What is the Spirit of Truth?
One of the things I enjoy when studying the Bible is to investigate words and phrases that are repeated throughout its pages. The phrase “Spirit of Truth” is one such example that jumps out at me and begs further investigation.
Interestingly, only John uses “Spirit of Truth” in his writing. Since John is a bit of a poet, it makes sense that he would use this intriguing phrase. These words appear three times in the Gospel of John (John 14:16-17, John 15:26, and John 16:12-13) and once in John’s first letter (1 John 4:6).
Though the precise meaning in 1 John is a bit confusing, in each instant in the book of John, he quotes Jesus.
In these contexts, Jesus is talking about sending an Advocate to help us and be with us forever. He speaks of the Holy Spirit. So the Spirit of Truth is a synonym for the Holy Spirit.
I actually prefer the label Spirit of Truth, as it better conveys who the Holy Spirit is and what he does: the Holy Spirit comes to reveal truth to us; he is the Spirit who brings us truth; he is the Spirit of Truth.The Holy Spirit comes to reveal truth to us. He is the Spirit who brings us truth; he is the Spirit of Truth. Click To Tweet
In his first letter, John writes about distinguishing the Spirit of Truth from the spirit of deception. Though John is maybe alluding to something else, it makes sense to also understand this as the Holy Spirit, as that’s what John means the other three times he uses the phrase.
Though I doubt I’ll adjust my vocabulary to start calling the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, the descriptive nature of Spirit of Truth is certainly worth remembering: the Holy Spirit reveals God’s truth to us.
Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.