This article is about an ancient Greek term. For the Benedictine monastery, see Oratory of the Paraclete.

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.

In Classical Greek

The term is not common in non-Jewish texts.[2] 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[3] 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.[4]

In Judaism

Philo speaks several times of "paraclete" advocates[5] 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 מליץ יושר (Melitz Yosher[6]).

Events in the
Life of Jesus
according to the Gospels

Portals: Christianity Bible

 Book:Life of Jesus

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

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

The New Testament Studies peer-reviewed journal, published by Cambridge University Press, describes a “striking similarity” between the defined attributes of what the Paraclete is, and is to do, and what the outcome of Christian prophecy has spoken to, explaining the Paraclete as the post-Passover gift of the Holy Spirit. “The Paraclete represents the Spirit as manifested in a particular way, as a pneumatic Christian speech charisma. Every verb describing the ministry of the Paraclete is directly related to his speech function.”[8]

The early church identified the Paraclete as the Holy Spirit.[9] In first-century Jewish and Christian understanding, the presence of the Holy Spirit is to claim rebirth of prophecy.[8]

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."[10]

Scholar interpretations

Raymond Brown (1970)[11][12] supported by Johnston (2005)[13] 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.[14][15]

Jesus is quoted in the Gospel of Matthew using 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.[16] 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'.[17]

In John 14:16, Jesus is quoted saying "another Paraclete" will come to help his disciples, implying Jesus is the first and primary Paraclete.[14]

Paraclete first appearing in gospel

Here is the context of the passage in John (14:15-27), with the translation of Paraclete as Advocate shown in bold:

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth.[8] The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.[8] 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.[14] 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.[8][14] 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.[8][14] 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit,[8] whom the Father will send in my name,[14] will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.[8][14]

In Islam

Many Muslim writers have argued that “another Paraclete” (John 14:16)—the first being Jesus—refers to Muhammad. This claim is based on the Quran verse from Surah 61 verse 6. The earliest scholar is probably Ibn Ishaq (died 767), who Islamic tradition states was the grandson of a Christian.[18] 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.[19][20]

Here are two translations of the passage in Surat 61 verse 6:

"And [mention] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said, "O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad." But when he came to them with clear evidences, they said, "This is obvious magic."

- Sahih International

"And when Jesus, son of Mary, said: "O children of Israel, I am God's messenger to you, authenticating what is present with me of the Torah and bringing good news of a messenger to come after me whose name will be acclaimed." But when he showed them the clear proofs, they said: "This is clearly magic."

- Modern Literal Translation

Regarding Ibn Ishaq's biography of Muhammad, the Sirat Rasul 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."[21]

A few Muslim commentators, such as David Benjamin Keldani (1928), have argued the theory 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.[22][23]

Regarding what the original Greek term was, according to A. Guthrie and E. F. F. Bishop:

"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][25]
"Once more, if we omit the phrase, ‘bearing the name Ahmad,’ and regard Muhammad as still drawing lessons from previous history, the dubious passage might refer to what happened at Pentecost, and other incidents recorded in the earlier chapters of the Acts. With the absence of any claim on this passage either by Ibn Ishaq or Ibn Hisham, may we go further and suggest that the two Arabic words rendered by Dr. Bell, ‘bearing the name Ahmad,’ are an interpolation to be dated after the death of Muhammad.[25][26] ( emphasis in original )

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.[27]

A letter from antiquity

In Ghevond's version of the The Correspondence of Leo III [717-41] and Umar II [717 -20]: Late Eighth Century to Early Ninth Century, C.E.,[28] we read what Emperor Leo III the Isaurian wrote to Umar II regarding the Paraclete:

“We recognize Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as the authors of the Gospel, and yet I know that this truth, recognized by us Christians wounds you, so that you seek to find accomplices for your lie. In brief, you admit that we say that it was written by God, and brought down from the heavens, as you pretend for your Furqan, although we know that it was `Umar, Abu Turab and Salman the Persian, who composed that, even though the rumor has got round among you that God sent it down from heavens…. [God] has chosen the way of sending [the human race] Prophets, and it is for this reason that the Lord, having finished all those things that He had decided on beforehand, and having fore-announced His incarnation by way of His prophets, yet knowing that men still had need of assistance from God, promised to send the Holy Spirit, under the name of Paraclete, (Consoler), to console them in the distress and sorrow they felt at the departure of their Lord and Master. I reiterate, that it was for this cause alone that Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, since He sought to console His disciples for His departure, and recall to them all that he had said, all that He had done before their eyes, all that they were called to propagate throughout the world by their witness. Paraclete thus signifies "consoler", while Muhammad means "to give thanks", or "to give grace", a meaning which has no connection whatever with the word Paraclete.” [29]

See also


  1. "LSJ Lexicon entry". Retrieved 2014-03-11.
  2. According to Walter Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature: "the technical meaning 'lawyer', 'attorney' is rare."
  3. ἐσθ᾽ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν καὶ ὅλης τῆς πόλεως, αἱ δὲ τῶν παρακλήτων αὗται δεήσεις καὶ σπουδαὶ τῶν ἰδίων πλεονεξιῶν εἵνεκα γίγνονται,
  4. 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.
  5. 30 October 2009 (2009-10-30). "The six uses of paraclete by Philo tabulated (halfway down article)". Retrieved 2014-03-11.
  6. The Orthodox Jewish Brit Chadasha Bible Translation
  7. Definition and etymology of Paraclete
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "The Influence of Christian Prophecy on the Johannine Portrayal of the Paraclete and Jesus". New Testament Studies. Cambridge University Press. 25 (01): 113–123. October 1978. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  9. Allison, Gregg (2011). Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine. Zondervan. p. 431. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  10. "The Letters of Abelard and Heloise", Betty Radice, Trans. London: Penguin, 1973. P. 30
  11. 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"
  12. 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, ."
  13. 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 "
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Lutkemeyer, Lawrence J. "THE ROLE OF THE PARACLETE (Jn. 16:7-15)". The Catholic Biblical Quarterly. Catholic Biblical Association. 8 (02): 220. JSTOR 43719890.
  15. 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."
  16. "Matthew, chapter 5". Retrieved 2014-03-11.
  17. "Greek Word Study Tool". Retrieved 2014-03-11.
  18. 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."
  19. 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."
  20. "The Promised Prophet of the Bible". 2007-07-31. Retrieved 2014-03-11.
  21. 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.
  22. "Isa", Encyclopedia of Islam
  23. Watt (1991) pp. 33–34
  24. A. Guthrie and E. F. F. Bishop, p.253-254.
  25. 1 2 WATT, W. MONTGOMERY (April 1953). "HIS NAME IS AHMAD". The Muslim World. 43 (2): 110–117. doi:10.1111/j.1478-1913.1953.tb02180.x. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  26. A. Guthrie and E. F. F. Bishop, The Paraclete, Almunhamanna and Ahmad, Muslim World XLI (October, 1951), p.254-255; italics: emphasis in original.
  27. Ahmed Deedat (1994). "Muhummed (pbuh) Is The "Paraclete"". The Choice: Islam and Christianity, Volume 1. ideas4islam. pp. 59–63.
  28. Robert G. Hoyland, Seeing Islam As Others See It. A Survey and Evaluation of Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian Writings on Early Islam. Princeton, N.J.: The Darwin Press Inc. 1997, page 499.
  29. Arthur Jeffery, Ghevond`s Text of the Correspondence Between `Umar II and Leo III. Harvard Theological Review. XXXVII (1944), pages 269-332, pages 292-293.

External links

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