In John 14:26 Jesus says to His disciples, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” As we study this passage, as with all passages, we need to address the immediate context and then draw applications to ourselves for our day.
Let’s look first at what Jesus was saying to His disciples and the effect of the Holy Spirit upon them. It is clear from many gospel passages that the disciples didn’t understand the ultimate meaning of Christ’s teaching regarding His death, burial, and resurrection. An example of this is found in John 13:31–38. After the Lord’s resurrection, the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples as recorded in Acts 2:1–13. Note, immediately after that, Peter addresses the crowd and explains what is going on at that moment and preaches the resurrection of Christ. Thus, the first fulfillment of John 14:26 occurred. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit “will teach you all things,” and on the day of Pentecost the disciples understood what happened regarding Jesus and especially the meaning of His death and resurrection.
Also, the Holy Spirit reminded the disciples of Jesus’ teachings and the details of the events in His life so as to record them in the gospels and explain them in the epistles. The apostle John later wrote, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30–31). And Peter wrote, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing” (1 Peter 3:9)— a clear reference to Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5:43–47). Again, Jesus had promised the disciples that the Holy Spirit “will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you,” and we have the New Testament as a result.
For believers today, the Holy Spirit illuminates the Bible for us. At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit indwelt us, and we were given a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). As the Lord told Israel, “And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:27). Without the Holy Spirit enabling us to understand the Bible and God’s commands, we could not understand or obey them. Paul states this reality in 1 Corinthians 2:13–14: “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” Thus, for us today, the Holy Spirit enables us to understand, live out, and apply God’s Word in our lives.
In summary, in John 14:26 Jesus promises His disciples in the upper room that the Holy Spirit would enable and equip them to remember, write, and apply the life and teaching of Jesus. The Holy Spirit guided them to record and write the New Testament (2 Timothy 3:16–17; 2 Peter 1:20–21). For us today, the Holy Spirit enables us to understand and live out God’s Word as we follow Jesus, and He brings to our remembrance “the word planted in you” (James 1:21).