R.C. Sproul on the Other Comforter


In that same period of the Upper Room discourse
that Jesus had with the disciples as recorded for us in John, Jesus explains to His disciples
that He’s going away in order that He may send to them another Paraclete. Often when
we use the term Paraclete, we’re thinking that we’re referring simply to the Holy Spirit.
No, the Holy Spirit is not ‘the’ Paraclete— the Holy Spirit is ‘the other’ Paraclete. The
original Paraclete is Christ Himself as we looked at — as His being the consolation of
Israel. The old English translations of it in the New Testament speak of the Holy Spirit
as the Comforter. And we think that the purpose of the Holy Spirit’s coming into the life
of the church is to bring consolation to those who are in pain and suffering and who need
to be consoled. Well, He does that, but that’s not the primary meaning of the term comforter
as it was used in the old English. The old English translation of the Paraclete was the
English word comforter, based on the original meaning of comfort, meaning ‘with strength.’
So it’s not solace so much that is in view as it is power and strength. The paraclete was the name given to the family
attorney in the ancient world. And if you had a difficult problem that you were facing
you would summon the paraclete. Parakletos means one who is called to stand alongside
of you. And Jesus tells His disciples that ‘you are going to be dragged into prisons,
and you are going to be hated and despised. But when you’re delivered up to these councils,
don’t be worried, don’t be afraid. Because I will send the Comforter, the Paraclete,
to give you the strength, to stand beside you, that you may be faithful in times of crisis.’ Remember that He also instructed His disciples
after, that He was going to leave them, He said ‘you are to go to Jerusalem and tarry
there. Wait for a while because you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost
is come upon you.’ And again Jesus says to them ‘I won’t let you alone. I will be with
you even though I’m going away in one sense, in another way I’m going to be with you until
the ends of the earth.’ The last question the disciples ask Jesus before the ascension
was ‘Lord, will you now restore the kingdom to Israel?’ What did Jesus say? He said ‘it’s none of your business when I’m going to restore the kingdom of Israel, but
your responsibility is this: you shall be My witnesses, after that the Holy Ghost is
come upon you.’ And so one the most important reasons for
Jesus’ ascension to the right hand was that Pentecost would take place — that the Father
and the Son would pour out the Holy Spirit upon the church. And the purpose of that outpouring
of the Holy Spirit was to empower the church for its earthly mission, to empower the church
for ministry. Again, to witness for Christ in a corrupt world requires
strength greater than our own.