It's All in the Translation
Today we are looking at one of the most beautiful words in the
Bible that has been rendered almost meaningless and its power
stripped by the translators. Let's begin by taking a look at
I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation, (Heb.
13:22) the meaning of the word translated exhortation as set
forth here in Hebrews is the Greek word paraklesis.
This word paraklesis is used twenty nine times in the Bible and
is translated consolation fourteen times, exhortation eight
times, comfort six times and entreaty one time. This will give
you a flavor of how the word is used in the King James Version
it is the writers contention that exhortation may be a poor
translation of the word and that comfort or comforter is the
proper translation of paraklesis .
Paraklesis is defined by the dual suggestion that that which
comforts, comforts from two unique positions. Consider the
paraklete or the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) and also consider the
Advocate parakletos (I Jo 1:2) here we have the dual nature of
the paraklesis one as Comforter the other as Christ the legal
defense of the Believer.
We should look at Luke 2:25 "And, behold, there was a man in
Jerusalem, whose name [was] Simeon; and the same man [was] just
and devout, waiting for the consolation paraklesis of Israel:
and the Holy Ghost was upon him." This is where we see that
exhortation as a synonym of comfort as a meaning for paraklesis
simply cannot work.
Matt. 8:5 "And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came
unto him a centurion, beseeching him," parakleo this is more
understandable a use of the word than exhort. Look at one more 2
Cor. 1:4 "Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may
be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort
wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." Parakleo,
parakleo, paraklesis and parakleo, used respectively of the word
comfort in the verse. Now substitute exhort and the verse makes
The phrase "we ourselves are comforted" takes on an interesting
meaning because of the tense of the verb. It is in the present
tense but in the passive voice which represents the subject as
being the recipient of the action or the comfort. The phrase is
also in the indicative mood which is a simple statement of fact;
it says it happened therefore we are comforted. The Word of God
2 Tim. 4:2 "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of
season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and
doctrine." Here exhort paraklaeo cannot be translated correctly
and must be rendered beseech or comfort. The same applies to 1
Tim. 2:6 teach and exhort.
In paraklesis or parakleo we have therefore a word which can
easily be robbed of its beauty and power by the application of
an imaginative mechanical rule. Its etymology reveals that it
means, "to call to one's side"; its usage shows that according
to the context, it means either; to entreat as in "I beseech",
admonish as in "I exhort" and consolation as in "I comfort" and
that in each shade of meaning, the other aspects are present.
The beseeching will not be so gentle as to be weak, the
admonition will not be so harsh as to be repugnant, and the
consolation will not be without comfort.