3. The Holy Spirit Paraclete (John 14-16)

Audio (30:44)

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 'Holy Spirit,' oval stained glass window, part of the massive Chair of St. Peter (1647-1653), behind the altar at St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 'Holy Spirit,' oval stained glass window, part of the massive Chair of St. Peter (1647-1653), behind the altar at St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican.

So far we've examined the Spirit upon Jesus for ministry, and his promise to send the Holy Spirit upon his disciples as the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit. Now we need to take a closer look at Jesus' own teaching about the Holy Spirit. These passages are located primarily in John's Gospel:

  1. John 14-16 -- the Paraclete passages that speak of the Spirit as a Counselor, Helper, Comforter.
  2. John 7:37-39 -- Jesus declares that the Spirit will become like a river flowing out of a person. We'll examine this in Lesson 4.
  3. John 3:1-8 -- Jesus' teaches Nicodemus about the new birth. We'll explore this passage in Lesson 4.

The Paraclete Passages (John 14-16)

We'll begin with the so-called Paraclete Passages found in John chapters 14-16. In these passages, Jesus introduces a new word to describe the Holy Spirit -- Paraclete (Greek paraklētos; John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; and 16:7).

The word is variously rendered in English as "Paraclete" (New Jerusalem Bible), "Comforter" (KJV), "Counselor" (NIV, RSV), "Advocate" (NRSV, New Living Translation), "Friend" (The Message), and "Helper" (ESV, NASB, Today's English Version). Philips translates it as "the one who is coming to stand by you" (14:26, cf. 14:16);  "the helper" (15:26), and "the divine helper" (16:7). As you can guess, the reason for the wide variety of translations is that the Greek adjective paraklētos can't be easy translated into English with a single word that adequately covers its breadth of meaning, though I suppose "Helper" catches the meaning fairly well.

Paraklētos is an adjective formed from the verb parakaleō, which has the basic meaning, "call to one's side" for help. But the verb parakaleō has a variety of extended meanings that complicate our understanding of the exact force of the noun in our passage. It can mean "to urge strongly, appeal to, urge, exhort, encourage," and "to make a strong request for something, request, implore, entreat," then "comfort, encourage, cheer up," and perhaps "be friendly to, speak to in a friendly manner."[19]

Commentators seem to be agreed that paraklētos is passive in form, "called to the side of" for the purpose of helping, "called to one's aid," in a court of justice, and used as a substantive, "legal assistant, advocate,"[20] thus the translations "Counselor" (NIV, RSV) and "Advocate" (NRSV, NLT). Because different translations use different terms, I'll be using the term Paraclete or Counselor to avoid too much confusion.

Now let's examine the passages that include this term to describe the Holy Spirit. As we examine the Paraclete passages, I encourage you to take your time, study slowly, seeking understanding. If this were easy, you'd know it already!

The Spirit as "Another Paraclete" (John 14:15-17)

Here's the first passage:

"16   I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor (paraklētos) to be with you forever -- 17  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept[21] him, because it neither sees[22] him nor knows[23] him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." (John 14:16-17, NIV)

Jesus' statement in verse 16 about the Father sending "another[24] Counselor (paraklētos)" is intriguing. This implies that the disciples already have a Paraclete to help them, and that the Holy Spirit is another Paraclete in addition. Jesus is saying that at present he is their Paraclete -- the one the Father has sent to help them. In verse 17b, Jesus tells his disciples that they, unlike the world, are already familiar with this Paraclete:

"... For he lives with you and will be in you." (John 14:17b)

Jesus seems to be saying that in his own Person they have experienced the Paraclete living or abiding[25] "with them"[26] or at their side. But, when the Father sends the Holy Spirit, this Paraclete will be (future tense[27]) within them.[28] Thus the Trinity is indwelling the believer, through the Spirit! (We'll explore this idea further in Lesson 5).

Jesus has been their Paraclete, Helper, Friend thus far, but the Holy Spirit will replace Jesus as an interior presence, always with them, to guide and instruct them.

Q1. (John 14:15-17) In what sense is the Holy Spirit "another" Paraclete? Who was the initial Paraclete? In what way can the Holy Spirit replace him? How was he "with" the disciples? When will he be "in" them?

The Paraclete as Teacher (John 14:25-26)

So we move forward a few verses to where Jesus explains more about the Paraclete who will be sent to his disciples.

"25 All this I have spoken while still with you. 26  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:25-26)

In these two verses, Jesus reveals several things about the Paraclete.

  1. The Paraclete is sent by Father in name of Jesus, which we mentioned previously in Lesson 2.  "In the name of" may suggest that the Spirit is Jesus' personal emissary.[29]
  2. The Paraclete refers specifically to the Holy Spirit. This verse makes it explicit.
  3. The Paraclete will teach (didaskō) the disciples all things.
  4. The Paraclete will remind[30] the disciples of what Jesus taught. We probably shouldn't separate reminding and teaching as two separate functions. Reminding is part of the teaching function.
  5. The Paraclete is spoken of in personal terms (John 14:26). We'll discuss this below in John 15:26.

Jesus has been the disciples' rabbi and teacher. Now the Holy Spirit will take over that function. The disciples often misunderstood what Jesus said and did. When the Holy Spirit comes he will help them remember -- so they can understand and interpret correctly for the church -- what Jesus had taught them. Soon they'll be assessing Jesus' words in the light of his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Evangelicals believe that the Holy Spirit superintended the development of apostolic doctrine so that it properly interpreted Jesus' own teaching and was passed onto us in the books of the New Testament.

The Holy Spirit doesn't bring a new revelation (John 16:13). Rather, he represents Jesus and makes Jesus' teaching clear -- just as Jesus represented the Father and made the Father's teachings clear (John 7:16-17; 14:24).

The Paraclete Testifies about Jesus (John 15:26-27)

Now we skip forward a full chapter to another Paraclete passage.

"26  When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27  And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning." (John 15:26-27)

This passage teaches us several additional things about the Holy Spirit.

  1. Jesus will send him from the Father.
  2. He is called the "Spirit of truth" (also John 14:17 and John 16:13).
  3. He will testify or witness concerning Jesus.
  4. He is spoken of as a Person (John 14:26; 15:16, 26).

Points 1 and 2 we've discussed above in John 14:15-17 and 14:25-26. But points 3 and 4 are new teachings on the Holy Spirit that we need to discuss.

The Spirit Testifies (John 15:26-27)

First, we'll consider that the Spirit testifies or witnesses.

"26  When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about[31] me. 27  And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning." (John 15:26-27)

The Spirit's function of testifying about Jesus is closely related to reminding the disciples what Jesus taught (John 14:26b). Since the word paraklētos can have a legal flavor, it is particularly appropriate alongside another word from the legal realm, martyreō, "to confirm or attest something on the basis of personal knowledge or belief, bear witness, be a witness, offer testimony."[32] The Spirit presents Christ's case for him before the believers and the world.[33]

Elsewhere, Jesus told his disciples not to worry about what to say when they are brought into court.

"Do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say." (Luke 12:11b-12)

The Paraclete will serve as your legal advisor as needed when you are persecuted.

In John 15:27, Jesus reminds the original apostles that they must testify also, to tell what they know from personal experience (John 21:24; Luke 24:48) -- which the apostles certainly did.[34] Though we are not eyewitnesses of the historical Jesus, we too must bear witness of what Jesus has done in our lives.

Q2. (John 15:26-27) What does it mean to "testify"? In what way does the Spirit testify about Jesus? Can you testify from personal knowledge about Jesus? Or were the apostles the only first-hand witnesses?

The Holy Spirit is a Person (John 14:26; 15:16, 26)

Next, we consider John's teaching that the Holy Spirit is a Person, a divine Being, not just an impersonal force or power.

In many languages (Spanish, French, German, etc. -- including Greek), words have masculine, feminine, or neuter genders or inflections that have no real counterpart in English.[35] In John's Gospel the "Spirit" is often referred to by a neuter Greek pronoun, which you would expect, since the word pneuma has a neuter gender in Greek (such as in John 14:17, 26; 15:26). But, remarkably, on several occasions, John renders Jesus' words using the masculine pronoun, apparently to emphasize the Spirit's personhood. Observe these verses:

"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit (neuter noun), whom (neuter pronoun) the Father will send in my name, he (masculine pronoun) will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26)

"When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit (neuter noun) of truth who (neuter pronoun)  goes out from the Father, he (masculine pronoun) will testify about me." (John 15:26)

"When he (masculine pronoun), the Spirit (neuter noun) of truth, comes, he (no pronoun in Greek) will guide you into all truth." (John 16:13a)

New Testament scholar C.K. Barrett observes, "The Spirit is thought of in personal terms."[36]

I emphasize the Holy Spirit's divinity and personal nature because it's common to hear Christians refer to the Spirit as an "it."

 Some groups specifically deny that the Holy Spirit is a divine being. The Jehovah's Witness New World Translation, for example, sometimes even omits the word "Spirit" and substitutes the phrase "God's active force" in its place (hardly a faithful translation!), a phrase that strips away any sense of personhood.[37]

There is solid biblical evidence that points to a conclusion that the Holy Spirit is a distinct Person in his own right and performs functions we attribute to personhood.

  • The Holy Spirit appoints missionaries (Acts 13:2; 20:28),
  • He leads and directs workers in their ministry (Acts 8:29; 10:19-20; 16:6-7; 1 Corinthians 2:13),
  • He speaks through the prophets (Acts 1:16; 1 Peter 1:11-12; 2 Peter 1:21),
  • He corrects (John 16:8),
  • He comforts (Acts 9:31),
  • He helps us in our infirmities (Romans 8:26),
  • He teaches (John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 12:3),
  • He guides (John 16:13),
  • He sanctifies (Romans 15:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11),
  • He testifies of Christ (John 15:26),
  • He glorifies Christ (John 16:14),
  • He empowers (Romans 15:13),
  • He searches all things (Romans 11:33-34; 1 Corinthians 2:10-11),
  • He works according to his own will (1 Corinthians 12:11),
  • He dwells with saints (John 14:17),
  • He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30),
  • He can be resisted (Acts 7:51), and
  • He can be tempted (Acts 5:9).

These are functions we attribute to persons, not to impersonal forces. John sees the Holy Spirit as a Person, sent by the Father to replace Jesus' physical presence to be the Paraclete with his disciples.

The personal nature of the Spirit is confirmed in the foundational creeds of the Church. The Nicene Creed uses personal terms to explain our belief in the Spirit.

"And [we believe] in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets."[38]

Q3. (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13a) Why do we believe that the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force or power, but a Person? What kinds of functions that we attribute to persons does the Holy Spirit do? Why is it so easy to refer to the Spirit as "it" rather than "Him"?

Should We Worship the Holy Spirit?

If the Holy Spirit is God, and I believe he is, then it is appropriate to worship him, as the Nicene Fathers observed. However, so far as I know, we don't have any examples in Scripture of praying to the Spirit, worshipping him, or glorifying him. Jesus instructs us to pray to the Father in Jesus' name (John 16:23; 14:13; 15:16). That's our basic pattern.

However, I don't believe it is wrong to pray to Jesus occasionally (John 14:14). And I find myself saying, "Spirit, please guide me...," for example. And we have a few hymns and choruses that worship the Spirit -- which can't be wrong, since he is divine. Here are a few I sing to the Lord from my era:

"Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me."[39]

"Spirit, I adore You, lay my life before You, O how I love You."[40]

"Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew...."[41]

"Move, Holy Spirit, move in our lives ... to make us like Christ."[42]

There are a number of more recent songs directed to the Holy Spirit, such as: "Holy Spirit, You Are Welcome Here"[43] and "Fall Afresh."[44] But the vast majority of songs and choruses direct worship to Jesus and the Father. That's appropriate. The Holy Spirit doesn't come to exalt himself, but to point us to Christ (John 16:13-14; 14:26).

Jesus: It Is Good that I Go Away (John 16:6-7)

Now we skip down to the final Paraclete passages in John 16:5-15

"I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." (John 16:6-7)

The disciples are confused and grieving to hear about Jesus' imminent departure. But Jesus tries to console them with the truth that this will be for their own good.[45] In what way does this benefit Jesus' disciples? In at least two ways:

  1. Jesus' going to the cross and being raised from the dead is God's plan for the disciples' redemption, and that of the whole world, though this is unspoken here.
  2. The Holy Spirit will be poured out on them after Jesus' crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension to empower his disciples for ministry.

Though the disciples didn't understand until later, God's timing in sending the Spirit was much-anticipated (even in the times of the prophets), but according to God's schedule, Jesus had to be "glorified" first (John 7:39).

The Holy Spirit will not only guide, encourage, teach, and remind them, as Jesus had done, but he will also empower them.

"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." (John 14:12)

After the resurrection, Jesus tells his disciples:

"I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." (Luke 24:49)

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

Q4. (John 16:5-7; 14:12) What benefit is there to the disciples that Jesus goes away? What promise do we have in John 14:12 concerning the Spirit's power in believers?

The Paraclete Will Convict the World (John 16:8)

So far, Jesus has told his disciples how the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, will benefit them. But now he explains how the Holy Spirit will affect the world.

"When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment." (John 16:8)

The role of the Holy Spirit convicting sinners is clear. "Convict of guilt" (NIV), "convict" (ESV, NKJV), "prove wrong" (NRSV), "convince" (RSV), "reprove" (KJV) is the verb elenchō, "to bring a person to the point of recognizing wrongdoing, convict, convince someone of something, point something out to someone."[46] The word occurs 18 times in the New Testament, in each instance having to do with showing someone his sin, usually as a summons to repentance.[47]

Oswald Chambers wrote,

 "Conviction of sin is one of the rarest things that ever strikes a man. It is the threshold of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict of sin, and when the Holy Spirit rouses the conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not his relationship with men that bothers him, but his relationship with God."[48]

The Holy Spirit is at work in the salvation of every person through what theologians call "prevenient grace,"[49] God's active grace towards a person prior to salvation.

In what ways does the Holy Spirit bring conviction, according to Scripture?

  1. Through miracles (Luke 5:8; 1 Corinthians 2:4-5; 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5a). Dear friends, in our day we need the miracle power of the Holy Spirit, for it is one way that the Spirit convicts people of their sins and of Christ's power. If you've read reports of world evangelism, you probably are aware that one of the primary causes of the spread of evangelical Christianity in Latin America and the growth of the church in China is signs and wonders. Check it out!
  2. Through prophetic words (1 Corinthians 14:24-25). If we avoid spiritual gifts because they might be controversial, we cripple the evangelistic power of the church.
  3. Through preaching and testimony. A third way the Spirit brings conviction is by the Spirit using a sermon, lesson, or an individual's testimony and then convincing a person of the truth of it in their heart of hearts. For example, after Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost, "they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?'" (Acts 2:37). When we preach out of our mind, we have little power. But when we preach relying on the Holy Spirit to take our words and use them, we have great power.
  4. Through righteous living. The Holy Spirit uses our holy lives to convict people (1 Peter 2:12; 3:1-2).
  5. Through instruction and prayer. Finally, the Holy Spirit brings conviction through patient instruction with prayer  (2 Timothy 2:25-26). God's intervention is necessary because:

"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Corinthians 4:4)

Evangelism is not only declaring the word, but also earnestly praying for the salvation of unbelievers, for God to intervene and open their blind eyes and deaf ears (Acts 26:18). Both are vital! This is a spiritual battle. In a number of places we are told to pray for the lost and for ministry to them (e.g., Romans 10:1; 1 Timothy 2:1-6; Colossians 4:3; Ephesians 6:19-20; 1 John 5:13-15).

Conviction of Sin, Righteousness, and Judgment (John 16:8-11)

"8  When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9  in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10  in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11  and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned." (John 16:8-11)

Because of the compressed explanations of the Spirit's convicting power in verses 9-11, it is sometimes difficult to arrive at an exact interpretation of them. Here's the sense I make of them:

Sin[50]. The Spirit will convict unbelievers of sin -- graciously -- so that they might recognize their need and turn to Christ.

Righteousness. The Spirit will convict the world of its false self-righteousness, because when Jesus goes to the Father, he sends the Spirit who empowers thousands of disciples to follow Jesus and, by their lives and faith in the Righteous One, they convict the world of its empty righteousness.

Judgment.[51] The Spirit will convict the world of its spiritual blindness and false judgments of Jesus, since the chief slanderer of Jesus, "the prince of this world," has himself been judged and stands condemned[52] by the triumph of the cross.[53] He will also convince people that future judgment will come upon them if they don't repent.

The Spirit Will Guide You into All Truth (John 16:12-13a)

By now, with Jesus' impending arrest, his disciples are on emotional overload. They are confused, frightened, and not in a state to comprehend the truths Jesus is teaching them. So Jesus promises that the Spirit will explain all to them in due time.

"12  I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.[54]  13  But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth." (John 16:12-13a)

In verse 13a, Jesus promises his disciples that the "Spirit of truth" will guide them into all truth. "Guide" is hodēgeō. Literally, it means, "to assist in reaching a desired destination, lead, guide." Here it is used figuratively, "to assist someone in acquiring information or knowledge, lead, guide, conduct."[55]

I believe that in this verse Jesus is speaking to his (now) eleven apostles, who will lay the teaching foundation on which the first-century church will soon be formed (Ephesians 3:5). Though the Spirit can guide us into truth today, it is usually rather arrogant to presume that our interpretation is the only correct interpretation, and that the whole Church over two thousand years since Pentecost is wrong. We must seek the Spirit's guidance with great humility and a desire to learn. Spiritual truths must be spiritually discerned through the action of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:12-14).

The Spirit doesn't just impart cognitive knowledge and truth. He also leads us into relationship. Paul prays:

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better." (Ephesians 1:17)

The Spirit reveals Christ to us and draws us into a deeper relationship with him. A couple chapters later, Paul prays again:

"16  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18  may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:16-19)

The Spirit opens up the Christian to an utterly amazing intimacy with God!

The Spirit Will Speak What He Hears (John 16:13b-15)

The Spirit, Jesus explains to us, won't be teaching us new doctrines. Rather he will be reminding his disciples of what Jesus has already taught them (John 14:26). The Spirit will listen to Jesus and relay this to us, just as Jesus listened to the Father and relayed that to his disciples (John 5:30), and only spoke what the Father told him to say (John 12:49).

"13b He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell[56] you what is yet to come. 14  He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15  All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you." (John 16:13b-15)

Both Jesus and the Spirit will speak the Father's words to us. We may not have the task of the first apostles, who helped lay the doctrinal foundation of the Church, but we still seek to understand the Word of God accurately. I encourage you to call on the Holy Spirit, the Reminder, the Explainer, the Guide into all truth, to assist you in accurately understanding the Father's words to your heart. Bible study should not be merely an intellectual exercise, but also a heart's search for truth.

Q5. (John 16:12-15) In what sense does the Holy Spirit guide us into all truth? Does this promise apply only to the apostolic age and its task of laying the foundations of the faith? In what sense does it apply to us today?

Lessons for Disciples

We disciples can learn a number of things from the passage we've been studying:

  1. The Father will send us the Holy Spirit, called the "Paraclete," who is a Helper, Advocate, Encourager, and Friend who comes alongside us to help us (John 14:15-17).
  2. The Paraclete is in some aspects a replacement for Jesus, who had come alongside the disciples to help them (John 14:16).
  3. The Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, is sent by the Father in Jesus' name (John 14:26).
  4. The Paraclete will instruct the disciples and remind them of what Jesus taught (John 14:26).
  5. Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as a Person. In the New Testament, the Spirit's actions and functions are those we would ascribe to a person (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13a)
  6. From his personal experience, the Spirit "testifies" about Jesus. We are to testify about Jesus also from our experience of him (John 15:26-27)
  7. The Holy Spirit's coming is contingent upon Jesus going to the Father. Even though Jesus won't be with us in person, the Spirit's presence is for our good, and will empower us to continue Jesus' ministry, specifically to do "greater works" than Jesus" (John 16:6-7; 14:12)
  8. The Holy Spirit will convict or convince the world through miracles, prophetic words, preaching and testimonies, our faithful lives, and instruction and prayer (John 16:8).
  9. As we listen, the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth (John 16:13).
  10. Just like Jesus accurately told the disciples what the Father was saying, so the Holy Spirit will take Jesus' words and accurately communicate them to us as his present-day disciples (John 16:15).

We've been studying Jesus' teaching on the Paraclete, the Counselor, the Comforter. In the next lesson we'll consider Jesus' other teaching about the Holy Spirit.

Growth Assignment (Week 3) -- Sensitivity

The Holy Spirit, whom the Father sends in Jesus' name, doesn't promote himself. Rather he reveals to us the Father and the Son. Yet the Spirit is present in us everywhere we might be.

Available in paperback, Kindle, and PDF formats

The Spirit is unseen, though you can discern Him in His actions (John 3:8). Our challenge is to learn to sense His presence and His leading. To sense when He is speaking to us, and when He would have us stop and back up.

Your growth assignment this week (and continuing) is to take a few moments in your Quiet Time to review how the Holy Spirit worked in you in the past day. Did he speak to you. Guide you? Teach you? Did you feel that you grieved Him (Ephesians 4:30), resisted Him (Acts 7:51), or quenched Him? (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

Being spiritually aware of the Spirit helps us learn to walk with Him and cooperate with Him. So check on the previous day, see what you observed about your walk with the Spirit, and write it down. Even the process of forming words to write it down will help you learn.


Father, help us to come to know the Holy Spirit whom you have sent alongside us to help us. He reveals you and Jesus to us. Help us to know him too, and his ways of working with us. Open our eyes, Lord! In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Key Verses

"When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment." (John 16:8, NIV)As we listen, the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth (John 16:13).

Just like Jesus accurately told the disciples what the Father was saying, so the Holy Spirit will take Jesus' words and accurately communicate them to us as his present-day disciples (John 16:15). "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever -- the Spirit of truth... You know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." (John 14:16-17)

"The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26, NIV)

"When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me." (John 15:26, NIV)

 "I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." (John 16:7, NIV)

"When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth." (John 16:13a, NIV)

"The Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you." (John 16:15b, NIV)


[19] Parakaleō, BDAG 764-765.

[20] Liddell-Scott, Greek-English Lexicon. The translation "Comforter" (KJV) comes from Wycliffe's translation into English (1392), which drew perhaps upon "comfort's" etymological sense (Latin, con, "with" + fortis, "strong"). In this sense it might denote "Strengthener," "Helper"  (NASB, ESV). In Greek, the word can have the idea of one who provides help as a legal advocate, particularly an advocate for the defense (used of Jesus in 1 John 2:1). Another approach to understanding paraklētos might be as "Friend" (The Message paraphrase), as in a Friend at court.

[21] "Accept" (NIV), "receive" (NRSV, ESV, KJV) is the common verb lambanō, "receive," here figuratively, "to accept as true, receive something," or perhaps, "to enter into a close relationship, receive, make one's own, apprehend/comprehend" mentally or spiritually (BDAG 584, 7 or 8).

[22] "Sees" is theōreō, "see," with the sense of "to come to the understanding of something, notice, perceive, observe, find" (BDAG 454, 2b).

[23] "Knows" is ginōskō, "know," probably with the sense, "to indicate that one does know, acknowledge, recognize as that which one is or claims to be" (BDAG 200, 7).

[24] "Another" is allos, "other, another" (BDAG 46-47).

[25] "Lives" (NIV), "abides" (NRSV), "dwells" (ESV, KJV) is menō in the present tense, "remain, stay," in transferred sense, "of someone who does not leave a certain realm or sphere: remain, continue, abide" (BDAG 631, 1aβ). It is possible that menei, present tense, could be accented as meneĩ making it future tense (which wouldn't show up in the manuscripts), but the present tense is more likely (Morris, John, p. 650, fn. 49).

[26] "With" is the preposition para with the dative, "marker of nearness in space, at/by (the side of), beside, near, with" (BDAG 757, 1).

[27] "Will/shall be" is eimi, "to be," in the future tense. Most ancient manuscripts show this as the future tense estai, except a few as present tense, estin -- p75 B D* W it. The future is likely here.

[28] "In" is the preposition en, "in," here, a "marker of close association within a limit, in" (BDAG 328, 4c).

[29] D. A. Carson, John, p. 505.

[30] "Remind" (NIV, NRSV), "bring to your remembrance" (RSV, ESV, KJV) is the verb hypomimnēskō, "to put another in mind of something, remind," from mimnēskomai, "to recall information from memory, remember, recollect, remind oneself." I don't see much influence on the meaning of the word from the prefix hypo-. In classical Greek, hypomimnēskō denoted, "put one in mind or remind one of" as well as, "bring to one's mind, mention, suggest" (Liddell-Scott, Greek-English Lexicon). The word is also used at Luke 22:61; 2 Timothy 2;14; Titus 3:1; 2 Peter 1:12; 3 John 10; and Jude 5. The noun form hypomnēsis is used at 2 Peter 1:13; 3:1; 2 Timothy 1;5.

[31] "About" (NIV, ESV), "on my behalf" (NRSV), "of" (KJV) is the preposition peri with the genitive case, "about, concerning." Peri with the genitive denotes "the object or person to which (whom) an activity or especially inward process refers or relates" (BDAG 797, 1a).

[32] Martyreō comes from the legal sphere (BDAG 612, 1aα). "In John, witness is especially the witness that is given, not specifically to the facts of Jesus' history, but to the person of Jesus" (H. Strathmann, martyr, ktl., TDNT 4:474-514).

[33] Morris, John, p. 684.

[34] Acts 1:8, 21-22; 3:15; 4:33; 10:39-42; 18:5; 23:11; 1 Peter 5:1; 2 Peter 1:16-18; Revelation 1:9.

[35] Though in English we sometimes refer to objects with a gender. For example, ships are referred to with a feminine gender, "her sails."

[36] C.K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John (Second Edition; Westminster, 1978), p. 482, commenting on John 15:26. See also George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (Eerdmans, 1974), p. 295.

[37] See Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses (Harvest House, 1993), chapter 8. Citing the New World Translation of Genesis 1:2.

[38] This is the revised version of the original Nicene Creed (325 AD), which was adopted at the First Council of Constantinople (381 AD).

[39] "Spirit of the Living God," words and music: Daniel Iverson (1926).

[40] "Father, I Adore You," words and music by Terrye Coelho, © 1972 Maranatha! Music.

[41] "Breathe on me, Breath of God," words: Edwin Hatch (1878), music: Robert Jackson (1888).

[42] Author unknown.

[43] "Holy Spirit, You Are Welcome Here," Bryan Torwalt and Katie Torwalt, © 2011 Capitol CMG Genesis, Jesus Culture Music.

[44] "Fall Afresh," words and music by Jeremy Riddle, © 2011 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing (ASCAP). The chorus goes: "Spirit of the living God, come fall afresh on me / Come wake me from my sleep. / Blow through the caverns of my soul / Pour in me to overflow."

[45] "Good" (NIV), "advantage" (NRSV, ESV), "expedient" (KJV) is sympherō, "to be advantageous, help, confer a benefit, be profitable/useful," here impersonal, "something is good (for someone), something is useful or helpful" (BDAG 960, 2a).

[46] Elenchō, BDAG 315, 2. The focus in classical Greek is on "putting to shame, treating with contempt, cross-examining, accusing, bringing to the test, proving, refuting" (Carson, John, p. 534).

[47] Carson, John, p. 534, citing Friedrich Büschel, elenchō, ktl., TDNT 2:473-474.

[48] Oswald Chambers (1874-1917), My Utmost for His Highest, devotion for December 7.

[49] "Prevenient grace" is a theological term that refers to God's grace that works with a person prior to salvation. In John 16:8-11, Jesus refers to the Spirit's role in terms of conviction. Paul and Peter both see the Holy Spirit's "sanctification" (KJV, ESV), "sanctifying work" (NIV) involved in bringing a person to salvation (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). Perhaps this is what Paul means when he says that the unbelieving spouse and children of a believer are "sanctified" through the presence of the Spirit in the believer (1 Corinthians 7:14).

[50] "Sin" is hamartia, "a departure from either human or divine standards of uprightness, sin" (BDAG 50, 1a).

[51] "Judgment" is krisis, legal process of judgment, judging, judgment," here, "judgment that goes against a person, condemnation, and the sentence that follows" (BDAG 569, 1aβ).

[52] "Stands condemned" (NIV), "condemned" (NRSV), "judged" (ESV, KJV) is krinō, "to engage in a judicial process, judge, decide, hale before a court, condemn," also "hand over for judicial punishment," frequently as a legal technical term (BDAG 569, 5bα).

[53] I am following, for the most part, Carson, John, pp. 536-537. Of course, there are many different interpretations of these cryptic verses.

[54] "Bear" is bastazō, literally, "to sustain a burden, carry, bear." Figuratively, "be able to bear up under especially trying or oppressive circumstances bear, endure" (BDAG 171, 2bβ).

[55] Hodēgeō, BDAG 690, 2. It is an old verb, from the noun hodos, "way" and hēgeomai, "to lead."

[56] "Tell" (NIV) in John 16:13b and "make known" (NIV) in verse 14 and 15, "declare" (NRSV, ESV), "show" (KJV), is anangellō, literally, "to carry back information, report," then, generally, "to provide information, disclose, announce, proclaim, teach" (BDAG 59, 2), from ana-, "back, again" + angellō, "announce," angelia, "message." Our words "evangel" and "evangelism," tell good news, come from the same root.

Copyright © 2024, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.