A word for the heart

with Alan Bailey

John 16:1-15 - The Gospel of John

Bible study

Christ redeemer


Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.

John 16:1-15

In our studies in John we have been hearing the teaching that Jesus gave His disciples to prepare them for the important events that were about to happen. Jesus makes it clear that He is leaving them. They then will be His representatives, charged with the task of making the Christian Gospel known to the world. He warns them in chapters 15 and 16 that it will not be easy and that they will be opposed, just as He has been opposed. We have also seen that the disciples did not comprehend the issues very clearly. The coming death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus was still only vaguely understood. In Chapter 16 Jesus tells them more about the ministry of the coming Holy Spirit. This coming of the Spirit is the answer to the need of these men. They will need to rely on Him when Jesus is absent. We also must learn much from this passage.

Verse 1 ‘These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble.’

Jesus words were meant to arm His men for what lies ahead of them. The words ‘made to stumble’ have the suggestion of something suddenly tripping them up. More like a trap set for them than just some wrong move that they would make themselves. This is what might happen:

Verse 2 ‘They will put you out of the synagogues; the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.’

The synagogues were the buildings used by Jews for worship, reading of Scripture and prayer. Any Jew could enter. To be put out means excommunication—thrust out for good.
Then, Jesus solemnly warns them of the possibility of martyrdom. People will arise who think that it is a religious service to put Christians to death. Such people did arise and some are with us in our world today. In the name of their God they kill Christians. The practice is current in different parts of the world.

Verse 3 ‘And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.’

Such killing is totally misguided. People with religious fervour can perform evil acts because of their spiritual blindness. No matter how earnestly they believe they are right, Jesus declares that they do not know Him or the Father. We, too, must be aware that to be religious does not mean to be good in the eyes of God.
It is so possible to be religious and yet far from the truth in teaching or in practice.

Verse 4 ‘But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.

When these things take place, the disciples will recall the words of Jesus and not be taken by surprise. He did not break this news to them earlier because He was with them and they had nothing to fear. Now that He is leaving they need to know about God’s provision for their future.

Verses 5 & 6 ‘But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me “Where are you going?” But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.’

It is good to know that Jesus understands our limitations and the way we think. He could see that they were rather confused about all this reference to going away, even though Jesus had told them several times that He would be crucified. It seems that they were thinking mainly about how empty and bereft they would be without Him.

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 depart, I will send Him to you.

Jesus’ words would have sounded strange to the disciples. How could they possibly be better off when Jesus had gone? The coming of the Spirit was the answer. We know that the Bible teaches that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not a force or influence, but a person. Christ was limited to a human body while on earth. The Spirit would not be limited but could be present with believers everywhere. He would be active in the lives of Christians and working in the world as well. This was God’s chosen way of doing His work on earth.

Verses 8-11 ‘And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.’

This is a description of some of the super-natural operation of the Spirit in the world. He speaks to the heart of unbelievers to convince them that they have broken the law of God. The worst sin is the rejection of Christ as Saviour and the Spirit informs the conscience about it. He also speaks to people’s minds about the unrighteous state of their lives. While Jesus was among people, they felt the shortcomings of their lives because they saw the holiness of His life. The Spirit also warns the human spirit of coming judgment, when God will deal with all those who incur His anger. Already He has pronounced sentence against the ‘ruler of this world’, Satan. All who side with him will be judged with him.

Verse 12 ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.’

It would seem that the disciples could only handle so much instruction; any more would be too much. Just what areas of truth Jesus was referring to we don’t know, but the remainder of the New Testament contains vital teaching from Paul and others which Christians learn about with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 13 ‘However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.’

The quiet and somewhat mysterious work of the Holy Spirit goes on in the lives of those who want to learn God’s truth. He guides believers into the truth—not that they will know everything, but that they will learn what God is telling them. The Spirit will speak what is the mind of God. Being God, the Spirit can forewarn believers of what is going to eventuate in their lives—not completely; just as much we need to know.

Verses 14 & 15 ‘He will glorify Me, for he will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that he will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.

It is important for us to understand that it is God’s purpose to glorify the Son. In turn, the Son glorifies the Father. See John 12:28. The Son is to be seen by the world as the only Saviour. The One who has suffered and died for man’s sin, who has been raised again, taken up into heaven and thus signified by the Father to be Lord of all, before whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
We should be alert to those voices that glorify others rather than the Lord Jesus. It will not be the Spirit of God who would glorify another as Saviour and Lord. Jesus’ claim that all that the Father has are His, is a claim of equality with the Father. There is therefore no greater glory that that of Jesus.


Every true believer in the Lord Jesus is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We accept this because the Bible teaches it. Romans 8:9 says ‘If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.’ Receiving the Holy Spirit is not something separate from conversion to Christ. It is simultaneous. This being the case, we who believe must remember His operation in opening up the Word of God to us, and relying on His work in the world. Like the disciples of old, we have the responsibility of spreading the Gospel of Christ in the world around us. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is essential for this.

We can rejoice in these truths if we belong to the Lord.

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