There is an amazing number of things which the Christian reader of the New Testament misses even in the most thorough reading, because his frame of reference and his scrutiny are controlled carefully by official Church dogma. My own case is instructive. I was raised and baptized in the Baptist church and spent much of my youth seriously studying the Bible and religious discipline. At a still young age, I entered the Ministry. I thought I knew the Bible well. As paradoxical as it seems, I must admit that I never possessed as complete a knowledge of the Bible as a Christian as I have gained since embracing interpretation presents a puzzle with major parts missing, and those parts can be supplied only by Islam. The Christian sees the Bible as an end in itself, whereas in reality it is but an indicator pointing the way to something else which was then yet to come. Until this event occurred, the Bible was an incomplete, unfulfilled Book and many of its profound prophecies could not be grasped completely. Christian theologians and scholars, eager to impress their following, often erred in assigning premature "fulfillments" to those foregleams of the future. When the prophecies actually came true these erroneous conjectures had assumed the status of dogma, blinding Christian to the fruition of their own beliefs.
An exceptional example of the dangers of such hasty interpretation is the standard Christian exegesis of John 14:16 and 17, and 16:7-14. Giving Christian scholars the benefit of the doubt, we will assume that the accepted Greek text records in general the actual sayings of Jesus, peace be upon him. In these verses, Jesus highlights the brevity of his own mission, showing its intermediate status as a link between the prophetic past and the prophetic future. It is significant that Jesus never called himself the last prophet, or even a universal prophet, thought Christians later came to consider him as both. On the contrary, here, when read carefully with regard to the Greek text rather than the creeds of the Establishment Churches, Jesus points specifically to the coming of another prophet after him who would (1) be eminently truthful and trustworthy, (2) teach only what God revealed, and (3) honour Jesus by carrying the prophetic mission on to its logical conclusion.
A characteristic of what is termed biblical prophecy is that it merely gives outlines, which become perfectly distinct only upon the unfolding of reality. Thus, we have not instance here of Jesus saying, in the unreal fashion of the Italian "Gospel of Barnabas", 'After me there shall come the Last Prophet, Muhammad bin Abdullah.' But biblical prophecy does have certain safeguards which make the intended interpretation sure beyond all doubt. The new Testament records Jesus as saying:
"Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in god, believe also in me . . . I go to prepare a place for you . . . and I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter (Greek parakleetos), that he may abide with you for ever: even the spirit of truth." (John 14:1, 16, 17)Jesus says that the prophet who would come after him would be a true messenger commissioned by God who, like Jesus, would possess a heavenly Revelation from God, teaching, not words of his own composition, but whatever God gave him to speak:
"But when he, the spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you in all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear (from God) that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine and shall show unto you." (John 16:13, 14)
Thus, additionally, this coming prophet would not spurn the mission of Jesus, but would recognize it and actually "glorify" Jesus by removing from association with him all the false doctrines with which others surrounded the name. Unlike the Jews in general, this prophet would not belie the mission of Jesus, but take the prophetic mission on to conclusion. Now, who would this be? Jesus calls him the "Paraclete". We cannot discount the opinion that what Jesus really said, in his own language of Aramaic, was nearer in meaning to the similar Greek word "Periclyte," "The Praised One," and that "John" ?? an unknown writer in the second century of the Christian era ?? picked up "Paraclete" in error. However, until positive textual evidence is available, we shall continue to give the benefit of the doubt, because even in its admittedly defective condition, the light of truth shines forth in it with startling brilliance.
"Paraclete" as "the Comforter," though that is not precisely what "paraclete" means. Even so, "Comforter" would be an acceptable title for the one who is the Mercy for all creatures. What "Paraclete" means, though, is an advocate, one who pleads the cause of another, one who counsels or advises. The word points to one who would be an advocate for and counsellor to mankind, who, as the Qur'an puts it, would be harisun alaikum, "solicitous for your welfare" (Likewise, in English "solicitor" is synonymous with "advocate" in the legal sense.) Another indication which acts as a safeguard for the true meaning of these verses is that the "Paraclete" is also given the title "Spirit of Truth" (Greek to pneuma tees aleetheais). This is clear when one realises that in New Testament Greek, pneuma can mean "possessor of a spiritual communication", i.e., an inspired person, as well as a "spirit" per se. (A Greek-English Lexicon to the New Testament, by the Rev. Thomas S. Green). Thus, to pneuma tees alletheasis. "the inspired truthful one," means that the "paraclete" would be so truthful and trustworthy in discharging his responsibilities to the Divine Revelation that "the Truth" or "the Trustworthy" would be identifying titles for him. The Greek Allethees corresponds exactly with the Arabic Amin, and "Al-Amin", "the Trustworthy", was an early title of Muhammad, peace be upon him.
Some hasty editor was not satisfied with the expression "spirit of truth", or did not understand it, and assumed that this must be the same as the "Holy Spirit." The words at John 14:26 which identify the "Paraclete" as the Holy Spirit are the result of this. Such words are found nowhere else and are obviously an addition to the text. Yet, this premature interpretation, unsound textually, is the one generally accepted by the Church for explaining who the "Paraclete" is! But Jesus has spoken of someone who would dwell physically with mankind, advising and counselling them, in effect, "pleading their case" with God and showing them to sure way of return, by adherence to the truth, to the Divine Judge. He was not someone who was already present, but someone yet to come. As for the holy spirit, the angel of revelation, his presence was already manifest. David knew him, and asked God, "take not Thy holy spirit from." (Psalm 51:11). The holy spirit was present already during the ministry of Jesus, a fact which the New Testament acknowledges abundantly (f. Matthew 3:16, 17; 12:27-33, etc.) It would have been ridiculous and redundant for Jesus to speak of the future coming (He shall/will give you...") of what presently existed.
Jesus points to a fundamental distinction between the "Paraclete" and all other prophets: "that he may abide with you for ever." This is the same as saying: "the Last Prophet whose mission has permanence, voiding the need for any additional prophets," In plain English, Jesus is saying: "Look, I must go away soon, my mission among you having been completed. But I will ask our Lord to send for all of you another counsellor the prophet who will stand as your guide until the end of time.'
To prove conclusively that "John" understood the "Paraclete" to be a flesh and blood person, not a disembodied spirit or an angel, in another New Testament book attributed to him (1 John 2:1) he used the same term with reference to Jesus: "We have an advocate (Greek parakleetos, same word rendered "Comforter" earlier) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." Jesus, as God's messenger, was considered to be a "Paraclete"; the term was thus not understood by early Christians to mean someone supernatural. The fact is that "Paraclete" or "Counsellor" or "Advocate" refers to a human being, an inspired person ?? which is a legitimate meaning of pneuma ??
not a "spirit" per se. In practical terms, the meaning of "Paraclete" is nearly synonymous with "prophet", with emphasis on the teaching and counselling aspects of prophethood. If Jesus said "another Paraclete" at John 14:16, the significance is "another prophet, out-standing for his teaching and counselling." Furthermore, Jesus qualifies this "Paraclete" by terming him the one to "abide ... for ever," the last or permanent one. There is yet another possibility for the serious researcher. There are numerous instances in the history of biblical textual transmission wherein words have been added inadvertently to the Hebrew and Greek texts; likewise, there are instances wherein words, indeed, complete sentences, have been omitted inadvertently from those texts by copyists, especially where the letters of the omitted word were similar to another word which preceded or followed it. In the ancient texts, the letters were all run together, without spacing, so that Jesus' words at John 14:16 would have looked like this in the Greek text:
Later, words were spaced so that we have:
KAI EGO EROOTEESOO TON PATERA KAI AL-
LON PARAKLEETON DOOSEI UMIN. (And I will
ask the Father, and he will give you another
The point is that the received Greek text's "Paraclete" may not be a corruption of "periclyte". The original text might well have contained both words, but one became omitted in later copying because of being so close in position and in spelling to the other. Only further research can resolve the matter, but it is quite possible that what Jesus said originally was along these lines:
"I will request our Lord, and He will send you another Counsellor, the Praised One, who will be permanent for you until the end of time."
This is not entirely hypothetical; it has actually happened with other words and sentences of the Greek New Testament.
Nevertheless, there is no one else in all of history that John 14:16 et seq. could refer to but Muhammad bin Abdullah, peace be upon him. Christians admit that these verses do not refer to Jesus himself, and the premature identification of the "Paraclete" with the Holy Spirit is untenable in view of other verses of the Bible. Further, no one else has come as a prophet giving due recognition to the mission of Jesus ("He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine . . .") (John 16:14). No one else has led mankind into "all truth" (John 16:13). Only one man has received God's Revelation since the time of Jesus, and only one man stands as Counsellor and Advocate ("Paraclete") for mankind for all the ages to come, Praised ("Periclyte") by God and some 1000 millions of the human family.