Religion Wiki
For the school of Peter Abelard, see Oratory of the Paraclete.

Paraclete (Gr. παράκλητος, lat. paracletus) most commonly means the Holy Spirit.


Paraclete comes from the Koine Greek word παράκλητος (paráklētos, "one who consoles, one who intercedes on our behalf, a comforter or an advocate").[1] It may reflect a translation of the Hebrew word מְנַחֵם‎ (mənaḥḥēm "comforter"). According to Walter Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature: "the technical meaning 'lawyer', 'attorney' is rare." The word appears only in Johannine writings of the New Testament.

'Paraclete' in Christianity

'Paraclete' appears in the New Testament in the Gospel of John (14:16, 14:26, 15:26, 16:7) where it may be translated in English as "counselor", "helper", or "comforter". The early church identified the paraclete as the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5,1:8,2:4,2:38) and Christians continue to use Paraclete as a title for the Spirit of God.

In 1 John 2:1 "paraclete" is used to describe the intercessory role of Jesus Christ. And in John 14:16 Jesus says "another paraclete" will come to help his disciples, implying Jesus is the first paraclete.

In Matt 3:10-12 and Luke 3:9-17 John the Baptist says a powerful one coming after him "will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (NIV)

Verses like these are often used by Christians in Trinitarian theology to describe how God is revealed to the world and God's role in salvation. According to Trinitarian doctrine, the Paraclete or Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity who among other things provides guidance, consolation and support to people. Other titles for the Holy Spirit include 'Spirit of Truth', Lightful Spirit of God Almighty, Holy Breath, Almighty Breath, Giver of Life, Lord of Grace, Helper, 'Comforter', 'Counsellor' and 'Supporter'.

Rene Girard, a Christian anthropologist / philosopher, argues that paraclete ought to be translated as the defense attorney who is defending human beings against the assaults of Satan (the Prosecuting Attorney, the Accuser, the fomenter of violence). See Girard's book, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, pages 189-90, for his argument.

Other uses of 'paraclete' in Christianity

Some persons including Montanus in the mid-2nd century and Mani (210-276) claimed to be the promised paraclete of John 14:16.

Henry Liddell portrays the word paraclete as an antonym for diábolos, characterizing the former as a defender and the latter as an accuser. The 'clete' syllable derives from the same etymological origin as ecclesia, "assembly", those who are called together.

The paraclete is to pneuma (the spirit) to hagion (the pure one) often translated as the Holy Spirit. A pneuma can be an emissary, or messenger (angel), but is always a being without a body. At the baptism of Jesus at the Jordan River, a pneuma (Spirit) descended and remained on Jesus throughout his ministry, according to the Gospels. Jesus cast out demons by the pneuma.(see Gospel of Mark 3) He told Nicodemus "the pneuma moves where He wants to and you are hearing His voice, but do not know where He comes from or where He is going." (see John chapter 3). Before he died, he told his followers that they knew the pneuma (for he had been speaking through Jesus for three years). (cf. John 14) Jesus said when He reached heaven, He would petition the Father to send a pneuma (pure spirit) to be in them throughout the age. (John 15:26 ff) Since Jesus was "the truth," the second Spirit would be tó pneúma tēs alētheías, the emissary of Jesus -the "spirit of the truth".(John 14:17)

Paraclete according to Islamic sources and scholars

Some Muslim scholars have argued that the paraclete, the "other counselor" - the first being Jesus - refers to Prophet Muhammad. The earliest scholar is probably Ibn Ishaq; other scholars who interpreted the paraclete as a reference to Muhammad include Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Kathir, Al-Qurtubi, Rahmatullah Kairanawi, and a range of contemporary apologists.[2]

Some Muslim commentators, such as David Benjamin Keldani, argue that the original Greek word used was periklutos, meaning famed, illustrious, or praiseworthy - rendered in Arabic as Ahmad; and that this was substituted by Christians with parakletos.[3][4] However, there is no textual evidence to support the claim.[5]

See also

  • Holy Spirit
  • Paraclete High School
  • Satan or "Kategor" (= "Accuser") opponent of the "Synegor" (or paraclete or Holy Spirit) according to the Midrash

External links


  1. Strong's G3875
  3. "Isa", Encyclopedia of Islam
  4. Watt (1991) pp. 33–34
  5. Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament