"Come and See": A Web Commentary on the Gospel of John: Section 12 The Last Supper and Farewell Discourses

12.2 Table Talk: 12.2.7 Witnesses (Jn 15.26-7)

26When the Advocate1 comes, that I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, they2 will be a witness about me. 27And you are witnesses too, because you have been with me from the start.


In this short section, Jesus returns to the figure of the Advocate or Intercessor, the Spirit of truth last mentioned in Jn 14.26. As we heard him say in ch14, the Advocate has an important role as the one who teaches them and reminds them of all that Jesus has said. The disciples will need the reassurance of that teaching and reminding soon. But the Advocate has another major role to play, the role of witness, which the disciples are going to share. This is intended as further reassurance and also ties this chapter together with the previous teachings about the Advocate. As with Jn 13.20 (see Comment above), although the verses themselves are clear, their placement is not. They are not closely connected with the previous section. Perhaps John was remembering something he was sure had been said at the Last Supper, but no longer recalled exactly when during the conversation or in what context it was said.

In Acts 1.21-2 Peter (speaking on the occasion of choosing a new member for the Twelve, to replace Judas Iscariot) says, 'So one of the men who have accompanied us throughout the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.' In Acts 5.29b-32 this role of witnessing is emphasised again as Peter and other apostles speak when accused before the Council, and the witness of the Holy Spirit is joined to that of the human witnesses (as it is here): 'We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour, so that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.'

This concurrence of thought between Luke and the evangelist John likely reflects a feeling in the primitive Christian community about the importance of apostolic witnessing to the life and works of Jesus as well as of the role of the Holy Spirit in bearing witness. See Bauckham 2006 pp 114-16 and 384-90, especially 389-90.

1Advocate: or Intercessor

2 they: see the comment on Jn 14.17for a discussion of gender-neutral language referring to the Spirit

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