Jesus tells his disciples during their last meal together before he is arrested:
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
When Jesus tells his disciples that he will not leave them as orphans, but will return to them, he is not talking about his second coming, nor is he even referring specifically to his resurrection. If he were talking about his second coming… well… that would be a long time for him to leave them as orphans. And if he were talking only about his resurrection… well… why would he come back and hang out for just a few weeks and then leave? No. What he’s talking about is the coming of the Holy Spirit, or the “Spirit of Jesus” as Luke likes to say. And yet, while Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit is at the same a separate person from Jesus. Jesus refers to the Spirit as “another Helper” who will come - one different than himself. Try to wrap your brain around that tricky bit of Trinitarian theology!
Paul helps explain this (a bit) when he writes in Romans 8:
“And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.”
Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of Truth” because the Spirit will reveal to people the truth of Jesus. People can now be united with Christ in his death and resurrection through Christ’s very Spirit. We are united with God… body and spirit together. It is not the exact same relationship that Jesus has with the Father, but we are being formed into a relationship that is a pattern after the relationship between the Son and the Father. Just as Jesus is One with the father, so too will the disciples become One with the Spirit.
The Greek word used here in John’s Gospel is which we can translate as “helper,” “advocate,” “comforter,” or “counselor.”
Here is how the translators of the NET Bible explain the difficulty of translating :
“Paraclete,” from the Greek word ( ). Finding an appropriate English translation for is a very difficult task. No single English word has exactly the same range of meaning as the Greek word. “Comforter,” used by some of the older English versions, appears to be as old as Wycliffe. But today it suggests a quilt or a sympathetic mourner at a funeral. “Counselor” is adequate, but too broad, in contexts like “marriage counselor” or “camp counselor.” “Helper” or “Assistant” could also be used, but could suggest a subordinate rank. “Advocate,” the word chosen for this translation, has more forensic overtones than the Greek word does, although in a forensic context is certainly present. Because an “advocate” is someone who advocates or supports a position or viewpoint and since this is what the Paraclete will do for the preaching of the disciples, it was selected in spite of the drawbacks.”
Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
But Jesus tells him that all who love him will know him, and he and the Father will come and make their home with them.
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
This promise is a promise to all believers from all generations. The Spirit living inside of all believers provides them with special access to the mind and heart of Jesus and allows them to have a greater level of understanding God and His Creation.
Paul again helps to explain this a bit in 1st Corinthians 2:
“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. ‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”
Around this point in the conversation, Jesus gets up from the table and they all leave together.