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Jesus and the Spirit Are Our Paracletes -- a study of John 14:15-29 (the doctrine of the Spirit)

The Holy Spirit is God

Bible Study Ideas and Commentary for John 14:15-29

To ease His disciples' fear, Jesus tells them that a new paraclete will come to them (and dwell in them) after Jesus opens the gate of heaven and sends Him -- the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will let them experience the peace and love of God, enable them to understand the truth of God, and empower them to fulfill the mission of God.

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. (14:27)

This is a long post. I cover more about the doctrine of the Holy Spirit than I really had space for. Use it where and as you need.

Getting Started: Things to Think About

Have Smartphones Made Us Smarter or Dumber?

There is so much to cover in this week's passage that I strongly encourage you to keep things moving.

This is one of my favorite nostalgia topics. Are smartphones making us smarter or dumber? Guess what -- you'll find plenty of articles arguing for both

Smartphones give us access to all of the information we could ever need in an instant, but consequently we tend to remember less of it in our own heads. That's really not a problem when we have our smartphones handy...

Let me put a provocative question out there: which is better, being able to use a smartphone to find anything in the Bible quickly, or having chunks of the Bible in your noggin? Let me out myself quickly -- that's a false dichotomy. There's no reason you can't learn the Bible and also use technology. But you still have to know enough of the Bible to know what to look for.

Well, this week, we learn about the ultimate "replacement" for any technology: the Holy Spirit. If we were really in tune with the Holy Spirit, we wouldn't need to rely on technology to know what the Bible said. Curious to learn more?


Where We Are in John

It's the same Visual Bible chapter as from last week:

Remember that we are in Jesus' "Farewell Discourse" -- as with last week, I challenge you to think about these words with the question "why would Jesus include this specific teaching in His final teaching?"

One of the key topics throughout these chapters is the Holy Spirit. We have one more lesson that will be focused on the Holy Spirit, but I'm going to say a lot about the Holy Spirit this week (even if I get somewhat ahead of the lesson). The question you will want your group to answer is this: why would Jesus save so much teaching about the Holy Spirit for His final night with His disciples?

Aside: 14:14 "If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it."

We skip this extremely controversial verse, and I can't blame Lifeway for doing that (there's just so much in these verses as it is!). Let me give you the too-short explanation. The phrase "in My name" is the key. "In My name" means "according to My will/nature". It doesn't mean "here is the magic formula for getting what you want". When we are praying as we ought, we are praying for what Jesus wants for us. I explain prayer like this -- it's not about telling God what we want (God already knows that), it's about bringing our wills in line with God's will (listening more than talking). Somebody in your group might want to talk about that more, but this week you just don't have time.


This Week's Big Idea:

The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit

It is generally agreed that John 14-16 contains the most important teachings about the Holy Spirit. As in, anywhere. We've got a few weeks in these chapters, so I'm going to take some extra time here to give an overview that you can use over the next few weeks.

There are multi-volume book serieses just on this topic. (Just saying.) So to make this somewhat manageable, I'm going to summarize my favorite summary of the history and development of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit (it's called "pneumatology" if you want to research it for yourself). I encourage you to read this chapter for yourself:

  • Malcom Yarnell, "The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit," in A Theology for the Church, ed. Daniel Akin (2007, B&H Publishing)

Perhaps to illustrate just how complex this doctrine is, the author gives 50 pages of background information before actually defining who the Holy Spirit is and what He does.

Let's start with the word "spirit". It comes from the ancient Latin word "spiritus" which was used to translate the Greek word "pneuma" which was used to translate the Hebrew word "ruach". These words are used to describe

  • wind

  • breath or life

  • attitude or disposition ("a spirit of madness")

  • angel/demon

  • an aspect of divinity

Obviously, we're going to focus on that last use, but the fact that the word can be used to describe those other things can help us understand why God chose this word to describe, well, Himself.

Before we get too far into this, I'm going to take as aside on something you may find confusing:

Aside: What about "Holy Ghost"?

Many of you know that the KJV says "Holy Ghost" instead of "Holy Spirit". There are some who argue that those words are interchangeable (remember this Twix commerical?)

Of course, both words can be used in that way to describe a disembodied dead person. But they didn't use to mean that.

The KJV gets its word "ghost" from the old English word "gost", which was the Anglo-Saxon equivalent of the Latin word "spiritus". The old English word meant "breath" or "spirit" in the sense of a person's inner spiritual identity or life just like "spiritus". Over a long period of time, the word "gost" started being used to describe frightening visions of the incorporeal dead, from which we got the modern meaning of "ghost". (Our word "aghast" is a descendant of the Anglo-Saxon usage.) The German word "geist" originally meant the same as "spiritus" but slowly picked up the connotation of a person's intellect or brilliance (now they separate "poltergeist" from "geist"). That's yet another wrinkle in this etymology.

Long story short -- the KJV used an equivalent word for "spirit" -- "ghost" -- which was unfortunately undergoing a connotative transition from the classical meaning of "identity" to the modern meaning of "floating dead person".

Aside on the Aside: there are no ghosts. The one meaning of the word "spirit" that comes into play here is the one describing angels or demons. They are spirits in the sense that they are incorporeal (no physical body) and they have personality (more on this below). But they are not dead people. The Bible is very clear that when a person dies, the next thing that person will "do" is face judgment (cf. Hebrews 7:21). They don't get to wander the earth tormenting the living. Demons do that, but they aren't dead people.

Now back to the article.

To me, what makes this doctrine so confusing are these four true statements:

  1. God is spirit

  2. God has a Spirit (the Holy Spirit is called "the Spirit of God")

  3. People have spirits

  4. People don't have spirits the same way God has a Spirit

We can use the lowercase-s-"spirit" to refer to the attribute of

  • being immaterial/without a physical body

  • having a being/substance/essence

  • having personality/mind/will

(And y'all, if you get into an argument of what "being" or "having" means, you're going to have a long morning.)

When the Bible says that "God is spirit", it's emphasizing the fact that God does not have a physical location or being. "Matter" can be changed, divided, or destroyed. God has none of those limitations. And yet God still exists and has His unique personality and essence.

It's in that way that humans can be said to have spirits. We know that when we die, we will be in the presence of God before we are reunited with our resurrected body. That necessarily means that our spirits are distinct from our bodies. This is how we can make sense of Paul's words about flesh vs. spirit.

(But before you say "aha! that's how we can understand that God the Spirit is distinct from God the Father", remember that our bodies without our spirits are no longer us. They are lifeless husks. God's Spirit is not distinct from God in the same way that our spirits are distinct from our bodies, nor is God animated by the Holy Spirit the way our bodies are animated by our spirits.)

We will get into the doctrine of the Trinity below, but let's start with this: the three Persons of the Godhead are each equally and fully God in every way -- in one substance of divinity, but in three Persons. This means that all three Persons of the Trinity are spirit, but only one of them has the name "Holy Spirit". He could have given Himself any name, but He chose the name "Holy Spirit". Just as the names "Father" and "Son" reveal something important about Themselves, we should take the hint that "Holy Spirit" reveals something important about Him.

(Aside on gender: most of you know that words have a grammar-based gender (masculine, feminine, and neuter/gender-neutral). The Greek word pneuma is gender neutral, but the Hebrew word ruach is feminine, but-but Jesus and the other biblical authors refer to the Spirit as a "He". I have in the past referred to the Spirit as "It", and I think I was wrong for doing so. Setting aside the modern absurdities about the use of gender-based pronouns, I believe that "He" communicates personhood better than "It", and we need to be absolutely clear that the Spirit is a Person in the same way that the Father and Son are.)

Baptists tend to focus on what the Holy Spirit does. This is because we have gotten into a lot of arguments with Pentecostals about what the Spirit does not do. (But more on this in a few weeks.) Yarnell says that we can't really understand what the Spirit does until we understand who the Spirit is. He offers these passages as a foundation:

  • Matt 28:19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.

  • John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. 17 He is the Spirit of truth. (this is in this week's passage)

  • John 15:26 When the Counselor comes, the one I will send to you from the Father —the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father—he will testify about me.

  • Acts 5:3 “Ananias,” Peter asked, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the proceeds of the land? 4 Wasn’t it yours while you possessed it? And after it was sold, wasn’t it at your disposal? Why is it that you planned this thing in your heart? You have not lied to people but to God.”

  • 1 Cor 3:16 Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is holy, and that is what you are.

  • 2 Cor 13:13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

  • Heb 10:15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this: [and then the author cites multiple passages from the Old Testament]

These passages demonstrate

  • the Holy Spirit is "on the same level" as the Father and the Son

  • the Holy Spirit is distinct from the Father and the Son

  • the Holy Spirit plays a different role from the Father and the Son

Aside: What about "Proceeds from"?

Believe it or not, but empire-spanning wars have been fought over the meaning of these words. Let's actually start with a parallel controversy -- Jesus is the only Son of the Father. Some people have taken this to mean that Jesus was created by God the Father. We know that is a misunderstanding of the word "begotten". Likewise, the fact that the Spirit proceeds from the Father doesn't mean that the Spirit was created by the Father. Rather, we can look at these distinctions like this:

  • The Son is eternally "begotten" by the Father

  • The Spirit eternally "proceeds from" the Father

  • The Father eternally "begets" the Son and is the "source" of the Spirit

For historical purposes, the biggest argument about these words is what divided the Roman Catholic Church from the Orthodox Church -- does the Spirit proceed from the Father only, or from the Father and the Son? No offense, but let me save this. I'll talk about this in a few weeks.

Back to the article.

Many of the identifiers of who the Holy Spirit is are put in terms of who humans are -- namely, how God relates to humans. (I use the 2 Cor 13 passage to simplify this: God gives us love, Jesus gives us grace, and the Spirit gives us fellowship.) In oversimplified form, God the Holy Spirit is that Person of the Trinity who helps humans experience the relationship God the Father has with God the Son.

Augustine's favorite illustration of the Trinity might help us out here:

  • God the Father loves God the Son

  • God the Son is loved by God the Father

  • God the Spirit is that love

Soak on that for a while.

Now, let's move on to what the Spirit does.

The Holy Spirit Creates

As the "breath" of God, the Holy Spirit brought life out of non-life (Gen 1:2). Humans can be said to have a spirit because the Holy Spirit gave it to us (Gen 2:7), and it is by our spirit that we are able to have a relationship with God.

The Holy Spirit Governs

Jesus compared the Spirit with the wind not only because they are invisible but also because they are not under human control (John 3:8). The Spirit gives gifts to Christians in the church (1 Cor 12:11). The Spirit holds back the power of evil (2 Thes 2:6-7).

The Holy Spirit Reveals

Only the Spirit of God knows the mind of God, and so only the Spirit can make those things known to us (1 Cor 2:9-11). The Spirit is the author of scripture (Heb 10:15-20). The doctrine of inspiration is based on the Spirit's revelation of truth to Christians.

The Holy Spirit Is Christ's Companion

The Gospels highlight the Spirit's involvement in Christ's incarnation (Luke 1:35), baptism (Luke 3:21-22), temptation (Luke 4:1), ministry (Luke 4:14), death, and resurrection. The Spirit helped Jesus accomplish His ministry, just as Jesus sent the Spirit to help us today.

The Holy Spirit Is the Church's Companion

The Spirit brought about Pentecost (Acts 2), indwells the people of God (1 Cor 3:16), comforts and encourages us (John 16), empowers us with spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12), and points all people to Christ (John 16). The Spirit enables Christian unity (Acts 15).

The Holy Spirit Regenerates

Cutting a debate short, Baptists believe that "baptized in the Spirit" means the same thing as "born in/of the Spirit" (John 3:5), i.e., salvation. The Spirit is God's grace and love poured into our hearts enabling and then enacting our salvation (Rom 5:5).

The Holy Spirit Is Witness and Judge

The church's witness (testimony/evangelism) is effective only because the Spirit empowers it (John 16, Acts 1:6-8, Acts 13). The Spirit convicts people of sin; the church does not have that ability or power. The Spirit is the fire of purification (unto cleansing or judgment; Matt 3:11).

So there you go, a way-too-short summary that doesn't even begin to address the depths of the Third Person of the Godhead. But it's a start.

Aside: Review of the Trinity

You know that this is my go-to diagram of the Trinity. It's admittedly limited, but how else are we going to illustration something we can't even really understand? Let me review a few things I said above:

  • The Father is love; Jesus is grace; Spirit is fellowship

  • The Father loves the Son; the Son is loved by the Father; the Spirit is that love

  • The Father eternally begets the Son and eternally sends the Spirit

Those phrases give you a rough idea of "who's who".

That's the biggest limitation of other popular illustrations of the Trinity, like the 3-leaf clover, or the 3 states of matter, or the light and heat of the sun, or a chord of 3 notes -- they might help us visualize how the three Persons of the Godhead are same-yet-different, but they don't help us understand the unique roles of the Three.

A different illustration of light works like this: the Father decides that there should be light; the Son "flips the switch"; the Spirit is the power to the light. The Father decrees it; the Son enacts it; the Spirit enables it. That illustration helps us see the unique roles, but it doesn't help us envision how the Three are One.

Everything breaks down when we try to put God into words on a page. (I really like Augustine's "love" illustration, but it's so abstract as to be borderline incomprehensible.)

I know a lot of you have questions about why other churches (particularly Pentecostal churches) say certain things about the Spirit that we don't in Baptist churches. Please sit tight on that; we will cover it in a few weeks. This week, we are introducing the doctrine and covering what we know the Bible to say. In the future, we will cover some of the controversies. Don't miss the basics because you want to debate stuff.

Final Aside: Helpful Bible Project Resources

Let's start with their video on the Holy Spirit.

Here's a good video to help us understand what "spirit" used to mean.

This page gives you other resources:


Part 1: The Counselor (John 14:16-21)

[15 “If you love me, you will keep my commands.]
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. 17 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you.
18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live too. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am in you. 21 The one who has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. And the one who loves me will be loved by my Father. I also will love him and will reveal myself to him.”

Note: I don't think we can probably understand these verses without starting in verse 15. Our relationship with God is rooted in love and obedience. The Holy Spirit is a "down payment" of God's love for us -- He enables us to love one another and obey God. And yet, it is still our choice. We must choose to obey God and allow the Spirit to empower us in doing so. That's what the language of "be filled with the Spirit" means. When we are saved, the Holy Spirit indwells us, but He doesn't "take over" us; we are still fully responsible for our actions/choices, one of which is submitting to the Spirit's lead.

Let me start with some general observations about vv. 16-17.

"Another". The word for "another" means "of the same kind", which helps us develop our doctrine of the Trinity (the word "allos", not "heteros"). The Spirit is different from Jesus, but He is of the same kind.

"Counselor". This is going to take some doing. The word is paraclete, which is translated "comforter" or "counselor" or "helper" or "advocate". John is the only author in the bible who uses the word, so there is a bit of uncertainty as to its precise meaning.

Aside on "Counselor"/paraclete

You'll find this word in John 14:16, 14:26, 15:26, 16:7, and 1 John 2:1. That's it. One scholar only found the word in 15 places in all of the existing Greek literature before John. Consequently, you'll find some translations that just leave the word as "paraclete" so as not to put any English definitions on the word. To me, that's kicking the can down the road, but I appreciate that forces us to do our own homework. Here's what my Klink commentary says we can safely say about the Paraclete:

  • His coming is directly related to Jesus' going. It is a direct consequence of Jesus completing the work of salvation and ascending into heaven -- the Spirit is like a herald of a new age, or the emblem of our new life in Christ.

  • The Spirit now has the kind of relationship with Christians that Jesus had with His disciples. He now fulfills the roles that Jesus had filled: revealing God, teaching and guiding into truth, bearing witness to Jesus. (This is the focus of this week's passage.)

  • The Spirit is at work in the world, convicting people of sin, the coming judgment, and their need for righteousness. Thus the Spirit empowers the church's witness.

Klink's conclusion is that we should think of Jesus as the "first paraclete". The work Jesus did for His disciples is what a "paraclete" does. Jesus had the distinct role (as "Son") to be incarnated, die for the sins of the world, and be raised in glory to the right hand of God. But the rest of Jesus' earthly work is now taken up spiritually by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is not replaced by the Spirit, but the Spirit now carries forward Jesus' work (of teaching, guiding, encouraging, and correcting). Below, Jesus will mention that the relationship between a father and child illustrates the Spirit's role in our lives.

In other words, the word "paraclete" is so much more than any one English word can communicate. Klink says it like this: "paraclete" refers to "the ministerial office of the Trinitarian God in the world, occupied by both the Son of God and the Spirit of God".

I know that's deep, but I think it's really helpful.

Back to the passage.

"Spirit of Truth". You know that John cares about the word "truth". He highlighted it in two key ways as related to Jesus:

  • 1:14 The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

  • 14:6 I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

So, we should think of "Spirit of truth" as meaning "the Spirit who communicates truth", the most important of which meaning "the Spirit who bears witness to Jesus". So, on the one hand, the Holy Spirit is what enables humans to make sense of the universe (in general) and the Bible (in particular). (You might remember the names "general revelation" and "special revelation" -- well, it takes the Holy Spirit for us to properly comprehend either). But on the other hand, the Holy Spirit is what enables Christians to apply and obey God's truth (as revealed in the Bible and illuminated by the Spirit) in our lives.

"The World Is Unable..." If you've ever wondered by non-Christians can make incredibly ridiculous statements and believe them wholeheartedly, this is why. They don't have the assistance of the Holy Spirit in understanding reality. [And if you've ever wondered the same thing about Christians, it's for the same reason. Those Christians are not accepting the counsel of the Holy Spirit.]

"He Will Be in You". The foundational difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Some Christian teachers have gotten really hung up on this. They might take it to such an extreme as likening it to demonic possession. Others have created a very complicated understanding of humanity of distinguishing between soul and spirit and injecting the Holy Spirit into this (like the Holy Spirit replaces the human spirit in Christians). The Bible doesn't give us any evidence to go down either of those paths. The indwelling of the Spirit is mysterious. But the point is not. The Holy Spirit is intimately with Christians at all times and in all places.

Remember that "God is spirit" which means that He is not tied to a location. The same is true of the Holy Spirit. He is not "found" in a place (i.e., our body). He is "wherever He wants to be" and "in whatever way He wants to be there".

So, wow, I'm almost at the end of my goal-length for these posts, and we've just gotten through part of the first section. Uh oh.

I think the word "orphans" helps us understand what Jesus meant by "with" and "in". Today, the term has legal and economic meanings, but in Jesus' day, it simply referred to children without a father -- they have been cut off from support, guidance, family, comfort, all of things that a good father should provide. The Holy Spirit fills that role at Jesus' behest. One of my favorite songs communicating this truth (our choir has sung this) is "Orphans of God" -- this is a video of Avalon singing it (they were the first group to record it, although someone else wrote it).

The power of family/support/unconditional love are all baked into these words Jesus uses.

But let's not miss the power of the word "coming". We might think that Jesus is talking about the Second Coming, and that wouldn't be wrong. There are two other options: (1) Jesus' resurrection, and (2) Pentecost. All of them are right (the leader material highlights this idea). Verse 20 seems to have the resurrection in mind ("on that day" being related to "you will see Me"), but I don't think He's limiting things to that. How would His resurrection demonstrate to the disciples that He is in the Father? Rather, I think the emphasis is on the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. In chapter 16, Jesus indicates that the coming of the Spirit will be the proof that Jesus is with the Father in heaven. In other words, the Spirit coming to the believers is the equivalent of Jesus coming to the believers. This clarifies the intimate relationship between Jesus and the Spirit -- Jesus dwells in believers by means of the Holy Spirit. (More on this in verse 23.)

To be thorough, it seems that Jesus has the entire "age of the Spirit" in mind here -- He is seeing all of history from His resurrection until His return as one great act (some scholars call this "the age of the church"). During this age, Jesus is with us by the Holy Spirit. But at the end of this age, He will return bodily to dwell with His people in the city of God.

What kills me about the density of these verses is what I have to gloss over:

20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am in you.

Just read that verse a few times. It's absolutely mind-blowing. We will talk about a similar verse in a few weeks (17:21-23), so here's a short description: when the Spirit comes, God's people will enter into an entirely new kind of relationship with Him. In the past, the Spirit "came upon" certain people at certain times for certain purposes. No more! Now God will permanently indwell all of His people by the Spirit.

What will be the proof of that? Our behavior -- if we obey Jesus' commands. Now let's step back to the Sermon on the Mount (which I have mentioned multiple times in parallel with this Farewell Discourse). Many Christians have dismissed the Sermon on the Mount as a "perfect world"/"ideal Christian"/"pie in the sky" standard. I disagree. The Sermon on the Mount is every Christian's real standard. The Farewell Discourse is the proof -- Christians have the very power of God at work within us; why would God give us that power for any reduced standard? If we listen to the Spirit (who reveals God's truth to us), why would we expect to hear "ah, don't worry about it; that Jesus was always such a zealot"?


Truly, I think most Christians could read this paragraph and be greatly encouraged by it. All of that extra stuff I shared above just adds even more flavor. Here are the kinds of questions I think you could use well:

  • How familiar are you with the work of the Holy Spirit? (This is where you might summarize some of what I summarized above.)

  • What does it mean to you that God has sent a "helper" just like Jesus to live inside of you?

  • How aware are you of the Spirit's work in your life? How appreciative are you?

  • How good are you at obedience to God? How seriously do you take your obedience as part of your relationship with God?


Part 2: The Teacher (John 14:22-26)

22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it you’re going to reveal yourself to us and not to the world?”
23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 The one who doesn’t love me will not keep my words. The word that you hear is not mine but is from the Father who sent me.
25 “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

Maybe there's enough overlap here with what I've said already that I can speed through this.

Aside: Judas not-Iscariot. Leave it to John the author to throw us a curveball. Jesus chose two disciples named Judas. One of them is listed after James son of Alphaeus and is likely James' brother. He also had the Greek name Thaddeus. See Matt 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:16, Acts 1:13.

The CSB using the word "how" gives us the indication that Judas was asking Jesus about the mechanics of this revelation. As in "How are You going to pull this off?" That's not what Judas was asking. It would make easier sense if this was translated "What has happened that made you decide to do this?"

Jesus' "answer" has nothing to do with "how" (if that were Judas's question) -- but it does have something to do with "why". The people in the world have divided themselves into two camps: (1) those who love Jesus and follow Him, and (2) those who hate Jesus and want to destroy Him (the term "the world" often focuses on this group). (There is no third camp.) That's why Jesus treats His followers differently from the rest of the world. (And again, not sure how the disciples missed all of this.) Read Matthew 13 for a different consequence of this same idea.

The hugely consequential takeaway from this passage must be how Jesus equates the Spirit not just with Him, but also God the Father. Who is Jesus sending to be in/with the disciples? The Spirit. But who is coming to make His home in the believer? Both God the Father and God the Son. In other words, the Spirit is the means by which the Father and Son dwell within the believer.

This, then, gives us another way of looking at the earlier line, "I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am in you." The term here for "home" is the same as the "dwelling place" from last week's study (14:2). So, it's not a "house" -- rather, this is where God dwells (if you've wondered why I keep saying "indwelling", this is why). It's not that God lives in you and nowhere else, nor is it like God having a bunch of homes that He can choose to stay in when He feels like. No, we are all God's "dwelling place" in that we are a "fit temple" for God's Holy Spirit because of our cleansing through the work of Jesus Christ. (Read Exodus 29 if you want to see how big a deal "preparation" is for God's dwelling place.)

All Jesus is doing here is naming the logical conclusion of things He taught earlier, like

  • 6:45 Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God. He has seen the Father.

  • 8:42 If God were your Father, you would love me, because I came from God and I am here. For I didn’t come on my own, but he sent me.

  • 10:14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep.

Anyone who rejects Jesus rejects God the Father. And anyone who receives Jesus receives God the Father.

Does that sound pretty overwhelming? It does to me! "So, if we forget anything Jesus said to us, it would like forgetting something God said to Moses?!" Uh oh!

But wait -- the Spirit God is sending to dwell in you is the same Spirit who knows the mind of God. That's good news --

1 Cor 2:11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except his spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

It doesn't matter how "smart" you think you are -- we all have the tools we need to live thew ay God wants us to live. A lot of people have pushed back against that idea. Here's my recommended solution:

  • What is the greatest commandment? Do you need special training to obey it?

In my experience, willingness is a much bigger problem than knowledge. We know what to do -- we just choose not to do it. If you're honest with yourself, is your greater problem knowing the Bible, or acting on what you do know?


Part 3: The Peace (John 14:27-29)

27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful. 28 You have heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens so that when it does happen you may believe.

This passage is relentless! Doesn't it seem like these are the most important verses in the passage (as least from a day-to-day living perspective)? Make sure to save plenty of time to cover them!

We underestimate the word "peace". We get that it means more than a "cessation of hostility", but at most we equate it with the Hebrew concept of shalom (look it up; Num 6:26, Ps 28:11, etc.). No, it's even more than that. And it makes so much more sense in the context of what Jesus has said about the Spirit.

Has Jesus said a bunch of troubling things? He's leaving the disciples. The world is coming after them. They're going to have to remember everything He taught them and live it out -- that's how they will know they truly love God. That's a lot to take in.

But Jesus leaves His disciples (and that includes us) His peace. In context, Jesus is talking about the peace of God through Christ in the Spirit. This is about our restored relationship with God. That's it. Let's not overcomplicate this. But that's everything. In His death, Jesus is giving us His relationship with God. Because we have peace with God, we can have peace with ourselves and those around us (the shalom aspect). But it's all rooted in our restored and now unbroken relationship with God. What does peace with God mean? (Read Romans 5 if you need help.)

How does the world give peace? By asking for something in return. Or by demanding something in return. That's not peace.

[Aside: someone might use the phrase "Indian giver" here. Please stop them. That phrase is racist. It used to be intentionally racist; now it's just lazily racist. This is not a woke take; this is the origin and history of the phrase. We don't need to use it.]

And then Jesus drops the beautiful hammer -- because we have peace with God, we do not need to let fear or trouble cloud our hearts. We've talked about this a few times in John. An attitude of fearfulness or doubt should not be characteristic of Christians. Why?

The immediate answer is "because Jesus is going to be with God the Father". But don't let your group get away with that. What does it mean for us that Jesus is now at the right hand of God?

Let me say something difficult: the real reason the disciples didn't want Jesus to go was selfishness. Can you blame them? Wouldn't you want Jesus walking and talking with you, answering your questions and solving your problems?

But if Jesus were to stay with the disciples, He could not ascend to heaven (that's best for Jesus) and send the Spirit (that's best for all believers all over the world).

I've heard some of you say this about a loved one's deathbed. You didn't want to let them go, even though you clearly knew that it would be better for them to leave this world and experience the joy and glory of the presence of God and Jesus. If that was hard for you, of course it would be hard for the disciples. Jesus wanted to be with His Father again. I think we can all understand that.

And don't shortchange the final verse! The things that are about the happen should be earthshattering and soul-crushing. But if the disciples were told ahead of time what would happen, these events would be faith-giving and awe-inspiring.


If you can come away from this lesson with a decent grasp of the person and work of the Holy Spirit, I think that is the primary thing for this week. But focus on what that work means for you (assuming you are a Christian). The Holy Spirit is with you right now. What does He want to do in and through you this week?


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