From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about an ancient Greek term. For the school of Peter Abelard, see Oratory of the Paraclete. For Paraclete Armor & Equipment or Paraclete XP, see Tim D'Annunzio.

Paraclete (Gr. παράκλητος, Lat. paracletus) means advocate or helper. In Christianity, the term paraclete most commonly refers to the Holy Spirit.


Paraclete comes from the Koine Greek word παράκλητος (paráklētos, that can signify "one who consoles or comforts, one who encourages or uplifts; hence refreshes, and/or one who intercedes on our behalf as an advocate in court").[1] The word for paraclete is passive in form, and etymologically (originally) signified "called to one's side". The active form of the word, parakletor, is not found in the New Testament but is found in Septuagint in Job 16:2 in the plural, and means "comforters", in the saying of Job regarding the "miserable comforters" who failed to rekindle his spirit in his time of distress.[2]

In Classical Greek[edit]

The term is not common in non-Jewish texts.[3] The best known use is by Demosthenes:

Citizens of Athens, I do not doubt that you are all pretty well aware that this trial has been the center of keen partisanship and active canvassing, for you saw the people who were accosting and annoying you just now at the casting of lots. But I have to make a request which ought to be granted without asking, that you will all give less weight to private entreaty or personal influence than to the spirit of justice and to the oath which you severally swore when you entered that box. You will reflect that justice and the oath concern yourselves and the commonwealth, whereas the importunity and party spirit of advocates[4] serve the end of those private ambitions which you are convened by the laws to thwart, not to encourage for the advantage of evil-doers. (Demosthenes On the False Embassy 19:1)

Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon apart from Demosthenes (above) cites also the example of a slave summoned as a help.[5]

In Judaism[edit]

Philo speaks several times of "paraclete" advocates[6] primarily in the sense of human intercessors.

The word later went from Hellenistic Jewish writing into rabbinical Hebrew writing. For a summary of rabbinical usage see Jewish Encyclopedia 1914 "Paraclete".

The word is not used in the Septuagint, the word "comforters" being different in Job. Other words are used to translate the Hebrew word מְנַחֵם (mənaḥḥēm "comforter") and Melitz Yosher[7] (מליץ יושר).

Events in the
Life of Jesus
according to the Gospels
Life of Jesus
Portals: P christianity.svg Christianity Bible.malmesbury.arp.jpg Bible

In modern Hebrew, the cognate 'praklit' (פרקליט) means 'solicitor' or 'legal counsel', 'praklit ha-mechoz' means district attorney, and 'praklitut ha-medina' the Israeli equivalent of the solicitor-general.

In Christianity[edit]

New Testament[edit]

In the Greek New Testament the word is most prominent in the Johannine writings. It appears in the Gospel of John (14:16, 14:26, 15:26, 16:7) where it may be translated into English as "counselor", "helper", encourager, advocate, or "comforter".[8]

The early church identified the Paraclete as the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5,1:8,2:4,2:38)[9] and in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5 v. 4 Jesus Christ uses the verb παρακληθήσονται, paraclethesontai, traditionally interpreted to signify "to be refreshed, encouraged, or comforted". The text may also be translated as vocative as well as the traditional nominative.[10] Then the meaning of 'paraclethesontai', also informative of the meaning of the name, or noun Paraclete, implicates 'are going to summon' or 'will be breaking off'... The Paraclete may thus mean 'the summoner' or 'the one, who, or that which makes free'[11]

In 1 John 2:1, "Paraclete" is used to describe the intercessory role of Jesus Christ who pleads to The Father on our behalf. And in John 14:16, Jesus says "another Paraclete" will come to help his disciples, implying Jesus is the first and primary Paraclete.

In Matt 3:10-12 and Luke 3:9-17, John the Baptist says a powerful one coming after him "will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (NIV)

Verses like these are often used by Christians in Trinitarian theology to describe how God is revealed to the world and God's role in salvation. According to Trinitarian doctrine, the Paraclete or Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity who among other things provides guidance, consolation, strength, and support to people. Other titles for the Holy Spirit include 'Spirit of Truth', Lightful Spirit of God Almighty, Holy Breath, Almighty Breath, Giver of Life, Lord of Grace, Helper, 'Comforter', 'Counselor' and 'Supporter'[citation needed].

During his period as a hermit in the mid 12th century, Peter Abelard dedicated his chapel to the Paraclete because "I had come there as a fugitive and, in the depths of my despair, was granted some comfort by the grace of God.[12]


The invisible presence of Jesus[edit]

Raymond Brown (1970)[13][14] supported by Johnston (2005)[15] read that the "another Paraclete" of John 14:16 is in many ways "another Jesus," the Paraclete is the presence of Jesus after Jesus ascends to his Father.[16]

In Islam[edit]

Many Muslim writers have argued that “another Paraclete” (John 14:16)—the first being Jesus—refers to Muhammad. The earliest scholar is probably Ibn Ishaq (died 767), who Islamic tradition states was the grandson of a Christian.[17] Others who interpreted the paraclete as a reference to Muhammad include Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Kathir, Al-Qurtubi, Rahmatullah Kairanawi (1818-1891), and contemporary Muslim scholars such as Martin Lings.[18][19]

Regarding Ibn Ishaq's biography of Muhammad, the Sirat Asul Allah, Islamic scholar Alfred Guillaume wrote:

"Coming back to the term “Ahmad,” Muslims have suggested that Ahmad is the translation of periklutos, celebrated or the Praised One, which is a corruption of parakletos, the Paraclete of John XIV, XV and XVI."[20]

A few Muslim commentators, such as David Benjamin Keldani (1928), have argued that the original Greek word used was periklytos, meaning famed, illustrious, or praiseworthy, rendered in Arabic as Ahmad (another name of Muhammad), and that this was substituted by Christians with parakletos.[21][22]

According to Muslim missionary Ahmed Deedat, all the biblical references to the Paraclete fit Muhammad more accurately than the Holy Spirit. For example, Deedat mentions that 16:7 of the Gospel of John states that the Paraclete will only arrive once Jesus has departed; however, Deedat notes that the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the Bible as having been present numerous times even before the departure of Jesus.[23]

"Early translators knew nothing about the surmised reading of periklutos for parakletos, and its possible rendering as Ahmad …. Periklutos does not come into the picture as far as Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham are concerned. The deception is not theirs. The opportunity to introduce Ahmad was not accepted - though it is highly improbable that they were aware of it being a possible rendering of Periklutos. It would have clinched the argument to have followed the Johannine references with a Quranic quotation.”[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "LSJ Lexicon entry". Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  2. ^ "". Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  3. ^ According to Walter Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature: "the technical meaning 'lawyer', 'attorney' is rare."
  4. ^ ἐσθ᾽ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν καὶ ὅλης τῆς πόλεως, αἱ δὲ τῶν παρακλήτων αὗται δεήσεις καὶ σπουδαὶ τῶν ἰδίων πλεονεξιῶν εἵνεκα γίγνονται,
  5. ^ παρά-κλητος , ον, A. called to one's aid, in a court of justice : as Subst., legal assistant, advocate, D.19.1, Lycurg. Fr.102, etc. 2. summoned, “δοῦλοι” D.C.46.20, cf. BGU601.12 (ii A.D.). II. intercessor, Ph.2.520 : hence in NT, Παράκλητος, of the Holy Spirit, Ev.Jo.14.16, cf. 1 Ep.Jo.2.1.
  6. ^ 30 October 2009 (2009-10-30). "The six uses of paraclete by Philo tabulated (halfway down article)". Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  7. ^ The Orthodox Jewish Brit Chadasha Bible Translation
  8. ^ Strong's G3875[dead link]
  9. ^ Allison, Gregg (2011). Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine. Zondervan. p. 431. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  10. ^ "Matthew, chapter 5". Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  11. ^ "Greek Word Study Tool". Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  12. ^ "The Letters of Abelard and Heloise", Betty Radice, Trans. London: Penguin, 1973. P. 30
  13. ^ The Gospel according to John: Volume 2 Raymond Edward Brown - 1970 "Thus, the one whom John calls "another Paraclete" is another Jesus. Since the Paraclete can come only when Jesus departs, the Paraclete is the presence of Jesus when Jesus is absent. Jesus' promises to dwell within his disciples are"
  14. ^ The Spirit of Jesus in Scripture and prayer - Page 60 James W. Kinn - 2004 "Second, the whole complex of parallels above leads Raymond Brown to a more profound conclusion: the Holy Spirit continues the presence of Jesus. Thus the one whom Jesus calls "another Paraclete" is in many ways another Jesus, ."
  15. ^ The Spirit-Paraclete in the Gospel of John - Page 94 George Johnston - 2005 "Brown cannot regard such parallelism as coincidental, and he is perfectly correct. His conclusion is that 'as "another Paraclete" the Paraclete is, as it were, another Jesus ... and the Paraclete is the presence of Jesus when Jesus is "
  16. ^ The creed: the apostolic faith in contemporary theology - Page 275 Berard L. Marthaler - 1993 "Thus," writes Brown, "the one whom John calls 'another Paraclete' is another Jesus."17 The Paraclete is the presence of God in the world when Jesus ascends to the Father."
  17. ^ Page 50 "As early as Ibn Ishaq (85-151 AH) the biographer of Muhammad, the Muslims identified the Paraclete - referred to in John's ... "to give his followers another Paraclete that may be with them forever" is none other than Muhammad."
  18. ^ Al-Masāq: studia arabo-islamica mediterranea: Volumes 9 à 10 ;Volume 9 University of Leeds. Dept. of Modern Arabic Studies, Taylor & Francis - 1997 "Many Muslim writers, including Ibn Hazm, al-Taban,al-Qurtubi, and Ibn Taymiyya, have identified the Paraclete with Muhammad. Probably the first to do so was the his biographer Ibn Ishaq in the mid eighth century."
  19. ^ "The Promised Prophet of the Bible". 2007-07-31. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  20. ^ Liddell and Scott`s celebrated Greek-English Lexicon gives this definition for periklutos: "heard of all round, famous, renowned, Latin inclytus: of things, excellent, noble, glorious". Rev. James M. Whiton, ed. A Lexicon abridged from Liddell and Scott`s Greek-English Lexicon. New York: American Book Company, N.D. c.1940s, p.549. Periklutos occurs in The Iliad and The Odyssey, and Hesiod`s Theogony.
  21. ^ "Isa", Encyclopedia of Islam
  22. ^ Watt (1991) pp. 33–34
  23. ^ Ahmed Deedat (1994). "Muhummed (pbuh) Is The "Paraclete"". The Choice: Islam and Christianity, Volume 1. ideas4islam. pp. 59–63. 
  24. ^ A. Guthrie and E. F. F. Bishop., The Paraclete, Almunhamanna and Ahmad., Muslim World XLI (October, 1951), p.253-254.

External links[edit]