Christ Taught the Spirit Would Guide His Church into All Truth

“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 shew you things to come.”

John 16:13

I have been told on several occasions that Jesus meant to address only the disciples in John 16:13 and that I should not use said verse in discussion or debate because it does not apply directly to the Church in general.

Turning again to to my old Westminster notes we see something quite to the contrary. By comparing the words of Jesus in John 16 and the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 2 my Dr. Richard Gaffin came to a very different conclusion.


Unifying Role of the Spirit- Perhaps more than any other passage of Scripture, we see the over-arching, comprehensive, and unifying role of the Spirit in revelation.  The Spirit is searcher, has his origin with God and extends to the reception by the people.  

Abraham Kuyper- In the theological effort, there is unity because it is the one and same Spirit who is at work throughout.  The Spirit gave us the principium, revealed source and norm, of Scripture and superintends the application of our principium.  The exegesis of Holy Scripture is correct and complete only when the Holy Spirit interprets that Scripture in the Church of God. (Principles of Sacred Theology, 585).  The Holy Spirit has not merely given us a book and then withdrawn himself from our scene action, but that same Spirit continues to be our leader.  The Spirit is the Master Theologian, Teacher of the Church.  

1 Cor. 2:14-15 – Our passage highlights the heart of the Reformation tradition.  The principle is spiritus cum verbo or the “Spirit working with the Word.”  This is the unbreakable bond between Word and Spirit.  There is a correlation between faith and revelation.  

The passage here is evidence of the fulfillment of the promise Jesus made to his disciples in John 16:13: “When the Spirit comes, he will come as the Spirit of Truth; and lead the church into all truth.”  This should not be understood in an individualistic way, but in a corporate, churchly dimension.  In the 1 Corinthians passage, the Spirit does lead the Church into all truth.  This activity of the Spirit promises the Church that the study of hermeneutics will not overcome the Church.  There are problems of Biblical interpretation, but these will never so engulf the Church, so as to bring about a crisis of uncertainty concerning the truth.  Luther had discovered that the Holy Spirit was not a skeptic. 


Since indeed the Spirit will guide us into all truth it stands to reason that the Spirit is able to speak through those words which are His words and in so doing evince to the Christian reader that those words are the words of God. In sum, the Holy Spirit has not merely given us a book and then withdrawn himself from our scene action, but that same Spirit continues to be our leader in determining what words are God’s words and that without modern text-critical input.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: