John 14:16-17 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you."
I'll never forget my fourth grade teacher. This remarkable lady had only been with our fourth grade class for a half year. Due to unforeseen circumstances, my teacher had to leave mid-year with another taking her place. Despite that short period of time, my teacher had helped me to discover a love for reading. With a span of three months, the teacher had raised my reading level. Her encouragement spurred me onto a life-time adventure of reading. I often think of the various people God has placed across my path. In my last count, I identified over 125 specific people (teachers, maintenance people, cooks, various leaders and so forth) that I can say helped me along my journey.
Human persons can be used greatly of God in helping and providing strength. However, I can think of no other Person that grants more help, comfort or strength than the Holy Spirit. In today's post we aim to look at the ministry of the Holy Spirit as "the Comforter" or "Helper". It is hoped that you will discover what God's Word has to say, and in the process learn what the Bible truly means by the Spirit's comforting ministry.
1. What the Old Testament has to say about the Lord as the "Comforter" or "Helper"
The Holy Spirit's work of comfort or help implies Him being no less than God Himself. Jesus of course spoke to His disciples of how He was going to send to them the Holy Spirit as the "comforter", or as this term is rendered in other translations "Helper" (John 14:16; 15:26-27; 16:7). This promise from Jesus has in mind all of the references to Yahweh as the "Helper" or "Comforter" of Israel. In one of the first mentions of this title we read in Deuteronomy 33:26 “There is none like the God of Jeshurun,Who rides the heavens to your help, And through the skies in His majesty." Isaiah 49:8 is another example where the LORD identifies Himself as the "Helper" of His people: "Thus says the Lord, 'In a favorable time I have answered You,
And in a day of salvation I have helped You; and I will keep You and give You for a covenant of the people, To restore the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritages.'"
It is very clear as one studies the revelation of the Old Testament that the primary attribute of God that is disclosed by this word translated "Helper" is that of God's strength. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament explains this word (Hebrew "ezer") translated helper:
So in all reality, the LORD as the believer's "Helper" is truly the One who strengthens.2
2. What Jesus teaches about the Holy Spirit as the "Helper" or "paraclete" or "comforter"
Clearly the Lord revealed Himself as the "Helper" or "Strengthener" of His people in the Old Testament. Such a title was clearly assigned to the God of scripture in the Old Testament, and continues on in Jesus' statements about Himself and the Holy Spirit. When Jesus says in John 14:16 that He will send to the disciples "another comforter" or as rendered in some English translations "another Helper", He is speaking of another who is of like-kind to Himself. The word Jesus uses to describe the Holy Spirit and Himself has the same meaning as the word we saw earlier in our study of the LORD's self designation in the Old Testament.
Without a doubt the Person of the Son, being truly Divine while being truly man, promised His disciples that upon his exit from this world in His ascension that He would send them another "Comforter". This "Comforter" or "Helper" would exercise the same level of strengthening ministry as Jesus. Case in point, consider John 15:26-27 “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, 27 and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning."
1. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Moody. 1980. Page 1597.
2. As an interesting side note, when God tells Adam that Eve is going to be His "helpmeet" in Genesis 2:20, the idea is that without her, Adam would be incomplete. The same Hebrew word "ezer" is used in Genesis 2:20 as we find throughout the self-revealed title that the Lord uses for Himself in describing the need of His people for His strength and help. The bringing of the woman to the man not only would complete him but actually supply strength - i.e help.
3. The word translated "comforter" or "helper" in John 14:16 is the word "parakletos" from the verb "parakaleo" from whence comes the sometimes used title for the Holy Spirit "The Paraklete". The word refers to someone who "comes up alongside and offers strength and support". Jesus Himself is described as being our Heavenly "advocate" or "Paraclete" in 1 John 2:1 who ever represents our interests before His Father in Heaven as the believer's Prophet, priest and King. Hence the Holy Spirit then is the believer's "paraclete" or "advocate" here on earth Who works in concert with Jesus, the believer's "Advocate" or "Strengthener" in Heaven.