Fathers Nolan’s and Brown’s Commentary on John 15:26-27, 16:12-15

26. But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me.
27. And you shall give testimony, because you are with me from the beginning.

The connection with the preceding is: though the world hate Christ, yet the Holy Ghost and the Apostles shall bear witness to Him. Here again, in verse 26, we have distinct mention of the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. See Jn 14:16, 26.

Though the Holy Ghost is not here said to proceed from the Son as well as from the Father (ex Patre Filioque ), yet this is implied in His being sent by the Son (see above on Jn 14:26), and can be clearly proved against the schismatical Greeks from other parts of Scripture, as from John 16:13, 14. The Greek rendered you shall give testimony, is ambiguous, and may be either an imperative or an indicative. However, as Christ seems to be speaking of the witnesses who will maintain His cause against the world, and not to be prescribing the duty of the Apostles, the indicative is preferable.

12. I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot bear them now.

I have yet many things. Among these many things which they were not yet able to bear were, probably, the nature of His earthly kingdom, and the abrogation of the Jewish Law, in as far as it was judicial and ceremonial. As Jews who had grown up imbued with deepest reverence for the Mosaic Law, the Apostles were naturally slow to believe that it was to be abrogated; and immediately before St. Peter received Cornelius into the Church as the first-fruits of the Gentile world, he had to be taught by a vision from heaven that the Jewish distinction between clean and unclean meats was no longer to exist. (Acts 10:10-16.) And as to the nature of Christ’s earthly kingdom, the Apostles in common with the rest of their race still hoped that the Messias would establish a mighty Jewish empire, and restore Israel to a foremost place among the nations. Even on Ascension day they still cherished this hope, as we learn from the Acts: “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).

13. But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself: but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak: and the things that are to come he shall shew you.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come. Though you are now unable to bear these truths, you shall be taught them all by the Holy Ghost. The Greek for will teach is οδηγησει, which means to lead on the way, to conduct; and the sense, therefore, is: He shall guide you into all the truth (which I have still to tell you, but which you are now unable to bear). We are not to suppose that the Apostles were taught all the truth on the day of Pentecost; the revelation was vouchsafed gradually, and at their death the deposit of faith was complete. Since the Apostles time, doctrines and dogmas have, indeed, been more fully drawn out and developed, but no new doctrines have been revealed. This follows clearly from the words we are considering; for it was to the Apostles, to those same men who were now unable to bear it, that the Holy Ghost was to teach the whole truth.

The promise here made to the Apostles, that they should be taught the whole truth by the Holy Ghost, while it regarded them directly, regarded the whole Church indirectly; for it is to them as Apostles, appointed to teach the whole Church, that Christ speaks: “I have chosen you, and have appointed you, that you should go, and should bring forth fruit, and your fruit should remain” (John 15:16). And in the solemn prayer to the Father, with which this discourse concludes, He prays the Father: “Sanctify them (the Apostles) in (the) truth. . . And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who, through their word, shall believe in me.”  So that the Apostles first, and through them the Church of Christ, received the whole truth from the Holy Ghost.

For he shall not speak of himself. These words give a reason why the Holy Ghost shall teach the truth. No other reason than His own Divinity and essential truth fulness was necessary; but, as the Apostles did not yet under stand that this new Comforter was Divine, Jesus vouchsafes another reason to convince them of His truthfulness. This other reason is, that the Holy Ghost shall speak to them, not what has been excogitated or invented by Himself, but what he received from the Son of God in His eternal procession. Doubtless the Apostles did not yet know much about the mystery of the Divine procession; still they could gather from these words that the new Comforter was to announce to them the truth, as Christ’s legate, and this was enough.

But what thing s soever he shall hear, he shall speak. A Divine Person (unless He were possessed of two natures, like Jesus Christ) cannot be conceived to acquire anything except in His procession; for once He is a Divine Person He is infinite, and can receive nothing that He does not already possess. Hence whatever the Holy Ghost heard, He heard from all eternity, in proceeding from the Father and the Son. Yet, though the Holy Ghost heard and hears from all eternity, the future tense “shall hear” is used because there is question of knowledge to be manifested in the future.

And the things that are to come he shall shew you. Hence the Holy Ghost was to confer the gift of prophecy on the Apostles. As evidence that He conferred this gift upon them, see Acts 20:29; St. Jude 17-18, and The Apocalypse (Revelation).

14 He shall glorify me; because he shall receive of mine (εκ του εμου), and shall shew it to you.

The Holy Ghost gave glory to Christ before men by showing that Christ was the Messias and Saviour of the world. This He did principally through the Apostles, by imparting to them (in so far it was necessary or useful for them) the knowledge which He had received from the Son, and especially, as the context here (see verse 1 6) proves, the knowledge of future things. In the words, “He shall receive of mine,” we refer “mine” to the Son s knowledge, which, however, in reality does not differ in a Divine Person from His essence.

15 All things whatsoever the Father hath, are mine. Therefore I said, he shall receive of mine, and show it to you.

Therefore I said, he shall receive, &c. The present (λαμβανει) is the more probable reading, but it is used for the future, so that the Vulgate gives the meaning. This verse is variously connected with the preceding, even by Catholic commentators. We believe that Christ is here proving what He has just said, namely, that the Holy Ghost should receive of Him. The proof is this: All whatsoever the Father hath (except, of course, the relation of Paternity) is the Son’s; but the Father has spiratio activa: in other words, the Holy Ghost proceeds from Him, therefore He proceeds from the Son also: “All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine; therefore I said, He shall receive of mine, and shew it to you.” Note that this verse, too,furnishes a clear proof of the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son, since the Son has all that the Father hath.

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One Response to Fathers Nolan’s and Brown’s Commentary on John 15:26-27, 16:12-15

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for Pentecost Sunday | stjoeofoblog

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