The Work of the Spirit


A Blogged Bible Study entry for John 16:

For if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you, but if I go, I will send Him to you.

Jesus will be leaving soon.  He will be going back to His Father.

Our Advocate, our lawyer, our helper, the Holy Spirit will come; but He cannot come unless Jesus goes.


It was the plan of God, before the foundation of the world, that the Son would come to redeem mankind from his sin.  This was not an afterthought because Adam sinned — an “OOPS! What do We do now?” — it was always the plan that Jesus would come:

He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake.  ~1Peter 1:20

God has a plan He will accomplish.  He knows the end from the beginning:

Remember what I accomplished in antiquity! Truly I am God, I have no peer; I am God, and there is none like me, Who announces the end from the beginning and reveals beforehand what has not yet occurred, Who says, ‘My plan will be realized, I will accomplish what I desire,’ Who summons an eagle from the east, from a distant land, one who carries out my plan.  Yes, I have decreed, yes, I will bring it to pass; I have formulated a plan, yes, I will carry it out.  ~Isaiah 46:9-11

And now Jesus is explaining part of the plan — the reason He must leave — it’s time for the Advocate to come and do His work.

The Holy Spirit (the Advocate) would come upon the apostles in a magnificent display of God’s mighty power on the Day of Pentecost.  But the disciples are not understanding it all at this point. 

Jesus continues explaining the work of the Holy Spirit:

And when He comes,

He will prove the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgment –

To prove the world wrong means to convict or expose.  The world will be exposed concerning sin, righteousness and judgment.

concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;

Remember 3:19: Now this is the basis for judging: that the Light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil.  And in 12:37: Although Jesus had performed so many miraculous signs before them, they still refused to believe in Him.

concerning righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see Me no longer;

L. Morris states, “The Spirit shows men (and no-one else can do this) that their righteousness before God depends not on their own efforts but on Christ’s atoning work for them” (

and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

This does not mean that Satan does not continue to be active in the world, and to exercise some power over it, just as in 3:19-21 the people in the world who have rejected Jesus and thus incurred judgment continue on in their opposition to Jesus for a time.  In both cases the judgment is not immediately executed.  But it is certain.

The Spirit has a work to do in the world.  But He also has a work to do in the disciples and, eventually, all those who will believe — US! Jesus explains, there is much more that needs to be said, but it will have to wait.  The Spirit will guide them into all truth when He comes:

“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own authority, but will speak whatever He hears, and will tell you what is to come. He will glorify Me, because He will receive from Me what is Mine and will tell it to you. Everything that the Father has is Mine; that is why I said the Spirit will receive from Me what is Mine and will tell it to you. In a little while you will see Me no longer; again after a little while, you will see Me.”

Isn’t the transition beautiful? 

The Father has given everything to the Son…

…and everything the Son has, the Spirit will receive,…

…and then the Spirit will tell it to you.**

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage I have conquered the world. ~Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God


**taken from footnotes at

Three important points must be noted here.

(1) When the Holy Spirit comes, he will guide the disciples into all truth.  What Jesus had said in 8:31-32, “If you continue to follow my teaching you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” will ultimately be realized in the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit to the disciples after Jesus’ departure.

(2) The things the Holy Spirit speaks to them will not be things which originate from himself (he will not speak on his own authority), but things he has heard. This could be taken to mean that no new revelation is involved, as R. E. Brown does (John [AB])  This is a possible but not a necessary inference. The point here concerns the source of the things the Spirit will say to the disciples and does not specifically exclude originality of content.

(3) Part at least of what the Holy Spirit will reveal to the disciples will concern what is to come, not just fuller implications of previous sayings of Jesus and the like. This does seem to indicate that at least some new revelation is involved. But the Spirit is not the source or originator of these things – Jesus is the source, and he will continue to speak to his disciples through the Spirit who has come to indwell them.

This does not answer the question, however, whether these words are addressed to all followers of Jesus, or only to his apostles. Different modern commentators will answer this question differently. Since in the context of the Farewell Discourse Jesus is preparing the twelve to carry on his ministry after his departure, it is probably best to take these statements as specifically related only to the twelve.

Some of this the Holy Spirit does directly for all believers today; other parts of this statement are fulfilled through the apostles (e.g., in giving the Book of Revelation the Spirit speaks through the apostles to the church today of things to come). One of the implications of this is that a doctrine does not have to be traced back to an explicit teaching of Jesus to be authentic; all that is required is apostolic authority.

15 responses »

  1. I think I’m going to have to read this through a few times. There’s so much in it! And so much that speaks to difficulties I’m having in understanding God’s message.

    Thanks Michelle – you’re amazing!

  2. Hello, I enjoyed reading your message.

    Iron sharpens iron, or so the scripture states.

    So, then, God’s holy spirit reveals truth to the listener of God’s word. Only God does open the eyes and ears to his written or spoken Word. But first one must seek righteousness. This takes effort on our part.

    “Luke 11:9
    “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
    Christ said,’few are the ones finding it. ‘Matt 7:14

    When Christ was about to depart to his heavenly father he told the women :”John 20:17
    Jesus said-:’ I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’”see also Rev 3:12

    Jesus ascended to his God and to ours. The Father is the source of Truth. This Truth, or Word he had given to his Son and his son gave it unto his disciples to give to others and finally to us too. (John 17:22)( John 12:49)
    Jesus promised we’d have a helper. Without the merit value of Christ’s precious blood, we would not be cleansed, therefore we could only be at enmity with God. But now, God is our helper. (John 14:14-6)

    Psalm 30:10
    Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me;LORD, be my helper!”
    Psalm 54:4
    “Behold, God is my helper;The Lord is with those who uphold my life.”
    see also Hebrews 13:5-7

  3. If we subscribe to the teaching that “all the promises are for all believers” then the guiding into truth has the definite possibility of providing saints with ‘extra-biblical’ revelation. This is a thin-ice, slippery-slope, definitely-dangerous territory to enter.
    I am referring to vs 12-13. If Jesus did not speak everything, and there is more to come, and the promise is to everyone, then the possibility is opened for revelation beyond the Bible.
    Do we want to go there?
    Good post, Michelle. Though-provoking, and question-raising.

  4. Hey, Alan! So much is in chapter 16 and I barely scratched the surface. I finally had to stop and just add footnotes. 🙄

    Welcome, Starwill. I would not be able to make it in this life without the Helper. He is good to lead us into all truth.

    Hey, Dale! I agree, it is a slippery-slope if we are not careful to understand the teaching of who He was speaking with. Did you catch the footnote at the end? I was getting so long I ended up truncating the teaching by adding the notes for the NETBible. I do like the way they laid out the argument.

    I believe the “new revelation” that would have been given was the book of Revelation and that the canon is complete. There is no new revelation that the Father has not already spoken. And that transition from Father to Son to Spirit to us, seems to say — I hope I’m not stretching this, help me if I am — that nothing will be said contrary to the Father’s declaration, which is the whole of the Scripture. What do you think?

  5. I love it! The study of the HOly Spirit is an extensive study in its self. I was not taught much about the HS as people seem to steer to one extreme or the I studied myself with the LORD. I was amazed that HE is here to pretty much guide us into anything and everything! YES I mean that..all according to HIS will, HE even prays on my behalf because I don’t know how to do it myself other than what I am taught…

    Love this and lots to think about..I was hungry too, so thanks for feeding me!

  6. Hey, Darla! Glad you were fed. 😉

    Many churches do tend to steer clear of teaching about the Holy Spirit. One of the first times I was asked to teach a group of ladies was in England and the topic for the evening was the gifts of the Spirit. I didn’t know much yet so I took a book from the Christian bookstore, where I worked, and taught what I’d learned from there which was straight up biblical teaching. One lady wanted to be sure I wasn’t going to talk about the “ecstatic” gifts of the Spirit. I had to let her know I didn’t know how I was going to be able to keep from doing that. I knew enough to know I wasn’t to take anything away from the scripture, I couldn’t edit God. She felt some gifts were too controversial to discuss. Hmmm…?

  7. “i couldn’t edit God”

    thats a great statement Michelle.

    in this world we WILL have trouble. and we have the Spirit in us. it makes the trouble much more bearable. It gives us wisdom and insight that is beyond MY way of thinking.

    i tried living without it once. it was disastrous.

    Michelle – this was a very intense study. and im sure i missed a lot of it and would have to re-read it several times. but thank you for taking so much time on this. im praying God will continue to speak to me through this…

    love you, sis.

  8. Michelle..You being at the end of the week isn’t righ but it is.

    It doesn’t work becaus, I read everyone elses entry on their day and comment. I get to Friday and get caught up in Games at Tam’s and Darla’s 😉 (which are fun). Then I realize I missed your post by the time I rember late Friday.

    But it works cause I get to wake up to a wonderful Saturday morning read. Always well put together and loaded with good scripture refferences. So maybe the Spirit makes it work out this way for a reason.

    We started this study with John 1:1 where we find the Word at the beggining of time. Now we learn of the next part of the wonderful plan to save us from sin.

    Peace and love sis.

  9. Hey, TammyJo! It is frustrating to me how I seem to forget to rely upon the Spirit. I know He is my Helper, but sometimes I choose to wallow in my troubles. I’ve got to keep my heart stayed upon Him. It is a growing process, this life we must endure. WIthout Him I don’t know how anyone makes it. Love you, sweet thang! 😉

    Good morning, Carl! Your words brought a smile to my face. It hurt with this nagging migraine, but it was a good hurt. Isn’t His plan remarkable? Incomprehensible. Have a great weekend, Carl. Hope you have a relaxing time with the family. 🙂 (ouch!)

  10. God’s plan for the lost is compassion and love. He loves us and desires that we live a life the same. I remember a 9 year old child this summer that I was able to wrap my arms around her; “Do you know that Jesus loves you?” She nodded; and I asked; “Do you have Him in your heart and have asked his forgiveness for your sins?” again she nodded yes with a huge smile – God loves her – and so does papa. No wrath, no condemnation, no unkind words.

  11. Papa, that was the teaching I was given as a young child. I believed the simplicity of the message. He’s never left me or forsaken me…His words have been the most compassionate and loving I have ever heard. God loves.

    Have a blessed weekend, Papa! 😉

  12. I am so glad that you posted on this! I was actually wondering as I read, “Jesus said He had to go … so that the Spirit would come. Am I missing something?” You’ve studied this out so well. One thing that occurred to me as I read this … God’s plan from the beginning (as you’ve so eloquently said) was the fullness of the plan. In other words … God always wanted to be as close to us as breathing – inside of us even – with each and every one of us each and every moment of our lives without leaving. This degree of intimacy and closeness could only be achieved with the Spirit, which could only be given if Jesus came, was obedient, and left. It all clicked … and made me realize again how GREAT is the Father’s love for me.

  13. “This degree of intimacy and closeness could only be achieved with the Spirit, which could only be given if Jesus came, was obedient, and left. It all clicked … and made me realize again how GREAT is the Father’s love for me.”

    YES!!! Isn’t His love amazing? He doesn’t change. The love He had to send His Son was there from the beginning and will be ’til the end — which will not be an end at all, but a new beginning!

    To have the Spirit dwell within…the mystery of the Gentiles, Christ in you, the hope of glory! Wonderful plan only conceived in the mind of God.

    Love you, Annie!

  14. “I know He is my Helper, but sometimes I choose to wallow in my troubles.”

    Same here, but reading your blog always helps me to remember to RELY UPON THE SPIRIT!!! (I need a fair bit of reminding.:-) )

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