The Promise of the Paraclete -- By: Johnstone G. Patrick

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 127:508 (Oct 1970)
Article: The Promise of the Paraclete
Author: Johnstone G. Patrick

The Promise of the Paraclete

Johnstone G. Patrick

[Johnstone G. Patrick, Pastor, The First Presbyterian Church of St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri.]

During the discourse of our Lord in the upper room at the Last Supper, one new doctrine, if indeed it may be called new, was repeatedly impressed on His disciples—the doctrine of the coming of the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit.

“It is deplorable,” declared the saintly and scholarly Samuel Chadwick, “that our English version mistranslates the Greek Paraclete by the word Comforter. Jesus did not promise another Comforter, but another Paraclete. This was a new name for the Spirit of God. It had never before been applied to a Divine Agent, but it is used four times in our Lord’s parting words, and is used with a deliberateness and emphasis that mark its importance. It is impossible to read the four passages in which the word occurs without feeling the inadequateness of Comforter for the office He fills. Instruction, witnessing, and conviction are not usually associated with the ministry of consolation. The translation entirely misses the mark, and is responsible for untold mischief in both doctrine and experience; and yet it has prevailed from the days of the Fathers to the latest version of the Scriptures. It misrepresents the Mission of the Spirit, has led believers to think less of obligation than of comfort, and has associated Christianity with soothing consolations rather than with conflict. The need is not comfort, but power. The call is not to pampered softness, but to the hardship of service and the strain of battle. The Holy Spirit is not given to be a nursing mother to fretful children, but the captain of a mighty host full of nerve and fire.”1 The table talk at the Last Supper opens with the tenderest and divinest consolation ever spoken to sorrow-laden souls, to be sure, but the strain of sympathy and consolation soon changes to a trumpet-toned call to glorious service.

What new doctrine, then, is this? In the teaching of this new doctrine one truth is markedly evident. The promise of the Paraclete, the giving of the gift of the Holy Spirit, is specially for the Twelve; for them first, and then for all Christ’s subsequent friends and followers. What the Holy Spirit, when He comes, will give will be peculiarly theirs, and will belong to no other. When He has come, and has worked out His full effect, the man who receives Him will be made another creature, seeing more, understanding more, able to be and do more and to endure more than ever he could have done without Him. In the light and strength supplied by the Holy Spirit, the whole perspective and horizon, the goa...

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