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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Holy Spirit

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The community brought together by the disciples of Jesus was sustained by the conviction that it possessed the Spirit of God, and in that possession it saw the peculiar feature which distinguished its members alike from the Greeks and from the Jews. This is a fact of fundamental importance for the entire subsequent history of Christianity.

I. The Presuppositions of the conviction

1. The Jewish doctrine of Scripture as the sole medium of the Spirit.-The term ‘Holy Spirit,’ רוּחַ הַקֹּרָשׁ, was coined by the theology of the Palestinian Synagogue. The adjunct ‘holy’ was rendered necessary the fact that the word ‘spirit’ was also applied to the force from which emanated man’s inward life generally. The addition of the adjective ‘holy’ signifies that the spirit so distinguished belongs to God. The phrase derives its content from what the prophets say regarding the nature of their prophetic experience, which they ascribe to their being moved by the Spirit of God. Hence the tradition of the Synagogue associates the conception with the writings by which the message of the prophet is mediated to the community. By the time the Church of the Now Testament took its rise, the doctrine of Inspiration was already formulated as a dogma, and dominated the whole religions life of Judaism. The expression ‘Holy Spirit,’ in its connexion with the written word, was at once taken over by Christianity (Mark 12:36, Matthew 22:43, Acts 1:16; Acts 28:25, Hebrews 3:7; Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 10:15, 1 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21). The absolute bondage of the Synagogue to the Scriptures had the result that the Holy Spirit was assigned only to the prophets of past times, and not to persons then living. As the community now possessed no prophets, but was wholly dependent upon Scripture, its tradition included the principle that ‘the Holy Spirit had been taken away from it.’ But as the communion of God with His people had not been broken off, that principle did not exclude the possibility that the Holy Spirit might be bestowed upon individuals (cf. Luke 2:25)-at times, namely, when the gift of prophecy was vouchsafed to them-or that the conduct of the people as a whole might be directed by the Holy Spirit (cf. the saying of Hillel, Tôsephtâ Pěsâḥîm, iv. 2). The actual scope of this idea, however, was circumscribed by the fact that the nation’s portion in God was based upon the Law. It was therefore necessary that the individual should learn God’s will from Scripture, and practise obedience thereto by his own effort. This excludes the idea of a Divine work manifesting itself in the inner life of man. Hence even the teachers of the Law abstained from tracing their learning to the action of the Spirit, and based their authority upon the experience which they had derived from their knowledge of the Law and tradition. When Scripture proved inadequate to the clear ascertainment of the Divine will, recourse was had to signs, and especially to voices coming from above. Those facts show clearly how far the primitive Church’s belief that it was guided by the Spirit of God transceaded the prevailing religious ideas of contemporary Judaism.

2. The Messiah as the new vehicle of the Spirit.-The second presupposition of the Christian conviction regarding the Spirit lay in the fact that, in accordance with the promises, the Messiah was expected to be the vehicle of the Spirit. Since it was His function to bring perfection to His people, the gift that distinguished the earlier servants of God was His in a superlative degree. Accordingly He has the Spirit ‘not by measure’ (John 3:34), By the Spirit He is one with God, and is able to work the work of God in men. This principle is common to the Messianic hope, the preaching of John the Baptist, the witness of Jesus to Himself, and the message of His disciples in all its various forms. The conviction was intensified by the culminating events of the life of Jesus, since, as the Risen One, He reveals in Himself the work of the Spirit; the Spirit giveth life. Then, as He still maintains in His state of exaltation His intercourse with His disciples, and does this in such a way that, like God, He is present with them and reigns over thorn, the Spirit becomes the medium by which He consummates His work. Thus the avowal of the Messiahship of Jesus involved the doctrine that the Spirit of God is effectively operative in man. The man whom Christ rules is guided by the Spirit, and he who is united with Christ partakes of the Spirit.

3. The prophetic idea that the Spirit would be given to all.-The conception of the perfected community connoted also the idea-derived from prophecy-that in it the Spirit would be vouchsafed to all. This idea likewise was ratified by the life of Jesus, inasmuch as He placed His relation to His disciples wholly under the law of love. Between Himself and them He established a perfect communion, and thus all that belonged to Him passed over to them. His filial relation to God made them children of God; His Word, with full authority to do wonders, was imparted to them too; His passion called them to suffering and death; His risen life and His coming dominion invested them also with glory. The perfect character of the fellowship which Jesus instituted between Himself and His disciples involved the conviction that they likewise should receive the Spirit of God, even as it had been imparted to Him. Thus the events of Easter by which that fellowship was consummated after His death were directly linked with the velief that now the disciples also had become possessed of the Spirit; the breath of the Risen Lord imparts the Spirit to them (John 20:22).

II. The coming of the Spirit to the disciples of Jesus

1. A fact of historical experience.-In the primitive community’s recollections of its beginnings it stands out as a significant fact that the descent of the Spirit is regarded as a particular experience, taking place on a particular day, and associated with the founding of the Church (Acts 2). The doctrine of the Spirit thus becomes more than a theological inference from the character of God or of Christ, and does not remain a mere hope derived from the utterances of Scripture or of Jesus; on the contrary, it expresses, for the religious consciousness of the primitive Church, something that it had actually experienced, and it possesses the certitude of historical fact. The type of tradition given in Acts 2 appears also in St. Paul, in the fact, namely, that he regards the sending of the Spirit, no less than that of the Son, as a work of God-as the work, indeed, by which the Advent of the Son was fully realized (Galatians 4:4-6). The same idea appears in St. John, who speaks of the descent of the Spirit as the act of the Exalted Christ (John 7:39; John 14:16; John 14:26; John 16:13). This interpretation of religious history was fraught with most important consequences, inasmuch as it dissociated the conception of the Spirit from the subjective religious states of the individual Believers were now convinced that their possession of the Spirit was not dependent upon their purely personal experience. The message of the Spirit’s presence came to all men as a historical fact no less secure than the message of the Advent of Christ Himself. It is true, of course, that the individual could recognize the effects of the Spirit’s, presence in his personal experience, and ho might accordingly be asked whether be bad on his part received the Spirit (Acts 19:2; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16), but his certainty in the matter did not rest wholly upon, his inward condition. Hence the assertion of the Spirit’s operation still remained unshaken oven when an individual or a community proved unsteadfast; the belief that they were partakers of the Spirit was safeguarded against every doubt (cf. Galatians 3:2; Galatians 5:16, 1 Corinthians 3:16 with 1 Corinthians 3:3, 1 Corinthians 6:19). That belief flowed directly from the Christology of the primitive Church, and could become liable to doubt only by the dissolution of the union between the community and Christ.

2. Connexion with the inauguration of apostolic work.-It was, again, a matter of the utmost importance for the religious experience of the primitive community that it associated the coming of the Spirit with the beginnings of apostolic labour. The day of Pentecost was not, indeed, included in the Easter period, though with the glorified life of Jesus was associated the conviction that the Spirit had now laid hold of the disciples too. But the occurrences which manifested to the disciples the descent of the Spirit were distinguished from the events of Easter: the latter perfected the fellowship of Jesus with His disciples, while the former inaugurated their apostolic work and laid the foundation of the Church. In the NT doctrine of the Spirit this continues to manifest itself in the fact that the Spirit is always associated with the task imposed upon the Church. The Spirit equips the Church to witness for Jesus, and endows it with power for its Divinely-given work. The conception of the Spirit is not associated with the personal blessings which the individual craves for, as, e.g., with his progress in knowledge, his felicity, or his moral growth and perfection; what was expected from the Spirit was rather the equipment for the effective work necessary to the preaching of Christ and the institution of the Church Hence the apostles were regarded as in a supreme degree the mediators of the Spirit (cf. Acts 8:15 f., Acts 19:6, 1 Corinthians 12:28, 2 Corinthians 3:6), this pre-eminence extending also to such as were actively engaged in the evangelization of the nations (1 Peter 1:12, 2 Timothy 2:6 f., 1 Timothy 4:14). In sending forth evangelists and in defining their spheres of labour (Acts 13:2; Acts 16:6 f.), in the judicial procedure by which, they withstood sin (Acts 5:3, John 20:22 f.), in prescribing the moral regulations which were to prevail in the community (Acts 15:28), their action was at once appropriate and effective in virtue of the Spirit’s guidance. But this did not involve any opposition between them and the community at large, as the latter was called to full and complete fellowship with them as partakers of the Divine grace. Thus the possession of the Spirit was not the exclusive privilege of an official class, but was granted to the entire community entrusted with the service of God, and baptism is accordingly offered to all in view of the promise of the Spirit (Acts 2:38; Acts 19:2 f., 1 Corinthians 6:11).

3. The Spirit sent by Christ.-The community believed that the sender of the Spirit was Christ (Acts 2:33). Accordingly it sought to prove the Messiahship of Jesus by the fact that the Spirit was revealed in the community (Acts 5:32; of. article Paraclete). This made it impossible to separate the doctrine of the Spirit from the doctrine of Christ, or to regard the former as superseding or transcending the latter. On the contrary, the statements which set forth the operations of the Spirit serve in reality to enunciate the presence and work of Christ. The Spirit who animates the community is the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9, 2 Corinthians 3:17, Acts 16:7). This inseparable union between Christ and the Spirit, making it impossible for anyone to receive the Spirit except in personal connexion with Christ, is clearly formulated by St. Paul in the words: ‘the Lord is the Spirit’ (2 Corinthians 3:17). This point of view bad two closely inter-related consequences: first, that primitive Christian faith continued to base itself upon the earthly life of Jesus; and, secondly, that it did not consist merely of recollections of that life, but developed into fellowship with the Exalted Christ. Had the Spirit occupied a position independent of Christ, the primitive faith would inevitably have acquired that mystical tendency which finds the evidences of Divine grace exclusively in the inner life of man. But, as it is the Spirit’s function to lead men to Christ, the message which makes known Christ’s life and death is the foundation-stone of the community. Thus the conviction that one was living in the Spirit involved no disdain of the body, no opposition to nature and history; on the contrary, the sure token of the Spirit’s influence was not the belief which separated Christ, as the mere semblance of a heavenly being, from nature and history, but the confession that He had truly come in the flesh (1 John 4:2 f., 2 John 1:7). Nor, again, did the believer’s relation to Christ consist merely in his knowledge of the Saviour’s earthly career; and, in point of fact, that consciousness of unlimited fellowship with Christ which forms one of the essential characteristics of the NT Epistles is based upon the belief that the earthly work of Jesus is still carried on in the operations mediated by the Spirit.

4. The Spirit Imparted to the community by God.-The doctrine that the Spirit reveals Christ implies another, viz. that it is God who imparts the Spirit to the community, and that He Himself dwells with it in the Spirit. That theological type of Christology according to which Christ is the Son who is one with God in the sense that God works through Him passes over into the doctrine of the Spirit. The formulae which speak of the work of Christ as a manifestation of Divine power are therefore applied also to the work of the Spirit. The Spirit is conceived, not as a substitute for the action of God, but as its medium; nor is it regarded as a power installed between God and man; its function, rather, is to bring to man the very presence of God Himself. Thus the community and its individual members are spoken of as the Temple of God-as the place in which He dwells (1 Corinthians 3:16, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 2:21, 1 Timothy 3:15, 1 Peter 2:5, 1 Corinthians 6:19). In this we can trace the root of the Trinitarian conception of God. Christ and the Spirit are regarded co-ordinately as the two agents through whom the grace of God completes its work in man, and through both the one will expressive of the Divine grace is realized. Thug the work of Christ and that of the Spirit are in complete harmony with each other and with the work of the Father. It is this formulation of the Trinitarian conception with which St. Paul introduces his enumeration of the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4-6; cf. 1 Corinthians 13:13, Ephesians 4:4-6); and it appears also in the account of what Jesus said to Nicodemus (John 3:3-21), where the sequence is the new birth duo to the Spirit, belief in the Son, and the deeds ‘wrought in God.’ Essentially the same formulation is found in the salutation of 1 Peter (1 Peter 1:2), and in a like sense we must interpret the baptismal formula in Matthew 28:19, where the one Name into which the nations are to be baptized embraces the Son and the Spirit as well as the Father, because the work of calling man to God and of bringing him within the Divine grace is effected by Christ through the medium of the Spirit.

It is supposed by many, indeed, that in Matthew 28:19 we have a formula from a later theology, dating from the post-apostolic period, and interpolated into the Gospel. We must bear in mind, however, that the teaching of Jesus certainly contained the statement that He would work through the Spirit, and that He would do so by imparting the Spirit to His people. It is inconceivable that in primitive Christian times there could have been a form of baptism in which the Spirit was not named. Moreover, even if in that age the Gosper still clung closely to the Jewish expectation of the Messiah, dissociating the working of the Spirit from the present, and assigning it wholly to the coming dispensation-the idea being that the Spirit would raise from the dead all who had been baptized into Christ-yet, even on that hypothesis, the preaching of Christ must still have embraced the promise of the Spirit.

Of a formulistic use of the Trinitarian designation of God the NT shows no trace. Thus, when the Christian community is questioned regarding the nature of its Deity, it may give a complete answer by saying that beside the one Father it sets the one Lord (1 Corinthians 8:6); and in baptism it was only necessary to invoke the name of Christ (Romans 6:3, 1 Corinthians 1:13, Galatians 3:27). But in such cases it is always implied that Jesus manifests Himself to men as Lord by acting upon them through, the Spirit (cf. Acts 2:38; Acts 8:16; Acts 10:46; Acts 19:5;). Primitive Christianity, however, felt the overt recognition of the Spirit to be of the utmost importance, because it saw the crowning work of Divine grace, not in its general action upon human beings through the invisible government of God, or in its manifestation in the earthly work of Christ, but rather in its operations in man himself-in its quickening of his thoughts and his love, and in its enrichment of the inner life.

5. The relation of the Holy Spirit to the human spirit.-The relation of the Holy Spirit to the spirit of man is not dealt with separately in the NT. The principles which here guided the thoughts of the apostles sprang directly from the distinctive characteristics of Divine action. The intense desire to clothe the knowledge of God in clear and pregnant words never tempted them to seek to solve the mystery that veils the creative operations of God. Hence, too, they never tried to explain how the Spirit of God acts upon the human spirit, how it enters into and becomes one with it. St. John, in intentionally placing near the beginning of his Gospel Christ’s reference to birth from the Spirit as an insoluble mystery (John 3:8), is but adhering to a principle which the apostles in their teaching never departed from. But the Divine action has the further characteristic that it frames its perfect designs with absolute certainty. Hence the action of the Spirit likewise is set forth in unconditional statements. The Spirit endows man with no mere isolated gifts, but creates him anew. The Spirit gives life; by it men are born of God (John 3:5; John 7:39, 1 Corinthians 15:45, Titus 3:5). Man’s knowledge is guided by the Spirit in the way of perfect truth (1 Corinthians 2:10; 1 Corinthians 2:15, 1 John 2:27). The faith, hope, and love which the Spirit bestows are enduring gifts (1 Corinthians 13:13). As the Spirit makes the human will perfectly obedient to the Divine will, the entire demand Which is set before believers may be summed up in the precept, ‘Walk by the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:16). Thus the operation of the Spirit is not restricted to any particular function, as, e.g., the increase of knowledge, or the arousing of joy, or the strengthening of the will. On the contrary, the Spirit lays hold upon human life in its entire range, and brings it as a whole into conformity with the ideal: it gives man power and knowledge, the word and the work, faith and love, the ability to heal the sick, to raise the fallen, to institute and regulate fellowship. It is in virtue of the efflux of the Divine action out of the Divine grace that the work of the Spirit reveals itself in the endowment which raises man to his true life and true autonomy. Thus the thought of the Spirit is associated with the idea of freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17, Romans 8:2, Galatians 5:18), inasmuch as man receives from the Spirit a power and a law that are really his own. It is this that distinguishes the operations of the Spirit from morbid processes, which impede the proper functions of the soul. The mental disturbances and the suspension of rational utterance which may be conjoined with experiences wrought by the Spirit are not regarded as the crowning manifestation of the Spirit. Its supreme work consists not in rendering the human understanding unfruitful, but in endowing it with Divine truth, and permeating the human will with Divine love (1 Corinthians 14:14 f., Romans 12:2; Romans 5:5).

Hence the apostolic doctrine of the Spirit involved no violation of human reason, as would have been the case had it absolved the intellectual processes from the laws of thought; nor did it assign a mechanical character to the will, as it would have done if the prompting of the Spirit had superseded personal decision. The Spirit gives man the power of choice, makes his volition elective, and induces him to bring his will into subjection to the Divine Law. The thought of the Spirit does not do away with the sense of responsibility, but rather intensifies it, and the Law now lays upon the soul a sterner obligation. As ‘the conscience bears witness in the Holy Spirit’ (Romans 9:1), its authority is inviolable. Those who live in the Spirit are therefore required to walk after in Spirit by submitting to its guidance (Romans 8:4; Romans 13, Galatians 5:25). Nor does the Spirit lift one above the possibility of falling away. If man receives the gifts of the Spirit in vain, refusing its guidance, and in selfish desire applying these gifts to his own advantage, his sin is all the greater (Ephesians 4:30, Hebrews 6:4-6). To this line of thought attaches itself quite consistently the fact that the community suffers no loss of liberty through the doings of those who speak and act in the Spirit. The Spirit gives no man the right to assume despotic power in the community. Hence the injunction not to quench the Spirit is conjoined with the counsel to test all the utterances that flow from the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22, 1 Corinthians 14:29-31, 1 John 4:1).

As the government of God, the Creator, embraces both the external and the internal, the operation of the Spirit finally extends also to the body. From the Spirit man receives the new, incorruptible, and immortal body (Romans 8:11, 1 Corinthians 15:44-46). This manifestation, however, does not take place in the present age, but is connected with the revelation of Christ yet to come. As regards the present, the experience of the Spirit generates the conviction that the goal has not yet been reached, and that the perfect is not yet come, for meanwhile the Spirit makes manifest the Divine grace only in the inner life of man. It is true that in the propositions setting forth the action of the Spirit, the Divine grace finds supreme expression. In them the consciousness of being reconciled to God is clearly set forth. Man’s antagonism to God is at an end, and his separation from Him has been overcome. Fellowship with God has been implanted in the inner life, and this determines man’s whole earthly career and his final destiny. At the same time, however, the doctrine of the Spirit lays the foundation of hope, and sets the existing Church in the great forward movement that presses towards the final consummation. For it is but in the inner man, and not in the body, or in that side of our being which nature furnishes, that our participation in the Divine grace is realized. Hence the Spirit is called the first-fruits, and the earnest that guarantees the coming gift of God (Romans 8:23, 2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5). Thus from the apostolic experience of the Spirit, side by side with faith there arises hope; and, as both have the same source, they reinforce each other.

Here again, therefore, there was a profound cleavage between the Christian doctrine of the Spirit and the pre-Christian ideas regarding it. The former dissociated itself not only from the mantic phenomena that occupy a prominent place in polytheistic cults, but also from the ideas with which the Jewish Rabbis explained the operations of the Spirit in the prophetic inspiration of Scripture. The intervention of the Spirit had been universally represented as the suppression of human personality. This view was founded upon the assumption that a revelation of God could be given only in the annulment of the human, that the voice of God became audible only when man was dumb or asleep, and that the operations of God were visible only when man was deprived of volition by an overpowering impulse. Such notions are far remote from the propositions expressive of the Spirit’s work among Christians, although they may to some extent survive in the early Christian view of the OT Scriptures, and the exegetical tradition with which these were read. The profound revolution of thought seen here was not the result of any merely psychological change, or of fresh theories regarding the nature and action of the human or the Divine Spirit, but was due to the transformation wrought in the conception of God by the earthly career of Jesus. The faith that found its object in Jesus penetrated all the ideas by which the Christian community interpreted the government of God, and subordinated them to its recollections of Jesus. The figure of Jesus became the pattern to which all its thoughts about the Holy Spirit were conformed. The disciples had seen in Him a human life marked by a clear certainty, a solemn vocation, and a power of freedom, which were quite individual and personal. Yet that life was wholly given to the service of God, at once revealing His character and fulfilling His will, because the will of God manifested itself in the life of Jesus as grace. This fact did away with the idea that the Spirit of God operates in man only as a force that lays hold of and overpowers him-a view which could seem the sole possible one only so long as the unreconciled mind regarded God as an enemy to be feared. Similarly, there was now no place for the thought that the Spirit of God acted only upon the human understanding, simply endowing the mind with ideas. This view, again, rested upon the belief that the will of man as such was evil, and incapable of being used in the service of God. But Jesus had implanted faith and love in the hearts of His disciples, and their sense of being reconciled to God transformed their thoughts about the Holy Spirit. No longer did they think of the Spirit as annulling the human functions of life, for they now realized that the Holy Spirit made it possible for man to live, not from and for himself, but from and for God.

6. The Spirit given in a special measure to some.-With the belief that the Spirit lays hold of all who accept Jesus was connected the fact that some were regarded as in a special sense ‘spiritual’ (πνευματικοί). That the Divine love mode all men equal was an ideal quite alien to the Apostolic Church. It was expected that the Spirit would establish the fellowship of believers in such a way that each member should retain his own individual type. The fact that the same Spirit operated in all guaranteed the unity of the Christian body. That unity, however, did not degenerate into uniformity, for, since the Spirit works in all as a life-giving power, the community combined in itself an infinite profusion of national, social, and individual diversities. From the one Spirit, accordingly, proceeds the ‘one body’ (1 Corinthians 12:12 f., Romans 12:5, Ephesians 4:4), and this implies that the many who compose the community have not all the same power and function, but differ from one another in their gifts and vocations. Hence, besides the continuous activities which constitute the stable condition of the Christian life-besides faith, love, repentance, knowledge, etc.-there are special and outstanding occasions on which the individual or even an assembly is ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 4:8-31; Acts 13:9). Similarly, certain individuals stand forth from the mass as in a peculiar sense the vehicles of the Spirit, and as making its presence and operations known to the community.

To the link with Israel and the acknowledged validity of the OT was due the fact that the highest position among the πνευματικοί was assigned to the prophet. The paramount gift for which the community besought God was the Word, and the prophet was one in whom the Word asserted itself in such manner as to be clearly distinguishable from his own thoughts, and to give him the conviction that he spoke as one charged with a Divine commission. We have here the remarkable fact that prophecy once more arose with extraordinary power in connexion with the founding of the Church. It burst forth in Jerusalem-in Barnabas, Agabus, Judas Barsabbas, Silas, the daughters of Philip-and this fact shows conclusively that the pneumatic character of the Church was not a result of the Apostle Paul’s work, but was inherent in itself from the first. In the Gentile communities too, however, prophecy manifested itself immediately upon their foundation; thus we find it in Antioch (Acts 13:1), probably also in Lystra (1 Timothy 1:18), in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 5:19 f., 2 Thessalonians 2:2), in Corinth (1 Corinthians 14), in Rome (Romans 12:6), in the Churches of Asia (Acts 20:23); women likewise had the prophetic gift (1 Corinthians 11:5). As the prophet did not receive the word for himself alone, but was required to make the Divine will known to all, or to certain individuals (1 Corinthians 14:24 f.), he came to occupy a position in the community that had the dignity of an office. To his utterances was ascribed the authority of a Divine commandment binding upon all. Still, the term ‘office’ can be applied to the position of the prophet only under one essential restriction, viz. that his function stood apart from anything in the nature of judicial administration, being based upon an inner experience which was independent alike of his own will and the decrees of the community. Thus, besides the vocations of the prophets and the πνευματικοί, certain special offices-the episcopate and the diaconate-were created for the discharge of functions necessary to the life of the community-offices which did not demand any peculiar charismatic gift, but only an efficient Christian life (1 Timothy 3). From this development of ecclesiastical order, however, it must not be inferred that there was any secret antagonism to the prophets, or any lack of confidence in the leading of the Spirit. On the contrary, the procedure of the apostles and the communities in instituting these offices simply gave expression to the feeling that special provision must be made for the activities which are indispensable to spiritual fellowship. With that procedure was conjoined gratitude for the prophetic gift which on special occasions helped the community to form decisions without misgiving. The Apostle Paul assisted his communities alike in securing prophetic instruction and in instituting offices (Romans 16:1, Philippians 1:1).

Correlative with the word which came from God and was audible in the community was the worship offered by the community; and here, again, besides the thanksgiving that united all before God, there was a special form of prayer, which flowed from a particular operation of the Spirit and was given only to some. This was that form of religious worship for which the community framed the expression ‘speaking with a tongue.’ It took its rise in Palestine (Acts 2:4; Acts 10:46), and manifested itself also in the Gentile communities, as in Corinth and Ephesus (1 Corinthians 14, Acts 19:6). This kind of prayer was specially valued because it directed the speaker’s mind towards God with powerful emotion (1 Corinthians 14:2; 1 Corinthians 14:28), and because its singular mode of utterance broke through the ordinary forms of speech. As on high the angels praise God with angelic tongues, so the earthly Church worships Him not only with human tongues, but with new tongues-the tongues of angels (1 Corinthians 13:1). With this was associated the further idea that the utterance given by the Spirit united mankind in the worship of God, those who were meanwhile kept apart by the diversity of tongues being made one in faith and prayer (Acts 2).

As belief in the Spirit involves the idea that it manifests the power of God, a place beside the prophet and the ‘speaker with a tongue’ was assigned also to the worker of miracles. The special manifestations of the Spirit include that singular intensification of trust in God which brings help to those in special distress, and, in particular, to the sick and those possessed with demons (1 Corinthians 12:9 f.). The belief of the community regarding this aspect of the Spirit’s work was moulded by its memories of the life of Jesus, and in part also by its ideas regarding the OT prophets. The ‘sign’ was an essential element in the equipment of the prophet. This appears from the fact that in the miraculous narratives of the NT miracles are not represented as every-day events that may occur in the experience of all believers, but are valued as a peculiar provision for the work of those who bear a special commission. The Gospels, the Book of Acts, and the utterances of St. Paul regarding his ‘signs’ (2 Corinthians 12:12), all show distinctly that miracles were intimately related to the apostolic function.

Further, the πνευματικοί as a special class bring out the difference between the religious life of the Christian Church and that of the Synagogue. The prophet was then unknown in the latter, and the Divine word came to it exclusively through the Scriptures. Now, however, the prophetic word taken over from Israel was supplemented in the Church by an operative utterance of God. And just as the Rabbis did not arrogate to themselves the inspiration of prophecy, so they disclaimed the power of working miracles. They did, however, always recognize a supernatural factor in the ordering of human affairs, and in prayer, in dreams, in times of distress, the thoughts of the devout often dwelt upon the Divine omnipotence. On the other hand, the need of ascertaining the Divine will from signs, of interpreting dreams, of listening for Divine utterances, of inferring from one’s feelings in prayer that the prayer was heard, of deducing the eternal destiny of the dying from their last words-of all this the NT knows nothing, and that not in spite of, but precisely in virtue of, its doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Inasmuch as the Spirit brings men into conscious union with God, there is no further need for signs-such need having a place in religion only so long as men bow before an unknown God and an inscrutable will. The certitude of the NT worker of miracles who felt that he had a right to invoice the aid of Omnipotence forms the counterpart to the certitude of the prophet who was convinced that lie spoke under a Divine compulsion, and it sprang from a conviction that held good for all, viz. that God had revealed Himself in Christ in such a way that the personal life of the believer was rooted in His perfect grace.

III. Different types of the doctrine of the Spirit in the NT period

1. The Pauline.-The considerations by which St. Paul was led towards his new and distinctive theology prompted him also to frame a doctrine of the Spirit.

(a) The Spirit and the Law.-For St. Paul the religious problem had assumed the form: Either the Law or Christ; and he effected his union with Jesus by a resolute turning away from the Law. A religious life based upon the Law forms a clear antithesis to life in the Spirit, for a law externally enjoined upon man-the transgression of which was guilt, and obedience to which was desert-excludes the idea that God Himself acts upon man inwardly. The Law, in short, sets man at a distance from God, making him the creator of his own volition and the originator of his own sin and righteousness. In this fact the Apostle, as a Christian, saw the plight of the Jews, and of mankind in general; for righteousness can he won, not by any performance of the Law, but only by a manifestation of the righteousness of God. Thus from man’s own spiritual state arises the problem of how he is to be brought into that relationship with God which is grounded in God’s own work and the gift of His grace. The gift of His grace cannot consist merely in a change of man’s external condition, as if he had only to look forward to a transformation of nature and a re-organization of the world. To seek for help in that direction would be to deny the Law, the holiness of which consists precisely in this, that it makes obedience to God the condition of His fellowship with man. Hence the grace of God must move man from within, and must so act upon him as to make him obedient to God. That operation of God in man in virtue of which man surrenders himself to God the Apostle finds in the work of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-4, Galatians 5:22 f.). Subjection to the Law is thus superseded by subjection to the Spirit (Romans 7:6), and legal worship gives place to worship offered through the Spirit (Philippians 3:3). Christians are thus absolved from the Law in such a way that the Law is really fulfilled.

(b) The Spirit and the Scriptures.-The obedience rendered by the Jews was based upon their belief that the Divine will had been revealed to them in the Scriptures. The knowledge of God was therefore to be obtained by study of the holy writings delivered to them. The Law produced the scribe, the theological investigator (1 Corinthians 1:20). As a Christian, St. Paul, however, rejected this method of seeking the knowledge of God as decisively as he rejected the meritorious character of Pharisaic works. How is man to become possessed of the knowledge of God? He knows God only when he is known by Him. But how is he to acquire a knowledge of Cod that does not come to him through Scripture or tradition, but is given by the Divine leading of his inner life? The knowledge of God is shed forth in man by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:11, 2 Corinthians 2:14; cf. 2 Corinthians 3:3). Here we have the root of that vital contrast between the letter and the spirit which forms one of the distinctive features of the Pauline theology (Romans 7:6, 2 Corinthians 3:6).

(c) The Spirit and the flesh.-St. Paul uses the term ‘flesh’ to denote man’s incapacity to bring his desires into conformity with the Divine Law. The Apostle thereby gives expression to the idea that the inner life of man is dependent upon bodily processes. In deriving the evil State of man from that dependence he was not simply thinking of the impulses which are directly subservient to the needs of the body, but he also recognized in the dimness of man’s consciousness of God and the meagreness of his religious experience that despotism of the flesh to which our whole inner life lies in subjection. From ancient times ‘flesh’ had been used as the correlative of ‘spirit.’ How is man to rise above himself, and be delivered from the thraldom of sensuous impressions and bodily appetites? The power that sets men free from selfish desire-natural though such desire may be-and turns him towards the Divine purposes, is the Spirit (Romans 8:5-8).

(d) The Spirit and the work of Christ.-St. Paul recognized in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus the factor which determined the relation of all men to Jesus Himself. That the Messiah had been crucified and raised again from the dead was, in the Apostle’s view, the good tidings of God. What St. Paul saw here was riot Law, which dooms man to death, but Love, which dies for man; nor was it the separation of the guilty from God, but rather the proffer of such fellowship with Him as takes sin away by forgiveness; it was not the preservation of the flesh, but the complete surrender of it-the judgment of the Divine Law upon the flesh, and the beginning of a new life, a life no longer subject to natural conditions, but one that makes manifest the glory of God. By what means, then, can Christ carry on in man the experience which He had consummated in His own person, and so effect the due issue of His Death and Resurrection? For St. Paul the only answer that could be given to that question was that Christ reveals Himself through the Spirit. Love asks for the fellowship that rests upon an inward foundation, and draws men to Christ not by force but through their own volition. Thus love rises supreme above the interests of the flesh, and is directed to an end that wholly transcends nature. Man now becomes a mirror of Christ’s glory (2 Corinthians 3:18), and his end is to know Christ as the power which raises him from the dead (Philippians 3:10 f.).

(e) The Spirit and faith.-Once St. Paul had come to recognize a revelation of God in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, it was for him a fact beyond dispute that man’s participation in the Divine grace rests upon faith. Man’s need of the Divine forgiveness, as well as his actual experience of it, finds its consummation in the fact that he gives his trust to God, and possesses righteousness in faith alone. This attitude implies, however, that he is now delivered from self-centred desire, and has renounced all the cravings of the flesh. But the act of thus committing oneself wholly to the Divine grace is the work of the Spirit. Only in virtue of that work can our faith become our righteousness. The very fact that faith has a source lying above human nature makes it possible for faith to influence our thoughts and desires, so that we can now act by faith, as those who no longer commit sin, but do the will of God.

(f) The Spirit and the Church.-St. Paul, in regarding the Church as the fellowship of faith, thereby made the Church free-the sanctuary of the perfect sincerity which safeguards each from undue accommodation to others, and the home of that perfect love which actuates each to labour with all his capacity on behalf of the common fellowship. St. Paul’s confident belief that the communities maintain their unity, even though that community is not protected by external force or strengthened by an outward bond, could have its source only in his conviction that the unity of the Church was rooted in the Spirit. Because he believed in the one Spirit he believed in the one body.

Thus all the lines which exhibit the characteristic tendencies of the Apostle’s thought converge in his doctrine of the Spirit. As St. Paul aspired to a righteousness apart from the Law, and to a knowledge of God apart from the wisdom of the world; as he sought to secure the victory over evil by emancipation from the flesh; as he drew from the Cross the conviction that Jesus binds men to Himself in a perfect union, and as he thus came to have faith, and found fellowship with all through faith, he could not make his gospel complete without the doctrine that the Spirit of God dwells in man. Apart From that principle, his doctrine of sin becomes a torment, his opposition to the Law would be antinomianism, his union with the Crucified an illusion, his idea of the righteousness of faith a danger to morality, and his doctrine of the Church a fanaticism. For the vindication of his gospel it was therefore necessary that his Churches should exhibit the workings of the Spirit; only in that way could they become the Epistles of Christ and set their seal upon the Apostle’s commission (2 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 11:4, Galatians 3:2).

The structure of St. Paul’s theology renders it unlikely that his doctrine of the Spirit was materially affected by his intercourse with philosophically-minded Greeks. Nowhere in St. Paul do we find concrete parallels either to the Platonic repudiation of sense in favour of reason, or to the Cynic protest against culture, or to the mystical teachings which implied that the soul is an alien sojourner in the body. It is certainly possible, perhaps even probable, that the forceful way in which he made use of the antithesis between flesh and spirit as a means of evoking faith and repentance was in some manner related to the dualistic ideas which prevailed in Greek metaphysics and ethics. But his conscious and successful rejection of all the Hellenistic forms of doctrine in that field is clearly seen in the remarkable fact that there is not a single passage in his letters which would go to prove that the antithesis between the materiality of nature and the immateriality of God, between the concrete image of sense and the pure idea, had any meaning for him at all.

2. The primitive type of the doctrine and its relation to the Pauline type.-It would be altogether erroneous to think that the conviction of the Spirit’s indwelling in believers was first introduced into the Church by St. Paul. Every single document of primitive Christianity implies that the possession of the Spirit is the distinctive feature of the Christian society. When Christians spoke of themselves as ‘saints,’ and thus indicated the difference between them and the Jews, they had in mind not the measure of their moral achievements, but the fact that they were united to God through their knowledge of Christ. Their union with God, however, was rendered effective and manifest precisely in virtue of the Spirit’s work in their lives. But while St. Paul relates every phase of the Christian life to the Spirit, so that believers may learn to think of their entire Christian experience as life in the Spirit, and so that the Church may recognize the working of the Spirit in all that it does, the leaders of the Church in Jerusalem keep the thought of the Spirit apart from their own self-consciousness. It is certainly the case that here the Church’s relation to God is conceived as determined by the new covenant which the coming of the Spirit has brought to all. The individual believer, however, was not encouraged to find the basis of that belief in the work of the Spirit which he could trace in his own experience; on the contrary, each found the adequate ground of his conviction in that manifestation of the Spirit which is apparent to all. In the eyes of the Church the apostles are those who teach in the Spirit, perform miracles in the Spirit, and administer judgment in the Spirit, and beside them stand prophets who make manifest to all the reality of the new Divine covenant. The conception of the Spirit, however, was not thereby rendered particularistic, nor was its action regarded as restricted to the special class of the πνευματικοί. It was, in fact, impossible for those who confessed Christ, the Perfecter of the community, to divide the community into two groups-those who know God and those who know Him not, or those who obey Him and those who resist Him. Only in the indwelling of the Spirit as shared by all was it made certain that the members of the Church were members of the Kingdom of God. When all is said, however, the consciousness of believers in which they know that they are under the influence of Divine grace is much more vigorously developed in the Epistles of St. Paul than in the documents bearing the Palestinian stamp, viz. the writings of James, Matthew, Peter, and John.

(a) The Epistle of James.-St. James assures those who draw near to God with sincere repentance that God will draw near to them (James 4:8). But he does not describe how the presence of God becomes an experience in the penitent. The wisdom that produces pride he reproves as sensual (ψυχική [James 3:15]); the true wisdom, on the contrary, is spiritual; but he is content to say of it simply that it comes from above. To one who is in perplexity as to his course, St. James gives the promise that he shall receive wisdom in answer to prayer (James 1:5). Here too, therefore, a work of God is said to take place in the inner life-a Divine operation regulating the thoughts and desires of man. That directing power of God acting from within is just what St. Paul calls Spirit, but this term is not used here. Again, man is born of God, through the word of truth (James 1:18), and the doer of the Law is brought into the state of liberty (James 1:25). Both of these assertions approximate to what is expressed elsewhere in Scripture by statements referring to the Spirit. We thus see that the exhortations of the Epistle are nowhere based upon the legalistic point of view. The injunction of Scripture or the precept of the teacher is never regarded as taking the place of one’s own ethical knowledge. Casuistry is set aside, as is also the idea of merit. The individual is called upon to submit to God in his own knowledge and love. But the writer does not deal with the manner in which this autonomous turning of the will towards God is brought about.

(b) Matthew.-An obvious parallel to this appears in St. Matthew. Here baptism into the Spirit implies that, besides the work of the Father and the Son, that of the Spirit likewise avails for all who are called to follow Jesus (Matthew 28:19). Except in this connexion, however, the Spirit is only once referred to, viz. as a special support to those who have to proclaim the message of Jesus before the secular powers (Matthew 10:20).* [Note: It is true that in Matthew 12:31 f. Christ and the Spirit are conjoined as the revealers of Divine grace, and in such a way as to imply that the offer of Divine grace is consummated through the Spirit, so that the guilt of those who speak against it is irreversible. Yet it is not distinctly said here that the Spirit will become manifest also after the earthly mission of Jesus. The primary reference of the passage is to the revelation of God which is effected by the works of Jesus.] Nevertheless, the vocation of the disciples, in all its grandeur and its solemn obligation, is realized with extraordinary vividness and most impressively depicted in the First Gospel. The disciples are the light of the world, the stewards of the treasure committed to them by Jesus, the loyal husbandmen through whose labours the vineyard yields fruit for God, the fishers of men who must cast out the net, the sowers to whose exertions the harvest is due. But the Gospel does not show how Christians are to acquire the inward provision for their task. In the conviction that they are the guardians of the commission of Jesus lies also their glad confidence that they are able to discharge it.

(c) First Epistle of Peter.-As Matthew concludes with a distinct reference to the Trinity, so the First Epistle of peter opens with one (1 Peter 1:2). The sequence of the Persons here-God the Father, the Spirit, Jesus Christ-which finds a parallel in the salutation at the beginning of Revelation (1 Peter 1:4), is probably to be explained by the fact that Jesus is quite unmistakably represented as man, even when He is associated with the Father and the Spirit. The same fact appears also in the statement that His blood and His obedience are the means by which the sanctification imparted by the Spirit is won, in accordance with the foreknowledge of God. The mention of Jesus, accordingly, follows that of the Spirit through whom the humanity of Jesus was endowed with Divine power and grace, just as believers are enabled to participate in what the Cross of Christ secures for them in virtue of the sanctification bestowed upon them by the Spirit. In 1 Pet. the Spirit is spoken of also as constituting the endowment of those who had carried the gospel to Asia Minor (1 Peter 1:12), and as thus setting them beside the prophets in whom the Spirit of Christ spoke (1 Peter 1:11). Since the new birth is effected by the Word (1 Peter 1:23), it is not surprising that the community should be called the Temple. The sacrifices which it offers bear the impress of the Spirit (1 Peter 2:5). Those who are brought before secular tribunals for Christ’s sake are assured that the Spirit of God rests upon them (1 Peter 4:14), and here the promise which Jesus gave to His disciples is extended to the Church at large. Those who after death obtain the gift of life receive it through the Spirit (1 Peter 4:6), just as Jesus Himself, after being put to death, was quickened by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18). We thus see that this hortatory Epistle proceeds upon the idea that it is the Spirit of God that secures for the Church its portion in the Divine grace. But the Epistle furnishes nothing that can compare with the great utterances of St. Paul regarding the operations of the Spirit, as e.g. in Romans 8, Galatians 5, 1 Corinthians 2:12, 2 Corinthians 3. Its exhortations appeal to the ethical knowledge and the power of volition which reside in believers themselves.

(d) The Johannine writings

(1) Revelation.-A similar representation is given in the Revelation of St. John. That Jesus governs the Christian society through the Spirit is attested here by its having received the gift of prophecy. What the Apocalypse speaks of figuratively as a writing of Jesus to the angels of the Churches it also designates literally as a speaking of the Spirit to the Churches (Revelation 2:7, etc.; cf. Revelation 19:10). When consolation is given to those who are dying in the Lord, or when the Church prays for the Coming of Jesus, it is the Spirit that speaks (Revelation 14:13, Revelation 22:17). As every prophet receives the Spirit in such wise as to possess Him individually, the Spirit is also referred to as plural: God is the Lord of the spirits of the prophets (Revelation 22:6; cf. 1 Corinthians 14:32). The relation of the Spirit to Christ is set forth in the assertion that the Lamb has seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God (1


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

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