Jesus and the Comforter

"We have thousands of New Testament manuscripts pre-dating Islam and not one of these contains the word"periklutos."In view of the fact that Muslims are prone to levelling false allegations that Christians are regularly changing the Bible, it is rather intriguing to find that they have no scruples about doing this themselves when it suits them to do so."- answering-islam.org

Jesus and the Comforter

"Whenever Muslims seek to prove that Muhammad is foretold in the New Testament, they immediately appeal to the promise of Jesus that the"Comforter"Would follow him and claim that this Comforter was Muhammad (particularly as in the Qur'n, Jesus is alleged to have foretold the coming of Muhammad in Surah 61.6 in similar language). Whereas the Revised Standard Version uses the word"Counsellor"rather than"Comforter", we shall use the word"Comforter"throughout this chapter because it is more familiar to the Muslims. The texts where the Comforter is mentioned by Jesus are:

"And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you."John 14.16-17.

"But the Comforter, 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."John 14.26

"But when the Comforter comes, whom I shall send you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me."John 15.26

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you."John 16.7

It is generally alleged by Muslims that the Greek word"paracletos" (meaning Comforter, Counsellor, Advocate, etc., in effect, one who unites men to God) is not the original word but that Jesus in fact foretold the coming of Muhammad by name and that the translation of his name into Greek (or at least the meaning of his name in Greek) is"periklutos", that is, the"praised one."There is not a shred of evidence in favour of the assertion that the original word was"periklutos."We have thousands of New Testament manuscripts pre-dating Islam and not one of these contains the word"periklutos."In view of the fact that Muslims are prone to levelling false allegations that Christians are regularly changing the Bible, it is rather intriguing to find that they have no scruples about doing this themselves when it suits them to do so. In any event a cursory reading of the texts where the word"paracletos"Appears will show that this is the only word that suits the context as I will show in one instance later on in this chapter.

Some wiser Muslims admit that"paracletos"Is correct, but they claim in any event that Muhammad was the Comforter whom Jesus was referring to. Let us briefly examine some of the texts in a truly exegetical manner to discover whether Muhammad is indeed the Comforter whose coming Jesus foretold. It is quite obvious from the four texts quoted that Comforter, Holy Spirit, and Spirit of Truth are interchangeable terms and that Jesus is speaking of the same person in each instance. The one obvious fact that emerges is that the Comforter is a spirit. (The fact that Jesus always speaks of the Spirit in the masculine gender in no way suggests that the Comforter must be a man as some of the publications in the Bibliography suggest. God himself is always spoken of in both the Bible and the Qur'n in the masculine gender and God is spirit — John 4.24. In the same way Jesus always speaks of the Comforter as a spirit and not as a man).

If we apply sound exegesis to John 14.16-17 we shall discover no less than eight reasons why the Comforter cannot possibly be Muhammad.

1."He will give YOU another Comforter."

Jesus promised his disciples that God would send the Comforter to them. He would send the Spirit of Truth to Peter, and to John, and to the rest of the disciples — not to Meccans. Medinans or Arabians.

2."He will give you ANOTHER Comforter."

If, as Muslims allege, the original word was periklutos and that Christians changed it into paracletos, then the sentence would have 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"In the Bible (the word appears nowhere in the Bible) so it is grossly unlikely that he would have said"He will give you another praised one"When he never used that title for himself. Worse still, as the Muslims allege that he actually foretold the coming of Muhammad by mentioning his name, the sentence in that case would have read"He will give you another Muhammad."The further the Muslims try to press the point, the more absurd it tends to become. John 16.12-13 makes it clear that the word"paracletos"Is obviously the correct one. The text reads: "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth."In other words, I have been your Comforter, your paracletos, and have many things to tell you, but I send the Spirit of Truth to you, another Comforter, another paracletos.

In 1 John 2.1 we read that Christians have an"Advocate"With the Father," Jesus Christ the Righteous", and the word translated"Advocate"Is paracletos in the Greek. So Jesus is our paracletos, our Comforter and advocate with the Father, and he promised to give his disciples another Comforter. It is therefore logical to find that Jesus promised another paracletos when he himself was described as the paracletos of his followers, but it is illogical to suggest that he would speak of"Another periklutos"When the word was never used to describe him in the first place.

3."To be with you FOREVER."

When Muhammad came he did not stay with his people forever but died in 632 AD and his tomb is in Medina where his body has lain for over 1300 years. Nevertheless Jesus said that the Comforter, once he had come, would never leave his disciples, but would be with them forever.

4."The Spirit of Truth whom the world CANNOT receive."

The Qur'n says that Muhammad came as a universal messenger to men (Surah 34.28). If so, Jesus was not referring to Muhammad for he said that the world cannot receive the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth.

5."You KNOW him."

It is quite obvious from this statement that the disciples knew the Spirit of Truth. As Muhammad was only born more than five hundred years later, it certainly could not be him. The next clause brings out just how the disciples knew him. At this stage we can see quite clearly that the Comforter is a spirit who was in the disciples' presence already.

6."He dwells WITH you."

Where did the Comforter dwell with them? From various verses, especially John 1.32, we can see that the Spirit was in Jesus himself and so was with the disciples.

7."He will be IN you."

Here the death-blow is dealt to the theory that Muhammad is the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth. As the Spirit was in Jesus, so he would be in the disciples as well. The Greek word here is"en"And this means"right inside."So Jesus was in fact saying"he will be right inside you."

8. The last reason is really a re-emphasis of the first one. Do you notice how often Jesus addresses his own disciples when he speaks of the sphere of influence of the Comforter?"You know him ... he dwells with you ... he will be in you."Quite clearly the disciples were to anticipate the coming of the Comforter as a spirit who would come to them just after Jesus had left them. No other interpretation can possibly be drawn from this text. Only wishful thinking makes the Muslims allege that Muhammad was foretold by Jesus, but a practical interpretation of the texts destroys this possibility...

What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him, God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For what person knows a man's thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. 1 Corinthians 2.9-13.

Paul makes it plain that the Spirit had already been given and if it had not, it could not have been to any advantage to the disciples to be without Jesus once he had ascended to heaven.

So it is abundantly proved that Muhammad is not the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter, whose coming Jesus foretold. Who is the Comforter then? He is the very Spirit of the living God as can be seen from some of the quotations already given. On the day when the Comforter duly came upon the disciples, his coming was accompanied by a tremendous sound," like the rush of a mighty wind" (Acts 2.2). When the Jews heard this, they rushed together to see what was happening. Peter declared to them all:

"This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.'"Acts 2.16-17.

The Comforter, the Spirit of God, had come down on the disciples as Jesus had promised and was to be given to believing Christian men and women from every nation under the sun... . The Comforter is also called"The Spirit of Christ" (Romans 8. 9) and the reason is plain from what Jesus said:

1."He will glorify me" (John 16.14).

2."He will bear witness to me" (John 15.26).

3."He will convince the world concerning sin because they do not believe in me" (John 16. 8-9).

4."He will take what is mine and declare it to you" (John 16.14).

5."He will bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (John 14.26).

Quite obviously the great work of the Comforter is to bring people to Jesus, to make them see him as Saviour and Lord, and to draw them to him. The Comforter was given so that the glory of Jesus might be revealed to men and in men. A beautiful example of this is given by the Apostle John:

His disciples did not understand this at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that this had been written of him and done to him. John 12.16

Without the Spirit, they had no understanding, but when they received the Spirit after Jesus was glorified, then they remembered as Jesus said they would. John illustrates this in this passage as well:

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, 'If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'. Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7.37-39.

As soon as Jesus was glorified the Spirit was given so that the glory of Jesus in heaven might become real to men here on earth. As Peter said (Acts 2.33), once Jesus was exalted at the right hand of God, the Spirit was freely given to his disciples.

Again Peter said," The God of our fathers glorified Jesus" (Acts 3.13). We cannot see or comprehend this glory of Jesus here on earth (and Jesus himself said," I do not receive glory from men"John 5.41), but he sent the Spirit so that we might behold this glory by the eye of faith. As Jesus himself said to his disciples of the Spirit:

"He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine, therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you."John 16.14-15.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God and he is given to all true believers so that the glory of Jesus in heaven may become real to men on earth. John makes it plain how a man receives the Holy Spirit:

Now this he spoke about the Spirit, which those who BELIEVED in him were to receive. John 7.39

To receive the Comforter, the Spirit of God, one must believe in Jesus and surrender body and soul to him. Without the Spirit no one sees or believes in the glory of Christ, but for those who are his true followers and who are sanctified by the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1.2), Peter says:

Without having seen him, you love him, though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1.8-9.

The distinction between those who have received the Spirit and those who have not, those who have beheld the glory of Christ and those who have not, comes out very clearly as Peter continues to speak to his fellow-believers:

To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe, 'the very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner'. 1 Peter 2.7

The Bible says much about the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, but the great and most handsome work of the Spirit is summed up in Jesus' words:

"He WILL GLORIFY ME."John 16.14

Although the Spirit had been at work in the world before the advent of Jesus Christ, and had indeed filled many of the great prophets and men of old with a longing for the coming Christ, he only finally united himself to men, and men to God, and indeed true believers to one another after the resurrection and ascension of Christ to heaven.

Jesus Christ spoke to his own disciples of the coming of the Comforter because the Spirit was sent down to comfort and regenerate all true believers in Jesus. This is one of the most significant and consistent elements of the teaching of Jesus about the Comforter. The prime purpose of the coming of the Comforter ... was to draw men to him so that those who are influenced by the work of the Comforter will therefore become followers of Jesus. It is further evidence against the theory that Muhammad was the Comforter for, whereas the Comforter would not speak of himself but only of Jesus, Muhammad drew attention away from Jesus to himself, describing himself as the ultimate apostle of God to be followed and obeyed. The Comforter was never to do a thing like this. Jesus made it plain that the Comforter would draw the attention and faith of all men to himself and would glorify him before the eyes of faith of true believers as the Lord of glory in heaven.

After Jesus Christ had ascended to heaven to be glorified at the right hand of God above all the angels and departed saints, the Comforter came immediately upon his disciples to make this glory real to them and through them to spread it all over the world. For Jesus Christ is the very image of the Father's glory. In him are all things united, whether in heaven or on earth. He is the climax of God's plan for the fullness of time. He is the beginning and the end of all God's gracious work in all ages — for all the salvation and glory that God has prepared for those who love him are vested in Jesus.

The Comforter came to give us a foretaste of this glory. He came to make the resplendent glory of Jesus real to those who follow him. As Moses encouraged his people to look forward to the prophet who would be like him, who would mediate a new covenant to save all who truly believe, so the Comforter encourages Christ's followers in this age to look up to the risen, ascended, Lord Jesus Christ who sits on the throne of God in eternal glory above the heavens.

Far from Muhammad being foretold in the Bible, every prophecy, every agent of God, every true prophet and spirit, looks upward towards the radiance of the Father's glory, the one who sits upon the throne, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ ascended to heaven — God took him to himself. For Jesus alone is the Redeemer of the world. He alone is able, as a man, to enter the holy presence of the Father's throne and fill it with his own glorious majesty. So likewise he is able to reconcile sinful men to God and will one day be seen again in all his splendour as he comes to call his own — those who eagerly awaited his coming before his time and all those who since his sojourn on this earth look forward to his return from heaven — to be with him where he is to behold with awe the glory which the Father gave him in his love for him before the foundation of the world.

Moses rejoiced to see his day when speaking of the prophet to come. The Comforter today still rejoices to reveal his glory and majesty to those in whom he dwells. The angels and departed saints await with longing for the day when he shall be revealed to all the universe in all his magnificence — when all men shall be raised from the dead to see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, a day when the Comforter's work will be finally completed, a day when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that it is Jesus Christ who is Lord — to the everlasting glory of God the Father — Amen!"

answering-islam.org


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