(25.) On Christ as the Paraclete

(25.) On Christ as the Paraclete

(25.) On Christ as the Paraclete.

“My dear children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate (Paraclete) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1).

When Jesus was given the title of Advocate in 1 John 2:1, the Greek word for advocate is actually paraclete. It is a rich biblical term that has many facets, one of those sparkling diamonds in Scripture. Paraclete means “called to come alongside of,” and is the word that could mean encourager, counselor, comforter, advocate, exhorter, intercessor or helper. Paraclete is the word used all through the Epistles when one of those meanings is called for. A paraclete is someone who comes alongside someone else in a personal and helpful way, a productive and meaningful way. In the context of that 1 John passage, most translations have used paraclete to mean advocate… like a defense attorney, an intercessor. Jesus, standing alongside someone who has sinned, appearing before the Father. Jesus is the Advocate because there is a hostile Accuser, the evil one, the devil, who stands ready to accuse every believer before God. Here we see Jesus as someone who will represent a sinner in the presence of the Father. A friend of sinners, indeed. A paraclete.

Jesus is not the only Paraclete in the New Testament. In fact, there is a relay of paracletes as we finish the race of faith before us. The first Paraclete is Jesus Christ, who hands the baton to the second Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, who hands the baton to the third paraclete, each believer.

The First Leg of the Paraclete Relay: Jesus. What better way can we describe the ministry of Christ than as someone who comes alongside someone else? He was and is called to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with needy people and help them, whether through encouragement, counsel, comfort, advocacy, exhortation or intercession. Jesus was constantly coming alongside others in His preaching, teaching, healing and befriending ministry on earth. His helping style was always the paraclete style. Jesus started the relay, and then He handed the baton over to the Holy Spirit, or as Jesus told His disciples on the eve of His departure, “another Paraclete.” (John 14:16). It is easy to see that in saying this, He is calling Himself Paraclete as well.

The Second Leg of the Paraclete Relay: the Holy Spirit. Jesus tried to cheer up His sad disciples after telling them about His impending departure, by saying that it is actually to their benefit that He returns to the Father. The result of His absence is that the Spirit will be sent in Jesus’ place. Jesus ascends to the Father, and the Spirit descends to continue the Lord’s presence on earth. The Spirit of Jesus replaces the physically absent Jesus. The Holy Spirit continues Christ’s presence. When Jesus warned the disciples that He would be going away, He told them, “Unless I go away, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7). He had just finished telling them about the Paraclete “whom I will send to you from the Father.” (John 15:26). He finished that statement by saying that the Holy Spirit “goes out from the Father.” So, it appears the Son sends the Spirit, but again that the Father sends the Spirit. There is no point in arguing about from whom the Holy Spirit is sent, the Father or the Son… Both the Father and the Son have a direct hand in sending the Paraclete, the Spirit of God, to people on earth.

The Third Leg of the Paraclete Relay: Believers. There is still another leg to the relay if we want to finish the race. The Holy Spirit is sent from God to dwell in us, so that we are enabled to be little paracletes. As St. Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Let us be paracletes to each other.” We are each called to come alongside one another to help fellow believers in need. We are each called to put the Spirit of Jesus into practice and demonstrate the very character and ministry of Christ. How astounding is it that the Almighty God, the divine Paraclete, would entrust us with this role? How amazing is it that we can become “partakers of the divine nature” (1 Peter 1:4) and participate in His ministry here on earth? What might this look like as fellow believers are standing alongside each other? The best way to run the paraclete relay is to consider each of the “one another‘s” in the Word. We are each called, paraclete-style, to:

  • Harmonize with each other (Romans 12:16);
  • Wash one another’s feet (John 13:14-15);
  • Confess to one another (James 5:16);
  • Exhort one another (Romans 12:18);
  • Bear with one another (Ephesians 4:2);
  • Honor one another (Romans 12:10);
  • Restore one another (Galatians 6:1);
  • Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11);
  • Warn one another (Colossians 3:16);
  • Build up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11);
  • Bear the burdens of one another (Galatians 6:2);
  • Love one another (John 13:34-35 and 15:12-13).

Jesus Christ, called to come alongside, is the first Paraclete; the Holy Spirit, called to come alongside, is the second Paraclete; the community of believers, called to come alongside, is the third paraclete.

“As for us, we have all of these great witnesses who encircle us like clouds. So, we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us. We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus, who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection.” ”  (Hebrews 12:1-2).

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