It’s true confession time … I hate to clean out my clothes closet. It’s a task that should be an annual event but usually turns into a dreaded undertaking only accomplished whenever I can finally muster up the courage. Why? It’s while doing this job that I have to come to terms with reality. Reality is that I have to part with a favorite shirt that is too faded or has too many holes or rips. Then there’s also the ultimate “oh-no” factor. I have to try on clothes to see if they “shrunk” while hanging in my closet. This cleaning out the closet process forces me to admit that I can’t squeeze my body into a pair of jeans that fit perfect last year but now is somehow or another smaller. Enough said …
Some time ago while reading the Gospel of John commentary written by the noted Scottish Bible scholar William Barclay, I learned that those who translated our Bible faced a situation similar to the struggle that confronts me when I go through my closet. They had to admit that from time-to-time that they had trouble squeezing the meaning and depth found in the Bible’s original Hebrew or Greek languages into an apparently much more confining English language. According to Barclay, this is particularly true of the word translated “Comforter” in John 14 through John 16. Here’s his observation:
“The Greek word is parakletos, which is really untranslatable. The Authorized Version renders it Comforter, which, although hallowed by time and usage, is not a good translation. Moffatt translates it as Helper. It is only when we examine this word parakletos in detail that we catch something of the riches of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.”
I could write a dozen or more paragraphs about this word but it would only scratch the surface of its depth. Instead, I want to give you an assignment. I want to challenge you to follow Barclay’s advice and research the Greek word parakletos. You will quickly discover that trying to contain the enormity of parakletos into just one English word is like trying to squeeze a 38 inch waist into a size 32 pair of jeans. I am convinced that as you delve into the richness of this word, you will know, appreciate, and love the Holy Spirit in a new, fresh way.
Need help and resources? There is an incredible wealth of information available through the internet. In your research, learn about parakletos being a compound Greek word, that is, two Greek words put together to form a new word. You will also want to find an Amplified Bible (available at www.biblegateway.com) and discover how this word is translated in this translation. Take the time to visit as many web sites as possible. It will be worth your while.