Body and Blood of Christ



Paraclete
                

The word used for the Spirit in the discourse after the Last Supper in John’s Gospel (Jn 14-17) is parakletos. It has been translated in different English versions of the Bible by words like 'Advocate', 'Teacher' or 'Comforter'. Even though it is the translation most often used, scholars question whether 'Advocate' is really the best translation of Paraclete in John’s Gospel.

It is interesting that in the First Epistle of John, it is Jesus who is the Advocate (1 Jn 2:1-2), pleading for us before God. On the other hand it is true to say that right throughout the Last Discourse in John's Gospel the Spirit is the personal presence of Jesus and many things are said of the Spirit which are also said of Jesus: both are sent to us from the Father to abide with us, to teach and to strengthen and bring us back again to God. The translation of 'Teacher' fits in well with passages of Acts where the word paraklesis is actually used of the way in which the Spirit teaches and strengthens the faith of believers (see Acts 15:32).

The Spirit is also called the 'Spirit of Truth; it is the Spirit who helps us to come to know the reality of a situation in the light of faith in Jesus (see Jn 16:8-15). 'Comforter' is ambiguous to say the least. The misunderstanding has come about because 'Comforter' was the translation used in the old King James version of the Bible and in the language of that time 'comforter' meant a goad, an instrument for prodding people and animals into action. A better word to translate Paraclete might therefore be 'Trainer'.

We are familiar with the function of a trainer or coach in sport; they are anything but comforters as they pummel the athlete's body into shape and bring it to a high pitch of performance for the big match. The Spirit as Paraclete, then, is the one who keeps us fit for the living out of the Christian life and makes us bold in word and action as the early Christians experienced (see Acts 4:29-31).

  


Celine Mangan

 

 

 

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Biblical Words

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Paraclete

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