my lawyer

4 Jun

I’ve been reading the NIV translation of the Bible most of my Christian life. When Jesus talks to his disciples, just before his arrest, he tells them about the Holy Spirit who he is going to send to be with them on earth. He calls the Spirit ‘the Counsellor’.

I was well aware that this doesn’t really mean a counsellor like someone who talks you through your problems (although I don’t know anyone who’s better at that), but I thought it meant an advisor – someone who whispers in your ear and tells you what the best course of action is.

Turns out this is not quite the whole story. Now I have ‘Today’s NIV’ which has undergone a little bit of retranslation, and they have swapped the English word ‘Counsellor’ for the word ‘Advocate’. In fact, the Greek word used here (parakletos) apparently means, ‘one called to someone’s side to plead on their behalf’. It’s a desciption also given to Jesus, elsewhere. An advocate is not just any counsellor but a legal counsellor.

So I typed ‘advocate’ into and here is what it is:


2. a person who upholds or defends a cause; supporter
3. a person who intercedes on behalf of another
4. barrister solicitor. See also counsellor a person who pleads his client’s cause in a court of law

… while you are still thinking about the implications of this, here are some synonyms:


There are a lot of legal metaphors in the Bible – I don’t think the world is really equivalent to a courtroom, but it’s a useful analogy in many respects. The Bible talks about us having an Accuser. That’s the Devil. He hates our guts and he has a long list of charges against us written down. We’re guilty of them, and it’s a death sentence. What can we do? It also mentions a Judge. That’s God. The amazing, amazing ridiculous thing is that the Judge, after hearing the prosecution and passing sentence, steps down from his seat and gives himself up to the executioner himself. The sentence is carried out and the charges are ripped up. Suddenly, we are free.

And now? We go around with this persistent Accuser still shouting in our ears, even though the case is closed. But we’re not alone. Because what this passage says is that the Holy Spirit is our lawyer, pleading the case for our defence, on our behalf. We can’t defend ourselves against that Accuser. But he can. He has all the legal evidence to shut down the prosecution and prove us innocent to the Judge.

And in a world with a vague suspicion that God is against us, this is a-bloody-mazing. He’s not against us. He wants to take on our death sentence, declare it all legally dealt with and then step back in as our lawyer, backing us to the hilt. Completely mental. Completely amazing.


3 Responses to “my lawyer”

  1. Susan in TX 05/06/2011 at 1:43 pm #

    I can think of nothing that I’m more grateful for than this! Amazing is the word, but it remains an understatement, doesn’t it?

  2. Anonymous 16/07/2011 at 11:45 am #

    What’s more amazing is that there’s an invisible pink unicorn who wants to do me harm, but the Flying Spaghetti Monster is always there to protect me. In fact, He protects me so well that it’s just like none of this is actually happening. Isn’t that incredible? I have to convince myself that He is there by attributing any co-incidences in my life to Him, and the voice inside my head is obviously Him when it is correct about things, and just me when it is wrong!

  3. thepygmygiant 17/07/2011 at 10:37 pm #

    Uh-oh, I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling in your Pastafarian faith.
    Take it easy ;)

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