John 16:12—Did Jesus reveal everything to His disciples or hold back some things?
Problem: Only a short time earlier Jesus left His disciples with the impression that He had told them everything He wanted to communicate to them, saying, “all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). However, here in John 16:12 He reveals, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” It appears that these statements are in conflict.
Solution: Some scholars believe that the first statement is proleptical, envisioning in the present everything He was about to tell them in the future as well. In this case, the “many things” (of 16:12) would refer to what the Holy Spirit was yet to teach them (cf. 16:13).
However, in light of the fact that these are in the same discourse, the latter seems to be a qualification of the former. Thus, the earlier statement means “All that the Father has designed for you at present, I have revealed to you.” In other words, Jesus faithfully communicated what the Father wanted them to know and when the Father wanted them to know it.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.