James Nisbet Commentary - John 16:33 - 16:33

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James Nisbet Commentary - John 16:33 - 16:33

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:


‘In the world’; ‘In Me.’


These words are part of the closing sentences of our dear Lord’s last address. They tell of a life the disciples must inevitably lead.

I. Two contrasted conceptions.—‘In the world’; ‘In Me.’ The matter treated of is the life and experience of the disciple, his field and sphere of existence. This is described, in one breath, as ‘in Me’; and, in the next, nay, is the same, as ‘in the world.’ Can these two locations belong to the same individual at the same time? Must not the man fly to and fro? Not so; in the Lord’s thought the two positions are intended to be simultaneous and combined; the contrasts, harmonious; the opposites to be poles of one sphere.

II. A simple simile may illustrate the truth. This is a matter of concentric circles. The central point is the Christian man. Around him rolls, as the necessary outer circle of his life, the world—disordered by sin, alienated from God. Whether he will or no the Christian is in it, as a man is in mid-ocean though he may be borne along by a great liner above the depths. But the same disciple is also in Christ. A concentric circle, closer and nearer, is about him in the midst of the tumult, and it is the Lord. While the outer circle rolls round that centre with all its agitation, the inner circle is the peace of God Himself. It is the Presence of Him who has overcome the world.

III. It was true of old.—In Rome, in Corinth, the saints were yet more in Christ.

IV. It is true to-day.—In toil, sorrow, pain, opposition, temptation, the children of God do still, abiding in Christ, prove more than conquerors.

Bishop H. C. G. Moule.


‘They are wise and blessed who all along listen to both voices; who believe, indeed, that God created them in love, created them for happiness; and still remember all along that when God sent His only begotten Son into this world it was for a life of humiliation and suffering; who hold fast to the true instinct that all pure happiness is God’s gift, God’s glad and loving bounty to us; and still remember that the crown of all His giving cannot be in the things of this world, and may be through the loss even of that which in all these scenes of time is best; who in the hours of true-hearted gladness still keep their hearts free to part with it, to rise and come up higher, if God bids them, even though it be by the way of the Cross. Wise and blessed are they, for they will know, when tribulation comes, what indeed it means, and it should be met without hesitation or perplexity or complaint; they will have in their hearts that inner light which can make glad even a life of toil and pain; for they will have learnt already the royalty of unmurmuring patience, and found in Christ their Lord the way of peace.’