What does it mean that the Holy Spirit is our Paraclete?

Question: "What does it mean that the Holy Spirit is our Paraclete?"

The time of the arrest and crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ was drawing near. As Jesus met with His disciples in the "upper room," He expounded to them many things. In John 13:33, He stated: "My children, I will be with you only a little longer . . . where I am going you cannot come." The announcement of the coming separation led to the indication of its purpose. The season of bereavement was to be a season of spiritual growth. To this end Christ gave a commandment designed to lead His disciples to appropriate the lessons of His life, and in so doing, to realize their true character, to follow and to find Him as indicated in verses 34 and 35.

In light of their weak faith at this point, Jesus told them in John 14:1, "Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me . . . ." Jesus had just explained to them that one of them was a traitor; He had warned Peter that he would deny His Lord three times; and, perhaps the heaviest blow of all was that Jesus was going to leave them (John 13:33). Now He says, " . . . let not your heart be troubled" (John 14:1). In John 14:16- 17, Jesus gives them a statement of great encouragement: "And I will ask the Father (pray), and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever . . . the Spirit of Truth" (NIV).

The Greek word translated "Comforter or Counselor" is "Parakletos" as found in John 14:16, 26; 15:26; and 16:7. Once, it is translated "advocate" (1 John 2:1). The New International Version (NIV) has translated the word as Counselor. The form of the word is unquestionably passive. It can properly mean only "one called to the side of another," and that with the secondary notion of counseling or supporting or aiding him. The contexts in which the word "paraclete" occurs in the New Testament lead to the same conclusions as the form and the independent usage of the word. In 1 John 2:1, the sense "Advocate" alone suits the argument, though the Greek fathers explain the term as applied to the Lord in the same way as in the Gospel. In the Gospel again, the sense of Advocate, counsel, one who pleads, convinces, convicts, who strengthens on the one hand and defends on the other, is alone adequate. Christ as the Advocate pleads the believer's cause with the Father against the accuser Satan (1 John 2:1; compare Romans 8:26, and also Revelation 12:10; Zechariah 3:1). The Holy Spirit (Parakletos) as the Advocate pleads the believer's cause against the world (John 16:8ff) and also Christ's cause with the believer (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:14).

By saying what He did to His disciples, Jesus was comforting their troubled hearts. In 14:16 He states: "I will pray to the Father and He will send you another Comforter (paraklete--another is 'heteros," one of the same kind, which is the Holy Spirit). First of all, this paraclete is God the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. He is a true personality and a personal being. He indwells every believer. He has been called in some translations "Encourager." As the "Spirit of Truth," the Holy Spirit illumines the Word of God so believers may understand it. He leads us in that truth of God's Word. He uses the Word of truth to guide us into the will and the work of God.

The Holy Spirit abides in every believer. He is a gift from the Father in answer to the prayer of the Son (verse 16). During His earthly ministry, Jesus had guided, guarded, and taught His disciples, but now He was going to leave them. The Spirit of God would come to them and dwell in them, taking the place of their Master's literal presence. Jesus called the Spirit "another Comforter" --another of the same kind. The Spirit of God is not different from the Son of God for both are God (One in essence). The Spirit of God had dwelt with the disciples in the Person of Jesus Christ. Now He would dwell in them.

During the Old Testament Age, the Spirit of God would come on people and then leave them. God's Spirit departed from King Saul (1 Samuel 16:14; 18:12); and David, when confessing his sin, asked that the Spirit not be taken from him (Psalm 51:11). When the Spirit was given at Pentecost, He was given to God's people to remain with them forever. Even though we may grieve the Holy Spirit, He will not leave us. Jesus said in Matthew 28:20 " . . . And surely I am with always, to the very end of the age." How is He with us when we are taught that He is in Heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father? He is with us by His Spirit (the other of the same kind -- the Parakletos --the Comforter, the Advocate), who indwells us and never will leave us if we are true believers in Jesus Christ.

To have the Holy Spirit as our "Paraclete" is to have God Himself indwelling us as believers. He teaches us the Word and guides us into the truth of that Word. He also reminds us of what He has taught us so that we can depend on God's Word in the difficult times of life. The Spirit uses the Word to give us His peace (John 14:27), His love (John 15:9, 10), and His joy (John 15:11). These are profound truths that comfort our hearts and minds in a troubled world. The power of this indwelling "paraclete" gives us the ability to "live by the Spirit so that we will not gratify the desires of the sinful flesh" and "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 25). We, then, can have the "fruit of the Spirit" produced in our own lives (Galatians 5:22, 23) to the glory of God the Father. What a blessing to have the Holy Spirit in our lives as our "paraclete," our Comforter, our Encourager, our Counselor, and our Advocate. Thank you, Father, for your wonderful gift!

Related Topics:

Who is the Holy Spirit?

What is Pneumatology?

When / How do we receive the Holy Spirit?

How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit?

What does it mean to walk in the Spirit?

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What does it mean that the Holy Spirit is our Paraclete?