Jesus’ Upper Room Discourse (John 14-17) is the final teaching session Jesus had with His disciples. It took place the night in which He was betrayed, the eve of His execution. He knew His disciples were discouraged because He was going away. So, He said to them, ‘I will ask the Father, and He will you give you another Helper [Paraclete], to be with you forever” (John 14:16; cf. 15:26).
The Greek word for paraclete “literally means someone one who is called to come alongside of someone else. In Greek culture, a paraclete was a family attorney [called an advocate] who came to defend family members accused of wrongdoing. The paraclete was the defender, the strengthener, to assist people in times of trouble.”
Notice that in John 14:16 the Holy Spirit is introduced as another Paraclete, “another Paraclete alongside of Jesus.” “If anyone sins, we have an advocate [paraclete] with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). “Jesus is both our Judge and our Advocate. When we go on trial before almighty God, Christ will be sitting on the bench as Judge, and as we enter that courtroom, we will discover that the Judge is also our Attorney… who will defend us before the Father.
“We also need a defender in the midst of this hostile world. That is why, in the midst of His discourse about hatred [15:18], persecution [15:20], and affliction [16:33], Jesus promised to send another Advocate. He promised the Holy Spirit, who will be our family attorney, there for us on permanent retainer. He will be there to encourage us, to defend us, and to strengthen us in the heat of the battle. The image of the Comforter is not of One who comes to dry our tears after the battle but of One who comes to give us strength and courage for the battle.”
Of course, the Holy Spirit also ministers to us in our pain and affliction. “He is indeed the One who gives us the peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7).”
In John 16:12-15, we see again “that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to apply the work of Christ to His people, and He does this by sanctifying us, by revealing the truth of God to us, and by coming to us in strength.”
In John 14:25-27, we see that “Jesus was preparing His disciples for His imminent departure and ministering to them in their fear…. They had been strengthened and encouraged by His presence, but He was going away. Yet they were not left to fend for themselves. The Holy Spirit would be with them to speak truth, to encourage them, and to cause them to be faithful in the midst of trouble. Christ kept this promise on the Day of Pentecost, when He sent the Holy Spirit to His people, the church. Therefore, when persecution came, the church of Christ blossomed. His people were consciously aware of the strength that Christ had given them to stand against a hostile world.” [See, for example, Acts 5:40-41.]
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 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. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:25-27).
[Adapted from chapter 33, Everyone’s a Theologian by R.C. Sproul]