Clearly, the apostles did not interpret this verse as the name-it-and-claim-it magical formula some have made it. Otherwise, they would not have spent a single night in jail or endured one lash of the whip. However. Take a gander at the sad list of Paul’s scars in 2 Corinthians 11:22-29 and stand in awe. Such is the price this beloved apostle paid for the gospel of Jesus Christ. So—why didn’t he claim John 16:23 and shortcut the suffering? Answer: Because he did not interpret the Lord’s promise as it appears to read on the surface. Furthermore, no one else did either. We don’t see any of the 12 apostles playing that card.
What exactly does it mean? It must mean that the Father will do what you ask if it is in line with His will, and if it isn’t, He won’t. We get this from the full treatment the Lord Jesus gives to the subject in all four gospels, but not from any one verse.
–“This generation shall not pass away until all these things take place” (Mark 13:30). Boy, have the prophecy guys had fun with this one over the years. Through the decade of the 1950s, they said the birth of Israel in 1948 started the clock ticking, and within one generation “all these things” would occur. (I lived through that decade; I heard those sermons.)
They were wrong.
The two interpretations that seem to endure are: a) it refers to the generation living when “all these things” begin to occur; and b) “generation” (genea) may refer to the race of people (the Jews). Vines says genea may refer to a race of people, a family or successive members of a genealogy (hmmm…genealogy…there’s that word—genea).
There are other possibilities, of course. The main one being: We don’t know what it means. Personally, I have no trouble with that.
When I asked Facebook friends for their “favorite” hard sayings, these are some of the responses…
–If your eye offends you cut it out. Matthew 5:29
–No one unwilling to hate father and mother can be my disciples. Luke 14:26.
–Why hast Thou forsaken Me? Matthew 27:46
–Woman, it is not right to take the children’s food and feed to the dogs. Matthew 15:21ff.
–If you forgive anything, it is forgiven. If you don’t, it’s not. John 20:23
–Turn the other cheek. Matthew 5:39
–Not peace but a sword. Matthew 10:34
–I and the Father are One. John 10:30