John 13:36 Simon Peter asked him, "Lord, where are you going?"

John 16:5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, 'Where are you going?'

Both happened on the night before Jesus was arrested. There was not much time elapsed between the two sayings.

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    Chrysostom's commentary can be found here. – Lucian Jul 18 '20 at 18:32

The answer here is actually simpler that it appears. I am happy to accept that the record we have in John 13-17 is an appropriate synopsis of the events as they occurred and in the order that they occurred.

In fact, the question about where Jesus was going was asked twice by two different disciples:

  • By Peter in John 13:36 - “Lord, where are You going?”
  • By Thomas (indirectly) in John 14:5 - “Lord,” said Thomas, “we do not know where You are going, so how can we know the way?”

In both cases, Jesus did not answer the question but instead discussed that which prompted the question in the first place - their grief at Jesus immanent departure.

Significantly, neither disciple followed up with a further question to extract the answer from Jesus about where He was going. The context also suggests that their earlier questions about where Jesus was going implied some obscure earthly location. They clearly did not understand about the "Father's house" in John 14:1-3. They we too grief stricken (John 16:6). See also John 16:17-19.

Therefore, in John 16:5, Jesus must bring them back to the same question and answers the question: "Now, however, I am going to Him who sent Me".

The disciples did not realize that Jesus' departure was for their best good because then Jesus could send the Comforter/Advocate, John 16:7-16.


You will seek Me, and even as I said to the Jews, Where I am going, you cannot come, now I say to you also. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. Simon Peter said to Him, Lord, where are You going? Jesus answered him, Where I go you cannot follow Me now, but you will follow later. Peter said to Him, Lord, why can't I follow You now? I will lay down my life for You.

(I have a question: When did they seek Him?) But Peter' brain, in John 13:33-37, skips over the matter of loving one another and gloms onto our Lord Jesus' statement that He's going, asking where. The Lord's given hints and spoken directly where throughout the Gospels, but few people got it, maybe only one, 12:7. Peter's next comment, though, unconsciously answers his first, and hits the nail on the head (compare 11:51).

13--17 appears chronological, all the conversation and doing taking place the evening of the Passover and Lord's suppers, fuller than the other Gospels. (I always took John as the most chronological. Doing a harmony here would be especially enjoyable.) Our Lord was going away, briefly, for "3 days" (only about 42 hours), to death, resurrection, and His Father, before returning. 14:2-3, for example, refer to this. Christians, mostly, seem to have mistaken 14:2-3 to speak of a long or 2000 or so -year going and Parousia yet to be. But that's not what Christ speaks of.

If I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will receive you to Myself, so that where I am you also may be. And where I am going you know the way. Thomas said to Him, Lord, we do not know where You are going; how can we know the way? Jesus said to him, I am the way and the reality and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.

Thomas in 14:3-6 had the same nonunderstanding and question as Peter. Jesus also is talking about the living Triune God (14:10, 17), who is God; beyond our wildest imaginings. Maybe that's why resurrection and the Triune God share the same number: 3. In any case, Philip takes a turn showing his ignorance (we'd all likely have done the same), 14:8. Then Judas (not Iscariot) asks a broader question--seems really good to me: "What has happened that You are to manifest Yourself to us and not to the world?" 14:22. It occurred to me that Judas Iscariot, even if not knowing his betrayal would be to death (Mt 27:4), may have been consciously closer to the realization of a negative-going than the others (Jn 13:2, 11, 18, 21, 26-30).

To ultimately try to answer Tony's question (my one-sentence answers get deleted): enough time has elapsed, between 13:36; 14:5 and 16:5. Our Lord, in Jn 15, speaks of fruit-bearing (and pruning; not of eternal damnation, that's for sure) and of love and joy. But then, in 15:18--16:4, most immediately to 16:5: about hate and persecution against them from the world. This one paragraph should've been my answer Tony. The hate/persecution colloquy is why none of them asks where He's going. They're saddened and sobered, although they still have the question and don't exactly know what He's going to experience (16:17-19). So He draws it out of them:

Jesus knew that they wanted to ask Him and He said to them, Are you inquiring among yourselves concerning this, that I said, A little while and you do not behold Me, and again a little while and you will see Me? Truly, truly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she gives birth, has sorrow because her hour has come; but when she brings forth the little child, she no longer remembers the affliction because of the joy that a man has been born into the world. Therefore you also now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you. And in that day... (16:19-24).

The (new) man being born into the world is, in fact, the one new man Paul describes in Ephesians. Composed of Christ with His Body, begotten in the eternal life. "I will see you again," "in that day" are not His second coming at the end of the age. But His return in resurrection and regeneration "three days and nights" after His crucifixion (Jn 20:22; 1 Pet 1:3.) "Finally" He does speak very plainly. But they, in claiming so, still don't get it. So it's left up for them to experience it, for them to know Him.

...His disciples said, Behold, now You are speaking plainly and not saying any parable. Now we know that You know all things and have no need that anyone ask You; by this we believe that You came forth from God. Jesus answered them, Do you now believe? Behold, an hour is coming, and has come, that you will be scattered each to his own place and will leave Me alone; yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have affliction, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (16:25-33).

Now that's an intriguing phrase: "...and have no need that anyone ask You." Directly related to asking questions of Him. It sounds like they're thinking He was unsure, or that their questions had been to help Him clarify His ideas


After reading Chrysostom's commentary, Walter Smetana and Dottard's answers and let them settled in my brain, I re-read John's chapters. Now I have no contradiction in my head. I will try to explain their inspirations here.

Right at the outset in John 13:7

Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

With the disciples non-understanding, they were quick to ask questions:

John 13:36 Simon Peter asked him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus replied, "Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later."

Jesus basically was using a delay tactic saying that well, it was a bit complicated. But that didn't stop Thomas from pursuing the same question in the following chapter:

John 14:5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Jesus answered Thomas truthfully but it was too confusing for Thomas because both Peter and Thomas were thinking earthly.

To make things even more confusing, Jesus continued in

John 14:28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.'

At the end of Chapter 14, Jesus decided a change in scenery:

31 “Come now; let us leave."

Jesus continued to tell his disciples more heavy duty heavenly stuff in Chapter 15 and onto Chapter 16:

1 “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things.

Now the question became rhetorical or symbolic because Jesus had just told them clearly that he was going to the Father. Jesus was not stating the fact (N) that "none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?' ". Jesus was stating the fact that at this solemn moment in His speech, the disciples were listening quietly without interrupting Him with questions. That's the meaning of John 16:5. So, there is no contradiction with John 13:36 because He was not stating fact (N).

The disciples seemed to have finally learn the lesson about questioning Jesus near the end of Chapter 16:

29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.

So, there is no contradiction between John 13:36 and 16:5 because Jesus didn't say what I thought He said in 16:5.

Thanks for all your inspirational comments and answers.


This is how I interpret John 16:5

but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me again, 'Where are you going?'

Problem solved.

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