John 16:8-11 - 8 And He, when [the Holy Spirit] comes, [he] will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

In John 16:10, Jesus speaks about righteousness, what the Holy Spirit would do, because Jesus was going to the father ...

But why is that justice, how to understand that?

  1. Is it righteousness thát Jesus goes to his Father and people don't see him again because they are (still) sinners because they don't know Jesus because the Paracletus wasn't sent yet?
  2. Or was Jesus just saying that it was necessary for the Holy Spirit to come to fulfill these roles, since he would be going to the father?

In other words what exactly is meant by the word 'because'? Does it refer to a kind of definition (1) or does it refers to a kind of causality (2)?

  • Marijn - I suggested a clarification to your question. Please feel free to reject it. But, if you could edit it a little it would help to clear up any misunderstanding. Feb 17, 2016 at 23:02
  • 1
    @JamesShewey - Thanks for the review -- I understand "justice" as the "theme" of text itself, not necessarily because it is stated explicitly. ... "and concerning righteousness, (justice)" .. "conviction", judgment, etc. "Righteous" and "Just" are also considered synonyms, (especially in languages other than English). I hope the OP can weigh in. Feb 18, 2016 at 7:38
  • I edited it. But also my comment on the answer of Br. Christofer can perhaps explain what I mean
    – Marijn
    Feb 18, 2016 at 8:54
  • I made a slight edit to focus this on the original audience rather than on modern religious followers. Keep in mind that we focus solely on the original context of the text without its application to modern religious groups.
    – Dan
    Feb 18, 2016 at 19:55
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    (1) The problem, a survey of interpretations, and his own proposal ("with some diffidence") were helpfully set out by D.A. Carson (The function of the Paraclete in John 16:7-11, JBL 98/4 (1979) 547-566.). See especially the discussion of "explicative" vs. "causal" hoti (= "that" vs. "because"). (2) We also have a Q&A here (What does it mean to convict the world concerning righteousness?) -- is this different? (3) I think there may be a word missing from the title -- "concerning righteousness", is it?
    – Susan
    Feb 18, 2016 at 21:03

4 Answers 4


A few verses earlier Jesus says that He is leaving, and that He has to go so that the comforter (the Holy Spirit) will be sent. The verse you are questioning is in a list of the things that the Holy Spirit will do. Verse 16:8 says that the Holy Spirit will reprove the world of sin, righteousness, and judgement.

Your verse in question 16:10 means that the Holy Spirit will demonstrate righteousness to the world in Jesus' absence. This is because Jesus is going to His Father and will see those in this world no more, therefore the Holy Spirit will have to demonstrate righteousness to the world.

You can't take the verse in isolation and come up with the meaning, you need the context of the verse to understand it.

  • Ok, the HS will demonstrate righteousness and the HS is given because Jesus went to his Father. So you interpret the word 'because' as a condition for sending the HS. But you can also see the word 'because' as an explanation of what righteousness is and following that verse it looks like that rigtheousness is that Jesus goes to His Father and stays there. So could it be that Jesus wanted to say that only who is without any sin and is the son of God (Jesus Himself) belongs to God and stays with God and that judgement of believe given by the HS is righteousness?
    – Marijn
    Feb 17, 2016 at 19:26
  • +in 16:8 Jesus is saying that the Holy Spirit will convict (or reprove in the KJV) of sin, righteousness, and Judgement. In 16:10 Jesus implies that He was in Judgement of people while He was here, and that the Holy Spirit will be the one who takes over the "reproving" of Judgement since He will no longer be seen. Feb 24, 2016 at 2:21

What does John 16:10 mean ?

It is rather hard not to notice the similarity between John 16:10-11, and Christ's earlier words, from the same Supper, recorded at the end of chapter 14, specifically verses 28 and 30 :

John 14:28 [...] If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said I go unto the Father, for my Father is greater than I. 30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you, for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.

(Personally, I am somewhat perplexed that no one seems to have mentioned them at all, either here, or on the related thread).

It would appear that, in these two passages, Christ is perceiving His earthly departure to be a cause for joy, rather than sorrow, considering it a just or righteous thing, since, in His own words, He is going (back) to His Father – and what Son would not want to do that ? And then, (almost) immediately after, in both of these instances, He mentions the prince or ruler of this world.


I am encouraged by several parallels to suspect that Jesus is assuring the disciples that although he is departing he has no intention of failing to make provision for the various needs of the disciples and their ministry, which is to continue after he leaves:

Berean Study Bible 2 Peter 1: 14since I know that it will soon be laid aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15And I will make every effort to ensure that after my departure, you will be able to recall these things at all times.

NIV 2 Tim 4: 5But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 6For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.

NIV Acts 20: 28Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God,a which he bought with his own blood.b 29I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. 32“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

These are just a few examples but there are others.


Note: Revised, following clarification of the question, (intend to provide more references).

Outline: (1.) Question Restatement (2.) Answer (3.) Greek Analysis (4.) Explanation

1. Question Restatement

In John 16:10, it speaks of Justice and Judgment in relationship to Jesus returning to the father -- How is that a part of justice?

NASB, John 16:7-11 - 7 ... for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.

8 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9... and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me;

2. Answer

Because is implying a necessary correlation, and collaboration, and doesn't imply that going to the father was -- by itself -- "righteousness":

Because Jesus would soon be fulfilling his role before the father -- then the Holy Spirit could fulfill his appointed role regarding righteousness -- on Earth.

That is, the two are going to fulfill their roles in parallel -- only because they will be doing it together.

"*The agreement is that we must act together; therefore you can act, because I am acting, and in agreement -- because, we cannot act separately, [analogous to parental rights]."

The Holy Spirit could now fulfil his role to instruct and convict -- because Jesus would also be fulfilling his role -- working together, as prophesied.

Together, these two roles facilitate justice: as an advocate to instruct and convict -- and an advocate to defend to pursue mercy -- justice demands both.

Jesus' statement was actually in reference to many prophecies concerning him, and the Holy Spirit -- which would be fulfilled in this.

3. The Greek

The text says that the role of the Holy Spirit is as a "Helper, (παράκλητος)" -- which means "advocate", or an "attorney" in this context.

Greek Usage in the New Testament:

1 John 2:1 N-AMS Biblehub.com link

GRK: τις ἁμάρτῃ παράκλητον ἔχομεν πρὸς

NAS: we have an Advocate with the Father,

Given the context of "Justice, Judgment, and Sin", translating "Helper" as "Advocate" brings clarity to what Jesus is speaking about.

Usage outside of the Bible:

Eusebius, History of Church, Book 5:10, (Greek, English): - But those about the judgment seat cried out against him, ... he, confessing this with a loud voice, was himself taken into the order of the witnesses, being called the Advocate of the Christians, but having the Advocate in himself, the Spirit more abundantly than Zacharias.

4. Explanation

The Holy Spirit As Advocate, (Helper):

God prophesied that The Holy Spirit would be given this role to fulfill on earth -- to expose the judgments of men, what is just, what is sin -- to vindicate his own name:

Ezekiel 36:22 - “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.

23 I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,” declares the Lord God, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.

27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

Jesus as Advocate, Helper:

Scripture speaks of Jesus as an "advocate" for people--before the father.

NASB, 1 John 2:1 - My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;

Because -- even from the Garden, God taught that mercy triumphs over judgment -- that the advocacy of one person for another -- supersedes condemnation under the law.

NASB, James 2:13 - For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

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