John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15


Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

This is the part of Jesus' last discourse with the disciples for Pentecost. It is about the gift of the Holy Spirit and the character of the Holy Spirit. The context of this speech is that in the Gospel of John, the audience, beginning in chapter 13, is addressed as disciples.This scripture is part of that concluding discourse that goes on for 20 to 25 minutes. It is the most intimate time in the whole of the Gospel tradition between Jesus and the listeners and God. It is an effort to bring all of those together.

The translation of the name Paraclete as "Advocate" (NRSV) is okay. An advocate is a lawyer in a trial situation. Paraclete is also the "Comforter" bringing the comfort of God.It is also the "Holy Spirit" who has this specific name of the Advocate or the Paraclete with all of these various meanings. That's one of the things you might want to explore in learning and telling this passage. Paraclete is a very powerful and affectionate term that has more content than "Holy Spirit."

You can see why the dispute that emerged some 1,000 years later, which was one of the principle reasons for the division between the Eastern and Western church, was the controversy over whether the Holy Spirit comes directly from the Father or whether it comes from the Father and the Son. The Western Church added "and the Son" which absolutely scandalized the Eastern Church. You can see in this discourse why both of them are right. Jesus specifically says, "When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth which comes from the Father," he specifically says, "from the Father."

But at other places scripture says that the Spirit with come from the Father and the Son:"The Spirit of Truth will guide you and he will say to you what he has received from me.He will take what is mine and declare to you…" It's as if the Spirit is taking this from Jesus and passing it on. The most important bit is that he says that the Holy Spirit will not come until he has gone which means that the Holy Spirit comes after Jesus. This is only to say that both the East and the West were right and the problem is that they had to choose one or the other. It is a very unfortunate thing that has happened around the doctrinal disputes in the church. It is an ambiguity, which John would never have imagined would become problematic.This part of Jesus' discourse has as its purpose

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