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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.


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16. And I will pray to the Father. This was given as a remedy for soothing the grief which they might feel on account of Christ’s absence; but at the same time, Christ promises that he will give them strength to keep his commandments; For otherwise the exhortation would have had little effect. He therefore loses no time in informing them that, though he be absent from them in body, yet he will never allow them to remain destitute of assistance; for he will be present with them by his Spirit.

Here he calls the Spirit the gift of the Father, but a gift which he will obtain by his prayers; in another passage he promises that he will give the Spirit. If I depart, says he, I will send, Him to you, (John 16:7.) Both statements are true and correct; for in so far as Christ is our Mediator and Intercessor, he obtains from the Father the grace of the Spirit, but in so far as he is God, he bestows that grace from himself. The meaning of this passage therefore is: “I was given to you by the Father to be a Comforter, but only for a time; now, having discharged my office, I will pray to him to give another Comforter, who will not be for a short time, but will remain always with you.”

And he will, give you another Comforter. The word Comforter is here applied both to Christ and to the Spirit, and justly; for it is an office which belongs equally to both of them, to comfort and exhort us, and to guard us by their protection. Christ was the Protector of his disciples, so long as he dwelt in the world: and afterwards he committed them to the protection and guardianship of the Spirit. It may be asked, are we not still under the protection of Christ? The answer is easy. Christ is a continual Protector, but not in a visible way. So long as he dwelt in the world, he openly manifested himself as their Protector; but now he guards us by his Spirit.

He calls the Spirit another Comforter, on account of the difference between the blessings which we obtain from both. The peculiar office of Christ was, to appease the wrath of God by atoning for the sins of the world, to redeem men from death, to procure righteousness and life; and the peculiar office of the Spirit is, to make us partakers not only of Christ himself, but of all his blessings. And yet there would be no impropriety in inferring from this passage a distinction of Persons; for there must be some peculiarity in which the Spirit differs from the Son so as to be another than the Son.

17. The Spirit of truth. Christ bestows on the Spirit another title, namely, that he is the Master or Teacher of truth. 6868     “A scavoir qu’il est Maistre ou Docteur de la verite.” Hence it follows, that until we have been inwardly instructed by him, the understandings of all of us are seized with vanity and falsehood.

Whom the world cannot receive. This contrast shows the peculiar excellence of that grace which God bestows on none but his elect; for he means that it is no ordinary gift of which the world is deprived. In this sense, too, Isaiah says, “For, the darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the people, but the Lord shall arise on thee, O Jerusalem!” 6969     “Sur toy, O Jerusalem!” For the mercy of God towards the Church deserves so much the higher praise, when he exalts the Church, by a distinguished privilege, above the whole world. And yet Christ exhorts the disciples, that they must not be puffed up, as the world is wont to be, by carnal views, and thus drive away from themselves the grace of the Spirit. All that Scripture tells us about the Holy Spirit is regarded by earthly men as a dream; because, trusting to their own reason, they despise heavenly illumination. Now, though this pride abounds everywhere, which extinguishes, so far as lies in our power, the light of the Holy Spirit; yet, conscious of our own poverty, we ought to know, that whatever belongs to sound understanding proceeds from no other source. Yet Christ’s words show that nothing which relates to the Holy Spirit can be learned by human reason, but that He is known only by the experience of faith.

The world, he says, cannot receive the Spirit, because it knoweth him not; but you know him, because he dwelleth with you. It is the Spirit alone therefore, who, by dwelling in us, makes himself to be known by us, for otherwise, he is unknown and incomprehensible.




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