The Holy Spirit - Wrested Scriptures Considered

By Nigel Bernard

John 14:16

"And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another comforter, that He may abide with you forever."

Problem: This verse is used to show that believers today have the Holy Spirit within them to give them comfort and that God abides with them by His Holy Spirit being in them.


1. The word "another" provides a key to understanding the work of the comforter spoken of in this verse. This is because it implies that the disciples already had a comforter, a knowledge of which will help us understand the second comforter. The context of John 14 is that Jesus was soon to leave his disciples: "I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). The implication is that "another" comforter would be needed because of this, implying that Jesus was the disciples' original comforter. This is confirmed by 1 John 2:1 where the Greek word translated "comforter" in John 14 is translated "advocate" and applied to the Lord Jesus: "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not, And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father. Jesus Christ the righteous". So Jesus is a comforter, or advocate. When he left the disciples he would need to give them another advocate. In John 14:10-11 the Lord Jesus speaks of the two things which had played a central role in his ministry, namely words and works: "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake". When Jesus went there would need to be another comforter who could continue to give the Words of God and continue to do the works of God.

2. In verse 26 the other comforter is shown to be the Holy Spirit: "But the comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you". When did the Father send the Holy Spirit? The answer, of course, is on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2 ("And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" Acts 2:4). The other comforter spoken of in John 14:16 is, then, truly the Holy Spirit, not, however, the vague influence as preached by Evangelicals, but the Spirit-gifts.

3. John 14:22 shows that the other comforter would be linked very closely to the work of the first comforter because Jesus said that God would send it in His name (i.e. the name of the first comforter). This meant that in a sense the words and works which the Holy Spirit moved the believers to say and do would be those of the Lord Jesus. This is brought out in Mark 16: "And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen" (Mk.16:20). This is the work of the comforter, but quite clearly it would be nonsense to say that today the word is being confirmed "with signs following".

4. John 14:22 shows that the comforter would teach all things and would bring to remembrance whatsoever Jesus had said to them. The significance of this is perhaps lost on us. We do not need a Spirit-gift to bring everything that Jesus said to remembrance, because we have the gospels which record what he said. But when Jesus ascended into heaven there were no gospels, only the fading memories of those who had heard Jesus speak. The comforter was a very real need in this respect. It would teach them what Jesus had said and would bring all things to remembrance. Once the words had been written down, as given by the comforter, together with signs confirming them, the work of the other comforter would be complete, or perfected, and would thus be done away (1 Cor. 13:10).

5. God abides in a person through His Word: "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you..." (John 15:7). As Paul wrote to the Ephesians, Christ can dwell in our heart "by faith" (Eph. 3:17), and "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). As John wrote in his first epistle: "I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you" (1 John 2:14). Thus the comforter would give the words of God and by this means God would abide with the believer.