Spiritualism and the New Testament: John: The Paraclete (2)

(The first Paraclete-saying [14:16-17] was discussed in the first part of this article.)

Saying 2: John 14:25-26

The second Paraclete-saying is very much parallel with the first, each occurring within the same main section of the first discourse:

    • 14:1-31Discourse/division 1Jesus’ departure
      • The relationship between Jesus and the Father (vv. 1-14)
      • Jesus’ Words for His Disciples (vv. 15-31)

The two Paraclete sayings are in the second portion (vv. 15-31), presenting Jesus’ words for his disciples; this unit can be divided into three parts:

    • Instruction to the Disciples: Love and the Commandments (vv. 15-24)
    • Exhortation for the Disciples: Farewell Promise of Peace (vv. 25-27)
    • Concluding statement by Jesus on his departure (vv. 28-31)

The first Paraclete-saying forms the first statement in the Instruction, while the second saying similarly holds place as the first statement in the brief Exhortation (vv. 25-27), which I would outline as follows:

    • Exhortation for the Disciples: Farewell Promise of Peace (vv. 25-27)
      —Initial statement: Promise of the Spirit (vv. 25-26)
      —Exortation: Jesus’ gift of his Peace (v. 27)

The Paraclete-saying in verse 26 is prefaced by the clause in verse 25, in which Jesus declares:

“These (thing)s I have spoken to you (while) remaining alongside you…”

The expression “these (thing)s” (tau=ta) is comprehensive, referring to all that Jesus has said to disciples in the Last Discourse (up to that point), but also alluding to everything that he has taught them during the time of his ministry. The simple prepositional phrase “(while) remaining alongside you” is theologically charged, and clearly alludes to the prior Paraclete-saying, where it was said that the Spirit would “remain [me/nei] alongside [para/]”. Now Jesus says that he, too, has remained (same verb, me/nw) alongside (para/) his disciples. The clear implication is that the Spirit will continue the work of Jesus when he was alongside the disciples. The preposition para/ (“alongside”) is, of course, fundamental to the meaning of the term para/klhto$ (parákl¢tos)—denoting one who is “called alongside” to give help and assistance.

The saying proper continues in verse 26:

“…but the (one) called alongside [para/klhto$], the holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, that (one) will teach you all (thing)s, and will put under memory for you all (thing)s which I (have) said to you.”

I mentioned above that this saying is parallel to the first saying (in vv. 16-17, cf. part 1); this will be demonstrated by comparing each component here with that of the first saying.

1. In the first saying, the one “called alongside” was referred to as “the Spirit of truth” (to\ pneu=ma th=$ a)lhqei/a$); here, he is referred to as “the holy Spirit” (to\ pneu=ma to\ a%gion). Clearly, these are both references to the Spirit of God, comparable expressions emphasizing two distinct, fundamental attributes or characteristics of God—truth and holiness.

The parallelism becomes even more precise when we consider that the Hebrew expression corresponding to Greek [to\] pneu=ma [to\] a%gion is vd#q) j^Wr (“Spirit of holiness”). This expression is relatively rare in the Old Testament, occurring just three times, and always with a suffix—either “Spirit of His holiness” (Isa 63:10-11) or “Spirit of your holiness” (Psalm 51:13 [11]). It is much more frequent in the Qumran scrolls, where the Old Testament usage tends to be followed, referring specifically to the Spirit of YHWH’s holiness (i.e. His holy Spirit).

However, there is greater variety and diversity of expression in the Qumran texts. There is, for example, the form hv*odq= j^Wr (e.g., 1QS 3:7), which could be translated “Spirit of holiness” (with hv*odq= as a feminine noun) or “holy Spirit” (feminine adjective), which, in the latter case, would essentially be identical with the New Testament usage. The Qumran texts are able to speak of a “Spirit of holiness” (or “holy Spirit”), as an entity or reality distinct from YHWH Himself; however, it is not always clear whether the term j^Wr (“spirit”) refers to a personal being, the manifestation (or effect) of a particular attribute, or even of a characteristic or tendency within an individual human being.

The New Testament usage lies somewhere between the Old Testament (emphasizing that it is God’s Spirit) and the Qumran texts (where the focus is more on the characteristic of holiness).

2. In the first saying, the Spirit comes from the Father (He “gives” [vb didw/mi] it), but is sent at Jesus’ request. Also in this second saying the Spirit is sent (vb pe/mpw) by the Father, but He sends it in Jesus’ name (“in my name”). The relational dynamic (between Father, Son, and Spirit) is the same, but the emphasis—in terms of the relationship between Jesus and the Spirit—differs. Even so, early Christians would have been familiar with the idea that requests (to God the Father) were to be made “in Jesus’ name”, a point Jesus himself makes earlier in this discourse (vv. 13-14, cf. also 15:16; 16:23-24, 26), so clearly the two passages are related conceptually—Jesus makes a request of God the Father, and the answer is given ‘in his name’.

More important to the Johannine theology, is the idea that Jesus came in the Father’s name—that is, as the Father’s representative, doing His work and making Him known to humankind (to the disciples/believers). This is expressed earlier in the discourses (5:43; 10:25; cf. also 12:13, 28), and is very much integral to the Christological theme of Jesus as the dutiful Son, who does the will of his Father, doing what he sees the Father doing, and saying what he hears the Father saying. This name-motif becomes especially prominent in the Prayer-Discourse of chapter 17, where it relates to the union that believers have with the Father (through the Son)—reflecting the very union that the Son has with the Father (vv. 6, 11-12, 26).

The theme of the Son acting in the Father’s name is extended to the relationship between believers and the Son. Just as the Son came in His Father’s name, so believers, in continuing the mission of the Son (Jesus), come in his name.

Thus, we may bring together three important Johannine themes which are relevant to the idea of the Spirit being sent in Jesus’ name:

    • Jesus (the Son) came in the Father’s name
    • Through trust in Jesus (i.e., in his name, cf. 3:18; 20:31) we are united with the Father (through the Son), and are joined together “in His name”
    • Believers are to continue the mission of Jesus, going and acting “in his name”

3. The emphasis in the first saying is on the Spirit being with the disciples (believers), which is explained as being “alongside” (para/), but also “in” (e)n) them. Here in the second saying we gain a glimpse of what the Spirit will do while he is present “alongside” (and “in”) believers. The role and function of the Spirit here is defined by two verbs, presented in parallel expressions:

    • dida/skw (“teach”)— “he will teach you all things”
    • u(pomimnh/skw (“put under memory”)— “he will put under memory for you all things…”

Let us examine each of these in turn.

dida/skw (“teach”)

The verb dida/skw occurs 10 times in the Gospel, where it almost always refers to an action being performed by Jesus. On the surface, Jesus appears to be acting like an ordinary Jewish rabbi, teaching in the synagogue (6:59) and in the Temple precincts (7:14, 28; 8:2, 20); cf. also 18:20. However, the content of what he says makes clear that this is no ordinary teaching. Indeed, the Johannine Discourses play on the idea that Jesus’ hearers misunderstand his words, and are not aware of the true and deeper meaning of his teaching.

In any case, Jesus is the teacher in the Gospel; and yet, he only communicates what is taught to him by God the Father. As a dutiful Son (cf. above), he faithfully receives and follows the teaching of his Father (8:28). In this regard, the Spirit continues Jesus’ teaching mission. Moreover, the Son (Jesus) is able to communicate the Father’s teaching because the Father has given the Spirit to him (3:34-35). Now Jesus does the same for his disciples: he gives to them the Spirit, and they, through the Spirit, will continue his teaching. Ultimately, the teaching belongs to the Father—he is the source of the teaching. The Father teaches the Son, and the Son, in turn (through the Spirit) teaches believers.

In our discussion on the third Paraclete-saying (in Part 3), we will gain a better idea of the nature and content of this teaching.

u(pomimnh/skw (“put under memory”)

This verb is a compound form of the base verb mimnh/skw, “call to mind, remind”, which occurs in the middle voice (mimnh/skomai, “remember”) in the New Testament. The prefixed form, with the preposition u(po/ (“under”), literally denotes putting something under the memory; in English idiom, we would say “call to mind”, “have in memory”, “keep/put in mind”. The basic sense is causative—i.e., to cause a person to remember.

The compound verb occurs just 7 times in the New Testament, and only here in the Gospel (but also in 3 John 10). The regular mimnh/skw (mimnh/skomai) is used more frequently (23 times), and occurs 3 times in the Gospel (2:17, 22; 12:16). This Johannine usage is instructive for understanding the significance of u(pomimnh/skw here. In both passages, it is indicated that, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples remembered the things he said and did, and understood (for the first time) their real significance. The implication is that this remembrance, with understanding, is due to the presence and activity of the Spirit. Prior to their receiving the Spirit, the disciples were much like other hearers of Jesus’ words, being unable to understand their true meaning (cf. 5:33ff; 6:60-61ff; 12:16; 14:5ff).

pa/nta (“all things”)

Finally, we must discuss what it is that the Spirit teaches and causes the disciples to remember. The object of both verbs is the substantive (neuter plural) adjective pa/nta (“all [thing]s”). In the case of dida/skw, this adjective is given without qualification: “he will teach you all (thing)s.” However, for u(pomimnh/skw, the adjective is part of a longer phrase: “…all (the thing)s which I (have) said to you.” The focus is on what Jesus said to them in the past, which would necessarily be the case if the Spirit is causing the disciples to remember. As noted above, it is not simply an act of remembering, but of remembering so as to understand the true and deeper meaning of Jesus’ words. The Johannine Discourses themselves may be considered as part of this process of interpretive remembrance of what Jesus said (and did).

But what of pa/nta, without qualification, as the object of dida/cei (“he will teach”)? It should be understood in a comprehensive sense (indeed, “all things”), but delineated by the context of the Spirit continuing the teaching ministry of Jesus. The adjective could thus be qualified as “all things which I have to say to you.” Jesus has yet more to teach believers (16:12), and this teaching will be done through the Spirit. This is a point which will be expounded further when we discuss the next (third) Paraclete-saying in 15:26.

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