PARACLISIS, PARACLETE, PARAKALEO
tormented world is a picture of Mary standing
and weeping outside the tomb (John 20:11),
altogether perplexed about her masters
death. When she encountered the risen Christ, her anguish
turned to astonishment.
The Church of the risen Christ
is under siege throughout the world. There is universal agony with despicable persecution
of Christians in many lands.
The horrendous distress is beyond
all comprehension: wars, arms production, violence, terrorism,
syndicated crime, conflict with major
religions, particularly with one. Then
we think of the sale of little children
for sex, girls and young women exploited
by mafias, the scourge of AIDS, expanding
drug abuse, and internet pornography. Besides all these are universal poverty, hunger
and natural disasters such as droughts
in some places and floods in others.
Global warming and environmental
pollution call for the attention and action
of all concerned people. Then there are the ruthless dictators with their
harsh oppression of great masses of helpless
people. All these torments and many more are before
our eyes every day. They all happen in
our troubled global village which is supposed
to be enjoying advanced electronic technology
and easy communication of every kind.
In the midst of these, a crucial
accountability of Christians everywhere
is to reach out and encourage those in
This is one of the twenty-one gifts
of the Holy Spirit mentioned in the New
Testament. A category of these gifts is
found in Romans 12:8. The meaning of paraclisis is to call a person to ones side to
The Holy Spirit is named the Paraclete.
Once in the New Testament, Jesus
Christ himself is referred to as our Paraclete or Advocate (cf. I
purpose of the gifts of the Holy Spirit
- To strengthen believers
- To reveal the working
of Gods power (Ephesians 3:7).
- To equip the saints
for the work of the ministry, for building
up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11,
- To offer a benefit
to believers for the common good (I
Corinthians 12:4-11; I Peter 4:9).
- To glorify God through
Jesus Christ (I Peter 4:10).
are nine words in the New Testament which
describe the concept of Gods gift to
The gift of paraclisis is often
translated as exhorting or preaching. However, there is a strong element of consoling embodied in this
gift coming with God-inspired words which
stir and uplift the hearer. We can confidently surmise that this gift does
not apply exclusively to the man or woman
in public ministry, but to all Christians.
We are all called to provide consolation
to fellow human beings in our afflicted
world, to believers and unbelievers alike.
is probably the writer of the following
psalm where he pleads for a comforter
in the midst of his tormented personal
life and ministry: Insults have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none; and for
comforters, but I found none (Psalm 69:20). This psalm is attributed to David, but it represents more of
Jeremiahs quandaries and ordeals.
Job is exasperated with his injudicious
comforters, protesting their lack of perception
have heard many such things; miserable
comforters are you all (Job 16:1, 2). The writer to the Hebrews reminds the Christians
who were neglecting their meetings that
one of the responsibilities of believers
everywhere when meeting together is to
encourage each other parakaleo (Hebrews 10:25). The anonymous
writer of this epistle is emphasizing
that meeting together brings about a very
important element, encouraging (parakaloundes). This admonition reminds us of one of the necessary
functions of the church, i.e., to encourage
the communicants with worship, teach,
exhort, celebrate the Lords Table, and
heal the wounds of the oppressed and afflicted.
In Lukes account, the persecuted
church enjoyed peace, was built up and
walked in the comfort of the Holy Spirit,
being multiplied (Acts 9:31). Undoubtedly, those
who drank from the bitter cup of hostility
received uplift from their fellow-believers
Acts 16:40; Heb. 10:34).
the evangelist of the Old Testament (ca.
700 B.C.), often refers to the comfort
Gods people receive from their Lord (cf.
12:1; 40:1; 49:13; 51:3; 52:9; 61:2; 66:13).
Hosea offers Gods comfort
to a people that are being severely judged
1:7; 5:15-6:3). The Hebrew word for comfort is the verb, naham. Strikingly, the name of Nahum
the prophet (664-612 B.C.) means full
of comfort or relief. Again, the name Nehemiah (445 B.C.) means Yahweh comforts. What a leader of comfort and relief he was,
supported by none other than Yahweh himself!
Nahum is comforting Judah in the
phase of Ashur Banipals (669-626 B.C.)
merciless onslaught during whose reign
Assyrias expansion reached its zenith. In reading the prophets vigorous indictment
of Assyria we can draw concrete comfort
regarding the ultimate passing of tyrannical
rulers and dictators.
They are at work everywhere to
undermine the general equanimity of helpless
A natural question may enter the
minds of people who live under the shadow
of Al Qaida or have the foreboding of
a Jihadist terrorist attack.
People everywhere are in search
of answers to the causes of alarm. Sad to say, even readers of the Bible dont
know the divinely-inspired relief expressed
in Nahums prophecy. A quieting word in the face of the disquieting
furor may be found in the prophets message. He was commissioned to offer calmness to disturbed
hearts of his day.
In 609 B.C., Assyrias demise was
The sovereign God took care of
this tyrannical empire. Nahums message is apropos to people living
in anxiety in our time.
person commissioned by God is called to
comfort those who live in daily fear.
He is charged to tell them of Gods unfailing
care and His promise to deal with the
powers that cause suffering. The New Testament offers a tangible suggestion
as to how to use this gift of the Holy
Spirit in order to effect another gift:
you can all prophesy one by one, so that
all may learn and all be encouraged (I
Cor. 14:31). This is an amazing admonition to those who
claim to have the gift of prophecy.
They are to utilize this gift to
inform and encourage. What could be more comforting than the use of
this gift within the community of believers? The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews reminds Christians who were
neglecting their meeting together.
He introduces a vital element:
neglecting to meet together, as is the
habit of some, but encouraging one another,
and all the more as you see the Day drawing
near (Heb. 10:25). It is clearly stated that one of the important
functions of the church is to encourage
the participants through worship, preaching,
exhorting and communion. By these, a balm
of comfort is extended to heal the wounds
and meet the needs of all who feel oppressed
or are afflicted in some way.
the forceful prophet of the Old Testament,
cries out to God: Spare thy people, o LORD, and make not thy
heritage a reproach (2:17).
Barnabas was called son of
His fiery messages had a rich
element of consolation to the fledgling
church striving for her survival.
Our ominous times abound with people
dragged down by lifes multitudinous burdens. They need words of exhortation and consolation from those who claim
to have the gift of prophecy, as well
as from others.
the Man of Sorrows, who underwent terrible
trials, is ready to make us sons and daughters
He will stand next to the comforting
individual with effective support. He alone can enable the person who is called
to comfort, to share in the griefs of
the person in crisis. Christ faced persecution during the time of
When he stood against Pilate, Herod,
the religious hierarchy and the wild crowds,
he was alone. In the Garden of Gethsemane while his soul was
sorrowful even to death he faced his agony
alone. His closest disciples could not offer him any comfort. According to some manuscripts, an angel appeared
from heaven and strengthened him (cf.
Luke 22:43, 44).
Jobs fourth comforter, who could not offer
any concrete encouragement, poses a heart-searching
hypothetical question regarding the remote
possibility of an angels mediating for
the person in distress (Job
33:23ff). True comfort comes only from persons directed
by the mighty Comforter, the Holy Spirit.
He alone can offer the needed consolation
to the person gripped by anxiety and grief
II Cor. 1:6).
ministry of encouragement and consolation
is Gods charge to every believer to exercise
among people buffeted by trouble.
Neglecting this responsibility
is failing ones mission in someones
hour of trial. Becoming an instrument
of comfort to a burdened person brings
the promised uplift to his heart, as foretold
by our Lord: Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matt. 5:4).
with some mourner will not go unnoticed
by the Lord.
The person who is involved in this
ministry is accruing eternal comfort to
There are precious lives all around
with the pressing need for comfort: the
poor, the hungry, the unemployed, the
social outcasts, the old, the sick, the
bereaved, the lonely, those struggling
with family problems, AIDS victims, and
drug addicts, et al. Our churches are full of people harboring heart-rending
unexpressed problems, crying for the comfort
of Christ. We can also intercede for persecuted Christians
in many lands where we cannot have a direct
ministry, and we can make their cause
known to other Christians.
The agony of these saints often
remains unnoticed and neglected in our
Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them; and
those who are ill-treated, since you also
are in the body (Heb. 13:3).
should we Christians equip ourselves to
comfort our fellow-believers and fellow-humans
in this needy hour?
1. Have a good knowledge of the
Scriptures and how to apply them to a
- Be under the full control of the Holy Spirit,
- Know how to pray,
- Be convinced of Christs Second Coming
and know how to relate this truth to
the ministry of paraclisis.
heavenly Father is the ever-present comforter
about whom the Apostle Paul speaks in
God of all comfort, who comforts us in
all our affliction, so that we may be
able to comfort those who are in any affliction,
with the comfort with which we ourselves
are comforted by God (II Cor. 1:3b, 4). Job, who complains about the comforters lack of understanding,
receives due recognition and a small measure
of comfort from Eliphaz, the Temanite.
He brings to memory Jobs instructing
many, his strengthening weak hands, with
his words upholding those who stumbled
and making firm the feeble knees (Job 4:3, 4). While he had a good beginning, he went off track and became an accuser
like the two others.
Isaiah, in his brilliant picture of the manifestation of Gods glory, depicts
the restoration of the polluted land as
he sings a beautiful melody. He has in
mind the comforting of those who moan
and mourn about the hapless outlook of
our devastated environment (cf.
Paul aims to cheer and comfort
the troubled and to a certain degree,
confused, Thessalonians by reassuring
them of the triumphant return of the Savior
(cf. I Thess. 4:18; 5:4; II Thess. 2:16, 17). In these, and many other acts of exhorting believers with what
the future will bring in Gods sovereign
plan, the gift of prophecy ─ misunderstood and misapplied in many circles ─ is being properly exercised (cf. I Cor. 14:31). Downtrodden
fellow humans everywhere seek comfort
and support in their devastating conditions,
and they dont know where to turn.
So many people, especially the
young, succumb to substitutes, such as
alcohol, drugs, free sex, gambling, and
heretical religions which are nothing
more than broken cisterns (cf.
probably discount the effect of prayer
in comforting Christs body (Col. 2:1, 2). Paul also talks about God who comforts the downcast (II Cor. 7:6). He was experiencing a severe
affliction (not known to us) while in
Macedonia (v. 5) and God arranged
at that time for Titus visit in order
to comfort him (v. 6). Furthermore, Titus
was coming to Paul as a person having
been comforted through the Corinthians
whole-hearted return to Christ (v.
also during his imprisonment in Rome sent
Tychicus to the churches in Asia to encourage
their hearts (cf.
Eph. 6:21, 22; Col. 4:8).
While Paul was in Athens, he
heard about the persecution the Thessalonian
believers were enduring. So he sent Timothy to establish them in their
faith and encourage them (I
Thess. 3:2, 3a).
Many of us can gratefully recall
the comfort we have received through the
visit of a fellow-believer at a time of
severe testing. Likewise, Paul was comforted by the faith
of the Thessalonians
(I Thess. 3:7). Such events from real life can prove how
important the work of comforting and exhorting
is in the community of believers. Notice again the element of comfort in Pauls
pastoral benediction (II
Thess. 2:16, 17):
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself,
and God our Father,
who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope
through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good
work and word.
Cosmades --- 2007