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Gems in the Gospel of John



Part 62 – John 14:26

The Holy Spirit

God had a problem! ! ! Jesus was going to die within the week and after his resurrection would return to heaven to support his people. How, then, could the work that he had done so successfully on earth: teaching people how to relate to the Father God, helping them to deepen their spiritual lives, healing the ill, challenging the faithful and generally helping those who need help be carried on?

His solution was to widen the range of action of the Holy Spirit. In Old Testament days the Spirit’s activity had been mostly restricted to the leaders of the people; people like Moses, David and Isaiah though there had always been the hope that there would be a general outpouring. Joel had reported that the Lord said, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” (2: 28). Now the Lord was going to make that true. All the Lord’s people would be given the indwelling Holy Spirit whose role would be to replace Jesus in the life of those who had actually known him and to stand in for Jesus in every detail in the life of subsequent disciples. It is that replacement function that John emphasises in his account of what Jesus said. John’s emphasis is different from that of the other New Testament writers who are more concerned with the outward signs of the presence of the Spirit. Neither he nor they are wrong. The two aspects of the truth about the Holy Spirit and what he does in our lives are complementary. We need to always look for both of them.

John reports Jesus said, “the Advocate, 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”. That is the second time Jesus has mentioned the Holy Spirit in this discourse. The first time he called him the Spirit of Truth (14: 16, 17). He will refer to him as the Advocate twice more at 15: 26 and 16: 7. The word translated as Advocate in the NIV and the NRSV must be one of the most difficult words there is to find an English equivalent of the original Greek word which was ‘paraclete’. The previous NIV had ‘Counsellor’; the old King James version had ‘Comforter’; the Message paraphrase has ‘Friend’ and the Good News Bible, the American NASB and the English Standard Version all have ‘Helper’. Probably something like ‘called alongside to help and advise’ would cover all, or most, of the meanings but that is too much of a mouthful to be used as a translation. The most basic meaning is ‘Helper’ but that misses the idea of advisor, or any sort of legal role as the use of ‘Advocate’ and ‘Counsellor’ suggest, which is also present in the Greek word.

Which word should we use? Probably the best advice is – all of them. But even then one will miss the idea that is the most dominant in the sentences that contain the word. We have: ‘the Spirit of truth’; ‘will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.’; ‘Father—he will testify about me.’; ‘he will prove the world to be in the wrong … ‘ and then these are followed by the statement that when ‘he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.’ All of which refer in some way or another to knowledge and wisdom.

You are clearly looking for knowledge about Jesus and the Spirit. Why else would you be looking at this Partakers site? Good on you! Keep it up! We can never learn too much about our Saviour and the whole plan of salvation. Of course learning facts must not be the end of the matter. We must always seek to put them into practice. That is how we shall walk hand-in-hand with Jesus. He will be our teacher.

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