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A Further 20 Scripture Texts on the Holy Spirit
We shall now look briefly at a further twenty passages, which make up the remainder of the references to the Holy Spirit in men. We shall find that the pattern of interpretation is similar to that in the three passages already studied. As the various passages are all generally similar in meaning, it will be convenient, instead of making a number of groupings, to take them in the order they appear in the Bible.
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in (or into) the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." This passage has been proposed as teaching the baptism of a believer into the Holy Spirit, with the idea that he is filled with the Holy Spirit. But the grammatical construction just will not allow such an idea. If the text read: "baptism into the Father, into the Son, and into the Holy Spirit" the idea might be sustained. But this is not so; it is a baptism into a name; and it is a baptism into one name not three names. It does not read:
"Into the name of the Father, into the name of the Son, and into the name of the Holy Spirit." This is doctrinally important; there is only one name. We have Peter on the day of Pentecost as the interpreter of these words of the Lord, and we must be guided by him as to what he meant in his final instructions to the apostles in Matthew 28. Speaking by the Holy Spirit he gave this interpretation of his Master's words: "Repent, and be baptised every one of you in (into) the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38). In Acts 4:12, Peter declares emphatically "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." So the name of Jesus Christ must be equivalent to "the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." If we ask: Who is Jesus Christ? The answer is, in the words of Matthew 28: he is the Father, manifested in a Son, by the Holy Spirit. This is the straightforward sense of the words used by Jesus in Matthew 28:19. There is no warrant to read into them the idea that each believer was to receive a baptism of the Holy Spirit, as "the means whereby God communicates His blessings in, these days of His Son's sojourn in heaven," as Bro. Norris puts it.
"Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." Every man, and woman who attains to the kingdom of God will have been "born of the Spirit" in partaking of spirit nature, in the manner described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15: "There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body" (v. 44) "And as we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly" (v. 49); "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (v. 53). In John 3:5 our immediate question is this: Is Jesus referring solely to the change of nature when he answers Nicodemus, or is he referring to a person being "born of the spirit" in some sense now as well? Is he referring to what Paul calls the New Man, born of God? The point has been much discussed. There is a good article by Bro. Thomas reproduced in The Faith Of The Last Days under the title Jesus' Discourse With Nicodemus, where he blends both ideas together. He gives a translation of John 3:8 as follows: "The Spirit breathes where he pleases, and thou hearest his voice, but thou knowest not whence he comes and whither he leads, in like manner is every one begotten of the Spirit;" and Brother Thomas adds. "Thus are men begotten from above: by the voice of the Spirit breathing forth the truth when and how he pleases. In some places He will not breathe it at all; and on one occasion positively forbids its utterance (Acts 16:7)." So Brother Thomas sees the Holy Spirit word spoken by the apostles producing a begettal of the Spirit.
Bro. John Carter has a good and informative section in his book The Gospel Of John pp. 46-52, where he takes into account the Jewish background of Nicodemus.
We may debate whether Jesus intended Nicodemus to understand "Born of the Spirit" as applicable to the present and the future, or solely to the future, but this is not important in our present consideration. What is important is to realise that Jesus' words do not give support to those who advocate the Gift of the Spirit to every believer at baptism. A little reflection will show this. The Lord calls Nicodemus a teacher in Israel, and says he ought to have known these things: "Art thou a teacher in Israel and knowest not these things?" (v. 10). Therefore he cannot be referring to some new thing, but to something that was then operative in Israel. As Brother Thomas says, a man is born of the Spirit by hearing and responding to the words of the Spirit: this was true for Nicodemus, and for all the faithful before him. It is out of context to refer the Lord's words forward to a future pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost.
The Ephesians were sealed after they believed. Paul ordained elders in the newly formed ecclesias, and they were given the Holy Spirit to oversee the flock, as Paul says of the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28. The Spirit was a seal that they were His. A seal is an identifiable mark stamped on an article declaring it genuine, or giving it the approval of the owner of the seal. The Holy Spirit in the midst of the ecclesia was such a seal.
Paul says, in the next verse, that this was also a pledge, or earnest, of greater things. It was an initial manifestation of divine power, which could be seen as God's pledge of a full giving of the Spirit in divine nature when he redeems the purchased possession -- when the temple of believers becomes "an habitation of God through the Spirit" (ch. 2:22).
The phrase the earnest of the Spirit is also used by Paul in 2 Cor. 1:22 and 2 Cor. 5:5.
The same sense is found in Hebrews 6:4-5 "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted of the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance." In the first century it was a tasting of the heavenly gift, a tasting of the powers of the world to come. Tasting goes
before drinking, as when Jesus was crucified: "They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: And when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink." The power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit in their midst was an earnest, a tasting, with the fulness to come in the time of the kingdom.
Another passage in the same class is Ephesians 4:30: "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye were sealed unto the day of redemption." Grieving the Holy Spirit was grieving God who gave the Spirit. This they did by misuse of the Spirit gifts, or by despising their authority. Israel were charged with doing this in the days of Moses: "In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them: in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bare them and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled, and vexed His holy Spirit" (Isa. 63:9-10 -- see also the paragraph on 1 Thess. 4:8).
The spirit of God and the spirit of Christ in the believer has been dealt with fully when considering Romans 8.
Philippians 2:1 (also 2 Cor. 13:14)
"Fellowship of the Spirit" has been the joy of believers in all ages. "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name" (Mal. 3:16). The oneness of mind of the believers binds them together. Whence comes this oneness? They all have the one faith, the one hope, the one baptism, which has come through the work of the Holy Spirit of salvation. They share these things together, as the body of Christ; they have in common the things of the Spirit. John speaks of this fellowship of the Spirit: "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full" (1 John 1:3-4). The apostles by the Holy Spirit (see John 14:26) made known all things concerning Jesus Christ, and the believers "continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42). This was truly a fellowship of the Spirit.
1 Thess. 4:3,8
Those who ignored Paul's teaching on holy living were despising not Paul but God. Sanctification or holiness was "the will of God." They had no excuse for refusing to accept Paul as speaking for God, because Paul spake by the Holy Spirit; what he said was supported by the power of the Holy Spirit in their midst. This is the sense in which Paul adds the phrase "who hath also given us His holy Spirit."
John also writes about the teaching that came by the Holy Spirit. "These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing (the Holy Spirit) which ye have received of him abideth in (among) you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you all things, and is the truth, and is no lie even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him" (1 John 2:26-27). Jesus had promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit would teach them all things and lead them into all truth (John 14:26; 16:13). This truth they had faithfully declared to the believers; and in addition, they had given to the ecclesia the same Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of the elders, for their continuing guidance.
Some may read this in the sense that there is to be a continual renewing of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the believers, But the context and the Emphatic Diaglott translation will show that it is the renewal of the individual that is being spoken about, a renewing of the individual through the work of the Holy Spirit at the time of baptism. The whole context must be noted. "For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures .... But after that the kindness and love of God our saviour towards man appeared, not by the works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit that, being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." The phrase here washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit is closely parallel with the words of Jesus to Nicodemus: "Ye must
be born of water and of the spirit." The "renewing," the "renovation," the new life, is by the Spirit of God.
1 Peter 1:2
Peter describes here the steps by which the believer turn from darkness to light. The Spirit through the word cleanse: and separates, or sanctifies, and this is followed by the obedience of baptism, described in a Mosaic figure as being sprinkled with the blood of Jesus.
That the Spirit operates through the word of God -- spoken or written -- is made quite clear at the end of this chapter. Peter writes: "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren .... being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible by the word of God . . . . But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (vs. 22-25).
"And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us." The Revised Version corrects the tense here and reads: "the love of God hath been shed abroad .... through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us." The tense here is aorist, describing something done in the past, and does not permit the sense of a continuing giving of the Holy Spirit. If this were intended the tense would be the present imperfect, not aorist. So Paul is referring here to the giving of the Holy Spirit at some time in the past; to the day of Pentecost when the outpouring upon the apostles gave them power to declare the grace of God in Jesus Christ. This indeed was shedding the love of God abroad, and was a continuing power to this effect among the believers.
"Now the God of hope fill you with joy Romans 15:13 and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit." The thought here is similar to that in chapter 5:5: hope, joy and love associated with the working of the Holy Spirit. In the quotation from chapter 15 there is an additional word power -- "by the power of the Holy Spirit." In verses 18-19, Paul makes clear what he means by this power of the Holy Spirit. He says: "For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make
the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God." So "The power of the Holy Spirit" refers to the outpouring of the Spirit upon the Twelve and upon Paul, resulting in the mighty signs and wonders described in the Acts of the Apostles, leading the Gentiles to belief and obedience. The operation of the Holy Spirit was not limited to this, but continued to benefit the believers in strengthening them to endure adversity and to abound in hope, as the quotation states. They "abounded in hope" because their hope rested on strong foundations -- the manifested power of God. This power of the Holy Spirit had operated through selected vessels like Paul for the benefit of all.
1 Corinthians 2:11-12
So Paul says that the things of God are only known by the Spirit of God. How had the believer received the "things of God," and "the Spirit which is of God?" The next verse tells us: "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (v. 13).
The believer had received the things of God and the spirit which is of God, by the preaching of Paul; and Paul's preaching was by the Holy Spirit. Paul had already made this point earlier in the chapter: "My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of men's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." It was the power of the Holy Spirit through the apostles that conveyed the things of God to the believer.
There is an important phrase to note in verse 13: "comparing spiritual things with spiritual." Paul's preaching was in harmony with what the Spirit had already put on record in the Holy Oracles. By the Holy Spirit the apostles compared spiritual things with spiritual; explaining the 'mysteries' contained in the words of the earlier prophets. Paul in this chapter quotes Isaiah 64:4 that "the eye hath not seen nor the ear heard what God hath prepared for them that love him;" and then he adds "But God hath revealed them unto us (the apostles) by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (vs. 9-10). It was through their possession of the Holy Spirit that they could search the deep things of God, and so their preaching was that "which the Holy Spirit teacheth."
1 Corinthians 3:15
Earlier in chapter three, Paul has described the ecclesia in Corinth as a building - God's building, built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. So the context suggests that Paul is addressing the believers collectively. The believers at Corinth were collectively the house or temple of God (see also 1 Tim. 3:15) and the Spirit of God was in or among them through their spirit-gifted Eldership, in the manner he describes in more detail in a later chapter (Ch. 12).
The language here should be compared with similar language used by Paul in 2 Corinthians 6, where he applies the words addressed to the nation of Israel at Sinai, to the ecclesia at Corinth. He quotes from Leviticus 26: "Ye (the Corinthian believers) are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people . . . ." As God desired to dwell in his nation Israel, so Paul says he was dwelling in the ecclesia at Corinth. One does not have to propose a Holy Spirit Gift to each believer starting, at Pentecost; the concept belongs to previous ages.
1 Corinthians 6,13,18,19
The context here is different from that in chapter 3. Paul is talking in detail of an individual, and the abuse of his literal body. At baptism the believer, body and spirit, belongs to the Lord. The body becomes the tabernacle, as it were of the new man of the Spirit which comes to birth at baptism. The new man of the Spirit comes to birth, and continues to grow, through the knowledge of God, through the reading of the word, through the teaching of the apostles; this is all in the ultimate the work of the Holy Spirit. As we have earlier considered in detail, God's Spirit is in the individual, Christ is in the individual. For those who received the Holy Spirit Gift by the laying on of hands, there was an additional sense in which they were the temple of the Holy Spirit.
The Galatian believers had received the Spirit; how had they received it? Paul gives the answer in verse 5: "He that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" Paul and his helpers ministered to them the Spirit by their teaching, accompanied by the supporting evidence of "working miracles." So the apostles ministered the Spirit, and the believers received the Spirit; verse 5 is a clarification of verse 3. The Galatian believers in general did not receive the Holy Spirit Gift, but they received the things of the Spirit, the things of God, through the ministration of the apostles endowed with spirit power. They had to listen attentively and thoughtfully to take in the Spirit message -- they received the Spirit by "the hearing of faith."
In verse 3 there is a contrast of spirit and flesh, similar to that which we studied in Romans 8: "Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" is similar to "Walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit" (Rom. 8:4). The mind of the natural man, and the mind of God respectively.
John several times refers to the Spirit which God had given them. He writes: "And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him. And hereby we know that lie abideth in us, by the Holy Spirit which he hath given (aorist 'gave') us" (3:24). "Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit" (4:13). "And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth . . . . And there are three that bear witness on earth, the Spirit, the water and the blood: and these three agree in one" (5:6-8).
These passages are straightforward on the basis of the Holy Spirit given to the apostles for the benefit of the believers. The Spirit was God's witness, John says. By its teaching and supporting signs and wonders, the brethren were confirmed in their faith and encouraged in their high privilege of being sons of God; they were assured that, in a figure, God dwelt in them and they in God. They were of one mind with their heavenly Father.
The idea in these verses is the same as that expressed by Paul in 2 Cor. 6, which we have already quoted: "Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them .... and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
John's references to the dwelling in God, and God in us, also reminds us of John's gospel record chapter 15 regarding the vine and its branches. God is the husbandman, Jesus is the vine, the twelve (and ourselves) are the branches. As the sap carries the vital life of the tree and nourishes the branches, so the word -- the teaching of God ("Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken" v.3) is the sap which sustains our life. But this is not everything: "My Father is the husbandman." As in the natural the husbandman cares for the tree, so God by Jesus and the angels, cares for the believer. The word of God, as the life- sustaining sap, and the angelic care, will bring forth the desired fruits of the Spirit in the branches.
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