Theology 101 — Paraclete Promises (Part 2 of 4)comment (0)
June 19, 2014
By Jerry Batson
Last week we looked at the first of the four paraclete passages — passages in which Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit by referring to the Spirit as the Paraclete. We noted that this term conveys the meaning of one “called alongside of.” However, the purposes for which the Holy Spirit came are revealed in the four contexts in which Jesus used this word.
The second paraclete passage is John 14:25–26. In these two verses Jesus spoke about “these things” and “all things.” He first told the disciples, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you” (v. 25). “These things” embraces all Jesus’ prior teachings given to His disciples. Most immediately, “these things” were His words given in response to the questions and requests voiced by Thomas, Philip and Judas (the one who was not the betrayer).
In those responses, Jesus spoke about the promise of heaven and the exclusive way to reach it (14:1–7), His own oneness with the Father as attested by His words and His works (14:8–11) and the reality of the divine presence with obedient disciples (14:22–24).
But there would be more. In this second paraclete passage Jesus introduced the coming ministry of the Holy Spirit who would “teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (14:26). At this point we must distinguish between revelatory truth and remembered truth.
The Spirit’s teaching work would have the same value and authority as that of Jesus because the Spirit would be sent as Jesus said, “In My name.” More truth remained to be revealed by revelation of the Holy Spirit to selected disciples like John, James and Peter.
This additional truth has come to us in the writings of John (Gospel of John, three Epistles of John and Revelation), the Epistle of James and the two Epistles of Peter. Jesus entrusted to these men additional biblical truth that He was not able to give them during His time with them because of their lack of readiness to receive it (John 16:12–15).
Through the centuries Christians have confessed that revelatory truth was completely given during the time of the apostles. The common way of declaring this is to speak of a “closed canon,” meaning the Bible was completed at that time and the Spirit has not continued to give revelatory truth as additions or extensions to the Bible.
The Holy Spirit has continued to be active in helping believers through the centuries recall, understand and apply the revealed truth of the Bible to our life and times.
The Spirit inspires us today to receive what He revealed in the writing of the Bible books. One of the Spirit’s techniques is to teach us by bringing to our minds the written truth as taught by Jesus and revealed through the apostles whom the Spirit inspired.
In a practical way, we understand we cannot remember what we have not read. So a major discipline of Christian discipleship is the reading of the Bible. Then the Spirit can bring back to mind what we have read, studied, memorized and reflected upon, thereby teaching us what we need in the various junctures of life in order to conform us to the will of God.