John 16:7 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 16:7, NIV: "But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you."

John 16:7, ESV: "Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you."

John 16:7, KJV: "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."

John 16:7, NASB: "'But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you."

John 16:7, NLT: "But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don't, the Advocate won't come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you."

John 16:7, CSB: "Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don't go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send him to you."

What does John 16:7 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This statement is difficult to understand, at first. It almost certainly would have been baffling to the disciples. The idea that Jesus is leaving (John 16:5) understandably makes these men both fearful and sad (John 16:7). The suggestion that Jesus leaving is somehow beneficial was probably absurd, in their minds. However, in order to complete His atonement for sin, it would be necessary for Jesus to leave (John 12:31–32).

The "advantage" of Jesus leaving is also tied to the specific role of the Holy Spirit. In prior verses, Jesus referred to the Helper—meaning the Holy Spirit (John 14:16–17, 26; 15:26–27).

So long as Jesus is there, in person, the object of the disciples' faith would always be a tangible, external person. That's not necessarily bad. However, it means they would constantly depend on Him to direct them, or to answer their questions. Their own thoughts and conscience would perpetually be pushed aside, in favor of asking Jesus for His judgment. When He is not physically present, they would feel incomplete.

In short, Jesus' physical presence in some sense limits the depth of their reliance on God. It also limits how many people Jesus can influence at once. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, completely fulfills the prediction given in Jeremiah 31:31–34:
"Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah…I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
The Holy Spirit, the Helper, provides the ability for each Christian to have constant, personal, immediate, indwelling contact with God. Instead of relying on someone "outside" of themselves, believers in Christ can focus on the voice of God "inside" their hearts, as He dwells with them (John 14:17). That doesn't make Christians infallible or all-knowing (Colossians 2:8; 2 Corinthians 13:5). It does mean that we have the advantage of His influence, so far as we're willing to submit to it (1 Corinthians 2:14–16).