Summary: Jesus comforts his disciples and prepares them for persecution from the world: "I have overcome the world!"
We’ll return to our study of John in chapter sixteen. Jesus and his disciples are in the upper room on the night before his arrest, and he’s preparing them for the sudden change the crucifixion will bring.
These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.
“These things” refers back to chapter fifteen where he promises that the disciples will be hated by the world just for being his followers. This was to be the case as we’ll see in the rest of the New Testament through stories of their persecution and teachings for others to expect the same. The Greek word for “offended” is σκανδαλισθῆτε (skandalisthete); we get our English word for “scandal” from it, and it means to stumble or be offended. He’s comforting them so that when the persecution starts they won’t fall away, and they’ll know it’s all intentional.
2They shall put you out of the synagogues:
This doesn’t sound too bad for us, but the synagogue is the place of public prayer and the “pivot” of the Jewish community. For them to be put out is public disgrace.
yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. 3And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.
They think this is what God wants because they don’t actually know him. They claim to follow the Law, but they fail in mercy and love, but anyone who claims to love God and hates his brother is a liar and the truth is not in him (1 Jn. 4:20). On the contrary, anyone who loves God and has him for a Father will love his brother because God is love. This is what Jesus means in 15:12 when he tells the disciples to love each other.
The world, however, have the devil for their father (Jn. 8:44), so they want to do his will instead of God’s. This is how Cain treated Abel, how the Jews treated the prophets and Christ and his disciples, and it’s how they’ll treat us. Even today we see persecution in many countries around the world where believers are harassed and imprisoned for their faith, but this is because they do not know the Father or the Son.
4But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them.
They don’t understand a lot of what he’s saying because they’re not yet able to bear it (v. 12), but the Comforter will come and teach them all things when the time is right (14:26). Until then he puts it into their minds so they can recall it later.
And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. 5But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? 6But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.
He hasn’t always talked this way, but the time is now at hand. They had wondered about where he was going, but they weren’t thinking about the big picture, so they were sorrowful. They won’t be left that way though because he will rise and their sorrow will turn to joy (16:22).
7Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
It’s profitable for them because his departure signifies the coming of the Spirit and the onset of the New Covenant; atonement will be made, Christ will rise and ascend, and he will send the Spirit to be a helper for his followers.
8And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
The Spirit joins in the testimony against the world when he “reproves” or convicts; it means he exposes or puts them to shame, and we find it used again in Jude 1:14-15: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” The Spirit will speak against the world and expose three things:
9Of sin, because they believe not on me;
This is similar to what Jesus did when he preached to the spirits in prison: But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 17For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 18For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him (1 Pt. 3:14-22). They refused to believe the word spoken to them, and he goes to them to convict them of their disobedience.