WE sometimes look at words and fail to notice their real significance for us. It can happen even as we read the Bible. Every now and then a word “pops out” and we become fascinated by its meaning. One such word was the word “advocate” in John 14:16 which I knew from other translations was called “Comforter.” The 2 translations seem to be different in concept, so I decided to have a look to see what the difference was, if any. Here is the NIV translation.
Joh 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”
The first clue came as I looked up the word for “another.” John had a choice of two words to use. One was [allos] the other was [heteros]. John chose [allos] which means another of the same kind. [Heteros] means another of a different kind. So John had shown that the coming advocate or comforter was another of the same kind, a comforter just like Jesus.
How about the terms “advocate” or “comforter?” They come from the same Greek New Testament word [paraklētos; παράκλητος] from para = beside and kaleo to call. So it means someone called to the side of another person. Thus Comforter, Strengthener, Advocate, Helper, Encourager, Exhorter and Counsellor are all suitable translations for the word.
We see how it is used in John’s gospel. Jesus had told them He was about to leave them but the Father would be sending another Person just like Himself.
* Joh 14:26 “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” The Holy Spirit would be sent from God to represent Jesus, to be their teacher and to remind them of all His teaching.
* Joh 15:26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.” In this verse Jesus said that He would send the Holy Spirit to them from the Father, proceeding from the Father and the Holy Spirit would bear witness to Jesus.
* Joh 16:7-15. “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
In this longer passage Jesus gave more detailed teaching about the person and work of the coming Holy Spirit.
- His coming was dependent on Jesus’ going.
- Jesus would send him to the disciples.
- His ministry would be to prove the world to be wrong in three areas. The verb here is [elegchō; ἐλέγχω meaning to convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke, reprove.]
- Verse 9 “about sin, because people do not believe in me.” The world was at fault for not believing in Jesus. [As they are today!]
- Verse 10 “about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer.” The fact that He was going to the Father showed that God had seen Jesus as righteous and had accepted all He had taught and done in His ministry on earth. Humans might have rejected Him but God Himself was going to accept Him. Righteousness is according to God’s values not [unbelieving] human values.
- Verse 11 “about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” The sin of the human race was about to be judged in Jesus’ imminent death on a cross, as He bore the sin of the whole world. Satan as the prince of the world had been defeated in Jesus’ death and now stood condemned. As Paul later explained, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Col 2:15.
- His Ministry with also be to the disciples.
- To guide them into all the truth.
- To speak only what he hears, and to tell them what is yet to come.
- 14 To glorify Christ from whom he would receive what he would make known to them. 15 To make known all that Christ would make known to Him [as the Father’s eternal heir.].
The Holy Spirit was and is eternally a co-equal Person in the Holy Trinity.
His ministry is to take the place of Jesus so the disciples were not to be seen as orphans after HE left them, but are blessed by His abiding presence with them.
He came to prove the world wrong in its estimation and subsequent rejection of Him
He came to guide the disciples into all the truth Jesus had taught and to tell them of future things.
He came to glorify Christ. He came to be the same sort of comforter that Christ had been, as it were to continue His ministry of comforting, strengthening and guiding the disciples of Christ.
He is indeed, as Jesus said, A comforter of the same kind, just like Him!
The Creed of St Athanasias says of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons: one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.
And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other: none is greater, or less than another;
But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together: and co-equal.
So that in all things, as is aforesaid: the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
He therefore that will be saved: must thus think of the Trinity.
[Note: There is one other reference in the New Testament to this word translated “advocate” in 1 John 1:21. However, this is a reference to Jesus Himself and not to the Holy Spirit. That will be for a future study to consider.]
Blog No.355 posted on Sunday 17th May 2020