An Exposition Of The Gospels by The Most Rev. John Macevilly D.D.

In this chapter, our Lord forewarns His followers of the sufferings and persecutions in store for them, on account of their steady adhesion to Him. These things He predicts, in order to strengthen their faith, on witnessing the accomplishment of His predictions (1–8).

The effects of the coming of the promised Paraclete in regard to the world, and the sin of which He will convict them (8–12).

The results of His coming in regard to our Lord Himself and His disciples (12–15). While forewarning them of passing sorrow arising from His departure, He promises them lasting joy which is to succeed it (22). He encourages them to present their petitions to His Father in His own name, with the assurance of obtaining their requests. The great love of His Father for them (23–25).

Their profession of faith in Him which was confirmed by His words (29–31).

He guards them against vain glory, by telling them that in a short time their firmness will yield to fear, when each of them will provide, as best He can, for his own safety, leaving Him alone in the hands of His enemies.

He assures them that after sufferings and persecutions from the world, they will come off with Him victorious over the world (33).


1. “These things have I spoken to you,” etc. I have forewarned you of the persecutions shortly to befall you, and of the coming of the Holy Ghost, “that you may not be scandalized,” so that, when they come; being forewarned, you may be prepared for them, and be aware, that these things were your portion as My followers; and that, therefore, they may not have the effect of turning you aside from the right path, or cause you to stumble on your direct way to heaven; especially, when you may expect My Spirit, the Spirit of truth, to strengthen and console you.

2. You shall be subjected to the greatest indignities. “They shall,” ignominiously, “cast you out of their Synagogues,” and subject you to excommunication (see 9:22. “Synagogue,” see Matthew 4:23).

Not content with insults, they shall proceed to grievous bodily harm, and inflict on you the greatest bodily injury, nay, even death; and shall fancy that by so doing, they are only worshipping God, offering Him a most pleasing act of sacrifice and religious service, and only displaying their zeal in the cause and defence of His holy law, of which you are supposed to be the enemies. Of this, St. Paul furnishes a practical illustration in his persecution of the Christians.

3. Far from excusing the gross, affected ignorance of the Jews, which rather aggravated their guilt, He tells the Apostles, that it is because “they knew not,” nor wished to know, what He demonstrated by the clearest evidence of miracles, viz., that God was His Father; and that He was the Eternal Son of God, they acted thus. He thus consoles the Apostles by suggesting to them, that they had the knowledge which their persecutors rejected; and that it was a source of glory for them to suffer, on account of unalterably embracing this knowledge and suffering for it. This was afterwards realized (Acts 5:41).

4. You will have to endure great suffering, “but these things I have told you,” beforehand, to show My Divine prescience, so that the fulfilment of My prediction may confirm you further in the belief in My Divinity, and arm you with strength to undervalue these sufferings that when you are enduring them, “you may remember that I forewarned you.” This will have the effect of increasing your confidence in Me, your Lord and Master, who might prevent them if I pleased. I shall be myself a spectator of your combat, strengthening you, so as to secure for you the crown of eternal life.

5. “These things I told you not, from the beginning,” of My ministry, of My familiar intercourse with you, when, as My devoted followers and Apostles, you constantly attended Me; because, they would be too servere a trial to your incipient faith; and because, I was Myself present to protect you, “because I was with you.” But now, on the point of leaving and returning to My Father to reap, after My death, the fruit of eternal glory, it is not expedient to conceal them from you; and, therefore, I forewarn you. Although our Lord had spoken of persecutions in store for His Apostles and followers (Matthew 10:17; Luke 12:12; 21:12; Mark 13:9), still, He did not speak of them in detail, nor as so near, or, so atrocious or persistent as he does here.

“And now I go … and none of you asketh Me,” etc. Our Lord after announcing what is recorded above, is supposed to be silent for a moment, waiting to see if any of them would interrogate Him as to the nature and circumstances of His departure, or the glory that He had in store for their fidelity and heroism in suffering for His sake. They had asked Him already through Thomas (c. 14:5); but now, He says, as if surprised at their silence, “none of you asketh Me,” on the eve of My departure, as is usual between friends, “whither goest Thou?”

6. “But,” overwhelmed with sorrow, on account of My having spoken of My near departure, you have omitted questioning Me about what would assuage that sorrow, and should be a source of joy on account of the blessings of which My departure will be productive. He reproaches them mildly for their untimely sorrow and cowardice.

7. “It is expedient,” etc. He already spoke of the advantage it would bring Him to depart (14:28). Here, He spoke of the advantage it would bring them.

To dispel their sorrow, He announces to them a consoling truth, which would dissipate their erroneous ideas regarding His departure, and the bereavement it would cause them, which, as emanating from Him, they should believe. This truth was, that far from being an evil, as regards them, His departure, on the contrary, would be to them a source of blessings.

“For, if I go not, the Paraclete.” This sweet Comforter, so often promised you, to console you and teach you all truth—“will not come.” My departure by death, and by glorification in the bosom of My Father, is a necessary condition for the coming of this Paraclete—a necessary step to wean My followers from too much attachment to Me personally, and thus render them fit for the reception of the Holy Spirit, and the full participation in the blessings of His coming.

“But, if I go, I will send Him to you.” This shows the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son as well as from the Father; and also the distinction of persons. The person sending is distinct from the person sent.

8. The public and palpable effect of His coming will be, this: “He will convince,” clearly and undeniably exhibit to the gaze of the universe, the crimes of “the world,” perverse worldly-minded men, and bring home to their doors, “convince them,” “of sin, justice,” etc.

9. “Of sin,” consisting in the great damning sin of infidelity and stubborn unbelief—the chief source of their spiritual and eternal misery; “because,” with the clearest evidence of My Divinity, “they believed not in Me,” nor in the teaching and miracles of the Apostles which emanated from the Holy Ghost, whom they received.

10. “Of justice.” They shall be convicted of the want of true justice bestowed on sincere believers, the foundation and root of which is faith, “the evidence of things which appear not” (Heb. 11:1).

“Because I,” withdrawing My visible presence, “go to the Father,” to enjoy His glory, and by being invisible to the world, shall become a prominent object of faith. By not believing in Me, whom they no longer see, they are bereft of true justice (see end of next verse).

11. “And of judgment,” of a heavy judgment of well-merited condemnation. For, its head, “the prince of this world,” who tyrannically rules over the children of unbelief, the enemy of man’s salvation, “is already judged,” already condemned, deprived of his dominion over men, through My Passion, as he unjustly assailed Me. (The past, “is judged,” is put for the near future. He shall be driven out of the bodies of men, out of pagan temples by My Apostles, at the invocation of My name. This condemnation will be rendered still more manifest in the ruin of idolatry, and the cure of Energumenists, through My Apostles, strengthened by the Holy Ghost. All the members of whom Satan is head, viz., the wicked, shall share in his fate, being condemned in this world and the next.

Others understand “justice,” of the justice and innocence of Christ. The Holy Ghost will prove to the world, that Christ is just and innocent, the source of true justice in all.

“Because I go to the Father,” in the very same flesh I had here. Hence, they have now no pretext, as heretofore, for not believing in Him and regarding Him as just and innocent, now that He shall have risen glorious from the dead, to prove His Divinity and shall have ascended to His Father (St. Chrysostom). The reason assigned for His convicting the world, “of justice,” viz., “because I go to the Father,” would render this opinion probable, as it seems that it has some reference to our Lord, “because I go,” etc.; or, He shall convict the world, Jew and Gentile, of their false justice, which they boasted of as grounded on the works of the law, or moral works; whereas, through Me only can true justice come, by faith. “Because I go to the Father.” Hitherto, they were scandalized at My preaching, and My humble, infirm condition. But I shall be fully vindicated when, after My death and Resurrection, I ascend in glory to My Father, and send down My Spirit, who will sanctify and justify My faithful, and make it clear to the world, that I am not a mere man; but, a Man-God.

“And you shall see Me no longer.” I shall be invisible to all men.

12. “I have yet many things to say to you,” many explanations regarding the profound points of doctrine I delivered to you; many additional matters beyond those spoken of already, probably, relating to the mysteries of faith, the conversion of the Gentiles, the government of the Church.

“But you cannot bear them now.” You are too rude, in point of intellect, and too imperfect in spiritual knowledge, not to speak of the sadness with which you are overwhelmed, “to bear them,” to profit by them. But the Holy Ghost shall fully teach you. Hence, He inspires them with a longing desire for the descent of the Holy Ghost.

13. “But when He”—the Paraclete—“the Spirit of truth,” who is, by essence, truth itself, and the source of all truth, “is come,” already promised to you, by Me (15:26), “He will teach you,” without ambiguity, in the infused gifts of wisdom and knowledge, “all truth,” necessary and expedient for you to know in this life, for your own sanctification, and for teaching all nations. He will lead you into a knowledge of all the truth, which I refrain from laying fully before you on account of your inability to profit by it at present. He will supplement what I am obliged now to omit. This He will do gradually as the occasion may require, and not all at once on His descent at Pentecost. Later on, He disclosed to Peter (Acts 10), the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles; and also that the Gentiles were not to be circumcised according to the law of Moses. (Acts 15, etc.)

The knowledge “of all truth,” without exception, is not imparted to us by the Holy Ghost, in this life. It is reserved for us, in heaven.

The Greek for “teach,” ὁδηγησει means, to conduct or guide straightway, that is, He will give you to understand and know all truth, which you cannot now bear. This is substantially expressed by the words, “to teach all truth.”

“For He shall not speak of Himself.” Some understand this to mean, He shall speak the truth and nothing else, as He shall not speak from Himself. Others say, it is meant to inform them that the Holy Ghost will teach them the truths, which our Lord did not think it right to lay before them now, on account of their incapacity. And not being from Himself, but proceeding from the Father and the Son, the Holy Ghost shall not speak from Himself.

“But what things soever He shall hear, He shall speak.” This our Lord adds, to obviate any false notion, that the Holy Spirit, who was to teach all things, was greater than the Son, or, would teach anything not in perfect accordance with His teaching. “Shall hear,” as legate. These things He shall speak, and nothing else.

This knowledge, which is the same as His essence and existence, was communicated to the Holy Ghost in His eternal procession from the Father and the Son, from whom He proceeded from all eternity. This argues no inferiority in the Holy Ghost, any more than it would argue inferiority in the Son, who speaks what is communicated to Him by His Father, who begot Him by an eternal generation (12:49, 50; 14:10; 15:15). So also the Holy Ghost speaks what was communicated to Him in His Eternal Procession, by the Father and the Son.

“And the things that are to come, He shall show you.” He will not only impart a knowledge of things past, but also of things to come. He shall endow them with a spirit of prophecy, and a foreknowledge, especially of what is necessary for them to know, on teaching the nations, in founding His Church, and ruling it in their own day, and through their successors in future ages. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Apoc. 19:10). The Apostles exercised this gift of prophecy (Acts 11:28; 20:29)

14. “He shall glorify Me.” He shall reveal to the world, through the preaching of the Apostles, the Divinity of Christ, and make known His Attributes, His infinite justice, mercy, etc., thus rendering His holy name celebrated and glorious throughout the earth.

“Because He shall receive of Mine.” All this knowledge He shall receive, or has already received, in His Eternal Procession from the Father and Me; from the fulness of My knowledge and wisdom, which is the same as that of My Father (v. 15). “And shall show it to you.” Our Lord here shows that the Holy Ghost is Consubstantial with Himself, by receiving from Him that knowledge of future things, which is essential to Him and belongs to His Divinity, since it belongs to God alone to predict future events. He speaks in the future tense. For, this knowledge, although communicated from eternity, has reference here to its communication, at a future period, to the Apostles and the faithful; and He speaks of the Holy Ghost, as if it were made known to Him only when He imparted it to the Apostles and the believers. From this verse, the Fathers generally and the Council of Florence (SS. 25) proved the Divinity of Christ and the Procession of the Holy Ghost, from the Son as well as from the Father.

15. Lest it might be imagined from His saying, “He shall receive of Mine,” that the Son had this from Himself, and might detract from His Father’s glory, he adds, that whatever the Son hath, the Attributes of Power, Wisdom, etc., these He received from the Father. These, which were essentially His, were communicated to Him, with His essential existence in His eternal generation from His Father. All these essential Attributes of the Divine nature they have equally and in common; and hence, “I said, He shall receive of Mine,” which are the Father’s also The Holy Ghost had these communicated to Him in His Eternal Procession from us both, Father and Son. They were possessed equally and in common by three Divine Persons, who are perfectly equal in all things.

From this is proved the Procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and Son. The Son was begotten of the Father by an eternal generation. The Holy Ghost proceeded from both by a common active spiration.

16. “A little while,” after a short interval of a few hours, between this and My death, “and you shall not see Me.” I shall be invisible during the short time My body shall be committed to the grave, after dying on the cross in indescribable torture.

“And again a little while,” after being confined for a short time to the tomb.

“And you shall see Me,” when I shall appear glorious to you after My Resurrection, to strengthen and console you. The first “little while” embraced the interval between the time He spoke and His death; the second “little while,” the interval between His death and Resurrection.

“Because I go to the Father.” This was why they would not see Him; because, by His Father’s ordinance, He was to die and thus become invisible; and afterwards rise again from the grave, and then, and not till then, He was to return to the Father, from whose bosom He descended by assuming human nature, in order to redeem the human race.

Others interpret it thus, “A little while.” After a short time of forty days, which intervenes between this and My Ascension, “you shall not see Me.”

But after “a little while,” again, “you shall see Me,” coming at the end of the world, in glory to judge mankind. “Because I go to the Father,” to enjoy the glory which I merited by My Passion, and then return, after a short interval, at the end of the world. The time between His Ascension and the General Judgment is, in the computation of God, but a mere point.

17, 18. Very likely, our Lord spoke in an obscure enigmatical way, in order to invite His Apostles to put Him some questions for explanation, the answers to which would arrest their attention, and make things more clear and intelligible to them. This would serve to strengthen and console them in their depressed state of sorrow.

19. Our Lord, in virtue of His Divine prescience, knew their inmost thoughts and their secret desires to be enlightened as to the meaning of His words. He anticipates their questions, and shows Himself to be God, the searcher of hearts, which God alone can be.

Instead of directly answering their questions as to the meaning of a “little while,” or, its duration, or what would happen them, He describes the effect of the sorrow which they would feel during the “little while” He was invisible in His death and sepulture; and of their joy during the short period of His manifestation to them.

20. “Amen, amen,” a form which accompanies or precedes solemn asseveration.

“You shall lament and weep,” after the first “little while,” when I shall be taken away from you by death.

“But the world”—the Jews and the votaries of this world, My murderers—shall rejoice over My death, and this rejoicing shall add to your sorrow.

“And you shall be made sorrowful,” plunged in sorrow, while they are rejoicing. But this, your sorrow, shall be only passing and temporary; it shall be succeeded by never ending joy, “turned into joy.”

21. He illustrates their passing sorrow and the abiding joy that is to succeed it by describing the feelings of passing sorrow and subsequent permanent joy, on the part of a mother during parturition, and after it.

22. “So, now also,” etc. This is the application of the foregoing parable. There is an implied comparison; hence, the particle, as, is understood in the preceding verse, thus; as “a woman in labour,” etc.

“So also you now,” etc. They will have sorrow on account of His death and departure, and in the course of life, they and their followers shall suffer sorrow and persecutions. “But I will see you,” etc., after My Resurrection, to console you for your passing bereavement, “and your heart shall rejoice,” at My resuscitation from the grave, “and your joy no one shall take from you.” It will be permanent, not liable to be taken away from you, like human joy. Your spiritual joy at My glory and Resurrection, and your union with Me and the certainty of eternal rewards, can never cease; because, I shall continue in My glorified state, never again to die; and I shall uphold your union with Me, and shall afford you, by My efficacious grace, every security, consistent with the exercise of human liberty, for reaping the never ending rewards stored up for you.

23. “And in that day,” when I shall render Myself visible to you in My glorified state, after My Resurrection, “you shall not ask Me anything.” The Greek word for “ask,” means, to interrogate. Hence, our Lord means to convey, that on that day of rejoicing, they shall not require to put any questions similar to those they had now in their minds, as to asking about His stay among them; because, then they shall fully see, from experience, what the meaning of a “little while” in both instances is. Or, the words, “in that day,” may embrace the whole time after His Resurrection, with special reference to the mystery of Pentecost. Then, enlightened partly by His own teaching, and partly by the Holy Ghost, they will not require to ask any questions about the matter, regarding which they were anxious to receive information now, before His death and the descent of the Holy Ghost.

“Amen, amen,” etc. From the subject of asking questions, our Lord proceeds, for their further consolation, to the subject of preferring requests, asking favours, which, He assures them, will be granted, if properly petitioned for.

“If you ask the Father,” after the withdrawal of My bodily presence, “any thing in My name,” through My merits, as Redeemer, which are impetratory to a boundless degree, and which our Lord transfers to us, so that we address the Father, as it were, in the person of Christ; through Me, as Mediator, now sitting at My Father’s right hand, to make intercession for you; through Me, as your head, who regards as received by Himself, whatever we, as His members, receive. Hence, the Church concludes her prayers with the words, “Per Dominum Nostrum Jesum Christum,” etc.

Every word is emphatic. “Amen, amen,” conveying a solemn asseveration, “I say to you,” “I”—whose promises cannot be frustrated—“say to you”—solemnly promise you as My friends, and all My faithful followers to the end of time, “if you ask the Father any thing,” which may be conducive to your eternal happiness, any thing not unworthy of God to grant.

“In My name” (see above). In this, it is also implied that it be asked with the dispositions He prescribes (see 1 John 5:14, Commentary).

“He will give it to you.” Hence, some require, as a condition, in order that our prayers be infallibly impetratory, that they be presented for ourselves, “to you.” If offered for others, they may place an obstacle to their receiving them.

If our petitions are not heard, the reason is because, “we ask amiss” (James 5:3). We want the necessary dispositions.

24. “Hitherto,” owing to His personal presence among them, they asked and obtained everything of Himself, and He obtained everything from the Father for them. They had not, as yet, recourse to His Father to obtain petitions through our Lord, as Redeemer, Mediator and Head, “in My name.” Now, on His departure from them, they need not be saddened; because, by having recourse directly to the Father, through His Son’s merits, they will receive from the Father all they want; so that, as a consequence, the joy they felt at His glorious Resurrection would be fully completed in every respect. “Your joy may be full,” by obtaining in this life, the full effect of their petitions in regard to sanctification; and in the next, everlasting glory. “Gratiam et gloriam dabit Dominus.” (Psa. 83)

25. “These things,” of which I spoke already regarding the “little while,” also regarding My departure, the coming of the Holy Spirit, prayer in My name, etc., “I spoke to you in proverbs,” in an obscure, enigmatical manner. It was expedient to do so in regard to them, considering their prejudices, and their unwillingness to believe, that He would die. “The hour cometh.” The hour of My glorious life is now at hand, when I shall no longer speak to you in this manner, but, “plainly of the Father.” As a source of consolation to you, I shall, during the forty days of My converse with you, after My Resurrection, and especially through My Holy Spirit, whom I shall send down upon you, speak in a plain, intelligible style, “of the Father,” of His perfections, of the mysteries of faith, the Trinity, Incarnation, economy of Redemption, and the other leading truths, which you are destined to promulgate to the world.

26. “In that day,” when I shall be seated glorious at the right hand of My Father, after having previously instructed you plainly regarding Him. “You shall ask in My name,” through My merits, according to the form of petition, to be henceforth adopted by the Church. “Per Dominum Nostrum,” etc.

“And I say not, that I will ask the Father,” etc. You shall be heard by Him without any intervention on My part. Our Lord by the expression, “I do not say,” etc., does not mean to convey, that He will cease to pray to the Father for us. For, “He is always making intercession for us” (Heb. 7:25; 9:24). He asks the Father for us (14:16; 17:9). He only means to convey, that He need not do so; as the Father will hear the Apostles and the rest of the faithful directly and immediately without the intervention of His Son. This is what is termed, præteritio, not, exclusio.

27. “For the Father Himself loveth you,” and anticipates the desires of your heart. By His preventing and concomitant graces, He enables you to be His friends and to earn His love. “He loveth you because you have loved Me,” His grace enabling you to do so, and you have believed, owing to the sweet influence of the same grace—“that I come out from God,” that I am the Son of God, that I descended from His bosom, from His throne in heaven, to assume human nature for the redemption of the human race. The Father, therefore, Himself loves you, and is desirous to shower down His blessings on you. For this, however, He requires, as a condition, that we earnestly pray for them. It is only by asking, “we shall receive.” As regards the efficacy of prayer. (See Matth. 6:8, Commentary on.)

28. “I came forth from the Father,” being born of Him, as His Son, by an eternal generation; I go forth again from Him. “I am come into the world,” by assuming human nature in the Virgin’s womb.

“Again I leave the world,” withdrawing My bodily and visible presence at My Ascension, “and go to the Father.” I return to Him, in my human nature, which He shall glorify, in reward for My humiliation and exalted merits.

29. “Thou speakest plainly, and no proverb,” without obscurity or ambiguity. By saying. “I go to the Father,” He explains what “a little while” meant.

30. “Now we know,” from experience, “that Thou knowest all things,” even the thoughts of the heart, Thou dost anticipate us by answering (v. 19), “and Thou needest not that any man should ask Thee,” to know the thoughts that are passing in our minds, since Thou dost anticipate our desires, and, of Thyself, dost explain away all our doubts.

“By this we believe that Thou comest forth from God.” On account of this knowledge of the secret thoughts of our hearts, “we believe,” more firmly still, than we hitherto believed in Thy Divinity.

Or, “by this.” This alone, if all other motives of credibility were wanting, is a sufficient reason for us to believe in your Divinity and Divine mission; since to God alone, it belongs to search the secrets of hearts.

31. “Do you now believe?” By which He insinuates, that, however confident they may seem to be; still, their faith, which He does not question, is not as firm as they may suppose, as was shortly afterwards proved, by their conduct and cowardice in circumstances of danger.

32. “And now is come,” just at hand, as Judas and his cohort were approaching. Not only will they fly, but they shall be scattered; each one providing as best he could for his own personal safety. Verifying the words, “percutiam pastorem et dispergentur oves” (Zach. 13:7).

“And shall leave Me alone,” in the hands of My enemies, thus fulfilling the prophecy recorded (Matthew 26:56). He shows the weakness of their faith and the absence of all manly courage in defence of it.

“And yet I am not alone,” etc., as if He said, I speak not thus not on my own account, but yours; since, inseparably and indissolubly united with My Father, I have His Omnipotence ever present to protect Me in every tribulation.

33. “These things” (14, 15, 16), “I have spoken to you,” I reminded you beforehand of your weakness; and informed you of the hatred which the world bears you, and its consequent persecution of you, so that by believing and loving Me, you may be prepared for them. Sensible of My paternal concern for you, you will retain “peace” and tranquillity of mind. In the midst of persecutions, by calling to mind My predictions and never failing promises of support, you will pass unmoved through the storms that may assail you in your passage through the world.

“In the world you will have distress.” Fancy not, that in the midst of that peace which I promised you, you will be free from tribulations and persecutions from the powers of this corrupt “world,” which hates and detests you.

“But, have confidence.” If your enemies are strong, He on whom you lean for support is stronger; nay, the conqueror of the world, which He overcame for your sakes also (1 John 5:4, 5). “I have overcome,” is said by anticipation, as it has reference to His future Passion, whereby He is sure to overcome the world. As I, the captain of your warfare, triumphed; so shall you, by adhering to Me, fighting manfully under my banners, and invoking My help against all your enemies, surely triumph over them, and give them a signal overthrow.

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