[19] Farewell Discourses 4: the Holy Spirit (15:26-16:33)



[D5]    15:26-16:15... The work of the Holy Spirit

·         The witness of the Spirit (15:26-27)
·         A warning of coming persecutions (16:1-4)
·         The work of the Spirit (16:5-15)


15:26   The Holy Spirit is a witness to Christ. The word “Counsellor” has legal significance. The Holy Spirit conducts Christ’s case for Him before the world. He is to bring to light the truth of the revelation of Jesus in His word, deed, death, and resurrection.

15:27   Christians are to bear witness to the facts of saving grace.

16:1     Jesus was preparing the disciples for the severe trials ahead so that they would not be taken by surprise. It can be translated as: “so that your faith may not be taken unawares” thus pointing to the element of surprise.

16:2     The enemies would excommunicate them. In the future, there is a time people’s values will be so perverted that anyone who kills Jesus’ followers will think that he is serving God. The term “in fact” meaning “not only this, but also” is used in an emphatic way.

16:3     The statement indicates certainty. The disciples will suffer for their faith. The enemies are completely ignorant both of the Father and of the Son. They are, however, culpable because they ought to have known the truth.

16:4     While the Master was with them, the disciples were a negligible quantity in the eyes of their enemies. The removal of the Master would result in hostity directed at them. “Their hour” is similar to Jesus’ “hour”.


16:5     Earlier, Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” (13:36) But he made no real attempt to find out where Jesus was going. He had in mind only the consequences for himself and for his companions.

16:7     To the disciples the departure of Jesus seemed disastrous: actually it was for their profit. The reasons: (a) It is better for them not to be dependent on the visible bodily presence of Jesus, and (b) more importantly, the Holy Spirit will not come until Jesus goes away. John explains in 7:39 that the Spirit was not given “since Jesus had not been glorified.” Only when salvation that is based on the death of Jesus is accomplised can people then receive the Holy Spirit in His fullness.

16:8     The Holy Spirit is the powerful advocate who goes before the church to bring the world under conviction.

16:9     The Greek can mean 3 different ways: (a) He will convict the world of sin IN THAT they do not believe, (b) He will convict the world of its sin BECAUSE they do not believe, (c) He will convict the world of its sin THAT they do not believe. The second is probably the best explanation. (Note inaccurate translation in Chinese)

The Holy Spirit shows the world to be guilty, that is, He secures a verdict of “Guilty.” Also, He convicts the individual sinner’s conscience.

16:10   The Spirit shows people that righteousness depends not on their own efforts but on Christ’s atoning work. “You can see me no longer” refers to the cross or to the ascension.

16:11   The work of judgment refers to the defeat of Satan. Justice is done in the overthrow of the evil one.

16:12   “Bear” means enduring anything burdensome. Their experience so far sets a limit to their ability to perceive.

16:13   The Spirit will lead them deeper and deeper into the knowledge of truth.

The Spirit’s teaching is not from Himself. He is not originating something radically new.

“What is yet to come” probably refers to the whole Christian beliefs. Some also think that it is an eschatological reference, about future calamities and dire persecution of the disciples in the last days.

16:14   The work of the Spirit is Christocentric.

16:15   There is no division in the three persons of the Godhead.


 [D6]   16:16-33......... The prospect of joy

·         The disciples’ perplexity (16:16-18)
·         The disciples’ joy (16:19-24)
·         The disciples’ faith (16:25-30)
·         The disciples’ peace (16:31-33)


16:16   The statement is ambiguous. It can mean: (a) Jesus will come again in the person and work of the Holy Spirit, (b) He will come again after resurrection, (c) He will come again in the Second Coming. Although (b) is most likely, death and resurrection were themselves eschatological events that will lead to the Second Coming.

16:20   “I tell you the truth” again. Jesus answered not to the question of the disciples but to their need. He assured them that they must go through a time of sorrow when their enemies triumphed, but would emerge with an abounding joy.

“Weep and mourn” are deep inward grief and outward expression. Jesus speak of their sorrow as being “replaced” by joy, not just “turning” into joy. Just like the cross would first be a cause of sorrow but would later be a source of joy.

16:21   Jesus uses the analogy of the state of mind of the mother before and after the birth of the child. She will go through distress but the distress is forgotten afterwards. The imagery is used also for the birth pangs that would precede the Second Coming.

16:22   “Therefore” they would be in distress very soon (“now”) but when they saw Jesus after resurrection, they would then rejoice in a way that is permanent, and that the world cannot take away.

16:23   After resurrection, the disciples would not look for further information from Him. This points to an activity of the Holy Spirit who would be with them to teach them (14:26) and to guide them into all the truth (16:13).

“I tell you the truth” again. In the future, they will direct their prayers to the Father who will give them “whatever” they ask in the name of the Son (see 14:13). the prayers will be answered on the basis of the atoning work of the Son.

16:24   God is interested in the well-being and happiness of His people. The prayers will be answered in order that their joy may be complete.


16:25   The whole discourse is given “figuratively” (as in parables or in the form of wisdom sayings), that is, the meaning does not lie on the surface, but must be searched for and thought about.

“A time” refers to “an hour” after resurrection.

16:26   The disciples will pray in Christ’s name. Asking in Jesus’ name is not a way of enlisting His support. It is praying on the basis of all that He is and has done for our salvation.

16:27   The two verbs “loved” are in perfect tense implying continuance. The verse is a continuation of the last verse and explains why the disciples can pray to God in Jesus’ name.

16:29   The disciples thought they understood Jesus, Yet, had they really understood as they claimed, they would have reacted very differently when the crisis came.

16:31   After the disciples reaffirmed their trust in Jesus, Jesus’ reaction can be an exclamation or a question. Later events showed that their faith was weak.

16:32   Jesus prophesied that they would shortly (presently) abandon their Lord. The group as an entity would be destroyed, though temporarily.

16:33   There are 3 contrasts: (a) “in me” vs. “in this world”, (b) “you may have” vs. “you will have”, (c) “peace” vs. “trouble”.

All must live in the world and thus have trouble. But believers also live in Christ and when they do (conditional), they have peace. “Trouble” (Gr. thliyin, used only here and 16:21 in this Gospel) denotes great and pressing affliction, not some mild malady.

Jesus “has overcome” the world: the statement is emphatic: “I, none else (Gr. ero), have overcome.” The perfect tense denotes an abiding victory. Jesus went to the cross not in fear or in gloom, but as a conqueror.