The Holy Spirit
Most churches talk about the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost. Is it really understood by the majority? Just what is that spirit? Is it an individual entity? Or part of a trinity? Is it a ghost? Where does it come from? What does it do? What is its purpose?
Throughout this article, in writing my own words, I will be referring to the Set-apart Spirit. If the scriptures quoted seem to be worded differently than what you have, I will be using The Interlinear Bible, Jay P. Green, Sr., general editor and translator.
In the Hebrew, the word "spirit" is Strong's #7307 - ruach. It is defined as "wind; by resemblance breath; fig. life, anger, unsubstantiality; by resemblance spirit, but only of a rational being (including its expression and functions).
The New Englishman's Greek Concordance and Lexicon lists "spirit" as Strong's #4151 - pneuma. It says, "in New Testament, always spirit. (a) the vital principle by which the human body is animated; (b) Spirit (of Christ or the Holy Spirit); (c) a simple essence without a body made of matter; angels, evil spirits (fallen angels, demons), disembodied human spirits."
Mainstream Christianity teaches that the spirit is a member of a trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But is there proof in Scriptures to back this up? There is only one verse that seems to back up this doctrine.
I John 5:7
"For there are three bearing witness in heaven; the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one."
In The Interlinear Bible, that entire verse is printed in italics. English words printed in italics are there to promote understanding, but they do not appear in the original texts! In the Preface of the book, it says, "This text retains a few readings from the Latin Vulgate, two or three without Greek-manuscript authority (e.g. Acts 9:5-6), and one from the Complutensian Bible (I John 5:7). Although we do not accept these as true Scripture, we have allowed them to remain."
From Jamieson, Fausett and Brown, volume 6, page 643, regarding I John 5:7
"The only Greek manuscripts, in any form which support the words 'in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth…' are the Montfortianus of Dublin, copied evidently from the modern Latin Vulgate; the Ravianus copied from the Complutensian Polyglot; a manuscript at Naples, with the words added in the margin by a recent hand; Ottobonianus, 298, of the 15th century, the Greek of which is a mere translation of the accompanying Latin. All old versions omit the words."
From Peakes Commentary on the Bible, page 1038
"The famous interpolation after 'three witnesses' is not printed even in the RSV, and rightly. It cites the heavenly testimony of the Father, the Logos and the Holy Spirit, but it is never used in the early Trinitarian controversies. No respectable Greek manuscript contains it. Appearing first in a late 4th century Latin text, it entered the Vulgate and finally the New Testament of Erasmus."
From World Book Encyclopedia, volume 19, page 363
"Trinity - is a term used of God to express the belief that in the one God there are three divine persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost). The idea of trinity is drawn from the teaching of Christ as recorded in the New Testament. Belief in Father, Son and Holy Spirit was first defined by the earliest general council of churches. This was the First Council of Nicaea in 325. This council declared that the Spirit is of the same substance as the Father. The Eastern and Western branches of the church later disagreed as to how the Holy Spirit proceeds from the other divine Persons. The Eastern Church held that the Spirit comes from the Father and the Son comes from the Father through the Spirit. The Western Church held that the Spirit comes from the Father and Son together. Most Christians believe that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have equal power and glory. Each has His own activity. The Father creates; the Son saves souls; and the Spirit makes holy."
From Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, 1972, volume 23, page 291
"Trinity - in Christian theology, doctrine, according to the Book of Common Prayer that in 'unity of the Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost'.
"The term Trinitas was first used, in the second century, by the Christian ecclesiastical writer Tertullian, but the concept took form only in the debates on Christology. It was not until the progress of opposing parties sought, on the one hand, to degrade the divine dignity of Christ (Ebionitism in its various forms and Arianism) or, on the other hand, to confound the personality of Christ with God the Father, that the Church was led to define in the Nicaean Creed the relation of the Son to the Father and further, in the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed, the relation of the Holy Ghost to the Father."
From Sacred Origins of Profound Things, by Charles Panati, pages 304-306
"Early in the fourth century, the Trinitarian controversy heated to the high point of heresy, pitting two theologians, Athanasius and Arius, against each other and drawing concern from the Roman emperor Constantine himself who had warmed up to Christianity and would eventually convert.
"Today, Arius' name is a byword for heresy: the Arian Heresy.
"Back in 320, Arius, who knew Scripture inside and out - and was a skilled propagandist and musician - insisted that Christ, the Word, Logos could only be a creature like ourselves, created by God. When he put his ideas to music and sang songs of Christ's second-rank status to God, thousands of ordinary Christians, once content in their monotheism, became aware of the passionate debate raging among bishops.
"Christian bishops gathered at Nicaea on May 20, 325, convening the Council of Nicaea, which, after much acrimonious contention, decided upon the crucial formula for the Trinitarian doctrine, setting it forth in a credo, the Nicaean Creed. The Son, it declared, is 'of the same essence as the Father.' The creed said troublingly little about the Holy Spirit.
"In fact, the entire lengthy creed, as first written, wrestles with logic and common sense to equate Father and Son, giving nod to the Holy Spirit only in the last passing line: 'And we believe in the Holy Ghost.'
"The controversy raged on for some years. Later the Nicaean Creed was revised under the leadership of Basil, bishop of Caesarea. It was altered to end 'We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father'.
"Thus, the concept of the Trinity did not take its present form until some 400 years after Christ's death."
From Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, revised by Ivor H. Evans, page 1101
"The Trinity - the three Persons in one God - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.
"And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other; none is greater or less than another; but the whole three Persons are co-eternal together; and co-equal. The Athanasian Creed
"The term triad was first used by Theophilus of Antioch (c. 180) for this concept; the term Trinity was introduced by Tertullian about 217 in his treatise Adversus Praxean."
From Hastings Bible Dictionary, volume 12, page 458
"Although the notion of a Triad or Trinity is characteristic of the Christian religion, it is by no means particular to it. In Indian religion, e.g., we meet with the Trinitarian group of Brahma, Siva and Visnu; and the Egyptian religion with the Trinitarian group of Osiris, Isis, and Horus, constituting a divine family, like the Father, Mother and Son in medieval Christian pictures. Nor is it only in historical religions that we find God viewed as a Trinity. One recalls in particular the Neo-Platonic view of the Supreme or Ultimate Reality, which was suggested by Plato…"
So the only reference to the Trinity in Scripture consists of but one verse that was added by a scribe or copyist long after Yahshua had died, been resurrected and ascended to sit on the right hand of Yahweh. Let's look and see what Scripture really does say about the Set-apart Spirit.
We find in Scripture that the Spirit is active and works.
"And the earth being without form and empty, and darkness on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of Elohim moved gently on the face of the waters."
"The Spirit of Elohim made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life."
The Spirit is there, but the power had to come from the Almighty.
"Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of Yahweh to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit."
"And answering, the angel said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you and for this reason that holy One being born of you will be called Son of God."
It does not say here that the Son comes from the Spirit. The Most High - the Father -- is included in this as well.
"Coming against Mysia, they attempted to go along Bithynia, and the Spirit did not allow them."
"Therefore, take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit placed you as overseers, to shepherd the church of Yahweh, which He purchased through own blood."
The Spirit, with the will of Yahweh, can direct things in the lives of men.
"In power of miracles and wonders, in power of the Spirit of Yahweh, so as for me to have fulfilled the gospel of Messiah from Jerusalem and in a circle as far as Illyricum."
The Spirit is the power of Yahweh. It acts and performs works in the affairs and lives of mankind - with the permission and will of the Father.
From the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, volume 4, page 1406
"The Spirit of God, as based upon the idea of the ruah or breath of man, originally stood for the energy or power of God."
From the Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible, Herbert Lockyer, Sr., ed., page 1008
Under "Spirit", we find - "…the Holy Spirit is the power by which believers come to Christ and see with new eyes of faith.
"The Holy Spirit appears in the Gospel of John as the power by which Christians are brought to faith and helped to understand their walk with God."
The Spirit can speak, sometimes directly, but usually through other persons. He can even speak through us today!
2 Samuel 23:2
"David said, The Spirit of Yahweh has spoken by me, and His word is on my tongue."
"But when they deliver you up, do not be anxious how or what you should say, for it is given to you in that hour what you should say.
"For you are not the ones speaking, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you."
But for the Spirit to speak within you in that manner, you must be close to the Father.
"And while they were doing service to the Master, and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, So, then, separate both Barnabas and Saul to me, for the work which I have called them."
Notice they were doing service and fasting. They were not out partying and ignoring His ways. They were trying to follow and obey Him.
The Spirit on Other People
People often assume that the Spirit did not work with people until after Yahshua was resurrected and the Comforter sent. But there are numerous examples in the Old Testament. Just check in your concordance, looking under the word "spirit".
"And Pharaoh said to his servants, can we find any man like this, in whom is the Spirit of Elohim?"
"And Yahweh said to Moses, take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him."
David cried out to Yahweh, "Do not cast me from Your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me."
When Yahshua was ready to ascend to the throne of Yahweh, after His resurrection, he left instructions for the disciples.
"And having met with them, He charged them not to leave Jerusalem, but to await the promise of the Father, which you heard of Me."
For John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days after.
"And in the fulfilling of the day of Pentecost, they were all with one mind in the same place.
"And suddenly a sound came out of the heaven, as being borne along by a violent wind. And it filled all the house where they were sitting.
"And tongues as of fire appeared to them were being distributed, and it sat on each one of them.
"And they were all filled of the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave ability to them to speak."
Some organizations use this scripture for speaking in tongues. But notice how it is translated here. It is languages - not gibberish or undecipherable utterances. It is referring to well-known, understood languages. The languages that were heard were those from the countries the people came from who were gathered in Jerusalem at that time.
Regarding Stephen, it says, "But full of the Holy Spirit, looking intently into heaven, he saw the glory of Yahweh, and Yahshua standing at the right side of Yahweh."
"Then filled of the Holy Spirit Peter said to them, Rulers of the people, and elders of Israel."
"And Ananias went away and entered into the house. And putting hands on him, he said, Brother Saul, the Master Yahshua has sent me, the One who appeared to you in the highway on which you came, that you may see again, and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
Luke 2:26, speaking of Simeon
"And it happened to him, having been divinely-instructed by the Holy Spirit, he was not to see death before he would see the Messiah of Yahweh."
Spirit in Man
So how does this work? There is reference made to a spirit that is within man, besides the Set-apart Spirit. What is the difference?
"But it is a spirit in man giving them perception, even the breath of the Almighty."
"Who knows the spirit of the sons of man, whether it goes upward; and the spirit of the beast, whether it goes downward to the earth?"
"Then the dust shall return to the earth as it was and the spirit shall return to Elohim who gave it."
What is it? There is a spirit in beasts. It gives them the instincts that Yahweh created within them, instincts that we as human beings do not possess. In humans, the spirit in man gives us the reasoning abilities that we have - those that place us above the other creatures of the earth. It aids us in teaching, planning, building, feeling emotions, thinking, reasoning, etc.
When Yahweh imbues us with His Set-apart Spirit, it joins with that spirit in man, and provides the opening for us to understand spiritual things. It will teach us, help us to understand and grasp what we find in Yahweh's Word.
I Corinthians 2:10-13
"But Yahweh revealed them to us by His Spirit, for the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of Yahweh.
"For who among men knows the things of a man, except the spirit of a man within him? So also no one has known the things of Yahweh except the Spirit of Yahweh.
"But we have not received the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit from Yahweh; that we may know the things freely given to us by Yahweh.
"Which things we also speak, not in words taught in human wisdom, but in words taught of the Holy Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things."
Before His death, Yahshua talked to His disciples. He explained He would no longer be with them, but that they would not be alone.
John 14:16-17, 26
"And I will petition the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, that He may remain with you forever.
"The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see Him nor know Him. But you know Him, for He abides with you, and shall be in you."
"But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and shall remind you of all things that I said to you."
The word here "Comforter" is Strong's #3875 - parakletos. It means an intercessor, consoler or advocate.
It was prophesied that Yahshua would have the Spirit.
"So that might be fulfilled that spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying.
"Behold My child whom I chose, My Beloved, in whom My soul has delighted. I will put My Spirit on Him, and He will declare judgment to the nations."
Luke 4:1, 14
"And full of the Holy Spirit, Yahshua returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness forty days.
"And Yahshua returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee."
"Yahshua, the One from Nazareth, how Yahweh anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went through doing good, and healing all those having been oppressed by the Devil, because Yahweh was with Him."
"And John witnessed, saying, I have seen the Spirit coming down as a dove out of heaven, and he abode on Him.
"And I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water, that One said to me, On whomever you see the Spirit coming down and abiding on Him, this is He who baptizes in the Holy Spirit."
Set-Apart Spirit on You and Me
So how do we today receive this Spirit? Is it given to everyone? Are there requirements? Or is it just dispersed at random?
"And Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized, each of you in the name of Yahshua Messiah to forgiveness of sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Notice, it is a gift. Given to us by Yahweh. But there are some requirements. It says that repentance and baptism must come first. Yet it even goes a little farther.
"And we are His witnesses of those things, and also the Holy Spirit, whom Yahweh gave to those obeying Him."
Looks like just believing is not enough. There must be obedience. It also involves the actions of another person.
Acts 8:12, 14-17
"But when they believed Philip preaching the gospel, the things concerning the kingdom of Yahweh, and the name of Yahshua Messiah, they were baptized, both men and women.
"And the apostles in Jerusalem hearing that Samaria had received the word of Yahweh, they sent Peter and John to them.
"Who going down prayed concerning them, so that they might receive the Holy Spirit.
"For he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized into the name of the Messiah Yahshua.
"Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit."
"And Paul laying hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke in languages and prophesied."
After a person repents, and is baptized, hands are laid on and a prayer is offered, asking for that gift of the Holy Spirit to be bestowed. What we are given is not a full measure of the Holy Spirit because we are still physical humans. We are given a small amount, and are expected to exercise it so it will grow.
2 Corinthians 1:22
"And He having sealed us, and giving the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts."
2 Corinthians 5:5
"And He having worked in us for this same thing is Yahweh, who also is giving us the earnest of the Spirit."
"In whom also you, hearing the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also believing, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise."Who is an earnest of our inheritance, to the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory."
This earnest of the Spirit will not rule you, though. It will not take over your mind or your actions. The Set-apart Spirit of Yahweh does not force a person to jump up and down, dance, repeat words over and over like a chant. A person with the Set-apart Spirit retains full control of him or herself. They do not "fall under the spell of the Spirit".
Reflecting the Spirit
So once we're baptized and receive the Holy Spirit, how are we to behave? Can we go on as once before? How can we tell if someone else has Yahweh's Spirit? Are there obvious signs?
I Corinthians 3:16-17
"Do you not know that you are a temple of Yahweh, and the Spirit of Yahweh dwells in you?
"If anyone corrupts the temple of Yahweh, Yahweh will bring that one to corruption; for the temple of Yahweh is holy, which you are."
I Corinthians 6:19-20
"Or do you now know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit in you, which you have from Yahweh; and you are not of yourselves?
"For you were bought with a price, then glorify Yahweh in your body, and in your spirit, which are of Yahweh."
"Then surely from their fruits you shall know them."
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith.
"Meekness, self-control - against such things there is not a law.
"But the ones belonging to Messiah crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.
"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
"For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.
Proving what is well-pleasing to the Master."
If we use the Spirit, if we follow its leading, then we may be the recipient of one or more of the gifts of the Spirit. They are discussed throughout the entire chapter of I Corinthians 12.
There are diversities of the gifts. Usually they are spread throughout Yahweh's people. Not all are bestowed on only one or two people. Each person has his or her own individual talents and abilities and they need to be exercised accordingly. Not being jealous of another or trying to take the place of another, but filling the ones that have been given.
A Word of Warning
Once we have that Spirit, we are to take care of it; nourish it; exercise it; listen to it. We are warned to be careful about how we treat that Spirit. It may be a gift, but it can be removed.
"Truly I say to you, all the sins will be forgiven to the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they have blasphemed.
"But whosoever commits blasphemy against the Holy Spirit has no forgiveness to eternity, but it liable to eternal judgment."
The word "blaspheme" is Strong's #987 - blasphemeo, meaning to speak evil of, or to slander.
Ananias and Sapphira made an agreement between themselves to lie to the apostles, regarding the sale of their land. They planned to give a certain amount to the disciples, telling them that was all they got, but they were keeping some for themselves and not reporting the full amount. They were trying to appear more righteous. But they were misrepresenting the truth.
"But Peter said, Ananias, why did Satan fill your heart for you to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to secretly keep back from the price of the land?"
Was there a punishment? There sure was. He fell down and died. Unaware of what happened, his wife also lied. And died immediately. It seems that this is a very serious offense in the eyes of Yahweh. In lying to the Spirit - the power of Yahweh - the person is, in effect, lying to Yahweh.
"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of Yahweh, by whom you were sealed to the day of redemption."
I Thessalonians 5:19
"Do not quench the Spirit."
"Quench" is Strong's #4570 - sbennumi. It means to extinguish; to go out. Like a fire, it must be stoked and fed; it must receive attention of the right kind. It must not be ignored. It means that we must constantly be aware of our actions, our words, and even our thoughts.
The Set-apart Spirit is a wonderful gift from the Father. It will teach us more about Yahweh and Yahshua. It will bring us to deeper understanding. It will inspire us, lead us, protect us, and recall things to our minds. But only if we welcome it, use it and follow its leading, continuing in obedience to the father.