Catholic meaning of John 16:5-11


What is the Catholic interpretation of ‘the ruler of this world is judged’…I find today’s reading very confusing.


“The ruler of this world” and similar New Testament phrases refer to the devil.

The Catholic Biblical Association’s 1942 A Commentary on the New Testament, on 2 Corinthians 4:4, says, in part:
The god of this world: i.e., of this “age,” as it is in the Greek. The reference is to Satan whom our Lord called “the prince of this world” (John 12, 31; 14, 30; 16, 11), and whom St. Paul elsewhere designates as “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2, 2). Satan is called the god of this wicked age, in so far as it lives according to his maxims, obeys and serves him; and he, in turn blinds the minds of his unbelieving followers, leading them away from the faith by evil suggestions, so that the light of the gospel, whose object is the glory of Christ, does not shine unto them. (source)

  • [16:8–11] These verses illustrate the forensic character of the Paraclete’s role: in the forum of the disciples’ conscience he prosecutes the world. He leads believers to see (a) that the basic sin was and is refusal to believe in Jesus; (b) that, although Jesus was found guilty and apparently died in disgrace, in reality righteousness has triumphed, for Jesus has returned to his Father; © finally, that it is the ruler of this world, Satan, who has been condemned through Jesus’ death (Jn 12:32).



Don’t separate verse 11 from verses 8-10:

8And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: 9sin, because they do not believe in me; 10righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; 11condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

Now, read the three “condemnations” in reverse:

  1. Condemnation of the “ruler of the world” - Satan “has been condemned” (defeated) through the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ
  2. Conviction of “the righteous” - why are the righteous condemned? The righteous Christ is talking of are not complete in their faith…they would believe while Christ was on earth, but like Thomas, would have difficulty in believing what they no longer could see…so after Christ left them, they would have errantly felt God was no longer with them, because they did not accept the Holy Spirit, because they could not see him either.
  3. Conviction of “sinners”- these are people who never believed.

The Franciscan in me says rather than focus on the condemnation of the wayward by the Holy Spirit, we should rejoice in the hope of our salvation because of:

  1. Our belief in God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)
  2. Our belief that we were not abandoned by God when Christ returned to the Father, with his return, the Holy Spirit brought gifts to us, thus ensuring as Christ had taught us that he (God) would be with us until the end of the age (Matt 28:20)
  3. Satan (and death) were defeated by the death and resurrection of Christ

Peace and all Good!


By “Catholic meaning” do you have a non-Catholic interp-
retation of it?? I love your member name, means “enlightened”!
MY understanding of it is the same as the other posters,
Jesus is saying in effect that the world, the flesh and the
devil has been condemned by the Paraclete, who comes
ALONGSIDE us and shows THRU us that Jesus is the
answer to each of these, He is the Truth that the world
cannot accept, He is the Way that we should live and
not according to our flesh, He is the Life that satan cannot
give, but is the robber and thief who steals it from un-
suspecting souls!!! See John 14:6,I know this thoroughly
because my wife used to have me read her John 14-17
when she is too tired to read it herself!


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