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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Paraclete

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(Παράκλητος, lit. one called near for aid; A.V. "Comforter"). This word is applied in the original to Christ in 1 John 2:1, where it is translated "advocate" (q.v.). Indeed, in that famous passage in which Christ promises the Holy Spirit as a paraclete ("comforter") to his sorrowing disciples, he takes the title to himself: "I will send you another paraclete" (John 14:16). The question then is, In what sense does Christ denominate himself and the Spirit sent from him and the Father, παράκλητος, paraclete? The answer to this is not to be found without some difficulty. and it becomes the more difficult from the fact that in genuine Greek the verb παρακαλεῖν has a variety of significations: (1) To call to a place, to call to aid; (2) to admonish, to persuade, to incite; (3) to entreat, to pray. To these may be added the Hellenistic signification, "to console;" "to soothe;" "to encourage." Finally. the rabbins also in their language use the word פְּרִקַלַיט (peraklit) for the Angel of Intercession (Job 43:23), a fact which must be taken into consideration. In the explanation of the word the leading circumstance to guide us must be to take that signification which is applicable to the different passages in which it occurs. For we may distinguish three interpretations:

(1.) Origen explains it where it is applied to the Holy Spirit by "Consolator" (παραμυθητής ), while in 1 John 2:1 he adopts the signification of "Deprecator." This is the course taken by most of the Greek commentators: (Suicer, Thesaur. s.v.), and which has been followed by Erasmus, Luther, and others. But to this Tholuck and others object that, not to insist that the signification cannot be grammatically established (for no admissible instance can be adduced where the passive παράκλητος is used in an active sense for παρακλήτωρ ), it is suitable to a very few passages only, while to others it is either too circumscribed or altogether inappropriate.

(2.) Aware of this, others, after the example of Theodore of Mopsuestia, sanctioned by Mede, Ernesti, and others, would translate it teacher. But neither does this sense seem adapted to all the passages. It would also be difficult to deduce it from the usages of the language; for not to mention that in this case also the active signification would be assumed for the passive form we are pressed with the question whether the verb παρακαλεῖν can anywhere in the New Testament be found in the sense of "to teach," as this hypothesis assumes. It is at least very certain that this sense never was transferred to the rabbinical פְּרִקַלַיטָא, the peraklita, advocate or interpreter. (Buxtorf, Lex. Talmudicum, col. 1843).

(3.) The considerations which tell against these views incline the balance in favor of a third sense, which is that of assistant, "helper," coadjutor; hence "advocate" (intercessor). Demosthenes uses it with this force in a judicial sense (see Index, ed. Reiske); and it occurs in the same sense in Philo (see Loesner, Observatt.), and in the rabbinlical dialect. It is supported by Romans 8:26, and, which is still more to the purpose, is appropriate to all the passages in the New Testament where the word occurs. After the example of the early Latin fathers, Calvin, Beza, Lampe, Bengel, Knapp, Kuinil, Tittmann, and many others, have adopted this sense. Tertullian and Augustine have advocate. The A.V. renders the word by "advocate" in 1 John 2:1, but in other places (John 14:16; John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7) by "comforter." How much better, however, the more extensive term "helper" (including teacher, monitor, advocate) agrees with these passages than the narrow term "comforter" may be shown by a single instance. Jesus says to his disciples, "I will send you another paraclete" (John 14:16), implying that he himself had been such to them. But he had not been in any distinguishing sense a "comforter" or "consoler," because, having him present with them, they had not mourned (Matthew 9:15). But he had been eminently a helper, in the extensive sense which has been indicated; and such as he had been to them to teach, to guide, and to uphold the Holy Spirit would become to them after his removal (see the commentators above named, particularly Tholuck and Tittmann on John 14:16; also Knapp, De Sp. S. et Christi Paracletis, Halle, 1790; Hare, Mission of the Comforter). See the treatises De Paracleto, by Scherff (Lips. 1714), Knapp (Halle, 1790), Volborth (Gotting. 1786), Hugenholz (Leyden, 1834). (See HOLY SPIRIT).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Paraclete'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/p/paraclete.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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