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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
HOLY SPIRIT, 2
III. The Holy Spirit in the New Testament.
In the New Testament there is unusual symmetry and completeness of teaching as to the work of the Spirit of God in relation to the Messiah Himself, and to the founding of the Messianic kingdom. The simplest mode of presentation will be to trace the course of the progressive activities of the Spirit, or teachings regarding these activities, as these are presented to us in the New Testament literature as we now have it, so far as the nature of the subject will permit. This will, of course, disturb to some extent the chronological order in which the New Testament books were written, since in some cases, as in John's Gospel, a very late book contains early teachings as to the Spirit.
1. In Relation to the Person and Work of Christ:
(1) Birth of Jesus.
In Mt 1:18 Mary is found with child "of the Holy Spirit" (ek pneumatos hagiou); an angel tells Joseph that that "which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit" (1:20), all of which is declared to be in fulfillment of the prophecy that a virgin shall bring forth a son whose name shall be called Immanuel (Isa 7:14). In Lk 1:35 the angel says to Mary that the Holy Spirit (pneuma hagion) shall come upon her, and the power of the Most High (dunamis Hupsistou) shall overshadow her. Here "Holy Spirit" and "power of the Most High" are parallel expressions meaning the same thing; in the one case emphasizing the Divine source and in the other the holiness of "the holy thing which is begotten" (1:35). In connection with the presentation of the babe in the temple, Simeon is described as one upon whom the Holy Spirit rested, to whom revelation was made through the Spirit and who came into the temple in the Spirit (Lk 2:25-28). So also Anna the prophetess speaks concerning the babe, evidently in Luke's thought, under the influence of the Holy Spirit (Lk 2:36 ff).
It is clear from the foregoing that the passages in Matthew and Luke mean to set forth, first, the supernatural origin, and secondly, the sinlessness of the babe born of Mary. The act of the Holy Spirit is regarded as creative, although the words employed signify "begotten" or "born" (gennethen, Mt 1:20; and gennomenon, Lk 1:35). There is no hint in the stories of the nativity concerning the pretemporal existence of Christ. This doctrine was developed later. Nor is there any suggestion of the immaculate conception or sinlessness of Mary, the mother of our Lord. Dr. C.A. Briggs has set forth a theory of the sinlessness of Mary somewhat different from the Roman Catholic view, to the effect that the Old Testament prophecies foretell the purification of the Davidic line, and that Mary was the culminating point in the purifying process, who thereby became sinless (Incarnation of the Lord, 230-34). This, however, is speculative and without substantial Biblical warrant. The sinlessness of Jesus was not due to the sinlessness of His mother, but to the Divine origin of His human nature, the Spirit of God.
In Heb 10:5 ff the writer makes reference to the sinless body of Christ as affording a perfect offering for sins. No direct reference is made to the birth of Jesus, but the origin of His body is ascribed to God (Heb 10:5), though not specifically to the Holy Spirit.
(2) Baptism of Jesus.
The New Testament records give us very little information regarding the growth of Jesus to manhood. In Lk 2:40 ff a picture is given of the boyhood, exceedingly brief, but full of significance. The "child grew, and waxed strong, filled with wisdom (m "becoming full of wisdom"): and the grace of God was upon him." Then follows the account of the visit to the temple. Evidently in all these experiences, the boy is under the influence and guidance of the Spirit. This alone would supply an adequate explanation, although Luke does not expressly name the Spirit as the source of these particular experiences. The Spirit's action is rather assumed.
Great emphasis, however, is given to the descent of the Spirit upon Jesus at His baptism. Mt 3:16 declares that after His baptism "the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him." Mk 1:10 repeats the statement in substantially equivalent terms. Lk 3:22 declares that the Spirit descended in "bodily form, as a dove" (somatiko eidei hos peristeran). In Jn 1:32,33 the Baptist testifies that he saw the Spirit descending upon Jesus as a dove out of heaven, and that it abode upon Him, and, further, that this descent of the Spirit was the mark by which he was to recognize Jesus as "he that baptizeth in the Holy Spirit."
We gather from these passages that at the baptism there was a new communication of the Spirit to Jesus in great fullness, as a special anointing for His Messianic vocation. The account declares that the dovelike appearance was seen by Jesus as well as John, which is scarcely compatible with a subjective experience merely. Of course, the dove here is to be taken as a symbol, and not as an assertion that God's Spirit assumed the form of a dove actually. Various meanings have been assigned to the symbol. One connects it with the creative power, according to a Gentileusage; others with the speculative philosophy of Alexandrian Judaism, according to which the dove symbolized the Divine wisdom or reason. But the most natural explanation connects the symbolism of the dove with the brooding or hovering of the Spirit in Gen 13. In this new spiritual creation of humanity, as in the first physical creation, the Spirit of God is the energy through which the work is carried on. Possibly the dove, as a living organism, complete in itself, may suggest the totality and fullness of the gift of the Spirit to Jesus. At Pentecost, on the contrary, the Spirit is bestowed distributively and partially at least to individuals as such, as suggested by the cloven tongues as of fire which "sat upon each one of them" (Acts 2:3). Jn 3:34 emphasizes the fullness of the bestowal upon Jesus: "For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for he giveth not the Spirit by measure." In the witness of the Baptist the permanence of the anointing of Jesus is declared: "Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and abiding" (1:33).
It is probable that the connection of the bestowal of the Spirit with water baptism, as seen later in the Book of Acts, is traceable to the reception of the Spirit by Jesus at His own baptism. Baptism in the Spirit did not supersede water baptism.
The gift of the Spirit in fullness to Jesus at His baptism was no doubt His formal and public anointing for His Messianic work (Acts 10:38). The baptism of Jesus could not have the same significance with that of sinful men. For the symbolic cleansing from sin had no meaning for the sinless one. Yet as an act of formal public consecration it was appropriate to the Messiah. It brought to a close His private life and introduced Him to His public Messianic career. The conception of an anointing for public service was a familiar one in the Old Testament writings and applied to the priest (Ex 28:41; 40:13; Lev 4:3,5,16; 6:20,22); to kings (1 Sam 9:16; 10:1; 15:1; 16:3,13); sometimes to prophets (1 Ki 19:16; compare Isa 61:1; Ps 2:2; 20:6). These anointings were with oil, and the oil came to be regarded as a symbol of the Spirit of God.
The anointing of Jesus with the Holy Spirit qualified Him in two particulars for His Messianic office. (a) It was the source of His own endowments of power for the endurance of temptation, for teaching, for casting out demons, and healing the sick, for His sufferings and death, for His resurrection and ascension. The question is often raised, why Jesus, the Divine one, should have needed the Holy Spirit for His Messianic vocation. The reply is that His human nature, which was real, required the Spirit's presence. Man, made in God's image, is constituted in dependence upon the Spirit of God. Apart from God's Spirit man fails of his true destiny, simply because our nature is constituted as dependent upon the indwelling Spirit of God for the performance of our true functions. Jesus as human, therefore, required the presence of God's Spirit, notwithstanding His Divine-human consciousness. (b) The Holy Spirit's coming upon Jesus in fullness also qualified Him to bestow the Holy Spirit upon His disciples. John the Baptist especially predicts that it is He who shall baptize in the Holy Spirit (Mt 3:11; Mk 18; Lk 3:16; see also Jn 20:22; Acts 15). It was especially true of the king that He was anointed for His office, and the term Messiah (mashiach, equivalent to the Greek ho Christos), meaning the Anointed One, points to this fact.
(3) Temptation of Jesus.
The facts as to the temptation are as follows: In Mt 4:1 we are told that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Mk 1:12 declares in his graphic way that after the baptism "straightway the Spirit driveth (ekballei) him forth into the wilderness." Lk 4:1 more fully declares that Jesus was "full of the Holy Spirit," and that He was "led in the Spirit in the wilderness during 40 days." The impression which the narratives of the temptation give is of energetic spiritual conflict. As the Messiah confronted His life task He was subject to the ordinary conditions of other men in an evil world. Not by sheer divinity and acting from without as God, but as human also and a part of the world, He must overcome, so that while He was sinless, it was nevertheless true that the righteousness of Jesus was also an achieved righteousness. The temptations were no doubt such as were peculiar to His Messianic vocation, the misuse of power, the presumption of faith and the appeal of temporal splendor. To these He opposes the restraint of power, the poise of faith and the conception of a kingdom wholly spiritual in its origin, means and ends. Jesus is hurled, as it were, by the Spirit into this terrific conflict with the powers of evil, and His conquest, like the temptations themselves, was not final, but typical and representative. It is a mistake to suppose that the temptations of Jesus ended at the close of the forty days. Later in His ministry, He refers to the disciples as those who had been with Him in His temptations (Lk 22:28). The temptations continued throughout His life, though, of course, the wilderness temptations were the severest test of all, and the victory there contained in principle and by anticipation later victories. Comment has been made upon the absence of reference to the Holy Spirit's influence upon Jesus in certain remarkable experiences, which in the case of others would ordinarily have been traced directly to the Spirit, as in Lk 11:14 ff, etc. (compare the article by James Denney in DCG, I, 732, 734). Is it not true, however, that the point of view of the writers of the Gospels is that Jesus is always under the power of the Spirit? At His baptism, in the temptation, and at the beginning of His public ministry (Lk 4:14) very special stress is placed upon the fact. Thenceforward the Spirit's presence and action are assumed. From time to time, reference is made to the Spirit for special reasons, but the action of the Spirit in and through Jesus is always assumed.
(4) Public Ministry of Jesus.
Here we can select only a few points to illustrate a much larger truth. The writers of the Gospels, and especially Luke, conceived of the entire ministry of Jesus as under the power of the Holy Spirit. After declaring that Jesus was "full of the Holy Spirit" and that He was led about by the Spirit in the wilderness forty days in 4:1, he declares, in 4:14, that Jesus "returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee." This is followed in the next verse by a general summary of His activities: "And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all." Then, as if to complete his teaching as to the relation of the Spirit to Jesus, he narrates the visit to Nazareth and the citation by Jesus in the synagogue there of Isaiah's words beginning, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me," with the detailed description of His Messianic activity, namely, preaching to the poor, announcement of release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (Isa 61:1 f). Jesus proclaims the fulfillment of this prophecy in Himself (Lk 4:21). In Mt 12:18 ff a citation from Isa 42:1-3 is given in connection with the miraculous healing work of Jesus. It is a passage of exquisite beauty and describes the Messiah as a quiet and unobtrusive and tender minister to human needs, possessed of irresistible power and infinite patience. Thus the highest Old Testament ideals as to the operations of the Spirit of God come to realization, especially in the public ministry of Jesus. The comprehensive terms of the description make it incontestably clear that the New Testament writers thought of the entire public life of Jesus as directed by the Spirit of God. We need only to read the evangelic records in order to fill in the details.
The miracles of Jesus were wrought through the power of the Holy Spirit. Occasionally He is seized as it were by a sense of the urgency of His work in some such way as to impress beholders with the presence of a strange power working in Him. In one case men think He is beside Himself (Mk 3:21); in another they are impressed with the authoritativeness of His teaching (Mk 1:22); in another His intense devotion to His task makes Him forget bodily needs (Jn 4:31); again men think He has a demon (Jn 8:48); at one time He is seized with a rapturous joy when the 70 return from their successful evangelistic tour, and Luke declares that at that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit (Lk 10:21; compare Mt 11:25). This whole passage is a remarkable one, containing elements which point to the Johannine conception of Jesus, on which account Harnack is disposed to discredit it at certain points (Sayings of Jesus, 302). One of the most impressive aspects of this activity of Jesus in the Spirit is its suppressed intensity. Nowhere is there lack of self-control. Nowhere is there evidence of a coldly didactic attitude, on the one hand, or of a loose rein upon the will, on the other. Jesus is always an intensely human Master wrapped in Divine power. The miracles contrast strikingly with the miracles of the apocryphal gospels. In the latter all sorts of capricious deeds of power are ascribed to Jesus as a boy. In our Gospels, on the contrary, no miracle is wrought until after His anointing with the Spirit at baptism.
A topic of especial interest is that of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Jesus cast out demons by the power of God's Spirit. In Mt 12:31; Mk 3:28 f; Lk 12:10, we have the declaration that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an unpardonable sin. Mark particularizes the offense of the accusers of Jesus by saying that they said of Jesus, "He hath an unclean spirit." The blasphemy against the Spirit seems to have been not merely rejection of Jesus and His words, which might be due to various causes. It was rather the sin of ascribing works of Divine mercy and power-works which had all the marks of their origin in the goodness of God--to a diabolic source. The charge was that He cast out devils by Beelzebub the prince of devils. We are not to suppose that the unpardonable nature of the sin against the Holy Spirit was due to anything arbitrary in God's arrangements regarding sin. The moral and spiritual attitude involved in the charge against Jesus was simply a hopeless one. It presupposed a warping or wrenching of the moral nature from the truth in such degree, a deep-seated malignity and insusceptibility to Divine influences so complete, that no moral nucleus remained on which the forgiving love of God might work.
(5) Death, Resurrection and Pentecostal Gift.
It is not possible to give here a complete outline of the activities of Jesus in the Holy Spirit. We observe one or two additional points as to the relations of the Holy Spirit to Him. In Heb 9:14 it is declared that Christ "through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God," and in Rom 1:4, Paul says He was "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (compare also Rom 8:11).
As already noted, John the Baptist gave as a particular designation of Jesus that it was He who should baptize with the Holy Spirit, in contrast with his own baptism in water. In Jn 20:22, after the resurrection and before the ascension, Jesus breathed on the disciples and said "Receive ye the Holy Spirit." There was probably a real communication of the Spirit in this act of Jesus in anticipation of the outpouring in fullness on the day of Pentecost. In Acts 1:2 it is declared that He gave commandment through the Holy Spirit, and in 1:5 it is predicted by Him that the disciples should "be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence"; and in 1:8 it is declared, "Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you."
It is clear from the preceding that in the thought of the New Testament writers Jesus is completely endued with the power of the. Holy Spirit. It is in large measure the Old Testament view of the Spirit; that is to say, the operation of the Spirit in and through Jesus is chiefly with a view to His official Messianic work, the charismatic Spirit imparting power rather than the Spirit for holy living merely. Yet there is a difference between the Old Testament and New Testament representations here. In the Old Testament the agency of the Spirit is made very prominent when mighty works are performed by His power. In the Gospels the view is concentrated less upon the Spirit than upon Jesus Himself, though it is always assumed that He is acting in the power of the Spirit. In the case of Jesus also, the moral quality of His words and deeds is always assumed.
2. The Holy Spirit in the Kingdom of God:
Our next topic in setting forth the New Testament teaching is the Holy Spirit in relation to the kingdom of God. Quite in harmony with the plenary endowment of Jesus, the founder of the kingdom, with the power of the Spirit, is the communication of the Spirit to the agents employed by Providence in the conduct of the affairs of the kingdom. We need, at all points, in considering the subject in the New Testament to keep in view the Old Testament background. The covenant relations between God and Israel were the presupposition of all the blessings of the Old Testament. In the New Testament there is not an identical but an analogous point of view. God is continuing His work among men. Indeed in a real sense He has begun a new work, but this new work is the fulfillment of the old. The new differs from the old in some very important respects, chiefly indeed in this, that now the national and theocratic life is wholly out of sight. Prophecy no longer deals with political questions. The power of the Spirit no longer anoints kings and judges for their duties. The action of the Spirit upon the cosmos now ceases to receive attention. In short, the kingdom of God is intensely spiritualized, and the relation of the Spirit to the individual or the church is nearly always that which is dealt with.
(1) Synoptic Teachings.
We consider briefly the synoptic teachings as to the Holy Spirit in relation to the kingdom of God. The forerunner of Jesus goes before His face in the Spirit and power of Elijah (Lk 1:17). Of Him it had been predicted that He should be filled with the Holy Spirit from His mother's womb (Lk 1:15). The Master expressly predicts that the Holy Spirit will give the needed wisdom when the disciples are delivered up. "It is not ye that speak, but the Holy Spirit" (Mk 13:11). In Lk 12:12 it is also declared that "The Holy Spirit shall teach you in that very hour what ye ought to say." Likewise in Mt 10:20, "It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you." In Lk 11:13 is a beautiful saying: If we who are evil give good gifts to our children, how much more shall the "heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him." This is a variation from the parallel passage in Mt (7:11), and illustrates Luke's marked emphasis upon the operations of the Spirit. In Mt 28:19, the disciples are commanded to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This passage has been called in question, but there is not sufficient ground for its rejection. Hitherto there has been almost no hint directly of the personality of the Spirit or the Trinitarian implications in the teaching as to the Spirit. Here, however, we have a very suggestive hint toward a doctrine of the Spirit which attains more complete development later.
(2) In the Writings of John
In the Gospel of John there is a more elaborate presentation of the office and work of the Holy Spirit, particularly in Jn 14-17. Several earlier passages, however, must be noticed. The passage on the new birth in Jn 3:5 ff we notice first. The expression, "except one be born of water and the Spirit," seems to contain a reference to baptism along with the action of the Spirit of God directly on the soul. In the light of other New Testament teachings, however, we are not warranted in ascribing saving efficacy to baptism here. The "birth," in so far as it relates to baptism, is symbolic simply, not actual. The outward act is the fitting symbolic accompaniment of the spiritual regeneration by the Spirit. Symbolism and spiritual fact move on parallel lines. The entrance into the kingdom is symbolically effected by means of baptism, just as the "new birth" takes place symbolically by the same means.
In Jn 6:51 ff we have the very difficult words attributed to Jesus concerning the eating of His flesh and the drinking of His blood. The disciples were greatly distressed by these words, and in 6:63 Jesus insists that "it is the spirit that giveth life; the flesh profiteth nothing." One's view of the meaning of this much-discussed passage will turn largely on his point of view in interpreting it. If he adopts the view that John is reading back into the record much that came later in the history, the inference will probably follow that Jesus is here referring to the Lord's Supper. If on the other hand it is held that John is seeking to reproduce substantially what was said, and to convey an impression of the actual situation, the reference to the Supper will not be inferred. Certainly the language fits the later teaching in the establishment of the Supper, although John omits a detailed account of the Supper. But Jesus was meeting a very real situation in the carnal spirit of the multitude which followed Him for the loaves and fishes. His deeply mystical words seem to have been intended to accomplish the result which followed, namely, the separation of the true from the false disciples. There is no necessary reference to the Lord's Supper specifically, therefore, in His words. Spiritual meat and drink, not carnal, are the true food of man. He Himself was that food, but only the spiritually susceptible would grasp His meaning. It is difficult to assign any sufficient reason why Jesus should have here referred to the Supper, or why John should have desired to introduce such reference into the story at this stage.
In Jn 7:37 ff we have a saying of Jesus and its interpretation by John which accords with the synoptic reference to a future baptism in the Holy Spirit to be bestowed by Jesus: "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water." John adds: "But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified." No doubt John's Gospel is largely a reproduction of the facts and teachings of Jesus in the evangelist's own words. This passage indicates, however, that John discriminated between his own constructions of Christ's teachings and the teachings themselves, and warns us against the custom of many exegetes who broadly assume that John employed his material with slight regard for careful and correct statement, passing it through his own consciousness in such manner as to leave us his own subjective Gospel, rather than a truly historical record. The ethical implications of such a process on John's part would scarcely harmonize with his general tone and especially the teachings of his Epistles. No doubt John's Gospel contains much meaning which he could not have put into it prior to the coming of the Spirit. But what John seeks to give is the teaching of Jesus and not his own theory of Jesus.
We give next an outline of the teachings in the great Jn 14 to 17, the farewell discourse of Jesus. In 14:16 Jesus says, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter" (parakletos; see PARACLETE). Next Jesus describes this Comforter as one whom the world cannot receive. Disciples know Him because He abides in them. The truth of Christianity is spiritually discerned, i.e. it is discerned by the power and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In the name of "reality," science sometimes repudiates these inner experiences as "mystical." But Christians cling to them as most real, data of experience as true and reliable as any other forms of human experience. To repudiate them would be for them to repudiate reality itself. The Father and Son shall make their abode in Christians (14:23). This is probably another form of assertion of the Spirit's presence, and not a distinct line of mystical teaching. (Compare Woods, The Spirit of God in Biblical Literature, 243.) For in 14:26 the promise of the Spirit is repeated. The Father is to send the Spirit in the name of Christ, and He is to teach the disciples all things, quickening also their memories. In the New Testament generally, and especially in John's and Paul's writings, there is no sense of conflict between Father, Son and Spirit in their work in the Christian. All proceeds from the Father, through the Son, and is accomplished in the Christian by the Holy Spirit. As will appear, Christ in the believer is represented as being practically all that the Spirit does without identifying Christ with the Spirit. So far there are several notes suggesting the personality of the Holy Spirit. The designation "another Comforter," taken in connection with the description of his work, is one. The fact that He is sent or given is another. And another is seen in the specific work which the Spirit is to do. Another is the masculine pronoun employed here (ekeinos). In Jn 14:26 the function of the Spirit is indicated. He is to bring to "remembrance all that I said unto you." In 15:26 this is made even more comprehensive: "He shall bear witness of me," and yet more emphatically in 16:14, "He shall glorify me: for he shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you." The sphere of the Spirit's activity is the heart of the individual believer and of the church. His chief function is to illumine the teaching and glorify the person of Jesus. Jn 15:26 is the passage which has been used in support of the doctrine of the procession of the Spirit. Jesus says, "I will send" (pempso), future tense, referring to the "Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father" (ekporeuetai); present tense. The present tense here suggests timeless action and has been taken to indicate an essential relation of the Spirit to God the Father (compare Godet, Commentary on John, in the place cited.). The hazard of such an interpretation lies chiefly in the absence of other corroborative Scriptures and in the possibility of another and simpler meaning of the word. However, the language is unusual, and the change of tense in the course of the sentence is suggestive. Perhaps it is one of the many instances where we must admit we do not know the precise import of the language of Scripture.
In Jn 16:7-15 we have a very important passage. Jesus declares to the anxious disciples that it is expedient for Him to go away, because otherwise the Spirit will not come. "He, when he is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (16:8). The term translated "convict" (elegksei) involves a cognitive along with a moral process. The Spirit who deals in truth, and makes His appeal through the truth, shall convict, shall bring the mind on which He is working into a sense of self-condemnation on account of sin. The word means more than reprove, or refute, or convince. It signifies up to a certain point a moral conquest of the mind: "of sin, because they believe not on me" (16:9). Unbelief is the root sin. The revelation of God in Christ is, broadly speaking, His condemnation of all sin. The Spirit may convict of particular sins, but they will all be shown to consist essentially in the rejection of God's love and righteousness in Christ, i.e. in unbelief. "Of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye behold me no more" (16:10). What does this mean? Does Jesus mean that His going to the Father will be the proof of His righteousness to those who put Him to death, or that this going to the Father will be the consummating or crowning act of His righteousness which the Spirit is to carry home to the hearts of men? Or does He mean that because He goes away the Spirit will take His place in convicting men of righteousness? The latter meaning seems implied in the words, "and ye behold me no more." Probably, however, the meanings are not mutually exclusive. "Of judgment because the prince of this world hath been judged" (16:11). In His incarnation and death the prince of this world, the usurper, is conquered and cast out.
We may sum up the teachings as to the Spirit in these four chapters as follows: He is the Spirit of truth; He guides into all truth; He brings to memory Christ's teachings; He shows things to come; He glorifies Christ; He speaks not of Himself but of Christ; He, like believers, bears witness to Christ; He enables Christians to do greater works than those of Christ; He convicts the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; He comes because Christ goes away; He is "another Comforter"; He is to abide with disciples forever.
These teachings cover a very wide range of needs. The Holy Spirit is the subject of the entire discourse. In a sense it is the counterpart of the Sermon on the Mount. There the laws of the kingdom are expounded. Here the means of realization of all the ends of that kingdom are presented. The kingdom now becomes the kingdom of the Spirit. The historical revelation of truth in the life, death, resurrection and glorification of Jesus being completed, the Spirit of truth comes in fullness. The gospel as history is now to become the gospel as experience. The Messiah as a fact is now to become the Messiah as a life through the Spirit's action. All the elements of the Spirit's action are embraced: the charismatic for mighty works; the intellectual for guidance into truth; the moral and spiritual for producing holy lives. This discourse transfers the kingdom, so to speak, from the shoulders of the Master to those of the disciples, but the latter are empowered for their tasks by the might of the indwelling and abiding Spirit. The method of the kingdom's growth and advance is clearly indicated as spiritual, conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment, and obedient and holy lives of Christ's disciples.
Before passing to the next topic, one remark should be made as to the Trinitarian suggestions of these chapters in John. The personality of the Spirit is clearly implied in much of the language here. It is true we have no formal teaching on the metaphysical side, no ontology in the strict sense of the word. This fact is made much of by writers who are slow to recognize the personality of the Holy Spirit in the light of the teachings of John and Paul. These writers have no difficulty, however, in asserting that the New Testament writers hold that God is a personal being (see I. F. Woods, The Spirit of God in Biblical Literature, 256, 268). It must be insisted, however, that in the New Testament, as in the Old Testament, there is little metaphysics, little ontological teaching as to God. His personality is deduced from the same kind of sayings as those relating to the Spirit. From the ontological point of view, therefore, we should also have to reject the personality of God on the basis of the Biblical teachings. The Trinitarian formulations may not be correct at all points, but the New Testament warrants the Trinitarian doctrine, just as it warrants belief in the personality of God. We are not insisting on finding metaphysics in Scripture where it is absent, but we do insist upon consistency in construing the popular and practical language of Scripture as to the second and third as well as the first Person of the Trinity.
We add a few lines as to John's teachings in the Epistles and Revelation. In general they are in close harmony with the teachings in his Gospel and do not require extended treatment. The Spirit imparts assurance (1 Jn 3:24); incites to confession of Christ (1 Jn 4:2); bears witness to Christ (1 Jn 5:6 ff). In Rev 1:4 the "seven Spirits" is an expression for the completeness of the Spirit. The Spirit speaks to the churches (1 Jn 2:7,11; 3:6). The seer is "in the Spirit" (1 Jn 4:2). The Spirit joins the church in the invitation of the gospel (1 Jn 22:17).
(3) In Acts.
The Book of Acts contains the record of the beginning of the Dispensation of the Holy Spirit. There is at the outset the closest connection with the recorded predictions of the Holy Spirit in the Gospels. Particularly does Luke make clear the continuity of his own thought regarding the Spirit in his earlier and later writing. Jesus in the first chapter of Acts gives commandment through the Holy Spirit and predicts the reception of power as the result of the baptism in the Holy Spirit which the disciples are soon to receive.
The form of the Spirit's activities in Acts is chiefly charismatic, that is, the miraculous endowment of disciples with power or wisdom for their work in extending the Messianic kingdom. As yet the work of the Spirit within disciples as the chief sanctifying agency is not fully developed, and is later described with great fullness in Paul's writings. Some recent writers have overemphasized the contrast between the earlier and the more developed view of the Spirit with regard to the moral life. In Acts the ethical import of the Spirit's action appears at several points (see Acts 5:3,9; 7:51; 8:18 f; 13:9; 15:28). The chief interest in Acts is naturally the Spirit's agency in founding the Messianic kingdom, since here is recorded the early history of the expansion of that kingdom. The phenomenal rather than the inner moral aspects of that great movement naturally come chiefly into view. But everywhere the ethical implications are present. Gunkel is no doubt correct in the statement that Paul's conception of the Spirit as inward and moral and acting in the daily life of the Christian opens the way for the activity of the Spirit as a historical principle in subsequent ages. After all, this is the fundamental and universal import of the Spirit (see Gunkel, Die Wirkungen des heiligen Geistes, etc., 76; compare Pfleiderer, Paulinismus, 200).
We now proceed to give a brief summary of the Holy Spirit's activities as recorded in Acts, and follow this with a discussion of one or two special points. The great event is of course the outpouring or baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost followed by the completion of the baptism in the Holy Spirit by the baptism of the household of Cornelius (2:1 ff; 10:17-48). Speaking with tongues, and other striking manifestations attended this baptism, as also witnessing to the gospel with power by the apostles. See BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. This outpouring is declared to be in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, and the assertion is also made that it is the gift of the exalted Lord Jesus Christ (2:17,33). Following this baptism of the Holy Spirit the disciples are endued with miraculous power for their work. Miracles are wrought (Acts 2:43 ff), and all necessary gifts of wisdom and Divine guidance are bestowed. A frequent form of expression describing the actors in the history is, "filled with the Holy Spirit." It is applied to Peter (4:8); to disciples (4:31); to the seven deacons (6:3); to Stephen (6:5; 7:55); to Saul who becomes Paul (13:9).
The presence of the Spirit and His immediate and direct superintendence of affairs are seen in the fact that Ananias and Sapphira are represented as lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3,9); the Jews are charged by Stephen with resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51); and Simon Magus is rebuked for attempting to purchase the Spirit with money (Acts 8:18 f).
The Holy Spirit is connected with the act of baptism, but there does not seem to be any fixed order as between the two. In Acts 9:17 the Spirit comes before baptism; and after baptism in 8:17 and 19:6. In these cases the coming of the Spirit was in connection with the laying on of hands also. But in 10:44 the Holy Spirit falls upon the hearers while Peter is speaking prior to baptism and with no laying on of hands. These instances in which the order of baptism, the laying on of hands and the gift of the Spirit seem to be a matter of indifference, are a striking indication of the non-sacramentarian character of the teaching of the Book of Acts, and indeed in the New Testament generally. Certainly no particular efficacy seems to be attached to the laying on of hands or baptism except as symbolic representations of spiritual facts. Gunkel, in his excellent work on the Holy Spirit, claims Acts 2:38 as an instance when the Spirit is bestowed during baptism (Die Wirkungen des heiligen Geistes, etc., 7). The words of Peter, however, may refer to a reception of the Spirit subsequent to baptism, although evidently in immediate connection with it. The baptism of the Holy Spirit clearly then was not meant to supplant water baptism. Moreover, in the strict sense the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a historical event or events completed at the outset when the extension of the kingdom of God, beginning at Pentecost, began to reach out to the Gentile world.
See BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
In Acts the entire historical movement is represented by Luke as being under the direction of the Spirit. He guides Philip to the Ethiopian and then "catches away" Philip (8:29,39). He guides Peter at Joppa through the vision and then leads him to Cornelius at Caesarea (10:19 f; 11:12 f). The Spirit commands the church at Antioch to separate Saul and Barnabas for missionary work (13:2 ff). He guides the church at Jerusalem (15:28). He forbids the apostle to go to Asia (16:6 f). The Spirit enables Agabus to prophesy that Paul will be bound by the Jews at Jerusalem (21:11; compare also 20:23). The Spirit appointed the elders at Ephesus (20:28).
One or two points require notice before passing from Acts. The impression we get of the Spirit's action here very strongly suggests a Divine purpose moving on the stage of history in a large and comprehensive way. In Jesus that purpose was individualized. Here the supplementary thought of a vast historic movement is powerfully suggested. Gunkel asserts that usually the Spirit's action is not conceived by the subjects of it in terms of means (Mittel) and end (Zweck), but rather as cause (Ursache) and activity (Wirkung) (see Die Wirkungen des heiligen Geistes, etc., 20). There is an element of truth in this, but the idea of purpose is by no means confined to the historian who later recorded the Spirit's action. The actors in the spiritual drama were everywhere conscious of the great movement of which they as individuals were a part. In some passages the existence of purpose in the Spirit's action is clearly recognized, as in His restraining of Paul at certain points and in the appointment of Saul and Barnabas as missionaries. Divine purpose is indeed implied at all points, and while the particular end in view was not always clear in a given instance, the subjects of the Spirit's working were scarcely so naive in their apprehension of the matter as to think of their experiences merely as so many extraordinary phenomena caused in a particular way.
We note next the glossolalia, or speaking with tongues, recorded in Acts 2, as well as in later chapters and in Paul's Epistles. The prevailing view at present is that "speaking with tongues" does not mean speaking actual intelligible words in a foreign language, but rather the utterance of meaningless sounds, as was customary among the heathen and as is sometimes witnessed today where religious life becomes highly emotional in its manifestation. To support this view the account in Acts 2 is questioned, and Paul's instructions in 1 Cor 14 are cited. Of course a man's world-view will be likely to influence his interpretation in this as in other matters. Philosophically an antisupernatural world-view makes it easy to question the glossolalia of the New Testament. Candid exegesis, however, rather requires the recognition of the presence in the apostolic church of a speaking in foreign tongues, even if alongside of it there existed (which is open to serious doubt) the other phenomenon mentioned above. Acts 2:3 ff is absolutely conclusive taken by itself, and no valid critical grounds have been found for rejecting the passage. 1 Cor 14 confirms this view when its most natural meaning is sought. Paul is here insisting upon the orderly conduct of worship and upon edification as the important thing. To this end he insists that they who speak with tongues pray that they may also interpret (1 Cor 14:5; chapter 13). It is difficult to conceive what he means by "interpret" if the speaking with tongues was a meaningless jargon of sounds uttered under emotional excitement, and nothing more. Paul's whole exposition in this chapter implies that "tongues" may be used for edification. He ranks it below prophecy simply because without an interpreter "tongues" would not edify the hearer. Paul himself spoke with tongues more than they all (1 Cor 14:18). It seems scarcely in keeping with Paul's character to suppose that he refers here to a merely emotional volubility in meaningless and disconnected sounds.
See TONGUES, GIFT OF.
(4) In Paul's Writings.
The teachings of Paul on the Holy Spirit are so rich and abundant that space forbids an exhaustive presentation. In his writings the Biblical representations reach their climax. Mr. Wood says correctly that Paul grasped the idea of the unity of the Christian life. All the parts exist in a living whole and the Holy Spirit constitutes and maintains it (Wood, The Spirit of God in Biblical Literature, 268). In fact a careful study of Paul's teachings discloses three parallel lines, one relating to faith, another to Christ, and the third to the Holy Spirit. That is to say, his teachings coalesce, as it were, point by point, in reference to these three subjects. Faith is the human side of the Divine activity carried on by the Holy Spirit. Faith is therefore implied in the Spirit's action and is the result of or response to it in its various forms. But faith is primarily and essentially faith in Jesus Christ. Hence, we find in Paul that Christ is represented as doing substantially everything that the Spirit does. Now we are not to see in this any conflicting conceptions as to Christ and the Spirit, but rather Paul's intense feeling of the unity of the work of Christ and the Spirit. The "law" of the Spirit's action is the revelation and glorification of Christ. In his Gospel, which came later, John, as we have seen, defined the Spirit's function in precisely these terms. Whether or not John was influenced by Paul in the matter we need not here consider.
(a) The Spirit and Jesus
We begin with a brief reference to the connection in Paul's thought between the Spirit and Jesus. The Holy Spirit is described as the Spirit of God's Son (Rom 8:14 ff; Gal 4:6), as the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9). He who confesses Jesus does so by the Holy Spirit, and no one can say that Jesus is anathema in the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3). Christ is called a life-giving Spirit (1 Cor 15:45); and in 2 Cor 3:17 the statement appears, "Now the Lord is the Spirit." All of this shows how completely one Paul regarded the work of Christ and the Spirit, not because they were identical in the sense in which Beyschlag has contended, but because their task and aim being identical, there was no sense of discord in Paul's mind in explaining their activities in similar terms.
(b) In Bestowing Charismatic Gifts
The Spirit appears in Paul as in Acts imparting all kinds of charismatic gifts for the ends of the Messianic kingdom. He enumerates a long list of spiritual gifts which cannot receive separate treatment here, such as prophecy (1 Thess 5:19 f) ; tongues (1 Cor 12-14); wisdom (1 Cor 2:6 ff); knowledge (1 Cor 12:8); power to work miracles (1 Cor 12:9 f); discerning of spirits (1 Cor 12:10); interpretation of tongues (1 Cor 12:10); faith (1 Cor 12:9); boldness in Christian testimony (2 Cor 3:17 f); charismata generally (1 Thess 1:5; 4:8, etc.). See SPIRITUAL GIFTS. In addition to the above list, Paul especially emphasizes the Spirit's action in revealing to himself and to Christians the mind of God (1 Cor 2:10-12; Eph 3:5). He speaks in words taught by the Spirit (1 Cor 2:13). He preaches in demonstration of the Spirit and of power (1 Cor 2:4; 1 Thess 1:5).
In the above manifestations of the Spirit, as enumerated in Paul's writings, we have presented in very large measure what we have already seen in Acts, but with some additions. In 1 Cor 14 and elsewhere Paul gives a new view as to the charismatic gifts which was greatly needed in view of the tendency to extravagant and intemperate indulgence in emotional excitement, due to the mighty action of God's Spirit in the Corinthian church. He insists that all things be done unto edification, that spiritual growth is the true aim of all spiritual endowments. This may be regarded as the connecting link between the earlier and later New Testament teaching as to the Holy Spirit, between the charismatic and moral-religious significance of the Spirit. To the latter we now direct attention.
(c) In the Beginnings of the Christian Life
We note the Spirit in the beginnings of the Christian life. From beginning to end the Christian life is regarded by Paul as under the power of the Holy Spirit, in its inner moral and religious aspects as well as in its charismatic forms. It is a singular fact that Paul does not anywhere expressly declare that the Holy Spirit originates the Christian life. Gunkel is correct in this so far as specific and direct teaching is concerned. But Wood who asserts the contrary is also right, if regard is had to clear implications and legitimate inferences from Paul's statements (op. cit., 202). Rom 8:2 does not perhaps refer to the act of regeneration, and yet it is hard to conceive of the Christian life as thus constituted by the "law of the Spirit of life" apart from its origin through the Spirit. There are other passages which seem to imply very clearly, if they do not directly assert, that the Christian life is originated by the Holy Spirit (1 Thess 1:6; Rom 5:5; 8:9; 1 Cor 2:4; 6:11; Tit 3:5).
The Holy Spirit in the beginnings of the Christian life itself is set forth in many forms of statement. They who have the Spirit belong to Christ (Rom 8:9). We received not the Spirit of bondage but of adoption, "whereby we cry, Abba, Father" (Rom 8:15). "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God" (Rom 8:16). The Spirit is received by the hearing of faith (Gal 3:2). See also Rom 5:5; 8:2; 1 Cor 16:11; Gal 3:3,14; Eph 2:18. There are two or three expressions employed by Paul which express some particular aspect of the Spirit's work in believers. One of these is "first-fruits" (Rom 8:23, aparche), which means that the present possession of the Spirit by the believer is the guarantee of the full redemption which is to come, as the first-fruits were the guarantee of the full harvest. Another of these words is "earnest" (2 Cor 1:22; 5:5, arrabon), which also means a pledge or guarantee. Paul also speaks of the "sealing" of the Christians with the Holy Spirit of promise, as in Eph 1:13 (esphragisthete, "ye were sealed"). This refers to the seal by which a king stamped his mark of authorization or ownership upon a document.
(d) In the Religious and Moral Life
Paul gives a great variety of expressions indicating the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in the religious and moral life of the Christian. In fact at every point that life is under the guidance and sustaining energy of the Spirit. If we live after the flesh, we die; if after the Spirit, we live (Rom 8:6). The Spirit helps the Christian to pray (Rom 8:26 f). The kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17). Christians are to abound in hope through the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:13). "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control" (Gal 5:22). Christians are warned to grieve not the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30), and are urged to take the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17). The flesh is contrasted with the Spirit at a number of points in Paul's writings (e.g. Rom 8:5 f; Gal 5:17 ff). The Spirit in these passages probably means either the Spirit of God or man's spirit as under the influence of the Spirit of God. Flesh is a difficult word to define, as it seems to be used in several somewhat different senses. When the flesh is represented as lusting against the Spirit, however, it seems equivalent to the "carnal mind," i.e. the mind of the sinful natural man as distinct from the mind of the spiritual man. This carnal or fleshly mind is thus described because the flesh is thought of as the sphere in which the sinful impulses in large part, though not altogether (Gal 5:19 ff), take their rise.
Paul contrasts the Spirit with the letter (2 Cor 3:6) and puts strong emphasis on the Spirit as the source of Christian liberty. As Gunkel points out, spirit and freedom with Paul are correlatives, like spirit and life. Freedom must needs come of the Spirit's presence because He is superior to all other
authorities and powers (Die Wirkungen des heiligen Geistes, etc., 95). See also an excellent passage on the freedom of the Christian from statutory religious requirements in DCG, article "Holy Spirit" by Dr. James Denney, I, 739.
(e) In the Church.
Toward the end of his ministry and in his later group of epistles, Paul devoted much thought to the subject of the church, and one of his favorite figures was of the church as the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit is represented as animating this body, as communicating to it life, and directing all its affairs. As in the case of the individual believer, so also in the body of believers the Spirit is the sovereign energy which rules completely. By one Spirit all are baptized into one body and made to drink of one Spirit (1 Cor 12:13). All the gifts of the church, charismatic and otherwise, are from the Spirit (1 Cor 12:4,8-11). All spiritual gifts in the church are for edification (1 Cor 14:12). Prayer is to be in the Spirit (1 Cor 14:15). The church is to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:3). Love (Col 1:8); fellowship (Phil 2:1); worship (Phil 3:3) are in the Spirit. The church is the habitation of the Spirit (Eph 2:22). The church is an epistle of Christ written by the Spirit (2 Cor 3:3). Thus the whole life of the church falls under the operation of the Holy Spirit.
(f) In the Resurrection of Believers
The Spirit also carries on His work in believers in raising the body from the dead. In Rom 8:11 Paul asserts that the present indwelling in believers of the Spirit that raised up Jesus from the dead is the guarantee of the quickening of their mortal bodies by the power of the same Spirit. See also 1 Cor 15:44 f; Gal 5:5.
We have thus exhibited Paul's teachings as to the Holy Spirit in some detail in order to make clear their scope and comprehensiveness. And we have not exhausted the material supplied by his writings. It will be observed that Paul nowhere elaborates a doctrine of the Spirit, as he does in a number of instances his doctrine of the person of Christ. The references to the Spirit are in connection with other subjects usually. This, however, only serves to indicate how very fundamental the work of the Spirit was in Paul's assumptions as to the Christian life. The Spirit is the Christian life, just as Christ is that life.
The personality of the Spirit appears in Paul as in John. The benediction in 2 Cor 13:14 distinguishes clearly Father, Son and Spirit (compare also Eph 4:4). In many connections the Spirit is distinguished from the Son and Father, and the work of the Spirit is set forth in personal terms. It is true, references are often made to the Holy Spirit by Paul as if the Spirit were an impersonal influence, or at least without clearly personal attributes. This distinguishes his usage as to the Spirit from that as to Christ and God, who are always personal. It is a natural explanation of this fact if we hold that in the case of the impersonal references we have a survival of the current Old Testament conception of the Spirit, while in those which are personal we have the developed conception as found in both Paul and John. Personal attributes are ascribed to the Spirit in so many instances, it would seem unwarranted in us to make the earlier and lower conception determinative of the later and higher.
In Paul's writings we have the crowning factor in the Biblical doctrine of the Holy Spirit. He gathers up most of the preceding elements, and adds to them his own distinctive teaching or emphasis. Some of the earlier Old Testament elements are lacking, but all those which came earlier in the New Testament are found in Paul. The three points which Paul especially brought into full expression were first, the law of edification in the use of spiritual gifts, second, the Holy Spirit in the moral life of the believer, and third, the Holy Spirit in the church. Thus Paul enables us to make an important distinction as to the work of the Spirit in founding the kingdom of God, namely, the distinction between means and ends. Charismatic gifts of the Spirit were, after all, means to ethical ends. God's kingdom is moral in its purpose, "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Christianity is, according to Paul, inherently and essentially supernatural. But its permanent and abiding significance is to be found, not in extraordinary phenomena in the form of "mighty works," "wonders," "tongues" and other miracles in the ordinary sense, but in the creation of a new moral order in time and eternity. The supernatural is to become normal and "natural" in human history, therefore, in the building up of this ethical kingdom on the basis of a redemption that is in and through Jesus Christ, and wrought out in all its details by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(5) The Holy Spirit in Other New Testament Writings.
There is little to add to the New Testament teaching as to the Holy Spirit. Paul and John practically cover all the aspects of His work which are presented. There are a few passages, however, we may note in concluding Our general survey. In He the Holy Spirit is referred to a number of times as inspiring the Old Testament Scriptures (Heb 3:7; 9:8; 10:15). We have already referred to the remarkable statement in Heb 9:14 to the effect that the blood of Christ was offered through the eternal Spirit. In 10:29 doing "despite unto the Spirit of grace" seems to be closely akin to the sin against the Holy Spirit in the Gospels. In Heb 4:12 there is a very remarkable description of the "word of God" in personal terms, as having all the energy and activity of an actual personal presence of the Spirit, and recalls Paul's language in Eph 6:17. In 1 Pet we need only refer to 1:11 in which Peter declares that the "Spirit of Christ" was in the Old Testament prophets, pointing forward to the sufferings and glories of Christ.
I. F. Wood, The Spirit of God in Biblical Literature; article "Spiritual Gifts" in EB; Gunkel, Die Wirkungen des heiligen Gelstea; Gloel, Der heilige Geist in der Heilsverkundigung des Paulus; Wendt, Die Begriffe Fleisch und Geist im biblischen Sprachgebrauch; Weinel, Die Wirkungen des Geistes und der Geister; Dickson, Paul's Use of the Terms Flesh and Spirit; Smeaton, Doctrine of the Holy Spirit; Walker, The Spirit and the Incarnation; Denio, The Supreme Leader; Moberly, Administration of the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ; Hutchings, Person and Work of the Holy Spirit; Owen, Pneumatologia; Webb, Person and Office of the Holy Spirit; Hare, The Mission of the Comforter; Candlish, The Work of the Holy Spirit; Wirgman, The Sevenfold Gifts; Heber, Personality and Offices of the Holy Spirit; Swete, The Holy Spirit in the New Testament; Moule, Veni Creator; Johnson, The Holy Spirit Then and Now; Kuyper, The Work of the Holy Spirit; Biblical Theologies of Schultz, Davidson, Weiss, Beyschlag, Stevens; list appended to the article on "Holy Spirit" in HDB and DCG; extensive bibliography in Denio's The Supreme Leader, 239 ff.
E. Y. Mullins
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'HOLY SPIRIT, 2'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE
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