BM MS 2, Paris Breviary, p. 218 v., 1414




General Reflections on the Terms



1) THE Greek word paraclete [παράκλητος/ paraklētos ], used of both Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John, has the primary meaning “advocate” or “defender” in a court of law.  In this context it could also be translated “helper” or “supporter”; but the clear implication is that one is being threatened or attacked, and is in need of a defender. 

2) THE related words  paraklēsis [παράκλησις] and parakaleō  [παρακαλέω] mean, respectively, “consolation” and “to console/comfort.” With the passing of time (the medieval hymn Veni Sancte Spiritus is a vivid example) Christian tradition has tended to shift from the notion of Paraclete as “defender” to that of “consoler, comforter”.

3) ONE of the spiritual abilities evident in the ministry of Jesus and in the early Church is the ability to interpret or explain [ἑρμηνεύω /hermēneuō], and to “signify” [σημαίνω /sēmainō], to reveal the deeper meanings, the underlying divine purposes, of events, persons, and Sacred Text.


SOURCES:  1 ) Kittel, The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, (Eerdmans, 2000, c1964).
 2 ) H.G.Liddell, R. Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon. rev. H.S.Jones & R.McKenzie, (Oxford, 1940).

1. Advocate


1. A







a. In Classical Gk. The use as noun, attested in secular Gk. from the 4th cent. b.c. in the sense of a “person called in to help, summoned to give assistance,” gives us the meaning of “helper in court,” Thus the history of the term in the whole sphere of known Greek and Hellenistic usage outside the New Testament yields the clear picture of a legal adviser or helper or advocate in the relevant court






1.2.1. [Although the term paraclete is not found in the Septuagint,] in the Old Testament. advocates for humankind before God play a specific role. The idea, widespread in religious history and in the ancient Orient, that man can be represented before deity by a superior “holy” being, who comes forward as helper, defender and advocate, and speaks for him etc., found expression in Israel in a manner in keeping with the distinctive nature of the OT.

Men of God like Abraham (Gn. 18:23–33; 20:7, 17), Moses (Ex. 32:11–14, 32; 34:8 f.; Nu. 14:13–19), and Samuel (1 S. 7:8 f.; 12:19, 23; 15:11), prophets like Amos (7:2, 5f.) or Jeremiah (e.g., 14:7–9, 13, 19–22) intercede with Yahweh for others in guilt or distress, whether it be individuals or the people. As defenders at the bar (cf. Jer. 5:28; Job 29:16) they address Yahweh on behalf of those under their protection, though they can also become accusers (Nu. 16:15; Jer. 18:20–23). It is also the task of these men to declare to men the will of Yahweh and to show how it is to be done (1 S. 12:23 etc.). An advocate of higher rank is found in Job 33:23, who intercedes with God for the sinner smitten with sickness, so that God forgives and heals him (cf. vv. 19–25): the interceding angel to whom there is ref. in Job 5:1 and perhaps also 16:19–22 and 19:25–27. The angel, one of thousands (not a single professional advocate), has pity on man in his distress and stands at his side as defender and helper before the judgment seat of God when Satan acts as accuser, Job 1:6–12, → III, 636, 23 ff. But he also shows man his duty, corrects him, and calls him to repentance, 33:23f. That the advocate and friend in heaven seeks to vindicate man against God (16:19–22) brings out clearly the legal character of the idea of the interceding angel. The nature and work of such angels is described in Zech. 1:12; 3:1–10 in a way similar to that found in Job; the accusations of Satan are again resisted in 3:1–10.

1.2.2. In the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. Here we find the same thoughts in established and extended form. Judaism is proud of being able to look back to a long history in which righteous men and prophets stood at the side of the fathers in advocacy before God, as helpers Ass. Mos. 11:17. It is now felt to be incumbent on all who fear God to pray for one another, e.g., 2 Macc. 1:2–6; 8:14 f.; 12:39–45. Even stronger, however, is the sense that the people and pious individuals need and have superhuman, heavenly helpers: the blessed righteous (Eth. En. 39:5; Enoch, 83:10; 13:4–7; 15:2 f.; Slav. En. 64:5), and esp. angels (Eth. En. 47:2; 104:1).

The true office of the interceding angel, who does not merely mediate human prayers to God (Eth. En. 99:3) but is the advocate of the community and its members before God’s judgment throne (Test. L. 6:5: ὁ ἄγγελος ὁ παραιτούμενος τὸ γένος Ισραήλ), rests in the hands of the supreme angels (Tob. 12:15; Eth. En. 40:6 f.; Test. L. 3:5), esp. Michael (Gr. Bar. 11 ff.; Eth. En. 68:4; Test. N. [Heb.] 9:2: your advocate on high”). They can both defend and prosecute, for in heaven they bring forth both the good and evil in a man’s life (Jub. 30:20; 28:6, cf. 4:6; Eth. En. 9:3–11; 89:76; 99:3). That the advocate is also the teacher and adviser of those committed to his protection may be seen, e.g., in Eth. En. 81:5 f. (Jub. 4:15?). New and distinctive is the listing of the Spirit, the “Spirit of Truth”, in the ranks of advocates in Test. Jud. 20:1 Features of the interceding angel are transferred to the hypostatised Spirit of God: acting before God’s judgment seat and witness combined with the role of accuser.

1.2.3. In the Rabbis. The idea of the advocate is vigorously maintained in the Rabb. A new feature is the listing of the personified Torah among the heavenly advocates, Cant. r., 8, 17 on 8:14. Also new is the idea that sacrifices and works of piety are advocates at God’s judgment seat, S. Lv. on 14:19, (277a),  802, 16 ff.; jBer., 7b, 32 (the two lambs which are to be offered daily acc. to Nu. 28:3): “two advocates daily”; Pesikt., 191b (S. Levi): “There are no better advocates than sacrifices” etc.: conversion and good works, b.Shab., 32a, , 11–13 (with appeal to Job 33:23): cf. Ab., 4, 11a,  802, 8–10; benevolence and works of charity, b.BB, 10a, , 13–16 etc.






1.3.1. In the NT this word is peculiar to the Johannine writings. In 1 Jn. 2:1 the epithet παράκλητος [/paraklētos] is applied to the exalted Jesus Christ. Four times in the Parting Discourses of the Fourth Gospel (14:16 [cf. 17], 26; 15:26; 16:7 [cf. 13]) the  spirit which is to be imparted to the disciples after Jesus goes, the Holy Spirit or Spirit of truth, is described as paraklētos. The expression “another paraclete” in 14:16 shows that the Evangelist uses the predicate primarily for Jesus Himself as the One sent by God to the earth.

1.3.2. In 1 Jn. 2:1, where Jesus Christ is called the παράκλητος [/paraklētos] of sinning Christians before the Father, the meaning is obviously “advocate,” and the image of a trial before God’s court determines the meaning. In Jn. 16:7–11 (cf. 15:26) we again find the idea of a trial in which the Paraclete, the Spirit, appears (16:8–11). The Spirit, however, is not the defender of the disciples before Godbut their counsel in relation to the world. Nor is the legal metaphor adhered to strictly. What is said about the sending, activity and nature of this paraclete (16:7, 13–15; 15:26; 14:16 f., 26) belongs to a very different sphere, and here (cf. Jesus in 14:16) παράκλητος [/paraklētos] seems to have the broad and general sense of “helper.”

1.3.3. In place of the many advocates which Judaism found to defend the righteous before the forum of the heavenly Judge, primitive Christianity recognises only one advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, who as the Righteous can intercedes for sinners (1 Jn. 2:1).

The thought is common to primitive Christianity even though the word παράκλητος does not occur in the non-Johannine writings The living Christ intercedes at the right hand of the Father (R. 8:34). In intercession He places His incorruptible life at the service of His people (Hb. 7:25). The advocacy of Jesus is also presupposed in Jn. 16:26. One may also see from Mt. 10:32 f. and par. (cf. Mk. 8:38 and par.) that when Jesus looked ahead to the end of the days He not merely claimed for Himself the office of Judge of the world but was also conscious of being the defender of those who confess Him (and the accuser of those who deny Him) at the judgment seat of the Father.

1.3.4. More richly developed if more difficult to define is the idea, expressly attested only in Jn., of a Paraclete at work in the world both in and for the disciples. He teaches with all-embracing authority and yet with strict adherence to Jesus and His message, maintaining, expanding and completing the work of Jesus, leading the disciples into all truth (14:26; 15:26; 16:13f.). His witness to Jesus (15:26), however, is also an accusation of the world before God’s judgment seat:

He convicts the world in respect of sin, righteousness and judgment. That is, He shows that sin is on the side of the world, right and triumph on that of Jesus (16:8–11). The puzzle of the combination of kerygmatic and forensic features in the picture of the Spirit-Paraclete is solved if we trace back the tradition historically to the OT and Jewish idea of the advocate  in which there is reference already to an advocacy of the divine Spirit for man in the here and now of his earthly life . But the idea of the Spirit as παράκλητος [paraklētos] is not unfamiliar to the rest of the NT even if the word is not used. Paul is aware that as the believer wrestles in prayer for assurance of the consummation of salvation the Spirit comes to aid him in his weakness and represents him before God […]  Jesus promised His disciples that when they had to give an account before earthly powers the Spirit would speak for them at the decisive moment, Mk. 13:11 The picture of the intercessory Jesus in the Synoptic and Johannine tradition (Lk. 13:6–9; 22:32: [23:34]; Jn. 17) may be added to these testimonies to the advocacy of the Spirit in the world. It would seem, then, that the idea of a Paraclete in the earthly life of the disciples goes back ultimately to Jesus Himself.

1.3.5. As regards the translation of παράκλητος [paraklētos] in John., the history of the word and concept shows that in the course of religious history subsidiary senses were interwoven into the primary sense of “advocate,” so that no single word can provide an adequate rendering: “supporter” or “helper” is perhaps the best, though the basic concept and sustaining religious idea is that of “advocate.”

2. Consolation


παράκλησις  / paraklēsis
παρακαλέω / parakalēō







TO call to.” 2. “To beseech.” 3. “To exhort.” 4. “To comfort.” From friendly encouragement it is only a step to comfort, esp. in times of grief. In the rare instances in which the verb and noun mean “to comfort” or “comfort” in ordinary Gk. usage, the consolation is mostly at the level of exhortation or encouragement to those who sorrow.






2.2.1 COMFORT in bereavement, Gn. 24:67; 37:35; 38:12 (παρακληθείς  when the time of mourning was over); 2 S. 12:24; 1 Ch. 7:22; Job 29:25; Sir. 38:17, 23; Ιερ. 38(31):15 A (cf. Mt. 2:18); 16:7 (παράκλησις). παρακαλεῖν can then mean “to give expression to one’s sympathy,” 2 S. 10:2 f. 1 Ch. 19:2 f., cf. also Job 42:11. But like the noun it is also used for words of comfort in any human grief, Jdt. 6:20 (with ἐπαινεῖν); Job 2:11 (with ἐπισκέψασθαι); 7:13; 21:2 (παράκλησις); Qoh. 4:1, Gn. 50:21; Rt. 2:13; cf. Sir. 30:23 also more generally for “encouragement” (Dt. 3:28) or “friendly exhortation,” Est. 5:1e, 2b, with no ref. to distress.

2.2.2 παρακαλεῖν is esp. used, and sometimes also παράκλησις, to promise and to testify to the comfort of God which is to be given to His people when under divine judgment, or to the individual in time of temptation Comforting is God’s proper work. He turns earlier desolation into perfect consolation both in individuals (again esp. the Ps., e.g., Ps. 22:4; 70:21; 85:17; 93:19; particularly 118) and also in the people of God, cf. Is. 54:11 ff.; 51:19 ff. In this sense there is given in the second part of Is. God’s great consoling promise to Israel: “Comfort, comfort my people, saith your God. Priests, speak to the heart of Jerusalem and comfort it. For its humiliation has reached its goal and its sin is remitted” (Is. 40:1 ff. LXX). In the time of salvation which now dawns God Himself will comfort Zion. He will console all its ruins, Is. 51:3. “I am He Who comforts [παρακαλῶν] you”, Is. 51:12; cf. also Ez. 14:23; Bar. 4:30: esp. Psalm 125:1.

2.2.3 Two metaphors give vivid expression to the divine comfort[:]

[1] The first is that of the shepherd (Is. 40:11; Jer. 38[31]:9),

[2] the second that of the mother, which is sometimes used for God Himself (Is. 66:13), sometimes for Jerusalem, which, being comforted, becomes a comforter (cf. 2 K. 1:4):
All who love Jerusalem shall suck and be satisfied at the breast of her consolation (Is. 66:11). This figure of speech is then carried further, for the children of Jerusalem shall be comforted on her knees (v. 12). Being comforted is a characteristic of God’s people in the future.

2.2.4 God’s comfort does not come directly. It reaches man through many mediators and channels. The first of these is His Word, esp. in Psalm 118, where consoling help is traced back to the quickening divine word of promise cf. v. 52, 76, 82. Another is Scripture (cf. 2 Macc. 15:9), and there is also wisdom, Wis. 8:9. The most important human bearers of divine comfort are the prophets. To give comfort is their finest calling. Since they speak in God’s stead, they do, of course, comfort and judge at the same time. The greatest comforter on God’s behalf is His Servant, one of whose main tasks is to bring the good news to the poor and therewith “to comfort those who mourn” Is. 61:2.






2.3.1 παρακαλεῖν in the sense of asking for help, especially in face of the manifested power of Jesus to save, occurs particularly in the Synoptic tradition, where those in need of aid turn to Jesus with their requests παρακαλεῖν occurs especially in Acts and Paul. for exhortation by the Word proclaimed in the power of the Holy Ghost.

2.3.2 παρακαλεῖν is used for consoling help through God’s present and future salvation especially in the Pauline Epistles and Hb. In Hb. one may see again the connection between exhortation and comfort. The connection between this comfort and the loving act of God in Christ, and the orientation of this comfort to the eschatological goal which it has precisely as God’s present help, are perfectly plain in the apostle’s prayer in 2 Th. 2:16 f.: “He himself, our Lord Jesus Christ, and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them by every good work and word.” When Lazarus is carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom it is said of him: “but now he is consoled [παρακαλεῖται], Lk. 16:25.

2.3.3 God finally comforts when He definitively removes all suffering by His glorious presence among men, Rev. 21:3–5. This consolation, which is given already as a good hope, is thus called an eternal consolation, 2 Th. 2:16.







 1. VENI Sancte Spíritus, Et emítte caélitus Lucis tuae rádium

COME, Holy Spirit, Send forth from Heaven The radiance of your light.





 2. VENI, pater páuperum; Veni, dator múnerum; Veni, lumen córdium.

COME, father of the poor, Come, giver of gifts, Come, light of the heart.





 3. CONSOLATOR óptime, Dulcis hospes ánimae, Dulce refrigérium.

BEST Comforter, Sweet guest of the soul, Sweet refreshment.





 4. IN labóre réquies, In aestu tempéries,  In fletu solátium.

IN the midst of labour, rest, A cool breeze to temper the heat, In tears, consolation.





 5. O lux beatíssima, Reple cordis íntima Tuórum fidelium.

O most blessed light,Fill the innermost heart Of your faithful.





 6. SINE tuo númine Nihil est in hómine, Nihil est innoxium

WITHOUT your divine consent Nothing [good] is in human beings nothing that is harmless.





 7. LAVA quod est sordidum, Riga quod est aridum, Sana quod est saucium.

WASH what is unclean, Irrigate what is parched, Heal what is wounded.





 8.  FLECTE quod est rígidum, Fove quod est frígidum, Rege quod est dévium

MAKE supple what is rigid, Give ardor to what has grown cold, Straighten what is bent.





 9. DA tuis fidélibus, in te confidéntibus, Sacrum septenárium.

GRANT to your faithful Who put their trust in you, Your holy sevenfold [gift].





 10. DA virtútis méritum, Da salútis éxitum, Da perénne gáudium.

GRANT the reward of virtue, Grant a saving death, Grant eternal joy.







ἑρμηνεία /hermēneia
ἑρμηνεύω /hermēneuō

  St, Stephen preaching,






THE basic word means “to interpret,” “to expound,” “to explain”. A further meaning is “to transfer from a foreign language into a familiar,” “to translate”:

On the Gk. view one of the gifts proper to man along with perception and reason is the creative gift of ἑρμηνεία, (Xenoph.Mem., IV, 3, 12). To a special degree, as Plato says in Ion, it is proper to the poet, to whom it is given (Ion, 534b) to create his poems, which are not the work of man but come from the gods, ibid., 534e. The poet is simply an interpreter of deity (534e: 535a:). What the poet brings forth by divine power, the rhapsodist passes on and interprets (530c: 535a: the rhapsodists are thus ἐρμηνέων ἑρμηνῆς / ermēneuōn ermēnēs). Related to the poet is the divinely inspired seer who, lifted above νοῦς, speaks by higher inspiration (Ion, 534c: μάντις/mantis [ecstatic]; cf. Tim., 71e; Phaedr., 244a ff.). The μάντις /mantis [ecstatic] (e.g., the Pythia) can be in such a state of rapture as to stammer out obscure and unintelligible words and to be incapable of assessing what he sees and says; to do this is the business of a σώφρων who stands at his side, Tim., 72a: who can give the ἑρμηνεία or ἐξήγησις of the pronouncements and visions of the seer (cf. Poll.Onom., VIII, 124






3.2.1. IN the OT we sometimes have the thought that the ordinary man can make nothing of dreams even though they come from Yahweh. In Gn. 40:8; 41:16; Da. 2:27 f., 30 the view is advanced that the interpretation must also come from Yahweh in so far as the recipient does not possess a prophetic charisma.

3.2.2. The inspiration mysticism of Plato reappears in Philo in speculations on the prophets as the interpreters of God.

Moses, the most perfect of the prophets, God filled with the spirit of God and made the ἑρμηνεὺς τῶν χρησμῳδουμένων (Decal., 175; cf. Mut. Nom., 125 f.). Apart from the revelation of the Ten Commandments, which took place miraculously through God Himself (Spec. Leg., III, 7; cf. Praem. Poen., 2; Vit. Mos., II, 213), the words of God are revealed through Moses (Vit. Mos., II, 188; Poster. C., 1) (Vit. Mos., II, 191). Other prophets are mediators of revelation in the same way, e.g., Balaam (Vit. Mos., I, 277: and even the Gk. messenger of the gods, Hermes (Leg. Gaj., 99. The same is true of the interpreters of dreams (Jos., 95). The prophetic office of interpretation (Migr. Abr., 84) rests on divine inspiration in the strictest sense, Philo also follows Plato in that he can set alongside the enraptured mediator of revelation a sober interpreter who can clearly grasp and convey that which is given by the Spirit. He turns to Aaron and Moses in Ex. 4:16; 7:1 for an example. God showed to Moses in his conflict with the Egyptian sophists all the thoughts ministering to ἑρμηνεία, and gave them perfectly (Det. Pot. Ins., 39; cf. Migr. Abr., 81 : “It is most emphatically stressed (Ex. 4:16) that ‘he will speak for thee, The relationship of Aaron to Moses is an allegory of that of λόγος (προφορικός) to διάνοια; the word is a brother of the power of thought, (Det. Pot. Ins., 40). The word is the best interpreter (ibid., 129), ἑρμηνεὺς δογμάτων θείων (ibid., 133,Migr. Abr., 81). Under the influence of the Platonic doctrine of ideas, Philo develops further his thoughts concerning the name of God (= λόγος), by which alone one may swear (not by God Himself), as His ἑρμηνεύς (Leg. All., III, 207), or concerning human speech as a not altogether reliable interpreter of the thoughts of the νοῦς (Migr. Abr., 72 and 78) or even of things (Spec. Leg., IV, 60, cf. Migr. Abr., 12)






3.3.1. IN [the New Testament]. διερμηνεύω/diermēneuō is also used in the senses: “to expound or explain”: Lk. 24:27; 1 Cor. 12:30; 14:5, 13, 27; cf. διερμηνευταί /diermēneutai, “exposition,” “interpretation”: 1 Cor. 12:10 vl.; διερμηνευτής /diermēneutēs, “expositor,” “interpreter,” 1 Cor. 14:28

3.3.2. The “Interpretation of Tongues” [ἑρμηνεία γλωσσῶν/ermēneia glōssōn] to which Paul refers in the list of [charismatic] gifts in 1 Cor. 12:10 (cf. 30) can hardly be translation of the language of the ecstatic in view of the nature of speaking with tongues. It is rather the conversion of what is unintelligible into what is intelligible and therefore an explanation of the spiritual movement which fills the ecstatic. The Intepreter [διερμηνευτής/ diermēneutēs] (1 Cor. 14:28) does not correspond to the translator [Targumist /מְתוּרְגְּמָן] who in the course of synagogue worship put the Scripture readings into Aramaic and also communicated out loud to the congregation the softly spoken sermons, but rather to the interpreter of divine oracles in Plato and Philo.

Yet, while the reference in Plato and Philo was to the exposition of distinct oracles or revelations, here it is a matter of interpreting in the interests of general edification (1 Cor. 14:5, 26 ff.) ecstatics who are speaking to God (v. 2, 28). The gift of interpretation ἑρμηνεία can be given to the one who speaks with tongues (v. 13), but also to another Christian (v. 27). If this charisma is not present in a congregation, then there should be no speaking with tongues (v. 28), which by itself is of religious value only for the isolated ecstatic and does not serve any useful purpose for the church as a whole (v. 2, 4). It is hardly possible to gather from 1 Cor. 12 and 14 any more precise understanding of the Spirit-given arts of projecting oneself into the trance-like state of him who speaks with tongues and of making accessible and fruitful to the whole congregation that which he speaks ecstatically (v. 2). The principle enunciated by Paul, namely, that there must be no speaking with tongues without disciplined ἑρμηνεία (14:26ff.), means in fact the controlling of the wild torrent of spiritual outbursts in the channel of the clear and disciplined but no less genuine and profound operation of the Spirit through the Word.

3.3.3. Lk. 24:27 presents the risen Jesus to those who walked to Emmaus as the expounder of the OT prophecies of His passion and exaltation beginning with Moses and all the prophets he interpreted [διηρμήνευσεν/ diermēneusen] for them everything in the Scriptures concerning Himself.” The Messianic understanding of the OT which is here indicated only in brief (but cf. Lk. 22:37; Ac. 8:32 f.; Mk. 14:27, 62 etc.) is thus established by Jesus and developed by early Christianity. It rests on an exposition of Scripture which is new in content, though not in method. In the light of their fulfilment, OT sayings are claimed to be prophecies of Christ, and therefore a radically new meaning is seen in the OT on the basis of the NT revelation.




4. S
σημαίνω / sēmainō
SIGN /σημεῖον /sēmeion]







TO give a sign or signal,” “to signify,” “announce,” “declare,” also in an extended or transf. sense, as when it is said of the Delphic Apollo (Heracl. Fr., 93 [Diels, I, 172, 6 f.]), i.e., he neither says openly what is present or imminent nor conceals anything, but “intimates” or “signifies” it in such a way that interpretation is needed, or when it is said of (the need for) sleep by day that it “points to” (σημαίνουσι) physical disorder or some other anomaly (Democr. Fr., 212 [Diels, II, 188, 8 ff.]), or when word and speech are said to have the power to σημαίνειν, Plat.Crat., 393a etc.  Hence comes τὸ σημαινόμενον for “meaning” of a word, Aristot.Rhet., III, 2, p. 1405b, 8 etc.






4.2.1. [In the Old Testament] σημαίνω is commonly used as the instrument of the “alarm,” Nu. 10:9; Ju. 7:21; 2 Ch. 13:12; 2 Esdr. 3:11. the “signal” aspect is emphasized, Also in various senses ranging from mere “imparting” in Dan. 2:15 to “pointing” (the way) in Ex. 18:20 and then intimating” or “declaring” (by a dream) in Dan. 2:45. Thus the Septuagint follows ordinary Greek.

4.2.2. Philo sometimes distinguishes expressly between “sound” (φωνή) and “meaning” (τὸ σημαινόμενον) as this is rooted in the hidden sense of a word, Congr., 172. This linguistic use of σημαινόμενον, which he shares with Aristot. plays a solid role in Philo, Som., I, 63, 85, 87; Leg. All., III, 188 etc. The verb σημαίνω means “to signify,” “to represent” in Poster. Cor., 155; “to denote” in Plant., 151 f.; Leg. All., II, 15. In the exposition of Scripture in the deeper sense “to say,” “to mean,” refers to the hidden signification which is not apparent on the surface, Congr., 155 (on Gn. 16:6 “in thy hands”).






4.3.1. Of the 6 passages in the NT 3 are in Jn. (12:33; 18:32; 21:19), one in Rev. (1:1) and 2 in Ac. (11:28; 25:27). Among them the 3 in Jn. occupy a special place and merit special attention.

1. In Ac. 25:27 Festus is speaking about the further handling of Paul’s case. He advances the thesis that as the present judge he cannot send Paul to Caesar unless by careful examination he is in a position “to show” σημᾶναι what are the accusations against him.

2. Ac. 11:28 speaks of Agabus, the primitive Christian prophet in Antioch: [here] σημαίνω simply means “to signify …,” and the Spirit is needed in this case because he is foreseeing the future. The situation is the same in Rev. 1:1 we have the chain of revelation which is obviously important for the seer of Revelation. here, too, σημαίνω means “to indicate or declare something,” and the usage is not specifically religious.

3. Jn. 12:33; 18:32; 21:19 are linked not only by the use of σημαίνω but also by the fact that the use of σημαίνω contains an intimation of Jesus concerning the manner of death,

4.3.2. In evaluating σημαίνω in all three verses our starting-point must be that for Judaism it is part of the very nature of man not to know the day of his death. Not even Moses, the mediator of the revelation of God, was exempt from this rule, Dt. r., 9 on 31:14. Even more so there is no man, Moses again included, who knows how another man will die unless God Himself tells him. When this is remembered it is clear that in all three passages the Evangelist is deliberately setting Jesus alongside God when he has Him know the manner of His own death and also that of His disciple, thus putting Him far above all other men. In this light the three verses stand materially in close inner relation to Jn. 2:19 ff., and this the more so in that a σημεῖον is in the full sense demanded of Jesus in 2:18. As used by the Fourth Evangelist, then, σημαίνω does not just have its own quality; it points back to the dignity of Jesus which enables Him to “signify” something even where others are not as yet able to see anything.

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