The glory of the Messiah, 13:1-20:31

1. The farewell discourses, 13:1-17:26

v] The Spirit of truth


John continues his record of the farewell discourse covering chapters 13:1-17:26. In this passage we learn more of the coming of the Holy Spirit, of the manifestation of God's other helping presence, the Advocate, that other who stands with us, abides in us, as we seek to do the greater things for Jesus, v15-17. The world cannot experience this coming of the Spirit of Christ, but believers can, for in his coming we experience the fullness of God's love and self-revelation, v18-21.


The Spirit of truth, who gives knowledge of the divine, is available to all who believe.


i] Context: See 13:1-17.


ii] Structure: The Spirit of Truth:

Those who believe will experience

an eternal abiding of the Godhead, v15-17;

The pledge of eternal life for those who believe, v18-21.


iii] Interpretation:

Peter's question in 13:36, "where are you going?", prompts Jesus' discourse in chapter 14: Jesus is going to the Father, v1-11, and his mission will now be accomplished through his disciples, v12-14. In v15-31 the mission will be supported through the coming of the Holy Spirit, both to manifest Jesus again to his disciples and to teach them all things, v15-31. In v15-17 Jesus tells his disciples that he will seek from the Father the gift of an Advocate, the Spirit of Truth, who will provide them with divine knowledge, enabling the doing of the greater things. Unlike the ministry of Jesus, the Spirit's ministry will be permanent and provide the Christian fellowship with an ongoing unifying support. On our part, we must respond in faith ("keep my commandments"). Unlike the Christian fellowship, the world will be oblivious to the Spirit's ministry. In v18-21 Jesus' points out that he is not leaving his disciples as orphans for he is coming back, probably as the Spirit of Christ, but see ercomai, "I will come", v18. Then they will see and know, they will experience the mutual indwelling of the Godhead. The person who loves Jesus, who is in an abiding relationship with Jesus, is a person who hears Jesus' words and acts on them - the essential word being the call to faith in Jesus. When we believe in Jesus we are washed with the indwelling-compelling love of the Spirit of Christ, a love that is self-revealing.


The relationship between love, obedience and faith. As part of John's literary inclination, the relationship between these key words is illusive. Putting aside the instruction "love one another", a disciple's "love" for Jesus / the Father, and their obedience of Jesus' / the Father's commands, amount to the same thing - the one who loves obeys, the one who obeys loves. Although a matter of ongoing debate, it is likely that the "commands" amount to faith in Jesus, such that the one who loves, is the one who obeys, is the one who believes, and of course, the one who believes, is the one who obeys, is the one who loves. As for "love one another", this is the fruit of loving Jesus / obeying Jesus / believing in Jesus.


The discourse affirms the unity of the Godhead. The scriptures promise that the Holy Spirit will come and dwell with believers, that Jesus will come and dwell with believers, and also, that the Father will come and dwell with believers, cf. v23. This indwelling serves to support faith, and its fruit, love. Presumably we are to understand that the Spirit's coming is as good as Jesus' coming and as good as the Father's coming, since they, although three, are one.


iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes

Text - 14:15

The promise of another helping presence, v15-21: i] Those who believe will experience an eternal abiding of the Godhead, v15-17. If the disciples are to do "the greater things" they will need to act on Jesus' words, ie., trust him implicitly. It is then they will receive the support of another "advocate", the Spirit of truth. Following NIV11 we have:

ean + subj. "if" - Introducing a conditional clause, 3rd class, where the proposed condition is assumed a possibility - it is likely that the disciples do love Jesus; "if, as may be the case, .... then ...." If a disciple cares for Jesus then they will keep his commands. Barrett notes that this condition applies to the promised gift of the Spirit. He also argues that the "commands", plural, represent various acts of brotherly love. This line is taken by many commentators, but it seems more likely that the "commands / instructions / words" of Jesus distill down to the call for faith, namely, a firm reliance on Jesus as messiah /savior. This statement is repeated in v21, 23, and 15:14. See 14:23.

agapate (agapaw) pres. subj. "you love" - you love [me]. As noted above, it is likely that keeping Jesus' commands entails the ongoing action of trusting Jesus / relying, resting on his word, v1, 11. A believer who loves Jesus, who is in a loving relationship with Jesus, will trust Jesus. In fact, it is difficult to distinguish between the act of loving Jesus and the act of trusting Jesus.

thrhsete (threw) fut. "keep" - you will keep, guard. Note variants, imp. and subj. If subjunctive (P66), the whole verse becomes the protasis of a conditional sentence with v16 the apodosis; "You will do what I told you to do", or "do what I told you to do", TH.

taV "my" - [the commandments] the [my]. The article serves as an adjectivizer turning the possessive pronoun into an attributive modifier, "the commandments which are mine" = "my commandments."

taV entolaV (h) "commands" - the commandments. "Believe in God, believe also in me", is the substance of Christ's command to his disciples, although, as noted above, an "ethical", Morris, "moral", Barrett, sense is possible. Surely what we have here is the uJpakohn pistewV "the obedience of faith" = "the obedience that consists of faith", where the genitive "of faith" is adjectival, epexegetic, cf. Rom.1:5. Westcott has the response of love as "keeping God's commands given through Christ", but of course the issue is, what command[s]? "The work of God is this; to believe in the one he has sent", 6:29.


Jesus will ask the Father and he will give the disciples allon paraklhton, "another Paraclete", one who will continue the mission of Jesus through the disciples.

kagw "and I" - The position is emphatic, "no less than I", Morris.

erwthsw (erwtaw) fut. "will ask" - will ask [the father]. As in a prayer request, not a question. "Request", Brown.

kai "and" - Here leaning toward a consecutive sense; "and as a consequence he will send ...."

dwsei (didwmi) fut. "he will give" - he will give. Reminding us of the East/West divide on the issue of the procession of the Spirit, either from the Father alone, or the Father and the Son. John doesn't really make a distinction as to who sends the Spirit since there is unity of action in the Godhead: the Father sends the Spirit on behalf of the Son; the Spirit is sent by the Father in the name of the Son; the Spirit is sent from the Father by the Son; .............

uJmin dat. pro. "you" - to you. Dative of indirect object.

allon pro. "another" - "Another of the same kind", Lightfoot. Probably better spelled out "another person like me to be your paraklete."

paraklhton (oV) masc. sing. "Counselor" - paraklete. Accusative direct object of the verb "to send." Although spirit in Greek is neuter, it is important to note that John renders paraclete as masculine singular - he is a person, not a thing, not just a power. The word is a verbal adjective functioning as a noun, derived from "to call alongside" and therefore counsel, encourage, exhort. Functioning as a noun, there are a number of possible meanings:

"Advocate", Rieu, etc., one who advises and speaks on our behalf in the courts of heaven, "someone else to stand by you", Phillips;

"intercessor", NAB notes;

"Counselor", in that he gives divine counsel;

"Helper", TEV;

"Comforter", AV, a meaning originating with Wycliffe;

"Convincer", Snaith, the one who convinces us of the things of God and accomplishes in them a change of heart;

"Friend", Williams, "another to befriend you", Knox.

It does seem that too much weight is put on the etymology of the word and not enough on John's description of the Paraclete's function, so "another for you to stand by your side", Cassirer. This approach is used in the CEV, "I will send you the Holy Spirit who will and help you and always be with you."

iJna + subj. "to be" - that [he might be]. "Who will be with you" is suggested by those who argue for a mistranslation of an Aramaic original. Introducing a purpose clause, "in order that", although consequence, "with the result that", is always possible. Jesus promised to be with his disciples forever, and since he is now leaving them bodily he will send "another" to be with them.

meq (meta) + gen. "with [you forever]" - with [you into the age]. Expressing association.


The Paraclete is the Spirit, he is the one who makes divine truth known to those he is in union with, a truth beyond the conception of the world.

thV alhqeiaV (a) "of truth" - [the spirit] of truth. The accusative, "the Spirit of truth", stands in apposition to "Paraclete". The genitive is adjectival, attributive, "the Spirit characterized by truth", Rienecker, or idiomatic (epexegetic,Westcott), "the Spirit who communicates the truth", Barrett, even "bears witness to the truth (possibly "to the truth who is Jesus", cf., Beasley-Murray), Carson.

oJ kosmoV (oV) "the world" - Nominative subject of the negated verb "is not able." In itself, the word can be neutral with respect to God, = created humanity, but in John's gospel it is usually negative, "mankind over against God", Barrett, "in opposition to God", Beasley-Murray.

labein (lambanw) aor. inf. "[cannot] accept" - [is not able] to receive. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the negated verb "is not able." "Receive" (accept), for John, is a belief term. Sinful humanity, humanity in rebellion against God, is unable to exercise faith in the Paraclete.

oJti "because" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the wold cannot accept Jesus.

ou ..... oude "[it] neither [sees] nor [knows him]" - [it does] not [see it] not [know]. Negated comparative construction; "neither ...... nor ....."

ou qewrei (qewrew) pres. "sees" - "See" (perceive) = "know" = commune with / "enters into no personal relations with", Morris.

uJmeiV "you [know him]" - The personal pronoun is emphatic by position and use.

oJti "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the disciple know Jesus.

para + dat. "[he lives] with [you]" - [he abides, remains] with [you]. Spacial, expressing association; "near, beside." As with the preposition en, "in", following, both prepositions express intimacy - incorporative union. The Spirit is present with the disciples at this moment through their association with Jesus.

estai (eimi) fut. "will be [in you]" - [and] will be [in you]. Variant present tense exists, but future is more likely. The preposition en, "in", expresses association, incorporative union.


ii] The pledge of eternal life for those who believe - they will know what the world cannot know, v18-21. In this passage, John's exposition of the post-crucifixion relationship of Jesus with his disciples is purposely illusive - as it is in real life. "When I go you will not be left all alone, I will come back to you", TEV.

ouk afhsw (afihmi) fut. "I will not leave" - i will not abandon [you]. A strong word.

orfanouV adj. "as orphans" - orphaned. Adjective used as a substantive, standing as the accusative complement of the object "you" in a double accusative construction, asserting a fact about "you". "Friendless", Goodspeed.

ercomai pres. "I will come" - i am coming [toward you]. Implied, "I am coming back to you", Brown. Note present tense "giving greater certainty", Morris. We are unsure what "coming" Jesus is referring to. Is it his coming to be with his disciples at his resurrection, a coming upon their death, at the parousia, or his coming in the coming of the Spirit? It is unlikely that Jesus is referring to his second coming. Given the context, Jesus' coming in the Spirit is the most likely intended sense, but then does Jesus ever suggest that he comes in the Spirit? cf., Beasley-Murray. It is argued by some that Jesus, having promised the coming of the Spirit, further encourages his disciples by telling them that he will soon return to be with them for a time. Verse 19 supports this interpretation in that Jesus disciples get to "see" Jesus again in the weeks following his resurrection, although the "world" of unbelievers, "will not see" him / get to see him. Although somewhat unclear, the sense is probably "I will soon be back with you in the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost", ie., referring to the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, rather than to Jesus' resurrection.


Given his coming crucifixion, the world will no longer see / be able to relate to Jesus, but the disciples will, and this because Jesus will rise from the dead and his disciples will share in his resurrection life.

eti mikron adv. "before long" - yet a little. Temporal adverbial construction, future shortened time; "A little while longer", Moffatt.

ouketi adv. "[will] not [see me]" - [and the world sees me] no longer [but/and you see me]. Temporal adverb, negative time. Present tense of the verb "to see" again emphasizing the immediacy of the seeing; usually treated as a futuristic present, as NIV. Jesus does not reveal himself to the general population after his resurrection, but only to his disciples. Again we are unsure whether this seeing by the disciples is of the resurrection of Jesus, or the manifestation of the Spirit of Christ / the Holy Spirit, or even the parousia.

oJti "because" - [but/and you see me] that. The intended function of this conjunction is unclear and so we are left with three translation options:

Causal, explaining why "you will see me"; "but you will see me, because I live and you will live", NAB;

Causal, explaining why "you also will live", as NIV; "the world will see me not longer but you will see me. Besides, because I live, you too shall have life", Cassirer;

Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what they will see; "but you will see that I live, and you also will live", NJB.

uJmeiV "you" - [i live] you. Emphatic by use.

kai "also" - and = also. Adjunctive, as NIV.

zhsete (zaw) fut. "will live" - will live. The sense of "will live" is dependent on what is seen, ie., is it the risen Christ or the manifested Spirit? If the risen Christ is in mind then "live", in the sense of "be alive", is most likely; "you will be living too", Moffatt.


When the disciples come to share in Jesus' resurrection life, then they will understand how Jesus has his being in the Father, how believers have their being in Jesus, and how Jesus indwells the believer in the person of the Holy Spirit.

en ekeinh/ th/ hJmera/ "on that day" - in that day. Temporal construction. As above, the day is not stated, but Jesus is referring either to his post resurrection appearances, or manifestation in the Spirit, or both inclusive together. Given the content of the "knowing", the gift of the Holy Spirit may well be the focus, although John has his own slant on this, cf. 20:22.

oJti "that [I am in my Father]" - [you will know] that. Here introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what "you will know / realize / understand".

en "in" - [i am] in [the father of me and you] in [me and] i [in you]. Local, expressing space, metaphorical, of the union of mutual indwelling / incorporative union, cf., "that they may be one as we [are one]", 17:11 (= "keep them in your name"). Suggested interpretations of this concept range from pure mysticism to a simple personal relationship. A relational sense seems best ("a way of expressing the relationship", Lindars). Probably this "oneness" is the substance of the resurrection life, a life at peace with God. "I am inseparably one with the Father. Even so shall you be one with me and I with you", German common language version.


Lindars suggests that this verse is an exposition of the mutual indwelling referred to in v20. So, the disciple, in union with Jesus, is a person who is in a relationship with him ("loves me"), and as such, keeps his instructions, namely, they believe in Jesus. Consequently, this person is loved by both the Father and the Son, which love the Son manifests to the disciple in person (presumably in the person of the Spirit.)

oJ exwn pres. part. "whoever has" - the one having. The participle serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb to-be. The present tense is durative, which aspect (ongoing action) is also expressed in the following participles, "keeping / obeying" and "loving". "Has" here in the sense of "grasp firmly in the mind", Barrett; "accepts", TEV.

taV entolaV (h) "[my] commands" - the commands [of me]. Accusative direct object of the participle "having". As noted above, although a debatable issue, it is very likely that Jesus' instructions distill down to faith / belief. So, a more general translation is needed, eg., "authoritative words."

thrwn (threw) pres. part. "obeys / keeps" - [and] keeping [them]. The participle serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb to-be. "Observes", Barrett, reflects the view that the "commands" are ethical regulations, which sense is unlikely. "Whoever accepts my words and acts on them ......"

ekeinoV pro. "he / is " - that [one]. Resumptive pronoun in a pendent nominative construction.

oJ agapwn pres. part. "the one who loves [me]" - [is] the one loving [me]. The participle serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the passive verb "to love."

agaphqhsetai (agapaw) fut. pas. "will be loved [by my Father]" - [and the one loving me] will be loved. "The passive form seems to bring out the idea of the conscious experience of love by the object of it", Westcott. Although the love is reciprocal, there is no suggestion that God's love for us is dependent on our ethical faithfulness. The language simply reflects the substantial relationship that exists between the believer and the Godhead, which relationship rests on faith.

uJpo + gen. "by [my Father]" - by, from [the father of me]. Expressing agency - the only use of this preposition with the genitive in John's gospel.

emfanisw (emfanizw) fut. "[I will] show / manifest " - [and i will love him and] will manifest, reveal [myself to him]. As of a "presentation in a clear and conspicuous form", Westcott. The revelation is not identified and so we are left with the same set of options: is it the post resurrection appearances of Christ, the spiritual manifestation of Christ in the Spirit, or the appearance of Christ is glory / coming, or even the personal manifestation of Christ to prayerful believers? The manifestation of the Spirit seems the best option; "showing him who I am", TH, in the general sense of making known the truth, cf. Morris, of Christ's "progressive self-revelation after his departure", Ridderbos.


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