Another Helper. John 14:15-16

In 2019, Merrill Lynch and Age Wave did a survey on Americans over the age of 55 on the subject of end of life planning. 45% of those over the age of 55 did not have a living will. 

And when it came to having a living will, an advanced directive in terms of end of life decisions, and a power attorney, that applied to just 18% of those surveyed over the age of 55. You might think “well maybe those legal affairs aren’t equally relevant for everyone.” 

That may be. But in the same survey, nearly half of respondents – 43 percent – expressed worry that they lacked an advocate to look out for their interests at the end of their life. Planning for death is not an enjoyable task. 

On the night before he was to go to the cross, Jesus was telling the disciples of the provision he was going to make for them when he was gone. He knew the agony and torture that awaited him. But here he is thinking about his disciples. 

He was going away to the Father, but Jesus told the disciples that he would not leave them as orphans. In John 14:15-21, Jesus talks about two provisions which he made for the disciples. 

The promise of the Holy Spirit, and the promise of his return. 

  1. The Promise of the Holy Spirit 

Jesus tells his disciples: If you love me, you will keep my commands. 

D.A. Carson points out that this is actually the first time in the Gospel of John where Jesus has called the disciples to love him. Jesus has talked of his love for the Father, and the Father’s love for him. Jesus has talked of his love for the disciples, and he’s called the disciples to love each other. 

He’s talked about the importance of loving the Father. He’s talked about eternal life. But here he talks of the importance of loving him. 

And love results in keeping his commands. Truly knowing Jesus, truly getting it with the gospel results in a life that is changed by the gospel. And so as a result of verse 15, Jesus continues speaking.

John 14:16-17: 

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 

Studying the word “paraclete” 

In verse 16, Jesus says that he will give another Helper. 

That’s the word the ESV uses. It comes from the Greek word “paraclete.” And the way that word is translated varies quite a bit in English Bibles. 

NASB, and New King James Version also translate the term as “helper.” The King James says “comforter.” NIV and NLT say “advocate.”  The Christian Standard Bible says “counselor.” The Message says “friend.”

It’s such a rich and multi-faceted term that I think English translations struggle to capture the full meaning of the word.In a sense, all of those translations are right because they all capture different aspects of the meaning. The Spirit is all of those things. He is our helper, comforter, advocate, counselor, and friend. 

Instead of talking about which one of those words is best, I think it’s helpful to take a moment and get a sense of how the word is used in the Bible and to allow that to paint the picture of what the paraclete, the helper, does. 

Also, it’s worth nothing that Jesus says “another helper,” and he says that because he too is a paraclete. Jesus is the first helper. It is the Spirit who is the second helper who will come after Jesus has gone. 

The Greek word paraclete is used four times in John’s Gospel and once in 1 John 2:1. And that is the extent of the usage of that term in the New Testament. 

Atchafalaya river 

In the book Creature of the Word, the authors give an illustration about a river in Louisiana called the Atchafalaya. It’s an important river for industrial and commercial activities. But it is totally dependent upon the Mississippi River. 

It’s a distributary that breaks off of the Mississippi, but otherwise has no other water source. So if the water on the Mississippi is high, the Atchafalaya will be high. If the Mississippi is low, the Atchafalaya will be low. But ultimately, the Atchafalaya owes all that it has to something outside of itself. 

The river achieves what it achieves because of its source. So it is with the Holy Spirit. End of verse 16. Jesus has talked of how he will provide this helper, this paraclete. To be with you forever. 

Jesus had an earthly ministry that lasted for a finite amount of time. It was short. About three years. But he gives the Holy Spirit which we will have forever. 

When Jesus was saying these words, that had not yet been realized. The disciples had not yet been indwelled by the Spirit. 

Theology – Holy Spirit 

In the New Covenant, the people of God, who have faith in the gospel will have the Spirit of God dwelling in them. And so when Jesus says If you love me, you will keep my commands, that is ultimately true due to the work of the Spirit. 

Love for Christ, obedience to Christ, and the Holy Spirit will all work together in New Covenant. Because it will be the Holy Spirit who enables people to obey Christ. 

The world so often misunderstands the heart of the gospel, and of the Christian life. 

And sadly still, too many Christians misunderstand this. And what we misunderstand is the Spiritual aspect of faith. The Bible is not teaching us “just be good and God will love you.” That’s what the world often thinks Christianity is. And again, too many Christians think that way too. Strive to be good enough. 

That is exactly what the gospel is not. 

We are saved by grace. 


For a person who truly has faith, they have the Spirit and the Spirit works in them. And it is that which results in a life that is changed by the gospel. 

Christianity is not YOU be good enough so God will accept you. 

It’s that you’re not good enough. But on the merit of Christ, God will accept you. And for the person who truly has faith in Christ, they have the Spirit, and it is the Spirit who works goodness through them. So we are not saved because of our own goodness. But to have a life that is unaffected by the gospel shows that someone doesn’t truly have the gospel. 

That is why Jesus says If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 

Because in the New Covenant, the time we’re in now, true love for Jesus is in the Spirit. 

The Holy Spirit has a ministry which carries on the work of Christ. 

Without its source, the river dries up. 

-It is by the Holy Spirit that we are born again when we have faith in Christ. 

-The Holy Spirit teaches us and points us to truth and to righteousness. 

-The Holy Spirit bears fruit in our lives which enables true believers to live according to the virtues which were valued and exemplified by Christ. 

-The Spirit equips us with Spiritual gifts to use in order to serve God and build up his kingdom. 

-The Spirit does convict us of sin while also working to sanctify and transform us to greater love for God.