What does John 16:12 mean?
ESV: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
NIV: I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.
NASB: I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them at the present time.
CSB: "I still have many things to tell you, but you can't bear them now.
NLT: There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now.
KJV: I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
Verse Commentary:
In this passage, Jesus has been explaining the coming and work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:5–7). That includes the ways in which the Spirit will "convict" the unbelieving world (John 16:8–11). A main reason Christ has made these comments is to prepare His disciples for the hard times to come (John 16:1–4). In the next few hours, they will see Him arrested and crucified (John 18:1–3; John 19:18). After Jesus is resurrected, they will have the help of the Holy Spirit (John 20:22), but they will still be subject to persecution. Knowing these hard times were predicted gives Christians reassurance that God is still in control.

A recurring theme in the Bible is that God understands our weaknesses. Jesus, in particular, can fully sympathize with human temptation since He experienced a human life (Hebrews 4:15–16). The recent discussion of Jesus leaving, and of hard times, almost certainly made the disciples nervous and afraid (John 16:6). Rather than overwhelm them with even more, Jesus knows when to stop. This, again, is one of the reasons God will send the Holy Spirit to encourage, teach, and remind these men of those things they can't yet fully understand (John 16:13).
Verse Context:
John 16:5–15 resumes an explanation of the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus began to discuss this topic in John 15:26–27, before returning to the subject of persecution (John 16:1–4). Christ must leave the world, so His followers will learn to depend on the influence of the Holy Spirit. That Spirit will guide, judge, and speak in order to bring glory to God.
Chapter Summary:
Throughout His teaching in the Last Supper (John 13:1–5), Jesus has often brought up the fact that He's giving His followers advance warnings (John 13:19; 14:25). His intent is to provide encouragement—persecution as a result of their faith is inevitable. In keeping with that reassurance, Jesus again promises the coming of the Holy Spirit. He explains that after a time of deep sorrow, His followers will experience great joy and clarity. This concludes with a beloved promise that Christ has "overcome the world."
Chapter Context:
This completes the teaching portion of Jesus' words during the Last Supper, begun in chapter 13. Christ echoes many of the themes of His earthly ministry. His focus is especially on encouragement: reminding the disciples that the hard times they will experience will end in victory. While they don't clearly understand, the Holy Spirit will lead them in the right direction. This ends with Christ's beloved declaration that He has "overcome the world." That introduces the record of Jesus' High Priestly Prayer in chapter 17, immediately before His arrest early in chapter 18.
Book Summary:
The gospel of John was written by the disciple John, decades later than the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls “signs”—in order to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in all of the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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