John 16:13

Posted Jan 15, 2011 by Russell Unterschultz in The Spirit of God

The following is an explanation of a much misapplied verse, John 16:13.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. John 16:13

If I am not mistaken, a Trinitarian interprets the words “he shall not speak of himself” as meaning that the Holy Spirit (as a Divine Being) will tell us nothing about Himself.

I do not believe though that this is what these words are telling us. In the margin of my Bible the words: “he shall not speak of himself” also translates as:
he shall not speak on his own authority

Now read the text that immediately follows these words:
“he shall not speak on his own authority; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak…

That is, these words in John 16:13 are not telling us that the Holy Spirit will not talk about Himself (I speak as a Trinitarian), but that the Holy Spirit speaks only the words that he hears from an authority higher than Himself.

Now we know that the Holy Spirit is the representative of Christ on earth. And of Christ we read in John 12:49-50 that:

“For I have not spoken of myself; [Marginal reading means the same as John 16:13: I have not spoken of my own authority] but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.  And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.”

Now put these things together. Christ is the word of God. Christ is the Spirit of truth. Christ is the representative of His heavenly Father. And according to John 12:49-50, Christ does not speak on his own authority, but only speaks the words which His Father gives Him.

While Christ ministers in the sanctuary above, He sends His Spirit (which He receives from His Father) to be His representative on earth.

Therefore, the Holy Spirit, being the representative and personal presence of Christ, speaks only the words to the human recipient that are first given by the Father.

I believe that this is the correct understanding of John 16:13. Thoughts and corrections welcomed!