Study Notes

John 16:1-33


As we finished chapter 15, Jesus was telling that as they were loving one another and bearing fruit, the world would hate them. When you are bearing witness of Jesus Christ, one of two reactions will occur: people will accept it, or people will reject it. There is no middle ground. Jesus said,

Matt. 12:30 "He who is not with Me is against Me..."

This is a tough thing to hear. "Hey guys, I'm sending you out into the world to tell them about Me. But since they hate me, they're going to hate you too." Now Jesus says...

16:1 Kept From Stumbling

The whole reason Jesus told them in advance is so that they would be kept from stumbling. And He's told us the same thing: the more of your life you dedicate to Jesus Christ, the more the world will hate you.

2Tim. 3:12 And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

But Jesus tells us in advance, so that when it happens, we won't stumble. When Jesus told the parable of the soils, He talked about the Word of God being sown in our hearts. And He warned us what would happen when the world persecutes us. He described the seeds being sown,

Matt. 13:5-6 "And others fell upon the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

What did this mean? Jesus explained it:

Matt. 13:20-21 "And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no {firm} root in himself, but is {only} temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.

You see, persecution and affliction that results from the Word of God in our lives is inevitable. But Jesus has told us in advance that this is going to happen so that we'll be prepared for it, and we won't stumble and get burnt.

How can we prepare? We sink our roots deep. The psalmist wrote of the blessed man, saying...

Ps. 1:2-3 ...His delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree {firmly} planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

If we get rooted and grounded in the Word of God, we will not get burnt when the heat of persecution gets turned up.

16:2-3 Persecution

The Jews, zealous for the law of God, would vehemently oppose and oppress Christians. Remember the apostle Paul testified of his life as a Pharisee:

Acts 26:9-11 "So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them. And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities."

They were killing Christians, honestly believing that they were doing God's work. But they were deceived because they didn't truly know God.

16:4-7 The Ministry Of The Holy Spirit

Jesus was leaving - but He was sending them the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells them much about the ministry of the Spirit. Let's examine what Jesus has to say about Him...


First of all, the Spirit is sent as a helper. How does He help us? Romans 8 tells us,

Rom. 8:26-27 ...The Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for {us} with groanings too deep for words and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

The Spirit helps by interceding in prayer for us, because we don't always know the will of God. I'm glad that He helps me by praying specifically for the will of God in my life.

As we saw in John 14, the Spirit also helps by teaching us and bringing the Word of God to our remembrance.

16:8-11 Three-Fold Conviction

Jesus explains the three-fold conviction of the Spirit: of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.

Convictor Of Sin

The Spirit convicts the world concerning sin. In Hebrews we read,

Hebr. 3:7-8 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS...

The Holy Spirit's main job in the world is to convict people in the world of sin. Sins like drinking, smoking, cussing, etc.? No, while the Holy Spirit does convict believers of sins from the inside out, the Holy Spirit's conviction of the world's sin is one sin:

John 16:9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;

The Holy Spirit convicts people of this one sin: their unbelief in Jesus Christ.

We get so caught up trying to show the drunkard his sin in drinking, the adulteress her sin in adultery. We try to legislate morality so that people will somehow realize that, "Hey, what I'm doing is sin! I shouldn't do this anymore." But that is completely backwards! The Spirit convicts the unbelievers in the world of a single sin: the rejection of Jesus Christ.

You see, Jesus said specifically,

Mark 3:28-29 "Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"

All sins except one will be forgiven. John the Baptist said,

John 1:29 ..."Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

God judged the sin of the world on the cross of Christ. There's really only one sin that the unbelieving world has to contend with: the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit when He convicts the world of their unbelief in Jesus.

Matt. 12:32 "And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him...

Is spent years blaspheming Jesus Christ. But God didn't say, "Okay, that's it. I've had enough of Ron - burn him!" No, He continued to have His Spirit work on me, convicting me of the sin of rejecting Jesus Christ.

This is why blasphemy of the Spirit is the only unforgivable sin - because when you ultimately reject His constant conviction of sin, you are rejecting your need for a Savior from the penalty of sin. And when you die without ever having repented from your sin and receiving Jesus Christ, you're doomed to eternal separation from God in outer darkness.

Convictor Of Righteousness

Not only does the Spirit convict the world of the sin of rejecting Jesus Christ, but He is also the convictor of righteousness. Jesus says,

John 16:10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me;

Jesus was the living example of righteousness in the world while He was in the world. But now it is the Holy Spirit's job. Paul said to the Thessalonians that the Spirit was restraining evil in the world. He continues to convict the world of righteousness.

How does He do it? He does it as He works through the church - we live righteously, shining the light of godliness, holiness, and righteousness.

Matt. 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do {men} light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

The Holy Spirit, working through us, convicts the world of righteousness. They no longer see Jesus walking the earth, but they see us, walking in the Spirit, living righteously.

Convictor Of judgment

Thirdly, the Spirit is the convictor of judgment. As He is convicting the world of the sin of unbelief in Jesus and convicting the world of righteousness by demonstrating it through us, He is also convicting the world that the leader their following has a sure eternal place in the lake of fire. He is speaking to the hearts of people in the world, "Look, if you're a child of the devil, you're going to spend eternity in the same place that he is going."

Have you ever wondered why so many people are looking forward to hell? "Oh yeah, hell's gonna be a big party will all my buddies. We're gonna surf the waves on the lake of fire." It's not like they haven't thought about hell - it's that they've completely hardened their hearts against the Spirit convicting them of the judgment that's coming if they continue on this path. Zechariah wrote,

Zech. 7:11-12 "But they refused to pay attention, and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing. And they made their hearts {like} flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts.

The Spirit convicts, and people either choose to receive Jesus Christ, or they harden their hearts into flint.

16: 12-14 Teller Of The Truth

Jesus had just an hour or two left before He would be arrested. He's dropping all this stuff into their laps, hoping that they'll receive it and not be overwhelmed by it. But there's so much to say, so little time, and such weak faith in these guys. So He says, "Guys, I can't tell you everything now - you'd just freak out. So I'll let the Holy Spirit teach you and guide you into all this truth."

Interesting title of the Holy Spirit: the Spirit of Truth. When people think of the Holy Spirit working in believer's lives, they usually think of the paranormal: people speaking in tongues, prophesying, miraculous happenings.

But He is first and foremost the Spirit of Truth. John tells us,

1John 5:7 And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is the truth.

The Spirit is not weird and wacky. He's not out of control like some radioactive cloud falling on people and making them quake and shake. He's the Spirit of Truth. He guides us into all truth.

Now maybe you've been to churches where the Spirit is the main focus, the main attraction, the main thing. But Jesus says,

John 16:14 "He shall glorify Me..."

John 14:26 "(He will) bring to your remembrance all that I said to you."

John 15:26 "...He will bear witness of Me"

Too many congregations build their foundation on the Spirit. But no one...

1Cor. 3:11 ...can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

When Jesus asked Peter, "Who do you say I am?" Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" Jesus said, "Alright Peter!...

Matt. 16:18 "...upon this rock I will build My church..."

The church must be built on this proclamation: the rock-solid foundation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The true test of a Spirit-filled church is this: Is Jesus the main focus? Is Jesus the main attraction? Is Jesus the main event? When the Spirit is truly moving and working, He is not the focus, Jesus is. A Spirit-filled church is a Jesus-focused church.

Discloser Of What Is To Come

The Spirit also discloses to us what is to come. We have the sure word of prophecy in the Scriptures.

2Pet. 1:21, moved by the Holy Spirit, spoke from God.

We also have seen the Spirit speak through prophecy to disclose future events, such as happened in the book of Acts:

Acts 11:27-28 ...some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and {began} to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world...

The Spirit has also warned us what will happen in these last days:

1Tim. 4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,

So the Spirit's ministry includes disclosing things to come.

16:15-22 Disappearing And Reappearing

Jesus here is telling them of the sorrow and joy that they will experience over the next three days. This very night, He will be arrested, falsely accused, and tortured. Tomorrow morning, they will watch Him die. They will spend two days in fear and hiding. But Sunday morning, they will know joy like they've never experienced.

Jesus equates it to a woman giving birth. While she is delivering the baby, she is in excruciating pain. But when the baby is born, the pain is forgotten and the joy and love because of her newborn child overwhelms her.

16:23-28 Ask In My Name

Here Jesus instructs us that we are to ask the Father in Jesus' name. We are to pray to the Father, having the right and authority to enter into His throne room because of the salvation that we have in Jesus Christ.

16:29-32 You Will Be Scattered

The disciples think they've finally gotten it. "Oh, NOW we understand. NOW we believe!" But Jesus says, "DO you now believe?" In just a little while tonight, you're going to run away in fear.

16:33 I Have Overcome The World

Even though they'll run away, Jesus loves them and will never forsake them. The same is true for you. Maybe you've been running away from God. Maybe you've been running away from your responsibility to God. Jesus isn't promising smooth sailing, but He is promising you peace.

Don't be afraid of the world and all of its tribulations. Jesus Christ has overcome the world. And we have the power to overcome as well:

1John 5:4-5 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

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