Question: "What does it mean that the Holy Spirit is our Paraclete?"
Answer: After Jesus announced to His disciples that He would be leaving them soon, He then gave them a statement of great encouragement: “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:16–17).
The Greek word translated “Comforter” or “Counselor” (as found in John 14:16, 26; 15:26; and 16:7) is parakletos. This form of the word is unquestionably passive and properly means “one called to the side of another,” with the secondary notion of counseling or supporting him. This Counselor, or Paraclete, is God the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity. He is a personal being who indwells every believer.
During His earthly ministry, Jesus had guided, guarded, and taught His disciples; but now He was going to leave them. The Spirit of God would come to the disciples and dwell in them, taking the place of their Master's literal presence. Jesus called the Spirit “another Comforter”—another of the same kind. The Spirit of God is not different from the Son of God in essence, for both are God.
During the Old Testament age, the Spirit of God would come on people and then leave them. God's Spirit departed from King Saul (1 Samuel 16:14; 18:12). David, when confessing his sin, asked that the Spirit not be taken from him (Psalm 51:11). But when the Spirit was given at Pentecost, He came to God's people to remain with them forever. We may grieve the Holy Spirit, but He will not leave us. As Jesus said in Matthew 28:20, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” How is He with us when He is in heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father? He is with us by His Spirit (the Helper—the Parakletos).
To have the Holy Spirit as our Paraclete is to have God Himself indwelling us as believers. The Spirit teaches us the Word and guides us into truth. He reminds us of what He has taught so that we can depend on His Word in the difficult times of life. The Spirit works in us to give us His peace (John 14:27), His love (John 15:9–10), and His joy (John 15:11). He comforts our hearts and minds in a troubled world. The power of the indwelling Paraclete gives us the ability to live by the Spirit and “not gratify the desires of the sinful flesh” (Galatians 5:16). The Spirit can then produce His fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:22–23) to the glory of God the Father. What a blessing to have the Holy Spirit in our lives as our Paraclete—our Comforter, our Encourager, our Counselor, and our Advocate!
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