John 15:26-16:15: The Holy Spirit is a Friend

Read: John 15:26-16:15

After Jesus’ departure, Jesus cites do witnesses that will be present in the world: the disciples and the Holy Spirit. Jesus is sending the Holy Spirit into the world to be a “helper”. The Greek word for helper is “παρακλητος” and is used by John to describe the nature of the Holy Spirit. John uses this word 3 times in John (John 14:16, John 15:26, and John 16:7) and in 1 John 2:1 to describe the Spirit as a testifier of truth, one who convicts sin, and one who is an advocate with the Father, a teacher, and a revealer of truth. The word is the noun form of the Greek verb “παρακαλεω” which is translated numerous ways, including “entreat”, “beseech”, “exhort”, “comfort”, “pray”, “aid”, “help” and “plead”. All these verbs among others are how the Spirit works on the behalf of the believer.

Jesus speaks of the promise of the Spirit and the predictions of persecution to “keep them from stumbling”. In other words, they would not be caught off guard when these things happen. The ones persecuting them will believe they are also doing the work of God, but they are not because they do not know Jesus or the Father. Jesus had already spoken about the coming persecution (John 15:18-26) and here he gives some details to this, saying that they would be kicked out of the synagogue. One man was put out of the synagogue because he testified to Jesus (John 9:52) and the Pharisees were scared they would be put out of the synagogues if they believed in Jesus (John 12:42). Most certainly the disciples would be. Paul experienced this when he was teaching about Jesus (Acts 13:14-48).

Jesus had reserved the promise of the Spirit and the predictions of persecution until this point because he had been with them, but now they would appear to be on their own because Jesus was going away. Jesus says this is to their advantage though. The Spirit that proceeds from God is effectively taking on the role that Jesus had been fulfilling while he was on earth. In the same manner that Jesus spoke truth, convicted people of sin, disclosed things of the Father, and possessed of the Father. In effect, the Spirit was coequal with Jesus and as much a part of the Father as Jesus was. By implication, this would mean that the Spirit is God too. The advantage of the Spirit in their lives was not because the Spirit was better than Jesus, as they are one of the same. It was expedient for Jesus to go away because unless Jesus died and was resurrected from the dead and thus glorified, the Spirit would not come (John 7:39). What that meant for the disciples was a glorified Jesus and a living Spirit who makes his abode in the life of the disciples.

Now that Christ has been glorified and the Spirit lives in the lives of all that believe, there is a mass of testimonies of the life-changing work of Jesus in the lives of all that believe. The disciples testified to Jesus, and so can the believers too with the help of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were kicked out of synagogues, and it is certain that believers will be rejected for testifying about Jesus. But in any case, the Holy Spirit is there to serve as a comforter and an encourager in the same manner as a friend would do. Knowing that Jesus was the friend of the disciples, so the Holy Spirit is the friend of all who believe in Jesus, helping them along the way even in the hard times.

Lord, thank you for being as a friend to me through the Holy Spirit!