We are looking at the Upper Room Discourse where Yeshua has been speaking of His departure from the disciples, and He has also been speaking of the resulting persecution that they will experience, and this persecution He relates to the fact that the world has persecuted Him and sense they are united to the Him they can expect the same kind of persecution from the world:
They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. John 16:2 ESV
Yeshua warns them that they will be put out of the synagogue. The Greek word here is aposynagogos. It means: "expelled from the synagogue." As I said a couple of studies ago, If you were in first-century Judaism and you were thrown out of the synagogue, you would be eliminated from the hopes and the prerogatives of being Jewish. You were thrown out of your family; you lost your job; you lost your friends; you would be reduced, in many cases, to a beggar. You are a rebel worse than a pagan Gentile.
"The hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God"—besides Yeshua, can you think of some disciples whose murders in Jerusalem were sanctioned by the Jewish religious authorities as a righteous act? Stephen (Acts 7:55-8:2), was murdered by stoning, while Saul, an officer of the Sanhedrin, held the coats of those who stoned him. James Zebedee (Acts 12:1-4), the brother of John, was beheaded by the order of Herod Antipas. James, the Bishop of Jerusalem, was murdered by the order of the Jewish High Priest Ananus and the Jewish Sanhedrin, according to the Jewish historian Josephus.(The Antiquities of the Jews 20.9.1) circa AD 62.)
But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. "I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. John 16:4 ESV
"But I have said these things to you"—Yeshua is essentially reiterating what He said in verse 1. "I don't want you to be shocked. I want to prepare you in advance so that when it comes, you're going to know this is exactly what I said would happen."
What are "these things" that Yeshua did not tell them from the beginning? He didn't tell them about the inevitability of persecution that they would have to endure for His sake.
"When their hour comes"—"Their hour" refers to the time when the disciples' persecutors would control their fate.
"You may remember that I told them to you"—the memory that Yeshua had forewarned His disciples would enable them to realize that things were not out of control when they seemed to be. This remembrance would actually strengthen their faith in Yeshua, rather than weakening it. As the they reflected upon Yeshua's predictions, the disciples will see that He was in complete control of the situation as only God Himself could be.
"I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you"—as long as Yeshua was with them the persecution was directed at Him. You don't read anything up to this point in the Gospels about anybody persecuting the disciples. 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. All of that hostility against Yeshua is going to come to those who have His name:
But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' John 16:5 ESV
Yeshua 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.
"But now I am going to him who sent me"—once again, the Lord emphasizes that He was sent to earth by the Father, and that having completed His mission, He is returning to heaven, to be with His Father.
"None of you asks me, 'Where are you going?'"—the critics of the Bible pounce on statements like this. They see this as a contradiction because Peter has asked Him where He was going in:
Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, where are you going?" Yeshua answered him, "Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward." John 13:36 ESV
So why does Yeshua say that "None of you asks me, 'Where are you going?'" Well some scholars point to the use of the present tense in this passage and suggest that Yeshua is saying, "Why don't you ask me NOW where am I going?" I guess that is a possibility but not a very good one linguistically. I like Carson's explanation better. Carson writes, "One suspects that part of the problem lies in a fairly mechanical approach to the text, an approach that is sometimes insensitive to literary nuances. In the flow of the argument both in 13:36 and in 14:5, it is not clear that either Peter or Thomas was really asking the question formally represented by their words. A little boy, disappointed that his father is suddenly called away for an emergency meeting when both the boy and his Dad had expected to go fishing together, says, 'Aw, Dad, where are you going?', but cares nothing at all to learn the destination. The question is a protest; the unspoken question is 'Why are you leaving me?' The disciples have been asking several questions of that sort; they have not really asked thoughtful questions about where Jesus is going and what it means for them. They have been too self-absorbed in their own loss." (Carson, D. A. . The Gospel according to John (pp. 532-552). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.)
So Yeshua is saying, "None of you is really interested in knowing where I am going. You're just focused on your own sorrow over My leaving."
But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. John 16:6 ESV
Yeshua again pointed out that the revelation of His departure had made the disciples sad rather than happy. Back in chapter 14, verse 28, He said, "If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father." But they seemed to have little interest in "where" He was going. What concerned them was the sorrow that His departure produced for them. Their shock at Yeshua's revelation of coming persecution is so great that none of them thinks to ask Him where it is that He is going. They were preoccupied with themselves, and with their own problems, and not focused upon their Lord. Too often this is true of us. We get so absorbed in our own lives, that we fail to focus on Yeshua.
They were accustomed to running to Christ, asking His counsel, calling on Him to bail them out of every difficult situation. Situations like being on a sinking boat in a storm:
When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, "You are certainly God's Son!" Matthew 14:32-33 NASB
Those readers familiar with the Scriptures would know that the sea often stands for chaos and disorder, and it is Yahweh who controls it and stills it (Job. 38:8-11; Psalm 29:3-4, 10-11; 65:5-7; 89:9; and 107:23-32).
So they were willing to receive Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going. John 6:21 NASB
No wonder Matthew says, "And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, 'You are certainly God's Son!'" Think about it. They see Yeshua walking on the water; He gets into the boat and every thing is calm, and suddenly they are no longer in the middle of the lake, but are at their destination. That is amazing. So what are they going to do with out Yeshua?
So none of the disciples said to Yeshua, "Tell us what it means for you to go back to the Father. What exactly has to take place for you to return to the Father?" They were not thinking about Christ's returning to His glory with the Father and what that would mean. They were stuck on their own sorrow at the moment. They didn't ask Him about His death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and exaltation. Their focus was all inward.
But this is not the end of the story, Yeshua said in chapter 14, "If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father." "If you loved Me" is a second class conditional sentence, which is called "contrary to fact." "If you loved me, (which you don't) you would have rejoiced (which you are not). But they finally did love Him and rejoice. Notice what Luke tells us:
And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God. Luke 24:50-53 ESV
They are starting to get it now and they rejoice at the Lord's accession to heaven. But in our text they are very confused and scared, they don't get it yet.
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. John 16:7 ESV
The promise that Yeshua the Messiah would send the Spirit of God should not have been new to the disciples. Many texts in the Tanakh promised the gift of the Spirit of God in the Messianic Age:
I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. Ezekiel 36:24-27 ESV
So they were aware that the Spirit would usher in the New Covenant.
Yeshua had already talked to them about the coming Spirit in:
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, John 14:16 ESV
"Another Helper"—the word "another" is significant to understanding what Yeshua meant in this promise. The Greek language has two words for another, allos and heteros. Allos, means: "something is numerically distinct from its antecedent, but of the same character." We could say, another of the same kind. Heteros, means that two things or people are qualitatively distinct or different in character. This would be another of a different kind.
So since Yeshua is Yahweh and is equal to Yahweh the Father, and since the Holy Spirit is another just like Yeshua, what does that tell us about the Spirit? He is Yahweh! The New Testament teaches that the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force, but rather a divine person.
Yeshua tells them, "It is to your advantage that I go away"—they must have been thinking, "How is that even possible?"They must have felt that having Yeshua walking with them in the flesh was a magnanimous advantage. We think that also. As Christians we often envy the disciples' face to face contact with Yeshua. We wish that we could walk with Him, listen to Him, ask Him questions, actually see Him and watch Him perform miracles. But we forget the limitations of both His humanity and ours. We forget that in human flesh, Yeshua could only be in one place at one time.
When Yeshua was on the mount of transfiguration with three of the disciples, the rest of the disciples were trying to deliver a young boy from demons. But they couldn't do it. They needed Yeshua to be present so that He might help them. As soon as Yeshua came down the mountain, He saw the commotion, and was appealed to that He might deliver the boy from his demonized state.
And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him." And Yeshua answered, "O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me." And Yeshua rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. Matthew 17:16-18 ESV
When Yeshua wasn't with them their faith was weak.
If Yeshua was with a disciple in Bethany, then He could not be with a disciple in Nazareth He was either in Bethany or He was in Nazareth. He was not in both. But now through the Holy Spirit the Lord Yeshua will be with all of His disciples all the time.
The Holy Spirit is never bound by time or space relations. Yeshua, while on earth, was in one place at one time as we saw in the mount of transfiguration. The promise Yeshua made at the end of the Great Commission, "And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age," finds its fulfillment in the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
The Paraclete will not only be with them as Yeshua has been, but in them as well:
even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:17 ESV
"He dwells with you and will be in you"—what Yeshua spoke of here was an abiding (permanent) relationship, in which the Spirit remained with believers for the rest of their lives (Rom. 8:9). This new relationship to the Holy Spirit is one of the distinctive differences between the New Covenant age and Old Covenant age.Why does Yeshua have to leave before the Paraclete can come to the disciples?:
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Yeshua was not yet glorified. John 7:38-39 ESV
"The Spirit was not yet given, because Yeshua was not yet glorified"—the New Covenant ministry of the Spirit indwelling believers began at Pentecost after Christ was glorified. Yeshua's glorification consists in His death on the cross as well as His resurrection, ascension, and exaltation in the presence of the Father. Yeshua must ascend to the Father before He can send the Paraclete.
Yeshua's 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 Pentecost:
Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. Acts 2:33 ESV
Once He was exalted to the Father because He finished the work, He died and rose again; then the Father sends the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
Just as the Son of God had to have a body in order to do His work on earth, so the Spirit of God needs a body to accomplish His ministries; and that body is the Church. The Holy Spirit works through the people in whom He lives.
Carson writes, "The thought is not that Jesus and the Holy Spirit cannot, for unarticulated metaphysical reasons, simultaneously minister to God's people, or any other such strange notion. Rather, the thought is eschatological. The many biblical promises that the Spirit will characterize the age of the kingdom of God (e.g. Is. 11:1-10; 32:14-18; 42:1-4; 44:1-5; Ezk. 11:17-20; 36:24-27; 37:1-14; Joel 2:28-32; cf. notes on Jn. 3:5; 7:37-39) breed anticipation. But this saving reign of God cannot be fully inaugurated until Jesus has died, risen from the dead, and been exalted to this Father's right hand, returned to the glory he enjoyed with the Father before the world began." (Carson, D. A.. The Gospel according to John (pp. 532-552). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.)
And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: John 16:8 ESV
Let me share with you what I see to be a very important quote from Carson, "The Greek of these four verses (16:8-11) is so compressed that it is difficult to decide exactly what is meant." The difficulty of these four verses is seen in numerous ways that it has been interpreted.
Disagreements regarding the interpretation of vv. 8-11 begins with disputes over the meaning of this verb elegcho, translated here as convict. The focus in classical Greek is on putting to shame, treating with contempt, cross-examining, accusing, bringing to the test, proving, refuting. In the Greek most relevant to the period of the writing of the Fourth Gospel, the verb has a somewhat similar focus.
The verb occurs eighteen times in the New Testament (cf. Mt. 18:15; Lk. 3:19; Jn. 3:20; 8:46; 1 Cor. 14:24; Eph. 5:11, 13; 1 Tim. 5:20; 2 Tim. 4:2; Tit. 1:9, 13; 2:15; Heb. 12:5; Jas. 2:9; Jude 15, 22; Rev. 3:19). Arguably, in every instance the verb has to do with showing someone his sin.
The Greek word elegcho is a legal term used when an attorney presents his case in such a clear light that the truth of his client's position becomes obvious. To "convict" could be understood in a purely judicial sense of bringing down a negative verdict, regardless of whether or not the convicted party admits any guilt. We are looking at conviction in more of a legal sense here (as in a trial). Given the forensic context, the Paraclete's witness and defense in the context of synagogue trials (16:2) the forensic use of the term "to prosecute," is probably it's use here.
Craig S. Keener writes, "In the context of the disciples' discouragement due to the world's hostility (16:1-6), the Paraclete would come to prosecute the world (16:8-11). The disciples would be strong in the face of persecution, despite Jesus' absence, because the Paraclete would be with them (v.7); this suggests that the Paraclete's prosecution of the world is on their behalf and through their testimony." (Graig S. Keener, The Gospel of John,A Commentary Volume Two,[ page 1029])
Keener goes on to say, "In view of 16:7 ("send Him to you"), it appears clear that the Spirit's work in 16:8-11 is through the disciples. Jesus sends the Spirit to the disciples (16:7), but through the disciples the Spirit—Paraclete continues Jesus' ministry to the world (16:8-11). Thus, as Jesus prosecuted the world (3:20; cf. 8:46), the Paraclete continues to prosecute the world through the apostolic preaching of Jesus (cf. 16:7)." (Graig S. Keener, The Gospel of John, A Commentary Volume Two, [page 1030])
It's easy to see the word "convict" and sort of give it a religious contemporary meaning as when someone would say, "I was convicted about what I said to them last night." And what you mean by that is, "I felt bad." But if you keep the word "convict" in a courtroom setting it takes a completely different meaning. The dictionary says this of convicting: "declare (someone) to be guilty of a criminal offense by the verdict of a jury or the decision of a judge in a court of law." " The thieves were convicted of the robbery." If you say, "A man was convicted," you don't mean that he felt bad you mean he was tried and convicted, the trial is over. You're not talking about someone's emotional feeling. The point here is not that the Spirit is doing something inside sinners. Yeshua is not saying here that the Holy Spirit is going to make people feel bad about sinning. He's saying, "I'm going to render a final verdict, they will stand convicted."
How does the Holy Spirit do this work of conviction?:
He is going to work through the disciples. As Keener said, "In view of 16:7 ("send him to you"), it appears clear that the Spirit's work in 16:8-11 is through the disciples."
So the Holy Spirit is going to prosecute the world through the disciples. He is going to do this through the preaching of Scripture.
But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. James 2:9 ESV
The word "convicted" here is our word elegcho. The Scripture is the law, and if you have violated the Scripture, you are a lawbreaker and you stand convicted. The law prosecutes you.
Notice how Paul uses this word elegcho in1 Corinthians 14:
But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 1 Corinthians 14:24 ESV
The context here is dealing with tongues. Paul says that if an unbeliever comes into your assemble and your speaking in tongues, they'll think you're crazy, but if you preach the Word they'll be convicted [elegcho], the Word will prosecute them. This doesn't mean they'll feel bad; it means they'll be measured against the law of God and found guilty.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. Ephesians 5:11 ESV
"But instead even expose them"—the contrast is given by the adversative conjunction deh (but) and the comparative adverb "instead." Instead of participating in sins, they are ever to expose them. Expose is from the Greek word "elegcho," to convict. When you see people doing the unfruitful works of darkness, which are forbidden by God as revealed in His Word, convict them, prosecute them, prove them guilty, and render them convicted.
So believers are using the Word of God to convict the world of it's sin. Now let me be clear here, no sinner will ever believe the Gospel without the Holy Spirit giving them new life. They're dead in trespasses and sin. They're alienated from the life of God. It is the Holy Spirit who makes us alive so that we can believe. It is the Holy Spirit who grants us faith.
So no one is going to believe on his own. He doesn't have a capacity for that; it can't be done. That's why Yeshua said in John 3:
Yeshua answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' John 3:5-7 ESV
So we understand that it is the Holy Spirit who gives life, He saves people. But we also understand, "I hope, that people can't be saved unless they hear the Gospel, because faith comes by hearing the truth concerning Christ. So the Holy Spirit transforms the heart, but not apart from the Word being preached." Notice how Paul put it:
For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10:13 ESV
Calling on the Lord, is an act of worship. It is to believe that Yeshua is the God of Israel. Everyone who believes that Yeshua is the one true God Yahweh, will be saved from the wrath of God:
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? Romans 10:14 ESV
In these verses we see that Paul moved from the effect to the cause. Paul is working his way backward, from the cause to the effect.
"How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?"—obviously, you can't call on Yeshua as Yahweh until you come to believe that He is Yahweh. Once you believe He is Yahweh, then you call upon Him as Yahweh.
"How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? "—the "in" is not here, but it is implied from the preceding statement. But it does have a "whom," that verb takes the genitive case and could be read this way, "But how shall they believe Him whom they have not heard?" So in the message of the Gospel the Lord Yeshua speaks.
"And how are they to hear without someone preaching? "—rather than a noun, preacher, Paul uses a participle, "preaching," to show the action of what is regularly done. The present participle speaks of the ongoing act of proclamation of the Gospel.
The word "preacher" comes from the Greek verb kerusso, which means: "to declare the policy of the king." This word has to do with declaring a policy, God's policy. So the Spirit uses us to speak forth the life-changing message of the Gospel of Yeshua. But it is not our words that convict, but the Word of God through the Spirit.
And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: John 16:8 ESV
The world is wrong about the chief nature of sin, about righteousness, and about judgment. All three nouns lack the article indicating that Yeshua is referring to basic principles rather than individual instances. For example, the issue is not who sinned but in what constitutes sin. He will convict the world of ignorance of the true nature of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He will expose the sin of unbelief; He will reveal the righteousness of Christ; and Satan and every enemy of Christ will face judgment.
The term "world" does not mean everybody without exception, but everybody without distinction. Jew and Gentile. So He will convict the world not simply minister to Jewish people, but He will convict the world of the facts about sin, of the facts about righteousness of the facts about judgment.
concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; John 16:9 ESV
In other words the essence of sin is not what we do. The essence of sin is what we believe. And when we do not believe that Yeshua is Yahweh that is the root of all sin.
Yeshua is the ultimate and final revelation of God to men (John 1:1-18). Thus, to reject Yeshua as Yahweh in the flesh is the ultimate sin:
I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you you will die in your sins"—what are they to believe? What is He saying that people have to believe so that they don't die in their sins? The conditional clause provides the proper object of faith: "If you do not believe that ego eimi. Yeshua, in claiming to be "I Am," was asserting equality with Yahweh Himself.
There's only one thing that prevents you from dying in your sin and being damned forever and that is belief that Yeshua is Yahweh. Belief of the truth, nothing more and nothing less, is what separates the saved from the damned. Works play no part in salvation.
concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; John 16:10 ESV
"Righteousness" is from the Greek word dikaiosyne, which occurs only here in the Fourth Gospel, it refers to truly righteous conduct and standing before God. The Holy Spirit will prove the world wrong concerning the subject of righteousness, namely, Yeshua's righteousness which is demonstrated when He is glorified in His return to the Father.
Yeshua had repeatedly claimed oneness with the Father, and His opponents had repeatedly rejected this and labeled Him a deceiver, a sinner, and a blasphemer (5:18, 7:12, 9:24, 10:33). Yeshua's resurrection and accent to the Father proved His righteousness and His deity. A righteous man would not claim deity. Although He was condemned to die He was truly righteous and deserved the title Son of God.
So the message that we are to proclaim to the world is that they are never good enough to qualify for heaven. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). But, God has provided a means by which we can have the perfect righteousness of His Son, namely, by believing in Him.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV
But our message has one other vital element:
concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. John 16:11 ESV
The Scripture teaches that God is the Judge of all the earth (Genesis 18:25 ), and that God has delegated the authority to judge to Yeshua (John 5:22 ), who, when He returns, comes as judge (Jude 14-15). We preach judgment —because, "The ruler of this world is judged"—has been judged, that verb is in a past tense, and so the point has reference not to the future, but to something that is to take place in the near future, and in fact our Lord writes as if it has taken place, he refers essentially to the judgment that took place on the cross.
The basis on which the Holy Spirit proves the world wrong, and thus worthy of that judgment which is yet to come, is the fact that Satan has already been judged. Yeshua spoke of this judgment of Satan and linked it to the judgment of the world:
Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. John 12:31 ESV
If Satan has been condemned at the cross, then surely every other sinner's judgment is certain as well. It is the reality of Satan's defeat, and its consequences, which the Holy Spirit drives home to the world as proof that all sinners will be judged.
It is the judgment of which the apostles spoke:
After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Yeshua. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, "Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you." Acts 24:24-25 ESV
When Paul preached to the Roman governor, Felix, he didn't say, "Felix, God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life! He preached faith in Christ, righteousness and judgment. Just as our text said the Spirit would do through His disciples.
So the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment through our proclamation of the Word. The world cannot receive the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We receive the ministry of Holy Spirit, and we are the instrumentalities by which the world is to be convicted of sin, righteousness, and judgment.
So to be faithful witnesses for Christ, we need to recognize that the world will not like our message, and therefore, they will not like us. If we are faithful, we could suffer persecution or even death.