Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
Small children often experience something called separation anxiety. They become shy when meeting new people and feel fear when separated from their parents. Jesus’ disciples experienced their own kind of separation anxiety when Jesus told them that He was about to depart and return to the Father.
To comfort His frightened disciples Jesus promised to send them “another advocate” to help them and to be with them forever (v. 16). By describing the Holy Spirit as “another advocate”, Jesus distinguishes the Holy Spirit from Himself. Just as Jesus is not the Father, the Holy Spirit is not Jesus. At the same time, Jesus identifies the Holy Spirit’s ministry with His own. Like Jesus, the Spirit is an “advocate.” This Greek term described someone who came alongside as a helper or a defender in court. The same word is used of Jesus in 1 John 2:1: “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”
The Holy Spirit is also “the Spirit of truth” (v. 17). One aspect of His ministry has to do with the Word of Christ. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would remind the disciples of all that Jesus had taught and would continue to teach them. He is the “anointing” we receive from the Father, serving as our internal Bible teacher (1 John 2:27). Consequently, the Holy Spirit’s ministry is essential to the believer. Only those who are indwelt by the Spirit can truly understand God’s Word (cf. 1 Cor. 2:14). He exercises His ministry in partnership with Christ. The Spirit is equal with the Father and the Son and is sent from the Father at Christ’s request. All three persons of the Godhead are involved in our salvation.
Apply the Word
Whenever you study the Bible, it is a good practice to pray for understanding from the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to help you understand what you read. Also ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to respond to what you learn. In tomorrow’s study we will discover that the Spirit not only gives us insight into God’s Word, He empowers us to obey it.