Teacher’s Overview: Lifeway “Explore the Bible” lesson of John 15:26-16:16, “When the Spirit Comes”

A brief overview for Sunday School teachers and Bible Study leaders of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson on John 15:26-27, 16:7-16 for Sunday, April 16, 2023, “When The Spirit Comes.”

(A video version of this overview is available on YouTube at:

One way to begin this week’s lesson would be to print a copy of the lyrics to the old hymn: “Come Thou Almighty King” and give it to each class member, and ask them if they can figure out what is significant about the four verses of this hymn? 

(The answer is: there is one verse for each of the 3 Persons of the Triinity: “Come Thou Almighty King” is addressed to God the Father; “Come Thou Incarnate Word” is addressed to God the Son; and “Come Holy Comforter” is addressed to God the Holy Spirit. Then the fourth verse says: “To Thee great One in Three” which is the Trinity!   You may or may not want to point out that back in the “old days” a lot of song leaders in Baptist churches would often typically say, “Let’s stand and sing the first, second, and last verse of this hymn” — but you don’t to do that with this song, because you would be leaving out the Person of the Holy Spirit!

And then you might say something like: too many Christians are guilty of leaving out the ministry of the Holy Spirit, but Jesus shows us in our passage in John today just how important He is.  


Remember we are in the last part of the Gospel of John, which focuses on the last week of Jesus on earth before He went to the cross. At the end of John 13 He tells the disciples that He’s leaving; they are hurt and disappointed, but He promises them comfort in that they have a home in heaven, and that there will be a “Comforter/Helper/Holy Spirit” who will come and minister to them. 

Last week many of us took a break and studied John 20 and the Resurrection of Jesus, but now we come back to our “regular programming” at the end of John 15 and the first part of John 16, as Jesus continues to talk to His disciples about the comfort they can have in the coming of the Holy Spirit.  


I. The Trinity and the Holy Spirit (teaching/review) 15:26

II. The Ministry of the Holy Spirit (16:5-15)

I. The Trinity and the Holy Spirit

:26 Notice the “double mention” of the Trinity here:

“When the HELPER comes, Whom I will send to you from the FATHER, that is, the SPIRIT of truth whom proceeds from the FATHER, He will testify about ME.”

Here you have “Helper … I … Father;” and “Spirit/Father/Me.”

So not only is the Trinity mentioned in this verse, it is mentioned TWICE! 

A LEARNING EXERCISE you could use here, would be to print this verse out in advance, and give one to each class member. Then at this point ask them to circle or underline each member of the Trinity they see in this verse. (I count 7 total: “Helper, I, Father, Spirit, Father, He, Me”)

Then briefly review the Doctrine of the Trinity, and the Person of the Holy Spirit. Many of us introduced this topic in the lesson on John 14:16-29 a couple of weeks ago. If you did that then, then you might review it just bit here this week. If you didn’t, you might go back to the John 14:16-29 passage overview and read/listen to that: it has a handout on the Trinity, and some other illustrations that I hope will be helpful to you. 

But in short, the Doctrine of the Trinity is that there is One God, who exists eternally as Three Persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

A couple of weeks ago in John 14 we saw this same word “Parakletos” that is used here for the Holy Spirit: it’s from the Greek “parakaleo,” a word which means  one “calling alongside” to encourage and help. 

Today we are going to look some more at the Holy Spirit’s ministry in our lives.  Jesus tells us a LOT about the Holy in 15:26:

???You might ask your group??? What all can you glean in John 15:26 about the Holy Spirit? Just call out anything you see:

(Answers could include:

— “WHEN the Helper comes” — so He is not there yet (when Jesus is speaking there in John 15)! He is COMING. You might also ask: when did He come? On the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 — and now He comes into a person’s life as soon as they put their faith in Jesus as their Lord & Savior.

+x Ephesians 1:13 “In Him you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation — having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.”

This passage makes clear that the moment you believe, God sends His Spirit into your life and “seals” you as belonging to Him. So since the time of Pentecost He comes into your life whenever you believe.

— Jesus says “I will send”. It is Jesus who sends Him, when we put our faith in Him. The Holy Spirit only comes to those who put their faith in Jesus. He is NOT in those who do NOT believe in Him. It is NOT like the idea, “everyone has God’s Spirit;” NO; only to those who have put their faith in Jesus, does He send the Holy Spirit.

— But TWO times it says “from the Father”: “from the Father/proceeds FROM the Father.” God the Father is the ultimate source of all things.

— He calls Him “The Spirit of TRUTH” — He shows us truth; He helps us find truth in His word; He helps us discern truth from error, like I John 2:27 says: “His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie …”. His Spirit helps us see the truth. He is “the Spirit of TRUTH.” 

— and finally He says: “He will testify about ME.” The Holy Spirit does not glorify Himself; He puts the spotlight on JESUS. 

It’s like someone I knew years ago who worked in the theater. But they didn’t like acting; they said what they really liked was the “behind the scenes” stuff: making the set, directing the actors, running the spotlight, and so on.  That is something like the minstry of the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t “shine the spotlight” on Himself; He “shines the spotlight” on JESUS. “He will testify about ME” Jesus said. 

(16:14 says the same thing: “He will glorify ME …”. The Holy Spirit doesn’t glorify Himself; He glorifies JESUS.

So it is the work of the Holy Spirit to “shine the light” on Jesus. When someone puts their faith in Jesus, that is a result of the work of the Holy Spirit in their heart. (We’ll see some more about this in Chapter 16:8)

But this is a rich verse, packed with insights and truth. You could almost spend the whole lesson just on it! 

ANOTHER LEARNING TOOL you might want to pray about using this week, is our “Baptist Faith & Message” statement on the Holy Spirit. The updated Baptist Faith & Message statement was adopted in the year 2000 Southern Baptist Convention, and Article II, Section C is on “God the Holy Spirit.” You could copy and print this statement from the SBC website, and/or give out copies of the Baptist Faith & Message to your class. 

You could teach through the BFM statement on the Holy Spirit briefly, or have class members point out what stands out to them as they look through it, or circle different things — or just give it to them for future use — however God leads you. Just something you might consider.  I do think it would be a good thing for every Baptist to have a copy of the Baptist Faith & Message.  (I looked today on Amazon, and you can get it delivered next day for 25 cents a copy!)

But whether you use the BFM or not, I would spend the first part of the lesson either teaching or reviewing the doctrine of the Trinity, and the Person of the Holy Spirit as Jesus talks about Him in John 15:26.

II. The Ministry of the Holy Spirit: the “Helper”

Then we move to Chapter 16, where Jesus tells us MORE about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. 

In :7 we find that word “Helper,” “paraklete” (“one running alongside calling out”) again. 

We see in the remaining verses in our passage, more about the ministry of the Holy Spirit and what He will do for us:

For one, in :7, TWO times Jesus says “to you … to you.” The Spirit is coming TO us — even IN us, as we saw in 14:17 where He says “He will be IN you”! This is a BIG DEAL: the Holy Spirit is going to be IN Jesus’ followers, just like we saw in Eph. 1 earlier.

Jesus says “it is to your advantage that I go away …”

???Why do you think Jesus would say that it is to our ADVANTAGE that He goes away, and that the Holy Spirit comes???  Right off the top, one might think (and the disciples undoubtedly thought) that it would be BAD for Jesus to go away. They were grieving about it. 

How could it be to our ADVANTAGE that Jesus went away?

(Because Jesus in the flesh, as powerful as He is, is limited to one place at a time. The Holy Spirit can be in every single one of His followers, all at the same time, empowering His followers to do His kingdom work all over the world. 

That’s why Jesus could say, as He did in John 14:12, that “greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” 

How in the world could He say that WE would do greater works than He had done?  (Multiply out all the work that millions of His followers will do, all over the world, and it IS greater!  THAT is the power of the Holy Spirit in us!)

EX: sometimes you see a pastor who steps out of his church, to go teach at a seminary, etc. Someone might say: that’s such a shame; he was such a great pastor!  But as a pastor he can impact only one church; one town. As a seminary professor he can train hundreds and thousands of other pastors to reach and teach and care for multiplied churches.

And that is somewhat like the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says it’s better for you that I go away, and send the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is Jesus/God IN US, doing His work through millions of His people all over the world!  

One application of this: we need to REMEMBER that He is in us; depend on Him; rely on Him; ask for His help. He is in us to be our “Helper”! Don’t neglect to use His help; His power in you.

Remember we need to rely on Him for EVERYTHING. We saw in John 15:5 where Jesus said, “Apart from Me you can do NOTHING.” We need to take that seriously. Like we talked about in our prayer class, we need to pray about literally everything. Ask for His help in everything.

One of our deacons (James Peterson) was telling me about a preacher he read about, who said that he wouldn’t even look for a lost pencil without praying about it. He said I need to pray and ask God’s help for EVERYTHING. We need to do that too. Jesus sent His Spirit into our lives to help us; let’s LEAN on that help!

In :8-11  we see one of the most important ministries of the Holy Spirit: CONVICTION OF SIN.

This is an interesting little section here. Jesus says when He comes, the Spirit will “convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment.” And then He expounds on that a little in :9-11: “concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.”

So Jesus specifically says that one of the primary ministries of the Holy Spirit is to convict (the word “convict,” is elegcho, which means, “to bring to light; to expose, convict, reprove.”) 

He shines a light on the sin in our life, and on our lack of righteousness, and on the judgment that we deserve for our sins.

+x I Corinthians 14:24 talks about how if an unbeliever comes into a service, they might get “convicted by all” and fall on their face and declare that God is certainly among you. This doesn’t “just happen;” it is the Holy Spirit who does this in them. He is GOD, touching them and “shining a light” on their sin, showing them that they need Him. 

We had some high gas prices some time back (thankfully they have come down some now) which reminded people of 1973. In 1973 the Arab oil producing countries put an embargo on sending oil to the U.S., which plunged our country into an energy crisis.  Jimmy Carter was the governor of Georgia then, and one of the unique steps he took, was going out with his State Troopers now and then, and they would stop speeders so that Carter himself could give them a lecture!” (Jonathan Alter, His Very Best, p. 188)

It would be something to be stopped and convicted of an infraction by the governor of your state HIMSELF. But in truth there is something even greater: that GOD HIMSELF, through the Holy Spirit, would convict us of sin! That is one of most powerful, and most important ministries of the Spirit of God.  

Nobody would ever come to Jesus as Savior without the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. He convicts of sin and righteousness — and shows us that we need a Savior.

If you are praying for someone to be saved, pray that the Holy Spirit would convict them.

But His ministry is not only to lost people; He also convicts US as Christians of our sins too. This is why we can’t sin and feel good about it. The Holy Spirit in you will not LET you feel ok about it! 

Sometimes Christians feel so bad about their sins, and sometimes we think: “Man, I am such a bad sinner; I wonder if I am even saved?” But one of the Puritans said that feeling badly about your sins is one of the best signs that you really ARE saved: the Holy Spirit in you is convicting you, and will not leave you alone about it!  

John Newton was the former slave trader who got saved and later wrote the hymn, “Amazing Grace.” He also had a great ministry of counseling through letter writing to people all over England. To one woman he wrote:

“It is true … that you are conscious of defects and defilements; but is equally true that you could not be right if you did NOT feel these things. To be conscious of them, and humbled for them, is one of the surest marks of grace; and to be more deeply sensible of them than formerly, is the best evidence of growth in grace.”

(John Newton to Mrs. Talbot, Letters of John Newton, Josiah Bull, ed., p. 231)

The Christian person is going to have a strong sense of the conviction about their sin — because of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in them. 

Then finally in :13-14 see two of the things we looked at in the first verse today (15:26), that He is “the Spirit of TRUTH,” and then that “He will glorify ME.” So if you don’t cover those in 15:26, you can do that here.  

??? For a discussion question, you might ask something like: “Which of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is most important in your life right now” and/or “Which do you need to take advantage of MORE than you do?” 

(For EX: I would say I am very aware of His conviction of sin in my life; and I probably need to rely on His power in more specific situations than I do. You/your group can share your answers.)

But we do need to let the Holy Spirit do His work in us. He is one of God’s greatest gifts to us: God IN us, through His Spirit! 

— If you’ll type your email in the “Follow Blog Via Email” box under my picture on this blog, Word Press will automatically send you next week’s overview and you won’t have to search for it.

— And if you write something in the Comments below, I’ll be sure to pray for your and your group, and any special requests you mention, by name this week.

Per my licensing agreement with Lifeway:

– These weekly lessons are based on content from Explore the Bible Adult Resources. The presentation is my own and has not been reviewed by Lifeway.

– Lifeway resources are available at: goExploretheBible.com  and: goexplorethebible.com/adults-training

– If you have questions about Explore the Bible resources you may send emails to explorethebible@lifeway.com

About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, features the text of my sermons, book reviews, family life experiences -- as well as a brief overview of the Lifeway "Explore the Bible" lesson for Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers.
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6 Responses to Teacher’s Overview: Lifeway “Explore the Bible” lesson of John 15:26-16:16, “When the Spirit Comes”

  1. Jeannie Susan Price says:

    Follow blog via email

    • Robert McLain says:

      please pray for me and my Sunday school class. We’re a class of 4. The oldest male members. We take turns leading the class each week. We so appreciate and look forward to your message each week

    • Catherine Burdine says:

      I would like to automatically receive your next week’s lesson overview. Thank you.

    • Linda Stewart says:

      Please send me the overview. Thank you for sharing with us.
      Linda Stewart

  2. Pam Epperson says:

    Your comments are a wonderful tool!

  3. Horace LaFavor says:

    I thoroughly enjoy your lessons and outlines. I am 70 and teach a large class here in middle Georgia. (40 or so). Your teaching has enhanced my own. We all need THE Helper as well as a helper. Press on , brother!

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