12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
John now turned from the Holy Spirit’s ministry to non-believers to the effect of the coming of the Holy Spirit on believers.
“I still have many things to say to you,
The apostles still needed much more revelation of truth. The Holy Spirit would soon use them to give the New Testament to the church.
but you cannot bear them now.
The apostles were not quite ready to accept everything that Jesus had to say about their immediate future.
Even though the apostles did not have the capacity to receive more revelation at this time, they would have that capacity when the Holy Spirit came to permanently indwell the church at Pentecost.
when He [masculine], the Spirit of truth,
The word “He” is masculine, indicating that the Spirit is a person.
The Holy Spirit, Jesus was saying, would convey truth and divine revelation of the New Testament to the apostles. He would also give illumination to believers in their understanding of Scripture.
The apostles would not receive the New Testament until the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost and afterwards.
He [emphatic] will guide you into all [the] truth;
The word “guide” comes from two words: to lead and the way. The Holy Spirit would lead the apostles into “all the truth.” As of this point, they did not have a clear idea of the meaning of the cross and its implications.
It is important to note the definite article “the” before the word “truth.” There was coming a time when the Holy Spirit would teach about a specific body of truth, during the church age. He would do this by revealing the New Testament to the apostles and prophets.
This also had implications on the nation Israel. God would in a few weeks launch the church and set aside Israel as His way of dealing with the world (He 1:1). There would be a whole new body of truth found in the New Testament not revealed in the Old Testament (Eph 3:2-5).
for He will not speak on His own authority,
The Holy Spirit does not speak on His own initiative. Everything that He communicates comes from the Trinity as a whole. The role of the Holy Spirit as a guide is not independent of Jesus’ authority (Jn 14:16; 15:26).
but whatever He hears He will speak;
The Spirit reveals only what He hears from the Father. Persons of the Trinity are independent.
and He will tell you things to come.
Without direction from the Holy Spirit, the apostles would be totally confused about the events coming within hours. The Spirit would complete the message of Jesus when He launched the church and revealed the New Testament.
Without divine guidance believers are left to bewildering options about truth.
The Holy Spirit would complete the revelation that began with Jesus during the church age (Jn 14:26). Eventually He would complete the canon of Scripture by the writing of the New Testament. The latter revelation would be highly propositional. It would contain propositional statements carrying close boundaries that made definitions of truth very particular. The Spirit would both “speak” and “tell” the apostles what was needed (2 Pe 3:15f).
Truth is perilous to the exponents of error (Isa 28:17).