The Gospel of John was originally written in Greek and has since been translated to nearly every spoken language today. By examining the text in its original language, you can discover hidden meanings and interpretations that have been lost in translation over the centuries!
The Gospel of John uses a unique word to describe the Holy Spirit: the Advocate. For example: “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you” (John 14:26). We are used to thinking of the Holy Spirit as a comforter, providing guidance and consolation.
The word “advocate”, which normally refers to an official spokesperson for a cause, does not seem like such a fitting title for the Spirit of God. How is our appreciation for this unique term strengthened by looking at the original Greek? John uses the word παράκλητος (parakletos), a term borrowed from the legal realm, meaning a defense lawyer. John chooses this word because it captures a shared sense of responsibility. When we divide the word in two we get: “side” (para) “caller” (kletos). Rather than simply “advocating” and taking center stage, the Holy Spirit is “off to the side”, urging us on, holding our hand through difficult times.
Looking at the original Greek, we now understand why some newer English translations prefer the more accessible “helper” over the legalistic “advocate”. But for those who prefer the traditional term “advocate”, rest assured that this word means basically the same thing as paraklete in Latin: “one to whom we call” (ad + vocatus).
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