King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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John 16

Persecution foretold. (1-6) The promise of the Holy Spirit, and his office. (7-15) Christ’s departure and return. (16-22) Encouragement to prayer. (23-27) Christ’s discoveries of himself. (28-33)

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Persecution foretold

1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.

2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

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

4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.

5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?

6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

The promise of the Holy Spirit, and his office

7 Nevertheless 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.

8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;

10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

Christ’s departure and return

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

17 Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father?

18 They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith.

19 Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me?

20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

Encouragement to prayer

23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.

26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:

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

Christ’s discoveries of himself

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

29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb.

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

31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?

32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, 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 unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible 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. Wi.

Ver. 5. None of you asketh me, whither goest thou? S. Peter had put this question, c. xiii. 36. and Thomas, c 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 S. Cyril, to be fully and thoroughly informed about it. Wi. — 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. Menoc. Tirin. &c.

Ver. 6. Sorrow hath filled your heart: and this sorrow hindereth you from asking, what you should earnestly desire to know. Wi. — Peter had put the question above, c. xiii. 36. and Thomas, c. 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. Wi.

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 S. 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. 2dly. Of justice, by shewing the justice and innocence of Christ, and also, that true justice and sanctification cannot be obtained, but by his grace. 3dly. 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. Wi. — The Holy Ghost, by his coming, brought over many thousands, 1st. To a sense of their sin, in not believing in Christ. 2dly. To a conviction of the justice of Christ, now sitting at the right hand of his Father. And 3dly. To a right apprehension of the judgment prepared for them that choose to follow Satan, who is already judged and condemned. Ch. — 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. S. Aug. V. Bede, S. Chrys. Theophyl. 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 S. Aug. 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 S. Aug. 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. Jo. v. 30. and viii. 16. &c. Wi. — If he shall teach all truth, and that for ever, (c. xi. v. 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. Wi.

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. S. Aug. 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. Wi. — 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. S. Chrys. both SS. Cyrils, Theophyl. Euthym. S. Aug. 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. Psal. lxxxix. v. 4. And the apostle calls all time a moment, a time that soon passes. 1 Cor. vii. and 2 Cor. 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. Wi.

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 S. Chrys. S. Cyril, Theophyl. 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. Wi. — 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 S. Cyril, with this manner of praying and petitioning, as they were afterwards. Wi.

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, you 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. Wi.

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 S. Chrys. S. Cyril, and S. Aug. 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, (v. 31. &c.) Now do you believe? the hour cometh, that you shall be dispersed, &c. Wi.


[1] V. 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] V. 8. Arguet mundum, elegxei, which S. Cyr. expounds by katakrine. See S. Aug. interpretation on that verse, tract 95. p. 733.

[3] V. 13. Non loquetur a semetipso, S. Aug. 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] V. 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.