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The Promise of the Holy Spirit

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

18 “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.


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Christ's Consolatory Discourse.

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.   16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;   17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

Christ not only proposes such things to them as were the matter of their comfort, but here promises to send the Spirit, whose office it should be to be their Comforter, to impress these things upon them.

I. He premises to this a memento of duty (v. 15): If you love me, keep my commandments. Keeping the commandments of Christ is here put for the practice of godliness in general, and for the faithful and diligent discharge of their office as apostles in particular. Now observe, 1. When Christ is comforting them, he bids them keep his commandments; for we must not expect comfort but in the way of duty. The same word (parakaleo) signifies both to exhort and to comfort. 2. When they were in care what they should do, now that their Master was leaving them, and what would become of them now, he bids them keep his commandments, and then nothing could come amiss to them. In difficult times our care concerning the events of the day should be swallowed up in a care concerning the duty of the day. 3. When they were showing their love to Christ by their grieving to think of his departure, and the sorrow which filled their hearts upon the foresight of that, he bids them, if they would show their love to him, do it, not by these weak and feminine passions, but by their conscientious care to perform their trust, and by a universal obedience to his commands; this is better than sacrifice, better than tears. Lovest thou me? Feed my lambs. 4. When Christ has given them precious promises, of the answer of their prayers and the coming of the Comforter, he lays down this as a limitation of the promises, "Provided you keep my commandments, from a principle of love to me." Christ will not be an advocate for any but those that will be ruled and advised by him as their counsel. Follow the conduct of the Spirit, and you shall have the comfort of the Spirit.

II. He promises this great and unspeakable blessing to them, v. 16, 17.

1. It is promised that they shall have another comforter. This is the great New-Testament promise (Acts i. 4), as that of the Messiah was of the Old Testament; a promise adapted to the present distress of the disciples, who were in sorrow, and needed a comforter. Observe here,

(1.) The blessing promised: allon parakleton. The word is used only here in these discourses of Christ's, and 1 John ii. 1, where we translate it an advocate. The Rhemists, and Dr. Hammond, are for retaining the Greek word Paraclete; we read, Acts ix. 31, of the paraklesis tou hagiou pneumatos, the comfort of the Holy Ghost, including his whole office as a paraclete. [1.] You shall have another advocate. The office of the Spirit was to be Christ's advocate with them and others, to plead his cause, and take care of his concerns, on earth; to be vicarius Christi—Christ's Vicar, as one of the ancients call him; and to be their advocate with their opposers. When Christ was with them he spoke for them as there was occasion; but now that he is leaving them they shall not be run down, the Spirit of the Father shall speak in them, Matt. x. 19, 20. And the cause cannot miscarry that is pleaded by such an advocate. [2.] You shall have another master or teacher, another exhorter. While they had Christ with them he excited and exhorted them to their duty; but now that he is going he leaves one with them that shall do this as effectually, though silently. Jansenius thinks the most proper word to render it by is a patron, one that shall both instruct and protect you. [3.] Another comforter. Christ was expected as the consolation of Israel. One of the names of the Messiah among the Jews was Menahem—the Comforter. The Targum calls the days of the Messiah the years of consolation. Christ comforted his disciples when he was with them, and now that he was leaving them in their greatest need he promises them another.

(2.) The giver of this blessing: The Father shall give him, my Father and your Father; it includes both. The same that gave the Son to be our Saviour will give his Spirit to be our comforter, pursuant to the same design. The Son is said to send the Comforter (ch. xv. 26), but the Father is the prime agent.

(3.) How this blessing is procured—by the intercession of the Lord Jesus: I will pray the Father. He said (v. 14) I will do it; here he saith, I will pray for it, to show not only that he is both God and man, but that he is both king and priest. As priest he is ordained for men to make intercession, as king he is authorized by the Father to execute judgment. When Christ saith, I will pray the Father, it does not suppose that the Father is unwilling, or must be importuned to it, but only that the gift of the Spirit is a fruit of Christ's mediation, purchased by his merit, and taken out by his intercession.

(4.) The continuance of this blessing: That he may abide with you for ever. That is, [1.] "With you, as long as you live. You shall never know the want of a comforter, nor lament his departure, as you are now lamenting mine." Note, It should support us under the loss of those comforts which were designed us for a time that there are everlasting consolations provided for us. It was not expedient that Christ should be with them for ever, for they who were designed for public service, must not always live a college-life; they must disperse, and therefore a comforter that would be with them all, in all places alike, wheresoever dispersed and howsoever distressed, was alone fit to be with them for ever. [2.] "With your successors, when you are gone, to the end of time; your successors in Christianity, in the ministry." [3.] If we take for ever in its utmost extent, the promise will be accomplished in those consolations of God which will be the eternal joy of all the saints, pleasures for ever.

2. This comforter is the Spirit of truth, whom you know, v. 16, 17. They might think it impossible to have a comforter equivalent to him who is the Son of God: "Yea," saith Christ, "you shall have the Spirit of God, who is equal in power and glory with the Son."

(1.) The comforter promised is the Spirit, one who should do his work in a spiritual way and manner, inwardly and invisibly, by working on men's spirits.

(2.) "He is the Spirit of truth." He will be true to you, and to his undertaking for you, which he will perform to the utmost. He will teach you the truth, will enlighten your minds with the knowledge of it, will strengthen and confirm your belief of it, and will increase your love to it. The Gentiles by their idolatries, and the Jews by their traditions, were led into gross errors and mistakes; but the Spirit of truth shall not only lead you into all truth, but others by your ministry. Christ is the truth, and he is the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit that he was anointed with.

(3.) He is one whom the world cannot receive; but you know him. Therefore he abideth with you. [1.] The disciples of Christ are here distinguished from the world, for they are chosen and called out of the world that lies in wickedness; they are the children and heirs of another world, not of this. [2.] It is the misery of those that are invincibly devoted to the world that they cannot receive the Spirit of truth. The spirit of the world and of God are spoken of as directly contrary the one to the other (1 Cor. ii. 12); for where the spirit of the world has the ascendant, the Spirit of God is excluded. Even the princes of this world, though, as princes, they had advantages of knowledge, yet, as princes of this world, they laboured under invincible prejudices, so that they knew not the things of the Spirit of God, 1 Cor. ii. 8. [3.] Therefore men cannot receive the Spirit of truth because they see him not, neither know him. The comforts of the Spirit are foolishness to them, as much as ever the cross of Christ was, and the great things of the gospel, like those of the law, are counted as a strange thing. These are judgments far above out of their sight. Speak to the children of this world of the operations of the Spirit, and you are as a barbarian to them. [4.] The best knowledge of the Spirit of truth is that which is got by experience: You know him, for he dwelleth with you. Christ had dwelt with them, and by their acquaintance with him they could not but know the Spirit of truth. They had themselves been endued with the Spirit in some measure. What enabled them to leave all to follow Christ, and to continue with him in his temptations? What enabled them to preach the gospel, and work miracles, but the Spirit dwelling in them? The experiences of the saints are the explications of the promises; paradoxes to others are axioms to them. [5.] Those that have an experimental acquaintance with the Spirit have a comfortable assurance of his continuance: He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you, for the blessed Spirit doth not use to shift his lodging. Those that know him know how to value him, invite him and bid him welcome; and therefore he shall be in them, as the light in the air, as the sap in the tree, as the soul in the body. Their communion with him shall be intimate, and their union with him inseparable. [6.] The gift of the Holy Ghost is a peculiar gift, bestowed upon the disciples of Christ in a distinguishing way—them, and not the world; it is to them hidden manna, and the white stone. No comforts comparable to those which make no show, make no noise. This is the favour God bears to his chosen; it is the heritage of those that fear his name.

Christ's Consolatory Discourse.

18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.   19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.   20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.   21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.   22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?   23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.   24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.

When friends are parting, it is a common request they make to each other, "Pray let us hear from you as often as you can:" this Christ engaged to his disciples, that out of sight they should not be out of mind.

I. He promises that he would continue his care of them (v. 18): "I will not leave you orphans, or fatherless; for, though I leave you, yet I leave you this comfort, I will come to you." His departure from them was that which grieved them; but it was not so bad as they apprehended, for it was neither total nor final. 1. Not total. "Though I leave you without my bodily presence, yet I do not leave you without comfort." Though children, and left little, yet they had received the adoption of sons, and his Father would be their Father, with whom those who otherwise would be fatherless find mercy. Note, The case of true believers, though sometimes it may be sorrowful, is never comfortless, because they are never orphans: for God is their Father, who is an everlasting Father. 2. Not final: I will come to you, erchomaiI do come; that is, (1.) "I will come speedily to you at my resurrection, I will not be long away, but will be with you again in a little time." He had often said, The third day I will rise again. (2.) "I will be coming daily to you in my Spirit;" in the tokens of his love, and visits of his grace, he is still coming. (3.) "I will come certainly at the end of time; surely I will come quickly to introduce you into the joy of your Lord." Note, The consideration of Christ's coming to us saves us from being comfortless in his removals from us; for, if he depart for a season, it is that we may receive him for ever. Let this moderate our grief, The Lord is at hand.

II. He promises that they should continue their acquaintance with him and interest in him (v. 19, 20): Yet a little while, and the world sees me no more, that is, Now I am no more in the world. After his death, the world saw him no more, for, though he rose to life, he never showed himself to all the people, Acts x. 41. The malignant world thought they had seen enough of him, and cried, Away with him; crucify him; and so shall their doom be; they shall see him no more. Those only that see Christ with an eye of faith shall see him for ever. The world sees him no more till his second coming; but his disciples have communion with him in his absence.

1. You see me, and shall continue to see me, when the world sees me no more. They saw him with their bodily eyes after his resurrection, for he showed himself to them by many infallible proofs, Acts i. 8. And then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord. They saw him with an eye of faith after his ascension, sitting at God's right hand, as Lord of all; saw that in him which the world saw not.

2. Because I live, you shall live also. That which grieved them was, that their Master was dying, and they counted upon nothing else but to die with him. No, saith Christ, (1.) I live; this the great God glories in, I live, saith the Lord, and Christ saith the same; not only, I shall live, as he saith of them, but, I do live; for he has life in himself, and lives for evermore. We are not comfortless, while we know that our Redeemer lives. (2.) Therefore you shall live also. Note, The life of Christians is bound up in the life of Christ; as sure and as long as he lives, those that by faith are united to him shall live also; they shall live spiritually, a divine life in communion with God. This life is hid with Christ; if the head and root live, the members and branches live also. They shall live eternally; their bodies shall rise in the virtue of Christ's resurrection; it will be well with them in the world to come. It cannot but be well with all that are his, Isa. xxvi. 19.

3. You shall have the assurance of this (v. 20): At that day, when I am glorified, when the Spirit is poured out, you shall know more clearly and certainly than you do now that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. (1.) These glorious mysteries will be fully known in heaven; At that day, when I shall receive you to myself, you shall know perfectly that which now you see through a glass darkly. Now it appears not what we shall be, but then it will appear what we were. (2.) They were more fully known after the pouring out of the Spirit upon the apostles; at that day divine light should shine, and their eyes should see more clearly, their knowledge should greatly advance and increase then, would become more extensive and more distinct, and like the blind man's at the second touch of Christ's hand, who at first only saw men as trees walking. (3.) They are known by all that receive the Spirit of truth, to their abundant satisfaction, for in the knowledge of this is founded their fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. They know, [1.] That Christ is in the Father, is one with the Father, by their experience of what he has wrought for them and in them; they find what an admirable consent and harmony there is between Christianity and natural religion, that that is grafted into this, and so they know that Christ is in the Father. [2.] That Christ is in them; experienced Christians know by the Spirit that Christ abides in them, 1 John iii. 24. [3.] That they are in Christ, for the relation is mutual, and equally near on both sides, Christ in them and they in Christ, which speaks an intimate and inseparable union; in the virtue of which it is that because he lives they shall live also. Note, First, Union with Christ is the life of believers; and their relation to him, and to God through him, is their felicity. Secondly, The knowledge of this union is their unspeakable joy and satisfaction; they were now in Christ, and he in them, but he speaks of it as a further act of grace that they should know it, and have the comfort of it. An interest in Christ and the knowledge of it are sometimes separated.

III. He promises that he would love them, and manifest himself to them, v. 21-24. Here observe,

1. Who they are whom Christ will look upon, and accept, as lovers of him; those that have his commandments, and keep them. By this Christ shows that the kind things he here said to his disciples were intended not for those only that were now his followers, but for all that should believe in him through their word. Here is, (1.) The duty of those who claim the dignity of being disciples. Having Christ's commandments, we must keep them; as Christians in name and profession we have Christ's commandments, we have them sounding in our ears, written before our eyes, we have the knowledge of them; but this is not enough; would we approve ourselves Christians indeed, we must keep them. Having them in our heads, we must keep them in our hearts and lives. (2.) The dignity of those that do the duty of disciples. They are looked upon by Christ to be such as love him. Not those that have the greatest wit and know how to talk for him, but those that keep his commandments. Note, The surest evidence of our love to Christ is obedience to the laws of Christ. Such is the love of a subject to his sovereign, a dutiful, respectful, obediential love, a conformity to his will, and satisfaction in his wisdom.

2. What returns he will make to them for their love; rich returns; there is no love lost upon Christ. (1.) They shall have the Father's love: He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father. We could not love God if he did not first, out of his good-will to us, give us his grace to love him; but there is a love of complacency promised to those that do love God, Prov. viii. 17. He loves them, and lets them know that he loves them, smiles upon them, and embraces them. God so loves the Son as to love all those that love him. (2.) They shall have Christ's love: And I will love him, as God-man, as Mediator. God will love him as a Father, and I will love him as a brother, an elder brother. The Creator will love him, and be the felicity of his being; the Redeemer will love him, and be the protector of his well-being. In the nature of God, nothing shines more brightly than this, that God is love. And in the undertaking of Christ nothing appears more glorious than this, that he loved us. Now both these loves are the crown and comfort, the grace and glory, which shall be to all those that love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Christ was now leaving his disciples, but promises to continue his love to them; for he not only retains a kindness for believers, though absent, but is doing them kindness while absent, for he bears them on his heart, and ever lives interceding for them. (3.) They shall have the comfort of that love: I will manifest myself to him. Some understand it of Christ's showing himself alive to his disciples after his resurrection; but, being promised to all that love him and keep his commandments, it must be construed so as to extend to them. There is a spiritual manifestation of Christ and his love made to all believers. When he enlightens their minds to know his love, and the dimensions of it (Eph. iii. 18, 19), enlivens their graces, and draws them into exercise, and thus enlarges their comforts in himself—when he clears up the evidences of their interest in him, and gives them tokens of his love, experience of his tenderness, and earnests of his kingdom and glory,—then he manifests himself to them; and Christ is manifested to none but those to whom he is pleased to manifest himself.

3. What occurred upon Christ's making this promise.

(1.) One of the disciples expresses his wonder and surprise at it, v. 22. Observe, [1.] Who it was that said this—Judas, not Iscariot. Judah, or Judas, was a famous name; the most famous tribe in Israel was that of Judah; two of Christ's disciples were of that name: one of them was the traitor, the other was the brother of James (Luke vi. 16), one of those that were akin to Christ, Matt. xiii. 55. He is called Lebbeus and Thaddeus, was the penman of the last of the epistles, which in our translation, for distinction's sake, we call the epistle of Jude. This was he that spoke here. Observe, First, There was a very good man, and a very bad man, called by the same name; for names commend us not to God, nor do they make men worse. Judas the apostle was never the worse, nor Judas the apostate ever the better, for being namesakes. But, Secondly, The evangelist carefully distinguishes between them; when he speaks of this pious Judas, he adds, not Iscariot. Take heed of mistaking; let us not confound the precious and the vile. [2.] What he said—Lord how is it? which intimates either, First, the weakness of his understanding. So some take it. He expected the temporal kingdom of the Messiah, that it should appear in external pomp and power, such as all the world would wonder after. "How, then," thinks he, "should it be confined to us only?" ti gegonen—"what is the matter now, that thou wilt not show thyself openly as is expected, that the Gentiles may come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising?" Note, We create difficulties to ourselves by mistaking the nature of Christ's kingdom, as if it were of this world. Or, Secondly, as expressing the strength of his affections, and the humble and thankful sense he had of Christ's distinguishing favours to them: Lord, how is it? He is amazed at the condescensions of divine grace, as David, 2 Sam. vii. 18. What is there in us to deserve so great a favour? Note, 1. Christ's manifesting himself to his disciples is done in a distinguishing way-to them, and not to the world that sits in darkness; to the base, and not to the mighty and noble; to babes, and not to the wise and prudent. Distinguishing favours are very obliging; considering who are passed by, and who are pitched upon. 2. It is justly marvellous in our eyes; for it is unaccountable, and must be resolved into free and sovereign grace. Even so, Father, because it seemed good unto thee.

(2.) Christ, in answer hereto, explains and confirms what he had said, v. 23, 24. He overlooks what infirmity there was in what Judas spoke, and goes on with his comforts.

[1.] He further explains the condition of the promise, which was loving him, and keeping his commandments. And, as to this, he shows what an inseparable connection there is between love and obedience; love is the root, obedience is the fruit. First, Where a sincere love to Christ is in the heart, there will be obedience: "If a man love me indeed, that love will be such a commanding constraining principle in him, that, no question, he will keep my words." Where there is true love to Christ there is a value for his favour, a veneration for his authority, and an entire surrender of the whole man to his direction and government. Where love is, duty follows of course, is easy and natural, and flows from a principle of gratitude. Secondly, On the other hand, where there is no true love to Christ there will be no care to obey him: He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings, v. 24. This comes in here as a discovery of those that do not love Christ; whatever they pretend, certainly those do not love him that believe not his truths, and obey not his laws, to whom Christ's sayings are but as idle tales, which he heeds not, or hard sayings, which he likes not. It is also a reason why Christ will not manifest himself to the world that doth not love him, because they put this affront upon him, not to keep his sayings; why should Christ be familiar with those that will be strange to him?

[2.] He further explains the promise (v. 23): If a man thus love me, I will manifest myself to him. First, My Father will love him; this he had said before (v. 21), and here repeats it for the confirming of our faith; because it is hard to imagine that the great god should make those the objects of his love that had made themselves vessels of his wrath. Jude wondered that Christ should manifest himself to them; but this answers it, "If my Father love you, why should not I be free with you?" Secondly, We will come unto him, and make our abode with him. This explains the meaning of Christ's manifesting himself to him, and magnifies the favour. 1. Not only,I will, but, We will, I and the Father, who, in this, are one. See v. 9. The light and love of God are communicated to man in the light and love of the Redeemer, so that wherever Christ is formed the image of God is stamped. 2. Not only, "I will show myself to him at a distance," but, "We will come to him, to be near him, to be with him," such are the powerful influences of divine graces and comforts upon the souls of those that love Christ in sincerity. 3. Not only, "I will give him a transient view of me, or make him a short and running visit," but, We will take up our abode with him which denotes complacency in him and constancy to him. God will not only love obedient believers, but he will take a pleasure in loving them, will rest in love to them, Zeph. iii. 17. He will be with them as at his home.

[3.] He gives a good reason both to bind us to observe the condition and encourage us to depend upon the promise. The word which you hear is not mine, but his that sent me, v. 24. To this purport he had often spoken (ch. vii. 16; viii. 28; xii. 44), and here it comes in very pertinently. First, the stress of duty is laid upon the precept of Christ as our rule, and justly, for that word of Christ which we are to keep is the Father's word, and his will the Father's will. Secondly, The stress of our comfort is laid upon the promise of Christ. But forasmuch as, in dependence upon that promise, we must deny ourselves, and take up our cross, and quit all, it concerns us to enquire whether the security be sufficient for us to venture our all upon; and this satisfies us that it is, that the promise is not Christ's bare word, but the Father's which sent him, which therefore we may rely upon.




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