Holy Spirit in Johannine literature

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By the end of the 20th century, the theological importance of the Holy Spirit in Johannine literature had been accepted by New Testament scholars, overshadowing the early 20th-century views that minimized its role in the writings of John.[1]

Three separate terms, namely Holy Spirit, Spirit of Truth and Paraclete are used in Johannine literature.[2] The "Spirit of Truth" is used in John 14:17, 15:26 and 16:13.[3] The First Epistle of John then contrasts this with the "spirit of error" in 1 John 4:6.[3] 1 John 4:1-6 provides the separation between spirits "that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God" and those who in error refuse it - an indication of their being evil spirits.[4]

In John 14:26 Jesus states: "But the Comforter, [even] the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things". The identity of the "Comforter" has been the subject of debate among theologians, who have proposed multiple theories on the matter.[5]

Paraclete considered as the Spirit of Truth is used three times in the Gospel of John: in 14:15-17, 14:26 and 15:26-27, where it is viewed as the "Spirit which communicates Truth".[6] The concept of "truth" in Johannine writings is then intertwined with John 16:13's statement of how the Spirit of Truth acts as guide that leads believers to truth, building on the assurance given in John 14:26 that the Paraclete facilitates and confirms the memory of "all that Jesus had taught his disciples" and John 15:26's statement that "Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall bear witness of me".[7]


  1. ^ The anointed community: the Holy Spirit in the Johannine tradition by Gary M. Burge 1987 ISBN 0802801935 pages 3-5
  2. ^ Spirit of Truth: The origins of Johannine pneumatology by John Breck 1990 ISBN 0881410810 pages 1-5
  3. ^ a b Acts and Pauline writings by Watson E. Mills, Richard F. Wilson 1997 ISBN 086554512X pages xl-xlx
  4. ^ 1, 2, and 3 John by John Painter, Daniel J. Harrington 2002 ISBN 0814658121 page 324
  5. ^ The anointed community: the Holy Spirit in the Johannine tradition by Gary M. Burge 1987 ISBN 0802801935 pages 14-21
  6. ^ The Johannine World: Reflections on the Theology of the Fourth Gospel by David J. Hawkin 1996 ISBN 0791430650 pages 72-76
  7. ^ The Holy Spirit and Christian Origins' by Graham Stanton, Bruce W. Longenecker, Stephen C. Barton 2005 ISBN 0802828221 page 56