Holy Spirit Convicts the World of Sin


(Kenny) #1

Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:7-9)

Sorry, but I do need to bring this up because I realised that many people are seeing this as “the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin”, but I’m not sure if I am the only one who sees this differently. Taking note of the punctuation, it seems more like it is broken up like this:

The Holy Spirit convicts the world:

  • of sin, because they do not believe in Me (for non-believers)

  • of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more (for believers)

  • of judgement, because the ruler of this world is judged (the Enemy)

I am just curious because I came across this verse mentioned multiple times, but if you consider where the punctuations are deliberately placed, it feels that it is not an all encompassing “judge the world of 3 things for everyone” kind of passage.

Even if I were to ignore the semi-colons, I do feel that it is impossible for a believer to be judged of sin, because it clearly states that the criteria is not to believe in Christ. Both of them are mutually exclusive, and you can’t have both together. My perspective leans more towards, our sins have already been judged once and forever at the cross for a believer, and it cannot be judged again.

Do share your thoughts. :slight_smile:


(SeanO) #2

@Kyrie In the New Testament, the phrase ‘the world’ is generally used to describe the unbelieving world - those who are not walking with God. So per my understanding, you are correct that in this particular passage it is describing how the Holy Spirit will convict unbelievers. This note from the NET Bible talks about the possible meanings of the phrase ‘convict/expose the world’.

A specific example of the use of ‘world’ from I John 2:15 - Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.

Or an example from Paul:

Colossians 2:20 - Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules:

The ‘world’ is clearly those in opposition to God’s Kingdom. We die to the world when we live to Christ.

Or “will convict the world,” or “will expose the world.” The preposition περί ( peri ) is used in 16:8-11 in the sense of “concerning” or “with respect to.” But what about the verb ἐλέγχω ( elenchō )? The basic meanings possible for this word are (1) “to convict or convince someone of something”; (2) “to bring to light or expose something; and (3) “to correct or punish someone.” The third possibility may be ruled out in these verses on contextual grounds since punishment is not implied. The meaning is often understood to be that the Paraclete will “convince” the world of its error, so that some at least will repent. But S. Mowinckel (“Die Vorstellungen des Spätjudentums vom heiligen Geist als Fürsprecher und der johanneische Paraklet,” ZNW 32 [1933]: 97-130) demonstrated that the verb ἐλέγχω did not necessarily imply the conversion or reform of the guilty party. This means it is far more likely that conviction in something of a legal sense is intended here (as in a trial). The only certainty is that the accused party is indeed proven guilty (not that they will acknowledge their guilt). Further confirmation of this interpretation is seen in [John 14:17](javascript:{}) where the world cannot receive the Paraclete and in [John 3:20](javascript:{}), where the evildoer deliberately refuses to come to the light, lest his deeds be exposed for what they really are (significantly, the verb in [John 3:20](javascript:{}) is also ἐλέγχω). However, if one wishes to adopt the meaning “prove guilty” for the use of ἐλέγχω in [John 16:8](javascript:{}) a difficulty still remains: While this meaning fits the first statement in 16:9 – the world is ‘proven guilty’ concerning its sin of refusing to believe in Jesus – it does not fit so well the second and third assertions in vv. 10-11. Thus R. E. Brown ( John [AB], 2:705) suggests the more general meaning “prove wrong” which would fit in all three cases. This may be so, but there may also be a developmental aspect to the meaning, which would then shift from v. 9 to v. 10 to v. 11.


(Timothy Loraditch) #3

I’m not a Greek scholar but my understanding of this verse is that the Holy Spirit does convict of sin. Convict in the sense that He helps me to realize that I am a sinful person. The Holy Spirit helps me to see the difference between my life and the righteousness of God. That brings humility and repentance.

The judgment doesn’t concern the Chrisitan because Jesus already paid the price for our sin. When we do sin, we have an advocate with the Father which is Christ Jesus. 1 John 2:1. We are still convicted when we sin but not condemned. Romans 8:1. Thanks be to God!

I don’t think the verse excludes Christians from the work of the Holy Spirit convicting of sin because we are in the world, just not of the world. Jesus helps us to live for Him and not for the world, yet Christians do continue to sin.

I don’t think our sin was “judged on the cross” they were paid for on the cross. This feels a bit like splitting hairs and a lot of this can depend on how you are defining these words like convict and judge. I guess when you change the punctuation the meaning of the verse doesn’t change much for me.


(Kenny) #4

Thanks for taking the time to share @tfloraditch.

I am curious though if there is a verse which says that the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin (other than this verse). I have tried searching but I thought maybe it would be better to hear from you so that I can better understand where you are coming from. :slight_smile: From what I understood, your sins have been convicted (or judged) and therefore the punishment of it has been settled. Christ died for the punishment of sins, and not the action, which is why you still sin today. Just that you won’t get judged anymore.

If we were to follow your train of thought, does it mean that the issue of sin has not been settled at calvary, and that the Holy Spirit needs to come down and judge it another time?

Just curious about this, and hope you can share more.


(Timothy Loraditch) #5

Absolutely not! Jesus completed the work on the cross and paid the penalty for our sin. We only need to repent and be baptized to be forgiven. Once we do that we are His possession and the law of sin and death has no hold on us. If we continue to sin, Jesus, is our advocate with the Father. (1 John 2:1) Jesus died once for all of us. The issue of sin was settled at Calvary. Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

According to Strong’s the Greek word used for “will convict” in this verse is ἐλέγξει
Verb - Future Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular It means
(a) I reprove, rebuke, discipline, (b) I expose, show to be guilty. Of uncertain affinity; to confute, admonish. It does not mean condemn or punish. You might rebuke a child for hitting another person but you wouldn’t cast them out into darkness.

Also, judgment is κρίσεως means Decision; by extension, a tribunal; by implication, justice. In this context, the Holy Spirit is helping the Christian to know right from wrong.

Galatians 5:17 says “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” So the spirit lives in us to guide, convict, encourage, support, and empower us in the work God has prepared for us to do.