John xvi.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Which the persecutions you will have to suffer, on the part of man, may possibly occasion, particularly with the weak.

Ver. 4. That when the hour of them shall come[1] , you may remember that I told you. This is both the sense and the construction, by the Greek text, which here determines the construction of the Latin. (Witham)

Ver. 5. None of you asketh me, whither goest thou? St. Peter had put this question, chap. xiii. 36. and Thomas, chap xiv. 5. The meaning, then, of Christ’s words here, seems to be, that having told you, I am going to leave you, and also going to him that sent me, you do not ask, says St. Cyril, to be fully and thoroughly informed about it. (Witham) — You suffer yourselves to be entirely overcome with grief; and none of you inquire of me, whither I am going. You look on my departure as an eternal separation between us, and take leave of me, as if we were never to meet again. But be persuaded; my absence will only be for a short continuance; and this absence will be honourable and glorious for me, and extremely advantageous for you. If you were fully persuaded of this, you would inquire, how long I should be absent, and whither I was going; as one friend in the act of parting, is always accustomed to ask another. But you only torture your minds with the pain and grief you will have to suffer at my loss. (Menochius, Tirinus, &c.)

Ver. 6. Sorrow hath filled your heart: and this sorrow hindereth you from asking, what you should earnestly desire to know. (Witham) — Peter had put the question above, chap. xiii. 36. and Thomas, chap. xiv. 5. But Jesus Christ means, that they did not persevere in their questions, so as to obtain satisfactory information, where, when, and for what end he was going, and how soon he was to return to them, or if to return at all. For it is customary with friends, to put the most minute questions on all these heads to friends, when they are about to be separated from each other. (Menochius)

Ver. 7. I tell you … it is expedient for you that I go: that I leave you, as to my corporal presence: that I suffer death, for the redemption of all men. And if I go not, the Paraclete will not come, according to the order of the divine decrees: his coming to sanctify you with his gifts, and to teach you all things, is not to be till after my ascension. When I am gone, I will send him to you. The Father and I will send him, for he proceedeth from both. (Witham)

Ver. 8. He will convince[2], or convict the world. Others translate, he will reprove the world of sin, &c. These words have occasioned a great many expositions. I here follow St. Cyril, that the Holy Ghost will condemn the Jews, and all obstinate unbelievers, of their sin, in not believing, after so many miracles, and so many pregnant motives, that ought to induce them to submit to the Christian faith. 2ndly, Of justice, by shewing the justice and innocence of Christ, and also, that true justice and sanctification cannot be obtained, but by his grace. 3rdly, Of judgment, by shewing that the world, and the prince of this wicked world, the devil, is justly condemned, his empire in a great measure destroyed, and that all the wicked will be justly condemned, and punished with him. (Witham) — The Holy Ghost, by his coming, brought over many thousands, 1st, To a sense of their sin, in not believing in Christ. 2ndly, To a conviction of the justice of Christ, now sitting at the right hand of his Father. And 3rdly, To a right apprehension of the judgment prepared for them that choose to follow Satan, who is already judged and condemned. (Challoner) — The Greek text, in addition, has oti ou pisteuousin eis eme. Because they have not believed in me. This accusation and conviction of sin, cannot naturally fall on any, but the incredulous Jews. St. Augustine, Ven. Bede, St. Chrysostom, Theophylactus, and many others, are of opinion, that this sin was their unbelief in Jesus, after all the miracles he had done in their presence, after so many prophecies so clearly accomplished in his person, after so many prodigies and wonders, which happened at his death, at his resurrection, and after his resurrection. They are accused, and convinced of sin, particularly by sensible effects of the Holy Spirit, in the apostles, by the gift of miracles and tongues, and that supernatural knowledge, which was communicated, not only to the apostles, but also to all the first Christians. These are the means, which the Paraclete, the consoling and assisting Spirit, makes us of, to condemn, and convince the world of sin; that is, of incredulity, which is the source and foundation of all other sins. The world had calumniated and despised its Saviour. It had condemned him, as a liar, as a seducer, magician, a man possessed by the devil, a destroyer of the law of God. To which the Son of God made no resistance; he only replied, that he did not wish to take the execution of justice upon himself, and that he was not come into the world to judge the world. Therefore, he committed all to the Holy Spirit, who, in the persons of the apostles, did justice to the Son, by shewing to the whole world, his doctrines, his life, his miracles, and the accomplishment of all the ancient prophecies in his person. All that the apostles preached, they confirmed by most stupendous miracles, gained the hearts of pagans to believe Jesus as their Redeemer, and called down imprecations upon the heads of the incredulous Jews, who had rejected a prophet, visibly sent by God, a Saviour and Redeemer of his people, who, in his person, bore all the characters of the divinity. (Calmet)

Ver. 13. When he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will teach you all truth; will direct you and the Church, in the ways of truth. For he shall not speak of himself, or of himself only, because, says St. Augustine, he is not from himself, but proceedeth from the Father and the Son. Whatsoever he shall hear, he shall speak[3]; this his hearing, says St. Augustine, is his knowledge, and his knowledge is his essence, or being, which from eternity is from the Father and the Son. The like expressions are applied to the Son, as proceeding from the Father. (John v. 30. and viii. 16. &c.) (Witham) — If he shall teach all truth, and that for ever, (chap. xi; ver. 26.) how is it possible, that the Church can err, or hath erred in matters of faith, at any time, or in any point of doctrine? In this supposition, would not the Holy Ghost have forfeited his title of Spirit of Truth?

Ver. 15. All things whatsoever the Father hath, are mine. The obvious sense of these words, shews, that the Son hath the same nature, and the same substance with the Father, and that he is one, and the same God with him. And by Christ’s adding: therefore he (the Holy Ghost) shall receive of mine, we are taught, that the third person proceeds from both the Father, and the Son, and that he receives, and has the same perfections. (Witham)

Ver. 16. A little while, and now you shall not see me, &c. Many expound these words in this manner: that after a little while, you shall not see me, because even to-morrow, I shall be taken from you by death: and again, after a little while, you shall see me, because the third day I shall rise again, and converse with you, till my ascension. St. Augustine gives another interpretation, (tract. 101.) that by the first little while, may be understood, the short time till Christ’s ascension, and by the latter little while, the short time that the apostles were to live in this world; after which they should see, and enjoy Christ for ever in the kingdom of heaven. And this exposition seems to agree better with the following promise. (Witham) — In a few hours, I shall be separated from you, to be delivered up to my enemies, and put to the cruel death of the cross; and after a short time, I shall rise again; then you shall see me in my new state of glory. St. Chrysostom, both Sts. Cyrils, Theophylactus, Euthymius, St. Augustine, and others, interpret this verse differently; thus: Not long hence, I shall be entirely separated from you; you shall not see me, because I shall go to the Father, by my ascension; but you shall see me again, after a short time, at my second coming, to judge the living and the dead. All the time, that shall pass between my ascension, and my second coming, is in the eyes of God only as a moment. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday, which is past and gone. (Psalm lxxxix. ver. 4.) And the apostle calls all time a moment, a time that soon passes. (1 Corinthians vii. and 2 Corinthians iv.)

Ver. 20. Your sorrow shall be turned into joy, chiefly at the end of your mortal life; then you shall have a joy, never to be taken from you. (Witham)

Ver. 22. The joy you will feel at my resurrection, shall ever be unalterable, and unremitting, because there I shall give you assurances and proofs of your future resurrection, and immortality. As you have been partakers in my labours, in my ignominies, and in my sorrows, so also shall you have a share in my glory, in my resurrection, and immortal bliss. Behold, these will rise to your ever unalterable and permanent joy. This is the opinion of St. Chrysostom, St. Cyril, Theophylactus, and others.

Ver. 23. In that day[4], or at that time, in that happy state, you shall not ask, you shall not need to ask me any questions: nor even desire to have any happiness, but what you will enjoy. But now if you ask, that is, petition for any thing of the Father in my name, he will give it you, whatever graces or assistances you stand in need of: ask them in my name, as I am your chief Mediator, through whose merits all shall be granted you. This is the constant practice of the Church, to ask for all graces through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Witham) — In my name. In consequence of this promise, the Church concludeth all her prayers, even those that are addressed to the saints, Per Christum Dominum nostrum, through Christ our Lord.

Ver. 24. Hitherto you have not asked any thing in my name: by the merits of me, your Mediator and Redeemer. They were not yet acquainted, says St. Cyril, with this manner of praying and petitioning, as they were afterwards. (Witham)

Ver. 26-27. In that day … I say not to you that I will ask the Father for you, or shall need to ask the Father for you, though I am your Redeemer, your chief Advocate and Mediator, by dying for all the world. — For the Father himself loveth you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from God, sent to be your Redeemer. — I came forth from the Father, both as begotten of him from all eternity; and I also came into the world, as sent from him to become man, to become the Redeemer of the world, both as God and man. Now I am going, as man, to leave the world, and go to the Father, with whom I am, and have always been, as God. (Witham)

Ver. 29. In this we believe that thou camest forth from God; that is, we are more confirmed than ever, that thou art the Messias, the true Son of God. Yet St. Chrysostom, St. Cyril, and St. Augustine, take notice, that their faith was but imperfect, till after Christ’s resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Ghost; and therefore Christ answered them, (ver. 31. &c.) Now do you believe? the hour cometh, that you shall be dispersed, &c. (Witham)


[1] Ver. 4. Ut cum venerit hora eorum, reminiscamini quia Ego dixi vobis, otan elthe e ora, mnemoneuete auton, &c. where the construction is not hora eorum, but reminiscamini eorum, &c.

[2] Ver. 8. Arguet mundum, elegxei, which St. Cyril expounds by katakrine. See St. Augustine interpretation on that verse, tract 95. p. 733.

[3] Ver. 13. Non loquetur a semetipso, St. Augustine says on these words, (tract 99.) quia non est a semetipso. Sed quæcunque audiet, loquetur … ab illo audiet, a quo procedit … a quo est illi essentia, ab illo scientia; & audientia nihil aliud est quam scientia.

[4] Ver. 23. Non me rogabitis quicquam, ouk erotesate, which commonly signifies to ask questions: but when it follows, aitesete ton patera, this is properly to petition for.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

The conclusion of Christ’s last discourse to his disciples.

1 These things have I spoken to you, that you may not be scandalized.

2 They will put you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth a service to God.

3 And these things will they do to you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.

4 But these things I have told you: that when the hour of them shall come, you may remember that I told you.

5 But I told you not these things from the beginning, because I was with you: And now I go to him that sent me: and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?

6 But because I have spoken these things to you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

7 But I tell you the truth: it is expedient for you that I go: for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you: but if I go, I will send him to you.

8 And when he is come, he will convince the world of sin, and of justice, and of judgment.

9 Of sin indeed: because they have not believed in me.

10 And of justice: because I go to the Father, and you shall see me no longer:

11 And of judgment: because the prince of this world is already judged.

12 I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot bear them now.

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak: and the things that are to come, he will shew you.

14 He shall glorify me: because he shall receive of mine, and will declare it to you.

15 All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine. Therefore, I said, that he shall receive of mine, and will shew it to you.

16 A little while, and now you shall not see me, and again a little while, and you shall see me: because I go to the Father.

17 Then some of his disciples said one to another, What is this that he saith to us: A little while, and you shall not see me, and again a little while, and you shall see me: and because I go to the Father?

18 They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we know not what he speaketh.

19 And Jesus knew that they wished to ask him: and he said to them: Of this do you inquire among yourselves, because I said, A little while, and you shall not see me; and again a little while, and you shall see me.

20 Amen, amen, I say to you, that you shall lament and weep, but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be made sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

21 A woman, when she is in labour, hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but when she hath brought forth the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

22 So also you now indeed have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice: and your joy no man shall take from you.

23 And in that day you shall not ask me any thing. *Amen, amen, I say to you: If you ask the Father any thing in my name, he will give it you.

24 Hitherto you have not asked any thing in my name: Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.

25 These things I have spoken to you in proverbs. The hour cometh, when I will no more speak to you in proverbs, but will shew you plainly of the Father.

26 In that day you shall ask in my name, and I say not to you, that I will ask the Father for you.

27 For the Father himself loveth you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from God.

28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world, and I go to the Father.

29 His disciples say to him: Behold now thou speakest plainly, and speakest no proverb.

30 Now we know that thou knowest all things, and thou needest not that any man ask thee: by this we believe, that thou camest forth from God.

31 Jesus answered them: Do you now believe?

32 *Behold the hour cometh, and is now come, that you shall be dispersed, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.

33 These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world.



23: Matthew vii. 7. and xxi. 22.; Mark xi. 24.; Luke xi. 9.; John xiv. 13.; James i. 5.

32: Matthew xxvi. 31.; Mark xiv. 27.