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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary


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The word sometimes translated in the Bible as ‘advocate’ denoted a person who came and stood beside someone to help in a time of need. People today usually think of an advocate as one who pleads on behalf of another in a court of law, but only occasionally does the Bible use the word in this legal sense (e.g. 1 John 2:1). In most cases it uses the word in the broader sense of a counsellor or helper (e.g. John 14:26).

Jesus had been a counsellor or helper to his followers while he was with them, and promised that when he left them and returned to his Father, he would send them another counsellor, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would dwell with Jesus’ followers, giving them the sort of teaching, guidance and help that Jesus had given them (John 14:16-17; John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7; cf. Matthew 10:19-20; Romans 8:26). (For further details see HOLY SPIRIT.)

While the Holy Spirit is within believers on earth, Jesus Christ appears before the Father as their advocate in heaven. Christians need this advocate because of the difficulties they face in a sinful world. Inevitably they will sometimes sin and as a result need God’s forgiveness. Their sin does not cause them to lose their salvation, but it spoils their fellowship with God. In Jesus they have a heavenly advocate who, when they confess their sin, brings their case before the merciful God and asks his forgiveness. Just as Jesus’ death and resurrection was the basis on which God accepted them as his people in the first place, so it is the basis on which God continues to forgive their failures (Romans 8:34; 1 John 1:9; 1 John 2:1-2).

Another picture of the risen Christ’s work on behalf of his people is that of high priesthood. In this picture Jesus’ work is similar to that of an advocate. He is his people’s great high priest, who understands their needs and appears in the presence of God to plead for them (Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 9:24). (For further details see PRIEST, sub-heading ‘The high priesthood of Jesus’.)

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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Advocate'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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