The Holy Spirit is called the “Comforter” in some English translations of the Bible. For instance, the American King James Version translates John 14:26 as, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.” Similarly, the American Standard Version, King James Version, and English Revised Version all translate the Greek word paraclete as “Comforter.”
Paraclete, like many Greek words, is hard to translate into English because there is no perfect English equivalent. Basically, a paraclete is “one who is called alongside”; the implication is that a paraclete gives support or help of some kind. Used only by the apostle John in his gospel and first epistle, the word paraclete refers to the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; and 16:7) and, in one instance, for Jesus (1 John 2:1). In each case, the word can be translated as “Helper,” “Counselor,” “Comforter,” or “Advocate.” Translating the word as “Helper,” as the ESV and NKJV do in the gospel passages, provides a more encompassing term for the different aspects of the Holy Spirit’s ministries. He does more than comfort, after all; He also guides, seals, baptizes, regenerates, sanctifies, and convicts.
Jesus stated He would send “another” paraclete (John 14:16), meaning that He Himself had served as a paraclete during His earthly ministry. He had been the One guiding the disciples, but now He would send the Holy Spirit as their Guide and Counselor and Comforter. In context, Jesus is comforting the eleven faithful disciples during the Last Supper, telling them not to be afraid and promising that their sorrow would turn to joy (John 14:1; 16:21). He would be leaving them, but another Helper or Comforter would be on the way—God would send the Holy Spirit (cf. Luke 24:49). When the word paraclete is used of Jesus in 1 John 2:1, translations are nearly unanimous in using the word advocate. Jesus is our intercessor before the Father.
God comforts His children. He is the “God of all comfort,” and we can know His peace even in the midst of trials: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:3–5).
God comforts us in many ways: through the wonderful promises of His Word, through fellow believers, and of course through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. The Spirit is our Comforter, and He is so much more: our Counselor, Encourager, and Helper. He is always present to bring comfort to the children of God (Psalm 34:18; 139:7–8).