From A Series On John's Gospel
By Steve Santini
Fall 2011-Summer 2012
The Two Differing Comforters of John's Gospel
The Feminine Holy Spirit and The Masculine Spirit of Truth
During the evening before the temple guards took him to be crucified, Jesus spoke privately to his closest followers of two differing and distinct comforters that would come to them after he had ascended to the Father's right hand. His prophetic interactive discourses were meant to bring peace and stability to his followers in the midst of the forthcoming tumultuous times.
The focus of this study is on the discourse as recorded in the fourteenth chapter of John's gospel. It is in this chapter that Jesus begins with the well know phrases;"in my Father's house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you." In the sixteenth verse of this chapter Jesus speaks of another comforter or parakletos. This Greek word means to come along side to assist by reassurance and exhortation unto empowerment. In verse twenty-six, Jesus again speaks of a comforter. The proposal of this study is: the comforter of verse sixteen and the comforter of verse twenty-six are not identical. In other words, here in chapter fourteen Jesus identifies the two different comforters that were to come to his followers.
1. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 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. John 14:16,17
2. 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 14:26
Historically commentators and theologians have written that the another comforter of John 14:16 was Jesus thereby reasoning that the Holy Ghost and the Spirit of Truth are the same. This idea that Jesus was the another Comforter is an assumption that is not based on scripture itself. It is based on rabbinical writings that linked the Messiah to the word comfort. Jesus told the religious leaders to search the scriptures for a testimony of himself rather than sources outside of scripture. He also chastised the religious leaders for making the scriptures of no effect by their unscriptural religious traditions. Paul, on the other hand, in accordance with Jesus' words, wrote specifically that the scriptures are that which makes one wise unto salvation.
The another Comforter besides the Spirit of Truth in verse sixteen is the gift from the Holy Ghost/Spirit of verse twenty-six. At the time of Jesus in Israel, the Holy Spirit was commonly known as a parakletos. One section of scripture that is a good example of this belief is in the gospel of Luke. It occurred when Joseph and Mary brought the babe, Jesus, into the temple for his dedication according to the Old Testament Law and is as follows:
And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Luke 2:25-27
Here, the word consolation associated with the action of the Holy Ghost is the word paraklesis in the Greek texts of scripture. It is one of two other words used in scripture that is in the same word family as parakletos, the word that is translated Comforter in John 14:26. Both words are nouns. Parakletos names the source while paraklesis identifies that which is the message given by the source. The other of the two words in this family with parakletos is parakaleo. It is a verb describing the action of the parakletos, which is to parakaleo a paraklesis.
In Acts 9:31 the message of comfort, paraklesis, is identified as coming from the Holy Ghost, the comforter.
Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
The Holy Ghost, or as most often translated, Holy Spirit, was known as feminine by the Hebrew people.(Isa.66:12) The Old Testament divine name Shaddai for the Holy Spirit was and is entirely feminine. It was El Shaddai that blessed Abraham, the father of faith, and told him that he would father a multitude of souls. Those souls, from the union of Abraham and Sarah, were originally meant to become exclusively united as the bride of the coming Messiah, the bridegroom. (John 3:29, Isa. 62:5, Joel 2:16, Psalm 19:5)
The word God, the progenitor of all that was spiritual and all that was life, is plural in the Hebrew language from Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3. The King James translators were correct when they wrote:
. Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. Gen 1:26
The next verse states that the image of the Gods was male and female. It was the feminine Holy Spirit and the power of the Highest (or God the Father) in union that made the second perfect soul named Jesus. (Luke 1:35) Likewise, it was the energy of love in spiritual masculine and feminine union that created the first perfect soul named Adam.
First century church writings by those that believed in Jesus identified the Holy Spirit as feminine. The non-canonical Gospel of the Hebrews stated that the Holy Spirit was the mother in law of their souls. At the fall of man, man's soul had become corrupted; so it was no longer within the family of the Father, Holy Spirit and Christ. They, the Hebrews of faith, understood that, as a result of the fall, they were orphans without spiritual mother or father. From their allegorical betrothal and marriage customs, the Hebrews of faith understood they were to be made whole by the purifying regeneration by the baptism of death and resurrection and their subsequent union with Christ, their bridegroom. So they identified the Holy Spirit as the mother in law of their souls. Being their mother in law, she gave them the spiritual gift to seal the betrothal contract that was first evidenced on the Day of Pentecost. (Eph.1:13)
(From this paradigm of masculine and feminine, it is worthwhile to consider that the voice from heaven when John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan that said, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased", came from the feminine Holy Spirit. And, also to consider that the voice that stated exactly the same words one year later when Jesus was on the Mount of Transfiguration with appearances by Elijah and Moses were from God the Father.)
A first and/or second century copy of the four gospels, which did become canonical, also identified the Holy Spirit as feminine. It was written in Palestinian Aramaic, the language Jesus and his followers spoke. In place and time and person it is the closest to an original of the four gospels of all the oldest texts. The first principle of textual criticism is that the older the scriptural text the more authority it carries as to what the original text of scripture was.
This text is known as the Siniatic Palimpsest. This Old Syriac or Aramaic text predates the revised Eastern Syriac by four centuries. It also predates the oldest comparable, yet revised, Greek manuscripts of the gospels by three centuries. The Siniatic Palimpsest is one of two original Old Syriac gospel texts that exist today. The other is the mutilated, sorely fragmented and much later Curetonian. It is so that we only have the two because the Old Syriac texts were discarded with the coming of the Aramaic character and textual revisions in the Peshitta. Fortunately, the fading text of the remotely placed manuscript was copied over in the 6th century with an account of courageous early churchwomen thus preserving it for possible discovery in the future.
Then in the late nineteenth century British linguist Mrs. Agnes Lewis discovered the Siniatic Palimpsest in the ancient Monastery of St. Catherine in the remote Sinai. In 1892, Syriac Professor R.L. Bensly of Cambridge University transcribed the easily discernable four-fifths of the underlying Old Syriac text. Concerning the Holy Spirit of John 14:26, the transcription as translated, reads:
(Translation courtesy of Daniel Mahar, author of Aramaic Made EZ )
There is ample textual and historical evidence in the King James Version alone, with a bit of confirmation from the Greek, to consider that the first comforter to be given is the gift from the Holy Spirit and the second, or another, comforter is the Spirit of Truth. The Greek word another for the Spirit of Truth in verse sixteen of John is allos. It means another of similar kind in sequence. The similarity in the kind of both the Holy Spirit and Spirit of Truth is spirit. The sequence is the coming of the gift from the Holy Spirit then the coming of the Spirit of Truth.
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.(should read "among you" according to the rules of greek grammar)
18: I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
19: Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
20: At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.(should read "among you" according to the rules of greek grammar)
21: He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
22: Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
23: Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
24: He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
25: These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
26: But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he(she) shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
27: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14
The context from verse sixteen to verse twenty-five of the fourteenth chapter of John is in regards to the Spirit of Truth. The subject changes to the Holy Spirit in verse twenty-six. The word but that begins verse twenty-six is the Greek word de. De is a moderately contrasting conjunction. The Holy Spirit of verse twenty-six is contrasted with the another comforter of verse sixteen making it, and not Jesus, the other comforter to which the Spirit of Truth is juxtaposed in verse sixteen.
Likewise in the King James Version the qualities of the Holy Spirit as a comforter are different than the qualities of the Spirit of Truth as a comforter. The Holy Spirit was to teach of and bring all things to remembrance of Jesus' ministry. But, according to a later statement, made by Jesus that evening, recorded in John sixteen, the Spirit of Truth was to teach of things coming in the future.
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. John 16:13
As stated previously, the Siniatic Palimpsest confirms that the Holy Spirit was originally declared as feminine. In it, the Spirit of Truth is distinguished from the Holy Spirit by masculine Aramaic pronouns and nouns in association with it rather than the feminine Aramaic pronouns and nouns as used in association with the comforter as the gift from the Holy Spirit.
In the proximate prior context of verse sixteen about the Spirit of Truth, Jesus spoke these words:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. John 14:12
The gift from the Holy Spirit was to endue Jesus' followers with the power to do the same kind of works that he had done. Yet, it was the later coming of the Spirit of Truth that would allow those who had abided in him to do the greater works. The Greek word for greater is meizon. It has a meaning denoting quality and quantity and sequencing.
Likewise, in the context of verses regarding the Spirit of Truth, Jesus said:
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
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.
He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. John 16:12-14
The Greek word for bear in the phrase cannot bear them now is used metaphorically to mean, to be equal to understanding a matter. Jesus' followers could not understand those things of the Spirit of Truth until they had passed through the upcoming tutelage of the Holy Spirit. Afterwards, through tribulation, when the Spirit of Truth came, they saw Jesus, the Christ, with eyes that could understand as the author of John, in of himself, attests.
John's Gospel Series