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John 16:25-28

25. These things I have spoken to you in proverbs; but the time cometh when I shall no longer speak to you in parables, but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26. In that day you shall ask in my name and I do not say that I will pray the Father for you; 27. For the Father himself loveth you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. 28. I came out from the Father, and am come into the world again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.

 

25. These things I have spoken to you in proverbs. The intention of Christ is to give courage to his disciples, that, entertaining good hopes of making better progress, they may not think that the instruction to which they now listen is useless, though there be but little of it that they comprehend; for such a suspicion might lead them to suppose that Christ did not wish to be understood, and that he purposely kept them in suspense. He declares, therefore, that they will soon perceive the fruit of this doctrine, which, by its obscurity, might produce disgust in their minds. The Hebrew word, משל (mashal) sometimes denotes a proverb; but as proverbs most commonly contain tropes and figures, this is the reason why the Hebrews give the name of משלים (meshalim) to enigmas or remarkable sayings, which the Greeks call (ἀποφθέγματα) apophthegms, which have almost always some ambiguity or obscurity. The meaning therefore is, “You think that I now speak to you figuratively, and not in plain and direct language; but I will soon speak to you in a more familiar manner, in order that there may be nothing puzzling or difficult to you in my doctrine.”

We now see what I mentioned a little ago, that this is intended to encourage the disciples by holding out to them the expectation of making greater progress, that they may not reject the doctrine, because they do not yet understand what it means; for, if we are not animated by the hope of profiting, the desire of learning must, unavoidably, be cooled. The fact, however, clearly shows that Christ did not employ terms purposely obscure, but addressed his disciples in a simple and even homely style but such was their ignorance that they hung on his lips with astonishment. That obscurity, therefore, did not lie so much in the doctrine as in their understandings; and, indeed, the same thing happens to us in the present day, for not without good reason does the word of God receive this commendation, that it is our light, (Psalm 119:105; 2 Peter 1:19;) but its brightness is so obscured by our darkness, that, what we hear we reckon to be pure allegories. For, as he threatens by the prophet, that he will be a barbarian to the unbelievers and reprobate, as if he had a stammering tongue, (Isaiah 28:11;) and Paul says that

the Gospel is hidden from such persons, because Satan hath blinded their understandings,
(2 Corinthians 4:3, 4;)

so to the weak and ignorant it commonly appears to be something so confused that it cannot be understood. For, though their understandings are not completely darkened, like those of unbelievers, still they are covered, as it were, with clouds. Thus God permits us to be stupefied for a time, in order to humble us by a conviction of our own poverty; but those whom he enlightens by his Spirit he causes to make such progress, that the word of God is known and familiar to them. Such, too, is the import of the next clause:

But the time cometh; that is, the time will soon come, when I shall no more speak to you in figurative language. The Holy Spirit, certainly, did not teach the apostles anything else than what they had heard from the mouth of Christ himself, but, by enlightening their hearts, he drove away their darkness, so that they heard Christ speak, as it were, in a new and different manner, and thus they easily understood his meaning.

But will tell you plainly about the Father. When he says that he will tell them about the Father, he reminds us that the design of his doctrine is to lead us to God, in whom true happiness lies. But another question remains: How does he say, elsewhere, that

it was given to the disciples to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven?
(Matthew 13:11.)

For here he acknowledges that he has spoken to them in obscure language, but there he lays down a distinction between them and the rest of the people, that he speaketh to the people in parables, (Matthew 13:13.) I reply, the ignorance of the apostles was not so gross that they had not, at least, a slight perception of what their Master meant, and, therefore, it is not without reason that he excludes them from the number of the blind. He now says that his discourses have hitherto been allegorical, in comparison of that clear light of understanding which he would soon give to them by the grace of his Spirit. Both statements are therefore true, that the disciples were far above those who had no relish for the word of the Gospel, and yet they were still like children learning the alphabet, in comparison of the new wisdom which was bestowed on them by the Holy Spirit.

26. In that day you shall ask in my name. He again repeats the reason why the heavenly treasures were then to be so bountifully opened up. It is, because they ask in the name of Christ whatever they need, and God will refuse nothing that shall be asked in the name of his Son. But there appears to be a contradiction in the words; for Christ immediately adds, that it will be unnecessary for him to pray to the Father Now, what purpose does it serve to pray in his name, if he does not undertake the office of Intercessor? In another passage John calls him our Advocate, ( 1 John 2:1.) Paul also testifies that Christ now intercedes for us, (Romans 8:34;) and the same thing is confirmed by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, who declares that Christ always liveth to make intercession for us, (Hebrews 7:25.) I reply, Christ does not absolutely say, in this passage, that he will not be Intercessor, but he only means, that the Father will be so favorably disposed towards the disciples, that, without any difficulty, he will give freely whatever they shall ask. “My Father,” he says, “will meet you, and, on account of the great love which he bears towards you, will anticipate the Intercessor, who, otherwise, would speak on your behalf.”

Besides, when Christ is said to intercede with the Father for us, let us not indulge in carnal imaginations about him, as if he were on his knees before the Father, offering humble supplication in our name. But the value of his sacrifice, by which he once pacified God toward us, is always powerful and efficacious; the blood by which he atoned for our sins, the obedience which he rendered, is a continual intercession for us. This is a remarkable passage, by which we are taught that we have the heart of the Heavenly Father, 104104     “Le coeur du Pere celeste.” as soon as we have placed before Him the name of his Son.

27. Because you have loved me. These words remind us that the only bond of our union with God is, to be united to Christ; and we are united to him by a faith which is not reigned, but which springs from sincere affection, which he describes by the name of love; for no man believes purely in Christ who does not cordially embrace him, and, therefore, by this word he has well expressed the power and nature of faith. But if it is only when we have loved Christ that God begins to love us, it follows that the commencement of salvation is from ourselves, because we have anticipated the grace of God. Numerous passages of Scripture, on the other hand, are opposed to this statement. The promise of God is, I will cause them to love me; and John says, Not that we first loved Him, 105105     Quoting from memory, our Author has mingled two passages The first is, Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, (1 John 4:10;) and the second is, We love him, because he first loved us, (1 John 4:19.) — Ed. (1 John 4:10.) It would be superfluous to collect many passages; for nothing is more certain than this doctrine, that the Lord calleth those things which are not, (Romans 4:17) raises the dead, (Luke 7:22,) unites himself to those who were strangers to him, (Ephesians 2:12,) makes hearts of flesh out of hearts of stone, (Ezekiel 36:26,) manifests himself to those who do not seek him, (Isaiah 65:1; Romans 10:20.) I reply, God loves men in a secret way, before they are called, if they are among the elect; for he loves his own before they are created; but, as they are not yet reconciled, they are justly accounted enemies of God, as Paul speaks,

When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,
(Romans 5:10.)

On this ground it is said that we are loved by God, when we love Christ; because we have the pledge of the fatherly love of Him from whom we formerly recoiled as our offended Judge.

28. I came out from the Father. This mode of expression draws our attention to the Divine power which is in Christ. Our faith in him would not be steady, if it did not perceive his Divine power; for his death and resurrection, the two pillars of faith, would be of little avail to us, if heavenly power were not connected with them. We now understand in what manner we ought to love Christ. Our love ought to be of such a nature that our faith shall contemplate the purpose and power of God, by whose hand he is offered to us. for we must not receive coldly the statement that he came out from God, but must also understand for what reason and for what purpose he came out, namely, that he might be

to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption,
(1 Corinthians 1:30.)

Again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. By this second clause he points out to us that this power is perpetual- for the disciples might have thought that it was a temporary blessing, that he was sent into the world to be a Redeemer. He therefore said that he returns to the Father, that they may be fully persuaded that none of those blessings which he brought are lost by his departure, because from his heavenly glory he sheds on the world the power and efficacy of his death and resurrection. He therefore left the world when, laying aside our weaknesses, he was received into heaven; but his grace toward us is still in all its force, because he is seated at the right hand of the Father, that he may sway the scepter of the whole world. 106106     “A fin d’estre Empereur et Dominateur de tout le monde;” — “in order to be the Emperor and Ruler of the whole world.”


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