A photo capturing a Bible open to a passage about advocacy, alongside a person actively engaging in compassionate acts, symbolizing the embodiment of advocating for justice and righteousness.

What Does Advocate Mean In The Bible?

The word ‘advocate’ appears several times in the Bible, referring to someone who speaks on behalf of another person. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at what the term ‘advocate’ means in a Biblical context, examining how the original Greek and Hebrew words are translated as ‘advocate’ in English Bible versions.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: In the Bible, the term ‘advocate’ refers to Jesus Christ, who acts as an advocate between God and humanity by speaking to God on behalf of sinners.

The Meaning of ‘Parakletos’ in the Gospel of John

The Greek Word Parakletos

The Greek word “Parakletos” is found in the Gospel of John and refers to the Holy Spirit as the advocate or helper that Jesus promised to send after his ascension. Parakletos comes from the Greek words “para” meaning “alongside” and “kaleo” meaning “to call.”

Thus, Parakletos refers to someone called to one’s aid or an intercessor, counselor, or helper.

In John 14:16, Jesus says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever.” Here, Jesus promises his disciples that God will send the Holy Spirit as an advocate or helper after he leaves them.

The Holy Spirit will come alongside believers to help, teach, guide, and comfort them.

John 14 goes on to refer to the Holy Spirit as the “Spirit of truth” who will dwell in believers and testify about Jesus (John 14:17; 15:26). This shows that one role of the Holy Spirit as Parakletos is to reveal the truth about who Jesus is.

Jesus as the Advocate Between God and Man

In 1 John 2:1, Jesus is also referred to as an advocate or Parakletos: “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”

Here, Jesus is portrayed as the believer’s advocate or defense attorney before God the Father.

As the Parakletos, Jesus intercedes for believers by speaking to the Father on their behalf. He pleads their case and intervenes for them as their mediator and high priest (Hebrews 4:14-16). Through his sacrificial death on the cross, Jesus paid the penalty for sin and turned away God’s wrath so that forgiven sinners can approach the Father (Romans 5:9-11).

So while the Holy Spirit is the believer’s advocate on earth who helps and guides, Jesus is the believer’s advocate in heaven who intercedes for them before the Father. Both the Spirit and the Son fulfill the role of Parakletos from different aspects.

Jesus as Our Advocate in 1 John 2

The Meaning of Advocate in 1 John 2:1

In 1 John 2:1, Jesus is described as our “advocate with the Father.” The original Greek word used here is parakletos, which means someone who comes alongside to help or assist. Specifically, an advocate referred to a legal advisor or defense attorney who would argue a case on behalf of the accused before a judge (John 14:16; John 15:26).

So when the apostle John calls Jesus our advocate, he is saying that Jesus stands before God the Father on our behalf when accusations come against us. Just as a defense lawyer argues for the innocence or leniency of the accused, Jesus contends for us as sinners saved by grace.

As Romans 8:34 says, Jesus sits “at the right hand of God” and intercedes for believers.

Jesus’ Role as Advocate Before the Father

What are some specific ways Jesus advocates for us as believers?

  • Jesus argues for the forgiveness of our sins based on His sacrificial death. 1 John 2:2 says He is the “atoning sacrifice for our sins.” So Jesus points to the cross and declares that divine justice has already been satisfied (Hebrews 7:25).
  • Jesus contends for our membership in God’s family. He reminds the Father that we have been adopted through faith, so we can approach Him as beloved children rather than condemned criminals (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5-6).
  • When Satan brings accusations about our weaknesses, Jesus argues for mercy and grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). He does not try to cover up our flaws, but rather intercedes that they would refine us.
  • In the midst of painful trials, Jesus advocates for courage, comfort, and the maturation of our faith. He argues that through endurance we will emerge as purified gold (1 Peter 1:6-7).

What an amazing privilege! The Son of God Himself stands as our defense attorney, reminding God the Father of His great mercy and grace toward us as His redeemed children. With Jesus as our advocate, we can have great confidence that the verdict from the throne of heaven will always be “no condemnation” (Romans 8:1).


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The Holy Spirit as Another Advocate in John 14

Parakletos Referring to the Holy Spirit

In John 14:16-17, Jesus promises his disciples that he will send them “another Advocate” to be with them forever. The Greek word used here for Advocate is Parakletos. This term refers to someone who comes alongside to help, assist, encourage, strengthen, and advocate for another.

Jesus makes it clear that he is sending the Holy Spirit as this Parakletos. The Spirit will come to dwell in believers permanently once Jesus departs. So while Jesus was the first Parakletos during his earthly ministry, the Holy Spirit takes on this role after Christ’s ascension.

The Holy Spirit’s Role as Advocate

As the Parakletos, the Holy Spirit fulfills several vital functions (source):

  • The Spirit teaches believers and guides them into all truth (John 14:26). He illuminates Scripture and applies biblical principles to life.
  • He testifies about Christ, pointing people to salvation in Jesus (John 15:26).
  • He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, ushering the lost to repentance (John 16:8-11).
  • He intercedes and advocates for believers in prayer (Romans 8:26-27). The Spirit articulates the soul’s groans before God.
  • As Counselor, he offers encouragement, exhortation, warning, strength, and guidance as needed (Acts 9:31).

So the Holy Spirit comes alongside believers as a trusted Friend and Advocate. He upholds, champions, defends, and pleads the cause of both Christ and Christians continually. What a blessing to have this Parakletos active in our lives!

Advocate as a Legal Term in the Old Testament

The Hebrew Word Malat

The Hebrew word for “advocate” used in the Old Testament is “malat.” It comes from the verb “malat” which means “to speak on behalf of someone” or “to intercede.” An advocate in the ancient Near East acted as a legal representative and spoke on behalf of the accused in court.

They would present evidence and arguments in defense of the accused.

Some examples where “malat” is used to refer to an advocate include Job 16:20 where Job’s intercessor or advocate is mentioned. Job wished he had an advocate to plead his case before God. Another example is Isaiah 59:15-16 which mentions the Lord looking for an intercessor who could stand before him on behalf of Israel.

So an advocate or intercessor brought a case before a judge or ruler.

Examples of Advocates in the Old Testament

Some specific examples of advocates in the Old Testament include:

  • Abraham interceding for Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18:22-33. He advocated before the Lord on behalf of the cities to spare them from destruction.
  • Moses frequently advocated before God on behalf of the Israelites when they sinned, praying for God to forgive them rather than punish them (Exodus 32:11-14, Numbers 14:13-19, etc.).
  • Job wished he had an advocate or mediator to plead his case before God (Job 16:18-21). He felt there was no one to argue his innocence.
  • The prophets like Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah and Jeremiah advocated for the people of Israel by calling them to repentance and renewal of their covenant with God.


In summary, the term ‘advocate’ as used in the Bible refers to someone who pleads the cause of another before God. Jesus is described as our advocate before God the Father, interceding on behalf of sinners.

The Holy Spirit is also called an advocate who continues Jesus’ work on earth after his ascension. Outside the New Testament, the concept of an advocate also existed in the Old Testament legal system.

Understanding Jesus Christ’s role as our advocate enhances our appreciation of his sacrifice on the cross and ongoing work on our behalf. As our advocate, Jesus serves as the mediator between God and humanity, bringing us back into relationship with the Father.

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