16:12 “I have many more things to say to you, 1 but you cannot bear 2 them now. 16:13 But when he, 3 the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide 4 you into all truth. 5 For he will not speak on his own authority, 6 but will speak whatever he hears, and will tell you 7 what is to come. 8
1 sn In what sense does Jesus have many more things to say to the disciples? Does this imply the continuation of revelation after his departure? This is probably the case, especially in light of v. 13 and following, which describe the work of the Holy Spirit in guiding the disciples into all truth. Thus Jesus was saying that he would continue to speak (to the twelve, at least) after his return to the Father. He would do this through the Holy Spirit whom he was going to send. It is possible that an audience broader than the twelve is addressed, and in the Johannine tradition there is evidence that later other Christians (or perhaps, professed Christians) claimed to be recipients of revelation through the Spirit-Paraclete (1 John 4:1-6).
2 tn Or (perhaps) “you cannot accept.”
3 tn Grk “that one.”
4 tn Or “will lead.”
5 sn Three important points must be noted here. (1) When the Holy Spirit comes, he will guide the disciples into all truth. What Jesus had said in 8:31-32, “If you continue to follow my teaching you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” will ultimately be realized in the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit to the disciples after Jesus’ departure. (2) The things the Holy Spirit speaks to them will not be things which originate from himself (he will not speak on his own authority), but things he has heard. This could be taken to mean that no new revelation is involved, as R. E. Brown does (John [AB], 2:714-15). This is a possible but not a necessary inference. The point here concerns the source of the things the Spirit will say to the disciples and does not specifically exclude originality of content. (3) Part at least of what the Holy Spirit will reveal to the disciples will concern what is to come, not just fuller implications of previous sayings of Jesus and the like. This does seem to indicate that at least some new revelation is involved. But the Spirit is not the source or originator of these things – Jesus is the source, and he will continue to speak to his disciples through the Spirit who has come to indwell them. This does not answer the question, however, whether these words are addressed to all followers of Jesus, or only to his apostles. Different modern commentators will answer this question differently. Since in the context of the Farewell Discourse Jesus is preparing the twelve to carry on his ministry after his departure, it is probably best to take these statements as specifically related only to the twelve. Some of this the Holy Spirit does directly for all believers today; other parts of this statement are fulfilled through the apostles (e.g., in giving the Book of Revelation the Spirit speaks through the apostles to the church today of things to come). One of the implications of this is that a doctrine does not have to be traced back to an explicit teaching of Jesus to be authentic; all that is required is apostolic authority.
6 tn Grk “speak from himself.”
7 tn Or will announce to you.”
8 tn Grk “will tell you the things to come.”