Old Testament Significance. The Old Testament counselor served to advise the king on such matters as national defense and plans for war ( 1 Kings 12:6-14 ; 2 Chron 22:5 ). At times, however, this advisory capacity was granted to others ( 2 Ch 22:3 ). David employed certain advisors or counselors in his court, including Ahithophel, Jehoida, and Jonathan ( 1 Ch 27:32 ). That counselors occupied a strategic place in ancient governments is evident from ezr 4:5; 7:14; 8:25; Isaiah 3:3; 19:11.
Metaphorically, God is identified as a counselor ( Psalm 16:7 ; 32:8 ; 33:11 ; 73:24 ). God's Word serves as a counselor ( Psalm 119:24 ). Isaiah presents a series of rhetorical questions that emphasize the fact that God needs no human counselors ( 40:13 ). The Creator God described his Messiah as "Wonderful Counselor" ( Isa 9:6 ).
Johannine Significance. In the Johannine writings the theological significance of the usage of "counselor" comes to the forefront. The ascended Christ is seen as a counselor or advocate in God's heavenly court ( 1 Jo 2:1 ). The resurrected and exalted Christ sent the Holy Spirit to his people ( John 16:7 ) to actualize the presence of Jesus and reveal him to the disciples ( John 14:16 ).
The term "counselor" is a translation of parakletos [paravklhto"], a favorite expression of John. It designates a function rather than the nature of something. The function of the parakletos [paravklhto"] is to counsel, assist, advise, or support. The coming of the Spirit as counselor marks a new stage in redemptive history. The Spirit is called "another paraclete" because he comes to continue and uersalize the ministry of Jesus ( John 15:26 ). While being other than Jesus, the Spirit dwells in the followers of Jesus, like Jesus dwelt among and with believers ( John 14:16-17 ).
The Counselor, the Spirit of truth, teaches and reminds believers regarding the things of Jesus Christ. This teaching and this reminding are done in close connection with Jesus, just as Jesus had carried out his mission in conjunction with the Father. The Paraclete leads believers into all truth and presents this truth in light of the resurrection. The Spirit, who defended the disciples in the Synoptics (see Mark 13:11 ), is the defender of the truth about Jesus in John.
Thus, the Holy Spirit, the Counselor and Comforter, does not leave the disciples desolate, but represents Jesus to them. To experience the Counselor is to experience Jesus ( John 14:16-28 ). One cannot know Jesus unless enabled by the Paraclete. One cannot know the Counselor by any means other than belief in and submission to Jesus Christ.
David S. Dockery
See also Holy Spirit
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of
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Bibliography InformationElwell, Walter A. "Entry for 'Counselor'". "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology".