"The Work of the Holy Spirit"

Work of the Holy Spirit

(John 16:1-33)

In this study, the work of the Holy Spirit, found in John 16, Jesus continues to prepare His disciples for what lies ahead. He warns them of the tremendous battles they will face, then reassures them that by the power of the Holy Spirit He will always be with them.

Verse 1: "I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away."

This verse begins with "I have said all the things" which indicates there is no break between this chapter, chapter 16, and chapter 15.

Concerning the phrase "falling away," some translations use the word "stumble" at any rate the word translated as used in the New Testament always means "to cause one to fall into sin or apostasy."

And in our previous study, John 15, Jesus warned the disciples, as well as all His followers, including us, to expect persecution from the world. In this verse He told them the reason for His warning was to keep them from falling away under the pressures and persecution of the religious community that was sure to come.

Verse 2: "They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God."

Although Jesus had previously warned the disciples of the persecution they would suffer it was, for the most part, a reference to persecution they would receive while in His presence, but here Jesus tells them that after He is gone the persecution will continue.

To be put out of the synagogue was a dreaded penalty. It meant a loss of social acceptability, employment, and all access to the religious life they loved. The excommunicated person was considered to be worse than a pagan and was an object of total rejection and hatred.

Jesus warned them that the time was coming when rejection toward the disciples or followers of Christ would become so entrenched and powerful that whoever would kill one of them would actually believe it would be pleasing to God.

According to history the early Jews didn't actually participate in the death of Christians. What they did was to mislead the Romans by claiming the Christians were not actually Jews. This left the Christians with no legal exemption from the requirement of worshiping the emperor.

If you remember they used this same tactic to trick the Romans into crucifying Jesus by telling them that Jesus claimed to be a king; which the Roman Empire would not allow.

And in verse 3 Jesus goes on to explain:

Verse 3: "And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me."

Even today there seems to be an uncompromising animosity against Christians from the ones who don't know God and Jesus.

Verse 4: "But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. "I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. "

The Work of the Holy Spirit

Verse 5: "But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?"

The disciples were beginning to grasp the meaning of Jesus' words and were overwhelmed with the effect His departure would have, but only regarding themselves. Instead of rejoicing with Jesus that He would soon rejoin the Father and live in eternal glory, they were thinking of their personal loneliness and suffering.

So in verse six with what seems to be wonder and tenderness, Jesus said:

Verse 6: "But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart."

He knew how difficult was for them to grasp the significance of the upcoming events, and that they did not yet fully realize the power of the "Comforter" the Holy Spirit which would soon be given.

But in verse seven goes on to explain:

Verse 7: "Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you."

It was to the disciples advantage, as well as to all who would follow, that as He said, for Him to "go away," meaning back to Heaven, and the Father; because then He would send the Holy Spirit, (the Helper, comforter, One called along side to help.)

Jesus would then not be limited or confined by space by being in one body, but would reside, or abide in each and every believer which would allow Him to minister anywhere in the world simultaneously.

There are many things about the Christian life that is different from other religions, but the one thing above all else that distinguishes the Christian from the rest of the world, that no other religion has, is the abiding, and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

With the Spirit of God living within, the Christian literally becomes the very Temple of God. This is the temple mentioned in 1 Cor 6:19 where it speaks of a temple not made with hands.

Verses 8-11: "And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

  • Convict the world:
  • He will convict the world through the Apostles as well as all Christians who teach and preach His word. The world will be convicted, but it is up to each individual to either accept or reject.

  • Sin ... righteousness ... judgment:
  • As the Spirit convicts of sin, it also convicts and reveals how a man may a acquire a righteousness not his own, but the righteousness of God; which is by accepting Christ.

    Sin, Righteousness, and Judgment can be summarized
    through the lives of Adam, Christ, Satan:

  • In regard to sin it is Adam - who committed the first sin and caused all of mankind to be separated from God.
  • In regard to righteousness, it is Christ - who is the Righteousness of God. And after we accept Christ and become Christians, God also sees us as righteous.
  • In regard to judgment, it is Satan - without Satan there would be no judgment, and it is he who receives the ultimate judgment! He stands judged and condemned, and all who follow him will receive the same judgment and destiny.
  • Verse 12: "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now."

    There were things the disciples simply could not have understood until later when the Spirit was given. They had many things to learn, and the Holy Spirit would guide them. There were also things they had to unlearn; such as Jewish traditions and laws.

  • The cessation of sacrifices
  • The elimination of circumcision
  • The elimination of the office of the High Priest
  • These, offices and the laws were the very thing they had previously built their faith around. It would have been virtually impossible for them to understand these things at the moment, but later the Holy Spirit would lead them into full understanding.

    Verse 13: "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come."

    Earlier Jesus promised the disciples that the Spirit would remind them of His teachings, and here he promises them that the Spirit will guide them into further truth. It is generally taught that both promises were fulfilled with the writing of the New Testament.

    It is important to remember that Jesus was speaking to the Apostles/disciples and promised to REMIND THEM of His teachings, and that the Spirit would guide THEM into further truth, which He did.

    Some have made the mistake of thinking this scripture was for all believers which has led to new 'so called' scripture being written even by followers in our day. This is incorrect! The bible has been written and is complete (finished). Scripture cannot be added to or taken from. (Rev 22:18-19)

    The Holy Spirit works in all areas of the Christian's life, but in so far as the scriptures are concerned, His work is to grant believers the proper and correct understanding of the Scriptures as written.

    "He, will not speak on His own:" - The Holy Spirit is not independent of the Father and the Son, He is a third part of the "Trinity" and so is one with them. His place is to speak only what He hears. He draws from and conveys in the authority of Christ and glorifies Christ in all that He does. He never exalts Himself, but continually glorifies Christ who glorifies the Father.

    Verse 14-15: "He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

    The Holy Spirit draws from and conveys in the authority of Christ, and glorifies Christ in all that He does. He never exalts Himself, but continually glorifies Christ who glorifies the Father. Through the Spirit the believers relationship with Jesus can be the same and no less intimate than the disciples in the days before the cross. (Greg S. Keener "Bible Background Commentary")

    Your Sorrow Will Turn into Joy

    Verse 16: "A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me."

    Here, the first "little while" speaks of the remaining hours before the Crucifixion, and the second, of the resurrection three days later.

    Verse 17-18: "So some of his disciples said to one another, "What is this that he says to us, 'A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me'; and, 'because I am going to the Father'? 18So they were saying, "What does he mean by 'a little while'? We do not know what he is talking about."

    Later the disciples were able to grasp and understand this saying, but at the time it was beyond their spiritual comprehension.

    So in verses nineteen through 22 Jesus gives a more complete explanation:

    Verse 19-22: "Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, "Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, 'A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me'? 20Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.

    "21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world."

    "22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you."

    Jesus knows the heart of man, so He knew they wanted to ask Him, and voluntarily began to explain.

    He compares the disciples sorrow that later turns to joy, to that of a woman having pain before birth who, after the baby is born, quickly forgets the pain because of her joy in the new baby.

    Then He goes on to say:

    Verse 23-23: "In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."

    To ask in Jesus name was something new to the disciples. If you remember, in the "Lord's Prayer" there is no mention of Jesus name, or of praying in the name of Jesus. (Matt 6:9-13)

    Man had been separated from God since the sins of Adam and could not approach Him directly until after Jesus death, burial and resurrection. Upon Jesus death the Temple veil of separation was rent from top to bottom symbolizing the end of this terrible separation. Now, through what Jesus did on the cross, man could directly approach God in prayer.

    One reason we approach in the name of Jesus is because that's the way He said to do it. Only perfection is allowed in the presence of God, and only Jesus is perfect.

    The Christian can approach God in the name of Jesus to offer all manner of prayer, including requests and petitions, or simply to bask in the joy worshiping Him.

    I Have Overcome the World

    Verses 25-27: "I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; "for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God."

    Jesus again tells the disciples to pray directly to God in Jesus' name; that God loves them and will accept their prayers because they love and believe in Jesus.

    Verse 28: "I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father."

    This is possibly the clearest, most direct statement ever made by Jesus concerning His deity and future plans after leaving earth.

    Verse 29-30: "His disciples said, "Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God."

    After Jesus made the very concise statement concerning His mission on earth and return to heaven, the disciples begin to understand and to grasp Jesus' true mission; however the rest of this chapter reveals an even greater lack of understanding on the part of the disciples.

    But in verses thirty through thirty three:

    Verse 31-33: "Jesus answered them, "Do you now believe? 32Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me."

    "33I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."




    Is it not a miracle that Jesus could actually accomplish His mission on earth surrounded by those who seem to know so little? Yet even more amazing was the dramatic change that came over these disciples afterwards, especially on the Day of Pentecost.

    It is amazing that these few men who seemed to know so little could take the message of the cross to the entire world. This can only point to the mighty transforming power of the Holy Spirit.


    Next Week: We can read and study the entire chapter of John 17. Where Jesus prays for Himself, Prays for His Disciples and then Prays for all Believers.


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    The Work of the Holy Spirit

    Samuel L. Mills