Post Author: Bill Pratt
Some Christians seem to think so, based on John 14:26, John 15:26, and John 16:12-13. Here are each of these passages:
“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.” – John 14:26
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.” – John 15:26
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” – John 16:12-13
After reading these passages, some Christians claim that the verses are promises to all believers, that the Holy Spirit will reveal new truths about God, will teach new things that have never been heard before to each of us. They claim these verses promise that privilege. Is that really what these verses are saying?
I think the answer is clearly “no” when we carefully read these verses in context. All of these verses are from Jesus’ Upper Room discourse. In this discourse, Jesus is specifically addressing his disciples about what is to come, with one of the primary themes being Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit would remind them of what Jesus said to them during his earthly ministry, but the Spirit would also give them new revelation. What we have is an indication of how the New Testament letters and books would come together – the Holy Spirit acting in concert with Jesus’ disciples. What we do not have is an open promise to all believers to receive new revelation from the Holy Spirit. These promises were only for the disciples of Jesus who lived with him.
Old Testament scholar Walter Kaiser is worth quoting at length here from his book The Uses of the Old Testament in the New :
As any serious student of the Bible will recognize those passages were not directed to believers at large, but to those disciples who had been with Jesus during His earthly pilgrimage. The promise was for additional revelation and thus we are given some hints as to how the NT canon was shaped.
Almost every cult and aberration from the historic Christian faith has appealed at one time or another to these three texts as the grounds for adding to or bypassing the inscripturated Word of God. But all fail to meet the tests given in these texts because they never personally walked with our Lord on this earth. They never heard instruction from His lips, so how could they recall what they never once heard? Neither were they witnesses from the start of his three-year ministry. But the apostles were! Therefore, they were the ones who would record the life, words, and works of Christ in the gospels with the Holy Spirit’s aid of recollection (John 14:26); they were the ones who would teach doctrine (“what is mine,” John 16:14-15); and they were the ones who would predict the future (John 16:12); for they had been eyewitnesses and auditors of all that had happened to and was spoken by Christ (John 15:26-27).
These verses, my friends, do not promise that we will all receive a new word from God. Instead they promised the inspiration of the Word of God we now have in the New Testament. Instead of wishing for new words from God, maybe we should cherish the words He has already given us.