Why is the Holy Spirit called the “Paraclete”? Today, R.C. Sproul speaks on the Spirit’s ministry of bringing strength and encouragement to God’s people in their every trial.
In the ancient world, a paraclete was the title that was given to a defense attorney—and usually the kind of defense attorney that a family was involved with on a permanent retainer basis—so that anytime a person got in trouble, they could call upon their paraclete to stand with them in the midst of the crisis.
Now, when Jesus said, “I’m going to go away and I’m going to send you a Comforter,” or a paraclete, He was not saying that “after I send you out in the world like lambs in the midst of wolves and you get your brains beat in, and you suffer humiliation and tragedy and persecution, all of which you will suffer,” He said, “but don’t worry, after you go through all of this hassle and you come home and you’re weeping in frustration, then I’m going to send the Spirit along to make you feel better.” That’s not what He’s saying here.
He’s saying that “I am going to send another paraclete to stand beside you.” When? In the midst of the battle, in the midst of the struggle, in the midst of the crisis. In fact, the reason why the King James used the term “comforter” was that when the King James Version was written, the language of English at that time was much more closely tied to its Latin roots than it is today. And a comforter was not thought of in the way we’re describing it today. But rather, here, we have it coming from the Latin cum, “with,” so a comforter is somebody who comes with, and for those of you that play the piano, forte. It’s strength. If I say something is somebody’s forte, that’s their strong point. And so a Comforter is someone who comes with strengths. And so Jesus promises the Holy Ghost as our ally to stand with us and, I might add, to encourage us.