The Farewell discourse (13:1–17:26) - continue

I will empower you by the Paraclete (16:1–15)

The ministry of the Paraclete is to convict the world of its sinful and self-righteous existence and to guide the Church in its Christian existence. The Spirit is an agent of the love of God for the world and a source of security and empowerment for the Church.

  1. “An hour is coming” (16:1–4a);
  2. The true object of faith (16:4b–6);
  3. The ministry of the Paraclete (16:7–15);
    a). The Paraclete’s conviction of the world (16:7–11);
    b). The Paraclete’s guidance of the Church (16:12–15).


In the immediate context “these things” refers to the hatred of the world soon to be faced by the disciples.

The verb “scandalise - σκανδαλίζω” has been used in John 6:61 (see also Mark 14:27). Jesus forewarns his disciples so they can be prepared.

The expulsion from the synagogue of those who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah has been mentioned in John 9:22; 12:42.

At the time when the Gospel was written these words had acquired a special relevance from the inclusion in the synagogue prayers of a curse on the Nazarenes, which was intended to ensure that the followers of Jesus could take no part in the service.

On more general level, it is the first practical consequence of being hated by the world. The disciples will be ‘excommunicated’ from their own religious gatherings because of their association with Jesus.

The second consequence of this hatred is the possibility of being killed. The Jews during the time of Jesus and early Church and later on different religions and godless social movements will “think” or “believe” that the death of Christians “is offering service to God”. The word “service - λατρεία” can also mean “worship”.

As for the idea that the killing of Jesus’ followers was pleasing to God, we can recall Paul’s unenlightened “zeal for the law” that made him to persecute the Church (Phil 3:6).

Notice that the word “hour” used to refer to Jesus’ death on the cross - “my hour”; Now “the hour” is used also in reference to the “hour” of Christians persecution.

Notice also a paradox. While there are some who think that their service to God involves taking life from others, Jesus knows that his service to God the Father requires that he gives his life for others!

16:3–4a - cf. 14:7

The reason for the above mentioned actions is further explained - a lack of knowledge of the Father and Jesus.

The verse again stresses the intimate relation and union between the Father and the Son (cf. 13:20; 14:7; 15:21, 23). But it also reveals that the rejection of the Son is the rejection of the Father (15:21).

Jesus repeats what he already said in 16:1 - “I have spoken these things to you”. By repeating it, Jesus wants the disciples to “remember” (16:4a) his instructions so that they “might not stumble” (16:1).

One can say that to remember Jesus’ teaching is to live under their guidance and protection so as not to stumble.

This time the “hour” is defined as “their hour”, which would refer to the Jews deciding to persecute Jesus.

What the Jews think is a service to God is actually a sign of their defeat and a sign of victory of God established as Jesus’ “hour”. Their evil intentions are actually fulfilling the larger intentions of God.

“The hour” has always been a paradox in the Gospel, in which the death of Christ is his victory!


Jesus explains why he now gives them such instruction and not before. Before he was with them, now he is about to go to the Father. Before they lived with Christ, now they have to learn how to live “in Christ” and by the Spirit. Put it simply, the entire farewell speech aims to prepare the disciples and the Church for Jesus’ absence in the flesh and his new presence in the Spirit.


“But now” reminds us of “a little longer” in 13:33. Jesus again underlines the immediacy of his departure.

“The one who sent me” is of course the Father (1:33; 4:34; 5:24, 30; 6:38,39; 7:16,18,28,33; 8:16,18,26,29; 9:4;12:44,45,49; 13:16,20; 14:24; 15:21; 20:21).

Jesus is about to complete his mission given to him by the Father - the “hour” of his saving death is now only few hours away.

In 13:36, Peter asked this question: “Lord, where are you going?”

Some commentators see here contradiction and think that 15:1–16:33 precedes 13:31b–14:31. Others point to the fact that although the words are the same their subject matters are entirely different.

In 13:36 Peter’s question was asked out of preoccupation and fear that they will be left alone. “But now” after this explanation, they should ask the same question - “where are you going?” - out of concern for God’s plan of salvation and Christ’s mission.


Jesus concludes this short section (16:4b–6) with disclosing their inner emotions: grief has taken possessions of their heart. Instead of rejoicing as Jesus commanded them (14:27) , they let grief enter their heart. On the one hand it can be understandable, but on the other hand it reveals their constant lack of true faith.

Love of God procures symptoms of faith that include peace, love, and joy in God’s purposes and plans, whereas love of oneself procures symptoms of unbelief, including fear, doubt, and grief.

Jesus’ point is this: in spite of the dangers soon to threaten them, the disciples must have no sense of bereavement at the impending departure of Jesus nor view it as a minimisation of God’s protection and work. Even the desire for the continuance of the bodily companionship of Jesus enjoyed during his earthly ministry is now a sinful desire, for it displays ignorance in the purpose of the death of Jesus and the goal of his mission.

The coming of the Paraclete will compensate them for the loss of Jesus own visible presence and will in addition equip them with all the resources they will need in the new way of life on which they are about to enter (16:7).


The section (16:7–15) is the most informative collection of verses on the Paraclete. This is also the last of four occurrences of the “Paraclete” in the Gospel.

The foundation of what Jesus is about to say to his disciples in 16:8–15 is rooted in the statement that Jesus’ going away is to their advantage. Interestingly, the same verb “συμφέρω - be better” was used by Caiaphas in 11:50 in his political wisdom.

By using the same term, Jesus offers his own wisdom to the problem confronting his disciples in the world. The two uses of the term create an exegetical connection between the wisdom of man and the wisdom of God at both the historical and the cosmological levels of the Gospel’s plot.

Jesus has spoken about the necessity of his departure before (13:33, 36; 14:2–6), but here he connects it directly with the essential coming of the Paraclete. Two things are clear:

  1. The transition from Jesus to the Paraclete is better for the disciples. Jesus will be present in a totally new way.
  2. The depurate of Jesus is necessary for the coming of the Paraclete.

After Jesus’ departure, God, the Holy Trinity, will be present among his people in a new way.


The Spirit is the Paraclete for those who believe in Jesus, but in relation to unbelievers, to the godless world, he acts as the “prosecutor”. In both respects he duplicates the work of Jesus: Jesus had been his disciples’ helper while he was with them, and at the same time his presence and witness in the world served as an indictment of those who closed their minds to his message.

The verb “ἐλέγχω” means expose, refute, convince or convict. The verb presupposes guilt and shame. Jesus used this verb in 8:46, asking: “Which one of you ”convicts“ me of sin?” Nobody can do that with regards to Jesus, but the Spirit can do it and will do it with regards to the world.

The verb “convict” governs three terms: sin, righteousness, and judgement. Thus, the mission of the Paraclete in the “cosmic trial” is to convict the world of its guilt before God.


From this verse, Jesus gives those three terms further explanation.

Jesus explains why the Paraclete convicts the world of its sin/righteousness/judgement.

Sin. Jesus takes away the sin of the world (1:29) and the Paraclete convicts the world of its sin.

The grace of God is that the work of the Spirit is to reveal the sinful condition of the world and the work of the Son is to remove it!

Sin not only blinds the world to its future condemnation (3:18, 36) but also to its present condition. The Paraclete ministers to the world “because” of the sin of unbelief - “they do not believe in me” - and “convicts” (and “convinces”) the world to see its need for Christ and for life in his name (20:31).

The reader is to see that the conviction of sin by the Spirit is an expression of the love of God and a perfect reflection of the “grace and truth” that he alone can provide (1:17).


How to define the term “righteousness”? Perhaps, it could be understood in negative way as righteousness displayed by the (sinful) world - similar to self-righteousness (see Is 64:6; Dan 9:18).

The world needs to realise that is in need of purification, that its righteousness must be replaced by Jesus’ righteousness (Rom 10:3).

In the Gospel of John, Jesus rejects the implied “righteousness” of the Jews, declaring throughout that their temple (ch. 2), their teaching (ch. 3), their worship (ch. 4) and their religious regulations (ch. 5) are in need of cleansing and must be surpassed and replaced by Jesus and by his “righteousness” (Rom 10:3).

The conviction of the world’s righteousness is directly related to the departure of Jesus. The Spirit will take over from Jesus the task of convincing the world of its righteousness - but with the participation of the disciples.

The disciples will no longer see Jesus after his departure to the Father, but He will be with them through the presence of the Spirit. Moreover, in opposition to the world, they do not have their own righteousness but the righteousness that comes from God.


Judgement. In 7:24, Jesus commanded his opponents and the world to stop judging falsely - by outward appearance. This statement reveals the spiritual blindness of the world, its sinful condition and the judgement against Jesus is the supreme example of this blindness.

“The ruler of this world” (see 12:31; 14:30). Behind the men who acted as Jesus’ prosecutors and judges stood the adversary-in-chief - the ruler of this world. If the ruler of this world has been already judged, then also the world he supposedly rules.

The judgement of the world and its ruler will be made “official” on the cross.


This statement of Jesus indicates that there is much more he could have explained to them. But he does not, because they have apparently reached their limits being unable to handle more explanations now.

But, it should not be understood in a sense that there is something still more they should know. After all Jesus revealed to them everything they needed to know and the Paraclete adds nothing new to what Jesus taught (14:26).


Jesus now addresses how to Paraclete will affect the disciples when he comes.

Jesus is the truth, the way, the life, and the perfect expression of God (14:6); the ministry of the Spirit aims to make it clear.

The verb “guide or lead - ὁδηγέω/ὁδηγήσει” refers here to instructional assistance, “to assist someone in acquiring information or knowledge”.

“In all truth” - they will be kept in the truth of God.

The truth provided by the Spirit must be connected to Jesus, the truth (14:6).

The Spirit of truth is not isolated from the Son and the Father. Like Jesus, the Spirit will speak and declare what he will hear from the Father (cf. 3:32–35; 7:16–18). The Spirit will make the message of Jesus clear, deeper, profound, and so.

As for “the things to come”, it can be understood as the gift of prophecy and/or in line of John 4:25. The Spirit will bring plainly the fuller implications of the revelation embodied in Jesus Christ and apply them relevantly to each succeeding generation.

It is important to note that the unity between the three persons of the Trinitarian God finds a parallel unity in their shared message. Thus, the one revelation of God in Christ is the content of that which the Spirit is to convey to the disciples.


Till now the reader heard that the Spirit will teach the disciples everything (14:26), will bears witness to Christ (15:26), will expose the world’s error (16:8), will guide the disciples into the way of all truth (16:13), and now that his supreme mission is the glorifying of Jesus.

Just as the Father was made known and glorified by the Son (1:18; 7:18; 17:4), so also the Son is made known and glorified by the Spirit. Moreover, even the disciples are called to glorify the Father by their fruit (15:8; 17:22–24).

16:15 - 3:35; 13:3; 17:10

Here, we have again the intra-Trinitarian relationship. Whatever belongs to the Father, belongs to the Son and the Spirit.

In making known the Son, the Spirit at the same time makes known the Father who is revealed in the Son.

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