[B-Greek] question about paraklhtos

yancywsmith yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net
Tue Jun 6 18:55:04 EDT 2006

Back to the original question:

Even though the primary meaning of PARAKLHTOS is "advocate" in LSJ in  
a forensic sense, this meaning does not seem to be prominent in  
John's usage. The forensic sense in 16:7-11 is not really advocate  
but prosecutor, as Barrett said (462). (But, perhaps the best defense  
is a good offense. ; ) "Advocate," as in the NRSV, is clunky in  
14:16, in view of "I will not leave you orphaned ... I will come to  
you" (14:18) and in the problem of the disciple's dismay over Jesus'  
announced departure.

John 14:16 that I take to mean: "consoler/comforter"
John 14:26 that I understand to mean "consoler/comforter"
John 15:26 that I understand to mean "advocate" but the connotation  
of comforter/consoler is also present in the Spirit's role of  
strengthening the disciple's testimony about Jesus.
John 16:7 that I understand to mean be both consoler/comforter AND  
"advocate" but with the added connotation of "prosecutor" given in  
the succeeding verses. Notice the preceding verse, "But because I  
have said these things to you, sorrow (LUPH) has filled your hearts.  
Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go  
away, for if I do not go away, the Comforter/Consoler/Advocate will  
not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." The following  
verses play on the forensic sense of PARAKLHTOS, leaving behind the  
consolatory sense.

1 John 2:1 is, hands down, "advocate" used for Jesus.

So, as said before, there is considerable variety in John's use of  
PARAKLHTOS in the four appearances it makes in John 14-16. My  
comments about genre have been intended to draw attention to a  
neglected aspect in the lexicography of this word, the literary and  
rhetorical context in which they were used. Adapting a message that  
was sent to me off list from another subscriber, one can say that  
without an understanding of the context of "loss" and "bereavement"  
the understanding of PARAKLHTOS is difficult to pinpoint.  Jesus was  
consoling the disciples in numerous ways after revealing to them his  
impending departure, and promising them an "advocate/consoler" has a  
consolatory function. The meaning of "advocate" is indeed important  
in this context because the disciples struggle not only with sorrow  
but with opposition. Yet, even the use of the meaning "advocate"  
serves the over-all consolatory purpose of John 14-16. The Holy  
Spirit would "take His place" in the disciples lives and would  
provide them with the guidance and encouragement they needed to  
complete their greater work in Jesus' absence.  Twice, Jesus told  
them to "stop letting their hearts be troubled."  The promises of  
Jesus would be more than enough to lift up their fainting hearts, and  
to know that His absence would be more than compensated by the coming  
of the PARAKLHTOS who would be exactly like himself.

If anything this little exercise has called attention to the way John  
uses key terms and plays with their meaning. It is hard for a  
translation to catch up with his Muse.

Yancy Smith
Y.W.Smith at tcu.edu
yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net
Brite Divinity School
Texas Christian University

On Jun 6, 2006, at 4:43 PM, George F Somsel wrote:

> Again, I have corrected the transliteration of the word in the  
> subject line.
>   I think it is time that we return to Jim's question below.  There  
> are some classical references and 3 entries from the Oxyrhynchus  
> Papyri.  Other than that, I only find the 5 instances in the  
> Johannine literature.  I'm wondering which "several texts" are  
> being referenced.
>   ___________
> Jim West <jwest at highland.net> wrote:
> Tunç SABUNCU wrote:
>> Hi,
>> I found this word (parakleitos) in several texts and i would like  
>> to know all of its senses.
>> In general is is translated as "advocate" or "demander of charity"  
>> but it does not fit.
>> Thank you for help
> Hello,
> Which texts do you have in mind? Context is indispensible for
> determining meaning. The basic sense of the word is "one called
> alongside" as the noun is a compound of the preposition "para" and the
> verb "kalew".
> Best
> Jim
> -- 
> Jim West, ThD
> http://web.infoave.net/~jwest -- Biblical Studies Resources
> http://petrosbaptistchurch.blogspot.com -- Weblog
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> gfsomsel
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