The Helper Is Coming!

(John 16:4-15)

By Dr. Hal Harless

Foundation Fellowship of Greenville, TX

March 21, 2010


I.  Introduction

A.  Please turn to John 16:4. 

While you are turning.... 

            It is said that a certain guide lived in the deserts of Arabia who never lost his way.  He carried with him a homing pigeon with a very fine cord attached to one of its legs.  When in doubt as to which path to take, he threw the bird into the air.  The pigeon quickly strained at the cord to fly in the direction of home, and thus led the guide accurately to his goal.  Because of this unique practice he was known as "the dove man."

            So, too, the Holy Spirit, the heavenly Dove, is willing and able to direct us.[1]


Guidance is indeed one of the Spirit's ministries.  Today, we will look at the three main ministries of the Helper, the Holy Spirit.

II.  Exposition

A.  Background

1.  The setting is either in the upper room in Jerusalem or on the way to the garden of Gethsemane.

2.  Jesus Christ has been ministering privately to His disciples in this last discourse (John 13-17).

a.  He washed the disciples' feet to illustrate humble service.

b.  He told them that He was going to prepare a place for them and would return for them.

c.  He promised them another Helper in the interim, the Holy Spirit.

d.  He taught them concerning on three important relationships: to Him, to each other, and to the world. 

e.  Now, Jesus is speaking to them about the help that is coming.

1)  The Helper is coming (John 16:4b-15).

2)  Joy is coming (John 16:16-24).

3)  Jesus is overcoming (John 16:25-33).

3.  This week, we will look at what Jesus Christ taught about the three main ministries of this coming Helper, the Holy Spirit.

B.  Exposition: Private Ministry of God, the Son (John 13:1-17:26)--The last discourse (John 14:1-16:33)--Help is coming (John 16:4b-33).--The Helper is coming (John 16:4b-15).

1.  The advantage of Jesus going away (John 16:4b-7)

                4b These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.  5 But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, "Where are You going?"  6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.  7 But 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 go, I will send Him to you (John 16:4b-7).


a.  Our Lord had not always spoken of these things, because He was there to shield them. 

1)  The Gk. word translated "was" is an imperfect tense verb, i.e., continual action in the past. 

2)  Wuest translates, "I was continually with you" (NTET).

b.  Jesus Christ reiterates that He is going back to the Father who sent Him. 

1)  Jesus had perplexed the religious authorities earlier by saying, "For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me.  You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come" (John 7:33-34). 

2)  Even Peter (John 13:36) and Thomas (John 14:5) had both asked where Jesus Christ was going and how to get there, but now they are also stunned into silence.

c.  All that Jesus had said concerning His departure and the coming persecution filled the disciples with sorrow. 

1)  The Gk. verb translated "filled" is in the perfect tense, i.e., a past action with results that continue to the present.[2] 

2)  Wuest translates, "Grief has filled your heart and is now controlling it" (NTET). 

3)  Williams translated, "Sorrow has taken complete possession of your hearts" (NTLP). 

4)  The disciples did not see how they could go on without Jesus.[3]

d.  However, Jesus Christ told them that it was advantageous for them that He was going away. 

1)  Our Lord explained that, if He did not go away, the Helper would not come. 

2)  However, if He went, He would send the Helper, the Holy Spirit. 

a)  The Gk. preposition translated "to" is used "to show close relationship to a person" and is a "marker of closeness of relation."[4] 

b)  Therefore, Williams translated, "For if I do not go away, the Helper will not come into close fellowship with you, but if I go away, I will send Him to be in close fellowship with you" (NTLP). 

c)  The Father sent the Son, and the Son sent the Spirit.[5]

3)  The OT prophesied that the Holy Spirit would characterize the Messianic age.

a)  Isaiah prophesied:

Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.  The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD ... For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Isa 11:1-2, 9).


b)  Israel was waiting

until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field is considered as a forest.  Then justice will dwell in the wilderness and righteousness will abide in the fertile field.  And the work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever.  Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, and in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places (Isa 32:15-18).


c)  God promised through Joel:

It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.  Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days (Joel 2:28-29).


d)  God also promised through Ezekiel:

For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.  Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.  Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.  You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God (Ezek 36:24-28).


e)  The disciples would have seen Jesus' promise of the Holy Spirit as flowing from His Messianic claims and as a sign of the coming kingdom.[6]  Therefore, their response to the promise of the baptism of the Spirit in Acts was to ask, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6).  However, Jesus replied:

It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:7-8).


f)  Our job is to witness in the power of the Holy Spirit until the kingdom of God comes.

4)  Paul describes Jesus' return to heaven in the language of a Roman triumph.

a)  He wrote to the Ephesians:

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.  Therefore it says, "WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN."  (Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?  He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)  And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ (Eph 4:7-12).


b)  Paul also wrote, "When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities [including Satan!], He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him" (Col 2:15). 

c)  Jesus Christ returned to heaven as a glorious conqueror in triumph. 

d)  The gifts that He dispensed in His triumph were spiritually gifted men to equip the saints for ministry. 

e)  In John 15:26-27, the Holy Spirit's testimony to Jesus is closely linked to the disciple's testimony. 

f)  The Holy Spirit works through the body of Christ.

2.  The Helper will convict the world (John 16:8-11).

8 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged (John 16:8-11).


a.    The first ministry of the coming Helper is conviction. 

1)  The Gk. word translated "convict" means "to bring a pers[on] to the point of recognizing wrongdoing, convict, convince."[7] 

2)  The Gk. word translated "world" (kosmos) means "the world, and everything that belongs to it, appears as that which is hostile to God, i.e. lost in sin, wholly at odds w[ith] anything divine, ruined and depraved."[8] 

3)  Jesus had already said that the Helper would testify to Him (John 15:26); and so will the believers.  He, who was revealed as the divine Witness, is now revealed as the divine prosecuting Attorney.[9] 

a)  Roman courts had neither public prosecutors nor defenders.  Interested parties would bring charges and the accused would make his own defense unless he or she could afford a trained rhetorician.[10] 

b)  One early Jewish writing said, "The spirit of truth testifies to all things and brings all accusations."[11] 

c)  It has been remarked that "perhaps some of us need to quit acting like prosecuting attorneys--or judges--so that the Spirit can use us as faithful witnesses.[12]

d)  It is the Holy Spirit's ministry to convict, not ours; our job is only to be witnesses.

b.  Our Lord continued to elaborate on the ministry of the Helper by explaining that He would convict the world of three things: sin, righteousness, and judgment.[13] 

1)  Barclay translated, "When he comes, he will convict the world of its own sin, and he will convince the world of my righteousness and of the certainty of judgment" (BNT).

2)  First, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would convict the evil world-system of sin, because they do not trust in Him. 

a)  Barclay translated, "He will compel the world to see that not to believe in me is sin" (BNT). 

b)  Ironside commented, "That is the great outstanding, damning sin which, if not repented of, is going to sink men to the depths of perdition for all eternity."[14] 

c)  Jesus said to Nicodemus, "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18). 

d)  Jesus had said repeatedly that, because of His words and works, such unbelief was without excuse (John 5:36; 10:25, 37; 14:11; 15:22, 24). 

e)  All other sins can be forgiven, but unbelief rejects the means of forgiveness.[15]

3)  Second, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would convict the evil world-system of righteousness, because He is going to the Father. 

a)  His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension vindicated the righteousness of Jesus Christ.[16] 

i)  On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached:

This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.  Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.  For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: "THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, "SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET."  Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified" (Acts 2:32-36).


ii)  Barclay translated, "He will compel them to see that the fact that I am going to the Father and passing beyond your sight is the proof of my righteousness" (BNT). 

b)  Nothing less than Jesus Christ's righteousness is our need, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor 5:21).

c)  All will be measured against the standard of Jesus Christ.[17] 

4)  Third, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would convict the evil world-system of judgment, because Satan, the ruler of this evil world-system, has been judged. 

a)  The Gk. word translated "judgment" (krisis) means the "legal process of judgment."[18]

b)  The Gk. verb translated "has been judged" is a legal technical term meaning "to engage in a judicial process, judge, decide, hale before a court, condemn, also hand over for judicial punishment."[19] 

c)  This verb is in the perfect tense, i.e., a past completed action with results continuing to the present.[20]

i)   Wuest translated, "The ruler of this world has been judged and is now under judgment" (NTET). 

ii)  Barclay translated, "He will compel the world to see that judgment has come, because the prince of this world stands condemned" (BNT).

d)  Jesus spoke of His cross as the judgment of Satan (John 12:31). 

e)  The author of Hebrews wrote, "Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb 2:14). 

f)  If Satan has been judged and is now awaiting execution, people would be ill advised to join in his rebellion.[21]

3.  The Spirit of truth will guide you (John 16:12-13).

                12 I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come (John 16:12-13).


a.  The second ministry of the coming Helper is guidance or teaching. 

1)  Our Lord stated that He wished to communicate more to them, but they could not grasp it at that time.

2)  However, Jesus said that the Spirit of truth would guide them into all truth. 

a)  The Gk. word translated "He" is the masculine demonstrative pronoun even though "Spirit" (pneuma) is neuter; the Holy Spirit is a person not an influence.[22] 

b)  Grammatically, "Spirit of truth" means that the Holy Spirit is characterized by truth.[23] 

c)  The Gk. word translated "guide" means "literally lead someone on the way, escort ... figuratively instruct, teach, guide in learning."[24] 

d)  Jesus had already promised, "He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you" (John 14:26).

e)  The Holy Spirit is our teacher and our guide.

3)  Jesus explained that the Holy Spirit would not speak on His own initiative, but will speak what He hears. 

a)  Jesus said earlier, "For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak" (John 12:49; see 7:16-18; 8:38). 

b)  The Holy Spirit works in the same manner.

4)  Moreover, the Holy Spirit will prophetically disclose what is to come. 

a)  God told Isaiah, "Who is like Me?  Let him proclaim and declare it; yes, let him recount it to Me in order, from the time that I established the ancient nation.  And let them declare to them the things that are coming and the events that are going to take place" (Isa 44:7). 

b)  This was fulfilled in John himself when the Holy Spirit revealed to him the book of Revelation when he "was in the Spirit on the Lord's day" (Rev 1:10). 

c)  This passage is fulfilled both in the Spirit's inspiration of the Scriptures and in His illumination of our understanding (2 Tim 3:16).[25] 

d)  We study Scripture with the Author of Scripture.

4.  The Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus Christ (John 16:14-15).

14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.  15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you (John 16:14-15).


a.  The third ministry of the coming Helper is glorifying Jesus Christ. 

1)  It is not the nature of the Holy Spirit to draw attention to Himself.[26] 

2)  Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would glorify Him by disclosing the things of Christ to us. 

a)  The Gk. word translated "disclose" means "to carry back information, to report."[27] 

b)  The same word is used in the LXX Deut 1:22 for the twelve Israeli spies sent to scout out the land. 

c)  The Holy Spirit is our informer in the Trinity.

b.  As a Member of the Trinity, all that the Father has belongs to Jesus Christ. 

1)  Barclay translated, "Everything that belongs to the Father belongs to me" (BNT). 

a)  Jesus said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).

b)  Paul said that Jesus is "the image of the invisible God" (Col 1:15). 

c)  As John wrote in the prologue to this gospel, "No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him" (John 1:18).

2)  Therefore, by informing us about Jesus, the Holy Spirit reveals God to us. 

II.  Applications

A.  What this says about the Holy Spirit ...  The Holy Spirit has three main ministries:

1.  Convict the world-system of three things:

a.  Sin because of unbelief

b.  The standard of righteousness is Jesus Christ.

c.  Satan has been judged, and so will those who follow him in rebellion against God.

2.  Guide us into all truth

3.  Glorify Jesus, not Himself

B.  What this says to us ...

1.  The Holy Spirit is better than the personal presence of Jesus Christ.

2.  We are merely witnesses; the Holy Spirit secures the conviction.

3.  Rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us

a.  Scripture

b.  Directly--Remember it is about His ability to communicate not our ability to hear!

[1] Roy B. Zuck, The Speaker's Quote Book 195.

[2] Rogers, NLEKGNT 219.

[3] Robertson, WPNT 5:266.

[4] Friberg, ALGNT 330-31; BDAG 873-75.

[5] Rogers, NLEKGNT 219; Harris, BKKWSG 358.

[6] Köstenberger, ZIBBCNT 2:149.

[7] BDAG 315; Friberg, ALGNT 142; Rogers, NLEKGNT 219; Blum, BKCNT 328; Tenney, "John," EBC 9:157.

[8] BDAG 561-63.

[9] Robertson, WPNT 5:267; Tenney, "John," EBC 9:157.

[10] Keener, BBCNT 303.

[11] T. Jud. 20:5.

[12] Wiersbe, BECNT 1:363.

[13] Keener, BBCNT 303.

[14] Ironside, John 389.

[15] Wiersbe, BECNT 1:362.

[16] Harris, BKKWSG 359; Blum, BKCNT 328; Tenney, "John," EBC 9:157.

[17] Rogers, NLEKGNT 219.

[18] BDAG 569; Rogers, NLEKGNT 219.

[19] BDAG 567-68.

[20] Robertson, WPNT 5:267; Rogers, NLEKGNT 219; Tenney, "John," EBC 9:158.

[21] Blum, BKCNT 328.

[22] Robertson, WPNT 5:268.

[23] This is an attributive genitive, see Robertson, WPNT 5:252; Rogers, NLEKGNT 217; Harris, BKKWSG 350.  Both John (1 John 4:6) and the DSS (1QS 3:18) contrast the spirits of truth and error.  See also Köstenberger, "John," ZIBBCNT 2:140; Keener, BBCNT 300.

[24] Friberg, ALGNT 276.

[25] Blum, BKCNT 328.

[26] Harris, BKKWSG 360.

[27] BDAG 59.