“Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39).
Jesus’ statement in John 7:39 is a continuing referral of the person and work of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John. Let us recall two other texts which say much the same thing.
John 3:1-8 says, “Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
John 6:61-63 says, “But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
When Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit in John 7:39, He was restating what He had previously said. It is the Holy Spirit who sovereignly and specifically regenerates each sinful soul who comes to Christ.
One commentator states regarding the Holy Spirit that it is He, “who, by His direct personal agency, opens up this spring of living waters in the human spirit (John 3:6), and by His indwelling in the renewed soul ensures their unfailing flow.”
However, Jesus was also speaking of the events which would occur 50 days following His resurrection from the dead. He was referring the birth of the church on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “Jesus is referring to the blessing of Pentecost. Of course, the Holy Spirit was present during the Old Testament (OT) period, but at Pentecost He entered into a more intimate relationship with believers (John 14:17; I Corinthians 6:1-9) and distributed His gifts for service more widely (I Corinthians 12:4-13) and more fully. This is the Messiah’s gift to His people He baptizes with His Spirit (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16), but this blessing in its full measure and glory will have to await the ascension of Christ, who, having returned to the Father, pours out the Spirit from heaven upon His people (John 16:1-7; Acts 2:33; Ephesians 4:8). The “Spirit” here is identified with the “living water” that comes from the temple.”
Rejoice and thank God that His Spirit is within you and that you are joined to Christ.
Soli deo Gloria!