Summary: An examination of the crucial role performed by the Holy Spirit in assisting the Apostles in establishing Christianity as foretold by Christ Jesus in John 14-16.
One of the most astounding historical aspects of early Christianity is the pivotal role that the apostles played. Within their lifetimes, they had taken the teachings of Jesus to the four corners of the world and converted, at least, tens of thousands of souls.
This is an amazing thing when you consider that these men were not well educated nor possessed great oratorical powers. It is incredible when we acknowledge just how confused and truly cowardly they were before Jesus’ departure to ascend to the Father’s Right Hand.
What was responsible for their transformation and success? Surely, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus emboldened them. However, the change can primarily be traced to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives and ministries.
In scattered passages throughout Chapters 14-16 of the Gospel according to John, Jesus foretold the vital part the Holy Spirit would fill in assisting the apostles in establishing the Christian religion. Let’s examine these passages:
In this passage, Jesus promises to request that the Father send a "Helper" to them, "the Spirit of Truth". This term "Helper" is the translation of the Greek word PARACLETE. It literally means ’one called to one’s side’. It is actually a legal term and could also be translated ’advocate, ’intercessor’, ’encourager’, ’comforter’, ’guide’ and ’protector’.
I would have you note that Jesus describes "the Spirit" as "ANOTHER Helper". Jesus, while He was with the apostles, had played the role of "Helper". He had been their Guide, Encourager, Instructor, Intercessor, Comforter and Protector. But, now, He is going away. But the apostles won’t have to go it alone. "The Spirit" is being sent to take the position that Jesus filled with His apostles. "The Spirit" will be Christ’s Representative on Earth (thus, the Holy Spirit is called the ’Spirit of Christ’ in Romans 8:9).
The Spirit’s assistance would even be superior for two reasons: (1) Unlike Jesus, "the Spirit" would be with them "forever"....that is, all their lives; (2) "the Spirit" wouldn’t only "abide" with them but "be in" them.
The "Spirit of Truth" would "bear witness" of Jesus; meaning that He would give reliable testimony concerning the Person, teachings, and deeds of Christ Jesus. This would be accomplished by "the Spirit" in two ways - both of which would utilize the apostles. Thus, the apostles also would bear witness about Christ to the world (Acts 1:1-5, 8; 2:1-4; 5:30-32).
The FIRST manner by which Christ would be witnessed to is that "the Spirit of Truth" would give the apostles the ability to grant infallible, inspired verbal and, later, written testimony (see Matthew 28:16-20; Luke 12:11-12; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:15).
JOHN 14:25-26; 16:12-15
Here is how the apostles would know what to speak and write concerning the Christian Faith; "the Holy Spirit" would "teach [them] all things" and "guide [them] into all the truth". See 1 Corinthians 2:1-16.
The "Spirit" would bring to the "remembrance" of the apostles all of those things that Jesus said and done during the three years of His earthly ministry. Moreover, the "Holy Spirit" would "disclose...what is to come". See 1 Timothy 4:1; Revelation 1:10-11.
The Lord Jesus summarizes the content of the message that the Spirit will relay through the apostles, JOHN 16:5-11: "AND HE, WHEN HE COMES, WILL CONVICT THE WORLD CONCERNING SIN, AND RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND JUDGMENT:
CONCERNING SIN, BECAUSE THEY DO NOT BELIEVE IN ME;" - The Gospel demonstrates the sinful depravity of the world by its unbelief in and rejection of Christ Jesus.
CONCERNING RIGHTEOUSNESS, BECAUSE I GO TO THE FATHER, AND YOU NO LONGER BEHOLD ME;" - Though the world may have rejected Christ as being evil and a deceiver, Christ’s righteousness was proven by His acceptance of the Father and His being seated at God’s Right Hand. The actual coming of the Holy Spirit, according to the promise, was proof of Christ’s exaltation to God’s Right Hand (Acts 2:33-36).
CONCERNING JUDGMENT, BECAUSE THE RULER OF THIS WORLD HAS BEEN JUDGED." - By the fact that Christ Jesus successfully judged and expelled Satan should convince all that enemies of Christ’s gospel and kingdom will be reckoned in the same fashion at the last day.
The SECOND manner by which Christ and His religion would be witnessed to is that the "Holy Spirit" would give the apostles the ability to work miracles in association with their preaching testimony (Mark 16:14-18; Hebrews 2:1, 3-4). The miracles gave confirmation that the apostles’ message was from God and not from themselves. They (the miracles) proved that the apostles were directly commissioned by Christ to deliver His Divine Word.
By the help provided by "the Spirit of Truth", the apostles laid the foundation of the Christian Church and Religion (Ephesians 2:19-22; 2 Peter 3:2; Jude 3, 17) just as Christ Jesus stated they would in JOHN 14-16.