John 16:1-11

Henry Mahan

(Vs. 1) As in many places the chapter division here is unfortunate, for the Lord continues to speak concerning the hatred and persecution which His true disciples will have to endure for His sake and for the gospel they preach. He is preparing them for these hardships and trials (especially from the hands of devout, religious people) that they might not be shocked nor surprised and to prevent such grievous disappointment which might tend to undermine their faith. While the natural man is religious, he is not a friend of grace, substitution, and redemption in Christ alone (I Cor. 1:18; I Cor. 2:14).

(Vs. 2) The Jews had already made a law that if any man did confess Jesus of Nazareth to be the Christ, he would be excommunicated (John 9:22; John 12:42). To them this meant to be cut off from the Jewish nation, from the promises, and from the hope of Israel. It also meant that they would be considered pagans, lose their jobs, be cut off from their families, and denied honorable burial. The time will even come when religious zealots will put you to death in the name of God, convinced that you are heretics and that they serve God in destroying you. The death of Stephen is an example (Acts 7:57-60). Saul of Tarsus felt this way at one time (Acts 26:9).

(Vs. 3) The reason behind all this hatred and persecution of believers is a willful ignorance of the true and living God (John 17:3; I John 5:20). These Jews had created their own god (Psalm 50:21). They boasted of their knowledge of God, yet they knew Him not, nor Christ as the true Messiah (Rom. 10:1-4). They could have known, but they refused to hear (John 15:21-24).

(Vs. 4) He told them all of these things concerning His going away, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the hatred and persecution of the world, and the ignorance and enmity of the Jewish leaders so that when these things did come to pass (and they certainly would), the disciples might remember that He told them of all this. This would serve to strengthen their faith in Him and to anticipate the fulfillment of all His words. He did not tell them earlier of all this because He was with them personally at all times, and the wrath of the Jews was chiefly against HIM, not them. Now He is going away, and the enmity will fall upon them as well as the responsibility of the ministry of the Word. God will reveal His purpose and His will as we are ready to receive it and as our needs require it (John 16:12: Mark 4:33).

(Vs. 5-6) When Christ spoke earlier of going away, Peter asked why he could not go with Him (John 13:36). Thomas told Him that he not only did not know where He was going but he did not know the way there (John 14:5). But now the Lord had told them that He was not leaving for some place on earth, but that He would die, rise from the dead, and go to His Father's house to prepare a place for them, that His death and return to the Father should be cause for rejoicing. He told them that he would come to them by His Spirit. This was a moment for many questions about all these mysterious and great things! But there were no questions, only sorrow in their hearts over their Lord's leaving them and perhaps great disappointment that the great kingdom they had expected had not become a reality. With our earthbound flesh and our materialistic, selfish natures, how dull we are to the grand and great redemptive glory of our Lord! (I Cor. 7:29-31.)

(Vs. 7) "Nevertheless, though you ask no questions, I tell you that it is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY for you that I die, rise again, and go to the Father." His death atoned for our sins, removed the curse of the law, enables God to be just and the justifier of all believers, secures peace and reconciliation, opens the way for believers into the holiest, gives us a mediator with the Father, transacts all our business with the living God, and, as our forerunner, enters heaven and possesses and prepares a place for us. The Holy Spirit was certainly here before, but He had not come in so special and peculiar manner as He would come to believers after Christ was glorified. He would indwell them as the promise of the Father, as their comforter, teacher, guide, and the glorifier of Christ. Had Christ not died, arose, and ascended to the Father, there would have been nothing for the Holy Spirit to do–no blood to sprinkle, no salvation to apply, no righteousness to reveal, and no comfort to give.

(Vs. 8-11) The Spirit will indwell, teach, and preach through believers the testimony of God and the gospel of Christ. Conviction of sin (as to its guilt and curse), a revelation of Christ to the heart, and convincing men and women of sin, righteousness, and judgment are not by the might of men, the power of persuasion and logic, but by God's Spirit (I Cor. 2:9-14). Conviction of sin and convincing the sinner of His need of mercy and grace are always accomplished by the Holy Spirit's using the Word of God and are related to Christ, His person and work. The essence of all sin is UNBELIEF. The Holy Spirit will reveal Christ as He did at Pentecost and bring men to believe on Him (Acts 2:36-38). The Holy Spirit will reveal to sinners the righteousness of God, which is Christ (Rom. 10:4; Rom. 5:19). The fact that the Father raised Him from the dead and received Him at His right hand is full proof that His obedience and work for us is sufficient. We have a complete sanctification and holiness in Christ. With respect to judgment, the believer is cleared (Rom. 8:1, 33-34). Satan, evil powers, and rulers of darkness have all met their conqueror in Christ. He has destroyed the power of sin and death. He has all power in heaven and earth to give eternal life to His own (John 17:2). We have nothing and no one to fear. Our Lord is telling His disciples that their ministry, by the power of the Holy Spirit, shall not fail. He will have a people from every nation.

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.