More than an assistant
Parakletos is the Greek word that was used for someone who was called in to help. Much as in 2011 the Libyan rebels call in their allies - with aeroplanes - to save them from defeat. Parakletos was used for a counsellor called in to give advice. It was used for an advocate called in to speak on one's behalf - like a barrister, perhaps? Or a prisoner's friend, to speak up for someone in trouble. A parakletos might be in evidence wherever things got too much for someone and they needed help. In our day we might think of needing a car mechanic, or a plumber, or an electronics engineer who might be a parakletos for us. Someone with greater skills or knowledge to supplement our own. More than just another pair of hands.
In versions of the New Testament the word may be translated 'helper', or 'comforter', or 'advocate', or 'someone to stand by you'. It occurs five times, all in John's writings. In 1 John 2.1 it is applied to Jesus Christ and is translated 'advocate'. When we fall into sin we need someone to speak up for us to the Father. Jesus has the right to speak, and in any case has Himself made atonement for our sins (and those of all the world). So He does 'speak for us'. This is something we dare not take lightly.
The other four uses of the word are in John's gospel (14.16, 26; 15.26; 16.7) where Jesus is speaking to his disciples about the Holy Spirit. In these places, if we find the translation 'Comforter' we should think not necessarily of giving easy comfort and sympathy, but of the older sense of comfort, giving strength. It is the sort of comfort 'which keeps a man on his feet when, left to himself, he would collapse' (Barclay).
Jesus, when he lived on earth with his disciples, was in some sense a parakletos to them. In all their difficulties, disputes, puzzlements, they called on Him to help. He had stood by them, but this had only been temporary. Now He was leaving them, they needed someone else. What He promised was that the Father would give them "Someone else to stand by you, to be with you always" (John 14.16 Phillips), "Another Comforter" (AV).
Jesus was very specific in telling his disciples what this new Helper would do. The Spirit of truth stays with them and will be in them; is sent by the Father in the name of Jesus to remind them of what Jesus has told them; is a witness to Jesus in their minds and hearts; and the Spirit is for them better, in a sense, than having Jesus with them in person. The Spirit convinces men of sin, righteousness, and judgment. The Spirit guides the disciples into all truth. The Spirit tells them what Jesus has to tell them. Another Helper, in His place.
Our Helper, too?