Monday, 19 July 2010

Who is the “Comforter”? Part II

by Silas

Continues from Part I


The Anchor Bible concludes with an examination of the life of the early church and the relation of the “Comforter” to the Christians. Brown starts off by asking the question:

What brought the Johannine tradition to put emphasis in the Last Discourse on the Spirit as the Paraclete, that is, as the continued post-resurrectional presence of Jesus with his disciples, teaching them and proving to them that Jesus was victorious and the world was wrong? We suggest that the portrait of the Paraclete / Spirit answered two problems prominent at the time of the of the final composition of the Fourth Gospel……

The first problem was the confusion caused by the death of the apostolic eyewitnesses who were the living chain between the Church and Jesus of Nazareth.…

The concept of the Paraclete / Spirit is an answer to this problem. If the eyewitnesses had guided the Church and if the Beloved Disciple had borne witness to Jesus in the Johannine community, it was not primarily because of their own recollection of Jesus. …. Only the post-resurrectional gift of the Spirit taught them the meaning of what they had seen (ii 22, xii 16). Their witness was the witness of the Paraclete speaking through them…The later Christian is no further removed from the ministry of Jesus than was the earlier Christian, for the Paraclete dwells within him as he dwelt with the eyewitnesses. And by recalling and giving new meaning to what Jesus said, the Paraclete guides every generation in facing new situation; he declares the things to come (xvi 13).

Finally, the Anchor Bible concludes here with:

"The Christian need not live with his eyes constantly straining toward the heavens from which the Son of Man is to come; for, as the Paraclete, Jesus is present within all believers." (page 1143).


Meherally is keen to prove that Muhammad is the Comforter. In fact he is so eager that he failed to understand what he read.

So allow me to draw your attention back to three of Meherally’s bold statements presented as the purpose of his writings and website:


Where was Meherally’s “In-Depth” study? All he did was copy and paste a handful of pages from the Anchor Bible Dictionary, add some underlings, shading, and a few comments at the end. I certainly hope Muslims do not consider that to be ‘in-depth”. Meherally did not bother to comprehend what he was reading. The Anchor Bible’s conclusions state that the Comforter is the Holy Spirit, and the Anchor Bible actually contests and undercuts those that argue otherwise. Had Meherally understood that he would not have put used the Anchor Bible’s material on his site. He essentially used material that proves him wrong.

2) MUST READ This presentation should revolutionize the present day Christian concept for the coming of "PARACLETE" that was foretold by JESUS Presentation is based upon exhaustive studies carried out by the reputable biblical scholars of our era and published in the famous ANCHOR BIBLE.

Where is Meherally’s analysis? Where is his discussion of the actual Scriptural verses and quotes from the Anchor Bible? Also, isn’t it misleading that Meherally would imply that he is putting something that would “revolutionize the present day Christian concept…”? After all, hasn’t the Anchor Bible been in publication for many years? Hasn’t this knowledge been available for the public? Why is Meherally implying that he is coming up with some new, powerful, dynamic revelation that is going to impact Christianity?

3) “Please read the following exhaustive study done by the biblical scholars of international and interfaith scope to know the real truth about this misunderstood personality of "The Paraclete" who was to come after Jesus. Was this Paraclete once regarded as an independent salvific male figure like Jesus and later confused with the Holy Spirit?”

Here Meherally makes two comments. The first implies that he has uncovered some hidden or not well know truth. The second is a question regarding various peoples beliefs - was the Paraclete once regarded as male figure? My response is that people in the West enjoy freedom of thought, freedom of religion, freedom of speech. Islam denies these rights.Consequently, it should be no surprise to anyone that there are different opinions about various topics. There are thousands of different religions in the West, and their followers do not have to fear death as they would if they lived in Muslim lands. In Muslim countries people who leave Islam are punished or even put to death. So, because the Anchor Bible notes and discusses various people’s beliefs does not mean those beliefs are endorsed.

Meherally states near the end of his article:

2. If the followers of Jesus were to believe that Jesus - a Paraclete, "is present within all believers " then the visualized Johannine picture of Father sending "another paraclete" to guide the mankind into all truth, is made redundant.

Meherally failed to understand what he reads. Over and over again the Anchor Bible states that the Comforter is the Holy Spirit. Jesus is present within all believers via the Comforter, i.e. the Holy Spirit. There is no redundancy.

In the following quotes we shall let the Anchor Bible speak for itself.

"It is our contention that John presents the Paraclete as the Holy Spirit in a special role, namely, as the personal presence of Jesus in the Christian while Jesus is with the Father…. "Nevertheless, we would stress that the identification of the Paraclete as the Holy Spirit in 14:26 is not an editorial mistake, for the similarities between the Paraclete and the Spirit are found in all the Paraclete passages…."Thus, the one whom John calls "another Paraclete" is another Jesus. Since the Paraclete can come only when Jesus departs, the Paraclete is the presence of Jesus when Jesus is absent. Jesus' promises to dwell within his disciples are fulfilled in the Paraclete….

"The Christian need not live with his eyes constantly straining toward the heavens from which the Son of Man is to come; for, as the Paraclete, Jesus is present within all believers."


I will quote from the Anchor Bible’s main body of work (page 644) instead of appendix 5 to show the reader where it stood all along.

We shall see in App. V that the Spirit of Truth is a Paraclete precisely because he carries on the earthly work of Jesus. The Paraclete/Spirit will differ from Jesus the Paraclete in that the Spirit is not corporeally visible and his presence will only be by indwelling in the disciples. The OT theme of “God with us” (the Immanuel of Isa vii 14) is now to be realized in the Paraclete/Spirit who remains with the disciples forever.

The Anchor Bible & Brown leave us no doubt about where they stood. Any yet Meherally, thinking he had stumbled across something of value, foolishly rushed to cut, paste, and post.

Now then, continue to examine Meherally’s work. What did Meherally present that was his own work other than a few comments at the end of a long cut and paste job? Was there anything of note? Did Meherally provide any thought provoking insights or observations? I don’t think so. A few glib comments at the end of an article is not research, not a proof, not even a good argument. Let me ask the Muslim reader: “Do you think Meherally’s work is comprehensive and reliable?

There is little for me to do to refute Meherally. He did not comprehend what he read, and he did not provide any real work of his own. Meherally’s work is like cotton candy: it looks large on the outside but once you tear into it, you find it is mostly fluff and has little substance!



Maurice Bucaille states in his introduction of his book “The Bible, The Qur’an, and Science”, “It was in a totally objective spirit, and without any preconceived ideas that I first examined the Qur’anic Revelation. ... I repeated the same test for the Old Testament and the Gospels, always preserving the same objective outlook.” (pages 16 and 17) [10]

Any reader has the right to examine what he reads and the claims an author makes. Just how objective was this self proclaimed scholar Bucaille? Let us examine four assertions Bucaille raises and judge his credibility.


On page 111, he says: 'It seems inconceivable that one could ascribe to the Holy Spirit the ability to speak and declare whatever he hears. Logic demands that this question be raised....'.


Any quick reading of the N.T. shows that the Holy Spirit did indeed speak (not audibly) and do many other things. Refer to these Scriptures as support: 1 Cor. 2:13, Rev. 14:13, Acts 13:2 . The Holy Spirit communicated to the disciples. Not all forms of “speaking” need to be done via vocal chords.

On the other hand, if Bucaille demands that all speaking is done via vocal chords then he should judge Muhammad false because Muhammad used metaphors when referring to speech. At the time Muhammad ingested the poison that ultimately killed him, he stated: (From the Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, by Ibn Sa'd, page 249): [11]

Verily a Jewish woman presented poisoned (meat of) a she goat to the apostle of Allah. He took a piece form it, put it into his mouth, chewed it and threw it away. Then he said to the Companions: "Halt! Verily,its leg tells me that it is poisoned."

And isn’t there a Qur’anic verse that states that Solomon carried on a conversation with an ant? Ants don’t have vocal chords!

Therefore, if Muhammad is allowed to use a figure of speech to describe non-standard communication, other people should be allowed to do so also. Goat legs and ants don’t talk!


On page 112 Bucaille discusses the Greek words 'akouo' - to hear, and 'laleo' - to speak. He sums up his investigation by saying

"The two Greek words therefore define concrete actions which can only be applied to a being with hearing and speech organs. It is consequently impossible to apply them to the Holy Spirit."


The reasoning applied to response #1 also applies here. The word and use of akouo can be found in several other verses for example: a) God 'hears' - I John 5:15; (God does not have physical ear organs). b) The law 'hears' - John 7:51 c) The dead shall 'hear' - John 5:25.

The word and use of laleo can also be found in the following verses. a) The Holy Spirit will be 'speaking' through the disciples - Mark 13:11. b) Angels 'speak' - Luke 1:19, c) the image of the beast 'speaks' - Rev. 13:15.

So Bucaille's assertion is incorrect. These words do not exclusively define a being with hearing and speech organs.

A question for the Muslim readers: Did Bucaille do any legitimate research on this topic to have missed such an easy point? It only took me 5 minutes to look these words up and find out how they are used. If Bucaille missed or omitted something this simple, how credible is his work?


Bucaille’s next two paragraphs detail how he thinks the word 'Holy' does not belong in John's text. This section's last paragraph suggests that the word 'Holy' could have been added 'later'.


The early Greek texts on this passage all include “holy” and many of these were written long before the text in question. Even the Anchor Bible commentary discusses this and concludes that “holy” does belong in the text. Only a later text missed “holy”.


He then states that by omitting 'holy' the text really means that a future man (i.e. Muhammad) would be the Comforter. He says: "According to the rules of logic therefore, one is brought to see in John's Paraclete a human being like Jesus, possessing the faculties of hearing and speech formally implied in John's Greek text."


Since Bucaille’s previous assertion is wrong, his next assertion collapses. But Bucaille wants to believe that Muhammad is the Comforter, so he purposely fails to address the other words Jesus spoke about the Comforter, such as; “He shall be in you” (the apostles), “He shall teach you” (the apostles), etc...


Bucaille was not objective, he was biased. His work with the Greek language was shallow, and not well researched. He made simple assertions that revealed a lack of interest of truth on his part. The fact that I was able to find facts that prove Bucaille wrong, with only a little effort, shows that Bucaille did not have truth, or the presentation of the entire story, as part of his agenda.



Zakir Naik is an Islamic spokesman. He is also supposed to be a doctor. He calls the material on his site “research”. But it is hardly that. His comment on the Comforter is a very short section, composed almost entirely of the NT Verses, with just a few of his comments mixed in. All in all, it is very thin but I want to address one of his comments below.


In the Gospel of John 14:16, 15:26, and 16:7. The word 'Comforter' is used in the English translation for the Greek word Paracletos which means advocate or a kind friend rather than a comforter.

Paracletos is the warped reading for Periclytos. Jesus actually prophesied Ahmed by name. Even the Greek word Paraclete refers to the Prophet who is a mercy for all creatures.”

After reading Naik’s assertion above, I have to ask, how much Greek does Naik know? From where does Naik get his information from? How does he know that Parakletos is the warped reading for Periclytos? Does he cite any actual textual support? In fact, let me ask “where did Naik get this nonsense”? Did he invent it on the spot, or, is he relying upon Ahmad Deedat’s Exhaustive & Comprehensive Manual / Lexicon / Theological Encyclopedia Dictionary of the Greek New Testament?

On the other hand, take a look at Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. This is a 10 volume set that is recognized as one of the top, if not the very top, of Greek New Testament References [13].

On page 800, of volume 5, the study on the Greek word for Comforter is given. The meaning and definition of this word is analyzed from its use in Greek literature, in the Septuagint, in Rabbinical literature, in Philo’s work, in early Christian literature, and in the NT itself. Below are some quotes defining the meaning of parakletos.

Page 801: The use as a noun, attested in secular Greek. From the 4th century B.C. in the sense of a “person called in to help, summoned to give assistance,” gives us the meaning of “help in court”.

Page 802: In the Rabbis. In the Hebrew or Aramaic of the Rabbis, in their religious vocabulary … it always denoted an advocate before God.

Page 802: In Philo. The word also means advocate consistently in Philo.

Page 803: Thus the history of the term in the whole sphere of know Greek and Hellenistic usage outside the NT yields the clear picture of a legal adviser or helper or advocate in the relevant court.

Page 813: More richly developed if more difficult to define is the idea, expressly attested only in John of a Paraclete at work in the world both in and for the disciples. Jesus Himself is regarded as such during His early ministry. The only description however is that of the Paraclete who after the departure of Jesus will continue His work and remain for ever with and in the disciples (14:16f, 26, 16:7, 13f.) This is the Spirit. Sent by God or Jesus to the disciples (14:16, 26, 15:26, 16:7) – not to the world, which has no organ for Him (14:17) – He teaches with all embracing authority and yet with strict adherence to Jesus and His message, maintaining, expanding and completing the work of Jesus, leading the disciples into all truth (14:26, 15:26, 16:13f). His witness to Jesus (15:26), however is also accusation of the world before God’s judgment seat: He convicts the world in respect of sin, righteousness, and judgment. The is, He shows that sin is on the side of the world, right and triumph on the of Jesus )16:8 – 11). The puzzle of combination of kerygmatic and forensic features in the picture of the Spirit-Paraclete is solved if we trace back the tradition historically to the OT and Jewish idea of the advocate.

Here is another Greek reference that addresses Parakletos.

"Parakletos" is the Greek N. T. word for "Comforter", literally “called to one’s side, i.e., to one’s aid”. It denotes a legal assistant, counsel for the defense, an advocate, one who pleads another’s cause, an intercessor. (From Vine's Exp. Dictionary. of N.T. Words, p200) [14].

Some Muslims assert that the original word in the N.T. was 'periklutos' - i.e. 'praised one', which is 'Ahmad' in Arabic. ['Ahmad', or 'Praised One' is a name ascribed to Muhammad].This is a baseless assertion. There is no evidence at all supporting this claim. There are thousands of N.T. manuscripts pre-dating Islam and not one of these contains the word 'periklutos', anywhere. Muslims like to charge Christians with changing their Bible - 'tahrif' (corruption) of their Scriptures, but it is Muslims who are guilty of 'tahrif' when they claim that the original word was 'periklutos'.

As Cragg says in "Jesus and the Muslim", p.266:

"There is however, no textual evidence in any way sustaining such variant reading, and the manuscript texts of St. John go back to the second century. Moreover, the two Greek words are themselves compounds and the prefixes and root verbs are both different. Suspicions of textual corruption here would be completely unfounded, on documentary, grammatical and exegetical grounds." [15]

Remember, the Muslim claim is based on a desperate attempt to find Biblical support for Muhammad's statement that the Bible foretold him. The Bible never foretold Muhammad so Muslims have thrashed about, twisting the Scriptures, trying to find some way to make Muhammad's words true – otherwise they would have to accept that Muhammad was a liar and false prophet.

Further, take for example a portion of verse 14:16, “He will give you another Comforter.” If periklutos is used, it read, “He will give you another praised one.” This statement is both out of place in its context and devoid of support elsewhere in the Bible – Jesus is never called the “periklutos” or “praised one”.

However, 1 John 2:1 says:

"...we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense - Jesus Christ the Righteous One." Here, the Greek word 'Parakletos' is used, defined as 'one who speaks in our defense'.

John Gilchrist comments here:

Here, the context dictates an advocate (paraclete), not a 'praised one'. Just as Christ is our advocate, so He promised to give us an advocate, or Comforter to be in us. 'Periklutos' could not fit here. (From Gilchrist, "Is Muhammad Foretold in the Bible?", p29) [16].


Let me ask the reader, in view of the evidence, does Naik have any credibility here? Naik knows he has no logical or textual support, so instead of discussing something he cannot defend, he lies to his readers and misleads them by making a bold statement — “Paracletos is the warped reading for Periclytos”. Sometimes if people cannot reason, or present a sound argument, they shout or make obtuse statements. Here Naik is doing just that: he has no case, so he relies on outrageous statements to fool his Muslim readership.

Naik is supposed to be a medical doctor. Let me ask you, the reader – would you want him making a diagnosis on you? “Oh, you have a pain in your stomach, well, I will remove your foot – that will cure you!” And that is exactly what Naik is doing here. He is willing and able to deceive his Muslim readership, and he does not want them to search things out for themselves.

Several proofs have been given that establish that the Comforter is the Holy Spirit:

1) The New Testament Scriptures state this clearly.
2) These Scripture’s context allows only the Holy Spirit to fulfill the role relegated to the Comforter.
3) Jesus’ prediction of the Comforter coming to the disciples was fulfilled during Pentecost (see Acts Chapter 1).
4) The early Church Fathers attest that the Comforter is the Holy Spirit.
5) Christian scholarship also demonstrates, through exhaustive study of the Greek texts, (ref. the Anchor Bible Theological Dictionary and other works) that the Comforter is the Holy Spirit.

The Comforter is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came during Pentecost, and the disciples received Him. As the disciples continued to live, the words Jesus spoke about the Comforter's ministry were fulfilled. Christians today experience the Comforter in their lives as Jesus said that they would.

The suggestions of various Muslim writers that Muhammad could be the Comforter have been shown to be inaccurate, implausible, or unworkable due to ignorance of the Greek language, poorness of thought, or deliberate deception of their readership.

The Islamic claims that Muhammad is the Comforter have been put to the acid test and they dissolved. These claims were weak and failed for several reasons:

1) the Muslim writers offered no textual proof to substantiate their assertions
2) they were unable to provide in-depth references as support
3) they avoided providing the reader with analysis of the texts because any analysis would show the weakness in their argument

In other words, the Muslims who wrote these articles knew deep down that they had no case. But, in order to save face for Muhammad they had to make an attempt to keep him from looking false.

Don’t you, the Muslim reader, deserve better than the deceptive ideas Muslim writers have fed you? I’ve addressed the assertions, claims, and questions of these prominent Muslim apologists and polemicists. And I have shown that their work is deficient. Instead of presenting a thorough study of “The Comforter” they opted to present a weak, inaccurate, and deceptive account, hoping that you, the Muslim reader, would not think for yourself. They have been exposed! Shame on them!

Your eternal destiny is at stake: paradise, or hell. So, why settle for such meager fare from these Muslim writers who have not presented you the whole truth? They have not researched the subject, and they did not present to you the facts that were easily accessible at their own hands. Don’t you deserve better? Your eternal destiny depends on whether or not you follow Jesus. If Muhammad was a false prophet wouldn’t you want to know all the facts before you trust Islam to save your soul?


This prayer is written for anyone. This includes Muslims who are seeking the truth and who want to know God in a personal way.

“Lord Jesus, I believe in You. I believe that You are the Son of God and the Lord. I believe that You died for my sins and were raised from the dead. I confess that I am a sinner and I ask You to come into my heart, cleanse me from my sins, and forgive me for my sins. I turn to follow and obey You – I put my faith in you. I now receive You as Messiah and Lord and totally commit my life to You.” Amen.

1) New International Version, pub. by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan
2) Dawood, N. J., “The Koran”, Penguin, London, England, 1995
3) Muslim, A., "Sahih Muslim", translated by A. Sidiqqi, International Islamic Publishing House, Riyadh, KSA.
4) Ibn Ishaq, (d.782), "Sirat Rasulallah", compiled by A. Guillaume "The Life of Muhammad", Oxford, London, 1955
5) The Ante-Nicene Fathers” edited by Rev. Alexander Roberts AGES Software, Albany, Oregon© 1996, 1997
6) The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House 1998 Grand Rapids Michigan
7) The New International Commentary on the New Testament, edited by Gordon Fee, Eerdmans, 1998
8) “The Anchor Bible”, Vol 29, Part A, “The Gospel According to John," Raymond Brown, Doubleday, 1966.
10) Bucaille, Maurice, “The Bible, the Qur’an, and Science,” Taj Company, 1993
11) Ibn Sa'd, (d. 852 A.D.), "Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir", translated by S. Moinul Haq, Pakistan Historical Society.
13) “Theological Dictionary of the New Testament”, edited by G. Kittel and G. Friedrich, Eerdmans
14) Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Bethany House, p200
15) Cragg, Kenneth, "Jesus and the Muslim", p266: Oneworld Publications Ltd
16) Gilchrist, John, "Is Muhammad Foretold in the Bible?", p29, Jesus to the Muslims, South Africa



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