Lectionary Year B
Pentecost Sunday

June 8, 2003
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15



The pericope is part of a section of John marked by extended discourse. The flow of this discourse is not necessarily chronological, but may be editorially arranged for theological impact.


a. I'm struck by the variety of modern translations for the greek "Paracletos". Is there any way we can use a single modern word to adequately convey its meaning? As I looked at the different contemporary translations, I was reminded of looking at a diamond from many different angles. Each word seems accurate, but can we do linguistic justice to the breadth of meaning?

b. What's the extent of the paraclete's "convincing the world of sin"? Does this refer to the classical Reformed idea of "effectual calling" of the believer-- "conviction of sin" that leads to repentance and faith? Is it limited to Christians and future Christians? Does this look ahead to God's judgement on "the world"? Or does it refer to the work of the Spirit that goes beyond the bounds of the Christian community?

c. Jesus speaks of further truth to be revealed. Does the struggle to open the Church to Gentiles hark back to this? Was the Paraclete's work supposed to stop when "the Canon was sealed"? How were the disciples supposed to know how to decide when a nagging nudging toward "a truth too hard to bear" was from the Spirit?

3. My questions seem to me to be theological. Jesus is preparing the disciples for his departure (Passion, Resurrection, Ascension). But he makes clear that his story with them will not end. How were the disciples to recognize and qualify the voice of the Paracletos? (Peter, it seemed later, didn't especially want to about fellowship with Gentile Christians.) The Spirit came in power-- yet, how vulnerable still God made God's Self to misunderstanding, to human stubbornness and the refusal to listen!

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