On The Holy Spirit Introduction
As we take another step closer to the great jubilee year of 2000, it is fitting that a paper on the Holy Spirit be written. 1998 is the year that our Holy Father has designated as the year of the Spirit. We focused on the Son in 1997 and next year concentration will be on the Father. While the three persons of the Trinity are inseparable, we can certainly study or pay careful attention to the role of each. In many ways, the Sons and the Fathers roles are clear in the history of salvation. The Father sent his only Son to be born of a woman and dwell in flesh among us to eventually die for our sins. The death and resurrection of the Son brought humanity back into communion with the Father. However, the Holy Spirit who is eternal and united with the Father and Son is often times forgotten. There are certainly texts in Sacred Scripture that mention the Spirit, but somehow the third person of the Trinity remains mysterious. Many great saints have had incredible insight into the role of the Holy Spirit, but for the sake of this paper, I wish to examine one saints insight in particular. St. John the evangelist gives us a clear image of the role of the Holy Spirit in his gospel. In particular, I would like to focus on the following verses: Jn. 14:26, 15:26-28, and 16:8-13. In these verses, St John introduces the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete. I would like to focus on the meaning and role of this Paraclete in the Gospel of John. Once we understand the meaning of the term Paraclete, we ultimately have to ask why the Paraclete was sent to humanity. This question can be answered by examining the Spirits roles illustrated in the three verses that I previously mentioned. In these verses, the Paraclete acts as a teacher, witness and accuser. As a teacher, witness and accuser, the term Paraclete will be defined and understood in a better light. Furthermore, in viewing these roles, the Paraclete will be seen, ultimately, as being sent to glorify the Son and inevitably the Father.
I) Paraclete Meaning & "other Paraclete"
In order to discuss the roles of the Holy Spirit in the gospel of John, we must first look at one of the main terms used for the third person of the Trinity. John uses the Spirit of Truth many times to refer to the Holy Spirit. However, I would like to focus on the Greek word, paraklhtoV , which is used especially in the farewell discourses. In Chapter 14:16, John makes use of this word to describe the Spirit, who will come after Jesus. However, paraklhtoV, is used first to refer to Jesus himself. In 1 John 2:1-2, we read: "My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." Jesus is the Advocate with the Father, as we see in this text. I will discuss later on the meaning of the term Paraclete, but this term clearly illustrates the work of Jesus. Jesus, through his death and resurrection gave us a way out of our slavery to sin. Through the blood of the Cross we have now been saved. That is why John can say that we have an Advocate or helper with the Father. We finally have been helped out of our misery and sin now that Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father in glory. Jesus is the first Advovate but the Holy Spirit is also an Advocate. He is the other advocate, the one promised by Jesus to come. After Jesus ascended to Heaven, more still had to be done, even though all revelation had been completed in Jesus. The disciples were still in need of help. We too, are in need of this Advocate everyday. We have been helped out of the slavery to sin, but now we need to remain in Christ. This is precisely where the Holy Spirit fits into the picture and acts in the role of Paraclete. "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always...(Jn 14:16)." Our Holy Father states that "Christ himself is the first Paraclete, and that the Holy Spirits action will be like that of Christ and in a sense prolong it ." The Holy Spirit is an advocate as Jesus was an advocate, but what exactly is an advocate? What does St John mean when he uses this word, paraklhtoV?
John Paul II states that the verb parakalein means, to call to ones assistance. The noun paraklhtoV can mean intercessor as Poitterie suggests. He further states that this role of intercessor was borrowed from the Jews by the Greeks. The intercessor for the Jews was one who interceded on behalf of people to the tribunal of God. In Jewish Theology, the paracletes (the word comes from Greek) were the intercessors of the OT, e.g. the prophets, the patriarchs, the saints; not only these people, but also good works, prayers, personal sacrifices, were called paracletes. Very different is the idea of Paraclete in John " Fr Marcato speaks of the Paraclete as the Assistant in the life of the Church. It also can mean advocate, defender, or mediator, as John Paul II mentions. The Holy Father says that " parakletos means literally. one who is called or appealed to (from parakalein, to call to ones assistance). He is therefore the defender, the advocate, as well as the mediator who fulfills the function of intercessor." The Spirit of Truth takes on all these roles which are all very similar in meaning. The Holy Spirit was sent after the first Paraclete, Jesus, to help us. Jesus saved and freed us from our bondage to sin, thus giving us a hope for eternal life. However, a further question needs to asked. How is the Holy Spirit an advocate or helper ? In what ways does the Paraclete help us today? Let us now see how the Paraclete fulfills this role as a Teacher, Witness and Accuser.
II)Roles of the Paraclete
A)Paraclete as teacher
[John 14:26] The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name--he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
In this text from John we get a clear picture of the Paraclete as a teacher. However, the first question we must ask, is why did the Holy Spirit have to come at all? If Jesus is the perfection and fullness of all revelation, then why must the Holy Spirit be sent to teach the disciples all things? The New Jerome Biblical Commentary offers insight in this area by looking at the disposition of the disciples. When Jesus spoke and taught while on earth, not everyone understood his message. This is precisely why he spoke in parables so often. The disciples couldnt comprehend completely all he was telling them. Another factor was that the ministry of Jesus was limited. He was only physically on earth for roughly thirty thirty three years. Within that life span, his teaching ministry was very short. The two factors of brevity of ministry and the limited faculties of the disciples, give insight why all Jesus teachings didnt fully penetrate into the minds of the disciples. According to Schnackenburg, the Spirit was sent to continue the revelation of Jesus bringing his teachings to a deeper level. Nothing new would be revealed, but the teachings would penetrate deeper. Secondly, the disciples would call to mind all that Jesus had said himself. The Spirit would make the teachings more explicit. Poitterie says that because of the limited time of Jesus and the disciples not being fully aware as well, the Spirit was sent to continue the work of the Son as a representative. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit penetrates and intensifies the hearts of men to cause the teachings of Jesus to enter. Finally, Von Speyer adds that by Jesus speaking of the Spirit beforehand and recommending the Spirit to the disciples, a certain trust was created within them. This trust made it easier for them to receive the Spirit later on. The teaching of the Spirit will be that of Jesus. Von Speyer says that the Spirit will not differ from Jesus, but the teaching will be all one teaching. "Nothing essential must get lost; everything that Jesus has revealed, must be safeguarded and announced, without alterations or reductions."So we can see that the teaching of the Spirit in Jn 14:26 is the revelation of Jesus penetrating the hearts of men deeper. "The Spirit teaches the disciples, so that they can carry on Jesus mission; they will receive a deeper understanding of Jesus revelation, a global and gradual development of this revelation, according to the different historical needs; it does not imply a different or new doctrine, in comparison with Jesus doctrine." Nothing new will be revealed, but all things will be explained and comprehended fuller through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will teach all things and remind them what the Son has already revealed.
The Greek word upomnhsei means to remind or to bring to remembrance. The action of reminding is precisely what the Paraclete does. In fact, in bringing to remembrance the teachings of Jesus to the disciples we are led to verse 16:13.
"But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come [John 16:13]." The disciples will be led to the Truth as they call to mind all that the Lord had taught them . The Greek word, odhghsei, means to guide or lead. The Paraclete will lead and guide the believers to all the Truth. Von Speyer states that the historical event of the Cross will be expanded into a basic fact of Christianity. The Spirit will help them understand suffering, especially the suffering of the Cross. John Paul II says that the Church is led to the Truth by the Spirit and that same Spirit helps her to understand the revealed truth. The Paraclete safeguards the teachings of the Church at work in the magesterium. The Paraclete led the first disciples to the Truth and continues even now in the one and same Church. Daily Christs Church is being led and guided to all Truth. This guiding, however, is one of quality and not quantity. This is so the mysteries of faith can be better understood. Actually, John uses a familiar theme from Wisdom literature, as well as, the Psalms. In Wisdom 9:10-12 the text reads, "...that she may be with me and toil, and that I may learn what is pleasing to thee. For she knows and understands all things, and she will guide me wisely in my actions." In Psalm 142:10, the text reads, " Teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God! Let thy good Spirit lead me on a level path!" The Old Testament thought influenced St. John in his emphasis of the Paraclete guiding the faithful to the Truth.
The second half of the verse is very interesting as well. "...He will declare to you the things that are to come." The Greek word, anaggellein,means to carry back word, report, to declare plainly or to announce. This latter definition fits best in the role of the Spirit. In fact, Poitterie goes further and says that this word means to offer an explanation of a previous revelation, not a new one. This previous revelation is the teaching of Jesus. In fact, in Jn 16:25, Jesus says he will not speak in figures but will speak plainly. The Greek word for speaking plainly is apaggellein. Apaggellein is not only similar in appearance, but also in definition as it means to report, carry back word and declare plainly. The small difference, however, rests in the two speakers each word refers to. In 16:25, apaggellein, refers to Jesus speaking, and in 16:13, anaggellein refers to the Paraclete. The interesting aspect of these two words is the comparison in the way Jesus speaks plainly, to the same way the Spirit speaks plainly. The Spirit will only continue what the Son has began, speaking in the same way. The Spirit will guide them to all Truth and declare all things plainly, just as Jesus did.
B) Paraclete as Witness
"When the Counselor comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me. And you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning [John 15:26]." I have shown how the Paraclete is a teacher, but now let us see how the Spirit can also be seen as a witness. In Jn 15: 26-28, we see that the Counselor or Paraclete bears witness to Christ. He teaches only what the Son had already revealed all the while witnessing to him daily. In fact, Adrienne Von Speyer speaks of a "letting go and being sent", with regards to this Trinitarian relationship. She says, that the Father issues, while the Son sends, and the Spirit proceeds from both.. The Spirit then goes to mankind and bears witness to the Son, who of course in turn, leads us to the Father. There is a letting go and being sent image present here. The Trinity can only give and receive freely to each other. There is always a mutual self giving eternally among the three persons. "By advancing and progressing from glory to glory, the light of the Trinity will shine in ever more brilliant rays (Gregory Nazianzus)." St. Gregory is speaking of the progression of each person of the Trinity and each revealing himself. The Spirit comes after the Son and as a result, shines ever more. The Paraclete is sent by the Son and goes out to all mankind. The next question would have to be, why? A simple answer is to give glory and witness to Christ and his gospel. However, if we look at the Greek word for witness, we will gain further insight into the action taking place, thus arriving at a more complete answer.
The word for witness in Greek is marturew. In Jn 15:26, marturhsei is used, which is the third person, future active indicative of the original marturew. The action of the Paraclete is one of the future, meaning to bear witness or testify. In fact, the Synoptic Gospels do not use the word witness. St. John uses this word strictly in the judicial sense here. A trial, not human, is taking place. John often mentions a momentous religious trial in which Jesus stands against the world. In this great trial that is taking place, the faithful need to be built up and strengthened in order to testify or give witness to Christ and the Gospel. The Spirit carries out this action daily in all the faithful. In times of doubt and despair it is the Spirit that comes to intervene and strengthen their faith so they do not give up the fight. By the faithful bearing witness to Christ and his gospel, the gospel becomes an active power. Our current Holy Father speaks on this action as well: "...together with them and through them he bears witness to Christ and His Gospel. The Spirit speaks through their words and inspires them. The Spirit is made present internally within the faithful and as a result, externally, they bear action. This brings us to the action of the faithful and to a further understanding of how the Spirit witnesses to the Son. In verse 27 of this same chapter, Jesus states that the disciples will testify or bear witness to him as well. This action is not excluded to the Paraclete alone, but rests upon all of us to. In fact, the Greek word is where we derive our English word, martyr. The holy men and women who have given their lives for Christ and his gospel are called martyrs. St. Stephen is the first of these that we have recorded. In Acts 6, St. Stephen speaks against the hard hearted in the synagogue and as a result is stoned to death. However, we can see the strength he received from the Spirit as he underwent the persecution. St. Stephen, in Acts 6:55, in being, "full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God." Throughout the martyrdom , St. Stephen gave witness to Christ and the glory of God. His last words were to forgive his persecutors, showing that he gave witness to the gospel of love even to his last breath.
We give witness, according to William Barclay, by first having a personal intimacy with Christ. After we achieve that fellowship with him we gain an inner conviction and then ultimately give an outward testimony to the faith. The great saints and martyrs of the faith have all had this inner conviction and fellowship. That is why, to bear witness to Christ was part of their daily lives. We are all called to bear witness to Christ daily, but that is not possible if we do not truly believe or have an inner conviction internally. The Holy Spirit is there to strengthen our faith and help us daily. "The Holy Spirit equips them with superhuman power in order that in spite of opposition and persecution they may preach the word of God, i.e., the message of Jesus Christ, with unflagging courage and burning zeal in the power of Christ." The Holy Spirit equips us so that we may go out to all the nations of the world. We are called to bring the gospel to our communities and to all the world. In doing this we will bear witness to Christ. We will ultimately give glory to the risen Lord and his gospel message, which he wishes to be proclaimed to all nations. This message can only be delivered if we have been strengthened by the Spirit first. The Spirit is there to help us and aid us in bearing witness to Christ. Christ knew there would be persecution and despair in our lives so he sent the Paraclete to build us up and strengthen us daily. The Spirit and all the faithful work together in a collaboration to bear witness to Christ. In fact, H.B Swete says that "the life in Galilee is crowned by the gift of Pentecost." This means that the experience of the disciples was combined with the action of the Spirit at Pentecost. It would not have been enough to simply send the Spirit upon a bunch of men who never heard or lived with Christ. They would have had no personal experience. Likewise, it would have been equally difficult to have the disciples go out without the help of the Spirit. The two are needed together to work effectively. This collaboration is at work even today. We, who have received the tradition of the disciples, work with the same Spirit who came at Pentecost. We are invited to be filled with the life and gifts of the Spirit as the disciples were in the upper room on that first Pentecost. As the Church went forth from the upper room, we are called to go out as well. The disciples didnt stay there forever, but they went out and proclaimed the gospel to all. We too are invited to visit the upper room and then go forth with the gifts received and bear witness to the world.
C) Paraclete as Accuser
"And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned [John 16:8]." In this text we see the third and final role of the Paraclete. The Paraclete is one who accuses or convicts the world of a sin, righteousness and condemnation. The Greek word for accuse or convict is elegzei. This word is the third person future active indicative meaning to reproof, refute, convict or accuse. The action taking place is that of the Paraclete coming in the future to convict or accuse the world. What will the Paraclete accuse the world of? The text gives us the answer of sin, righteousness, and condemnation or judgment. First, the Spirit will accuse the world by first convincing us of our sin. Poitterie refers to this sin as the sin of refusing to believe in Christ. It is the action of rejecting Jesus. It is the action of crucifying the Lord not only on that Good Friday but each and everyday we deny and reject the Lord. In the Gospel of John, the world is seen as negative and against Jesus. By convincing the people of the errors of the world they will ultimately by the grace of God, draw near to Christ. The Paraclete calls us all to conversion towards Jesus and aversion from sin. The sin of not believing in Christ is what the Spirit comes to convince and accuse us all of. This accusation is ultimately for our salvation. Pope John Paul II makes this point clear in Dominum et Vivificantem. He states that Jesus came primarily to save the world. Christ gave us the command to go forth and proclaim repentance and baptize all people. He calls for conversion and forgiveness of sins. Our Holy Father goes on to state that by Spirit convinces us of sin, we receive a double gift of the truth of conscience and the certainty of redemption. Jesus came to save the world and he desires this so much that he sent the Paraclete to accuse us of sin. In accusing us of our sin we can truly be set free and draw closer to Christ. The Paraclete helps us to see our sinfulness and the great need of Gods grace and forgiveness. Thus we become aware of the great gift of salvation offered to us by Jesus from the cross and can truly say, Amen.
Jesus also states that the Paraclete will accuse them of righteousness. Righteousness can be seen as justice as well. In fact, this justice and righteousness is the triumph of the Cross and Jesus victory over death and sin. Jesus is glorified at the right hand of the Father and has conquered death and sin and, as a result, won for us salvation. The true justice came after he was crucified. The Romans and Jews thought justice was delivered in crucifying Christ, but in reality, righteousness and justice was revealed when Jesus rose and was then glorified with the Father. The Spirit comes to us to make us aware of this glorification and true justice. The Paraclete comes to make clear that Jesus triumphed over sin and the world with his death and resurrection. This justice is passed on to all believers as well. Through Christ, all men may now attain righteousness too. If we truly believe and live for the Lord, we may attain righteousness and eternal life. The Spirit comes to pull us all out of confusion and make us aware of the ultimate meaning of justice. Adrienne Von Speyer goes on to say that this final meaning of justice is the Lords love. It is a love that brought the Fathers only Son into this world, only to die for all of us. It is a love that has saved us from sin and has given us an opportunity for eternal life, by the blood of the cross. The Lords love, which is brought to all by the Spirit, reveals the true meaning of justice and righteousness. Finally, the Paraclete comes to accuse or convict us of condemnation. Condemnation can be defined also as judgment. The question is, who is on trial and condemned? " World here is clearly very negative. The background is something like the last judgement, which takes place before Gods court: the world, which has crucified Jesus, is the defendant, while the Paraclete is the prosecutor." The world is on trial as we can see, but the prince of this word is already condemned. Satan is condemned because he has rejected God. Satan made the eternal choice to rule in hell than to serve God and as a result through the victory of the Cross has been condemned. " concerning judgement, because the ruler of this world has been judged(Jn. 16:11)." The Greek word for judged in this text is kekritai. Fr. Marcato states that this Greek verb alludes to a definitive sentence: "He was and is judged." Death and sin have been defeated by the blood of the Cross. The Holy Spirit comes to reestablish truth. John Paul II says that the Holy Spirit demonstrates the guilt of the world by convincing the world of the sin of disbelief in Christ. This accusation is for the good of all humanity, so that all may be saved. However, the prince of the world, Satan, has already been judged and condemned. The world is still awaiting judgment though. It is a struggle that has already been determined, but there is still time for the world. The final victory draws near and the final doom over sin as well. The Spirit comes to us to convince us of our sin and calls us to righteousness so that we may be judged accordingly and not be condemned.
The Gospel of John uses the theme of this great trial, especially in John 16:8. John speaks of the accusation of sin, righteousness and judgment by the Holy Spirit to demonstrate the great trial that is taking place. This trial is that of Jesus against the world. As I mentioned, elegzei means to convince or refute. This word is used specifically to illustrate a trial that is taking place. Poitterie says it actually has several meanings within a trial. It can mean to make an examination or to investigate. In addition, to interrogate or put to the test is another possibility. Thirdly, elegzei could mean to clarify a fact, expose it, or unravel it. Finally, elegzei could mean simply to convince someone of error and furnish the proof of ones guilt. Regardless, John is illustrating a great trial in which the Paraclete is the accuser or prosecutor. It is a trial in which the outcome and battle has been decided. Jesus has triumphed and has won the victory. However, the world or defendant, is on trial for its disbelief in Christ.. The Paraclete has come to convince and accuse the people of this sin in hope of bringing them to righteousness and salvation. However, the world is ruled by Satan, the condemned, and nonetheless tries to bring others down with him. This is the great trial that is taking place in the Gospel of John. The Spirit has come to accuse and convince all men of their sin, so they may released from the grip of Satan and draw near to Jesus. Here one can see the true sense of Paraclete as helper in the action of the Spirit. The Trinity desires all to be saved and thus gives completely of itself by going out to all men throughout the world.
We have now seen how the Holy Spirit, whom St John refers to as the Paraclete is an advocate, mediator, intercessor, helper, and defender. The question, why send the Holy Spirit? is not so mysterious now. The Father knew that we needed to be saved and so he sent his Son. The Son freely chose to become man and die for all of humanity, so that we may have eternal life. However, although we have been set free by the Cross, from the snares of death and sin, we are also weak in nature. That is why we need Gods grace to build upon our nature and strengthen us every day. In accord with this the Father sent the other Paraclete to penetrate mans heart and remind him of all that the Son had taught while on earth. God knew there would be trials and tough times ahead for all of us. Indeed, throughout history, persecutions and martyrdoms have taken place. In all these cases, the third person of the Trinity was there to help. The Paraclete is there to defend, aid, and advocate for all of us in the toughest times.
The Paraclete fulfills and gives meaning to this term of helper, advocate, and intercessor in the roles of teacher, witness, and accuser. I have attempted to display how as a teacher the Spirit only called to mind the teachings of Jesus. St John, beautifully, illustrates the work the Holy Spirit in regards to teaching the faithful. "The thought that there is a living divine teacher in the heart of each believer a teacher who is the ongoing presence of Jesus, preserving what he taught but interpreting it anew in each generation is surely one of the greatest contributions made to Christianity by John." The Paraclete brought to remembrance what the Divine Master had taught previously. He came to declare plainly, just as the Son had declared during his earthly ministry. In announcing this message to the faithful the Paraclete guides and leads all to the Truth. He leads all people to the Son, who is the Truth, and inevitably, we are led to glorify the Father as well. The Paraclete glorifies the Son and the Father as he brings to the minds of the faithful and continues to teach what the Son taught previously. As a witness, the Spirit is also seen as a helper or defender. In the great trial that St John uses so often, the Spirit is the witness of Christ. The Spirit testifies that Jesus is Lord of all. In fact, the Paraclete was sent to build up the Church and faithful so that they would in turn witness to Christ. This witness that the Spirit gives is one of strengthening and building up of the faithful. By strengthening the faithful, the Spirit fulfills the role of witness and helps us live out our call to evangelize. As we are strengthened and animated by the spirit, we are led to witness as well, just as the first disciples did at Pentecost. We are called to witness to Christ and his Gospel and stand against the ways of the world The Spirit as a witness, glorifies the Son and ultimately the Father as well. "He will glorify me (JN 16:14)." The Paraclete will glorify the Son according to this Johannine text. The faithful as well will glorify the Son. "Thanks to His invisible, but ongoing action, the Spirit makes Jesus word present and contemporary in the disciples life; by the help of the Paraclete, the disciples will be able to bear witness to Christ, and so to give glory to the Father." He leads all the faithful to witness with him so that the Son may be glorified with the Father. Finally, the Spirit gives real meaning to Paraclete in the role of Accuser. The prince of this world has been condemned already. Satan has been judged, but we all still have time. The Spirit is sent to convict and help us see our sin. However, Jesus desires that we all be saved. The Spirit was sent to accuse us of sin so that we may repent and live are lives for the Lord as we await the second coming. The prince of the world has been condemned or judged already, but we have time. The Spirit accuses us all of our sin, so that we may see the righteousness and true justice in Jesus at the right hand of the Father in all his glory. We can again see that the spirit glorifies the Son in yet another role. As an Accuser or one who convicts us of our sin, we are led to conversion and to see the true justice. We are led to give glory to the Son as we gaze at the triumph of the cross. This triumph put an end to death and sin and has given us all a hope for eternal life with the Trinity. In the great trial, we are given the choice to stand with the world or with Jesus. The fate of the world with Satan, its prince, has been decided. We are invited to be filled with the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, so that we may be strengthened and guided to the Truth. Jesus as the Truth desires all of us to share eternal life with him. That is ultimately why the Spirit was sent. The Paraclete was sent to formalize and sustain the life of Christ within each of us so that we may in turn give glory to the Father and Son. As a teacher, witness, and accuser, the Paraclete ultimately has one task. William Fitch makes it quite clear when he says that the Spirit has only one objective and that is to glorify the Son. Of course, when the Son is glorified, the Father and even the Spirit himself are glorified as well. That one task of glorifying the Son, is so that all nations may come to believe Jesus is Lord. Therefore, appropriately, at the end of this paper, we proclaim the words which the Paraclete fulfills daily: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit!
John Sistare, Seminarian, Angelicum in Rome
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