Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


John 14:17

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

The Spirit of truth - He is thus called here because he would teach them the truth, or would guide them into all truth, John 16:13. He would keep them from all error, and teach them the truth, which, either by writing or preaching, they were to communicate to others.

The world - The term world is often used to denote all who are entirely under the influence of the things of this world - pride, ambition, and pleasure; all who are not Christians, and especially all who are addicted to gross vices and pursuits, 1 Corinthians 1:21; 1 Corinthians 11:32; John 12:31; 2 Corinthians 4:4.

Cannot receive - Cannot admit as a Teacher or Comforter, or cannot receive in his offices of enlightening and purifying. The reason why they could not do this is immediately added.

Because it seeth him not - The men of the world are under the influence of the senses. They walk by sight, and not by faith. Hence, what they cannot perceive by their senses, what does not gratify their sight, or taste, or feeling, makes no impression on them. As they cannot see the operations of the Spirit John 3:8, they judge that all that is said of his influence is delusive, and hence, they cannot receive him. They have an erroneous mode of judging of what is for the welfare of man.

Neither knoweth him - To know, in the Scriptures, often means more than the act of the mind in simply understanding a thing. It denotes every act or emotion of the mind that is requisite in receiving the proper impression of a truth. Hence, it often includes the idea of “approbation,” of “love,” of “cordial feeling,” Psalm 1:6; Psalm 37:18; Psalm 138:6; Nahum 1:7; 2 Timothy 2:19. In this place it means the approbation of the heart; and as the people of the world do not approve of or desire the aid of the Spirit, so it is said they cannot receive him. They have no love for him, and they reject him. Men often consider his work in the conversion of sinners and in revivals as delusion. They love the world so much that they cannot understand his work or embrace him.

He dwelleth in you - The Spirit dwells in Christians by his sacred influences. There is no personal union, no physical indwelling, for God is essentially present in one place as much as in another; but he works in us repentance, peace, joy, meekness, etc. He teaches us, guides us, and comforts us. See the notes at Galatians 5:22-24. Thus, he is said to dwell in us when we are made pure, peaceable, holy, humble; when we become like him, and cherish his sacred influences. The word “dwelleth” means to remain with them. Jesus was to be taken away, but the Spirit would remain. It is also implied that they would know his presence, and have assurance that they were under his guidance. This was true of the apostles as inspired men, and it is true of all Christians that by ascertaining that they have the “graces of the Spirit” - joy, peace, long-suffering, etc. they know that they are the children of God, 1 John 3:24; 1 John 5:10.

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The Spirit of truth - The Spirit, or Holy Ghost, whose essential office is to manifest, vindicate, and apply the truth. The Gospel of Christ may be thus called, because it exposes falsity, removes error, and teaches the knowledge of the true God - shows the way to him, saves from vanity and illusive hopes, and establishes solid happiness in the souls of those who believe.

The world cannot receive - By the world, St. John means those who are influenced only by the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, and the pride of life, 1 John 2:16. Now these cannot receive the Spirit of the truth, because they see him not, have no spiritual discernment, attend to nothing but the dictates of their corrupt passions and affections, and will admit of no influence but what can be an object of their senses. Hence all the deign and irreligion in the world. God, in the operation of his hands, and in the influences of his Spirit, is found every where except in the perverted passions of men. In these alone do men of corrupt minds seek him; here only he is not to be found, and therefore they become infidels and atheists.

But ye know him - Ye have already received a measure of the truth, and ye believe in this Spirit. Probably our Lord refers to the knowledge which they should afterwards attain: in this sense the passage has been understood by the Vulgate, Nonnus, and two copies of the Itala, which read, Ye Shall know him.

For he dwelleth with you - Or, as the Ethiopic, Vulgate, Nonnus, and six copies of the Itala read, he shall dwell with you, (see above); and this, it is very evident, is the meaning of the evangelist, who not unfrequently uses the present for the future tense. It is certain the Holy Spirit was not yet given to the disciples so as to dwell in them; this St. John himself assures us, John 7:39. And it is evidently of that Spirit and its influences, which was not given till the day of pentecost, that our Lord here speaks.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Whatever we ask in Christ's name, that shall be for our good, and suitable to our state, he shall give it to us. To ask in Christ's name, is to plead his merit and intercession, and to depend upon that plea. The gift of the Spirit is a fruit of Christ's mediation, bought by his merit, and received by his intercession. The word used here, signifies an advocate, counsellor, monitor, and comforter. He would abide with the disciples to the end of time; his gifts and graces would encourage their hearts. The expressions used here and elsewhere, plainly denote a person, and the office itself includes all the Divine perfections. The gift of the Holy Ghost is bestowed upon the disciples of Christ, and not on the world. This is the favour God bears to his chosen. As the source of holiness and happiness, the Holy Spirit will abide with every believer for ever.
Ellen G. White
Steps to Christ, 75

All that Christ was to the disciples, He desires to be to His children today; for in that last prayer, with the little band of disciples gathered about Him, He said, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word.” John 17:20. SC 75.1

Jesus prayed for us, and He asked that we might be one with Him, even as He is one with the Father. What a union is this! The Saviour has said of Himself, “The Son can do nothing of Himself;” “the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works.” John 5:19; 14:10. Then if Christ is dwelling in our hearts, He will work in us “both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13. We shall work as He worked; we shall manifest the same spirit. And thus, loving Him and abiding in Him, we shall “grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” Ephesians 4:15. SC 75.2

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Ellen G. White
Faith and Works, 92

The world seeks the things of the world—business, worldly honor, display, selfish gratification. Christ seeks to break this spell which holds men away from Him. He seeks to call men's attention to the world to come, that Satan has managed to eclipse by his own shadow. Christ brings the eternal world within the range of men's vision, He presents its attractions before them, tells them that He will prepare mansions for them, and will come again and receive them unto Himself. It is the design of Satan so to fill the mind with inordinate love of sensual things that the love of God and the desire for heaven shall be expelled from the heart.... FW 92.1

God calls upon those to whom He has entrusted His goods to acquit themselves as faithful stewards. The Lord would have all things of temporal interest occupy a secondary place in the heart and thoughts; but Satan would have the matters of the earth take the first place in our lives. The Lord would have us approve the things that are excellent. He shows us the conflict in which we must engage, reveals the character and plan of redemption. He lays open before you the perils you will meet, the self-denial that will be required, and He bids you count the cost, assuring you that if you zealously engage in the conflict, divine power will combine with human effort. FW 92.2

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Ellen G. White
Faith and Works, 48.1

We are to do all that we can do on our part to fight the good fight of faith. We are to wrestle, to labor, to strive, to agonize to enter in at the strait gate. We are to set the Lord ever before us. With clean hands, with pure hearts, we are to seek to honor God in all our ways. Help has been provided for us in Him who is mighty to save. The spirit of truth and light will quicken and renew us by its mysterious workings; for all our spiritual improvement comes from God, not from ourselves. The true worker will have divine power to aid him, but the idler will not be sustained by the Spirit of God. FW 48.1

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 494

As the seventy listened to the words of Christ, the Holy Spirit was impressing their minds with living realities, and writing truth upon the tablets of the soul. Though multitudes surrounded them, they were as though shut in with God. DA 494.1

Knowing that they had caught the inspiration of the hour, Jesus “rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight. All things are delivered to Me of My Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father, and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.” DA 494.2

The honored men of the world, the so-called great and wise men, with all their boasted wisdom, could not comprehend the character of Christ. They judged Him from outward appearance, from the humiliation that came upon Him as a human being. But to fishermen and publicans it had been given to see the Invisible. Even the disciples failed of understanding all that Jesus desired to reveal to them; but from time to time, as they surrendered themselves to the Holy Spirit's power, their minds were illuminated. They realized that the mighty God, clad in the garb of humanity, was among them. Jesus rejoiced that though this knowledge was not possessed by the wise and prudent, it had been revealed to these humble men. Often as He had presented the Old Testament Scriptures, and showed their application to Himself and His work of atonement, they had been awakened by His Spirit, and lifted into a heavenly atmosphere. Of the spiritual truths spoken by the prophets they had a clearer understanding than had the original writers themselves. Hereafter they would read the Old Testament Scriptures, not as the doctrines of the scribes and Pharisees, not as the utterances of wise men who were dead, but as a new revelation from God. They beheld Him “whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” John 14:17. DA 494.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, 30

To human agencies is committed the work of extending the triumphs of the cross from point to point. As the Head of the church, Christ is authoritatively calling upon everyone who claims to believe on Him to follow His example of self-denial and self-sacrifice in working for the conversion of those whom Satan and his vast army are exerting every power to destroy. God's people are called upon to rally without delay under the bloodstained banner of Christ Jesus. Unceasingly they are to continue their warfare against the enemy, pressing the battle even to the gates. And everyone who is added to the ranks by conversion is to be assigned his post of duty. Everyone should be willing to be or to do anything in this warfare. When church members put forth earnest efforts to advance the message, they will live in the joy of the Lord and will meet with success. Triumph always follows decided effort. 7T 30.1

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