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John 14:16

ESV And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,
NIV And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—
NASB I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, so that He may be with you forever;
CSB And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.
NLT And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.
KJV And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;
NKJV And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—

What does John 14:16 mean?

Jesus commanded the disciples to love each other (John 13:34–35) and to obey His commands (John 14:15). He has also reassured them that knowledge of Him is their means of salvation (John 14:6). In that context—acting in His name—Jesus also promised to provide whatever is asked of Him (John 14:14).

English translations of this verse are relatively consistent, but translating from Greek blurs a subtle difference in this statement. When Jesus refers to the disciples "asking" for something in prayer, He uses the root word ait󠅍eō (John 14:13–14; 15:7; 16:23). Here, however, Jesus uses the term erōtaō. This also means "to ask," but carries a more personal and mutual sense. Jesus uses both words—with the same distinction between their requests and His—in John 16:26. This, once again, implies that Jesus shares a relationship with God which transcends mere humanity. It also reinforces the idea that prayer is not intended to blindly grant us our wishes.

"Helper," here, is translated from the root term paraklētos. This can also be translated as a "comforter," or "advocate." This is the same term John will use later to describe Jesus in 1 John 2:1. That connection has meaning—Jesus will later point out that He is leaving behind His earthly ministry specifically so the Holy Spirit can act (John 16:7). The Holy Spirit, in a sense, does from the inside what Christ would do from the outside: teach, convict, remind, and guide. In the following verse, Jesus will clarify that this Helper is the Holy Spirit, who is available only to those who believe (John 14:17).

This Spirit is guaranteed to be with the believer "forever." This contrasts with the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, which came and went from God's servants at various times (1 Samuel 19:23; 2 Chronicles 15:1; Judges 14:6).

The beautiful role of this "Helper" is also demonstrated by understanding its translation. In legal terms, the "defense attorney" is the paraklētos. The opposing side is the "accuser," from the Greek katēgōr, a term John uses in Revelation 12:10. The concept of an "accuser" features heavily in the Old Testament, through the phrase ha sā'tān. The One who stands by us and guides us is God, the Holy Spirit—our accuser and enemy is Satan.
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