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John 14:16 (DRB):

And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever.

John 14:26 (DRB):

But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.

Paraclete (from παράκλητος) has also been rendered as lawyer, advocate, comforter, and helper, among other things. I admit that helper seems a very vague rendering.

Questions

  • What would Paraclete have meant to a Jewish audience living captive under Roman rule?
  • How would the original hearers of this message have understood what was being promised?
  • If they're being promised another Paraclete, what is the Paraclete they already have that is being referred to?

Additional point of clarification requested: there was discussion in the comments regarding the significance of the fact that Παράκλητον (vs. 16) & Παράκλητος (vs. 26) are masculine. Is that the way a Paraclete in general would be described? What, if any, significance is there that masculine words are used?

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    Very well-crafted question!! +1.
    – Dottard
    May 21 at 1:35
  • @HoldToTheRod Having recognized the glaring omission, I have added an addendum to my response which, I believe, now addresses your central question.
    – Xeno
    May 21 at 2:56
  • Another as in besides Jesus in his absence however he said that he is the Spirit himself, it will be I who will love with you.
    – Michael16
    May 22 at 2:00
  • @HoldTo Something occurred as I thought more about your OP. (Just something I thought I'd pass along.) It may be the only experience most Jews had of the Spirit was God speaking through prophets. The idea of a H/S may have been very elusive, something reserved only for those like Eliz. & Mary: filled with the Spirit. Even Christ's disciples were likely unaware (as your Q suggests) that there even was a H/S. We see something like this in Acts 19:2-7. All Israel probably felt this figure would be the conquering Messiah they'd long anticipated, another that would lead them to victory over Rome.
    – Xeno
    Jun 2 at 5:07
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How did Jews living under Roman occupation understand "Paraclete"?

See the Addendum below.

I. What would "Paraclete" have meant to a Jewish audience [under] Roman rule?

Answer: The meaning is found in John's Gospel, verses 17 and 26:

John 14:16-17: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate/Comforter/Helper [Christ being the First], that He may be with you forever; 17that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you" (emphasis added).

This "Advocate/Comforter/Helper" is revealed as "the Spirit of truth" as further emphasized (and well-articulated) in verse 26:

John 14:26: “But the Advocate/Comforter/Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things [Scripture], and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you" (emphasis added).

II. How would the original hearers of this message have understood what was being promised?

Answer: They all seemed aware of the authority of the Holy Spirit — and probably the powerful indwelling of the Spirit as well. Elizabeth was filled with the Spirit (Lk 1:41) as was her husband Zechariah (Lk. 1:67) and many others. From Luke, we further read:

Luke 12:10b-12: “He who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him... do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense... for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

There are many examples that reveal to us that the Jews could understand what Christ was revealing about the Holy Spirit. In this instance, He is explaining that to reject the Holy Spirit — that is, the Word of God revealed to us by the Spirit, is an unpardonable sin.

III. If they're being promised another "Paraclete", what is the Paraclete [or ~Comforter] they already have that is being referred to?

Answer: We need to recognize that, while disciples were sometimes literally filled with the Holy Spirit for very specific purposes (to speak and understand), the real significance of the Holy Spirit to everyone would come later. We all know that the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit, but to the disciples of the first century, such revelations had yet to take place. Christ was explaining this to them in these passages (OP), while reminding them that the things He had taught them over 31/2 years would powerfully return to their minds after He was gone.


Conclusion

The revelation of the Word of God is what Christ is referring to in the two passages cited in the OP (Jn. 14:16, 26). The revelation from the Spirit would continue until the New Testament was completed.

Biblically, perhaps we cannot know precisely how the Holy Spirit, the as another Paraclete or Advocate, operates in our daily lives today other than through Scripture. However, many will claim that they can "feel" the H/S in their lives. Clearly, when we have epiphanies while reading Scripture, and that leads to greater understanding, it is doubtful that this is of our own ability; rather it seems the Spirit of Grace is there to guide us.

Addendum

The preceding discussion neglected the central component of the OP: "Roman occupation" and "how the Jews would understand the concept of "another Paraclete," another Advocate/Comforter/Helper. Since the Jews did expect a political savior and king to emerge, this may have been confusing to most Israelites.

Many simply did not possess the necessary spiritual component to appreciate Christ's words. This is abundantly clear from most of His disciples' inability to recognize that He would suffer death by torture at the hands of His enemies. Indeed, both James and John (at the behest of their mother) approached Jesus with the following:

Mark 10:37: "They said to Him, 'Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.'”

Confusion reigned from the disciples' point of view, virtually to the end as here represented by Thomas:

John 14:5: Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”

When Christ told them of yet "Another," they may somehow have reasoned that an angelic being, perhaps something analogous to "the Angel of the Lord," would come to aid of Israel, as had occurred on so many occasions in the past. For example, it will be remembered that Hezekiah prayed to God for relief from Sennacherib of Assyria:

2 Kings 19:14, 19: "Hezekiah took the [taunting] letter from the hand of the messengers [returning from Sennacherib] and read it, and he went up to the house of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD... Hezekiah prayed 'Now, O LORD our God, I pray, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, O LORD, are God.'”

God heard Hezekiah's prayers:

2 Kings 19:35: "Then it happened that night that the angel of the LORD went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead."

This may be what the disciples all felt would save them and all of Israel, as a "Helper" or "Comforter." It was likely this same attitude that prevailed among all of Israel who recognized that the occupying Roman force could only be defeated by the God of Israel, Someone to Whom Christ had an ear.

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    I'm sorry somebody immediately downvoted your answer after you posted it (I personally think that's rude, especially if they leave no comment). In any event, upvoted +1 for a very interesting addendum. It reminds me of the idea that many of the people thought the Messiah would give them what they wanted, but instead He gave them what they needed. I think God wisely does the same today. May 21 at 5:14
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    @HoldToTheRod Thanks for that! (The work took quite a bit of effort.)
    – Xeno
    May 21 at 6:26
  • The context for Jews living under Roman rule is very well expressed, thank you. I don't follow specifically how "The revelation from the Spirit would continue until the New Testament was completed" flows from this passage, but otherwise I think the exegesis of these verses is very clear, answer selected. Jun 5 at 2:46
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+50

As usual, the well-researched BDAG provides some valuable material under the entry for παράκλητος, from which I will reproduce some excepts:

originally meant in the passive sense ... 'one who is called to someone's aid'. Accordingly, Latin writers commonly rendered it in its NT occurrences with 'advocatus' ... cp the role of 'patronus' in legal proceedings ... But the technical meaning 'lawyer', 'attorney' is rare ... In the few places where the word is is found in pre-Christian and extra-Christian literature as well as for the most part a more general sense: one who appears in another's behalf, mediator, intercessor, helper ... Jews adopted it in the sense of a load word ... In our literature, the active sense helper, intercessor is suitable for all occurrences of the word ...

Thus, here as in most places in the NT (there are a very few notable exceptions) the raison d'etre of BDAG is fulfilled to show that the meanings of the NT words corresponds with their meanings in the NT.

Thus, while παράκλητος means the same in the NT as it does in secular literature, it has the added layer of meaning specifically allocated by way of the NT text, namely, that the role of παράκλητος is fulfilled by two people:

  • Jesus Christ, 1 John 2:1
  • "another" παράκλητος as per John 14:16, 26, 15:26, 16:7.
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    Oooh, raison d'etre, very fancy =). Also very helpful use of 1 John 2:1, thanks, upvoted +1 May 21 at 2:33
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What would Paraclete have meant to a Jewish audience living captive under Roman rule?

This is the Jewish view of the Greek word "paraclete":

Rabbinical term adopted from the Greek παράκλητός (= "advocate," "intercessor"): Targumic translation of (Job xvi. 20, xxxiii. 23): "He who performs one good deed has gotten to himself one advocate [paraclete], and he who commits one transgression has gotten to himself one accuser" (Abot iv. 11). "Whosoever is summoned before the court for capital punishment is saved only by powerful advocates[paracletes]; such paracletes man has in repentance and good works, and if there are nine hundred and ninety-nine accusers and only one to plead for his exoneration he is saved" (Shab. 32a; comp. Job xxxiii. 23-24). "The works of benevolence and mercy done by the people of Israel in this world become agents of peace and intercessors [paracletes] between them and their Father in heaven" (B. B. 10a; Tos. Peah iv. 21). The sin-offering is like the paraclete before God; it intercedes for man and is followed by another offering, a "thank-offering for the pardon obtained" (Sifra, Meẓora', iii. 3; Tos. Parah i. 1). The two daily burnt offerings are called "the two paracletes" (Yer. Ber. iv. 7b), and the four kinds of plants at Sukkot are termed "paracletes" for the year's rain (Yer. Ta'an. i. 63c).

The paraclete or intercessor created through each good deed is called "angel" (Ex. R. xxxii., with reference to Ps. xxxiv. 8; comp. Job xxxiii. 23—"an interceding angel," A. V. incorrectly translating "a messenger," "an interpreter"). In the sense of "Intercessor," the name "Paraclete" is given also to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament (John xiv. 16, 26; xv. 26; xvi. 7 [A. V. incorrectly, "Comforter"]; I John ii. 1 [A. V. "advocate"]), just as the Midrash calls the Holy Spirit "Synegor," which is the same as "Paraclete" (Lev. R. vi. 1; Deut. R. iii. 12). In the same sense Philo speaks of the "Logos" ("De Vita Mosis," iii., § 14) as the "Paraclete" who is to procure for the high priest forgiveness of sins, just as he uses the term "paraclete" elsewhere in the sense of "advocate" and "intercessor" ("In Flaccum," §§ 3, 4; "De Opificiis Mundi," § 6: "God is in no need of an 'intercessor,'" i.e., a helper). — PARACLETE - JewishEncyclopedia.com

"Paraclete" can be seen either as a karmic result of one's actions (e.g. a good deed, a sin-offering), or mystically/symbolically as a angel or someone that will be your advocate or guide. It's antithesis is "the satan", or adversary, which testifies against or tempts one.

How would the original hearers of this message have understood what was being promised?

First, they would have heard the words referring to the paraclete as "it", not as "he". And they would have understood the term as a supernatural something that will help them or act in their favour (perhaps like hit points in a modern role playing game), whether as a check-mark in a list of good deeds, or as a guiding voice. (Similarly the satan would be a record of bad deeds or a tempting voice.)

If they're being promised another Paraclete, what is the Paraclete they already have that is being referred to?

There isn't simply a single all encompassing paraclete (as in the sense of the Roman Church's doctrine of the Trinity). Each individual can have many paracletes, each being a factor arguing in their favour when they are being judged.

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  • Interesting comments - factually lacking on the basis that: (1) the word parakletos in Greek is masculine, and (2) in the NT the parakletos is regularly referred to using a masculine (not neuter) pronoun such as John 16:7-13, "ekeinos".
    – Dottard
    May 21 at 4:50
  • @Dottard, earlier, John 14:17 says "… the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not …". Here, "world" is a masculine noun, and it is referred to as "it", not as "he". May 21 at 12:48
  • ... except that there is no pronoun for the "world" in the Greek - it is supplied by the English translation.
    – Dottard
    May 21 at 20:15
  • @Dottard, okay, how about John 5:39: "Search the scriptures … they are …"? "Scriptures" (graphē) is an accusative feminine plural, and "they" (ekeinos) is a feminine plural demonstrative pronoun. So if "parakletos" should be translated as "he", if follows that "scripture" should be translated as "she". But even if it should, that still wouldn't make scripture a person. May 21 at 21:10
  • Oooh - that is just not grammatically correct - we all know that inanimate object in inflected languages have gender which is distinct from sex!! In any case, the pronouns here are plural. When the pronoun referent is a person, THEN the noun gender becomes the sex. Now, if you want to make the referent of John 16, the parakletos, an inanimate object who cannot decide, cannot guide into all truth, cannot be blasphemed against, etc, then you are reading a different Bible from mine.
    – Dottard
    May 21 at 21:21
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Jesus himself states that he will send 'another parakletos' and Hebrews 7:22 further enlightens as to what that means.

The writer to the Hebrews is especially making clear to those of Jewish background what that first 'comforter' is, that they may better understand the 'another comforter'

κρειττονος διαθηκης ... γεγονεν ... εγγυος ιησους [Hebrews 7:22 TR]

of a better testament ... has become ... one come near, Jesus [see EGNT (1)]

εγγυσ is 'near at hand' or 'nigh', see Thayer's Lexicon at Biblehub Strong 451.

ἔγγυος is merely the personification of that concept.

Thus it means, only, one near at hand. Jesus says that he will send Another Comforter, who is the Paraklete, one called alongside. But he, himself, was the One come nigh in the first place. And this refers to, in this place - Hebrews 7:22 - his coming nigh in manifestation, into the world, to perform the Priestly service that was so much required and that had been, for so long, prefigured.

This Priestly service, so much a feature of Hebrews, is fully explained to those lately converted from among the Jews and in this place relates to the manifestation of the Son of God, God manifest in flesh (1 Timothy 3:16, TR, KJV).


(1) The Englishman's Greek New Testament, Bagster 1877

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I don’t want to lessen Ray Butterworth’s excellent answer, but want to point out the uncertainty of answering this question. It’s common for the Talmud to have differing views.

In the New Testament παράκλητος only occurs in John 14-16 and not at all in the Septuagint (LXX).
The Syriac Peshitta and Franz Delitzsch’s Hebrew New Testament both transliterate παράκλητος (ܦܱ݁ܪܱܩܠܻܛܴܐ, פְּרַקְלִיט). The Bible Society of Israel New Testament translates παράκλητος as מְנַחֵם (masculine singular absolute piel participle of נחם comfort, console). This apparently came from:

… a comforting counselor just like Yeshua [Jesus], namely, the Ruach HaKodesh [the Holy Spirit] (vv. 17, 26). Compare the Talmud:

“What is [the Messiah’s] name? … [Some] say: His name is Menachem the son of Hezekiah, since it is written, ‘Because Menachem [a comforter] that could relieve my soul, is far from me’ (Lamentations 1:16).” (Sanhedrin 98b)

Stern, D. H. (1996). Jewish New Testament Commentary : a companion volume to the Jewish New Testament (electronic ed., Jn 14:16). Clarksville: Jewish New Testament Publications.

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The Paraclete / advocate / comforter is a person and Holy spirit / Holy Ghost is not a person etc... I will limit my response as much as I can – it would be very long to respond comprehensively to every detailed point that is raised. (My Brackets)

John 14:16 "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter (Paraclete), that he may abide with you for ever"

John 15:26 "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 14:26 (NRSV) 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send* (will send to come, not already here) in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

John 16:7-14 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 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 1:19-27 19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders[a] in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.” (note this would be Jesus) 21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” (so, who is that prophet)

Luke 3:16 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with[a] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (will come – Jesus was already here)

Mark 1:7 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.

Some of the above verses, the word "comforter" is translated from the word "Paraclete" ("Ho Parakletos" in Greek). Parakletos in Greek is interpreted as "an advocate", one who pleads the cause of another, one who councils or advises another from deep concern for the other's welfare (Beacon Bible commentary volume VII, p.168)

original Greek manuscripts speak of a "Holy pneuma." The word pneuma {pnyoo'-mah} is the Greek root word for "spirit." There is no separate word for "Ghost" in the Greek manuscripts, of which there are claimed to be over 24,000 today.

John 14:26 is the only verse of the Bible which associates the Parakletos with the Holy Spirit. But if we were to go back to the "ancient manuscripts" themselves, we would find that they are not all in agreement that the "Parakletos" is the Holy Spirit. For instance, in the famous the Codex Syriacus, written around the fifth century C.E., and discovered in 1812 on Mount Sinai by Mrs.Agnes S. Lewis (and Mrs. Bensley), the text of 14:26 reads; "Paraclete, the Spirit"; and not "Paraclete, the Holy Spirit.".

A "Spirit" in the New Testament is a human Prophet. Therefore, Jesus had predicted the coming of a human Prophet (spirit) after him and not the Holy Spirit. Jesus would not have used the word "he" for the Holy Spirit. He would have used "it" instead in John 14:26 above.

Read 1 John 4:1-3 below: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world," (1 John 4:1-3)

1 Corinthians 2:10 (NRSV) 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

2 Thessalonians 2:2 (NRSV)2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.

Does the Holy Spirit "speak" or "inspire" The Greek word translated as "hear" in the Biblical verses ("whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak") is the Greek word "akouo" {ak-oo'-o} meaning to perceive sounds. It has, for instance, given us the word "acoustics," the science of sounds. Similarly the verb "to speak" is the Greek verb "laleo" {lal-eh'-o} which has the general meaning "to emit sounds" and the specific meaning "to speak." This verb occurs very frequently in the Greek text of the Gospels. It designates a solemn declaration by Jesus during his preaching (For example Matthew 9:18). Obviously, these verbs require hearing and speech organs in order to facilitate them. There is a distinct difference between someone "inspiring" something and him "speaking" something. So, the Paraclete will "hear" and "speak," not "inspire."

The Holy Ghost was already with them

In the above verses we read "if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." The comforter cannot be the Holy Ghost because the Holy Ghost (according to the Bible) was "with" them already (and even quite active) long before the coming of Jesus himself and then throughout his ministry. Few example.

Genesis 1:2 "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."

1 Samuel 10:10 "And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them."

1 Samuel 11:6 "And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly."

"Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his holy Spirit within him?" (Isaiah 63:11)

"For he (John the Baptist) shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." (Luke 1:15)

"And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee." (Luke 1:35)

"And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost" (Luke 1:41)

"And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying," (Luke 1:67)

"And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him." (Luke 2:25)

"And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost (Simeon), that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ." (Luke 2:26)

"And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him (Jesus), and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." (Luke 3:22)

"Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." (John 20:21-22)

Did they or did they not already receive the Holy Ghost? Was Jesus not still with them when they received the Holy Ghost? Was the Holy Ghost not with Simeon, Mary, Elisabeth and Zacharias before the birth of Jesus? Was the Holy Ghost not with Moses when he parted the seas? There are many more similar verses to be found in the Bible. In the above verses, we are told that if Jesus does not depart then the parakletos will not come & another. Thus, the "Holy Ghost" cannot be the one originally intended since it was already with them. The contradiction is quite obvious.

Jesus is also a Paraclete / advocate / comforter

1 John 2:1 (NRSV) 2 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate (parakletos) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;

Matthew 21:11 NRSV) 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Luke 24:19 (NRSV) 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth,[a] who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,

"He" not "It" Notice the use of "he" when referring to the Paraclete and not "it." If we read John 16:13, we will find no less than SEVEN occurrences of the masculine pronoun "He" and "Himself." There is not another verse in the 66 books of the Protestant Bible or the seventy three books of the Catholic Bible which contains seven masculine pronouns, or seven feminine pronouns, or even seven neuter genders. So many masculine pronouns ill befits a ghost, holy or otherwise. The word "Spirit" (Greek, pneu'ma), is of a neutral gender and is always referred to by the pronoun "it."

John 16:13 (NRSV) 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

1 John 4:6 (NRSV) 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and whoever is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

This is also likely to be linked to Deuteronomy 18:18 The Prophet like Moses – see link https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/60730/33268

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The LXX
παράκλητος is not used in the LXX, however, the translator(s) did use παρακλητορες which the NETS renders as comforters:

I have heard many such things; comforters of what’s worthless are you all. (LXX-Job 16:2)

I have heard many such things; miserable comforters are you all (ESV)
שמעתי כאלה רבות מנחמי עמל כלכם

נחמ was understood as comforter; although the Hebrew can mean to be sorry, to repent. There can be a negative sense such as is in Job. Since παράκλητος is not used in the LXX, it is unlikely the word would have any significant religious meaning to a Jewish audience.

The Non-Christian Use
There is limited use outside of the Christian context:

In the few places where the word is found in pre-Christian and extra-Christian lit. as well it has for the most part a more general sense: one who appears in another's behalf, mediator, intercessor, helper (Desmoth. 19, 1; Dionys. Hal 11, 37; Heraclit. Sto. 59 p. 80, 19; Cass. Dio 46, 20. 1; POxy 2725, 10 [71 AD]; cp. π. as the name of a gnostic aeon Iren. 1, 4, 5 [Harv. I 38, 8]; Hippol.; s. also the comments on 2 Cor 5:20 s.v. παρακλέω 2.) 1

The BDAG also states Philo used the word sometimes meaning "intercessor" (DE Jos. 239, Vi. Mos 2, 134, Spec. Leg. 1, 237, Exsecr. 166, Adv. Flacc. 13; 32) and sometimes meaning "advisor" or "helper" (Op. M. 23; 165).2

The Latin Use
The Latin use from Christian writings typically render παράκλητος as advocate:

(παρακαλέω) originally meant in the passive sense (BGU 601, 12 [II AD] παράκλητος δέδωκα αὐτῷ='when I was asked I gave to him', but π. is restored from παρακλος, and the restoration is uncertain), 'one who is called to someone's aid'. Accordingly Latin writers commonly rendered it, in its NT occurrences, with 'advocatus' (Tertullian, Prax. 9; Cyprian, De Domin. Orat. 3, Epist. 55, 18; Novatian, De Trin. 28; 29; Hilary, De Trin. 8, 19; Lucifer, De S. Athanas. 2, 26; Augustine, C. Faust. 13, 17, Trac. in Joh. 94; Tractatus Orig. 20 p. 212, 13 Batiffol.3

The Christian Use
The Latin "advocatus" reflects a Christian understanding but it follows the non-Christian use. The most likely meaning would be as the BDAG states one who appears in another's behalf, mediator, intercessor, helper, and the implication is it would be a "person." At the same time, John indicates both the divine and the "complex" nature of the παράκλητος:

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you... 26 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 that I have said to you. (John 14)

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. (John 15:26)

13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16)

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)

The παράκλητος is from the Father; it will be with the believer forever; it is the Spirit of Truth and despite being with the believer, the world will be unable to see Him. The παράκλητος is also Jesus Christ, the righteous, and like the παράκλητος who is with the believer, He is the believer's παράκλητος with the Father. What He speaks to the believer are not His own words, but those He heard from the [joint] words spoken between Jesus Christ and the Father. Thus, from the perspective of the believer, a singular Word of God is delivered to the believer in a three equal part manner.

Since the παράκλητος is spirit, it is neither masculine nor feminine, and the gender of the word should be taken as a function of grammar which speaks of God, not a biological or physical nature of Spirit. In other words, as the Spirit is God and God is first identified as אלהים which is a masculine (plural) term, that linguistic "gender" is carried forward when the (singular) part of God is sent to the believer.


1. Fredrick William Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, The University Chicago Press, 2000, p. 766
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.

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