The Work of the Holy Spirit
When He Is Come (1)
Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Comforter [Helper] will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
And when He has come, He will reprove [convict, rebuke, bring into light] the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
of sin, because they do not believe in Me;
of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;
of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:7-11).
In John chapter fourteen, shortly before His crucifixion, Christ began to instruct the disciples concerning His soon departure. He was about to leave them and go back into the place from whence He had come over three decades earlier, back into the heavens, to prepare a place for them. And though He would be gone for awhile, He would one day return. He would return in order to take His disciples into the heavens, to the place that He had previously gone away to prepare (vv. 1-3).
Then, continuing His instructions, Christ called the disciples’ attention to something that was about to occur, because of His inpending departure into the heavens. Another would be sent from heaven to be with them during the time of His absence.
Christ told the disciples that He would ask the Father to provide “another Comforter,” Whom He identified as “the Spirit of truth” (vv. 16, 17). Christ was the present “Comforter”; but, following His departure, “another Comforter” would be sent. The people of God would not be left “comfortless” (v. 18).
The word “Comforter” (v. 16) is a translation of the Greek word, Parakletos, which is a compound word meaning “to call alongside” (para, “alongside”; kletos, “to call”). The thought has to do with one called or sent to someone’s side to help. Thus, the word “Comforter” is mainly a description rather than a translation of the word, Parakletos.
Then the word “comfortless” (v. 18) is a translation of the Greek word orphanos, from which the English word “orphan” is derived. This word, for its correct understanding, would relate back to the Parakletos, the One called alongside to help.
Christ had been sent to the people of God. He was the One sent into their presence to help. Following Christ’s departure, the Spirit would be sent to the people of God. He would be the One sent into their presence to help during the time of the Son’s absence. The people of God would not be left “orphans” in this respect. They would not be left without One in their presence Who had been sent from heaven to help in time of need.
In John 14:26, Christ continuing to speak to His disciples relative to things surrounding and following His departure, stated that His Father would be the One Who would send the Parakletos into the world. Then in John 15:26; 16:7, still continuing to speak to His disciples, Christ stated that He Himself would be the One Who would send the Parakletos. Both statements point to a work that would be carried out by two members of the triune Godhead, having to do with a work to be carried out by a third member of the triune Godhead.
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate individuals, yet they are One individual (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4; John 10:30). Jesus often identified Himself as One with the Father in this manner, though at times this is not seen in the English text because of translation problems.
Mark 13:32 is a verse where both Christ’s true identity and a problem with the translation can be seen. Christ’s statement in this verse reveals His identification with the Father, but, because of the way that this verse has been translated into English, there is a problem seeing this identification:
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Mark 13:32)
There are two words in the latter part of this verse in the Greek text (ei me) incorrectly translated “but” in most English versions (e.g., KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV). This part of the verse should literally read, “…neither the Son, if not [or, ‘unless’ (He is)] the Father.” The thought brought over into the English text would have to be understood along the lines that the Son doesn’t know unless He is the Father, with the verse clearly implying that He is the Father.
Archbishop Trench, one of the great authorities on words in the Greek and English texts, translated this verse:
If I were not God as well as Man, even I would not know the day nor the hour.
Then, in John 18:5, 6, Jesus identified Himself with the Father again. Answering a question concerning His identity, Jesus referred to Himself as “I Am,” not “I am He,” as in the KJV, NKJV, NASB, and NIV. This equates to the “I Am” from the Old Testament (Exodus 3:4), for there is nothing in the New that was not previously seen in the Old. And this is also perfectly in line with Thomas’ confession concerning Christ following His resurrection: “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).
More than one member of the Godhead is often seen carrying out the same work. Christ’s resurrection, for example, was carried out by all three; and God alone is the One Who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:9). The Father raised Christ from the dead (Acts 2:30-32), the Spirit raised Him from the dead (Romans 8:11), and the Son raised Himself from the dead (John 10:18). And Scripture does not offer an explanation for any of this, other than its own testimony concerning the triune Godhead; nor should man attempt an explanation beyond that which Scripture reveals.
That which God has reserved unto Himself, about Himself, should simply be accepted and believed, with the matter left at that point. Finite man is in no position to understand and explain that which an infinite God has chosen to leave unrevealed about Himself. There is a reason why God has chosen not to reveal certain things in this realm, and for finite man to attempt to go beyond that which has been revealed would be completely out of place.
He Will Reprove
Christ’s statement to His disciples, recorded in John 16:7ff, has to do with the work of the Spirit surrounding His being sent on the day of Pentecost, ten days following Christ’s ascension. And this work of the Spirit, of necessity, would follow in exact accordance with that seen in the Old Testament type, in Genesis chapter twenty-four. Viewing this work of the Spirit within the framework of the overall type set forth in Genesis 21-25, this work would occur between two points in time. It would occur following Israel being set aside (typified by Sarah’s death in chapter 23) but preceding Israel being restored (typified by Abraham’s remarriage in chapter 25).
Thus, the work of Abraham’s servant in Mesopotamia in chapter twenty-four, occurring between these two points in time, typifies the work of the Spirit in the world today. And, in this respect, that which Christ revealed concerning the work of the Spirit during the present dispensation in John 16:7ff forms commentary material for the foundational material that Moses set forth in Genesis 24:1ff, over fourteen hundred years earlier.
In the type, Abraham sent his servant into Mesopotamia to procure a bride for his son, Isaac. And in the antitype, God has sent the Holy Spirit into the world to procure a bride for His Son, Jesus. And the carrying out and completion of this work by the Spirit throughout the dispensation will fulfill, in the antitype, that foreshadowed by events in the type.
1) Work of the Spirit
There are three parts to Christ’s statement to His disciples in John 16:7-11 relative to the future work of the Spirit. The Spirit, following His being sent, would “reprove the world of [‘concerning’] sin, and of [‘concerning’] righteousness, and of [‘concerning’] judgment” (vv. 7, 8). Then these three parts of the Spirit’s reproving work are explained with brief statements: “Concerning sin, because… Concerning righteousness, because… Concerning judgment, because…” (vv. 9-11).
The word translated “reprove” in the Greek text (elegcho) can be used in a rather broad sense. The word can refer to “reproving,” “rebuking,” “bringing to light,” “exposing” or “correcting.” The overall thought behind the use of the word is to bring a person to a knowledge of that which is true and correct — to bring a person to a knowledge of the truth. And to reach this goal, the work of the Spirit might begin with a “rebuke” in order to subsequently “bring matters to light” within a person’s understanding.
A good example of the former, with a view to the latter, can be seen in that which Paul told Titus in the opening part of his letter to him. Paul referred to certain individuals (certain Christians) who were not “holding fast the faithful word” which they had previously been taught.
They had become “unruly and vain talkers and deceivers,” and they were subverting (upsetting, overturning, destroying) “whole houses [a church meeting in homes located various places in the city], teaching things that they ought not” (Titus 1:9-11). And relative to these individuals, Paul told Titus:
Wherefore rebuke [Gk., elegcho] them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith (v. 13).
Titus, doing this rebuking, would be carrying out a part of the work of the Spirit. He would be acting under the power of the Spirit, using the Word that the Spirit gave, to rebuke certain individuals; and this would be done with a view to these individuals being brought into a position where they would be “sound in the faith.”
Then the end result of the preceding can be seen in Hebrews 11:1, where the noun form of elegcho (elegchos) is used, translated “evidence” (KJV). The word could be better understood and translated, “bringing to light.” The Spirit, through the Word, brings to light things that can be seen only by faith. Such would result in a walk by faith, which, within the context of Hebrews 11:1, has to do with the salvation of the soul (10:35-39).
The Spirit, working among Christians in the preceding respect, searching for the bride in complete accord with the type in Genesis chapter twenty-four, would bring matters concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment to light.
And He would do this with one goal in view — the salvation of the soul, which would allow an individual to participate in activities surrounding the bride. The Spirit would carry out this work with a view to procuring a bride for God’s Son, remaining completely within the realm of ministry that He had been sent to fulfill.
The work of the Spirit described in John 16:7-11 can have nothing to do with the unsaved. The ministry of the One sent to help the people of God in time of need would have to do solely with a future work among the saved. This is what is seen in the type (“…you shall go to my country, and to my kindred…” [Genesis 24:4]); and this is what is seen in Christ’s statement to His disciples, concerning the antitype, as well (“I will send Him to you” [John 16:7]).
(There would be a convicting work of the Spirit among the unsaved at the same time, but this convicting work of the Spirit among the unsaved had already been occurring for four millennia prior to Christ’s announcement concerning sending the Spirit to perform a work that was about to commence. And the Spirit’s work among the unsaved, in this respect, would simply continue, uninterrupted and unchanged.)
2) The World
Then it would be “the world” (those in the world) whom the Spirit would reprove, with “sin” mentioned first. And this reference to “the world” has led many to erroneously conclude that Christ was speaking about the Spirit being sent to reprove unsaved man, in the world, “dead in trespasses and sins.”
The word “world [Gk., kosmos]” though is used different ways in Scripture, and the word must always be understood contextually. Sometimes the word is used referring to the material world (John 1:9, 10); other times the word is used referring to the world system under Satan (John 18:36; 1 John 2:15); and other times the word is used referring to those in the world (John 3:16; 7:7). When referring to those in the world, the word kosmos is not necessarily a reference to all those in the world, though it could be. The word may or may not be all-inclusive in this respect. Again, the word must be viewed contextually to make this determination.
In John 3:16, the word kosmos would encompass all those in the world. God gave His Son for all. But in John 18:20, all those throughout the world cannot be in view through the use of kosmos. In this verse, Christ speaking openly “to the world [‘to the kosmos’]” during His earthly ministry would, of necessity, have had to be referring to a ministry solely to the Jewish people in the land of Israel. The Gentiles in the world, in the kosmos (either inside or outside the land of Israel), could not have been included (cf. Matthew 10:5, 6; 15:24]).
And the use of kosmos in John 16:8 would, contextually, have to be limited after the same fashion as seen in John 18:20. The reference would be limited to those in the world to whom the Spirit would be sent — to the saved (cf. John 12:19).
The word kosmos is used after the same fashion by Paul in Colossians 1:6, referring to the Word of the Kingdom having been proclaimed to Christians throughout the then known world, the kosmos. The proclamation of this message during Paul’s day couldn’t and didn’t have anything to do with unsaved Gentiles, though the message was said to have been proclaimed “in all the kosmos.” This message was (and remains today) a message for the saved alone.
Scripture deals with the sin question in relation to the people of God far more extensively than it does in relation to those alienated from God. The way in which Scripture deals with “sin” is similar to the way in which Scripture deals with the “gospel [‘good news’].”
Above eighty percent of the times that the word “gospel [Gk., euaggelion, euaggelizo (noun and verb forms of the same word)]” appears in the New Testament, the reference is solely to “good news” which is to be proclaimed to the saved. And the manner in which Scripture handles the whole of the sin question as it pertains to both the saved and the unsaved would be of a similar nature. Scripture’s message surrounding “sin” is directed centrally to the saved, not to the unsaved.
The Old Testament, beginning with the latter part of Genesis chapter eleven, deals mainly with one group of people — Abraham and his descendants, through Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s twelve sons. And the Old Testament, dealing with “sin,” deals with the matter centrally in relation to the descendants of Abraham, the people of God.
During Moses’ day, when Moses led the descendants of Abraham out of Egypt, the sin question began with events surrounding the slaying of the paschal lambs and the application of the blood (Exodus 12:1ff). In one respect, the sin question ceased at this point; but in another respect, not so.
Note how this dual aspect of the sin question is brought to pass in the antitype today:
The Paschal Lamb has been slain; and, through the application of the blood of this Lamb, by faith, man passes “from death unto life.” Man, believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, now has life where death had previously existed. And the sin question in relation to his eternal destiny has ceased to exist and can never again be a factor.
Man’s eternal salvation is based on a past, finished work of God’s Son (encompassing death and shed blood); and man’s eternal salvation was effected by a past, finished work of the Spirit (breathing life into the one who had no life). In relation to saved man in the world today, both the work of the Son and the work of the Spirit are works performed in past time, finished in past time, and existing during present time in a finished state. For those who have passed “from death unto life,” insofar as their presently possessed eternal salvation is concerned, the sin question does not exist.
But the sin question for saved man does exist in another realm. It exists relative to salvation present and future (the salvation of the soul, which has nothing to do with the past aspect of salvation, the salvation of the spirit [other than the fact that the salvation of the spirit places one in a position where he can realize the salvation of his soul]).
The sin question existed for the people of God in this respect during Moses’ day, following the death of the firstborn in Exodus chapter twelve. If it hadn’t, there would have been no need for the priestly work carried on by the Levites, culminating in a work by the high priest year after year on the day of atonement.
And it exists for Christians in this same respect during the present dispensation, following the antitype of the death of the firstborn. If it didn’t, there would be no need for Christ’s present work as our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary.
The fact remains that the people of God can and do sin. Though born from above, they still possess the old sin nature (1 John 1:8-10). And they will possess this old sin nature as long as they remain in “this body of death” (Romans 7:24).
This fact necessitated a high priest ministering on the basis of shed blood during Moses’ day, and this fact also necessitates a High Priest ministering on the basis of shed blood today.
During Moses’ day, this priestly ministry was for the cleansing of those who had already experienced the death of the firstborn (Exodus 12), with a view to their one day entering an earthly land as “a kingdom of priests” and realizing an “inheritance” therein (cf. Exodus 19:5, 6; Deuteronomy 3:28; Hebrews 11:8).
And during the present dispensation, this priestly ministry is also for those who have already experienced the death of the firstborn (in the antitype of Exodus 12), with a view to their one day entering a heavenly land as “kings and priests” and realizing an “inheritance” therein (cf. Ephesians 1:3, 11; Colossians 1:5, 12; Revelation 5:10).
In John chapter thirteen, Christ — reflecting on the past ministry of Aaron and His future ministry after the order of Aaron — took a towel, girded Himself, took a basin of water, and began to wash the disciples’ feet. Through this act, Christ was showing the necessity of a present cleansing (for a revealed purpose) for those who had already been cleansed in the past (for a revealed purpose).
But when Christ came to Simon Peter, Peter refused to allow Him to wash his feet. Peter said, “You shall never wash my feet!” (v. 8a). And he was very emphatic in his statement, using a double negative for emphasis in the Greek text (ou me). A more literal English translation of Peter’s statement would read somewhat along the lines, “Thou shalt never, no not ever, wash my feet.”
Jesus, in His response to Peter, then drove home the truth surrounding that which He was doing: “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” (v. 8b). If Peter did not allow Christ to do that which this act symbolized — a cleansing work that the Son would perform on behalf of the people of God yet future — Peter could have no part with Him.
That which was in view had nothing to do with eternal life. Rather, it had to do with the message being proclaimed, the message surrounding the kingdom. And this message was solely for the saved, not for the unsaved.
The truth being taught had to do with saved individuals availing themselves of Christ’s ministry as High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary. It had to do with saved individuals allowing Christ to cleanse them from defilement (typified by Christ washing the disciples’ feet). And this would have to do with defilement wrought through the old sin nature and contact with this present world in which Christians live (as the disciples’ feet would have become unclean through contact with the ground upon which they walked).
If a person doesn’t avail himself of Christ’s present ministry in the sanctuary, that person cannot have a part with Christ in the kingdom. And the reason for this has been clearly revealed in Scripture.
According to Ephesians 5:25-27, Christ “gave Himself” for the Church (past [v. 25]), “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word” (present [v. 26]), “that He might present her to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing” (future [v. 27]).
Peter, realizing what Christ was talking about (having a part with Him in the kingdom), immediately changed his mind and said, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head” (John 13: 9). But Jesus responded, “He that is bathed [Gk., louo] needs only to wash [Gk., nipto] his feet, but is completely clean” (v. 10a).
The Greek words louo and nipto used together like this call attention to two different types of washings. Louo refers to a washing of the complete body, and nipto refers to a washing of parts of the body (hands, feet, etc.). Nipto is the word that Christ used in verse eight, referring to that which He was doing (washing the disciples’ feet).
That being taught in John 13:8-10 is drawn from the typology of the Old Testament. When a priest in the Old Testament theocracy entered into the priesthood, his entire body was washed, never to be repeated. The Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament), describing this washing in Exodus 29:4; 40:12-15, uses the word louo. And the Septuagint, describing a washing of parts of the body in the priests’ subsequent ministry in the tabernacle (washing the hands and feet at the laver), uses the word nipto in Exodus 30:21; 40:30-32.
And it is the same today for those who would one day be “kings and priests” in Christ’s coming kingdom. A complete washing (louo) has occurred in the past, which can never be repeated; but partial washings (nipto) must occur subsequent to the complete washing, if…
A perfect tense of the verb louo is used in John 13:8 relative to Peter’s past washing, showing an act completed in past time and existing during present time in a finished state. And any subsequent washing of any type could have nothing to do with this past, completed work.
But, a present washing (nipto) must occur if a person washed (louo) is to have a part with Christ in His kingdom. And the Holy Spirit is in the world bringing this matter to light for Christians.
Christ, referring to this ministry of the Spirit (future at the time of His statement; present today), said, “Concerning sin, because they believe not on me” (John 16:9). That would be to say, “Concerning sin, because they do not exercise faith in me” (cf. John 14:1; Romans 1:16, 17).
“Faith” and “believe” are the same word in the Greek text. One is a noun (“faith”), and the other is a verb (“believe”). “Faith” is simply believing that which God has to say. Or, “belief,” on the other hand, is simply exercising faith in that which God has to say. This is why Scripture clearly reveals that “faith” can emanate from only one source — “the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
It is faith in the “Advocate [Gk., Parakletos],” “Jesus Christ the righteous,” ministering in the heavenly sanctuary on the Christians’ behalf. Christ is “the propitiation [Gk., hilasmos, a form of the word for ‘mercy seat,’ referring to Christ’s high priestly work] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1, 2).
The Parakletos on earth, preceding God sending His Spirit, was Christ. Following Christ’s ascension and the sending of the Spirit, the Parakletos on earth was then the Spirit. But Christ’s work as Parakletos did not end with His ascension. Rather, it continued with a subsequent work in the heavens. Christ, throughout the present dispensation, is the Christians’ Parakletos in the sanctuary in the heavens.
Thus, Christians have two Parakletos — Two called alongside to help — One on earth, and the Other in the heavens. And their respective ministries completely complement one another, both moving toward exactly the same goal. The Parakletos on earth is performing part of the work; and the Parakletos in heaven is performing the remainder of the work, which allows the work being carried out by the Parakletos on earth to be brought to completion.
“Righteousness” in the life of a Christian has to do with right living, living in accordance with that revealed in the Word of God. It is walking by faith, following the man of spirit rather than the man of flesh.
The wedding garment to be worn by Christians will be made up of “righteous acts” (Revelation 19:7, 8), which takes one back to right living, conforming one’s life to that revealed in the Word. And this takes one back to that which Christ stated concerning the work of the Spirit in John 16:10.
Christ, the righteous One, the living Word, has gone back into heaven. True righteousness, during His time of absence (seen in the person of Christ during His presence), can be seen through only one source today — the written Word. And the Spirit is presently in the world to call the Christians’ attention to all the various facets of that which the Word has to say in this respect.
To bring matters surrounding “righteousness” to pass during the absence of the righteous One, the Spirit may have to begin with “rebuke.” But, if so, this would be with a view to subsequent instruction, a bringing of matters to light surrounding that which the Word has to say concerning “righteousness” (the present child-training, with a view to future sonship, seen in Hebrews 12:5-8). And this would be with a view to the salvation of the soul, which is part and parcel with the Christian possessing a wedding garment and being able to participate in activities surrounding the bride.
Christ, in the heavens, has sat down with His Father on His throne. This though is temporary, for a period of time described in Psalm 110:1 — until the Father makes the Son’s enemies His footstool. And it is also for a period of time seen in Genesis chapter twenty-four — until the Spirit, presently in the world, completes His search for the bride.
Christ, seated on the Father’s throne in the heavens, is presently inviting Christians to one day sit with Him on His Own throne (Revelation 3:21). Christ will ascend this throne following events of the present dispensation (after the Spirit has procured the bride) and following the completion of Daniel’s unfulfilled Seventieth Week (when God will bring matters to pass wherein all will be in subjection to the Son). And numerous Christians from the present dispensation — who heeded the Spirit’s call and instructions — will find themselves among those allowed to ascend the throne with God’s Son during that coming day.
Christ referred to the Spirit bringing “judgment” to light in His work among Christians “because the prince of this world is judged” (John 16:11). “The prince of this world” is Satan, and the wording from the Greek text reveals that Satan has already been judged. A perfect tense is used for “judged,” and the translation should literally read, “the prince of this world has been judged.” The reference, through the use of the perfect tense, is to a past judgment, with conditions surrounding this judgment presently existing in a finished state.
Judgment presently awaits all Christians at Christ’s judgment seat. Christians will be judged according to their “works” (cf. Matthew 16:27; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10, 11), which, within the framework of that revealed in John 16:7-11, will have to do with “sin” and “righteousness.”
The incumbent ruler has already been judged relative to sin and righteousness, and the ones who have been called to inherit the kingdom after Satan has been put down are to be judged relative to sin and righteousness as well. And the carrying out of decrees surrounding the judgment of both Satan and Christians will occur following the judgment of Christians.
Sin and unrighteousness have resulted in the rejection and disqualification of the incumbent ruler, and exactly the same thing can (and will) result in the rejection and disqualification of numerous Christians called to inherit the kingdom with Christ. Other Christians though will be shown to have overcome the world, the flesh, and the Devil; and these will realize an inheritance in the kingdom, ascending the throne with Christ.
One Parakletos is presently in the world, working among Christians, with an end in view; and the Other Parakletos is in the heavens performing a companion work for Christians, with the same end in view.
And Christians can either heed or ignore Their respective ministries. Either way, one’s eternal destiny will remain unaffected; but that which awaits Christians during the coming age will be vastly affected.
When He Is Come (2)
I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.
All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. (John 16:12-15).
Christ’s earthly ministry covered a period of about three and one-half years; and near the end of this ministry, shortly before His crucifixion, He took the disciples aside and provided closing instructions for them. These instructions began with Christ washing the disciples’ feet in John chapter thirteen, and they continued with things surrounding His soon departure in chapter fourteen and beyond.
Christ began to provide these closing instructions for His disciples at a time when He was about to complete the work that He had come to perform, depart this earth, and be gone for a lengthy period. His death, burial, and resurrection lay immediately ahead; and His time on earth following His resurrection would be climaxed by a short ministry lasting forty days.
His entire ministry while on earth (both pre- and post-resurrection) had centered around one facet of truth drawn from the Old Testament. It had centered around regality. The Messianic King was present, and a kingdom (in which the King would rule) was being offered to Israel.
The kingdom being offered to the Jewish people by their King had to do with the governmental administration of one province in God’s universal kingdom — the earth upon which man resides (Matthew 2:2; 3:1ff; 4:17ff; 13:19ff; Luke 4:1-13; Acts 1:3). This was the kingdom over which Satan and his angels had been placed by God in the beginning (Ezekiel 28:14; Luke 4:5, 6; Ephesians 3:10; 6:12); and this is the kingdom that will one day be ruled by Christ and His co-heirs, following that future time when Satan and his angels will have been put down (Luke 19:12-19; Romans 8:14-23; Revelation 2:26, 27; 3:21; 12:7-12).
(Scripture, dealing with that future day when Christ takes the scepter, refers to this kingdom as “the kingdom of the world” [Revelation 11:15, NASB, NIV]. The gospel accounts, introducing this kingdom from the Old Testament [e.g., the books of 1, 2 Samuel, or the book of Daniel], refer to the kingdom mainly two different ways: calling it “the kingdom of the heavens,” and “the kingdom of God” [e.g., Matthew 19:23, 24]. And these two expressions are self-explanatory.
The former expression [“the kingdom of the heavens”] has to do with the manner in which the kingdom has been established — a rule from the heavens over the earth, beginning with God and progressing through the incumbent ruler, Satan. And the latter expression [“the kingdom of God”] simply associates the kingdom with God’s universal kingdom [though only a part of this kingdom]. Both expressions refer to the same kingdom, and both are restricted to that part of the kingdom of God having to do with the earth — “the kingdom of the world.”
God rules from a place in the heavens [in relation to the universe], over the entire universe. Satan also rules from a place in the heavens [but a place in the heavens in relation to the earth, not in relation to the universe], with his rule restricted to the earth. And God apparently established rulership after the same fashion all other places in the universe where similar kingdoms exist [an established rule from places in the heavens over other provinces in His kingdom (Psalm 103:19-22)].
God, at a time in the past, positioned ruling angels [along with other angels occupying positions under them] over provinces located various places throughout the universe. And God governs the universe through these ruling angels [Job. 1:6ff; 2:1ff].
But a problem arose when one of these ruling angels sought to “exalt” his throne and be “like the most High,” i.e., rule the entire universe rather than the one province in the universe over which he had been placed. And the manner in which God chose to resolve the resulting problem — through the creation of man, with man destined to take the scepter in this one province in His kingdom — is at the center of His dealings with man throughout His Word.)
Christ was about to leave His disciples and return into the heavens, for a revealed reason. He was returning into the heavens in order “to receive for himself a kingdom” (Luke 19:12) — the same kingdom in view throughout His earthly ministry, which was (and remains today) under Satan’s rule and control. This was the kingdom offered to Israel during the past dispensation, and this is the same kingdom being offered to Christians during the present dispensation.
All of these things anticipate a change in the administration of the present kingdom under Satan. Such a change must occur, for Satan has disqualified himself; and God will not allow a disqualified ruler to remain on the throne indefinitely. He, of necessity, must be replaced.
(Nor will God allow a disqualified person to ascend the throne, as Adam [following the fall] was not allowed to ascend the throne in the past, or as numerous Christians [following their being shown disqualified at the judgment seat] will not be allowed to ascend the throne yet future. Occupying positions of regality within God’s kingdom is limited to qualified individuals — whether those about to ascend the throne, or those already seated on the throne.)
The first man, the first Adam, through an encounter with Satan, found himself disqualified to take the scepter and ascend the throne. And because of this, it was necessary that the second Man, the last Adam, experience a similar encounter with Satan. It was necessary that He also meet Satan, with regality in view, in order to show that He was not only fully qualified to redeem that which the first Adam forfeited in the fall (placing man back in a position where he could rule) but to ultimately ascend the throne as well.
This is the “why” of the temptation account at the outset of Christ’s ministry (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12, 13; Luke 4:1-13). And that toward which everything points (regality) also forms the reason Christians experience a similar encounter with Satan during the present dispensation (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Satan, “as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” And Christians are called upon to resist Satan “steadfast [i.e., ‘standing firm’] in the faith,” with a view to being exalted “in due time” (1 Peter 5:6-9).
And relative to the entire matter surrounding Satan’s actions toward Christians today, note Christ’s promise to Christians in Revelation 3:21:
To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
The Son showed Himself fully qualified almost 2,000 years ago, finished the work that He had come to perform, and is now at the Father’s right hand, waiting… (Psalm 110:1ff). And the day is not far removed when the Father will give the kingdom to His Son, followed by His Son’s return as “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” Then the Father will remove Satan from the throne and position His Son, along with the Son’s co-heirs (those who [at the judgment seat] will be shown qualified, who will comprise the Son’s bride in that day), on the throne (Daniel 7:13, 14; Luke 19:12ff; Revelation 11:15; 19:11-20:6).
With a View to…
With a view to all of this, beginning at Christ’s first coming, Scripture states:
He came unto His own [Gk., neuter word, referring to ‘His Own things’], and His own [Gk., masculine word, referring to ‘His Own people’] did not receive Him (John 1:11).
Christ came unto His Own things. He was born King (Matthew 2:2), and the things to which He came — things having to do with His regal birth, the Davidic throne, the throne of this earth, etc. — were not realized at His first coming. The Jewish people to whom He came and offered “the kingdom of the heavens,” rejected Him. This resulted in the events surrounding Calvary, the people to whom He came (Israel) being set aside, His departure into heaven, the Spirit being sent, and the “one new man,” in Christ, being called into existence.
Very early in His ministry, Christ had called twelve disciples. These were individuals whom He could instruct and who would have a part in His ministry to Israel (Matthew 4:18ff; 5:1ff; Mark. 1:16ff; Luke 5:1ff; John 1:37ff). He later commissioned these twelve to carry the same message to Israel that He had been proclaiming (Matthew 10:1ff) — a message that had begun to be proclaimed by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1ff). And throughout the entire course of His ministry with the disciples, as He and His disciples proclaimed this message to the Jewish people, Christ continued to provide instruction for them (e.g., Matthew 13:1ff; 16:13ff; 17:1ff; 18:1ff).
But near the close of His ministry, though the disciples had been in His presence for over three years, there were still numerous things that they had not been taught. Christ had purposely not taught His disciples in certain areas, for a revealed reason.
Christ, referring to this matter, told the disciples: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12). These were things that the disciples yet needed to know and understand, but these were also things that, at that time, they were not able “to bear” (in the sense of the manner in which this same word [Gk., bastazo] is used in Acts 15:10).
Instruction extending throughout Christ’s ministry had not occurred over a sufficient length of time for the disciples to attain the necessary maturity to understand the “many things” of which He spoke. The disciples, at this point in time, still lacked an understanding of certain things in God’s revelation to man, things that it was necessary for them to understand prior to being taught these additional things.
However, “another Parakletos” would take over at this point (John 14:16), provide additional instruction in the Word, and lead the disciples into an understanding of the things to which Christ referred. He would lead them “into all truth” (John 16:7, 13).
A comparable (yet different) situation surrounding a knowledge of the Word can be seen in Paul’s experiences, beginning about five years later. Paul was converted on the Damascus road; and, though he apparently had a vast knowledge of “the letter” of the Old Testament Scriptures (Acts 9:20-22, 29; 22:3), that same knowledge did not extend over into “the spirit” of this same Word (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:6-16).
Paul had been brought up “at the feet of Gamaliel [one of the greatest teachers of Scripture of that day], and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers” (i.e., according to the strict manner in which the Jewish fathers viewed the Old Testament Scriptures). Paul knew “the letter” of the Scriptures, but not “the spirit” of the Scriptures. However, knowing “the letter,” he was in a position where he could be taught “the spirit.”
And when his eyes were opened on the third day following his conversion (Acts 9:9-18), Paul possessed a sufficient knowledge of “the letter” of the Scriptures that he, over a very short period of time, was able to begin seeing certain things having to do with “the spirit” of the Scriptures. Only a few days following his conversion, after his physical strength had returned (resulting from his ordeal, beginning on the Damascus road), Paul went into the synagogues in Damascus and proclaimed “Christ…that he is the Son of God” (vv. 19, 20). And he proclaimed this message after the same manner shortly afterwards in Jerusalem as well (vv. 21-29).
Paul not only possessed the ability to proclaim this message shortly after his conversion, but he possessed the ability at this time to proclaim this message in such a manner that he could prove to the Jewish people (which could only have been through using their own Scriptures) that “this is very Christ.” And Paul’s ability to use the Old Testament Scriptures in this manner resulted in the Jews attempting to slay him in both Damascus and Jerusalem , forcing the Christians both places to physically remove Paul from these cities (vv. 24, 25, 29, 30).
Paul, through his prior knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures, was able to put certain things together in a correct manner, on his own, to an extent. Then, because of his knowledge of these Scriptures, the Lord was able to take Paul aside a short time later, personally appear to him, and build upon that which he already knew (over a period of time probably lasting about three years). And, in this manner, the Lord taught Paul what is called in Scripture, “the mystery” (Romans 16:25; Galatians 1:11-17; Ephesians 3:1-11; Colossians 1:25-29).
“The mystery” had to do with Gentile believers being “fellowheirs, and of the same body” with Jewish believers; and this, in turn, had to do with both (Gentile and Jewish believers), in the same body, occupying proffered positions with Christ in the kingdom (Ephesians 3:1-6). It was this message that Paul had been called to proclaim throughout the Gentile world (Acts 9:15; Galatians 2:2, 7).
The disciples, though they had been with Christ for over three years, had yet to be taught “many things”; Paul, though he had been brought up at the feet of Gamaliel and taught “according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers,” still needed to be taught the various things surrounding the gospel that he had been called to proclaim; and Christians today, though they have “another Parakletos” Who has been sent to open the Scriptures to their understanding, will always find themselves in a position where they need to be taught.
It is evident from both the testimony of Scripture and one’s own experience that a mature knowledge of the Word of God is not something that a person acquires over a short period of time — weeks, months, or even several years. Neither the disciples nor Paul came into a mature knowledge of the Word in such a manner. And it is no different for Christians today.
Rather, multiplied years of study are involved in Christian maturity. A proper, mature knowledge of the Word takes time, lots of time — time which few are willing to devote to such a study.
The price that one must pay for a knowledge of the Word of God, in this respect, could be stated in two words: Eternal Review. And few are willing to pay that price.
Note several principles set forth in Isaiah 28:9, 10 surrounding the possession of a knowledge of the Word:
Whom will He teach knowledge? And whom will He make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts?
For precept [one part of that which God has stated] must be upon precept [another part of that which God has stated; i.e., Scripture must be compared with Scripture (1 Corinthians 2:9-13)], precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” (Isaiah 28:9, 10)
Then, a true and correct study of the Word, in line with the preceding, can only be a study under the ministry of the Parakletos, Who has been sent for this purpose. And this Word must be studied under the ministry of the Parakletos after the same fashion in which the Parakletos previously gave the word (e.g., Scripture has been built around a septenary structure that was set at the very beginning [Genesis 1:1-2:3; Hebrews 4:1-9], the Old Testament is highly typical in nature [Luke 24:25-27; 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11], and regality is the central focus throughout [with redemption, which enters the picture following man’s fall, always related to regality — allowing man to be brought back into the position for which he was created in the beginning (Genesis 1:26-28; 22:1ff; Exodus 12:1ff; Revelation 2:26, 27; 3:21)]).
And it is completely immaterial whether one views the disciples (including Paul) studying under Christ’s ministry or Christians today studying under the Spirit’s ministry. One group would have no advantage over the other. Both (the disciples then, and Christians now) must be looked upon exactly the same way — studying under the ministry of the Parakletos (Christ then, and the Spirit now), Who are both One with the Father.
Christ had slightly over three years from a prior dispensation to teach His disciples. The Spirit, on the other hand, has an entire 2,000-year dispensation in which to carry out this work, along with the lifetime of individuals within the dispensation.
Thus, it can easily be seen and understood why there were things that the disciples were in no position “to bear” at the end of little more than three years of instruction, though having spent this time under the ministry of Christ Himself, one Parakletos. And it can also easily be seen and understood why these things could subsequently be opened up and revealed to the disciples under the ministry of the other Parakletos, Who would be sent following Christ’s departure.
The coming Parakletos (the Holy Spirit) could not only build upon the work of the prior Parakletos (Christ), but time constraints would be quite different for those receiving instruction under His ministry.
He Will Guide
John 16:12-15 continues the thought from the preceding verses (vv. 7-11), which center around the reproving work of the Spirit (following His being sent) among Christians throughout the present dispensation. This reproving work of the Spirit would have for its goal “a bringing to light,” for Christians, all matters surrounding His mission in the world. The Spirit’s mission would center around His search for a bride for God’s Son, with a view to the Son’s coming reign; and, contextually, the Spirit would accomplish this task through calling attention to things in three realms: sin, righteousness, and judgment (vv. 8-11 [ref. chapter 3 of this book]).
And these same three realms, about to be used by the Spirit in His dealings with Christians, can be seen encompassing the whole of Christ’s previous ministry to Israel. In fact, these three realms together are inclusive to the point that they can be seen encompassing the whole of God’s dealings with man at any time throughout man’s history, beginning with Adam.
Relative to sin, righteousness, and judgment, as it pertained to Israel, the nation was sick — “from the sole of the foot even to the head” (Isaiah 1:6) — and this sickness was the direct result of “sin” (Isaiah 1:4). Because of Israel’s sickness in this respect, the message proclaimed to Israel, beginning with John the Baptist, was “Repent [change your minds (relative to sin, disobedience)]: for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand” (Matthew 3:1, 2; cf. Matthew 4:17; 10:5-7).
That which was to follow after the matter of “sin” had been dealt with was “righteousness” — right living. The Jewish people were living in a manner completely contrary to that which God had outlined in His Word for the nation to follow. They were living in an unrighteous manner. And it was this turning about, by means of repentance, which was in view through Christ’s statement to His disciples about “righteousness” at the outset of His ministry:
For I say unto you, that unless your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees [reflecting on Israel’s condition through the condition of the nation’s religious leaders], you will by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens” (Matthew 5:20; cf. James 5:19, 20).
Then, that which was to follow both “sin” either being or not being dealt with and “righteousness” either being or not being effected (through “sin” either being or not being dealt with), was “judgment.” Judgment would follow in either case, though the only ones who need fear judgment would be those who had not dealt with sin, with unrighteousness rather than righteousness following.
And to use the words later directed to any Christian who would follow the same example surrounding sin and disobedience, such individuals would one day find it to be “a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God [at that future time of judgment]” (Hebrews 10:30, 31; cf. vv. 19-29).
1) Many Things
The “many things” that Christ had not taught the disciples, cannot be separated from that which He had previously stated about sin, righteousness, and judgment. And sin, righteousness, and judgment cannot be separated from either Christ’s preceding ministry or God’s dealings with man at any other time in man’s history. Then, all of this can be seen centering on one thing (regality) and moving toward one goal (that day when God’s Son takes the scepter, with a view to effecting order where disorder had previously prevailed).
Thus, the Spirit subsequently leading individuals “into all truth” could, contextually, center around only one realm — that dealt with in the Scriptures that lead into this section. And this really goes all the way back to Genesis chapter twenty-four (the search for a bride for God’s Son), and back behind that to Genesis chapter one (the reason for man’s creation in the beginning).
That seen in both Genesis chapters one and twenty-four (the reason for man’s creation in the beginning, and the search for a bride for God’s Son) would reflect on the whole of the mission of the Spirit in the world today. The sequence of events detailed in Genesis chapter twenty-four were made necessary because of the sequence of events detailed in Genesis chapter one.
The Son doesn’t presently possess a wife; and, if the Son is to rule during the coming age, provision must be made at a time prior to that (which Scripture places in the present dispensation) for a wife to be procured. The Son cannot rule without a wife to rule with Him, for to rule apart from a wife would violate a principle that God Himself established in the beginning (Genesis 1:26). The man and the woman must rule together — He as King, and she as consort queen. In this respect, Genesis 1:26 anticipates that seen in Genesis 24:1ff.
Thus, an entire dispensation has been set aside; and God has sent the Holy Spirit into the world to acquire a bride for His Son, with a view to the kingdom that follows. And the Spirit is to accomplish this task through reproving Christians in the three-fold manner set forth in John 16:8-11.
2) He Shall Not Speak of Himself
A major problem in Christendom today is not only a magnification of the Spirit by man but also a magnification of the Spirit apart from the true work of the Spirit. The Spirit though, to the contrary, never calls attention to Himself; and His ministry is always seen channeled toward one goal — bringing to pass that for which He was sent.
In the type from Genesis chapter twenty-four, Abraham’s servant was careful not to call attention to himself about anything. The ten camels that he had brought into the land were laden with “all the goods of his master,” which his master had given to his son (vv. 10, 36; cf. Genesis 25:5). And making known his mission involved two things alone:
1) announcing that he was there to procure a bride for his master’s son (vv. 37ff), and
2) displaying that which the father had given to his son (vv. 22, 47, 53).
And matters are exactly the same in the work of the Spirit among the people of God during the present dispensation. They would, of necessity, have to be the same. The type has been set, and the antitype (the work of the Spirit in the world today) must follow the type (the work of the servant in Genesis 24) in exact detail.
The Spirit in the world today, in accord with the type, does not call attention to Himself. And He makes known His mission in the world through the same two means seen in the type:
(a) The announcement concerning His mission was made about 4,000 years ago during Abraham’s day, and this was recorded for all to see about 3,500 years ago during Moses’ day. Then attention was called to this announcement (in complete accord with the type) about 2,000 years ago by Christ during His earthly ministry. And commentary on the announcement (again, in complete accord with the type) was subsequently given as the Spirit of God Himself moved men to write the book of Acts, the epistles, and the book of Revelation.
Then, continuing to remain completely within the type, the Spirit conducts His ministry during this present dispensation through:
(b) displaying before the people of God (using the Word in His possession) all the things belonging to the Father, which the Father has given to His Son.
3) But Whatsoever He Shall Hear…
The Spirit, exactly as Abraham’s servant in the type, has all of the Father’s possessions (which the Father has given to His Son) at His disposal. And, as previously seen, these possessions are opened up and revealed to the prospective bride through the Word, which the Spirit Himself moved different men to pen in time past.
The Spirit takes this Word in His possession and opens the Word to an individual’s understanding. He takes this Word and spreads before Christians all the “jewelry of silver, and jewelry of gold, and clothing [which can only be an allusion to things having to do with the wedding garment, made up of ‘the righteous acts of the saints’]” (Genesis 24:53; cf. Revelation 19:7, 8, NASB, NIV).
Abraham’s servant made known and carried out his mission in exact accord with the instructions that he had previously received from his master (Genesis 24:33ff). Nothing else was involved in his mission — only those things surrounding a search for and procurement of a bride for his master’s son.
And it is exactly the same in matters surrounding the ministry of the Spirit in the world today. His mission is being carried out in exact accord with the instructions previously received from the Father. Nothing else is involved in His mission — only those things surrounding a search for and procurement of a bride for the Father’s Son.
He Shall Glorify Me
There is a dual emphasis in Christ’s statement to His disciples concerning the future work of the Spirit. There is an emphasis on (1) the manner in which the Spirit would conduct His ministry (vv. 8-11), and there is an emphasis on (2) that which the Spirit would use as He conducted this ministry in the revealed manner (vv. 13-15).
As previously seen, the manner in which the Spirit presently conducts His ministry has to do with a reproving work surrounding sin, righteousness, and judgment. And, as also previously seen, that which the Spirit uses in the process of carrying out His ministry in this revealed manner is the Word of God.
It is the Word alone that reveals all that belongs to the Father, which the Father has given to His Son. And the Spirit glorifies the Son through taking the things belonging to the Son and revealing these things to the people of God.
These are the things to which Christ came approximately 2,000 years ago, having to do with regality (John 1:11). And these are the things to which He is about to return, having to do with the same regality.
It is a present glorification of the Son by the Spirit through revealing, from the Word, the Son’s coming glory. It is showing the people of God “things to come” through opening the Word and revealing all that belongs to the Father, which the Father has given to His Son. And it is through this means that the Spirit leads individuals “into all truth,” with the whole of the matter centering on regality and the Son’s coming glory.
Christ was born King at His first coming, though separated at this time from His glory (Matthew 2:2; Romans 8:3). He was rejected by the Jewish people, arrayed as a mock King and mocked by the Roman soldiers (along with being spat upon and beaten), and then crucified as “the King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:15-37).
But He will return in a completely different fashion than He was seen at His first coming. There will be no mock King, no crown of thorns, no mockery by the people, no mistreatment, no crucifixion.
Rather, He will return in all His power and glory as the “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords” (Matthew 19:11ff). He, in that day, rather than being rejected by the Jewish people, will be accepted by them; He, in that day, rather than being improperly arrayed, with individuals bowing the knee in mockery, spitting upon and beating Him, will, instead, be properly arrayed and properly recognized.
He, in that day, will be arrayed in royal apparel, He will have on His head many crowns (diadems), and “every knee” shall bow and “every tongue” confess “that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10, 11). And in that day, the same scenes that witnessed His sufferings and humiliation will witness His glory and exaltation.
 Search for the Bride by Arlen L. Chitwood, The Lamp Broadcast, Inc., Chapters 3 & 4, pages 29-56