How is the Holy Spirit “the Comforter?”

HOW IS THE HOLY SPIRIT “THE COMFORTER?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

On four occasions, the King James Bible calls the Holy Spirit “the Comforter.” How is this title most appropriate for Him? What exactly does He do?

  • John chapter 14: “[16] And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; [17] Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. [18] I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you…. [26] But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
  • John chapter 15: “[26] But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: [27] And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.”
  • John chapter 16: “[7] Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. [8] And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: [9] Of sin, because they believe not on me; [10] Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; [11] Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. [12] I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. [13] Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. [14] He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. [15] All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”

John 13:1–17:26 details the Lord Jesus in the upper room with His disciples at evening. They eat the Passover and then the Last Supper. In just a few hours, He will go out to the Garden of Gethsemane where He will be betrayed and arrested. Ultimately, the following morning, they will execute Him on Calvary’s cross. These chapters are thus His parting words to Israel’s believing remnant. He reveals to them things to come—both short-term and long-term. There is good news and bad.

The central piece of good news is the coming of “the Comforter” (first mentioned in John chapter 14): “[16] And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; [17] Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. [18] I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you…. [26] But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

While the word “comfort” often invokes the thought of cheering up a sad person, there is a much wider meaning in this unit of Scripture. At the heart of “comfort” is “fort,” from the Latin term (fortis) meaning “strong.” “Fortitude” is the related concept. Tough times are coming for Israel’s Little Flock, heirs of God’s earthly kingdom (Luke 12:31-32), so they need power to endure. They will be endowed with Divine strength—“the Comforter!” The Greek word is “parakletos,” which simply means “called alongside, especially to help.” God’s Word defines “the Comforter” as “the Holy Ghost,” the third Member of the Godhead, who will enable Israel to work in Christ’s absence. The strength will come about via God’s Word, the truth that “the Spirit of truth” speaks to these saints.

As Christ conducted His earthly ministry, He was present bodily to fortify His disciples. Now that He was leaving to go to Calvary’s cross, eventually returning to Heaven to His Father, He was training them for His absence. Howbeit, they would not be totally alone. He would ask His Father to send “another Comforter” (John 14:14). This Person, “the Spirit of truth,” would “dwell with [them],” and would be “in [them]” (verse 17). Jesus would not leave them “comfortless” (verse 18).

In chapter 15, the Lord Jesus says the Holy Spirit “shall testify of me: and ye shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (verses 26,27). Chapter 16 speaks of the Holy Spirit coming once Christ departs (verse 7). Through the Apostles’ preaching, He will “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: [9] Of sin, because they believe not on me; [10] Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; [11] Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” He enables them to proclaim God’s truth—especially facts from Christ’s earthly ministry.

Finally, Christ discloses how the Holy Spirit will pen our “New Testament” Scriptures: “[12] I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. [13] Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. [14] He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. [15] All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” The Holy Spirit will take Christ’s words from His earthly ministry, expand on them, and then cause them to be written down so we can have them now. As He is the “Comforter” of the Little Flock, so He is our “Comforter,” strengthening God’s people regardless of the dispensational change.

In the 40 days following His resurrection, Jesus Christ opened the Scriptures so His Apostles could better comprehend them. All they had at the time was Genesis through Malachi (see Luke 24:44-48), but it was enough to get them going without Him. Those “Bible classes” resulted in the Apostle Peter’s astonishing grasp of obscure Old Testament Scripture as seen in Acts 1:16-20!

Just before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus said, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high(Luke 24:49). The parallel passage is Acts chapter 1, verses 4 and 5: “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”

As sworn, the “Comforter” arrived in Acts chapter 2: “[1] And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. [2] And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. [3] And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. [4] And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Here, the Holy Spirit enabled the Apostles to speak in human languages they never formally learned, that their Jewish brethren visiting from foreign lands would understand God’s Word in their native dialect!

Over in Ephesians 3:16, we see Paul praying for us Gentiles in the Dispensation of Grace, “That he [God] would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;….” Here, the Holy Spirit functions as our fortifier, our “Comforter,” our Helper.

John 14:17 says the Holy Spirit will “dwell with [believing Israel], and shall be in [them].” Contrary to popular belief, the indwelling Spirit is not unique to our Dispensation of Grace. Through the Prophet Ezekiel, the LORD God had promised centuries earlier, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (36:26-27).

Beloved, our flesh is weak. (Right?) Despite our best efforts, we cannot live the Christian life. Only Jesus Christ can live His life—whether in Israel’s prophetic program or our mystery program. As the nation Israel will be the expression of Jesus Christ’s life in the earth in the ages to come, so we the Church the Body of Christ will be the manifestation of His life in the heavenly places. It is not we duplicating His life but rather He Himself living in and through us. There is no imitation; it is the actual life of Christ!

How exactly does Christ live in and through us though? Does He unexpectedly take control of our bodies and manipulate us as puppets? (No!) Is there some mysterious, hair-raising, gentle breeze? (No!) Bolts of lighting striking the back of our neck? (No!) The Holy Spirit wrote the Bible (2 Peter 1:20-21; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). When we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, the Spirit of God indwell and seals us (Ephesians 1:12-14). We become “an holy temple in the Lord, an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21-22). He strengthens or fortifies us internally as we walk by faith in His Word to us, Romans through Philemon (Ephesians 3:16). Hence, daily Bible study—yea, daily dispensational Bible study—is so critical. Without the Comforter grounding us using God’s Word, neither Israel nor we can be vessels of Christ’s life!

Also see:
» Is the Holy Spirit a Person or a force?
» Was the Holy Spirit really given in John 20:22?
» Why did the Samaritan believers not receive the Holy Spirit upon believing in Acts 8?

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