John16.7-11

 

A duplicate of this passage [John 14.31-31] occurs two chapters later, with slightly different emphases:  Jesus says that when he goes away, he will send the Advocate (Paraclete), the Holy Spirit, “who will accuse (elenchein) the World concerning sin, justice, and judgment” (John 16.7-8).  That sounds like the activity of a prosecuting

 

113

attorney, like “Justice the Accuser” (Elenchousa he Dike) in the Book of Wisdom (Wis. 1.8-10).  This is one of Satan’s traditional functions, but here the tables are turned on him, because the “judgment” aspect of the Advocate’s accusation against the World has already been exercised, and it refers to him:  “Concerning judgment, because the Ruler of this World has been judged” (John 16.11).

Has the Ruler been judged guilty of sin?  Jesus certainly attributed sinfulness to him before:  Devil was a man-killer and liar from the beginning (John 8.44).  But in the present instance, the Advocate’s accusation against the World concerning sin refers not to the Ruler of the World but to the people of the World who do not believe in Jesus (John 16.9).

So it may be that Satan as Ruler of this World has simply been judged as no longer required to fulfill his past obligations, once the “regime change” initiated by Jesus’s accomplishment of his Father’s will has taken place.  In other words, he has been given notice that he will be “terminated” from his position of authority.  This seems to be the message of Luke’s Gospel as well, as we have seen, and we will see a similar idea in the Book of Revelation.

There is one last glance at Satan before the account of the Passion takes over (when we hear no more about him).  At the end of his address at the Last Supper, Jesus prays for all whom the Father has given to him.  He asks the Father not to take them out of the World, but to protect them from “harm”—or “Harm” (John 17.15).  This is the same ambiguous phrase that occurs at the end of Matthew’s Our Father:  “Deliver us from harm/Harm.”  Quite clearly, the Ruler still rules, or at least still has power.