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Rodman Williams: The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today: Background

We turn next to the Fourth Gospel and note the statement that it is the glorification of Jesus that is essential background for the gift of the Holy Spirit. For we read that “as yet the Spirit had not been given,3  because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). Since the word “glorified” in the Fourth Gospel signifies “exalted,”4  it follows again that the exaltation of Jesus must precede the giving of the Holy Spirit.

Later in the Gospel of John there are several references by Jesus to the future sending, or giving, of the Holy Spirit. Particularly relevant to our concern are the words of Jesus: “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor [the Paraclete]5  will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). The “going away” of Jesus is, of course, a reference to His return to the Father; from there He will send the Holy Spirit. Similar to this is the statement of Jesus: “But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me” (John 15:26). It is to be noted here that Jesus says He will send the Holy Spirit, and since the Spirit comes “from the Father,” the implication is that this will happen when Jesus has returned to the presence of the Father. Thus both of these Johannine passages specify—as do the ones quoted from Luke and Acts—that the sending forth of the Holy Spirit is from the exalted Lord Jesus.

In two other Paraclete passages of the Fourth Gospel the Holy Spirit is said to be sent or given by the Father: “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things …” (John 14:26); and “I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth …” (John 14:16-17). One cannot stop with the exalted Jesus but must again go back to the Father.

Who then sends the Holy Spirit? If one reads these four passages in the actual order of their being set down, beginning with John 14:16-17 and concluding with John 16:7, the picture is this: (1) The Father will give the Spirit at the request of Jesus; (2) The Father will send the Spirit in Jesus’ name; (3) The Son will send the Spirit from the Father; and (4) The Son will send the Spirit.

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Category: Spirit, Spring 2002

About the Author: J. Rodman Williams (1918-2008), Ph.D., is considered to be the father of renewal theology. He served as a chaplain in the Second World War, he was a church pastor, college professor, and key figure in the charismatic movement of the 1960s. Beginning in 1982, he taught theology at Regent University School of Divinity in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and became Professor of Renewal Theology Emeritus there in 2002. Author of numerous books, he is perhaps best known for his three volume Renewal Theology (Zondervan, 1996).

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