Jesus Teaches About the Holy Spirit – John 14:16-26

Jesus prepared his followers for his physical absence by telling them that they would experience his presence more fully and intimately because the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, would take up residence in them. Among the resources that the Spirit brings to our lives will be:

  • A awareness of God’s love
  • A sense of guidance and purpose in life
  • The power to obey Jesus;
  • The realization that we are united in relationship with God
  • A recognition and understanding of truth.

Jesus reminded the disciples that his promised resources would be essential for spiritual survival.  He would only be with them a while longer, but he did not want them to be unduly troubled. If they endured the difficulties by trusting in his promises, the hard times would prove to be only temporary. Christ’s promises are as real and necessary for us today as they were for that first small group of followers

John 14: 16  “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.NIV Various translations use different words for the Holy Spirit here: Advocate (nrsv), Helper (nkjv), Comforter (kjv). The Greek word parakletos denotes the Helper or Counselor who is always there to give special care in times of need. But the Holy Spirit is more than a Comforter, Helper, and Consoler; he is also an Advocate and an Encourager. In this context, it is also clear that the Holy Spirit is the Son’s “Representative,” even as the Son was the Father’s “Representative.”

The expression another Counselor ( allon parakleton) means “another counselor of the same kind as the first.” This implies that Jesus was the first Counselor (see 1 John 2:1), and that the Spirit would be the same kind of Counselor. When Jesus would no longer be with the disciples physically, the Holy Spirit would be their constant companion to guide, help, and empower them for the tasks ahead. Jesus identified the Counselor as the Spirit of truth because he is the Spirit who reveals the truth about God .


Jesus would soon leave the disciples, but he would remain with them. How could this be? The Counselor—the Spirit of God himself—would come after Jesus was gone to care for and guide the disciples. The regenerating power of the Spirit came on the disciples just before his ascension (20:22), and the Spirit was poured out on all the believers at Pentecost (Acts 2), shortly after Jesus ascended to heaven. The Holy Spirit is the very presence of God within all believers, helping us live as God wants, and building Christ’s church on earth. By faith we can appropriate the Spirit’s power each day.
The following chapters teach these truths about the Holy Spirit:
He will be with us forever (14:16).
The world at large cannot accept him (14:17).
He lives with us and in us (14:17).
He teaches us (14:26).
He reminds us of Jesus’ words (14:26; 15:26).
He convicts us of sin, shows us God’s righteousness, and announces God’s judgment on evil (16:8).
He guides into truth and gives insight into future events (16:13).
He brings glory to Christ (16:14).
The Holy Spirit has been active among people from the beginning of time, but after Pentecost (Acts 2) he came to live in all believers. Many people are unaware of the Holy Spirit’s activities, but to those who hear Christ’s words and understand the Spirit’s power, the Spirit gives a whole new way to look at life.

“The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.”NIV It may seem at first that the world cannot accept the Spirit because of its sin and disobedience. But if that were the case, no one could accept the Spirit, for all of us sin and are disobedient. Instead, the world cannot accept (or receive) this Spirit of truth because the world does not see him or know him—the world does not, indeed refuses to, understand the Spirit; and because of that lack of understanding, they cannot accept him. In the same way that Jesus was not accepted by the world (see 1:11-12), the Spirit would also not be received. But the disciples (and all believers) can receive the Spirit, for Jesus said, “But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”NIV The disciples, sinful men, not clear in their understanding at this point, even somewhat greedy in their quest for positions in God’s kingdom, would be able to know the Spirit, for the Spirit would come to live in them, helping them understand and empowering them to do great works for God. The world has refused to know Jesus; but any sincere seeker, no matter how sinful or how ignorant, who humbly comes to Jesus, can receive this gift of the Spirit.


Jesus later pointed out that the Holy Spirit works in the world (16:8) convicting people of sin. People may become aware of their sin but they will not recognize how they came to this awareness. Several factors prevent people’s understanding the Holy Spirit until after they have believed in Christ:
The Holy Spirit speaks a heavenly message (the words of Christ). His message of service, sacrifice, and faith is unintelligible to those who have not yet known Christ.
The Holy Spirit reverses one’s way of thinking. People naturally place themselves at the center of everything. The Holy Spirit places Christ and his purposes at the center.
The Holy Spirit begins with a different starting point. People tend to refer to their own needs and desires first. The Holy Spirit makes the love for Christ and obedience to God the starting point.

14:18-19 “I will not leave you as orphans.”NIV This statement showed Jesus’ fatherly care for his own, those whom he loved (see 13:1); it also affirmed Jesus’ presence with the disciples through the Spirit of truth, for he went on to say, “I am coming to you.”NRSV After Jesus’ resurrection, he appeared to the disciples in his glorious resurrection body and spoke to them prior to returning to the Father (20:19–21:25). At that time he breathed into his disciples the Holy Spirit (20:22). This assured the disciples that Jesus would come to them when the Spirit was given to them.

This coming would be but “in a little while,”NRSV during which time Jesus would experience crucifixion, burial, and resurrection (see 16:16-23).

“The world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.”NIV The disciples and many of Jesus’ followers saw him in his resurrection appearances (see 20:20, 26; 21:1, 14). Through the Resurrection, the living Jesus became the disciples’ life because they became united to him like branches in a vine. This is the intent behind the words: “Because I live, you will live also.”NKJV As the Son’s life is dependent upon the Father’s life (5:26; 6:57), so the believer’s life is dependent on the Son’s life. The reality of the Resurrection becomes the basis for our hope of eternal life.

14:20 “On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”NRSV That day is the day of Jesus’ resurrection. After the Resurrection, the disciples would realize by their own experience that Jesus lived in his Father, and they lived in Jesus, and Jesus lived in them. In other words, they would begin to know what it meant to live in God and have God live in them.

14:21 “They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”NRSV We who love Jesus demonstrate our love by keeping Jesus’ commands. Love means more than words; it requires commitment and action. If we love Christ, then we must prove it by obeying what he says in his Word. In return, the Father and Jesus himself love us. Furthermore, Jesus reveals himself to those who love him. Since the Greek word translated “reveal” means “to appear,” it is likely that Jesus was speaking of his appearances to the disciples after his resurrection. But the statement extends beyond that special time to include believers of all time. To all those who love and obey him, he reveals himself as an invisible, spiritual presence (see 20:29; 2 Corinthians 4:6).


 “If only God would show me what to do! I wish God would reveal himself!” In personal experience, most Christians admit to wishing God would reveal himself more openly. We want God to show us exactly what he wants us to do. We may think we are asking God for clear directions so we can carry them out, but our practice shows that we want to know first what God wants us to do so we can decide if we want to obey.
Jesus listed obedience before revelation. He said, in effect, “Obey what you know and you will know more.” The Scriptures contain many clear instructions for obedience that are never out of season. If we truly love God, we not only hang on his every word, but we also take our duties seriously. When we feel confused or lack answers, we should ask how we can follow through on directions he has previously given.

14:22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?”NRSV John clarified for us that this is not Judas Iscariot, but Judas the son of James (see Luke 6:16). This disciple asked Jesus how he would reveal himself to the disciples and not to the world. The disciples may still have been expecting Jesus to establish an earthly kingdom and overthrow Rome; they found it hard to understand why he did not tell the world at large that he was the Messiah. Or at least they felt that if he was going to rise from the dead, everyone should see it and know about it, for surely then they would believe. But Jesus explained that such a revelation to the world was not in the plans—at least not then. Not everyone would understand Jesus’ message, and a hardened and unbelieving world would not believe even someone who had come back from the dead (Luke 16:31). Ever since Pentecost, the gospel of the kingdom has been proclaimed in the whole world, and yet not everyone is receptive to it. Jesus reveals himself most deeply to those who love and obey him.

14:23 “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”NRSV In effect, Jesus’ response reassured Judas and the disciples that neither he nor the Father would be abandoning them. At first it must have seemed to the disciples that they had no advantage over everyone else—Jesus would die and leave them. In answering Peter’s question in the previous chapter, Jesus had explained that, as opposed to the Jewish leaders who had been told they could not go where Jesus was going, the disciples eventually would be able to be with Jesus, but it would be later (see 7:32-34; 13:36). Here Jesus offered the best comfort of all—there wouldn’t really be any separation from him for these disciples. Because Jesus would return to the Father, the Holy Spirit would be made available, allowing every believer constant access to the Father and the Son. To those who love Jesus, the Son and the Father will come and make a permanent home with them.


Some people have taught that keeping Jesus’ words is too stringent or unrealistic. “We are under grace,” they say, “not under law, so why should we even worry about keeping commandments?” The key question isn’t really about what words to keep or how to keep them, but whether we still love Jesus. Do we relate to him mainly as a traditional religious figure, an object of curious historical study, a source of interesting biblical discussion, or an optional model among many equally qualified persons? Or do we know him as Lord and Savior of our lives? The following questions should clarify our thinking:
 Are we grateful he found us even though we were not truly seeking him?
 Are we glad he rescued us from sin?
 Are we thrilled he chose us to be his followers?
 Are we excited about his presence in us and his words of guidance?
 Are we considering daily how to be more aware of his directions for us?
Are we making his will the central pursuit in our vocation, education, and family life?

14:24 “Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.”NRSV Obedience comes from love and trust. Thus a person who does not love Jesus will not obey him. A sobering way of stating Jesus’ point is to say, “The quality of our obedience is a direct reflection of our love for Jesus.”

“And the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.”NRSV Jesus repeated that all he said was from God himself (see also 12:49; 14:10).

14:25 “All this I have spoken while still with you.”NIV Jesus gave his last words to his disciples. The coming days would bring horrifying and then glorious events, but Jesus would not be able to talk to his disciples during those events. Before the disciples could understand any more, Jesus’ death and resurrection would have to take place. Then, the disciples’ understanding would be heightened by the coming of the Holy Spirit.

14:26 “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name.”NIV The Holy Spirit would be sent by both the Father and the Son (see also 15:26). In my name means that the Spirit comes in the Son’s name, the name of Jesus Christ, and thereby brings the Son’s presence to the disciples. As Jesus represented the Father, the Spirit represents the Son.

“Will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”NKJV The Spirit would continue, for Jesus, the ministry of teaching. The Spirit would also remind the disciples of what Jesus had taught. The apostles remembered and wrote with the help of the Spirit. John’s Gospel, even the entire New Testament, would not exist if not for this reminding work of the Holy Spirit.

In the case of the disciples, the reminding role of the Holy Spirit uniquely guided the recording of the New Testament. However, the process is still in place. The disciples first heard Jesus speak; we discover Jesus’ words in Scripture. Reading, studying, memorizing, meditating, and obeying place Christ’s words firmly inside us, and the Holy Spirit reminds us of their further application as we move through life.

Theologians use the term illumination to describe the Holy Spirit’s process of helping believers understand Scripture. Without God, sinful people are unable to recognize and obey divine truths. When a person is reborn, the Holy Spirit helps the person to see God’s Word with the eyes of faith and love. The Holy Spirit also works in the life of the believer, convincing him of the truth of the Bible, keeping him from misconstruing what it really says, and helping him not be distracted so he can see and remember the true meaning of God’s Word.


Jesus promised the disciples that the Holy Spirit would help them remember what he had been teaching them. This promise ensures the validity of the New Testament. The disciples were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life and teachings; the Holy Spirit helped them remember without taking away their individual perspectives. We can be confident that the Gospels accurately record what Jesus taught and did (see 1 Corinthians 2:10-14). The Holy Spirit can help us in the same way. As we study the Bible, we can trust the Holy Spirit to plant truth in our minds, convince us of God’s will, and remind us when we stray from it.

For more about the series, The Holy Spirit, go to

Source:  adapted from the Life Application Bible Commentary

About dkoop

Lead Pastor of Upwards Church: Leander & Jarrell, TX
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