John 15:18–16:33. Jesus Completes His Dialog With the Disciples. Pt. IV.
Key Notes: The world hated believers from Day One. The work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit and the split of Eastern and Western Churches. Comparison of the two Churches.
If Jesus broke into the middle of His teaching with the parable of the vine, the next thing He says will have them clinging to Him, hanging on for dear life. Persecution, ostracism and death is coming. But He was teaching and warning them, not to make them afraid, but to make sure they abide in Him. He would “keep them from falling away.”
15:18–16:4 He began abruptly: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you.” If they hate the Master, they will hate the servant too. the servant is exposed and more easily attacked.
Jesus has chosen them out of the World and therefore the World hates them. (15:19). You leave the club and the clique and you are rejected in turn. It is a loss of community and a perceived statement of superiority. The people of the World do not know God (15:21) and also hate Him! (15:23). [Do you wonder about Hell? Who would like to be in Heaven hating God? ] Among other things, Jesus creates divisions that can weaken families and nations. Worship of the Emperor was motivated in part by Roman concern for the unity of the Empire; the Christians were accused of divisiveness.
The people of the World are guilty (“have sin”) on two counts:
Jesus has exposed their sin. 15:22
They have seen His works of power. 15:24
They hated Him without a cause--except for sheer envy. (Matt.28:18). That quotation is from David. (Psa. 35:19b; 69:4). Both Psalms are outcries against persecution by David's enemies, and have Messianic overtones.
Psa. 69 in particular is cited 5–6 times in NT.
“More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause.” Psa.39:4 with Jn.15:25
“…zeal for Thy house has consumed me.” Psa. 69:9 with Jn.2:17
“…for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." Psa. 69:21 with Matt.27:34
“Let their own table before them become a snare....” Psa.69:22 with Rom.11:9
“May their camp be a desolation….” Psa.69:25 with Matt.23:38, Acts 1:20
It is sobering to realize that David was denouncing his own people Israel in this psalm, a thousand years before Christ. Although we think of David's reign as a spiritually high time, his psalms suggest that it was not.
The Holy Spirit will be witness to Him. He will stand beside them in trial.
“And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious how or what you are to answer or what you are to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Lk.12:11.
They will put you out of the synagogues (shunning) and even kill you, thinking to do God a favor. Saul of Tarsus intended to destroy this renegade sect of believers before Jesus caught him. Acts.9:1
16:5–15 Jesus’ final words with the disciples are our richest source of information on the Holy Spirit. Previously Jesus said the Holy Spirit was the Counselor, the Spirit of Truth, unknown to the World, but dwelling with them and to be in them. (Jn.14:16–17). Dwelling with them now, He will be in them at Pentecost. That day they will become new Spirit-filled men.
“…if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you, but If I go, I will send Him to you.”
The word about the importance of His death and resurrection to the Spirit's coming was first spoken by Jesus at the Festival of Lights and explained by John.
“He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water’. Now this He said about the Spirit which those who believed in Him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” Jn.7 :38–39.
“And when He comes, He will convince the World concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”
The Holy Spirit will take on the World, something the disciples could not imagine. They were eleven uneducated men in a small city in a tiny country unknown to most of the world. And they are losing their Leader.
He will convict the hands of sinners.
*of sin, the sin of unbelief.
*of righteousness—Jesus’ righteousness is proven by His death at the hands of the World, and confirmed by His Resurrection and Ascension to the Faths
*of judgment—Satan is judged by the Cross. (Matt.12:2)
The Holy Spirit would also be their Teacher and memory-prod. (Jn.14:26). “He will guide you into all the Truth….” That does not imply the Christians know everything, but does assure us that those who know Jesus as Savior are united on the essentials of the Christian faith.
“…He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you things that are to come.” One of those things that are to come was John’s Book of the Revelation.
“He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. “ The Third Person of the Trinity is the hidden Member. He is hard to describe and impossible to visualize. His task is to glorify Christ rather than Himself.
In summary, the Holy Spirit’s work in the world is to
stand beside the disciples with comfort, and encouragement
indwell and empower them
teach and remind them of Jesus’ life and work
convict the world of sin
glorify Christ rather than Himself.
It is clear that the Holy Spirit works in the conscious, rational mind of the believer—and unbeliever---teaching, convincing, guiding and reminding in Jesus’ absence.
16:16–23 Jesus returned to the topic of His departure. Previously on the final walk toward Jerusalem, He had told them three times in factual language what would happen to Him.
“And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priest and the scribes, and be killed and after three days rise again. And He said this plainly.” (Mk.8:31; also Mk. 9:31 and 10:34).
This time He said “A little while, and you will not see me; again in a little while, and you will see me.”
The disciples did not understand and muttered among themselves. He repeated it, and went on to explain that in a short while they would suffer agony like child-birth, but also they would soon after have blessed relief and joy as when the labor is over and the child is born. So Jesus’ death would be agony ( "...they mourned and wept." Mk16:19), but His appearances to them after the resurrection made them glad again.
He is speaking to them now about how they will feel, rather than to describe what will happen: He does not repeat His factual warnings. He is dealing with their emotions, with the promise that they can look forward to rejoicing.
16:23–28 He repeats the promise that what they ask will be given.
“In that day you will ask nothing of Me. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, He will give it to you in My Name.” 16:32
"In that day you will ask in My Name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you…” 16:26,27
I understand Him to say that when Pentecost comes, they will not ask for anything more. They will understand that they need not ask Jesus and may go directly to the Father in prayer.
16:29–33 The disciples said they understood Him and what He was saying. They knew He came from God. To that weak response, Jesus warned them of their coming defection. They will all run away. He concluded with the final summary of peace in the midst of tribulation.
Persecution is the result of the World’s hatred of God. We should not be surprised by condescending public statements against us fools who believe in Creation, Intelligent Design, and a God who answers prayer. What sense does the plan of redemption make if there was no Adam, and no original sin? The "Year of Darwin" made a bully pulpit for atheists.
The Holy Spirit will keep their minds and hearts true. He is at work all over the World, convicting people of sin, righteousness and judgment. He is using visions and dreams in closed countries to bring people to Jesus.
Jesus’ departure will be extremely painful-- and extremely rewarding. Every Sunday is Resurrection Day.
A note on the Trinity.
The Nicean Creed reads “And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets. “
The phrase “proceedeth from the Father and the Son….” was originally written, “proceedeth from the Father” and was later changed by the Roman Catholic church over the objections of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Eventually the Orthodox Church split off from the Western Church over this and other more deep-seated issues, a split complete in 1350AD. But this single Latin word “filioque” (and the Son) has been the butt of criticism. Could the Church be split over a diphthong--that tiny "que" on the end of a Latin word?
The Orthodox Church was correct: The Holy Spirit “proceeds” from the Father only (15:26), but is sent by the Father (14:26) and the Son (15:26). Their objection to the Roman Catholic phrase was that if the Holy Spirit proceeds from both and Father and Son, it made the Holy Spirit appear to be an inferior member of the Trinity, a spin-off. The Eastern Church had waged most of the battles against the early Christologic heresies (Arian, Nestorian, Monophysite, Eutychian, Apollinarian) and was sensitive to subtle aspects of the Incarnation and the Trinity. But the reasons for the quarrel were much more a difference in the way the Greek Byzantine wing of the Church lived and saw reality compared to the Roman European wing. The Greeks of the Eastern Church thought the Latins were barbarians, among other things.
|ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH||EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH|
|Centered in Rome with one Pope, claiming universal jurisdiction||Centered in Constantinople with five Patriarchs for various regions|
|Clean-shaven clergy.||Bearded clergy.|
|Unleavened bread for Eucharist.||Leavened bread for Eucharist.|
|Sanctification is never complete, subject to sacraments.||Sanctification is eventual “deification”: we become gods.|
|Taught Jesus’ full humanity and deity.||Emphasized Jesus’ deity over His humanity: “The Lord God Almighty” (Pantocrator).|
|Concerned with morality; legalistic.||Preoccupied with liturgy and icons; mystical.|
|Doctrine is to be argued, analyzed.||Doctrines are to be adored. Rejects Augustine’s teaching. Denies original sin.|
|Captured Constantinople from the Orthodox.||Rebaptized Latin converts.|
The struggles between spiritual communions continues to this day, as we can see especially in the Russian federation. It appears that the Russian Orthodox Church would seek to be adopted by the State, to the exclusion of Roman Catholics, and evangelicals as well as Islam, and various cults. Historically, State Churches have been the Church’s undoing. We look to the Holy Spirit to revive the Russian Orthodox Church from within, as well as win the huge population of unbelievers.