The Paraclete


Ex libris Bibliotheca Manualium Seminarium Argentinense.jpg

A woodcut depicting John the Evangelist, from the Bibliothèque nationale et universitaire de Strasbourg, France

The Gospel of John uses a unique word to describe the Holy Spirit: the Advocate. For example: “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you” (John 14:26). We are used to thinking of the Holy Spirit as a comforter, providing guidance and consolation. The word “advocate”, which normally refers to an official spokesperson for a cause, does not seem like such a fitting title for the Spirit of God. How is our appreciation for this unique term strengthened by looking at the original Greek?

John uses the word παράκλητος (parakletos), a term borrowed from the legal realm, meaning a defense lawyer. John chooses this word not necessarily because he sees salvation as a courtroom drama, but because this word captures a shared sense of responsibility. When we break the word parakletos into two we get: “side” (para) “caller” (kletos). Rather than simply “advocating” and taking center stage, the Holy Spirit is “off to the side”, urging us on, holding our hand through difficult times. But we need to be present as well. Looking at the original Greek, we now understand why some newer English translations prefer the more accessible “helper” over the legalistic “advocate”. But for those who prefer the traditional term “advocate”, rest assured that this word means basically the same thing as paraklete in Latin: “one to whom we call” (ad + vocatus).

About the author

Jonathan LipnickJonathan Lipnick believes that a truly comprehensive understanding of Scripture must be capable of penetrating beneath the printed words to reveal the authentic world of the Bible: the landscapes, smells and sounds of ancient Israel. He is the dean of the faculty of Holy Land Studies at Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, and is the author of the course "Exploring the Biblical Land of Israel"

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  1. Etienne LACOMBE

    Il y a au moins 2 types d’avocats selon l’endroit où ils travaillent majoritairement :
    – les avocats qui aiment le barreau, qui aiment plaider dans les tribunaux et les “prétoires”, et
    – les avocats qui préfèrent anticiper les situations difficiles en fonctionnant comme des conseillers dans leur partie, exemple : l’avocat en droit social
    – il peut prendre la défense d’un client (soit l’employé, soit l’employeur) dans le différent qui les oppose (l’un attaque l’autre en justice après avoir subi un dommage, et a besoin d’un avocat pour prononcer à sa place et mieux que lui son argumentaire, sa plaidoirie), ou
    – il peut proposer ses services lors des embauches, lors de la rédaction des contrats de travail. Son expérience des problèmes rencontrés lui permet de rédiger des clauses claires, de prévoir à l’avance des solutions aux problèmes qui pourraient se présenter, et même d’éviter l’apparition des problèmes (c’est de la prévention).