A Brief History of the Paraclete

Many may think that in 1984 the movie, "Revenge of the Nerds," might have made nerdhood popular—allowed nerds to escape the closet and no longer have to hide their pocket protectors.

However, I would suggest a book first published in 1988 is more responsible— by Stephen Hawking. Anyone recognize Stephen Hawking's name?

[ Wait for answers ]

All the more proof to my point that he brought nerds into the mainstream—here is a theoretical physicist who is better known than many television stars. Not bad for scientists who might die out based on the "survival of the fittest" evolutionary theory most of them seem believe it.

For some reason when I read Winslow's Scripture for this week that book came to mind…although it seemed to me it was called "A Short History of the Universe"…

And it also seemed, with a slight adjustment to a different subject, a good title for a sermon.

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]

Thus, "A Brief History of the Paraclete."

But, what is the Paraclete?

On Wednesday when I mentioned I might use the word "paraclete"…I think it was Winslow who suggest it is what you wear for a soccer game.

"Paraclete" is the English word from the Greek transliteration, "paraklaytos" (par·ak·lay·tos per by Strong). The word only occurs 5 times in the Bible—and is only used by one author. Let's look at those occurrences together:

John 14:16-17

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

John 14:25-26

25 "These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, 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.

John 15:26

"But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

John 16:7-11

7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

Who is the paraclete?

In those references…where you heard "Helper" it is "paraclete."

So…based on those scriptures, who is the paraclete?

[ Wait for answers. ]

Right…and if we look back on John 14:26 it makes it perfectly clear who the paraclete is when Jesus says, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit…"

"Paraclete" is just a fancy name for the Holy Spirit.

Brief history of the paraclete done, correct?

Well, at this point we should be done with our brief history of the paraclete, correct?

You know better…this sermon will likely be shorter than most I preach…but it's way to early

Brief history of the Holy Spirit

What we are really discussing is a brief history of the Holy Spirit…so let's spend a little more time discussing it.

What is the most famous "creation" Scripture?

I would argue John 1:1-3:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

It is so beautiful a passage that it deserves to be most famous, but this may be one of the most read "creation" scriptures:

Genesis 1:1-2

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

What was hovering over the waters? [ The Holy Spirit ]

And the Holy Spirit was doing more than just hovering. Let's look at Psalm 33:6:

6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,

and by the breath of his mouth all their host.

Jesus is the Word, but the "breath" of God's mouth would point to the Holy Spirit. Every indication in the Bible is that the godhead worked together to form heaven and earth (although it does seem to indicate the Son took lead).

Regardless…looking at a "brief history" of the Holy Spirit…with "time" also beginning at creation…how does it begin? [ With creation. ]

And we can find much more work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament…although (based on the English Standard Version) only three times with the exact phrase, "Holy Spirit":

Psalm 51:11

Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Isaiah 63:10

But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them.

Isaiah 63:11

Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses and his people. Where is he who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his Holy Spirit,

But even in those show another big part of the brief history of the Holy Spirit…it was with the Israelites.

A "brief" history is impossible

Now…I have just scratched the surface on a brief history of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament that phrase was only used 3 times. In the New Testament, if I counted right, it occurs 89 times.

Ready to look through them all?

Clearly there is no such thing as a "brief" history of the Holy Spirit. Even with the minute quantity of Scriptures we've discussed we've learned:

  • The Holy Spirit was involved in creation
  • The Holy Spirit was "in the midst" of the Israelites
  • Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit
  • The Holy Spirit gives us truth
  • The world cannot receive the Holy Spirit
  • The Holy Spirit bears witness to Jesus
  • The Holy Spirit dwells in us
  • The Holy Spirit fought the Israelites
  • The Holy Spirit reminds us all that Jesus said
  • The Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment

Now…where did I get all of these bullets about the Holy Spirit? Were you paying attention when we were discussing the paraclete scriptures?

We've just scratched the surface…the "Holy Spirit," like "creation" last week, is to broad a topic for a single sermon…but I wanted to bring up a couple other quick points.

First, let's compare two scriptures:

Jeremiah 31:31-33

31 "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Hebrews 10:15-17

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

16 "This is the covenant that I will make with them

after those days, declares the Lord:

I will put my laws on their hearts,

and write them on their minds,"

17 then he adds,

"I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more."

Who is the "LORD" in the first reference? [ Yahweh as the Jews understood it. God. ]

Who does the writer of Hebrews say spoke those words? [ The Holy Spirit. ]

One final reference. How many times did I say the Greek word for paraclete was used in the Bible? [ 5 times. ] How many references with it did I give? [ 4. ]

Let's look at the last one together.

1 John 2:1-2

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

The word "advocate" in that case is paraclete underneath. Who is our advocate? [ Jesus. ]

Do you find it interesting that John applies the same Greek work to Jesus that he does to the Holy Spirit? No…it isn't like the transitive property in math that says if a = b and b = c, then a = c…the Holy Spirit and the Son are two separate persons in the Godhead. But, I could continue to find references that show that it is impossible to cleanly divide the Trinity into distinct pieces…and that show how they all work together. They are God.

There is a reason we are commanded to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19)…and we should thank the Trinity for sending the Holy Spirit to go before us convicting the world of sin and bearing witness to the solution, Jesus Christ!

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Alan is an ordinary guy, living in a small, high plains Colorado town...and humbled to be a minister of God...

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