The Holy Spirit, His Person and Office
T. W. Carron, Worthing
The truth concerning the Holy Spirit, His Person and Office is given by the Lord Himself in chapters 14, 15 and 16 of John's Gospel.
His Personality and Deity. In chapter 14. 16 the Lord says "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter". The word another means another of the same kind. One like Himself, thereby implying both the personality and the deity of the Holy Spirit. From this we perceive clearly that the Lord refers to a Person, not an influence, and moreover a divine Person. The Lord says "I am the Truth", and He calls the Comforter "the Spirit of truth". The Lord was the truth objectively, the Spirit is the truth subjectively, a point to be developed in our next paper.
Another point bearing on the personality of the Holy Spirit is that although the Greek word for spirit, pneuma, is neuter, and the appropriate pronoun is "it", the emphatic masculine pronoun, equivalent to "He", is used several times.
His Title. The word translated Comforter is Parakletos, from which the word Paraclete, sometimes used, is derived. It means one who takes care of another's affairs, sometimes an advocate., in which sense it is used of the Lord Himself in i John 2. 1. The Lord is the One who undertakes for us on high,, the Holy Spirit cares for us down here. The word Comforter is to be understood in this sense. "Comforter or Consoler corresponds to the name 'Menahem1, given by the Hebrews to the Messiah" (Vine). The Lord may have had this in mind when He said, "another Comforter".
His Presence. The Lord tells the disciples that the Comforter would be with them for ever. Then He adds "ye know him; for he dwelleth with (alongside) you,, and shall be in you", John 14, 17. The word with is different from that at the beginning of verse 16, and meant the Comforter was even then at their side. He was there in the Lord. The Holy Spirit had come down on the Lord at His baptism, and had taken His abode in Him. The Lord spoke of His body as a temple, "Destroy this temple", He said, "and in three days I will raise it up", 2. 19. The Lord goes on to tell them. He "shall be in you". As He was indwelling the Lord then, so He would dwell in them. This, of course, extends to all who have received the Spirit, Hence Paul in I Corinthians 6. 19 says, "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you". (The word temple means shrine, which corresponds to the Holy Place in the temple). This is one of the most important truths of Scripture, and has a serious bearing on the life of the believer. In the passage referred to above the apostle uses it 10 show the importance of moral purity. In 2 Corinthians 6, 16 he writes, "what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them".
The Church became the temple of the living God at Pentecost. That was the baptism of the Spirit of which Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12. 13; We were all baptised in one Spirit into one body. The one body was then formed for all time and, indeed, for eternity, and united to the Lord as Head. Every believer comes into that baptism when he personally receives the Spirit. He is added to the body; he becomes part of the shrine of the Living God. The baptism of the Spirit does not refer to some experience subsequent to conversion, as some erroneously teach.
His Teaching. "But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name., he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you", John 14. 26 r.v. Although every believer is dependent on the teaching of the Spirit, this promise had a special application to the apostles. As they were the original depositaries of the Christian revelation, it was essential that the Spirit should teach them all the truth. They were moreover unique in that they had heard the Lord's teaching from His own lips, and the Holy Spirit would bring to their remembrance what He had told them.
Although the Holy Spirit may bring back to the believer's mind what he has read in the Scriptures, this is not the same thing. The apostles were the Lord's chosen witnesses, and they had learned from His own lips. What He had taught them would be brought back and confirmed by the Spirit, and moreover the Spirit would teach them further truths which, as the Lord said, they were not able to bear when He was with them.
In the opening words of the book of the Acts, Luke speaks of his previous treatise concerning the things which Jesus began both to do and to teach. What He began He continued by the power of the Spirit through His apostles.
The Completeness of His Revelation. "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you", John 16. 13-14 R.v.
"He shall guide you into all the truth." Here again the apostles are primarily in the Lord's mind. All the truth would be revealed to the apostles. The revelation would be complete. There could be no further extension of the truth; it was all in the apostles' doctrine. This is most important because there are those who insist on adding the tradition of the fathers. Any addition to the apostles' doctrine is error. This was the crucial issue at the Reformation, and it is a crucial issue today when men are adding to the Word of God, or taking away from it. Hence the importance of the injunction in Jude's Epistle to contend earnestly for "the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints".
The apostle Paul, who was contemporary with the twelve and whose special insight was acknowledged by the apostle Peter, must be included, 2 Pet. 3. 15-16. For us this complete revelation is in the New Testament. It is significant that the early fathers based their teaching on the inspired writings of the New Testament. To them, as the final authority, they referred every question. It has been said that most of the New Testament can be found quoted in the writings of the early fathers.
Then we have this important statement that "he (the Comforter) shall not speak from himself (not of)". What He hears He will speak, John 16. 13. He was to be the channel of communication from the Father and the Son; He would glorify Christ. This is most important. The Holy Spirit's work is to glorify Christ and make known what concerns Him. This becomes a touchstone for ministry. Does it glorify Christ? Is it Christ-centred? Much that is being taught today is man-centred.
His Witness. "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall bear witness of me: and ye also bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning", John 15. 26-27, R-v-
The Comforter would witness concerning the Lord; doubtless it would be to them, and through them. He would also support their witness. Hence their witness would not be merely human but would be in the power of the Spirit. We see how this worked out in the Acts, where we read: "with great power gave the apostles their witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus", Acts 4. 33, R.v.