Unveiling the Comforter: The Old Testament Revelation of the Comforter

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THE TEST OF THE PROPHET

It was foretold that Christ would come as “that prophet” which all should receive.Deuteronomy 18:18-20 “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.  (19)  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.  (20)  But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.”Yet in every generation it is true that there have been false prophets, and this was also the case with the ancient Israelites. Yet God gave them a clear test for false prophets:

Deuteronomy 13:1-4  If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,  (2)  And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;  (3)  Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  (4)  Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.

It was an evident sign of false prophets to teach them to “go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them”. Yet those words of the prophet were not to be obeyed. Likewise, if one came that some may have thought were the Christ, and many followed after him, the tests of a prophet must be followed.Isaiah 8:20  “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”There should not be any “new” God which was not revealed in the old testament, yet how is it that some say that Christ taught something entirely radical and new concept regarding who God is? The subject that has perplexed many regarding the personality of the Holy Spirit and the nature of the Trinity will be clearly laid out in this study.

DOES OLD TESTAMENT EVIDENCE EXIST?

The only Bible that was had to test anyone by was the old testament when Christ came. If anything new and unusual came up that couldn’t be tested by the Scriptures, how might it safely be accepted? What evidences do we find in the old testament?

The Catholic Encyclopedia says the following:

Nowhere in the Old Testament do we find any clear indication of a Third Person.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912, Vol. 15, Trinity, p 47-49)

Yet then it says:
“It is evident that, were the Spirit not a Person, Christ could not have spoken of His presence with the Apostles as comparable to His own presence with them (xiv, 16, 17). Again, were He not a Divine Person it could not have been expedient for the Apostles that Christ should leave them, and the Paraclete take His place (xvi, 7).” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912, Vol. 15, p 47-49)

OLD TESTAMENT: NO CLEAR INDICATION THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A THIRD PERSON.
NEW TESTAMENT: IT MUST BE A PERSON BECAUSE CHRIST SAID IT WAS A PERSON.

Notice a similar trend among different scholars regarding the Trinity in respect to the Old and New Testament teachings.

Theologians today are in agreement that the Hebrew Bible does not contain a doctrine of the Trinity.” (Encyclopedia of Religion Vol. 15 1987)
“Theologians agree that the New Testament also does not contain an explicit doctrine of the Trinity.” (Encyclopedia of Religion)
“Neither the word Trinity nor the explicit doctrine appears in the New Testament.” (Encyclopedia Britannica 1976)
The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not taught in the Old Testament.” (New Catholic Encyclopedia)
The New Testament does not contain the developed doctrine of the Trinity. The Bible lacks the express declaration the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are of equal essence.” (The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology 1976)
“While no single scriptural passage states formally the doctrine of the Trinity, it is assumed as a fact by Bible writers and mentioned several times. Only by faith can we accept the existence of the Trinity.” (Adventist Review, Vol. 158, No. 31, p. 4)

HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism says, “Today, however, scholars generally agree that there is no doctrine of the Trinity as such in either the OT or the NT … It would go far beyond the intention and thought-forms of the OT to suppose that a late-fourth-century or thirteenth-century Christian doctrine can be found there … Likewise, the NT does not contain an explicit doctrine of the Trinity.” — (Richard McBrien, general editor, 1995, “God,” pp. 564-565)

Some of the above statements we may indeed find most startling.

The definite danger here is this: Consistency is a jewel, and God does not lead us in a manner that would confuse us, and this was true in the days of the apostles, even as it is today. If God gave definite tests by which a prophet could be tested, and He would reveal Himself clearly enough in His Word that His people would know the difference between the true God and the false gods that the false prophets were leading astray with, it should be made perfectly clear. If Christ was indeed teaching something different from the God who was revealed in the old testament, He will certainly fail the test of being the prophet. Yet He was that prophet, so therefore we must harmonize all the Biblical evidence, and show that both the Old Testament, and Christ’s Words, and the New Testament are in perfect agreement. Not by twisting the Scripture to say what it doesn’t mean, but to conform our ideas to what it plainly states.

We’re told by the Catholic Encyclopedia that there is no clear Biblical evidence in the old testament regarding the Holy Spirit’s personality, but that doesn’t diminish that “He” is a person. There is not a doubt that the Spirit is “a person” in a certain sense, and a divine presence; and the old testament does reveal exactly that who that presence and personality is. Therefore, we must more definitely look at the matter by examing closely the Prophet’s words. What did Christ say regarding the Comforter, and what basis from the old testament did He have?

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Who is the Comforter: The Holy Ghost?

THE PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

“Christ tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, and the Comforter is the Holy Ghost.”  (14MR 179.2)

If the Holy Spirit is an individual being as God the Father and Christ the Son, then Scripture should be filled with references that it is so. Since the old testament was the only Bible the apostles had, this must be clear if Christ was indeed teaching that the Holy Spirit is a separate, distinct individual.

Those who make this claim cite several Scriptures, and they are found between John 14 to 16.

John 14:16-17 “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”

John 14:26  “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

John 15:26 “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:”

John 16:7-8  Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

John 16:13-14 “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”

This section of verses speak expressly about “the Comforter”. It is evident that scholars find nothing regarding the distinct being of the Holy Spirit in the old testament, though they find ample references to the Holy Spirit as belonging to YEHOVAH. “Thy Spirit” or “It”, an impersonal pronoun, is often used to describe the Holy Spirit throughout the Old Testament. Then we must ask. Was Christ teaching a third divine being that was previously unmentioned throughout the whole Scripture? Was that great prophet adding something more to the Word of God that was left unrevealed? Or are His statements needing to be harmonized with the plain teachings of the Old Testament? We are going to take a look at “the Comforter” in the old testament, and then in the new testament, to show that there is perfect harmony in all the Scriptures without any confusion.

THE COMFORTER IN THE OLD TESTAMENT?

Isaiah 51:11-13 “Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away. (12) I, even I, AM HE THAT COMFORTETH YOU: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; (13) And forgettest the LORD THY MAKER, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth;”

To identify who our Comforter is here, we must first know who is “the LORD THY MAKER” who “stretched forth the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth”?

The Scripture says “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1). It’s clear that God laid the foundation for the earth. He is our Maker: “God said, LET US MAKE man in our image, after our likeness:” Who is the “us/our” referring to that made us, and laid the foundations of the heaven and the earth? It is evident that God here wasn’t alone. The Scripture surely is not silent on this point. We are told in the book of Proberbs:

Proverbs 30:4 “Who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is HIS NAME, and WHAT IS HIS SON’S NAME, if thou canst tell?”

The Lord thy Maker which comforts you is none other than God the Father and Christ, His Son. Therefore, we may identify our “Maker” Our Maker, as the New Testament has abundantly spoken of (Hebrews 1:1-3, John 1:1-4, Col. 1:15-19).

Regarding the Comforter, surrounding the popular passages used to say that the Comforter is a distinct third divine being, Jesus said:

John 14:18 “I [Jesus] will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”

“Christ is our Guide and Comforter, who comforts us in all our tribulations.” (2SM 270)dove prophets

John 14:23 “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”

Notice that the Father and the Son will make their abode with us when we receive the Comforter?

Isaiah 66:13 “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”

Isaiah 51:3 “For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.”

Now it says that joy and gladness will come when the LORD comforts His people. Now where is joy found in the Scripture?

Psalms 16:11  Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Notice that it says “in Thy presence is fulness of joy”. “Christ tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, and the Comforter is the Holy Ghost.”  (14MR 179.2)

Also notice that His presence comes to us by the Holy Spirit, and notice that the possessive pronoun “thy Holy Spirit”:

Psalms 51:11 “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.”

Now, if God’s presence, brought to us spiritually by the Holy Spirit, brings fullness of joy, and that presence that comes to us is the Father and the Son, is there more Scripture to substantiate this?

1 John 1:3-4 “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.  (4)  And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.”

Notice that the fellowship with the Father and the Son will give us fullness of joy.

“Let them study the seventeenth of John, and learn how to pray and how to live the prayer of Christ. He is the Comforter. He will abide in their hearts, making their joy full.” (Review and Herald, January 27, 1903)

Now, those are only a few points, but let’s touch on some more points regarding the Old Testament prophets.

WHO SPOKE THROUGH THE PROPHETS

Now that we’ve identified more regarding the Comforter in the old testament, let us look at the ministry of the prophets more closely.

It is clear in the Bible that the Holy Spirit inspired the prophets, and spoke through them.

HolyManofGodMovedbySpirit2 Peter 1:21  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Now, it is clear that the Holy Spirit spoke through them. And we identified the Father and the Son as those who constitute the Comforter. Is this consistent with what the Bible teaches of the one who spoke through the prophets?

Hebrews 1:1-2  God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,  (2)  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

It was God the Father who spake in time past by the prophets, and we know it is the Father because the next verse speaks of His Son, by which He spoke when Christ came as “that prophet”.
So “the Comforter” was the same Spirit that spoke through the prophets, and it says that it was the Father that spoke through the prophets by that Spirit.

John 15:26  But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

Notice that it says that “the Comforter” proceeds from the Father. And it “testifies” of Christ. Did the prophets testify of Christ?

John 5:39  Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

“They” refer to the prophets. And both they testify of Christ, and the Spirit testified of Christ through them. So therefore, it was the Father that testified of Christ, and when it says “He shall testify of Me”, it is referring to how the Father testifies of His Son through His servants by His Spirit. Is there any more evidence that God does this?

Matthew 16:16-17  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.  (17)  And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Who testified through Simon Peter of the Son of God? It says it was not by flesh and blood that the matter was revealed, but by God the Father. Now lastly, speaking of those prophets of the old testament, what Spirit was moving them?

1 Peter 1:10-11 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:  (11)  Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.

It was the Spirit of Christ which was in them, as they enquired and searched diligently the Scriptures. The prophets had the Comforter, and were taught by that Spirit.

“HE SHALL TEACH YOU ALL THINGS”

Keeping with consistency, the Scripture says that the Comforter will teach us all things.

John 14:26  “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

Is it the Father and the Son that teach us all things by that Spirit? Who teaches us?

The Scripture says:

Isaiah 54:13  And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

It says the LORD will teach the children, but the Scripture says “the Comforter” will. We’ve looked several times at the LORD as possible referring to the Father alone, or the Father and the Son also. Isaiah 51:3 “For the LORD shall comfort Zion”

Is this any excbible shiningeption?

Notice that Christ quotes this Scripture.

John 6:45  It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of (para g3844) the Father, cometh unto me.”

Christ identifies this as the Father who teaches. “Every man…hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me.” What does it mean to “learn OF the Father”? The word in the Greek “Of” is “para”. It means to be close beside. The word for “Comforter” is parakletos. The root word used the Comforter is the same word used to to learn “OF” the Father.

The Greek Strong’s makes this connection:
3875 paráklētos (from 3844 /pará, “from close-beside” and 2564 /kaléō, “make a call”) – properly, a legal advocate who makes the right judgment-call because close enough to the situation. 3875 /paráklētos (“advocate, advisor-helper”) is the regular term in NT times of an attorney (lawyer) – i.e. someone giving evidence that stands up in court.

“YE KNOW HIM”

If Christ is that Comforter, why did He use the personal pronoun “He”? It is because He was truly going away but sought to inspire their minds with the reality of the spiritual manifestation. John 13:33  Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.

dove Jesus embraceThen He seeks to comfort them:

John 14:1-2  “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  (2)  In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”

He tells them if you believe in God, who you cannot see, believe also in Me, that when I go away, I will not leave you comfortless.

“As by faith we look to Jesus, our faith pierces the shadow, and we adore God for His wondrous love in giving Jesus the Comforter.”  (19MR 297.3)

John 16:6-7  But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.  (7)  Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

Christ could not comfort them while they felt they had all the comfort they needed in His Presence.

“Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally; therefore it was altogether for their advantage that He should leave them, go to His father, and send the Holy Spirit to be His successor on earth. The Holy Spirit is Himself divested of the personality of humanity and independent thereof. He would represent Himself as present in all places by His Holy Spirit, as the Omnipresent.” — (Ellen G. White, 14MR 23.3, 1895)

He promises that this sorrow will be turned into joy.

John 16:20  Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

Speaking of that mourning that would be turned into joy, He says:

John 16:22-24  And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.  (23)  And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.  (24)  Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

And where does fullness of joy come from, as we saw earlier? From the fellowship of the Father and the Son; from the presence of God! Christ was showing that He was truly going away, but that He would manifest Himself to them.

“When He should come forth from the tomb, their sorrow would be turned to joy. After His ascension He was to be absent in person; but through the Comforter He would still be with them, and they were not to spend their time in mourning.” (Desire of Ages, p. 278)

“When he should ascend to the Father, then the Comforter which the Saviour promised to send would come. Jesus promised to manifest himself through the Holy Spirit to every individual who shall seek him and believe on him.” (Signs of the Times, July 23)

YE SEE HIM…

Ye see Him...
Ye see Him…

Now, Christ sought to reassure them that the world, who was rejoicing could not receive that Comforter, but they who sorrowed would receive it.

He said specifically that the disciples knew the Comforter, so it made it necessary for them to understand exactly who was being spoken of, even if they did not fully understand what Christ was saying to them.

John 14:16-17 “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”

Now, it says that the world cannot receive the Comforter. Why? “because it does not see Him, neither knows Him.”
The disciples did see the Comforter, and Christ said to them “ye know Him.” Who was this that Christ spoke of? It was the Comforter that dwelt with them, that WOULD BE IN THEM. He spoke of Himself. See the next verse: John 14:18 “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”

“Jesus comes to you as the Spirit of truth; study the mind of the Spirit, consult your Lord, follow His way.” (2MR 337.1)

“To the guidance of this Comforter all who believe in Christ may implicitly trust. He (CHRIST) is the Spirit of truth, but this truth the world can neither discern nor receive.” (12MR 260.1)

“The reasons why the churches are weak and sickly and ready to die is that the enemy has brought influences of a discouraging nature to bear upon trembling souls. He has sought to shut Jesus from their view as the Comforter”  (Review and Herald, August 26, 1890)

“The Holy Spirit is called both the Comforter and the Spirit of truth, because there is comfort and hope in the truth. A falsehood cannot give genuine peace; but through the truth we become partakers of the peace that passeth understanding.” — (Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers, 310.2, 1892)

He then makes this more firm. He says the world sees Him no more, because He is going away, and do not know the Spirit of truth. But the disciples knew Him, and He would be in them. Then look what Jesus says regarding Himself:
John 14:19-21  Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.  (20)  At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

He says He will abide in us. It is clear that He is speaking of a spiritual manifestation because of the context, and even the disciples understood that Christ was referring to Himself manifesting to them and not to the world:
John 12:21-23 (21)  He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.  (22)  Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?  (23)  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

“HE SHALL GUIDE YOU INTO ALL TRUTH”

The last point regarding “the Comforter”, which people use to say the Comforter refers to another individual being is the following:

John 16:13-14 “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”

We’ve seen an abundance of testimony that it is the Father that teaches us by His Spirit and testifies of Christ His Son, and that Christ does not leave us comfortless, and will manifest Himself to us. Yet a simple reading of the context will help to see who shall “shew” unto us these things.

John 16:14-15  He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.  (15)  All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

The Father has all things that are the Sons, and shall take what is His Son’s and shall show it to us. This is how He both teaches us, and testifies of His Son, so that even today, Christ may say “Blessed are you, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto you, but My Father which is in heaven.”

MORE FROM ELLEN WHITE ON THE COMFORTER

 

“This refers to the omnipresence of the Spirit of Christ, called the Comforter.”  (14MR 179.2)

“The Saviour is our Comforter. This I have proved Him to be.” (8MR 49.3)

“Christ is everything to those who receive Him. He is their Comforter, their safety, their healthfulness. Apart from Christ there is no light at all.”  (21MR 372.1)

“There is no comforter like Christ, so tender and so true. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. His Spirit speaks to the heart…. The influence of the Holy Spirit is the life of Christ in the soul.” (Review and Herald, October 26, 1897)

“The nights are long and painful, but Jesus is my Comforter and my Hope.” (19MR 296.2)

Christian Israel is an administrator of Lightened By His Glory. He is also the administrator of www.loudcryofthethirdangel.com. He…

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