Apologetics · Bible · Biblical Doctrines · Christian Living · Culture & Society · Doctrines of the Bible · Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit as Paraclete

Part of the Upper Room discourse was given to a discussion of hatred. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18-19). Jesus went on to speak about persecution. “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me” (John 15:20-21).

To encourage the hearts of His disciples Jesus spoke about the Paraclete, called in English, the Comforter. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26).

An important question arises. “Who is the Comforter?” “Who is the Paraclete?” The Biblical answer is, “Christ is the Comforter (Paraclete)”. The Holy Spirit is Another Comforter (Paraclete). “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16).

The meaning of the word Paraclete refers to a Defense Attorney. Such a Person would be needed because, in context, Jesus anticipated persecution for His people. “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause” (John 15:19-25).

Usually, when the Church thinks of the Holy Spirit, it thinks in terms of comfort. One of the names given to the Holy Spirit is Comforter. One German philosopher and skeptic of Christianity was Friedrich Nietzsche (Oct 14, 1844 – Aug 25, 1900). “The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.” Nietzsche went on to say that God is dead, and that He died of pity. Nietzsche did not like the idea of a God of Comfort. He detested that Christianity called upon people to be humble, meek, and tenderhearted. Nietzsche believed in the Super Man, the person who was strong, powerful, and a conqueror.

While it is true the Holy Spirit does bring comfort to Christians, while the Holy Spirit dries the tears in our eyes, that is not His primary ministry in context. The primary ministry of the Holy Spirit is to be a Defense Attorney for the Christian against the world. The word para, means, alongside of. We think of paralegals, paramedics, and parable. The word, clete, or, keleto, means, to call.

A Paraclete was one called alongside of something else. In the culture of Christ day, a Paraclete was an attorney called alongside of a family to represent and defend it. He was kept on a permanent retainer. The Paraclete is the Defender. He is the Strengthener to assist in time of trouble. Later, the translators of John’s epistle would translate this same word, correctly, as Advocate. “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). An Advocate is someone who will advance a person’s case for them. At the Judgement Seat of Christ, Christ will also be our Advocate, our Defense Attorney. The Judge on the Bench will be our Advocate.

Now only does the Christian need an Advocate in the Day of Ultimate Judgment, the Christian needs an Advocate before the world. An example of this blessed ministry of the Spirit is found in Stephen’s defense before the Jewish Council in Acts 7:1-53. Unable to answer his wisdom, the religious leaders fell upon Stephen with mad fury. “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:54-60).

The experience of Stephen shows, that, according to promise, the Holy Spirit does not come to the Christian after the battle to comfort and console. He is comes prior to the battle to give wisdom, strength, and boldness to confront the world. The image of the Paraclete as Defense Advocate is one of the great pictures of Scripture. The reason why the Paraclete is referred to as Comforter in the English Bible is because of the translation of the Latin, cum (with), and forte (strength). The word comfort meant literally, “with strength”.

Jesus was saying to the Christian that they did not have to be afraid of the hostility of the world because the Lord was going to send Someone to be with the believer in the hour of tribulation. The Promised One, the Paraclete, will come with strength, so that in Christ, and because of Christ, through the Spirit, believers are more than conquerors. “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37).

Interestingly, the Greek word translated “more than conquerors” is hupernikao. It means “to vanish beyond, i.e. gain a decisive victory. Long before Nietzsche conjured up his philosophical “Superman”, the Lord God Almighty decreed that Christians would be His Super Conquerors”. Emperors and empires that oppose Christ and His church crumble into the dustbin of history. Christians are the Super Heroes of the world.

The way Christians conquer the world is through truth. The Spirit of Truth will teach Christians the truth by which they shall be “more than conquerors.” “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:13-14). Christ has not left His church without hope, or without strength. Warring world against Christians, tremble. You are a defeated enemy of Christ.

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