Sunday, May 19, 2002


On the Day of Pentecost immediately following the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, there arrived, as a Gift to the apostles and disciples of the same Jesus, the PARAKLETOS. Who is He?

The name, Parakletos, is found 5 times in the New Testament. Of these 4 are in the Gospel of John [14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7) and 1 in the First Epistle of John [1 Jn 2:1]. The latter reference obviously is to Jesus himself - "We have a Parakletos with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous."

The reference in John's Gospel cannot be to Jesus himself for he himself specifically speaks of Another whom he calls the Parakletos. This Other will be sent by the Father at the request of Jesus and this Other is the Spirit of truth who will bear witness to Jesus and teach the disciples as did Jesus himself.

The noun, Parakletos, is derived from the verb "parakaleo" and is passive in form. Thus its etymological meaning is "one called to the side of" and thus can be used with the specific meaning of "an advocate."

Wescott argued that the strict etymological meaning is inescapable and that "the sense of advocate, counsel, one who pleads, convinces, convicts, in a great controversy, who strengthens on the one hand and defends on the other, meeting formidable attacks, is alone adequate."

This meaning seems to make full sense in 1 John 2: 1 where the reference is to the role of Jesus Christ as our Advocate with the Father, for he intercedes/mediates for those whom he represents.

But does this meaning make full sense in the usage in John's Gospel? Is the Parakletos the Advocate or Counsellor only?

Wyclif translated Parakletos in his English version of John's Gospel as "Comforter" (=Strengthener) and thereby revised a usage within the Early Church of "Consolator," where the noun is taken as active rather than passive. Here the primary meaning is that the Parakletos as the Consolator, Comforter & Strengthener abides with the disciples for ever as the Agent of Jesus actively assuaging their sorrow at losing Him and supplying what He himself had supplied them. This way of translating the word is found in the King James Version and elsewhere.

Obviously this meaning, set in the context of the great O.T. themes of the comfort given by the LORD to his people, should not be lost.

It is probably best to hold on to both the passive (Advocate) and active (Comforter) meanings of Parakletos.

The Gift of the Holy Spirit, who comes from the Father through the Son to the Church, is certainly to strengthen and console them by showing them the nature of Christ's victory over sin, death and Satan, and how it applies to them and to the people of God. At the same time, the Gift of the Holy Spirit is given to expose sin and unrighteousness and to reveal what is God's judgment on sin, the world and Satan.

COMFORTER secures recognition of God's great mercies given graciously to the Church and personally to each disciple as a member of the Body of Christ while ADVOCATE secures emphasis on the seriousness of the issue and contest in which the Church is engaged in the battle with sin and Satan.

The Parakletos is none other than the Spirit of Truth (Jesus being THE Truth) who comes from the Father through the Son. Coming through the Son and in the Name of the Son, He comes bearing the characteristics, graces, virtues and gifts of the Incarnate Son and thus His presence is the presence of the Lord Jesus and He is not limited by space and time. Unto the Church of God and acting for Christ and His Body, the Church, in the world, He is both Comforter and Counsellor (Advocate). He may be called the divine Champion, who supports and comforts God's people by His presence and His words.

The Parakletos sent by Jesus, the Incarnate Son, to his Church is the Third Person of the Holy Trinity doing a very specific and unique work for and with the Lord Jesus within the purposes of the same Holy Trinity for the redemption of the world.

The Day of Pentecost 2002.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America

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