Jesus say that the Paraclete, God the Holy Spirit, will convict the world it is in the wrong?
Answer: The world is wrong about the chief nature of sin, about righteousness / justice, and about judgment.  All three nouns lack the article indicating that Jesus is referring to basic principles rather than individual instances.  For example, the issue is not who sinned but in what constitutes sin.  Therefore, He will convict the world of ignorance of the true nature of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

Question: What is the world's chief sin?
Answer: The world's chief sin is unbelief.  See John 8:21, 24, 46; and 15:22.

Question: How will the Holy Spirit convince the world on these three counts?
Answer: He will expose the sin of unbelief; He will reveal the righteousness of Christ; and Satan and every enemy of Christ will face judgment.

Sin

To refuse to believe in Jesus as the Messiah and in all that He has taught is a sin [verse 9 and John 3:20]

Righteousness

(Justice)

Jesus was speaking the truth when He said He came from and was returning to the Father and that heaven is His home [verse 10] and although He was condemned to die He was truly righteous [8:46] and deserved the title Son of God [10:33, 19:7].

Judgment

Satan and all those who chose Satan over Christ have condemned themselves and will face God's judgment [verse 11 and John 5:26-29; 12:31]

 

Using judicial language Jesus is teaching that although the Holy Spirit's mission is as Advocate and Counselor for New Covenant believers, He will also be the Prosecutor who will indict the unbelieving world!  In Jesus' death on the cross His ministry seemed to end in the victory of His enemies, however, there was a surprise ending!  In His sacrificial death and resurrection Jesus conquered sin and death.  If the "hour" of His passion and sacrificial death represented the confrontation of Jesus and the prince of this world [John 12:31; 14:30], then in His victory over death, Jesus was victorious over Satan!  The fact that Jesus stands justified before the throne of God [Revelation 5:4-6] means that Satan has been condemned and has lost a great extent of his power over the world. See CCC#388 and 1433

 

Question: What is the final sentence that is pronounced on "the prince of this world"?

Answer: In the very act of Jesus' sacrificial death Satan's dominion over the world is no longer preeminent.  Although he still has the power to do evil, Satan's authority is now limited and he has no power over those who are united to Christ.  Hebrews 2:14 "Since all the children share the same human nature, he too shared equally in it, so that by his death he could set aside him who held the power of death, namely the devil, and set free all those who had been held in slavery all their lives by the dear of death."  Satan is what St. Augustan described as "a mean dog on a short chain".  St. Augustan was pointing out that as long as we avoid coming within the reach of that chain, Satan can not harm us.

 

Question: What can bring us within Satan's grasp?

Answer:  It is unconfessed sin that brings us within his reach.

 

God the Holy Spirit will reveal that Jesus' death will result in the final sentence-- the "crushing of the head" of Satan as was prophesized in Genesis 3:15.  If you have seen the film "The Passion of the Christ" this is the significance of the first scene where Jesus crushes the head of the snake in the Garden of Gethsemane and fulfills the prophecy that the "seed of the woman" would crush, defeat Satan. But, even thought Satan is defeated he is till a threat: Ephesians 6:12:"Finally, grow strong in the Lord, with the strength of his power.  Put on the full armor of God so as to be able to resist the devil's tactics.  For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the principalities and the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world, the spirits of evil in the heavens."

 

Please read John 16:12-24: The coming of the Paraclete

16:12I still have many things to say to you but they would be too much for you to bear now. 13 However, when the Spirit of Truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth since he will not be speaking on his own accord but will say only what he has been told; and he will reveal to you the things to come. 14 He will glorify me, since all he reveals to you will be taken from what is mine. 15Everything the Father has is mine; that is why I said: all he reveals to you will be taken from what is mine. 16In a short time you will no longer see me, and then a short time later you will see me again. 17Then some of his disciples said to one another, 'What does he mean, "In a short time you will no longer see me, and then a short time later you will see me again," and, "I am going to the Father"? 18What is this "short time"?  We don't know what he means.' 19Jesus knew that they wanted to question him, so he said, 'You are asking one another what I meant by saying, "In a short time you will no longer see me, and then a short time later you will see me again." 20 'In all truth I tell you, you will be weeping and wailing while the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy. 21A woman in childbirth suffers, because her time has come; but when she has given birth to the child she forgets the suffering in her joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22So it is with you: you are sad now, but I shall see you again, and your hearts will be full of joy, and that joy no one shall take from you. 23When that day comes, you will not ask me any questions.  In all truth, I tell you, anything you ask from the Father he will grant in my name. 24Until now you have not asked anything in my name.  Ask and you will receive, and so your joy will be complete. 

 

John 16: 12-13: I still have many things to say to you but they would be too much for you to bear now.  However, when the Spirit of Truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth since he will not be speaking on his own accord but will say only what he has been told; and he will reveal to you the things to come.

 

The title "the Spirit of Truth" is repeated a third time [see 14:17 and 15:26].  These passages help us understand the ministry of God the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers:

14:17 ... you know him because he is with you, he is in you.
15:26 [The Holy Spirit] who issues from the Father, he will be my witness.
16:13-14 He will lead you to the complete truth; [He] will say only what he has been told; He will reveal to you the things to come.  He will glorify me since all he reveals to you will be taken from what is mine.

 

Question: What "complete truth" and "things to come" will the Holy Spirit reveal?

Answer:  He will reveal the complete significance of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection, as well as the mystery of Eucharist and the Most Holy Trinity.  He will also reveal to the Magisterium of the New Covenant order the hidden depths of the mystery of Jesus Christ and the gift of grace that is our salvation.  In other words, God the Holy Spirit will continue the teaching mission of Jesus to bear witness to the truth (also see 8:31-32; 18:37 and CCC# 687).

 

It is from this promise that the Great Councils of Vatican I and II pronounced the doctrine of magisterial infallibility.  This doctrine states that the Pope alone and/or the Bishops united with the Pope, the successor of St. Peter, are divinely protected from teaching error when they define matters pertaining to faith and morals [see Lumen Gentium, 25]. The guidance and intervention of the Paraclete is Jesus' assurance that Gospel will not be distorted, corrupted, or misunderstood by the ministerial priesthood of the Church during her earthly pilgrimage.  See CCC# 768, 889-8892

 

John 16:14-16: He will glorify me, since all he reveals to you will be taken from what is mine.  Everything the Father has is mine; that is why I said: all he reveals to you will be taken from what is mine.  In a short time you will no longer see me, and then a short time later you will see me again.

 

In this passage Jesus is revealing some of the aspects of the mystery of the Holy Trinity: the unity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. 

Question: How is Jesus teaching the mystery of the unity of the Trinity in this passage?

Answer: He is teaching that the 3 divine Persons have one and the same nature when He says that everything that the Father has belongs to the Son, and everything the Son has belongs to the Father, and that the Spirit also has what is common to both God the Father and God the Son. 

 

What the 3 Divine Persons of the Trinity have in common is the Divine essence of the Godhead: It is the same concept expressed to the Covenant people over a thousand years earlier in the Shema, the first profession of faith found in Deuteronomy 6:4: ...the Lord [Adonai]  your God [Elohim], the Lord [Adonai] is ONE!

 

Question: What will the Holy Spirit take from Jesus, which comes from the Father, to give to believers?

Answer: When the Paraclete fills and indwells believers at Pentecost He will give each generation of baptized believers a share in the divine life and authority of Jesus Christ.  See John 6:63; Romans 8:14; and CCC#690 and 1 Peter 1:3-4: By his divine power, he has lavished on us all the things we need for life and for true devotion, through the knowledge of him who has called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these, the greatest and priceless promises have been lavished on us, that through them you should share the divine nature and escape the corruption rife in the world through disordered passion.

 

John 16:17-19: Then some of his disciples said to one another, 'What does he mean, "In a short time you will no longer see me, and then a short time later you will see me again," and, "I am going to the Father"?  What is this "short time"?  We don't know what he means.'  Jesus knew that they wanted to question him, so he said, 'You are asking one another what I meant by saying, "In a short time you will no longer see me, and then a short time later you will see me again."

Question: Why is it that in a short time the disciples with no longer see Jesus and then a short time later see Him again?

Answer: After Jesus is crucified and buried they will not see Him for 3 days [as they counted] but then when He is raised from the dead they will see Him, they will remember what He has told them, and they will believe He is the Son of God [John 20:19-30].

 

John 16:20-22: 'In all truth I tell you [Amen, amen], you will be weeping and wailing while the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy.  A woman in childbirth suffers, because her time has come; but when she has given birth to the child she forgets the suffering in her joy that a human being has been born into the world.  So it is with you: you are sad now, but I shall see you again, and your hearts will be full of joy, and that joy no one shall take from you.'

 

In the Greek text, Jesus begins with another double amen, as He always does in John's Gospel when He is going to clarify a teaching. When the disciples do not understand Jesus tries to help them grasp what He is teaching with a symbolic reference.

 

Question: How has the symbolic imagery of a woman suffering in childbirth been used in the Old Testament?  Hint: see Isaiah 26:17-18; 66:7-14; Micah 4:9-10?

Answer: The travail of a woman in childbirth has been the traditional biblical metaphor for the sufferings of the Covenant people which will proceed the new, Messianic Age.

 

Question: How is the connection between this symbolic imagery of a woman suffering in childbirth linked the coming of the Messiah?  Hint: read Genesis 3:13-16

Answer: In Genesis 1:28; 3:13-16, Yahweh curses the Serpent and makes a promise that a deliverer will come to redeem mankind by destroying the power of the Serpent.   

 

The prophecy tells of the enmity, the war that will exist between two sides: the "seed" of the woman and the "seed" of the serpent.  The "seed" of the serpent represents Satan and all those who follow him while the "seed" of the woman not only represents the only one born without the seed of a man–Jesus the Messiah or also collectively all those who love God and are obedient to Him.  In the great battle, the "seed" of the serpent will "strike the heel" [a Semitic expression for "to do violence against"] of the "seed" of the woman, but the "seed" of the woman will "crush" or "bruise" the head of the serpent [the Semitic expression for striking a fatal blow; see John 13:18 and Psalm 41:9 where the text literally reads "lifts his heel against me"].  In this great struggle, the "seed" of the woman, Mary, will suffer, but He will also be victorious! 

 

What is important is the relationship between this promise in Genesis 3:15 and the words to the woman in verse 16.  Both Adam and Eve are accountable for their sin in the Garden of Eden.

Question: What were the consequences of Adam and Eve's punishment for their sin?

Answer: Adam was to suffer in toiling to provide for his family, while Eve was to suffer in childbirth.

 

When the woman was first given to Adam in the Garden of Eden, childbirth was at the center of the blessing God gave the couple: Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it, but then, after their Fall from grace God, the Father makes childbirth (the birth of the Redeemer-Messiah) the remedy through which He will heal mankind and through this blessing of divine grace, mankind will be restored. 

 

Question:  How is a woman's pain in childbirth linked to the defeat of Satan?

Answer: Dr. John Sailhamer writes in his commentary on this passage: The pain of the birth of every child was to be a reminder of the hope that lay in God's promise.  Birth pangs are not merely a reminder of the futility of the Fall; they are as well a sign of an impending joy (The Pentateuch as a Narrative, pg. 108).

 

St. Paul understood this connection when he wrote in Romans 8:22-23: We are well aware that the whole creation, until this time, has been groaning in labor pains.  And not only that: we too, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we are groaning inside ourselves, waiting with eagerness for our bodies to be set free. 

 

Jesus also used this same metaphor in Matthew 24:8. Please read Matthew 24:1-14.  In this passage Jesus is prophesying the persecution the Church will suffer down through the ages, culminating in the end of the world and His Second Advent.   But in this passage He is also speaking of the "end of the world" for the Jews who rejected Him and the end of the old covenant order, which will result in the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the birth of the new Israel from the "faithful remnant" of the old Israel that will establish the universal New Covenant Church of the "everlasting Kingdom" prophesized by the prophet Daniel (Daniel 2:44-45; 7:13-14, 22), announced by John the Baptist in Matthew 3:2 and proclaimed by Jesus in Mark 1:14-15.

 

 In the establishment of the Old Covenant with Moses at Mt. Sinai, God gave the Old Covenant people 40 years to come fully into the covenant before they took possession of the Promised Land.  In Scripture, 40 is the number of testing as well as a number symbolizing consecration (a baby is consecrated in the mother's womb for a period of about 40 weeks).  Just as the first Israel had a 40 year journey before fully establishing the Old Covenant Church in their home land, the New Israel, the New Covenant people of the Universal Church, will also experience a 40 year period from Christ's resurrection in 30AD to the complete destruction of the Old Covenant order in 70 AD. 

 

In 70 AD the Romans, as the instrument of God's redemptive judgment against the rejection of the Messiah, will destroy the old Temple in Jerusalem in fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy in Matthew 24:1-36.  With the coming of the Messiah, the Temple no longer had any meaning or significance in liturgical worship: only the blood of Jesus Christ, not the blood of animals, can be the true sacrifice for sins!  It is what the sacred writer of the book of Hebrews prophesied just prior to this destruction: By this the Holy Spirit means us to see that as long as the old tent stands [the Temple] the way into the holy place [God's presence] is not opened up; it [the Temple] is a symbol of this present time.  None of the gifts and sacrifices offered under these regulations can possibly bring any worshipper to perfection in his conscience; they are rules about outward life, connected with food and drink and washing at various times, which are in force only until the time comes to set things right.  But now Christ has come, as the high priest of all the blessings which were to come.  He has passed through the greater, the more perfect tent, not made by human hands, that is, not of this created order; and he has entered the Sanctuary once and for all, taking with him not the blood of goats and bull calves, but his own blood, having won an eternal redemption (Hebrews 8-12).

 

[Note: Also see the prophecies of the covenant curses in Deuteronomy 28:15-69 which were historically fulfilled in the Roman destruction of Judea, the Temple, and the enslavement of many of the survivors.  Also see Daniel 12:1-13 and the explanation of Daniel's vision in the Revelation Study for Revelation chapters 10 and 11].

 

Question: When will the disciples be weeping while the world is rejoicing?  When will their sorrow turn to joy?

Answer: They will be filled with grief during Jesus' trial, scourging, and crucifixion while the "world", those in opposition to Christ, will be rejoicing in His pain and suffering.  Their sorrow will turn to joy when they all see Him after His glorious Resurrection.

 

John 16:23-24When that day comes, you will not ask me any questions.  In all truth, I tell you, anything you ask from the Father he will grant in my name.  Until now you have not asked anything in my name.  Ask and you will receive, and so your joy will be complete.

 

Beginning in chapter 14 Jesus told the disciples that when they keep His commandments, whatever they ask the Father will honor.  In the previous two chapters, Jesus has made this statement 4 times; now in this chapter He has repeated this promise 3 more times:

VERSE PROMISE
14:13

Whatever you ask in my name I will do...

14:14

If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.

15:7

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for whatever you please and you will get it.

15:16

... so that the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name.

16:23

When that day comes, you will not ask me any questions.  In all truth I tell you, anything you ask from the Father he will grant in my name.

16:24

Until now you have not asked anything in my name. Ask and you will receive so your joy will be complete.

16:26

When that day comes you will ask in my name ...

 

In His statement in verse 23sus tells the disciples they will no longer need to ask Him questions "When that day comes."  It is a phrase He repeats in verse 26

 

Question: What "day" is Jesus referring to?

Answer: The day of His glorious Resurrection.  On that "day" the glorified Christ will appear to the Apostles in the Upper Room and will breath on them so that they may receive the Holy Spirit (see John 20:22).

 

Question: What are these two privileges that will be granted the Apostles after Jesus' Resurrection and to all believers after Pentecost?

Answer:

  1. The privilege of having such an intimate relationship with God the Father that He will grant the petitions of their prayers [made in accordance with His will]; see 23b-24, & 26, and
  2. The privilege of, through the work of the Paraclete, understanding Jesus as the revelation of God the Father.

 

Question: Why does Jesus say that until now they have not asked anything in His name?

Answer: Because He has not yet been glorified.  In John 14:13 Jesus told the disciples: Whatever you ask for in my name I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

 

Jesus' statement implies that at this point, the gathering at the Last Supper, that the disciples have not asked anything in His name because they cannot at this time be completely united to Him, which would give them access to the Father.

Question: What must take place before this access to God the Father can be complete?

Answer: This union can only take place after the "hour" of His passion, His death, burial, resurrection, and the giving of the Holy Spirit.  Please read what St. Paul writes about this union in Ephesians 2:13-18.  In verse 18 Paul writes: Through him, then, we both in one Spirit have free access to the Father.

 

Father Raymond Brown points out in his commentary that the force of Jesus' statement in 16:24 is more profound in the Greek than in its English translation.  Fr. Brown goes on the say: Since Jesus dwells in the Christian, their petitions are in Jesus' name; since the Father is one with Jesus, the petitions He grants are granted in Jesus' name  (The Anchor Bible Commentary – The Gospel According to St John, pg. 723)The disciples will be united to the life of Christ in the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, but they will also be intimately united to God the Father because the Father is one with the Son.  This is why Jesus says in verse 23-24 that not only are we to ask for our requests in Jesus "name," but the request will be given "in His name" as well.

 

Please read John 16:25-33

25I have been telling you these things in veiled language.  The hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in veiled language but tell you about the Father in plain words. 26When that day comes you will ask in my name; and I do not say that I shall pray to the Father for you, 27because the Father himself loves you for loving me and believing that I came from God. 28I came from the Father and have come into the world and now I am leaving the world to go to the Father. 29His disciples said, 'Now you are speaking plainly and not using veiled language. 30Now we see that you know everything and need not wait for questions to be put into words; because of this we believe that you came from God.' 31Jesus answered them: 'Do you believe at last? 32Listen; the time will come–indeed it has come already–when you are going to be scattered, each going his own way and leaving me alone.  And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. 33I have told you all this so that you may find peace in me.  In the world you will have hardship, but be courageous: I have conquered the world.'

 

John 16:25-28: I have been telling you these things in veiled language.  The hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in veiled language but tell you about the Father in plain words.  When that day comes you will ask in my name; and I do not say that I shall pray to the Father for you, because the Father himself loves you for loving me and believing that I came from God.  I came from the Father and have come into the world and now I am leaving the world to go to the Father.

 

Jesus' reference to "veiled language" can also be translated "figures of speech." 

Question: What does the contrast between "veiled language" or "figures of speech," and Jesus speaking in "plain words" imply? In John 10:22-24, the Jews challenged Jesus to speak in plain words.  What did Jesus' response to them imply?  Compare that encounter with the events in the raising of Lazarus in John 11:11-15 and what Jesus said to the disciples in John 16:21 about a woman suffering in childbirth?

Answer: In John 10:25 Jesus told the Jews that the real problem was that they stubbornly refused to believe what He told them, which implied that He was speaking in plain words during His ministry to them.   In the raising of Lazarus, Jesus spoke in figurative language of Lazarus' death as being "at rest" or "fallen asleep" in John 11:11.  It was language that the disciples did not understand, and so Jesus had to tell them plainly in John 11:15 that Lazarus was dead.  Then during the Last Supper discourse when Jesus spoke symbolically of a woman suffering in labor to illustrate their grief at His departure, they also did not seem to grasp His meaning.  In the context of Sacred Scripture they understood the woman suffering in childbirth to be Israel awaiting the coming of the Messiah, but they were confused because for them the Messiah is hear now, so why will there be more suffering?  But now Jesus promises that the time is coming when there will no longer be any confusion over the use of such symbolic language because God the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, will reveal all that was hidden.  Those mysteries that seemed veiled and hidden will be plain to believers through the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

 

Question: In John 16:27-28, Jesus once again tells the disciples of what unique bond?

Answer: Jesus reaffirms that He is one with His disciples and one with God the Father. 

 

Jesus tells the disciples: when that day comes you will ask in my name; and I do not say that I shall pray to the Father for you, because the Father himself loves you for loving me and believing that I cam from God.  Jesus is still the only mediator between man and God, but the disciples love and belief in Jesus which make them one with Him also unite them to the Father.  The result is perfect mediation between man and God.  See CCC# 618.

 

By becoming God Incarnate (incarnate means "in the flesh"), Jesus established a bond of union with mankind, and now in leaving the world He returns to His Father, continuing the bond between Himself and mankind and Himself and God the Father.  It is through our union with Christ that we have access to union with the Father. It is only when "His hour" is accomplished and His return is completed that the disciples will be able in confidence to make their petitions in prayer to the Father as He has promised.

 

John 16:29-33His disciples said, 'Now you are speaking plainly and not using veiled language.  Now we see that you know everything and need not wait for questions to be put into words; because of this we believe that you came from God.'  Jesus answered them: 'Do you believe at last? Listen; the time will come–indeed it has come already'when you are going to be scattered, each going his own way and leaving me alone.  And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.  I have told you all this so that you may find peace in me.  In the world you will have hardship, but be courageous: I have conquered the world.'

 

In John 16:32, Jesus gives the disciples a warning.  This warning is also given in Matthew 26:31 and Mark 14:27 when Jesus quoted the prophecy of the 6th century prophet Zechariah.  Please read Zechariah 13:7-9

Question: How was Zechariah's prophecy fulfilled?

Answer: When the guards came with swords to arrest Jesus at Gethsemane, the disciples abandoned Jesus and "scattered like sheep." Jesus' disciples were "passed through the fire" of suffering and emerged strengthen by their experience to be able, after the Resurrection when they were reunited to Christ, to be untied to each other as One Church, to call on God, and to be called in turn "His (covenant) people."

 

Jesus commands the disciples and all Christians in John 16:33: "be courageous!"

Question: How can we be courageous?

Answer: We can be courageous because in the same verse Jesus assures us:  "I have conquered the world!"  He gives us the assurance that if He has conquered the world, then united with Him, we can also conquer the world.  It is a promise repeated in Revelation 3:21: Anyone who proves victorious I will allow to share my throne, just as I have myself overcome and have taken my seat with my Father on his throne.  Jesus didn't come to save us from suffering.  He came to redeem us as individuals and as members of the human family, and He came as God enfleshed to suffer (Luke 24:26-27, 44-45) and to unite our suffering to His.  As long as the Church remains on earth, this will be our continuous struggle: having the courage to choose Jesus over the world!  This victory can only be ours through faith in Christ Jesus, because every child of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.  Who can overcome the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5).

 

Thank God then, for giving us victory through Jesus Christ our Lord! 1Corinthians 15:57

 

Resources used in this chapter:

1.      The Jewish New Testament Commentary

2.      The Anchor Bible Commentary – The Gospel of John

3.      The Ignatius Study Bible Commentary – The Gospel of John

4.      The Navarre Bible Commentary – St. John

5.      Paradise Restored

6.      The Search for the Historical Jesus

7.      Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament

8.      The Mishnah

9.      The Antiquities of the Jews

10.  The Pentateuch as Narrative, Dr. John Sailhamer, Zondervan Publishing House, 1992.

11.  Catechism of the Catholic Church

References from the CCC [*indicates verse quoted]

16:7-15

729*, 1287*

 

 

16:7

692

16:14-15

485*

16:8-9

1433

16:14

244*, 690*

16:8

388

16:23-27

2615*

16:11

385*

16:24

2615, 2815*

16:13-15

2615*

16:26

2815*

16:13

91*, 243, 687, 692, 1117, 2466, 2671*

16:28

661*, 2795*

 

 

16:33

1808

 

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 1998 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.