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Paracletos or Periklutos: The Comforter is the Holy Spirit

One of the arguments of Muslims is the claim that the New Testament contains prophecies of Muhammad. In reality, however, these verses actually refer to the Holy Spirit, not Muhammad. The verse in question comes from the Gospel of John and the Greek word παράκλητος (paracletos) which is translated as “Comforter”:

And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter, to be with you for ever (John 14:16)

The Muslim claim is that the “Comforter” spoken of by Jesus is actually a reference to Muhammad. Muslims argue that the underlying Greek word is not paracletos, but rather periklutos, even though this word is not found in any Christian text. They define this word as “praised one” and say it can be translated into Arabic as “Ahmed” relating it to Surah 61:6:

And [mention] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said, “O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad.” But when he came to them with clear evidences, they said, “This is obvious magic.” (emphasis added)

As you can see, it would only make sense from the Islamic perspective to try and distort the meaning of the word to try and point towards their prophet. If we look at some scholarly quotes (Wikipedia) on the subject, however, we can begin to make sense of the matter:

Regarding Ibn Ishaq’s biography of Muhammad, the Sirat Rasul Allah, Islamic scholar Alfred Guillaume wrote: “Coming back to the term ‘Ahmad,’ Muslims have suggested that Ahmad is the translation of periklutos, celebrated or the Praised One, which is a corruption of parakletos, the Paraclete of John XIV, XV and XVI.”

A few Muslim commentators, such as David Benjamin Keldani (1928), have argued the theory that the original Greek word used was periklytos, meaning famed, illustrious, or praiseworthy, rendered in Arabic as Ahmad (another name of Muhammad), and that this was substituted by Christians with parakletos. However, there is not one Greek manuscript in existence with this reading, all Greek manuscripts read παράκλητος paraklhtos.

Regarding what the original Greek term was, according to A. Guthrie and E. F. F. Bishop:

Early translators knew nothing about the surmised reading of periklutos for parakletos, and its possible rendering as Ahmad … Periklutos does not come into the picture as far as Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham are concerned. The deception is not theirs. The opportunity to introduce Ahmad was not accepted – though it is highly improbable that they were aware of it being a possible rendering of Periklutos. It would have clinched the argument to have followed the Johannine references with a Quranic quotation.

Once more, if we omit the phrase, ‘bearing the name Ahmad,’ and regard Muhammad as still drawing lessons from previous history, the dubious passage might refer to what happened at Pentecost, and other incidents recorded in the earlier chapters of the Acts. With the absence of any claim on this passage either by Ibn Ishaq or Ibn Hisham, may we go further and suggest that the two Arabic words rendered by Dr. Bell, ‘bearing the name Ahmad,’ are an interpolation to be dated after the death of Muhammad.

As we can see from these quotes listed above, it is simply a fabrication. None of the Greek manuscripts read the way Muslims claim them to. Not only that, but Ibn Ishaq the biographer of Muhammad, and Ibn Hisham, a later editor of Ibn Ishaq never even mention it. The idea was added at a later date.

Another attempt at proving this point used by the Muslims is that since Jesus says that the Comforter will come after Him, that it cannot be the Holy Spirit. The reason being is that the Holy Spirit has been present prior to Jesus and while Jesus was with them:

According to Muslim missionary Ahmed Deedat, all the biblical references to the Paraclete fit Muhammad more accurately than the Holy Spirit. For example, Deedat mentions that 16:7 of the Gospel of John states that the Paraclete will only arrive once Jesus has departed; however, Deedat notes that the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the Bible as having been present numerous times even before the departure of Jesus. (Wikipedia)

While it is true that the Spirit of God has been present throughout the ages, Christ was referring to the Holy Spirit dwelling within them. In order to understand this, we will start with the prophecy we find in Jeremiah:

(38:33) For this is my covenant which I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will surely put my laws into their mind, and write them on their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. (Jeremiah 31:33/38:33 LXXE)

If we come to the New Testament, we have confirmation of this:

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19; KJV)

[Forasmuch as ye are] manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. (2 Corinthians 3:3; KJV)

Prior to Christ, the Holy Spirit was an external presence. However, with the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus, we are now able to have a union with God through the Holy Spirit–the Comforter. The first time the Holy Spirit entered a person, besides Adam and Jesus, was during Pentecost, which was after the ascension of Jesus. The fact that it happened on Pentecost is very important to understand, as well, because this is the same time that the Law was given on Mt. Sinai. This further proves Jeremiah’s prophecy in that God rewrote His laws and placed them on our hearts on the exact same day as the old Law was given in the Old Testament.

We can also look at other passages within the text of the New Testament to determine that the Comforter is, in fact, the Holy Spirit and not a reference to Muhammad. Just by simply going one verse past the original (John 14:16), we can see the Holy Spirit is referenced:

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; emphasis added)

Continuing in the Gospel of John, we have other references as well:

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; emphasis added)

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; emphasis added)

As you can see, John 14:26 is very clear that the Comforter, whom Jesus refers to, is the Holy Spirit. There is no other way around it. Jesus doesn’t say, “The Comforter, Muhammad.” The text is explicit that it is the Holy Spirit of God that is the Comforter.

In conclusion, there is overwhelming evidence that the Comforter, παράκλητος (paracletos), is not Muhammad, but the Holy Spirit. The word jargon the Muslims use is common practice for their arguments. However, once you whittle through the nonsense and seek the truth, it is quite evident. And besides, why do Muslims try and use the Bible to prove their prophet is legitimate when they are constantly arguing our Bible is corrupt and unable to be trusted? It doesn’t make any sense. But I pray that you (both Muslim and Christian alike) will read this and learn from it. Seek the truth in all that you do.

 

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