The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary On John 16:5-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 26, 2010

Joh 16:5  But I told you not these things from the beginning, because I was with you. And now I go to him that sent me, and none of you asketh me: Whither goest thou?

But I told you not these things from the beginning, because I was with you.   Christ here answers an implied objection of the Apostles, Why did you not tell us this at the first, that we might see whether it were expedient or not for us to follow Thee? He answers, that He did it purposely, both because they could not as yet understand these things, and also because He was with them to guide and protect them. But that now, when He was about to leave them to themselves, He would still strengthen them by His grace, and enlighten them by the Holy Spirit Whom He would send them.

But what were those things which He then first told the Apostles? (1.) S. Augustine (in loc.) understands the whole passage to refer only to the coming of the Holy Ghost as the other Comforter, when He was gone. For His words refer not only to the coming of the Holy Ghost, but also to the persecutions He had foretold. (2.) The Gloss applies it to all Christ’s words of consolation which (said He) I did not speak before, because I was Myself present to comfort you. This is too vague an explanation. (3.) Jansen and Maldonatus think that S. Matt. (ch. x.) spoke by anticipation. For (1.) The Apostles, when first sent forth, did not suffer any persecution. (2.) It could not refer to Gentile persecutions, for they were forbidden to go to them. (3.) S. Mark and S. Luke state that they were spoken at another time, and in diverse places from whence it is inferred that they were spoken after the Resurrection, but inserted, as they were by S. Matthew, from their close connection with the subject in hand.

Ribera and Toletus expound this view at great length, but their arguments are not convincing. It may be explained most simply by saying, that though Christ had said something about persecutions, yet He did not speak of them particularly nor describe their severity and atrocity; for instance, He did not foretell their being cast out of the synagogues, as He does here; nor yet the martyrdom they would all of them suffer; nor yet that their murderers would be supposed to do God service; nor again that these persecutions would soon come upon them. S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius, Toletus, Ribera, and others, add to this (from S. Augustine) that He did not mention the promised aid of the Holy Spirit, as He does here.

Because I was with you. And bore in My own Person all the hatred and revilings of the Jews. But now, when I am gone, they will assail you on My account. I therefore forewarn you, that ye may be forearmed, and I will also send My Holy Spirit to protect and arm you on every side.

Morally. Hence learn that God does not in the beginning reveal the difficulties, temptations, and trials of those whom He calls, lest they should shrink back. But when they are confirmed and strengthened in their calling, He sends them upon them, or permits them to be sent, by the world, the flesh, and the devil, in order to train them as His soldiers for the battle, that thus they may learn to conquer, and that He may crown them as conquerors. As it was said (Exo_13:17) to the Hebrews, on going out of Egypt. For this reason He preserves novices in religion from temptation, and soothes them with spiritual consolation, as a mother gives suck to her infant.

And now I go to him that sent me. By My Cross and Death I am going to My Resurrection and to My glorious Ascension, and return to My Father.

And none of you asketh Me, Whither goest Thou? For though Thomas asked Him that very question, yet neither he nor anyone understood the answer of Christ, which was sufficiently obscure, nor did any one ask Christ to explain its meaning more fully, so absorbed were they all by their sorrow at His coming departure. So S. Cyril, Euthymius, Maldonatus, Jansen, and others.

Christ therefore quietly reproves the Apostles for not asking Him more on the subject, as, e.g., Where He was going; to what joys, glory, and kingdom; what aid He would send them from thence; what rewards He would give. For this knowledge would assuredly have lessened their sorrow, if it did not entirely remove it.

Joh 16:6  But because I have spoken these things to you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

Maldonatus explains “but” by “for,” i.e., This (your sorrow) is the reason why ye ask Me not. But Toletus explains it by “Nay, rather,” meaning “Ye not only do not ask Me, but more than this, ye are overwhelmed with sorrow.” But it is simpler to understand as conveying a tacit reproof for being so given up to sorrow, as to have no courage to ask Him that which would have alleviated their sorrow, and would have been to them the greatest consolation and joy: namely, that He was going to the Father, and would send His Holy Spirit to prepare a place for them in heaven.

Joh 16:7 But I tell you the truth: it is expedient to you that I go. For if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you: but if I go, I will send him to you.

But I tell you the truth: it is expedient to you that I go. (1.) S. Chrysostom (Hom. lxxvii.) explains it thus, “I say not this to please you, but though you will be made more sorrowful, you must hear what is expedient. Ye indeed would wish Me to be near, but utility demands the contrary. But it is the duty of one who loves, when he learns the utility, not to allow his beloved ones to be deprived of it.” And S. Cyril (x. 39) almost in the same words, “I perceive that ye are affected with great sorrow, because I have resolved to go away. And that too, not unreasonably, especially when ye hear that great tribulations will befall you. But since utility is to be preferred to what is pleasant, I will make known to you the truth.”

Christ does not here oppose “truth” to grace, but to sorrow, and makes truth refer to the consolation of the Apostles. For He says this to take away their sorrow by the joyful message of consolation. Ye are sorrowful (He would say) at My departure, as if it were your greatest loss. But be assured, both that ye have sorrow, and that it is in truth expedient for you that I go away. For My departure to the Father will be to you of the greatest benefit. For I will send from thence the Holy Spirit on you, Who will fill you with all virtue and strength. And therefore My departure will not only be to your highest profit, but even to your pleasure, as you will experience at Pentecost. Whence He adds, For if I go not, the Paraclete (your consoler and encourager) will not come to you: but if I go, I will send him to you  (see above and chap. vii. 39). For the disciples, as children with their mother, and chickens with the hen, being too much accustomed to converse with Christ as a man, and to His corporeal presence, could not understand the Holy Spirit and His spiritual gifts. And Christ accordingly withdrew from them, that being weaned from Him, and their minds wholly fixed on the Holy Spirit, they might be raised by Him to heroic deeds, by which they would convert the whole world. And accordingly the Holy Spirit coming on them at Pentecost, made them masters instead of disciples, and created them teachers of the whole world. (See S. Augustine, in loc., and S. Gregory, Moral. viii. 33.) The Holy Spirit is here appositely called the Paraclete, to signify that He would amply console the disciples, who were sad at Christ’s departure, and would fill them with every joy. Hence S. Chrysostom (Hom. lxxvii.) proves against Macedonius that the Holy Spirit is truly God; for were He not the Creator, but merely a creature, how would it be expedient that Christ, on account of His coming, should leave the disciples, being their Creator and God? Again, lest it should be thought that the Holy Spirit is the same with the Son, Christ adds, “I will send Him unto you,” for the Sender is really and personally distinguished from the Sent. And it is signified also that the Holy Spirit proceeds alike from the Father and the Son. For in the Holy Trinity whatever Person sends another Person produces It, that is, begets or breathes it, as the Father sending the Son, begets Him also, and He likewise together with the Son, by sending the Holy Spirit, also breathes Him forth.

Joh 16:8  And when he is come, he will convince the world of sin and of justice and of judgment.

By the world He means both Jews and Gentiles who believe not in Christ. These the Holy Spirit will reprove, i.e., will reproach, blame, and refute them, will so convince by arguments as to make it plain that they are convinced—though obstinate, continuing in their unbelief, they will be loth to admit it—and will refuse to believe in Christ, as heretics who are pertinacious in their error.

Joh 16:9  Of sin: because they believed not in me.

Of sin: because they believed not in me.   (Instead of believed the Greek and Syriac has believe) not in Me. He will convict My enemies, both Jewish and Gentile unbelievers, both of the great sin of unbelief (S. Chrysostom and Augustine), and of every other sin (S. Cyril), for refusing to believe in Me, after the many reasons they have heard, and the miracles they have seen. For the Spirit will bring home to them the state of their soul, both outwardly, by earnest preaching, by the sanctity of the Apostles, and the miracles He will work through them; and inwardly, by enlightening their minds by His Inspiration, so that they will acknowledge, even against their will, that they are in their former infidelity and other sins, and that they cannot be liberated from them, except by faith in Me, which they refused to accept. For He will demonstrate to them that there is no other Saviour who can atone for sin, but Myself. See Acts iv. 12. And consequently, though many were moved by this preaching of the Apostles, yet others, by persisting in their unbelief, became inexcusable, and worthy of damnation and hell. See Acts ii. 37. So S. Cyril, Leontius, and others.

Joh 16:10  And of justice: because I go to the Father: and you shall see me no longer.

Of justice. The Holy Spirit will prove that the righteousness of the world is false; that of the Jews, because they sought it by the ceremonies of the Law, which could not purify the soul; and that of the Gentiles, because they sought it only in things which were naturally and morally honest, and despised Christ. But He, the Holy Ghost, will set forth Christ, who was despised and counted unrighteous, to be alone Righteous, and the source and origin of all righteousness. So S. Cyril, lib. vi.

Tropologically, S. Bernardine (Serm. xxi.) says, “The Holy Spirit reproves the world of sin, because it dissembles; of righteousness, which it does not order rightly, while it gives it to itself and not to God; of judgment, which it usurps, in rashly judging both of itself and others.”

Because I go to the Father. It is an offence to the world, and worldlings, that, seeming to be a mere man, I preach new and paradoxical doctrines. But the contrary will soon be made manifest to them, viz., that I have been sent by God the Father to reconcile the world to God by My death on the Cross, and to raise them to the rights of His children. For, ascending unto heaven I shall return to Him, so that the world will see Me no more, nor be scandalised by the sight of My infirmity in the flesh. And I will from thence send the Holy Spirit to justify and sanctify those who believe in Me, and from this it will be clear to the whole world that I am not a mere man, but the God-man, the justifier and Sanctifier of the world. So Leontius, S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euthymius. S. Chrysostom adds that the Holy Spirit distributed His gifts and graces to the faithful at the invocation of the Name of Jesus.

And you shall see me no longer. He speaks not of them personally, but of men in general. Ye will see Me ascending to My Father, but afterwards ye will see Me no more in this life. So Maldonatus, Ribera, and others.

Toletus adds that Christ said this, to signify that there was no need for Him to come again into the world, to suffer and to die. For by My death once for all I have fulfilled all righteousness for all men, past, present, and to come. Ye will therefore see Me no more as ye have hitherto seen Me. Having then completed all righteousness, the world must after My departure be at once convicted of righteousness, that is to say, that it has been completed and consummated by Me. S. Augustine (in loc.) adds, “The world is reproved of sin, because it believes not in Christ. It is reproved too concerning the righteousness of those who believe; for to compare the faithful with unbelievers is to blame the unbelieving. But because it is the common cry of unbelievers, ‘How can we believe that which we do not?’ He therefore defined the righteousness of those who believe, in these words, ‘Because I go to My Father, and ye shall see Me no more. Blessed are they who do not see and yet believe.’ This then will be your righteousness, of which the world is reproved, that ye believe in Me, whom ye will not see.” He says also (de Verb. Dom. Serm. lxi.), “They believed not, but He goes to the Father. It was their sin, but His righteousness. For His coming to us was an act of mercy, His going to the Father was His righteousness,” as the apostle said, “Wherefore God hath also highly exalted Him.” And also (Quæs. N. et V. Test. xxxix.), “By His returning He proved that He had come from thence.” And S. Chrysostom, “His going to the Father was a proof that He had lived a blameless life, so that they could not say, He is a sinner, and is not from God.”

Joh 16:11  And of judgment: because the prince of this world is already judged.

And of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. (1.) S. Chrysostom and Euthymius explain it thus, “The Holy Spirit will prove that the judgment of the world is false in saying that I work miracles by the power and craft of the devil; for He will prove that the devil has been condemned, cast out, and judged by Me. 2d, He will convict the world of sloth in being unwilling to trample Satan under foot, when wounded and deprived of strength by Christ. 3d, He will reprove the world of being led astray, by placing its hope in the devil who has been condemned by Me, or for forsaking God, and worshipping the devil in idols or in creatures. 4th, Toletus and others explain thus: The Holy Spirit will manifest Me to the world as the just judge of quick and dead, when He will make it seen that the devil is condemned by Me. For if I judge and condemn devils, much more do I condemn men. 5th, and most aptly, He will make the world see its own condemnation, when it beholds itself condemned in the person of its head; when He will enable the Apostles, by invoking the Name of Jesus, to cast him forth from the temples and idols in which the world worshipped him, and also from the souls and bodies of men, thus overthrowing his kingdom. For if God spared not the angels who sinned, neither will He spare the guilty world; if He spared not the head, so also will He spare not his members and subjects. So S. Augustine, Bede, Rupertus, Maldonatus, Ribera, and others.

Justin Martyr uses this same argument (Dial. cum Tryphone), also Tertullian (ad Serpulam and Apolog. cap. xxxvi.), S. Cyprian (ad Demetrius), Origen (lib. i. contr. Celsum), S. Athanasius (de Incar. Verbi), Lactantius (ii. 6), and others.

Hear S. Augustine (de Verb. Dom. Serm. lx.): “By his very casting out he was judged, and the world is convicted by this judgment, because he who refuses to believe in Christ, in vain complains about the devil: For since he has been cast out and sentenced, though he is permitted to assail us from without, yet not only men but even women and boys have triumphed over him, as martyrs.” Also the same father (in loc.), “He is judged, that is irrevocably doomed to the judgment of eternal fire, and by this judgment is the world reproved, because it is judged with its prince, whom it imitates in his pride and impiety. Let men therefore believe in Christ, lest they be convicted of the sin of unbelief, which binds fast all sins; let them pass over into the ranks of the faithful, lest they be reproved by the righteousness of those, whom they do not imitate in being justified; let them beware of the future judgment, lest they be condemned with the prince of this world whom they do imitate.”

Joh 16:12  I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot bear them now.

I have yet many things to say to you (of the mysteries of the faith, of the conversion of the Gentiles, of the foundation and government of the Church, of the institution of priests and bishops, and the whole ecclesiastical hierarchy), but you cannot bear them now. Your mind cannot take in such weighty matters, both because it is weak and ill-informed, and so accustomed to the carnal ordinances of the Jews, as to be unable to conceive such lofty and spiritual subjects; and also because it is entirely occupied with sorrow, which keeps it from rising to the apprehension of so many and such noble subjects. But I will send the Holy Spirit, who will by His enlightenment make you capable of hearing and comprehending them. So S. Chrysostom, Cyril, Theophylact, and S. Augustine. Christ encourages His Apostles to lift up their hearts, and cherish the desire of apprehending these great mysteries by the coming of the Holy Spirit. We may thence infer that the Apostles and the Church advanced only by degrees in the knowledge of the mysteries of the faith, as the light of the sun gradually increases from dawn to mid-day. (See Son_6:9.) And every believer gradually grows in faith and holiness, as is said Pro_4:18.

Joh 16:13  But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself: but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak. And the things that are to come, he shall shew you.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, (see above xiv. 17), is come, He will teach you all truth, which it is fitting you should know in this life, both for guiding yourselves and all nations into the way of salvation. So S. Cyril, Theophylact, Euthymius. For He would not teach them all truth in this life, but in heaven. So S. Augustine and Bede. In the Greek [as in English Version] we read “will guide you into all truth.” For the way to attain truth is study, examination of Holy Scripture, the works of the Fathers, prayer and invocation of the Holy Spirit. It is therefore clear that the Holy Spirit gradually taught the Apostles more and greater mysteries. It is plain from Acts x. that long after Pentecost He revealed to S. Peter that the Gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles, and from Acts xv. that the Gentiles were not to be circumcised, or obliged to keep the law of Moses. Wherefore on the Thursday after Pentecost the Church prays, “We beseech Thee, 0 Lord, that the Comforter, who proceedeth from Thee, may enlighten our hearts, and lead them, as Thy Son promised, into all truth.”

For he shall not speak of himself: but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak. (1.) S. Chrysostom explains, He shall not teach anything contrary to what I have taught (so also S. Cyril, Theophylact, Rupertus, Maldonatus). S. Chrysostom says, This is added, lest by saying that the Holy Spirit would teach all truth, He should make Him greater than the Son, as though He did not teach all truth. (2.) S. Ambrose (de Spirit. Sancto, ii. 12) explains, “He shall not speak of Himself,” i.e., not without participation with the Father and Myself, and therefore what He shall speak the Father and the Son will speak also. (3.) S. Augustine: “He speaks as breathed by the Father and the Son.” (4.) It is best explained by joining together the last two meanings in this way: He will not speak of Himself, but by the will of the Father and Myself, for He is “of” Both. (See Didymus de Sp. S.) Christ here alludes to men who are said to speak “of themselves” when they invent anything out of their own brain, and not according to the truth of things. But to speak in this way “of Himself,” the Spirit could not do. But again, Christ wished to teach that the Father and Himself were both the source of truth, and also of the Holy Spirit Himself, and therefore that the Holy Spirit would teach the same truth as He had taught. For what He hath heard from eternity, He hears, and will hear for ever, as deriving it together with His Divine Essence both from the Father and the Son. Christ also often said that He spake not of Himself, but what He heard from the Father. For to the Father belongs the source of origin, of essence, and of knowledge. Hear S. Augustine (in loc.): “For Him to hear is to know, and to know is to Be. From Him from whom He proceeds, is His essence, His knowledge and His hearing. The Holy Spirit ever hears, because He ever knows.” And Didymus: “But that the Father speaks and the Son hears, signifies their common nature and consent. But the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth and wisdom, cannot when the Son speaks hear what He knew not before, since it is of His very nature to proceed from the Son, proceeding as the truth from the truth, the Comforter from the Comforter, God from God.”

Again, S. Augustine (ibid.) “Let it not move you that the word is used in the future tense, for that hearing is sempiternal, because that knowledge is sempiternal. But in that which is sempiternal, without beginning and without end, a verb of particular tense is put. Nor do we say untruthfully, ‘Was,’ and ‘Is,’ and ‘Will be:’ ‘Was’ because it never was wanting, ‘Will be’ because it never will be wanting, ‘Is’ because it ever is.”

And the things that are to come, he shall shew you.  He will teach you every truth which concerns yourselves and your office: not only past and present, but also future. He will make you, not only Apostles and Evangelists, but will bestow on you the gift of Prophecy (see Act_10:28; Act_20:29; Act_21:11.) The Apocalypse of S. John is almost a continuous prophecy, for it was fitting that the Apostles should be superior to the Prophets of old. Whence Didymus says (de Spirit. Sancto): “By the Spirit of truth a perfect knowledge of future events is conferred on the Saints, and by this Prophets looked on things future as though they were present. For the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth which reveals all truths, even those that are future. For it is the Spirit of Eternal Wisdom which maketh friends of God and Prophets” (Wisd. 7:27). S. Chrysostom gives the reason. He roused in this way the mind of the Apostles; for mankind are most eager to know the future. He therefore freed them from this anxiety, by showing that the future would be revealed to them.

Analogically, Bede says: “Show them things to come; i.e., the joys of the heavenly country and the sufferings they would have to endure for Christ. The Interlinear Gloss says, “Not only what will happen in time, but also in eternity, inflaming them with the love of them.

Joh 16:14  He shall glorify me: because he shall receive of mine and shall shew it to you.

He shall glorify Me. By showing Me to be the Son of God: or with S. Augustine (in log.), “By shedding abroad love in men’s hearts, and making them spiritual, He declared to them that the Son was equal to the Father, though they had before known Him in the flesh. And the Apostles, filled with boldness by that very love, and having banished fear, proclaimed Christ to men, and thus was His fame spread abroad over the whole world; for that which they would do by the Holy Spirit, He said that the Holy Spirit would Himself do.”

Because He shall receive of mine.  For He shall receive of mine. That is, of My Divine Essence, says Nazianzen (Orat. de Fide.), and consequently of My will and knowledge, for this He ought to announce to you, say S. Cyril, Chrysostom, Jansenius, Toletus, and others. Didymus observes: “The Son, in giving, loses not that which He bestows, nor does He impart it to others, to His own loss. Nor does the Holy Spirit receive that which He had not before. The Holy Spirit must be understood to receive from the Son in such a manner that the substance of both the giver and receiver should be recognised as One: and so also the Son receives His subsistence from the Father.” Maldonatus thus, “He will receive of Mine, that is, He will come in My name, and as My Legate will teach no other doctrine than Mine.” But this seems foreign to the subject. Nonnus wrongly paraphrased, “He shall receive of My Father,” as though the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father only.

From this passage the Fathers (and even the Council of Florence, sess. 25) prove both the Divinity of Christ, and the Procession of the Holy Spirit from both the Father and the Son. Maldonatus quotes them fully, and also Bellarmine (de Christo, lib. ii. 23 and 24 chap.) And Theodorus of Heraclea (in Cat. Græc.) learnedly says, “The Holy Spirit was a witness of the Divinity of the Only Begotten, since He came of His essence, and made known His essence,” for the Holy Spirit could not have been breathed forth except by Him who was God.

But why did Christ say “of Mine” and not “of Me”? I reply, Because the Holy Spirit received not from the Son all that is in the Son. He received His essence, but not His filiation. But it is from His essence and filiation that He is constituted as the Son, according to our mode of conceiving it. And Christ so explains it in the next verse, “All things that the Father hath are mine,” &c. Hence it is plain that “of Mine” means the same as “all things that the Father hath are Mine,” i.e., the Godhead with all its attributes. Hence Theophylact explains, “of Mine,” i.e., of the Treasure of the Godhead, which is in Me. Heretics therefore wrongly contended from these words that the Holy Spirit was not God by nature, but only by participation (see S. Augustine in loc., and S. Cyril, Thesaur. xiii. 4), for He participates in the Divine Nature, which has no parts, but is wholly indivisible and most simple Being.

He shall receive of mine. That is, He has received from all eternity, still receives, and will ever receive; for the future embraces all time, and is most like eternity, for it endures for ever, just like the breathing of the Holy Spirit. The meaning of the passage is this: Sorrow not, because when I am gone ye will be deprived of your Teacher. For I will send you the Holy Ghost, who, as being purely the Divine Spirit, will teach you all things which concern the salvation of your spirit. But when He is teaching you, because He receives all things from Me from whom He proceeds, He will make known to you My Brightness and Glory, for He will receive from Me all things which He will declare to you, and thus I shall speak through Him, and show Myself to you. And marvel not at this: for I, by My eternal generation, have received from My Father everything which He Himself has, and I have therefore received from Him to be with Him the one principle (origin) of the Holy Spirit.

Joh 16:15  All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine. Therefore I said that he shall receive of me and shew it to you.

All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine.  For all things, saying His paternity (says the Council of Florence), the Father, by begetting the Son, communicated to Him. He therefore communicated to the Son the power of breathing forth the Holy Spirit, which He Himself has. He therefore adds in explanation, “Therefore I said, He shall receive of Mine and shall declare it to you. By using the Name Father He declared Himself to be the Son, but did not claim the Paternity, as Sabellius taught. But all things which the Father hath in His substance, His eternity, His unchangeableness, His goodness—all these hath the Son also.” And S. Hilary (de Trinit. lib. viii.) says, “He teaches that all things which are to be received from the Father, are yet received from Himself, for all things the Father hath are His. The general statement (universitas) does not admit of distinction.” And hence it is again inferred that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, for the Son hath all things which the Father hath, saving His Paternity. But the Father has actively the power of breathing forth the Holy Spirit, therefore the Son hath the same. For if the Father and the Son had not all things in common, saving their opposite relation to each other [as Father and Son], they would be distinguished by more than relation, and consequently be diverse in substance. For the Father as breathing forth [the Spirit] is not correlative to the Son. And therefore if He is distinguished from the Son by His breathing forth the Spirit, He is distinguished by it, not as something relative, but as a kind of “form” subsisting in the Father, and therefore the Father and the Son differ in substance, which is the Arian heresy.

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

For in a few hours I shall die on the cross, and be buried, but in three days I shall rise again, and manifest Myself to you with great joy, for I shall shortly afterwards ascend into heaven, and sit at the right hand of the Father. For I shall not be detained by death, but shall conquer it in My own Person, and with you overcome it also. So S. Chrysostom, Cyril, Leontius, Theophylact, Euthymius, &c., S. Augustine, Bede, and Maldonatus explain it otherwise. I shall abide with you for forty days only, and then after My ascension ye will see Me no more, then after another “little time,” ye will see Me again, in the day of judgment, and the general resurrection, when I shall take you both in body and soul into heaven with Myself, I will bless and glorify you. For I go to My Father, to reign with Him in glory until that time. And this whole period, though one of many thousand years, is but like a small point compared with the eternity of God.

Hear S. Augustine (in loc.): “The whole space which the present age of the world passes through is but a little while. As the same Evangelist says (1Jo_2:18), ‘It is the last hour.'” And further on, “This ‘little while’ seems long to us, because it is yet going on. But when it is ended, we shall feel how short it has been. Let not then our joy be like that of the world, of which it is said ‘the world shall rejoice.’ Nor let us be sorrowful, and without joy, in our travailing with this longing desire, but as the Apostle says, ‘Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation,’ because she who is in travail (to whom we are compared) rejoices more at the child which will be born of her, than she sorrows for her present suffering.” Hence the Psalmist and after him 2 Peter iii. 8, One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, &c.

Joh 16:17  Then some of his disciples said one to another: What is this that he saith to us: A little while, and you shall not see me: and again a little while, and you shall see me, and, Because I go to the Father?
Joh 16:18 They said therefore: What is this that he saith, A little while? We know not what he speaketh.

Then some of his disciples said one to another: What is this that he saith to us…We know not what he speaketh.    Christ’s words seemed to be obscure, a very enigma, and no wonder, for it is just the same to many Christians even now. Christ did this intentionally, to rouse the minds of the sorrowing Apostles to ask the meaning of this strange expression: so that He, in His answer, might remove, or anyhow mitigate, their sorrow. S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euthymius give two reasons for their asking: because His words were obscure in themselves; and secondly, because they were weighed down with sorrow. Rupertus adds that they did not yet certainly believe that He would rise again on the third day. S. Augustine and Bede give a further reason for their being troubled at the twice repeated expression “a little while;” namely, that the brief pleasure of this life is changed, in the next life, into eternal and unbounded joy. Sec 2Co_4:17. Take which view you prefer.

4 Responses to “Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary On John 16:5-17”

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  3. […] Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 16:5-14. Includes verses 15-17. […]

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