Answering The Atheist
May 8, 2005 / Volume 5, Issue 19
THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Did Jesus tell His disciples everything? In John 15:15, He indicates that He shared with them "all things", but in John 16:12, he had things which He had not told them yet. Is there a contradiction?
In John 15:15, Jesus designates the disciples as His friends, and no more just servants, for the master does not reveal His private dealings and thoughts to a servant. However, Jesus did reveal to the disciples what had been revealed to Him from His Father. The Lord does not intend by His statement here to say that He has revealed to the disciples everything, and that nothing remains to be revealed. Simply that He does not withhold from the disciples information as a master would from His servants.
Jesus' words in John 16:12 are in the same discourse as the former words. Again, this would indicate that His intention in the previous statements was not to say that He had revealed all, and that nothing remained to be revealed. In John 16:12, we are told why the disciples at that point had not received "all truth" (v 13). They were not yet ready to receive the entirety of what the Lord sought to reveal to them. Note however, He was not going to withhold "all truth" from them, but promised them, "...when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come." (v 13). The disciples had received from the Lord what they could, and afterward, would receive from the Spirit what they were not ready at that point to receive.
There is no contradiction.
This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible