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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Holy Spirit (2)

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HOLY SPIRIT.—With the exception of the 2nd and 3rd Epistles of John, every book in the NT mentions the Spirit. On a comprehensive view, indeed, it may be said that to understand what is meant by the Spirit is to understand these two things—the NT and the Christian Church. Not that the two can be precisely co-ordinated; yet in them and in their mutual relations we have the only adequate witness to what the Spirit means for Christians. To the men who wrote the NT and to those for whom they wrote, the Spirit was not a doctrine but an experience: they did not speak of believing in the Holy Spirit, but of receiving the Holy Spirit when they believed (Acts 19:2). In some sense this covered everything that they included in Christianity. The work of the Christ was summed up in the words: ‘He shall baptize with holy spirit’ (Mark 1:8). The acceptance of the gospel is the subject of the question: ‘Was it by works of law or by the hearing of faith that you received the Spirit?’ (Galatians 3:2). The entire equality of Jews and Gentiles in the Christian community is asserted in the words: ‘God who knows the heart bore them witness in that he gave the Holy Spirit to them even as he did to us’ (Acts 15:8). After this, there was no more to be said. Yet the very fact that all who speak to us in the NT are familiar with experiences of the Holy Spirit does not always make it easier for us to understand them. It is clear that, very various experiences are described in this way, and sometimes we cannot refrain from asking whether experiences which one writer recounts without any reference to the Spirit would not have been explained as ‘pneumatic’ by another; or vice versa, whether experiences ascribed to the Spirit by one writer would not in another have found a different interpretation. Further, there is the difficulty raised by the fact that while the experiences thus explained are represented, broadly speaking, as the work of the Risen Saviour, and as dependent somehow on His death and resurrection, the Spirit appears also in His life on earth. Was this the same thing? When we read that Jesus was baptized with the Holy Spirit, are we to suppose that He had experiences in consequence which were analogous to those of Christians in the Apostolic age? The purpose of this article is to bring out the facts as they are presented in the oldest Gospel to begin with, and to show from later stages in the history the relation between the Spirit and Jesus the Christ.

1. The earliest reference to the Spirit is in the preaching of the Baptist. To the end John was conscious of the impotence and inadequacy of all his efforts: the true Helper of Israel, whatever else he might be, must be ‘One mightier than I.’ ‘I baptize you with water, he shall baptize you with holy spirit’ (Mark 1:8). A Christian Evangelist, like the author of the Gospel, might interpret such words in the light of his own post-Pentecostal experiences; and when we find the later Evangelists (Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16) add to ‘holy spirit’ the words ‘and lire,’ it is nearly certain that they have done so.* [Note: The reference of the ‘fire’ in this connexion to the fire of Gehenna seems to the present writer (in spite of Matthew 3:12, Luke 3:17) simply incredible. The true key to it is Acts 2:3, and the many passages in which the same or a similar figure recurs, e.g. 1 Thessalonians 5:19, Romans 12:11, Acts 18:25.] But it is not clear that for the Baptist the Holy Spirit of which he spoke was so clearly defined. He had not the Christian experience to put meaning into his words, and he can only have intended something which could be understood through its OT antecedents, or through experiences with which he had been in contact at an earlier period. The earliest form of the Gospel says nothing of such experiences, and when we look backward we cannot but be struck by the almost total disappearance of the Spirit from the apocalyptical literature of Judaism. ‘First and Second Maccabees and Daniel are each in a different way witnesses for a very profound religious feeling of exactly the sort that in other ages, either earlier or later, would have been ascribed to the Spirit’ (Wood, The Spirit of God in Biblical Literature, p. 71; cf. Gunkel, Die Wirkungen des heiligen Geistes, p. 50 f.). Yet the Spirit is not appealed to in explanation. When we come to the Hebrew OT, however, the one idea which is dominant in connexion with the Spirit is the one which is wanted here to explain the prophecy of the Baptist—the idea of power as opposed to impotence. The inability of Egypt to help Israel is expressed by Isaiah in the words: ‘The Egyptians are men and not God, and their horses flesh and not spirit’ (Isaiah 31:3). Men and flesh are the impotent things, in contrast with the omnipotent, God and spirit. As A. B. Davidson puts it (Theology of the OT, 126), ‘the Spirit of God ab intra is God active, showing life and power … the Spirit of God ab extra is God in efficient operation, whether in the cosmos or as giving life, reinforcing life, exerting efficiency in any sphere.’ John the Baptist was a worker for God, but he never claims for himself either to have the Spirit or to be able to give it; he has the sense, however, that when the Mightier than himself comes, He will lie distinguished in precisely these ways. He will baptize with ‘holy spirit’ in virtue of being full of the Spirit himself.

2. When Jesus comes to be baptized in Jordan, the remarkable phenomenon is that what for others is a baptism with water coincides for Him with a baptism in the Holy Spirit. According to Mark 1:10, as Jesus ascends from the water, He sees the heavens cleaving and the Spirit as a dove descending upon Him. In the earliest Evangelist this is the experience of Jesus only: it is He who sees the Spirit descending, He to whom the heavenly voice is addressed. The later Evangelists may have conceived it otherwise, and extended the vision and the hearing of the voice to John the Baptist or even to the bystanders: it is indifferent here. All agree that on this occasion Jesus received the Holy Spirit, and in it the attestation of His Sonship, the call to His unique task, and the endowments needed to discharge it.

Critics have suggested that the curiously indirect way in which the baptism of Jesus and the descent of the Spirit are mentioned in Luke 3:21 f. is due to the writer’s desire to slur over something which is really inconsistent with his account of Jesus’ birth; but even if Luke had difficulty in adjusting these two things, as the Fourth Evangelist may have had difficulty in adjusting the incarnation of the Eternal Logos in Jesus with the descent of the Spirit upon Him in manhood, it is clear that for both the baptism was so securely fixed in the Gospel testimony that they had no alternative but to set it unambiguously down (cf. John 1:31-34).

Have we any means of saying what is meant by such words as the Evangelists employ in this connexion? Can we interpret Jesus’ experience by what we read of spiritual gifts or states in the Primitive Church? Is it right to look in His life for such phenomena as we find, e.g., in Acts or in 1 Cor. ascribed to the Spirit? May we look for such sudden accesses of feeling as we connect with scenes like Acts 2:4; Acts 4:31; Acts 13:9? Can there be such a thing as the rapture or ecstasy which seems to be meant by being ‘in the Spirit’ in Revelation 1:10; Revelation 4:2; Revelation 17:3; Revelation 21:10? These are not questions to be answered a priori. There must have been something in the life of Jesus as determined by the great experience of His baptism akin to the experiences which Christians subsequently ascribed to the Spirit, or they would hardly have traced both to the same source; and the more closely we look into the Gospels, the less does the emotionally colourless Saviour of popular art seem to correspond to the historical reality. The experiences of Jesus at the Baptism and the Transfiguration were not those of everyday life; they belong to ‘pneumatic’ as contrasted with normal conditions. So again it might be said that if the cleansing of the temple (Mark 11:15 ff.), the cursing of the fig-tree (Mark 11:14), the excitement (apparently) with which, on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus took the lead of His disciples, to their bewilderment and fear (Mark 10:32), had been told of anybody else, that other would have been described, on each occasion, as ‘filled with the Holy Spirit.’ However this may be (see J. Weiss, Die Predigt Jesu vom Reiche Gottes, p. 54 n. [Note: note.] ; O. Holtzmann, War Jesus Ekstatiker?), the Evangelist makes no reference to the Spirit in this connexion. He leaves us to infer from the life which Jesus lived in the Spirit what the Spirit itself was. But it may fairly be said that some of the ideas which Christians subsequently connected with their own baptism were not without relation to the baptism of Jesus and to the interpretation which they put upon it. It was the facts of His baptism which led them to believe (a) in a normal coincidence of baptism with the Spirit and water baptism, instead of in the displacement of the latter by the former; (b) in the Spirit received in baptism as specifically the spirit of sonship; and (c) in that same Spirit as one consecrating them to God and to service in His kingdom.

3. The first light is thrown on the nature of the Spirit as received by Jesus in the narrative of the Temptations. It is the Spirit which sends Him out to the wilderness, there to engage in conflict with the power of evil. The word ἐκβάλλει (Mark 1:12), though it must not be forced, suggests a Divine impulse which could not be resisted. Jesus was Divinely constrained—for the Spirit is always Divine—to face the ultimate issues of His work from the very beginning, to contemplate all the plausible but morally unsound ways of aiming at ascendency over men for God, and to turn from them; to face the Prince of this world, and to demonstrate that that Prince had nothing in Him. The most elementary notion of the Spirit may be that of Divine power, but where we see it first at work in Jesus it is Divine power which is at the same time holy; it is at war, in principle, with everything which is unworthy of God; the kingdom which the Son of God is to found in the power of the Spirit is one which can make no kind of compromise with evil. It must be spiritual (in the complete Christian sense) in its nature—not based on bread; spiritual in its methods—not appealing to miracles which only dazzle the senses or confound the mind; and spiritual in its resources—not deriving any of its strength from alliance with Satan, from borrowing the help of the evil which wields such vast power among men, or from recognizing that it has a relative or temporary right to exist. ‘The spirit,’ as Mk. calls it (Mark 1:10; Mark 1:12), while Mt. has ‘God’s spirit’ (Matthew 3:16), and Lk. ‘the holy spirit’ (Luke 3:22) or ‘holy spirit’ (Luke 4:1), is the Divine power with which Jesus was endowed at His baptism, and which committed Him to an irreconcilable conflict with evil. It is the conscious and victorious antagonist of another spirit, of which all that need be said is that it is not of God.

4. St. Luke tells us that Jesus returned from the Jordan ‘in the power of the Spirit’ into Galilee (Luke 4:14), and St. Peter in Ac (Acts 10:38 f.) tells how God anointed Him (in the Baptism) ‘with holy spirit and power’; and it is under these conditions that the Evangelists conceive His whole ministry to he fulfilled. If they do not mention the Spirit at every step, it is because they think of Him as in full possession of it continually. It probably agrees, e.g., with the Evangelist’s own idea, to say that the passage in Mk. which immediately succeeds the Temptations illustrates first by Jesus’ power over men (Mark 1:16-20), next by His power or authority in teaching (Mark 1:21 f.), and, finally, by His power over demons (Mark 1:23 ff.), what is involved in His possession of the Spirit. A Divine power accompanied all His words and deeds, and made them effective for God and for His kingdom. The allusion in Mark 1:35 to His rising early and going away to a desert place to pray suggests that, Divine as this power was, it wrought in, and in accordance with the laws of, a human nature which was capable of spiritual exhaustion, and had to recruit its strength with God. We do not find till we come to Mark 3:21 (‘they said, He is beside himself,’ ἐξέστη) any further indication of how His work in the Spirit affected Jesus. It is clear from this impatient word, in which the same charge is brought against the Lord as was afterwards brought against Paul (see 2 Corinthians 5:13, where ἐξέστημεν is opposed to σωφρονοῦμεν), that the tension of His spirit seemed at times abnormal: He was ‘rapt’ or ‘carried away’ by His earnestness, and became for the time unconscious of bodily needs or indifferent to them (cf. the fast in the wilderness, and John 4:31 ff.). Possibly even the charge brought against Him by the scribes, that He cast out devils by Beelzebub, in other words, that He was possessed Himself by a demon,—a charge mentioned in this connexion by Mk.,—appealed for support to this tension or rapture. If the character of Jesus’ teaching and healing had been that of emotionless placidity, it would not have been even plausible to say δαιμόνιον ἔχει καὶ μαίνεται (John 8:48; John 8:52; John 10:20 : these passages from the Fourth Gospel are guaranteed by their agreement with Mark 3:21 f.). There is no trace in the Gospel of any want of self-control,—no such frenzy as is ascribed to the Spirit in 1 Samuel 19:23 f., or in the description of the glossolalists in 1 Corinthians 14,—but there is a superhuman intensity implied which was felt throughout the life in word and deed.

5. The main interest of the passage Mark 3:20-35 lies in the word of Jesus Himself about the Holy Spirit: ‘Verily I say unto you, All things shall be forgiven to the sons of men, the sins and the blasphemies, all that they have blasphemed: but whoso shall have blasphemed the Holy Spirit hath never forgiveness, but is guilty of eternal sin: because they said, He hath an unclean spirit’ (Mark 3:28 f.). It is hardly doubtful that this is the true form of this much discussed saying of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is not here set in any contrast with Jesus, as though to blaspheme Jesus were a venial fault, but to blaspheme the Spirit an unpardonable one; on the contrary, the Holy Spirit is blasphemed when malignant hearts harden themselves to say of Jesus, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’ The Divine power which works through Jesus with such intensity, healing all who are under the tyranny of the devil, is in point of fact God’s supreme and final appeal to men. It is such an exercise of power as is possible only for one who has already vanquished Satan, and is engaged in liberating his captives (Mark 3:27). No person with any sense for God in him can help being attracted by it to begin with. But if the other manifestations of this power should happen to provoke resentment,—if its ethical demands (as in the teaching of Jesus) should threaten seriously the reputation or the self-complacency of the insincere,—it is fearfully possible that they may set themselves against it, and so resist the Holy Spirit. Such resistance, once begun, may go to any length, even to the length of defiantly misinterpreting the life of Jesus, and affirming it to be from beneath, not from above. This is the sin against the Holy Spirit. In principle, it is the everyday sin of finding bad motives for good actions; carried to its unpardonable height, it is the sin of confronting the Divine holy power which wrought so irresistibly and so intensely in Jesus, and saying anything—the maddest, most wanton, most malignant thing—rather than acknowledge it for what it is. The people who said, ‘He has Beelzebul’ (Mark 3:22), ‘He has an unclean spirit’ (Mark 3:30), were not giving expression to their first, but to their last thoughts of Christ. This was the depth which malignity in them had reached. The Holy Spirit receives here a certain interpretation from being contrasted with an ‘unclean’ spirit. ‘Unclean’ is a religious rather than an ethical word; the unclean spirit is one which has not and cannot have relations with God: it can only be excluded from His presence, as it excludes those who are possessed by it. The Holy Spirit is specifically God’s; it brings Him in His power to men, it is the very token and reality of His presence with them. But it is interpreted more precisely—and this is the point of Jesus’ argument as it is brought out in the parallel passage in Mt. and Lk.—by the works which it does. ‘If I in the spirit of God am casting out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you’ (Matthew 12:28, cf. Luke 11:20, where for ἐν πνεύματι θεοῦ we have ἐν δακτύλῳ θεοῦ, the Divine power being the essential idea; cf. Exodus 8:10 (15)). When the superhuman power which displays itself with such intensity is manifested in works of this sort, it is clear that it is not merely superhuman, but specifically Divine. To withstand what is so unambiguously the redeeming power of God, and to do so deliberately and malignantly, in the spirit which will kill Jesus rather than acknowledge Him as what He is, is the unpardonable sin.

The form of this saying which appears in Matthew 12:31 f. and Luke 12:10 has almost certainly been deflected in tradition. Mt. really has it in two forms, Matthew 12:31 by itself corresponding to what we have in Mk., and Matthew 12:32 to what we have in Luke. That is, Matthew 12:31 f. is a doublet, in which the same saying is found, first as it appeared in the Gospel of Mk., and then as it appeared in the collection of discourses generally allowed to have been used by Mt. and Luke. What is meant in the second form, where a word spoken against the Son of Man is contrasted with blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, is not very clear. Mk., who puts the odious charge, ‘He has an unclean spirit,’ into connexion with the word of Jesus’ friends, ‘He is beside himself,’ might be regarded is giving a key to the meaning, were it not for the fact that ‘the Son of Man’ does not occur in his text at all. An impatient, petulant word, like ‘He is crazy,’ bursting in a moment of aoxiety or irritation or misunderstanding from hearts that at bottom loved Him, was no doubt a sin; His friends ought to have been more capable of doing Him justice. But it was not a sin which committed the whole nature blindly and finally against God; it could be repented of, and when it was, then, like other sins, it would be forgiven. This would be the word spoken against the Son of Man. In contrast with such a momentary petulance on the part of His friends stands the hideous expression in which hatred of God’s present saving power reveals its utter antagonism: ‘He has an unclean spirit.’ Here the nature is finally committed against God; such a word blasphemes His Spirit—that is, it blasphemes God as He is actually here, working in Christ for man’s salvation; as such it is sin absolutely, αίὡνιον ἀμάρτημα, i.e. sin which has the character, of finality, and can never be anything but what it is—sin past which one cannot see so as to infer the possibility of forgiveness either in this world or in the next.

6. The expulsion of evil spirits from the possessed is regarded in the Gospel as a chief manifestation of the possession by Jesus of the Holy Spirit. But all His miracles are to be understood in this connexion. Without going so far as to say that in the Temptation narratives He is represented as tempted to put to selfish uses the power just conferred through the Spirit in baptism for the ends of God’s kingdom, it is a mark of historicity in the canonical Gospels that until He is baptized with the Spirit, Jesus works no miracle. It is the Spirit in which the power is given for all His mighty works (δυνάμεις). It is not likely, however, that when we read of power as having gone forth from Him (which in Mark 5:30 and Luke 6:19 may be only the Evangelist’s reading of the facts, but in Luke 8:46 is distinctly ascribed to Jesus Himself), any reference to the Spirit is intended. The wisdom and the mighty works which astonished the Nazarenes (Mark 6:2) would no doubt be referred to this source by the Evangelist; and when in Mark 6:7 Jesus sends out the Twelve, giving them authority over the unclean spirits, it can only have been conceived as due to the transference to them of a part in that Divine power which had been so wonderfully operative in Him (cf. Numbers 11:17). The idea, however, that it was the Risen Saviour by whom the Spirit was given to the Apostles so dominated the Evangelists, that none of them refers to the Spirit in connexion with this mission of the Twelve during Jesus’ lifetime. The Spirit of Jesus in Mark 8:12 is no doubt, as in Mark 2:8, His human spirit; but if we admit that it is to this that the Spirit of God is most akin, or most immediately attached, it is perhaps not fanciful to suppose that the sigh (ἀναστενάξας, cf. in a similar situation Mark 7:34) represents the grieving of the Spirit of God by the unbelief and hard-heartedness of man (cf. Ephesians 4:30, Isaiah 63:10). It is more hazardous to argue that only in ‘pneumatic’ and abnormal conditions—only in a psychological state extraordinarily and violently elevated above the level of common experience-did Jesus identify Himself with the Son of Man, who after a tragic career on earth was to rise again on the third day, or to come on the clouds of heaven (Mark 8:31; Mark 9:31; Mark 10:32 ff; Mark 14:62). Abnormal conditions such as are here supposed do not persist in sane minds, and to call Jesus an ‘ecstatic’ or a ‘pneumatic’ in this sense is only to avoid calling Him a fanatic by using a natural instead of a moral term to describe Him. Certainly the Gospel suggests in this period of His life accesses of intense emotion (Mark 8:33) and phenomena both in His aspect (Mark 9:15) and in His conduct (Mark 10:32) which must have struck people as unusual, and due to something overpowering within, which it would have been natural to call the Spirit; but in point of fact there is no reference to the Spirit in this period. Perhaps the nearest approach to it is in Mark 10:38, where Jesus asks James and John, ‘Are ye able to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?’ There is no doubt that Jesus speaks throughout this scene with unusual elevation of tone; and the figure of baptism, which He could hardly use without recalling the experience at the Jordan and all that His consecration there involved, lifts us into the region where the thought of the Spirit is near. Still, it is not expressed. The Triumphal Entry, the Cleansing of the Temple, and the Blighting of the Fig-tree are all acts implying intensity and elevation of feeling transcending common human limits: often other persons, visited by such impulses with startling suddenness, are said to be ‘filled with holy spirit,’ but in Jesus they do not seem to have made the same impression on bystanders. They did not apparently stand in relief in His life as they would have done in the life of others; little in it is specifically assigned to the Spirit, because the spiritual baptism at the beginning impelled and controlled it throughout. It does not really cast any light on Jesus’ experience of the Spirit, when in Mark 12:36 He quotes Psalms 110 by ‘David himself said in the Holy Spirit’: this merely represents the Jewish belief in the Divine inspiration of Scripture, a belief most distinctly preserved in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where OT quotations are introduced by ‘as saith the Holy Spirit,’ etc. (Hebrews 3:7; Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 10:15; cf. 2 Peter 1:21, 2 Timothy 3:16, Acts 1:16). More important is Mark 13:11, which contains the only promise of the Holy Spirit in the earliest Evangelist. Referring to the persecutions which will come upon the Apostles after His death, Jesus says: ‘When they lead you to judgment and deliver yon up, be not anxious beforehand what ye shall speak, but whatever is given to you in that hour, that speak; for it is not you that speak, but the Holy Spirit.’ The Spirit is here conceived as a Divine reinforcement in the very crisis of need. If fidelity to the gospel brings men to extremity, they will not be left there, but will have experience of superhuman help. It is important to notice that the precise character in which the Spirit which comes to the help of the disciples is here conceived as acting is that of a παράκλητος or advocatus—an idea of which ampler use is made in the Gospel and 1st Epistle of John. The term παράκλητος may be due to the Evangelist, but the conception of the Spirit’s function goes back to the Lord. It is not the Holy Spirit which is referred to in Mark 14:38; and in Mark 16:16-20, although mention is made, as is natural in a late passage based on other NT writings, of most of what are usually called spiritual gifts, the Spirit itself is not expressly named.

If, then, we try to sum up the oldest Evangelic representation, we can hardly say more than that the Holy Spirit is the Divine power which from His baptism onward wrought in Jesus, making Him mighty in word and deed—a power the character of which is shown by the teaching and by the saving miracles of Jesus—a power to which the sanctity of God attached, so that it is Divine also in the ethical sense, and to blaspheme it is the last degree of sin—a power in which Jesus enabled His disciples to some extent to share, and which He promised would be with them in the emergencies of their mission—a power, however, which (contrary to what we might have anticipated) the Evangelist does not bring into prominence at any of the crises or intense moments of Jesus’ life. It takes nothing less than that life itself, from beginning to end, to show us what the Spirit means. If the last Evangelist tells us that the Spirit interprets Jesus, the inference from the first is that Jesus also interprets the Spirit, and that only through Him can we know what it means.

7. If we turn from Mark to the other Evangelic source common to Mt. and Lk., we find little to add to this. Both our First and our Third Evangelists have everything which Mk. has, and their variations (e.g. Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16 as opp. Mark 1:8; Matthew 12:31 f., Luke 12:10 as opp. Mark 3:28 f.; Matthew 10:20, Luke 12:12; Luke 21:15 as opp. Mark 13:11) have been noticed already, or are of no consequence. But when we look at what is peculiar to Mt. and to Lk. respectively, there is more to say. Omitting for the moment the first two chapters in each, we notice these points.

(a) It is a mark of historicity in Mt. that in recording the Sermon on the Mount he nowhere alludes to the distinction of ‘letter’ and ‘spirit’ which occurs so spontaneously to the modern interpreter of the words of Jesus. On the other hand, in Matthew 7:22 we have an utterance of Jesus reproduced in terms which have almost certainly been influenced by post-Pentecostal experiences of the Spirit. It was only then that men ‘prophesied’ in the name of Jesus, etc., and till they had done so, such language as this could not have been used. Comparison with Luke 13:25 ff. justifies us in saying that we have here the word rather than the words of the Lord. But in any case, the idea that the most amazing gifts of the Spirit are worthless apart from common morality—the idea expanded in 1 Corinthians 13—is here traced back to Jesus Himself. It is difficult to understand a Divine power, the action of which, so to speak, elevates and reinforces the nature, without raising the character; yet this is undeniably what is contemplated both by Jesus and by St. Paul. Perhaps the underlying truth is that the moral nature is the deepest and the hardest to penetrate by the Divine power, and may remain unaffected by it when other elements of our being have been subdued to its service. The unnaturalness of such a result is reflected on by Jesus in Matthew 11:21 f., where woes are pronounced on the cities which had seen so many of His mighty works, yet had not repented. It is implied that these mighty works, the works of the Spirit in Him, were of such a character—that is, so holy and gracious—that they ought to have evoked penitence, and brought a new moral life into being. An interesting light is thrown on the Evangelist’s own conception of the Spirit in relation to Jesus, by his application to our Lord of the prophecy in Isaiah 42:1-4 ‘I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles,’ etc. (Matthew 12:18-21). Here not only the power of Jesus, which gives Him assurance of final victory (Matthew 12:20), but His method and His temper—His meekness, patience, constancy—are ascribed to the Spirit. The presence and power of God are felt in His superhuman renunciation of the ordinary ways and tempers of men as much as in the superhuman resources which He wielded. It is again a mark of historicity in Mt. that we find no mention of the Spirit where in a writer dominated by the consciousness of a later time we should certainly have expected it—that is, in the passages which speak of what are sometimes called ecclesiastical prerogatives or functions (Matthew 16:18 ff; Matthew 18:15-20). Contrast with these John 20:22 f., Acts 15:28. The Trinitarian baptismal formula, however it be explained, throws no light on the Spirit as an experience in the life of Jesus (Matthew 28:19).

(b) St. Luke’s interest in the Spirit, as the most conspicuous phenomenon in primitive Christianity, is well known, and it is apparent in his Gospel. Thus he describes Jesus, as the result of His baptism, as πλήρης πνεύματος ἁγίου (Luke 4:1), where the adjective seems intended to describe a permanent condition, as opposed to the verb (used of sudden and transient accesses of the Spirit in Luke 1:41; Luke 1:67). Similarly he says that in the wilderness ἤγετο ἐν τῷ πνεύματι (Luke 4:1), which seems to signify an intense, rapt, and absorbed state of feeling, in which He was carried up and down the desert. The form of words is used elsewhere to describe either possession by an evil spirit (Mark 1:23 ἄνθρωπος ἐν πνεύματι ἀκαθάρτῳ) or ecstasy in the Divine (Revelation 1:10 ἐγενόμην ἐν πνεύματι). More instructive is the way in which St. Luke puts the whole ministry of Jesus under the heading of the Spirit. He returns from the Jordan to Galilee ἐν τῇ δυνάμει τοῦ πνεύματος, and it is this power which is the key to all the marvellous life which follows (Luke 4:14, cf. the summary account of Jesus’ life by the same writer from the lips of St. Peter in Acts 10:38). But though power—that is, the presence of God, who can do what men cannot do—is the fundamental note of the Spirit, it is not power undefined. St. Luke has no sooner spoken of Jesus as entering on His work in the power of the Spirit, than he interprets this by the scene at Nazareth where Jesus applies to Himself the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1 f. ‘The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach glad tidings to the poor,’ etc. (Luke 4:16 f.). ‘The words of grace which proceeded out of his mouth’ on this occasion (Luke 4:22), and the spiritual healings which He wrought, were as unmistakably tokens of the Spirit as the ‘mighty works’ which the Nazarenes had heard of as wrought at Capernaum.

If the reading of the TR [Note: R Textus Receptus.] in Luke 9:55 (οὐκ οἴδατε οἱου πνεύματός ἐστε ὑμεῖς) has any authority, it is to the same intent: the spirit in which Jesus came, to seek and save the lost, was the very opposite of that which wished to call down fire from heaven on the inhospitable Samaritans. There is an approach here to the sense of ‘temper’ or ‘disposition’ for spirit, but it is temper or disposition regarded in relation to the power which produces it; the Divine power which works in Jesus makes Him a Saviour, and it is therefore quite different from that other power, whatever it be, which has found its instruments in James and John.

One of the most interesting singularities in Lk. is his reference to the Spirit in Luke 10:21 || Matthew 11:25 ‘In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father,’ etc. Both Evangelists, in giving the one passage in the Synoptic tradition which has the Johannine ring, are conscious of its peculiar elevation of thought and feeling, but only Lk. interprets it in this way. The authority on which he depended must have preserved for him the remembrance of a joyful excitement thrilling Jesus as He spoke. The context, too, favours this. The Seventy return to Jesus (Luke 10:17) exulting that even the demons are subject to them in His name. In a sudden flash Jesus reveals to them what He had seen in their absence, and through their little successes: ἐθεώρουν τὸν Σατανᾶν ὡς ἀστραπὴν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ πεσόντα. (Luke 10:18). It is in the consciousness of this final victory, and of His power to make even His feeble followers more than conquerors, that, after warning them not to trust in what they can do for God, but rather in God’s faithful love to them, He breaks into what Lk. evidently regarded as His rapturous utterance. It is not with resignation, but with Divine exultant gladness, that Jesus accepts the Father’s will as revealed in the results of His work. The Spirit is not connected with revelation either here or anywhere else in the life of Jesus, but only with the overpowering, joyful emotion of the hour. And the connexion of the Spirit and of joy is one of the most striking characteristics of the NT all through (see Luke 1:14 f., Romans 14:17, Galatians 5:22, Acts 13:52, 1 Thessalonians 1:6). No authority can be claimed for the v.l. in Luke 11:2, according to which, instead of ‘Thy kingdom come,’ or ‘Hallowed be thy name,’ we should read, ‘Thy Holy Spirit come upon us and cleanse us.’ Yet it is in keeping with St. Luke’s interest in the Spirit that this reading is found here and not in Mt.’s version of the prayer (see Plummer’s St. Luke, p. 295 n. [Note: note.] ). It is another proof of this interest that in Luke 11:13 πνεῦμα ἅγιον replaces the ‘good things’ of Matthew 7:11 : for St. Luke, all ‘good things’ which Christians could ask from the Father were summed up in the Spirit. This is a clear case of later experience interpreting the words of Jesus and giving the sense of them in its own terms. Perhaps if another than Jesus had been in question, we might have read that the passionate words of Luke 12:49 f. broke from His lips when He was ‘filled with holy spirit’; but to the Evangelist Jesus is always ‘full of the Holy Spirit,’ and no such points stand in relief in His career. Oddly enough, Lk. omits any mention of the Spirit in connexion with Psalms 110 (Luke 20:41 ff.), though both Mt. and Mk. seem to emphasize it, and in Luke 21:15 he replaces the express promise of the Spirit, which he has already used in Luke 12:12, by a more general promise of an irresistible power of speech such as he ascribes in Acts 6:10 to a man full of the Holy Spirit. There is no reference to the Holy Spirit in Luke 23:46. The last light the Evangelist throws on it is in Luke 24:49, where the Risen Saviour describes it as ‘the promise of my Father,’ and as ‘power from on high.’ The last word, therefore, brings us back to the first. The fundamental idea to be associated with the Spirit is that of Divine power: how the Divine power is to be further characterized, what it is ethically, and to what issues or in what temper it works, we can see only in the life of Jesus. He is the key to the interpretation of a term which of itself is indefinite indeed.

8. From the life of Jesus, as covered by the Apostolic testimony (Acts 1:12 f.), we now turn to the chapters of Mt. and Lk. which tell the story of His birth. If Mk. is the earliest form of the Evangelic tradition, it is natural to say (whatever the Evangelist’s own Christology may be) that the Divine sonship of Jesus was originally connected with His baptism. It was there He received the Holy Spirit and heard the heavenly voice which said, ‘Thou art my Son.’ It would be all the more natural for Christians to say this who read in their Gospel of Luke (Luke 3:22), with Codex Bezae, ‘Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.’ But as soon as reflexion woke, it would be apparent that Jesus could not suddenly, at the age of thirty or thereabouts, begin to be what He had in no sense been, or been destined and prepared for, before. This is the conviction which—not to speak of historical evidence—sustains the stories of the birth of Christ. He must always have been what Christians eventually knew Him in their own experience to be: He must always have been Son of God. If it is the Spirit which makes Him Son, then behind the baptism with the Spirit must lie a birth in which the Spirit is equally important: not only the equipment of this personality, but its origination, must be traced directly to God. And it is the origination of the personality of Jesus with which both Mt. and Lk. are concerned. Neither of them betrays any idea that the Son of God pre-existed, and that they are only narrating the mode in which He came from another order of being into this; and, difficult as it may be to understand how a companion and friend of St. Paul could ignore such an idea, we must abide by the facts as they are before us. No act of man, but only the power of God, lies behind and explains the existence of Jesus Christ in the world. In Mt. the story is told simply and briefly: Mary was found with child ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου (Matthew 1:18; Matthew 1:20). It is this which makes the Child to be Immanuel, ‘God with us.’ In Luke, though the setting is much more elaborate, the place and significance of the Spirit in the story are the same. The angel of the Annunciation says to Mary (Luke 1:35): πνεῦμα ἅγιον ἐπελεύσεται ἐπὶ σέ, καὶ δύναμις ὑψίστου ἐπισκιάσει σοι· διὸ καὶ τὸ γεννώμενον ἄγιον κληθήσεται, υἱὸς θεοῦ. It is in virtue of this mode of origination that the future child is ἅγιον, Son of God. It is important to notice here the parallelism of πνεῦμα ἅγιον and δύναμις ὑψίστου. The two expressions are precisely equivalent. In the life and work of Jesus, the Divine power can reveal itself ethically (as the Gospel story shows in detail), but in the origination of His personality there is no room for anything to appear but bare power. The action of the Spirit is to be conceived not as sexual but as creative. This marks the truth as well as the purity of the NT. In the OT, where the gender of רוּחַ can be determined, the feminine instances are to the masculine as more than two to one; but in the NT this is irrelevant. πνεῦμα is of no gender. Few will be persuaded by O. Holtzmann (Leben Jesu and War Jesus Ekstatiker? p. 41) that the Gospel according to the Hebrews, in which Jesus is introduced as speaking of the Holy Spirit as His mother, represents anything more primitive or original on that account. To call the Spirit either ‘mother’ or ‘father’ is equally inept and un-Christian: the Spirit is the power of the Highest, to which the presence of the Son of God in the world is due. In other words, the Divine Sonship of Jesus does not date from His baptism, as that of Christians; it is not with Him as with us an affair of re-birth, but of birth simply; it is native and original, with roots as deep as His being; He is not only υἱὸς θεοῦ, but μονογενής.

9. But it is not only the birth of Jesus which in Luke 1, 2 is connected with the Spirit: all the events of this period are transacted, so to speak, in an atmosphere agitated by the Spirit. The representation is conditioned partly by OT conceptions of the Spirit, and partly, no doubt, by primitive Christian experiences of it. Thus in Luke 1:15 the angel says of John: πνεύματος ἁγίου πλησθήσεται ἔτι ἐκ κοιλίας μητρὸς αὐτοῦ, words in which we can think only of a Divine energy or intensity of life which was to characterize the child from the first. Possibly the juxtaposition of this with the prohibition of wine and strong drink (cf. Acts 2:13, Ephesians 5:18) suggests the excitement or stimulation of the nature by God as opposed to any natural intoxicant. Yet the work which John is to do in consequence (‘many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God,’ Luke 1:16), shows that the Divine power is conceived as working to ethical issues, and therefore as itself ethical. In the OT ‘the spirit is never used as a cause except of those things which have to do with the affairs of the people of Israel’ (Wood, op. cit. p. 9); and this is the point of view maintained throughout these chapters in Luke. The Spirit is connected with the Messianic age (this is universally the case in the NT), and with the preparations for the coming of the Messiah. In John, who comes ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’ (Luke 1:17), it is a prophetic spirit, yet rather in the OT than in the NT sense: indeed, it is the outstanding feature in the consciousness of John that he neither has nor can impart holy spirit. When it is said that Elisabeth ‘was filled with holy spirit, and lifted up her voice with a loud cry’ (Luke 1:42), we must think of a sudden and overpowering access of feeling referred to God as its source. The same remark applies to Zacharias (Luke 1:67) as he utters the Benedictus: in both cases the emotion is one of joy (see above, § 7). More significant are the references to the Spirit in connexion with Simeon (Luke 2:25 ff.). He was a just and devout man, cherishing the Messianic hope, and it was probably conditioned by this character that πνεῦμα ἧν ἅγιον ἑπʼ αὐτόν. Yet this can hardly mean that he had an abiding possession of the Spirit. No such possession of the Spirit is contemplated anywhere in these chapters, and Simeon is presented to us only in relation to this one scene from the infancy of Jesus. All through his action here he is a Divinely impelled, Divinely illuminated man. This is what is meant by the words quoted. It is ‘in the Spirit’—that is, under a Divine impulse—that he comes into the temple; it has been revealed to him ‘by the Holy Spirit’—that is, he has had a Divine assurance granted him—that he will see the Christ before he dies. How this impulse or this revelation was imparted to Simeon the Evangelist does not tell, and it is vain to ask. But we need not say that it was not mediated at all, but blankly supernatural. The words in Luke 2:34 f. could not have been spoken by a young man; here ‘old experience doth attain to something of prophetic strain.’ Perhaps we may say as much of the ancient prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36 ff.). προφῆτις implies the Spirit, yet apart from this one occasion, at the presentation of the Child Jesus in the temple, when she gave thanks to God—no doubt in such an outburst of inspired feeling as is seen in the Nunc dimittis—we have no means of knowing how the Spirit expressed itself through her. For this sudden and eager outburst of thanksgiving (so much is implied in αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ ἑπιστᾶσα ἀνθωμολογεῖτο τῳ θεῷ) we may perhaps compare St. Luke’s account of the first Spirit-given utterances at Pentecost: ‘We do hear them speak in our tongues the mighty works of God’ (Acts 2:11).

10. In the Synoptic Gospels, what is said of the Spirit no doubt bears the impress, here and there, of experiences which were familiar to the writers under that name, but these experiences do not come independently into view. It is otherwise when we pass beyond the Synoptics. Writers like St. Luke in Acts, and St. Paul in many of his Epistles, deal directly and formally with this subject. In the Gospel of John there is reached even a stage of conscious reflexion upon it which may almost be called a doctrine of the Spirit. And everywhere in the NT there are casual lights thrown upon it in which we can see its place in Christian thought and life. It is not intended here to follow out these in detail, but to indicate in outline the main features of the post-Pentecostal experience and conception of the Spirit, keeping especially in view their relation to Christ and the Gospels.

11. Although there might be reasons for beginning with St. Paul, it is more convenient to follow up Lk.’s Gospel by Acts. The first reference of this book to the Spirit is one of the most singular: Jesus is spoken of as having ‘given commandment through the Holy Spirit unto the apostles whom he had chosen’ (Acts 1:2). Though Jesus in the Gospel speaks and acts from beginning to end as one anointed with Holy Spirit and power, there is no parallel to this expression. It seems to suggest that with the Resurrection the dispensation of the Holy Spirit began, and that the disciples were conscious, as they listened to the new and final charge of their Lord, that they were in contact, as they had never been before, with the powers of the world to come (Hebrews 6:5), the Divine inspiration of the Messianic age. This power with which the Risen Saviour is invested He bids the disciples themselves expect within a few days (Acts 1:5). It is the promise of the Father: ‘Ye shall receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and ye shall be my witnesses’ (Acts 1:8). This promise was made good at Pentecost, when ‘all were filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance’ (Acts 2:4). The representation of the tongues in Acts 2 as foreign languages has to be controlled by St. Paul’s description in 1 Corinthians 14. The miracle of Pentecost is not that the disciples spoke in foreign languages, which, in spite of the narrator, is meaningless and incredible, but that they spoke at all, that they spoke with tongues of fire, and that their speech was a testimony to Jesus, delivered with overwhelming Divine power. The whole Pentecostal phenomenon, including the emotional disturbance which suggested drunkenness (Acts 2:13), and expressed itself in joyful if inarticulate thanksgivings (Acts 2:11, cf. 1 Corinthians 14:16), has the character of a testimony to Jesus. The central thought of the whole is that of Acts 2:33 ‘Having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath poured forth this which ye both see and hear.’ Pentecost, or the gift and possession of the Spirit, is the proof to the world of the exaltation of Jesus. It is His Divine power which is behind this incalculable elevation and reinforcement of the natural life. This is the NT point of view throughout. There is such a thing as a spirit which is not of God, but the Spirit which Christians have and of which they speak is never anything else than the Spirit of Jesus. It is never an undefined impulse or stimulus—a vague excitement originating anyhow and tending anywhither: it is always referred specifically to Jesus, and it is fundamentally a token that He i


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Holy Spirit (2)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/h/holy-spirit-2.html. 1906-1918.

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