The Greek word paraklētos, translated Advocate in today’s Scripture passage, is used five times in the New Testament, once by the apostle John to refer to Jesus Christ, and four times by Jesus Himself of “another Advocate,” the Holy Spirit.
Advocate is another title for a lawyer, someone who pleads your case before the bar of justice. In modern terms, an advocate is like a defense attorney who pleads the case for a defendant before a judge. The Greek word literally means called to one’s side, especially called to one’s aid.
When John calls Jesus “our Advocate,” it means that our Savior is standing before the heavenly throne of God, pleading our case before the Father. He is interceding on our behalf because we belong to Him.
It’s important to point out one important distinction between Jesus Christ our heavenly Advocate and an earthly advocate for someone accused of a crime. Jesus’ case as He represents us before the Father isn’t based on our righteousness or good works. His case for us is grounded in the work He has already done to secure God’s favorable verdict.
Even though we are guilty of sin and unable to meet the righteous standards God has set, Jesus has already paid the price for our sin. Or as 1 John 2:2 says,
“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2 NIV
But we still have a part in the process. We have to accept this atoning sacrifice as our own through faith in the work Jesus has done. When we do this, the perfect righteousness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is imputed to us. This means Christ’s righteousness is attributed to us by faith and counted as our own. As Matthew Henry wrote:
“The clients are guilty; their innocence and legal righteousness cannot be pleaded. It is the advocate’s own righteousness that he must plead for the criminals.”
I am grateful that, even now, Jesus is pleading with the Father on my behalf, interceding for me to be forgiven. Because I am in Christ, God is no longer the judge who condemns me but rather the Father who has adopted me into His family.