The Parakletos

It is written:

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26).

These words, spoken by Jesus to the Apostles, have special meaning for all children of God. The word translated “Helper” is the Greek parakletos, and in Romans 8:26 a verb form of this word is used to refer to all Christians.

What does it mean that Christians have the Holy Spirit to be their “Helper” or to “make intercession” for them?

“But Jesus does not leave us to struggle with the Christian life alone. He would send us another Helper. The Greek word is paraklētos, which is really untranslatable. The Authorized Version renders it Comforter, which, although hallowed by time and usage, is not a good translation. Moffatt translates it as Helper. It is only when we examine this word paraklētos in detail that we catch something of the riches of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. It really means someone who is called in; but it is the reason why the person is called in which gives the word its distinctive associations. The Greeks used the word in a wide variety of ways. A paraklētos might be a person called in to give witness in a law court in someone’s favour, or an advocate called in to plead the cause of someone under a charge which would issue in a serious penalty; an expert called in to give advice in some difficult situation, or a person called in when, for example, a company of soldiers were depressed and dispirited to put new courage into their minds and hearts. Always a paraklētos is someone called in to help in time of trouble or need. Comforter was once a perfectly good translation. It actually goes back to John Wyclif, the first person to use it in his translation made in the fourteenth century. But in his day it meant much more than it means now. The word comes from the Latin fortis, which means brave; and a comforter was someone who enabled some dispirited creature to be brave. Nowadays comfort has to do almost solely with sorrow; and a comforter is someone who sympathizes with us when we are sad. Beyond a doubt the Holy Spirit does that, but to limit his work to that function is sadly to belittle him. We often talk of being able to cope with things. That is precisely the work of the Holy Spirit. He takes away our inadequacies and enables us to cope with life. The Holy Spirit substitutes victorious for defeated living. So what Jesus is saying is: ‘I am setting you a hard task, and I am sending you out on a very difficult engagement. But I am going to send you someone, the paraklētos, who will guide you as to what to do and enable you to do it.’” (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible: The Gospel Of John Volume Two, 193-195 (Kindle Edition); Edinburgh, England; Saint Andrew Press)

The gift of the Holy Spirit cannot be overstated. He helps Christians in numerous ways.

Why not as a believer in Jesus Christ repent of your sins and be baptized into Him? Then you will be forgiven, and God will give you the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

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