The Comforter: Part 4

John Plunkett
September 9, 2017

In this series, so far, we have been looking at the concepts of comfort and encouragement.

And for the most part, for our welfare during the remainder of our human lives, that's fine. 

But, as we draw close to the Fall holy days – the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day, our accent naturally starts to shift and we need to be more concerned at this time of year about comfort and encouragement regarding the welfare of our days beyond our human lives – in other words, our eternal welfare.  And that is what we are going to be thinking about today. 

Last time, in Part 3, we looked at the Greek word ‘Parakletos.’ 

For the first part of the message, we looked into the topic of God’s pleasure – what does and doesn’t please God.  We also looked at Jesus’ "Comforter" statements that He gave to His disciples on His last Passover night.

Today, in Part 4, I want to home in on another English translation of the word ‘Parakletos.’ 

But first, let’s re-read some of the verses from John 16:

John 16:
7:  Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send it unto you.
14:  It shall glorify me: for it shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.
15:  All things that the Father has are mine: therefore said I, that it shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.

As well as this scripture and the other three appearances of the English word “Comforter,” the Greek word ‘Parakletos’ is also translated once, in the New Testament, into the English word “Advocate.” 

It only appears once in the whole New Testament and, like the other four "Parakletos" mentions, it was also written by the apostle John.   He was the only Bible writer who used this word ‘Parakletos’ in his writings. 

What is an advocate?

I will give you the dictionary definition.  It can be a noun or a verb.  

In the noun form, it is, first of all, someone whose job it is to speak for another person – often in a court of law.  It can be called a counsel.  

Secondly, it is anyone who argues the case for another person.  In this regard, the Advocate would be called an Intercessor – as we read about Jesus and the Holy Spirit too (Romans 8:26-34; Hebrews 7:25).

Thirdly, a person who speaks in support of something or someone.

The verb form is similar.

It is, first of all, to plead in favour of something or someone.

Secondly, to defend by argument, e.g. before a tribunal or before the public.

Thirdly, it means to support, to vindicate or to recommend, publicly.

That is what the English word “advocate” means.

Let's now go to the Bible's one "Advocate" verse:

I John 2:
1:  My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not.  And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 

This is another verse that has led some Bible students to falsely claim that, because Jesus Christ the Righteous is a Parakletos – in this case, an Advocate – the Advocate between repentant sinful human beings and God the Father – and because the Comforter, the Holy Spirit of truth, is also a Parakletos, they put the two together and claim that Jesus Christ is the Holy Spirit, per se. 

But logically, if Jesus really is the Holy Spirit, how could the Holy Spirit – and why would the Holy Spirit – glorify Jesus, as Jesus said that it would in the John 16 verses we just read?  And, how could the Holy Spirit receive and take what belongs to Jesus, as Jesus (again in John 16) said it would?  It doesn’t make logical sense that He would do those things of and to Himself!

It is also very poor logic to claim that, because the Advocate and the Comforter are both ‘Parakletos-es’ (plural), they are one and the same thing.  

Using the same logic, this would be like saying that, because John 1 says that Jesus and God the Father are both God, they are both the same being. 

The answer to it all is that, although Jesus is a ‘Parakletos’ and the Holy Spirit is a ‘Parakletos,’ they are not the same "thing."  They are two different "Parakletos-es."

Let’s continue I John 2; and as we go through it, I want you to notice John’s repeated admonitions regarding sin and the commandments –  just as Jesus gave similar, related pre-ambles before His Comforter statements as recorded in John's gospel account.

2:  And He Himself {Jesus} is the propitiation {Greek: hilasmos: the means of appeasing} for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world {once they have repented, of course}.

Please also notice that, as well as being our loving Elder Brother, Jesus is an Advocate between us and the Father. 

And, because Jesus is our Advocate – looking back at the meaning of the word Advocate – it means that we may call upon Jesus.  We may call Him to our side, we may call Him to our aid, to our assistance.  We may ask Jesus, in His role as Advocate, to plead our cause before God the Father.  We ask Him to be an Intercessor for us, and to plead for us.  We may ask Jesus, as the Intercessor, to act as the Counsel for our defence – our Expert Legal Assistant.  That is just one of the meanings of this word “Advocate.”

Jesus, certainly is a Legal Expert.  We may not often think of Him as being that; but He is, and He was, and He has been since the beginning of eternity.  Jesus is an expert on the Law of God and, as we will see later, He is the One who originally gave God’s Covenants and Laws to mankind.  It was Jesus who did that!

We will prove this as we go, again, to the Book of John:

John 5: 
22:  For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son...
Verse 27:  And has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man. 

Yes.  God the Father has given the greater part of the legal responsibilities over to Jesus.  As God tells us in I John 2, because of Jesus’ own sacrifice, He is not just our Advocate, He is also a Propitiation – the means of appeasing for the sins that we have committed – and repented of.

And, as the Propitiation, we may ask Him to plead with the Father on our behalf.  We can ask Jesus to ask the Father to pardon our repented-of sins. 

When we pray to the Father, we are to pray through Jesus.  We can ask Jesus to ask the Father to pardon our sins, and to blot out our sins, with His own shed blood.

Acts 3:19:
Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

Two of Jesus’ many "jobs" or "posts" are those of the Advocate and the Propitiation. 

Please notice that these are Jesus’ responsibilities, not those of the Holy Spirit. 

We know that we need to have every respect for the importance of the Holy Spirit and we know that we must be very careful not to blaspheme the Holy Spirit.  But still, the Holy Spirit does not and can not do these things.  The Propitiation and the Advocate are not the responsibility – or the job function – of the Holy Spirit:

I John 2:
3:  Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.
4:  He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
5:  But whoever keeps His word
{logos}, truly the love of God is perfected in him.  By this we know that we are in Him.
6:  He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked…

Please remember, once again, Jesus’ preamble to His Comforter statements – His requirement for His commandments to be kept.  Here we see that same requirement repeated.  This is like a play on words.  John was very poetic in his writing.

7:  Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning.  The old commandment is the word {logos} which you heard from the beginning.
8:  Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.

Question: What was new at that time of the writing of John’s first epistle?  What major new “thing” was now there that hadn’t been there before?

Answer: What was new at that time was what I will call the more “general” availability of the Comforter to God’s called and chosen New Covenant people – the more “general” availability of the Holy Spirit of Truth, which had formerly, during Old Covenant times, had only been made available to a very, very select few. 

Again, the more general availability of the Holy Spirit, the power of God, which gives Christians the enhanced ability and power to keep God’s commandments; and through which God’s people gain access to the Advocate, and through the Advocate, to God the Father.

What for?  For forgiveness and at-one-ment – as we will be talking about on the Day of Atonement.  Yes.  For Forgiveness and at-one-ment whenever we slip up and break any of the commandments.

Another question: What else was new at this landmark juncture in time – in the days, weeks, months and years following the death, the resurrection and the ascension of Jesus.  

John wrote here in I John 2 that, although the true spiritual Light was already shining, the spiritual darkness of the world had just then begun to pass away.  How?  Why?  Because of what Jesus did!  Yes.  Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, it was fait accompli that the darkness of Satan and Satan’s world had just then begun to pass away.

Just a few days before the crucifixion, when Jesus was re-committing before His disciples (and some Hellenist Jews) His willingness to go through with His upcoming trials, He said this about this increase in the glorious light and the passing away of spiritual darkness:

John 12:23: 
And Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified"...

When we think about glory, we are thinking about spiritual light coming in!

Verse 28:  Father, glorify your name.  Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again."

There is more glory – more spiritual light – coming in!

Verse 31:  Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

Light in – darkness out!

And again on Jesus' last Passover night:

John 13:31: 
Therefore, when he
{Judas} was gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him."

True spiritual light was made to shine even more brightly as a result of the darkness going out with Judas and, earlier, going out with the casting out of Satan.  In both cases, these events resulted in an increase of the glorification of Jesus and God the Father.

Again, when spiritual darkness goes out, then glorious spiritual light, comes in. 

In the English language there is another term for Advocate, and that word is Mediator.  We find it seven times in the New Testament.  We will skip through those seven appearances in a minute.  

But first, let’s again go back to the English dictionary and see a definition of the word “Mediator”:

Quite simply, it is a person who negotiates between parties – who seeks mutual agreement between two parties.

The New Testament Greek word translated as Mediator is ‘Mesites’ (Strong’s 3316), which means pretty-much the same as in the English; and pretty-much the same as the word “Advocate,” as well.  It is a person who intervenes between two parties – either in order to make or restore peace and friendship, or to form a compact, or to ratify a covenant.

Let’s quickly read through these seven New Testament instances of the word “Mediator”:

Galatians 3:19a:  Wherefore then serves the law?… 

That is not good modern English to us, is it?  So we may go to the New King James Version: ‘What purpose does the law serve?’

Paul is writing here about the ritual, sacrificial law of the old Sinai Covenant.  Then Paul gives his answer to his own question, What purpose does the Law serve?

Galatians 3:19b: … It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made … 

Full discussion of that phrase would take a whole sermon of its own, because it can be read in different ways.  But Paul is referring her to the ritual, sacrificial law of the "old" Sinai Covenant.

Galatians 3:19:c…and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a Mediator.

All of the way back, at Sinai!  Who was that Mediator?  We will see shortly; but let’s look at verse 20:

20:  Now a mediator is not a mediator of one; but God is one.

Paul is saying here that a mediator cannot mediate between, to, or with, just one person.  That would be totally illogical and impossible. Two parties are necessary for a mediation.  Actually, you need three parties if you include the mediator as well.

But again, who is the Mediator mentioned here?  And who are the parties that He is mediating between?  Paul answers that question in his first letter to Timothy:

I Timothy 2:5: 
For there is one God
{just as Paul wrote to the Galatians, as we just read}, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

So Jesus is the one Mediator. 

And the parties that He is mediating between are God and men.  On the one side, the totally perfect, totally sinless, God the Father; and on the other side, imperfect, sinning, mankind.

When the apostle Paul mentions God here, He is obviously referring to God the Father.  Not that Jesus was and is not God.  We know from John 1 that He certainly is and was.

This means then, that, because Jesus is the one and only Mediator, He is the One whose hand ordained the "old" Sinai Covenant Law that we just read about in Galatians 3:19.  That is an astonishing, amazing fact that comes out of these verses.  

Let’s go to our next Mediator scripture.  This one in Hebrews 8:

Hebrews 8:
1:  Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens ...

That, of course, is the throne of God the Father.

Verse 6a:  But now has He {Jesus} obtained a more excellent ministry {i.e. more excellent than the "old" Sinai Covenant ministry/priesthood} by how much also He {Jesus} is the Mediator of a better covenant… 

Paul is saying here that the New Covenant is better than the "old" Sinai Covenant. 

6b: … which was established upon better promises.

What are those "better promises"?  Over into chapter 9:

Hebrews 9:
15a:  And for this cause He is the Mediator of the New Testament
{Greek: Diatheke: Covenant}, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament {covenant}

In other words, under the "old" Sinai Covenant.

15b: … they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

What a promise that is!  The author of the book of Hebrews calls this "a better promise."  And so it is!  The promise of eternal inheritance as children of God the Father and as brothers and sisters of Jesus.

Just one more Mediator scripture:

Hebrews 12:24: 
And to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things than that of Abel.

The Abel part of this verse is a story in itself.  But what I am trying to get at here is my hope that we can all be encouraged and inspired by the fact that Jesus is our Advocate and our Mediator of the New Covenant that we are blessed to be part of.  We are on one side of that New Covenant – and God the Father is on the other.

This is not, of course, trying to make out that God the Father is some kind of ogre who is looking for every opportunity to zap us into nothingness.

No.  It is just that He is so perfect, we are so imperfect, and He just cannot be anywhere even close to sin. 

That doesn’t mean that Jesus is not perfect too, of course.  He is.  And He was.

We don’t know all of detail of how it worked out that Jesus was the One of the God family who came to earth.  But it is almost like Jesus, if you think about it, "drew the short straw."  He is the one that has to deal with us imperfect human beings.  But, He did so, willingly and in love for us.

And, it is a good job that He did because, if He hadn’t done so, there would be no intercession for us, we would have no Mediator, no Advocate, and no Saviour!

But He did do it!  And He did it willingly.

And so we do have a Saviour. 

And that is something that we should all be very encouraged and comforted by.