John 16:13
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
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(13) Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come.—Comp. Note on John 14:17.

He will guide you into all truth.—Better, . . . into all the truth. The words do not mean that the Holy Spirit will fully guide them into truth, but that He will be their guide into the fulness of truth. The word rendered “guide,” occurs again in Matthew 15:14; Luke 6:39; Revelation 7:17; and metaphorically, as here, in Acts 8:31. A comparison of these passages will show that its meaning is “to point out the way,” “to lead one on his way.” The fulness of truth is for the disciples an unknown territory. They are spiritually as blind men, feeling after the truth, but not able to see it. The Spirit of Truth will take them by the hand, and, step by step, as they have strength to follow, will guide them into the territory, and unfold to them the treasures it contains. The promise has a special meaning for the disciples to whom it was spoken; but it holds good for every disciple who seeks to know the truth. We may pray,—without doubt that the prayer is in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and without doubt that it will be answered—

“Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,

And lighten with celestial fire.

Enable with perpetual light

The dulness of our blinded sight.”

The scribes, “instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, and bringing forth out of their treasure things new and old” (Matthew 13:52), may know that they can seek, and not seek in vain, a higher than human guidance, and may hope “by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in His holy comfort.”

For he shall not speak of himself.—Comp. Notes on John 5:19; John 7:17-18. The Holy Spirit’s power to guide into the truth depends upon the fact that He, like the Son Himself, will represent to the world the eternal truth of God. He, too, is subordinated to the Father, and His work is to seek the glory of Him that sent Him. (Comp., on the other hand, John 8:44, where the essence of the lie is that the devil speaketh of his own.)

And he will shew you things to come.—Better, and He will announce to you the things to come. (Comp. Notes on Revelation 1:1; Revelation 22:6; Revelation 22:20.) We must again be on our guard against drawing limits which Christ has not drawn. These words, too, have their fulfilment in the Spirit’s illumination in all time; but we may still find their first and special meaning in the Revelation to the Apostolic Church, of which St. John’s Apocalypse is the most prominent example.

16:7-15 Christ's departure was necessary to the Comforter's coming. Sending the Spirit was to be the fruit of Christ's death, which was his going away. His bodily presence could be only in one place at one time, but his Spirit is every where, in all places, at all times, wherever two or three are gathered together in his name. See here the office of the Spirit, first to reprove, or to convince. Convincing work is the Spirit's work; he can do it effectually, and none but he. It is the method the Holy Spirit takes, first to convince, and then to comfort. The Spirit shall convince the world, of sin; not merely tell them of it. The Spirit convinces of the fact of sin; of the fault of sin; of the folly of sin; of the filth of sin, that by it we are become hateful to God; of the fountain of sin, the corrupt nature; and lastly, of the fruit of sin, that the end thereof is death. The Holy Spirit proves that all the world is guilty before God. He convinces the world of righteousness; that Jesus of Nazareth was Christ the righteous. Also, of Christ's righteousness, imparted to us for justification and salvation. He will show them where it is to be had, and how they may be accepted as righteous in God's sight. Christ's ascension proves the ransom was accepted, and the righteousness finished, through which believers were to be justified. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. All will be well, when his power is broken, who made all the mischief. As Satan is subdued by Christ, this gives us confidence, for no other power can stand before him. And of the day of judgment. The coming of the Spirit would be of unspeakable advantage to the disciples. The Holy Spirit is our Guide, not only to show us the way, but to go with us by continued aids and influences. To be led into a truth is more than barely to know it; it is not only to have the notion of it in our heads, but the relish, and savour, and power of it in our hearts. He shall teach all truth, and keep back nothing profitable, for he will show things to come. All the gifts and graces of the Spirit, all the preaching, and all the writing of the apostles, under the influence of the Spirit, all the tongues, and miracles, were to glorify Christ. It behoves every one to ask, whether the Holy Spirit has begun a good work in his heart? Without clear discovery of our guilt and danger, we never shall understand the value of Christ's salvation; but when brought to know ourselves aright, we begin to see the value of the Redeemer. We should have fuller views of the Redeemer, and more lively affections to him, if we more prayed for, and depended on the Holy Spirit.The Spirit of truth - So called because he would teach them all necessary truth.

Will guide you into all truth - That is, truth which pertained to the establishment of the Christian system, which they were not then prepared to hear. We may here remark that this is a full promise that they would be inspired and guided in founding the new church; and we may observe that the plan of the Saviour was replete with wisdom. Though they had been long with him, yet they were not prepared then to hear of the changes that were to occur; but his death would open their eyes, and the Holy Spirit, making use of the striking and impressive scenes of his death and ascension, would carry forward with vast rapidity their views of the nature of the Christian scheme. Perhaps in the few days that elapsed, of which we have a record in the first and second chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, they learned more of the true nature of the Christian plan than they would have done in months or years even under the teaching of Jesus himself. The more we study the plan of Christ, the more shall we admire the profound wisdom of the Christian scheme, and see that it was eminently fitted to the great design of its Founder - to introduce it in such a manner as to make on man the deepest impression of its wisdom and its truth.

Not speak of himself - Not as prompted by himself. He shall declare what is communicated to him. See the notes at John 7:18.

Whatsoever he shall hear - What he shall receive of the Father and the Son; represented by hearing, because in this way instruction is commonly received. See the notes at John 5:30.

Things to come - Probably this means the meaning of things which were to take place after the time when he was speaking to them - to wit, the design of his death, and the nature of the changes which were to take place in the Jewish nation. It is also true that the apostles were inspired by the Holy Spirit to predict future events which would take place in the church and the world. See Acts 11:28; Acts 20:29; Acts 21:11; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 3; 2 Peter 1:14; and the whole book of Revelation.

12-15. when he, the Spirit of truth, is come … he shall not speak of himself—that is, from Himself, but, like Christ Himself, "what He hears," what is given Him to communicate.

he will show you things to come—referring specially to those revelations which, in the Epistles partially, but most fully in the Apocalypse, open up a vista into the Future of the Kingdom of God, whose horizon is the everlasting hills.

The word which we here translate guide, odhghsei, is a word of great emphasis; it strictly signifieth to be a guide of the way, not only to discover truth as the object of the understanding, but the bowing of the will to the obedience of it. It is said, that the Spirit should guide the apostles into all truth; that is, all necessary truth, whatsoever Christ had revealed to them, because in their present state they were not able to bear it; whatsoever should be fit for them to know, in order to their planting, ordering, and governing the church of God, which Christ had not, while he was with them acquainted them with; and people were to expect from the apostles, upon whom the Spirit should come in the days of Pentecost, and so influence them, that in those things they should not be at a loss to understand the will of God, which they should communicate unto others. And they ought to look upon what the apostles so revealed, as the mind of Christ; for the Holy Spirit should not speak merely of himself, but as from Christ, with whom he was essentially one; as also from the Father: whatsoever the Father and the Son willed he should communicate, that he should reveal to the apostles: and he shall reveal to you things that are to come, being in you the Spirit of prophecy. The apostles in their Epistles, and in the book of Revelation, showed not indeed all things, but many things which were and are to come to pass.

Howbeit, when the Spirit of truth is come,.... Of this character of the Spirit, see John 14:17. His coming, as before, intends more especially his descent on the apostles at Pentecost; though what is here said of him is true of his office, and of his operations on other persons, and at other times:

he will guide you into all truth; necessary to be known, useful to men, profitable to the churches, even the whole counsel of God; what relates to worship, the nature, form, and spirituality of it, as well as doctrine. He is as a guide, he goes before, leads the way, removes obstructions, opens the understanding, makes things plain and clear, teaches to profit, and leads in the way men should go, without turning to the right hand or left, which, without such a guide, they would be apt to do. The Jews (y) have a notion of the Holy Ghost being a guide into all wisdom and knowledge.

"R. Phinehas says, the Holy Spirit rested upon Joseph from his youth to the day of his death, and "guided him into all wisdom", as a shepherd leads his flock, according to Psalm 80:1;''

For he shall not speak of himself: as Christ, the Son, spoke not of himself in opposition to the Father, so the Spirit speaks not of himself in opposition either to the Father, or the Son, but in perfect agreement with both; being, as of the same nature and essence, power and glory, so of the same mind, understanding, and will; and as they agreed and wrought jointly and harmoniously, in the works of nature and providence, so in the economy of grace and salvation.

But whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; as Christ himself did, John 15:15; and they are such things as ear has not heard besides; what were secretly transacted in the council and covenant of peace, and agreed upon by all the three persons; things which concern the salvation of men, the Gospel church state, another world, and the glory of all the divine persons:

and he will show you things to come; which would come to pass after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ; things relating to the state and settlement of the Gospel church, the partition wall being broken down, the law of commandments contained in ordinances abolished, and a new face of things appearing in the kingdom and interest of Christ, in consequence of the Spirit being sent forth, and poured down: or this may respect the spirit of prophecy in the apostles, who showed to them many things to come in after ages; as the rise of the man of sin, the great departure from the faith, and decline of the power of godliness in the last days, the calling of the Jews, the destruction of antichrist, the burning of the world, and the making of new heavens and new earth; and, in short, what would be the state of the church of Christ, and religion, in all the several periods of time, quite down to the coming of Christ, when dead saints shall be raised, and living ones changed, as is declared throughout the book of Revelation.

(y) Pirke Eliezer, c. 39.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
John 16:13. Τὸ πν. τ. ἀλ.] See on John 14:17.

ὁδηγ. ὑμ. εἰς τ. ἀλ. πᾶσαν] He will be to you a guide into all the truth. Comp. John 16:23; πᾶσαν, according to its position after τ. ἀλ. (see critical notes), does not belong to the verb, as if it expressed the complete introduction (Lücke), but describes, as in John 5:22, divine truth in its entirety, according to its collective contents. Comp. John 5:22 : τ. κρίσιν πᾶσαν, Plat. Theaet. p. 147 E, τὸν ἀριθμὸν πάντα δίχα διελάβομεν; Krüger, § 50. 11. 11. As to the thing, πᾶσαν τὴν ἀλήθειαν, Mark 5:33 (Krüger on Thuc. vi. 87. 1), would not be different; only in the present passage, ἀλήθεια is the idea immediately prominent.

οὐ γὰρ, κ.τ.λ.] Reason, from the origin and compass of His communications.

ἀφʼ ἑαυτοῦ] αὐτοκέλευστος, ἀνήκοος, Nonnus. This negative definition is, indeed, the denial of anything conceived of after a human manner, which absolutely cannot be (“spiritus enim, qui a semet ipso loquitur, non spiritus veritatis, sed spiritus est mendacii,” Ruperti; comp. already Ignatius, ad Eph. interpol. 9), but serves completely to set forth the unity of the Spirit’s teaching with that of the Lord.[177] Comp. John 5:19.

ὅσα ἂν ἁκούσῃ] All, whatsoever He shall have heard from God, so that He will withhold from you nothing of that which has been divinely heard by Him.[178] The Spirit, however, hears from God not externally as a Subject separated from God, but (comp. 1 Corinthians 2:11) through an interna acceptio; for He is in God, and proceeds from Him, John 15:26. That the hearing from God, not from Christ (Olshausen, Kling, B. Crusius, Luthardt, Hengstenberg, Godet: from both), is meant, is to be already assumed on account of the absolute ἀκούσῃ, and John 16:15 renders it certain. On ἀκούσῃ itself, comp. also Luther: “The faith must make its way universally over all creatures, and not cleave to thoughts of listening to bodily preaching, but lay hold of a preaching, word, and hearing in essence.”

τὰ ἐρχόμενα] So that you, through the ἀποκάλυψις of the Spirit, will also become acquainted with the future (ἁ δʼ ἐρχομένα μοῖρα, Soph. Trach. 846), the knowledge of which belongs to the whole ἀλήθεια (particularly the eschatological developments). Comp. Isaiah 41:22-23; Isaiah 44:7; Isaiah 45:11 : τὰ ἐπερχόμενα. Further, τὰ ἐρχόμενα belongs also to that denoted by ὅσα ἂν ἀκούσῃ and is related to it as species to genus, so that καί brings into relief from that which is general, something further that is particular.

[177] “Consequently He sets, for the Holy Spirit Himself, a goal and measure of His preaching, that He shall preach nothing new nor different from that which Christ and His word is, so that we may have a certain mark of truth and touchstone, to judge of false spirits,” Luther.

[178] When Godet says, on ver. 13 : “The word in John 14:26 included the formula of the inspiration of our Gospels; ver. 13 gives that of the inspiration of the Epistles and of the Apocalypse,” the simple addition must be made, “in so far as and to the extent in which these writings are actually apostolic.”

John 16:13. What was now withheld would afterwards be disclosed, ὅτανἀλήθειαν. The Spirit would complete the teaching of Christ and lead them “into all the truth”. ὁδηγήσει ὑμᾶς “shall lead you,” “as a guide leads in the way, by steady advance, rather than by sudden revelation”. Bernard. This function of the Spirit He still exercises. It is the Church at large He finally leads into all truth through centuries of error, οὐ γὰρ λαλήσειὑμῖν, “for He shall not speak from Himself, but whatever He shall have heard He will speak, and the things that are coming He will announce to you”. This is the guarantee of the truth of the Spirit’s teaching, as of Christ’s, John 7:17, John 14:10. What the Father tells Him, He will utter. Particularly, τὰ ἐρχόμενα ἀναγγελεῖ ὑμῖν, “the things that are coming He will declare to you”. τὰ ἐρχόμενα means “the things that are now coming,” not “the things which at any future stage of the Church’s history may come”. It might include the events of the succeeding day, but in this case ἀναγγελεῖ could not be used; for although these events might require to be explained, they did not need to be “announced”. The promise must therefore refer to the main features of the new Christian dispensation. The Spirit would guide them in that new economy in which they would no longer have the visible example and help and counsel of their Master. It is not a promise that they should be able to predict the future. [“Maxime huc spectat apocalypsis, scripta per Johannem.” Bengel.] In enabling them to adapt themselves to the new economy the centre and norm would be Christ.

13. the Spirit of truth] See on John 14:17.

he will guide you] ‘He and no other will be your guide.’ Christ is the Way and the Truth. The Spirit leads men into the Way and thus to the Truth. But He does no more than guide: He does not compel, He does not carry. They may refuse to follow, and if they follow they must exert themselves. Contrast Matthew 15:14; Luke 6:39; Acts 8:31.

into all truth] Better, into all the truth, i.e. the truth in its entirety: this is very clearly expressed in the Greek.

he shall not speak of himself] This does not mean ‘shall not speak about Himself’ but ‘from Himself.’ The Spirit, like the Son, cannot speak what proceeds from Himself as distinct from what proceeds from the Father: He is the Source of Divine energy and truth. Comp. John 5:19 and John 7:18. This expression ‘from himself, from itself’ (ἀπό) is peculiar to S. John: comp. John 11:51, John 15:4.

he will shew you things to come] Better, He shall declare to you the things that are coming. The Greek verb means ‘to announce, proclaim, declare’ rather than ‘shew.’ Note the thrice repeated ‘He shall declare to you.’ The phrase ‘the things that are coming’ is identical in form with ‘He that cometh’ (Luke 7:19): among these things we may place the constitution of the Church and the revelation respecting the Last Judgment and its results.

John 16:13. Ὁδηγήσει, He shall guide) gradually, as you shall have need.—πᾶσαν) all, not merely that, which I tell you now as suited to your present capacity, John 16:7; or that truth concerning which the Paraclete shall reprove the world, John 16:8-9; 1 John 2:20, “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things;” 1 Corinthians 5:5, “In every thing ye are enriched by Him in all utterance and in all knowledge:” John 2:9, et seq., “Eye hath not seen, etc.; but God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God.”—τὴν) The demonstrative article; all that truth which I was now “having to say to you.” The same phrase occurs in Mark 5:33, πᾶσαν τὴν ἀληθείαν, all the truth.—ἀληθείαν, truth) The Scripture is not wont to say in the Plural, ἀληθείαι, truths, ‘Truth’ is one, and a whole. The things whatsoever He shall hear and the things to come, are no doubt true things (but are not called truths in the Plural).—οὐ γὰρ λαλήσει ἀφʼ εἁυτοῦ, for He shall not speak of Himself) So also the Son speaks concerning Himself in ch. John 12:49, “I have not spoken of Myself, but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say and what I should speak.” Concerning hearing, comp. ch. John 8:40, “A man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God.”—τὰ ἐρχόμενα, the things to come) These also are true; otherwise they would not come. There were then coming the Saviour’s cross, death, life, and glory. The present, things coming, is used as of things about which the prophets had foretold: Acts 3:21, “The times of the restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” The marvellous works of the Holy Spirit were already then close at hand. The Apostles foretold many things even in their Epistles, but the Apocalypse written by John is what this especially refers to.—ἀναγγελεῖ, He will announce) This is the cause why Jesus, before His passion, predicted almost nothing of the things about to be, except the first and last of them, the overthrow of Jerusalem and the last judgment. The fountain of prophetical Theology is the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Ἀναγγελεῖ, He will announce, is thrice repeated, John 16:13-15.

Verse 13. - Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come. This points to the definite promise already made (conditioned by his own departure, and so rendering that departure "expedient") when the Spirit of truth is come, having been sent by me from the Father. He will be your Guide (so that you will not be mere passive instruments, but living agents. "Things" may be transported, but "persons" only can be "guided." The pillar of fire and cloud led the way, and Israel struck its camp and followed) into the truth in all its parts. As Godet says, "The reading εἰς suits ὁδηγήσει better than ἐν." A most glorious promise this, for as days of darkness and perplexity draw on, fresh needs will arise. The "many things" which would thus be said must be presumed to have been said on highest authority; and hence the unapproachable dignity of the apostles themselves; hence the secret of all their binding and loosing power; hence the revelations they have been able to supply with reference to Christ and salvation, glory, duty, and eternal life, and all the laws of the kingdom. From this vast promise we see the sufficiency of the apostolic teaching, and by implication the portion of it which is committed to writing. Our Lord had delivered to his disciples "nothing but the truth;" but from the nature of the case they must wait for the truth in its completeness, the whole truth of salvation and deliverance. But our Lord proceeds to show that the infallibility of the Holy Spirit is not that he will be a secondary, or tertiary, or independent Divinity. Like Christ, the Son of God, who was in the bosom of the Father (see John 7:17, 18; John 8:28), so he who proceedeth from the Father will not speak from himself, as from any spontaneous, independent source. He is, in his gracious operations, no rival Deity, but the Spirit of the Father and the Son (comp. John 8:44, where the essence of the lie is that the devil speaketh of his own), and whatsoever things he shall hear (or, heareth, or, shall have heard), that shall he speak. The verb "hear" is used absolutely, and has been variously completed with the words, "of me" or "of the Father," whether verbally supplemented or not. We learn that the Holy Spirit is limited by the revelation already involved in the great fact of the Incarnation. "He will speak" of that which he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are coming. The revelation will concern Christ and the future. The whole New Testament, so far as it is apostolic, is here declared to be the work inspired by the Spirit's guidance of the apostles' mind into the truth in all its completeness and in all its parts. Some, like Westcott, refer the ἐρχόμενα to "the constitution of the Christian Church;" but the most satisfactory view is that the Spirit would himself be the Source of the prophetic hope and wondrous vision of the future which pervades the apostolic writings. Hengstenberg runs here into great detail. His remark is of deep interest - that such a promise should be found in the Fourth Gospel, preluding those sublime premonitions which the beloved disciple, when "in the Spirit," received and recorded concerning the things which are and are to come (Revelation 1:19). Not only in the writings of John, but of Peter, and in the prophetic spirit given to Paul, we see how the Lord the Spirit fulfilled the promise. John 16:13Spirit of truth

Literally, of the truth. See on John 14:7.

Will guide (ὁδηγήσει)

From ὁδός, way, and ἡγέομαι, to lead. The kindred noun, ὁδηγός, guide, leader, occurs Matthew 15:14; Acts 1:16, etc.

Into all truth (εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν ἀλήθειαν)

Rev., more correctly, into all the truth. Some editors read, ἐν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ πάσῃ, in all the truth. Others, εἰς τὴν ἀλήθειαν πᾶσαν, joining πᾶσαν in an adverbial sense with will guide you: i.e., will guide you wholly into the truth. The Spirit does not reveal all truth to men, but He leads them to the truth as it is in Christ.

Of himself

Rev., rightly, from himself. See on John 7:17.

He shall hear (ἂν ἀκούσῃ)

Some read, ἀκούει, heareth, and omit ἂν, the conditional particle. Ὅσα ἂν ἀκούσῃ, the reading of the Rec. Text, is, strictly, whatsoever things he may have heard.

Will shew (ἀναγγελεῖ)

Better, as Rev., declare. Compare Mark 5:14, Mark 5:19; Acts 20:27; 2 Corinthians 7:7. Also to rehearse; Acts 14:27. Used of the formal proclamation of the Christian religion (Acts 20:20; 1 Peter 1:12; 1 John 1:5). See on Acts 19:18.

Things to come (τὰ ἐρχόμενα)

The article, omitted by A.V., is important. The meaning is not, He will show you some things to come, but the things that are to come, or the things that are coming. These things are whatsoever He shall hear. The phrase occurs only here in the New Testament.

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