Glorious Spirit (Part Two)

By Andy Reeves

John 16:13-15
The father glorifies the spirit

In John 16:13-15, Jesus makes several important statements about the Holy Spirit. These statements point to God the Father glorifying the Holy Spirit in the same way He glorifies God the Son. There are three lines of evidence in this passage that point to the Spirit’s glorification. But, before looking at this passage in depth, it is necessary to look at earlier Scriptures in John that build a foundation for the proper interpretation of John 16:13-15. What Jesus says in John 16:13-15 about the Holy Spirit builds upon the same foundation that points to the Father glorifying the Son.

These texts show that the Father glorifies Jesus, because, he does not speak on His own authority, but upon the Father’s authority. Jesus states in John 5:19 that, “the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.”[1] Jesus does not do anything that the Father would not do. He does only what He sees His Father doing. In John 5:30 Jesus says, “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”[2] Again, Jesus does not act on His own but acts in complete agreement with what the Father wills.

In John 7:16, Jesus states, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me…The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but he one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.”[3] In this passage, Jesus makes an interesting addition to the formula seen so far. Jesus speaks only upon the authority of the Father, and in doing this He seeks the glory of the Father. By not speaking on His own authority but in accordance with the Father’s authority he brings glory to the Father through his obedience. In the next passage, it is again seen that Jesus does not act upon his own authority, but he adds another important piece of information.  “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”[4] In this passage, not only is the Father glorified when Jesus does not act upon his own authority but it also pleases the Father that He does this.

In one of the most foundational passages to Jesus’ deity, Jesus makes one final addition to what He has said so far. Jesus said multiple times that he does not act upon His own authority, and that in doing so, this glorifies and pleases the Father. But what does the Father do in reaction to Jesus operating solely upon the Father’s authority? “I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge” and a little later Jesus says, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me.”[5] In reaction to Jesus doing exactly what the Father said, and not acting upon His own authority, God the Father glorifies Jesus. The next passage to look at before the upper room discourse adds another detail. Jesus says, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment-what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”[6] In this passage, Jesus makes clear that He speaks the exact words that the Father gave Him. He proclaims exactly as He has heard from the Father.  One final passage points to the Father’s glorification of Jesus because of His obedience. “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you… I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.  And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed”[7] In this part of the High Priestly Prayer, Jesus shows that the Father glorifies Him, because Jesus did what the Father gave Him to do while on earth. He did nothing of His own authority but sought the Father’s glory. The Father, in turn, glorifies the Son for his obedience and accomplishing this work of proclamation.

These passages point to several important truths. First, Jesus did not speak on his own authority, but only spoke what He heard from the Father. Second, Jesus only did what the Father told him to do. Third, in speaking and doing what the Father commanded, Jesus sought the glory of the Father. Fourth, because Jesus seeks the Father’s glory, the Father is with Jesus and is pleased by Him. Lastly, Jesus does not glorify himself, the Father glorifies the Son because the Son does what the Father told him and accomplished what the Father gave Him to do.

Now, how do these passages throughout John relate to John 16:13-15 and the glorification of the Holy Spirit? First, Jesus says of the Holy Spirit that, “he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”[8] In this statement, a clear parallel can be seen between Jesus speaking only what He heard from the Father and the Spirit speaking only what He hears from the Son. As Jesus only spoke what He heard, in the same way, the Holy Spirit will speak to the disciples only what He hears from Jesus. However, what Jesus tells the Holy Spirit to say will be the exact same thing that the Father told Jesus to say, for the Son does not speak on His own authority. Therefore, we can conclude that the Holy Spirit speaks as He is told from the Father and the Son.

Second, Jesus says of the Holy Spirit, “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”[9] Again, a parallel is seen between Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Jesus took what the Father told Him and spoke it to His disciples. The Holy Spirit takes what Jesus tells Him and declares it to the disciples. When Jesus declared what the Father told Him, He glorified the Father. Since the Holy Spirit takes what is Jesus’ word and declares it, He glorifies the Son. And in glorifying the Son he does not glorify Himself, implying that the Son seeks the glory of the Holy Spirit. But again the Son does not act upon His own authority but only upon the authority of the Father. Therefore, the Son glorifies the Holy Spirit prompted by God the Father. Jesus states in John 17 that, because He accomplished what the Father gave him to do the Father would glorify Him. Therefore, we can conclude that the Spirit is glorified by the Father and the Son, because He only declares what He hears from the Father through the Son, and is accomplishing the work that was given Him by the Father and the Son.

The final piece of evidence that the Holy Spirit is glorified in the same way as the Son is that Jesus says “All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”[10] Now, the process comes full circle and Jesus confirms the allusions made in the previous statements. Here it is seen that everything the Father has is the Son’s and everything the Son has is the Spirit’s. Therefore, what the Father has, the Spirit has. This seems to be the conclusion of what Jesus said. Therefore, as the Father has life in Himself, so too the Son and the Spirit. As the Father has authority in Himself, so too the Son and Spirit. As the Father has deity in Himself, so too the Son and the Spirit. “In John 16:14-15, the Father is identified as the ultimate source of both the Son’s and the Spirit’s revelatory ministry to believers. There is continuity between the Son and the Spirit: just as the Son brought glory to the Father, so the Spirit will bring glory to Jesus. There is also continuity between the Father and the Son and hence between Father/Spirit and Son/Spirit, with the persons of the Godhead collaborating in the task of self-disclosure.”[11] As the Father has glory in Himself, so do the Son and the Spirit. For all three possess each other, what they have is each other’s, and they share fully in one another’s work and glory. “We now ought to acknowledge that the Holy Spirit receives from the Son that which belongs to his own nature. This does not signify that there is a giver and a receiver, but one substance, since the Son is said to receive the same things from the Father which belong to his very being. For the Son is nothing other than that which is given to him by the Son. These statements are made for this reason: so that we may believe that in the Trinity the nature of the Holy Spirit is the same as that of the Father and the Son.”[12] In the final analysis, it must be concluded that God the Father glorifies God the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit is God along with the Father and the Son.


[1] John 5:19.

[2] John 5:30.

[3] John 7:16,18.

[4] John 8:28-29.

[5] John 8:50,54.

[6] John 12:49-50.

[7] John 17:1b, 4-5.

[8] John 16:13.

[9] John 16:14.

[10] John 16:15.

[11] Andreas J. Köstenberger, John (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 474.

[12] St Athanasius the Great and Didymus the Blind, Works on the Spirit PPS43, ed. John Behr, trans. Mark DelCogliano, Andrew Radde-Gallwitz, and Lewis Ayres (Yonkers, NY: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 2011), 194.

Andrew Reeves is married to Hannah, an Arkansas native, and a student at SBTS.

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