Interpretation 15


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  Copyright © 2001 Jeanie C. Crain
Last modified: March, 2002


            Chapter fifteen of John easily divides into two sections: the first uses a metaphor to describe  a unity demanded in those who would follow the example of Christ.  The second part moves beyond the metaphor into theology. The Intervarsity Press summarizes the chapter as follows:

We now come to one of the most powerful descriptions of the eternal life to which John is bearing witness. Jesus has spoken of the cleansing of the disciples (13:10-11), the coming intimacy with him and his Father (14:20-21, 23), the coming of the Paraclete (14:16-17, 26) and the love command (13:34-35). Each of these themes, among others, is further developed in chapter 15. Jesus begins with the themes of intimacy and cleansing using the figure of the vine (15:1-6), and then he interprets and applies that teaching, tying it in with themes found throughout the farewell discourse (vv. 7-17).

The Oxford Companion to the Bible outlines this section of John as setting forth three dimensions  of relationship as relationship to Christ, relationship to believers, and the believer's relationship to the world:

15.1–27: The pattern of the Christian believer’s life. Three dimensions are set forth: (a) 1–11: The believer’s relation to Christ—abide. As the true vine Jesus was the true Israel, fulfilling the vocation in which the old Israel had failed (Isaiah 5.1–7; Jeremiah 2.21; Ezekiel 19.10–14). The fruit bearing (Galatians 5.22–23) of the new Israel (the church) springs from union (actual incorporation) with him (John 15.5), through prayer (John 15.7), and loving obedience (John 15.9; John 15.10), issuing in joy (John 15.11).

15.12–17: (b) The relation of believers to one another—love. The measure is determined by Jesus’ death (John 15.13). Fellowship with Jesus (John 15.14; John 15.15), fruit bearing, and prayer (John 15.16), are all dependent on obeying his commands to love (John 15.17).

15.18–27: (c) The believer’s relation to the world—to be separate from it (the world hates the church because it hates Christ who has judged it, John 15.18–25; Psalm 35.19; Psalm 69.4), and to testify on . . . behalf of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit (John 15.26–27; Acts 1.21–22; Acts 5.32).

       Larry Richards in Every Teaching of Jesus in the Bible (Nelson Publishers, 2001) identifies not two sections in John but three relationships. Jesus leaves the upper room where he and his disciples have eaten together, and he discourses with his disciples as they walk, focusing on three desired relationships the disciples would have with him in the future: using the metaphor of the vine, Jesus identifies himself as the true vine with God as the vine dresser, believers as branches, and fruit as Godly traits, teaching the disciples about their future relationship with Jesus (John 15:1-10); the second relationship is the disciples relationship with one another (12-17), teaching the new commandment to love one another; and finally, Jesus teaches his disciples about their relationship with the world (18-6.4). Richard agrees with Oxford about the Old Testament allusion:

The true vine ( John 15:1 ). Jesus identifies Himself as the “true vine.” In the Old Testament, Israel is presented as a vine that God planted, intending it to produce the fruit of godly character ( Isa. 5:1–7 ). Israel failed to produce that fruit. Now Jesus says that He Himself is the true—the authentic—vine and will accomplish the transformation that ancient Israel could not.

The metaphor  is that of a vine, the unifying element, and its branches.  The unity consists of  vine, branches, fruit; unless the branches abide in the vine, they will be incapable of producing fruit. Read through the entire section to see the spiritual connection illustrated in the metaphor of the vine. Jesus say, I am the true vine; God is the vinedresser, who will prune fruitless branches:

1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

2 Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

3 You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you.

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.

7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.

8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.

9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.

10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.

11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.

15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

17. This I command you, to love one another.

The directive to the disciples of Jesus instructs them that they must abide in him, as he has abided in God, and love becomes the means of accomplishing this. “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  As Jesus has loved his disciples, they are commanded to love one another. The Intervarsity Commentary  provides the following allusions to Old Testament literature making use of the metaphor:


The image of the vine, and the closely associated term vineyard, were commonly used throughout the Mediterranean world (cf. Barrett 1978:472; Brown 1970:669-72). Most significant for our passage is their frequent use in the Old Testament and in Judaism to symbolize Israel (Barrett ibid.; Brown ibid.; Behm 1964:342). Isaiah has an extended use of this image in his "Song of the Vineyard" (5:1-7), and there are many other less developed uses (for example, Jer 5:10). The image of the vineyard frequently shifted to the vine, as here in John (for example, Jer 6:9). On the temple there was a "golden vine with grape clusters hanging from it, a marvel of size and artistry" (Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 15.395), and the vine was used to represent Jerusalem on coins made during the first Jewish revolt (A.D. 66-70), so the vine was clearly a symbol of Israel. Furthermore, even the notion of a true vine shows up in the Old Testament: "I planted you as a fruitful vine, entirely true [alethinos]. How have you become a wild vine, turned to bitterness" (Jer 2:21 LXX). Here, as also in Isaiah's Song of the Vineyard, God, the gardener, cared for his vineyard but got sour grapes. Consequently he will destroy the vineyard. This theme of judgment accompanies virtually every use of this imagery in the Old Testament.

Therefore, when Jesus refers to himself as the true vine (v. 1) he is once again taking an image for Israel and applying it to himself. Jesus himself is true Israel (cf. Hoskyns 1940b:560; Pryor 1992:124-31). This claim corresponds to his break with the temple at the end of chapter 8 and his forming a renewed people that began in chapter 9 and came clearly to the fore in chapter 10. Israel's place as the people of God is now taken by Jesus and his disciples, the vine and its branches. This is not a rejection of Judaism as such, but its fulfillment in its Messiah.

The Net Bible also points to a number of Old Testament allusions:

1sn I am the true vine. There are numerous OT passages which refer to Israel as a vine: Ps 80:8-16, Isa 5:1-7, Jer 2:21, Ezek 15:1-8, 17:5-10, 19:10-14, and Hos 10:1. The vine became symbolic of Israel, and even appeared on some coins issued by the Maccabees. The OT passages which use this symbol appear to regard Israel as faithless to Yahweh (typically rendered as “Lord” in the OT) and/or the object of severe punishment. Ezek 15:1-8 in particular talks about the worthlessness of wood from a vine (in relation to disobedient Judah). A branch cut from a vine is worthless except to be burned as fuel. This fits more with the statements about the disciples (John 15:6) than with Jesus’ description of himself as the vine. Ezek 17:5-10 contains vine imagery which refers to a king of the house of David, Zedekiah, who was set up as king in Judah by Nebuchadnezzar. Zedekiah allied himself to Egypt and broke his covenant with Nebuchadnezzar (and therefore also with God), which would ultimately result in his downfall (17:20-21). Ezek 17:22-24 then describes the planting of a cedar sprig which grows into a lofty tree, a figurative description of Messiah. But it is significant that Messiah himself is not described in Ezek 17 as a vine, but as a cedar tree. The vine imagery here applies to Zedekiah’s disobedience. Jesus’ description of himself as the true vine in John 15:1 ff. is to be seen against this background, but it differs significantly from the imagery surveyed above. It represents new imagery which differs significantly from OT concepts; it appears to be original with Jesus. The imagery of the vine underscores the importance of fruitfulness in the Christian life and the truth that this results not from human achievement, but from one’s position in Christ. Jesus is not just giving some comforting advice, but portraying to the disciples the difficult path of faithful service. To some degree the figure is similar to the head-body metaphor used by Paul, with Christ as head and believers as members of the body. Both metaphors bring out the vital and necessary connection which exists between Christ and believers.

    Theologically, John 15.2 and 15.6 suggests some complexity in interpretation, as the Net Bible suggests, being capable of interpreted as referring to believers or to unbelievers:

These statements may refer to someone who was never a genuine believer in the first place (e.g., Judas and the Jews who withdrew after Jesus’ difficult teaching in 6:66), in which case 15:6 refers to eternal judgment. In either instance it is clear that 15:6 refers to the fires of judgment (cf. OT imagery in Ps 80:16 and Ezek 15:1-8). But view (1) requires us to understand this in terms of the judgment of believers at the judgment seat of Christ. 

Larry Richards agrees that the idea that believers may be taken away disturbs:

“He takes away” ( John 15:2 ). The image of God caring for the vine has disturbed many who supposed Jesus’ image was that of the Father discarding unfruitful Christians.

In reality Jesus uses two terms here which portray a gardener caring for a branch rather than discarding it. The word translated “take away” or “cut off” ( aireo ) depicts the gardener lifting up a branch and checking it for dead wood that might harbor disease, and then cutting the diseased parts away. At the same time the gardener prunes, cutting back healthy tissue to increase the vines’ capacity for producing fruit.

Taken together the terms reveal a Father who is totally involved in our lives, doing everything necessary to make sure that we will be spiritually healthy and productive.

Richards, L., Pegoda, D., & Gross, P. 2001. Every teaching of Jesus in the Bible. Includes index. T. Nelson: Nashville

The Net Bible also emphasizes Johannine permanence of relationship:

sn The Greek verb aijrevw (airew) can mean “lift up” as well as “take away,” and it is sometimes argued that here it is a reference to the gardener “lifting up” (i.e., propping up) a weak branch so that it bears fruit again. In Johannine usage the word occurs in the sense of “lift up” in 8:59 and 5:8-12, but in the sense of “remove” it is found in 11:39, 11:48, 16:22, and 17:15. In context (theological presuppositions aside for the moment) the meaning “remove” does seem more natural and less forced (particularly in light of v. 6, where worthless branches are described as being “thrown out”—an image that seems incompatible with restoration). One option, therefore, would be to understand the branches which are taken away (v. 2) and thrown out (v. 6) as believers who forfeit their salvation because of unfruitfulness. However, many see this interpretation as encountering problems with the Johannine teaching on the security of the believer, especially John 10:28-29. This leaves two basic ways of understanding Jesus’ statements about removal of branches in 15:2 and 15:6: (1) These statements may refer to an unfaithful (disobedient) Christian, who is judged at the judgment seat of Christ “through fire” (cf. 1 Cor 3:11-15). In this case the “removal” of 15:2 may refer (in an extreme case) to the physical death of a disobedient Christian. (2) This concept does not appear in the Fourth Gospel, because from the perspective of the author, the believer does not come under judgment: note especially 3:18, 5:24, 5:29. The first reference is especially important because it occurs in the context of 3:16-21, the section which is key to the framework of the entire Fourth Gospel and which is repeatedly alluded to throughout. A similar image to this one is used by John the Baptist in Matt 3:10, “And the ax is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Since this is addressed to the Pharisees and Sadducees who were coming to John for baptism, it almost certainly represents a call to initial repentance. More importantly, however, the imagery of being cast into the fire constitutes a reference to eternal judgment, a use of imagery which is much nearer to the Johannine imagery in 15:6 than the Pauline concept of the judgment seat of Christ (a judgment for believers) mentioned above. The use of the Greek verb mevnw (menw) in 15:6 also supports view (2). When used of the relationship between Jesus and the disciple and/or Jesus and the Father, it emphasizes the permanence of the relationship (John 6:56, 8:31, 8:35, 14:10). 

The Net Bible,also, however, clearly argues that Judas was always a false believer, an interpretation which has been questioned by some (see the John 12 interpretation and notes in this work):

The prototypical branch who has not remained is Judas, who departed in 13:30. He did not bear fruit, and is now in the realm of darkness, a mere tool of Satan. His eternal destiny, being cast into the fire of eternal judgment, is still to come. It seems most likely, therefore, that the branches who do not bear fruit and are taken away and burned are false believers, those who profess to belong to Jesus but who in reality do not belong to him. In the Gospel of John, the primary example of this category is Judas. In 1 John 2:18-19 the “antichrists” fall into the same category; they too may be thought of as branches that did not bear fruit. They departed from the ranks of the Christians because they never did really belong, and their departure shows that they did not belong.
4tn Or “does not yield.”

8sn The phrase you are clean already occurs elsewhere in the Gospel of John only at the washing of the disciples’ feet in 13:10, where Jesus had used it of the disciples being cleansed from sin. This further confirms the proposed understanding of John 15:2 and 15:6 since Judas was specifically excluded from this statement (but not all of you).
9tn Or “Reside.”
10tn Grk “and I in you.” The verb has been repeated for clarity and to conform to contemporary English style, which typically allows fewer ellipses (omitted or understood words) than Greek.
11sn The branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it remains connected to the vine, from which its life and sustenance flows. As far as the disciples were concerned, they would produce no fruit from themselves if they did not remain in their relationship to Jesus, because the eternal life which a disciple must possess in order to bear fruit originates with Jesus; he is the source of all life and productivity for the disciple.

19sn Such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire. The author does not tell who it is who does the gathering and throwing into the fire. Although some claim that realized eschatology is so prevalent in the Fourth Gospel that no references to final eschatology appear at all, the fate of these branches seems to point to the opposite. The imagery is almost certainly that of eschatological judgment, and recalls some of the OT vine imagery which involves divine rejection and judgment of disobedient Israel (Ezek 15:4-6, 19:12).

Thus, in teaching the relationship of the believer to Christ, to other believers, and to the world, bearing fruit becomes the evidence of "right relationship":

The development of the image in the next section (vv. 7-17) suggests that bearing fruit refers to the possession of the divine life itself and especially the chief characteristics of that life, knowledge of God (cf. 15:15) and love (15:9-14). Jesus says when they bear much fruit they demonstrate that they are his disciples (15:8), and elsewhere he states love the evidence that one is a disciple (13:35; 14:21, 23) and is in union with God and with one another (17:21-23). Thus, the image of fruit symbolizes that which is at the heart of both Christian witness and ethics--union with God.

Net Bible

    The second section of John applies the teaching of the vine and branches theologically:

Jesus Applies His Teaching on the Vine and the Branches (15:7-17)
Jesus now explains more of what it means to remain in him (v. 4). This section forms a chiastic pattern (Brown 1970:667), with Jesus' teaching (vv. 7, 17) and the promise of answered prayer (vv. 7, 16) forming the two ends and Jesus' joy at the midpoint (v. 11). Themes from throughout the farewell discourse are woven together within this carefully constructed exposition of the image of the vine (Brown 1970:666). Intervarsity Press

What follows from the application, from teaching and its implications into practice, may startle the reader; believers are instructed to accept being hated by the world. One has to place Jesus in the context of the traditional Jewish religious establishment to understand why he is hated. He is hated for his work: “24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.” Jesus knows that he has caused division: that many see and believe, but others remain blinded by what they have come to expect. 

18 "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.

19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

20 Remember the word that I said to you, `A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.

21 But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me.

22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.

23 He who hates me hates my Father also.

24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.

25 It is to fulfill the word that is written in their law, `They hated me without a cause.'

26 But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me;

27 and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning.

The hatred becomes even more poignant as a lead-up to Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, and death, his atoning sacrifice of himself for the work of his Father.

    Exactly what is meant by "the world" and hatred in this case?

Jesus relates what he has experienced to what the disciples will now experience (vv. 18-20). The rejection of Jesus by his opponents has been based in their alienation from God. Jesus now refers to them as the world, since the world is that which is in rebellion against God. The disciples would face rejection by Gentiles as well (cf. Tacitus Annals 15.44; Suetonius Nero 16), but at the moment Jesus has Jewish opposition in mind (16:2). Since the disciples are members of Christ like branches are members of a vine, they receive what he receives--both the sunshine and rain of the love of the Father and the storms of the hatred of those who are in rebellion against the Father.

The disciples are included in the world's hatred of Jesus because, like him, they are not of this world (v. 19; cf. 8:23; Neyrey 1988). They are Jesus' friends (philoi, 15:14-15), and thus they are not loved (ephilei) by the world. Jesus has chosen them (exelexamen) and appointed that they to go bear fruit (15:16), and this commission was based on a more fundamental act that he now refers to as choosing them (exelexamen) out of the world. They have been transferred to Jesus' kingdom, which is not of this world (18:36). The world's hatred of them, therefore, is an encouragement to the disciples since it is due to the difference Jesus has made within them...  Thus, the disciples are rejected not only because they are not of this world, but also because they are proclaiming a message (cf. v. 27). The present text shows the disciples in the role of prophets, meeting the prophets' fate. As the Lord told Ezekiel, "The house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate" (Ezek 3:7). There has been plenty of such hardness within the church as well.

Jesus summarizes his point thus far by saying, They will treat you this way because of my name (v. 21). His name refers to his identity and his character as it is made manifest (see comment on 1:12). But Jesus cannot be understood apart from the Father, so he concludes that the reason they reject him is their ignorance of the One who sent me. Here is the core problem (cf. 5:37-38; 7:28; 8:19, 47, 55), which introduces the main point of the rest of this section (vv. 22-25). Jesus has been speaking of the connection between the treatment he has experienced and that of his disciples. Now he focuses on his own ministry and its relation to the Father.

The Net Bible also points to this exact meaning of the world and its hatred:

51sn I chose you out of the world…the world hates you. Two themes are brought together here. In 8:23 Jesus had distinguished himself from the world in addressing his Jewish opponents: “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.” In 15:16 Jesus told the disciples “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you.” Now Jesus has united these two ideas as he informs the disciples that he has chosen them out of the world. While the disciples will still be “in” the world after Jesus has departed, they will not belong to it, and Jesus prays later in John 17:15-16 to the Father, “I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” The same theme also occurs in 1 John 4:5-6: “They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us.” Thus the basic reason why the world hates the disciples (as it hated Jesus before them) is because they are not of the world. They are born from above, and are not of the world. For this reason the world hates them.

Yet another cause for the hate is that the eternal world reveals the imperfection of the finite:

24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 It was to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’

Jesus does not conclude this teaching without leaving his disciples hope:

26 "When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. 27 You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.

Thus, the chapter links directly back to John 14, providing comfort, and linking as well to the unity expected in believers:

15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

18 "I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them." 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?" 23 Jesus answered him, "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

What must be noted, though, will be the cost of discipleship. Disciples must witness to the truth which Christ has spoken, and as a result, they will not be well received by the world. The Intervarsity Press has provided in-depth explanation:

From his own witness and that of Scripture Jesus now returns to the witness of the Paraclete and his disciples. The witness of the Paraclete and the disciples stands in marked contrast to the rejection by the world, confirming the fact that Jesus and those associated with him are not of this world. Referring to the Paraclete as the Spirit of truth (v. 26) provides yet another contrast with the world, which has rejected Jesus out of error.

Jesus says he will send the Paraclete from the Father (v. 26), thus affirming both that the Paraclete is associated in a primary way with the Father and that the Son is involved in his historical mission (14:26; 16:7). Then Jesus refers to the Paraclete as the one who goes out from the Father (v. 26). The meaning of this line has been the source of enormous controversy right down to today. Many Western Christians would say the going out is another way of referring to the historical mission of the Paraclete. The Eastern church, on the other hand, sees this as referring to the eternal relations within the Godhead: this procession of the Spirit is not into history; it is the coming forth of the Spirit from the Father from all eternity. The Son is God begotten, the Spirit is God proceeding, and the Father is the one source of both.

The Father as the one ultimate source of all is true to the thought of this Gospel and the rest of Scripture, but it is doubtful that this verse is dealing in its primary sense with the eternal relations between the Father and the Spirit. The word used for from (para) does not denote source in this sense. Indeed, the line in the Nicene Creed referring to the eternal relations is "I believe in the Holy Spirit . . . who proceeds from (ek) the Father." The Greek fathers who refer to the eternal procession use ek and even change para to ek when referring to verse 26 in this connection (Westcott 1908:2:213). Furthermore, the language in our verse (para) is used elsewhere in John to describe Jesus' coming forth from the Father on his mission within history, though with a different verb (16:27; 17:8). Thus, the going out probably also refers to the historical mission of the Spirit. Jesus repeats the thought in this way to emphasize that the Spirit is from the Father--that is, like Jesus himself, he is not of this world.

The Paraclete is going to testify about Jesus (v. 26). Because he is being sent to the disciples--whom I will send to you --it would seem his testimony is to the disciples, who in turn will testify before the world. Further details about the Paraclete's testimony will be given shortly (16:8-15), but first the testimony of the disciples themselves is introduced.

The disciples were chosen out of the world (v. 19) and are now said to be witnesses because they have been with Jesus from the beginning (v. 27), referring to the beginning of his ministry. This implies Jesus is speaking primarily to the eleven in these chapters. They have been along for the whole trip so they can tell the whole story (cf. Acts 1:21-22). Because the Gospel is not just an abstract message but an account of what God himself has done and said as he was incarnate, history matters enormously and the role of eyewitnesses is crucial. "The New Testament is . . . neither a collection of thoughtful essays nor an attempt to construct a system of ethics. It bears witness to a unique history, and it discovers the truth in the history. . . . The fourth Gospel persuades and entices the reader to venture a judgement upon the history" (Hoskyns and Davey 1947:181). The Gospel of John is itself a primary example of the witness referred to in verse 27. The eyewitness testimony is now available through the New Testament, which is foundational and is the criterion of all claims to bear witness to Christ.

These two verses, then, introduce the offense which the disciples are to wage in the face of the world's hatred and persecution, with the disciples' giving voice to the Paraclete's witness against the world (Brown 1970:698)

Having prepared his disciples by explaining to them their roles, the reader should not be surprised that chapter 16 addresses Christ's departure"

16 "I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. 3 And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. 4 But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them.

"I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. 7

Equally unsurprising will be the next chapter's explanation of the work of the spirit, of sorrow turned into joy, and peace for God's disciples.