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” (www.net.bible.org)
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 www.net.bible.org
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.