50 of 100: Holy Spirit – Part 10 [Does John’s Gospel preach that the spirit of God is the third person of Trinity?]

We found the that God never taught people of OT times that the spirit was part of a Biune God. Holy believers of the Old covenant never prayed ‘TO’ the holy spirit.

The Gospel record of John is interesting as it its interpretation has caused Christians to add Holy Spirit as the 3rd person of the Trinity.

Let us examine the passages where the spirit is referenced in the gospel record of John to further understand the holy spirit of God.

Jesus – The baptizer of holy spirit.

Joh 1:33  And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize in water, he said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and abiding upon him, the same is he that baptizeth in the Holy Spirit.

Jesus will be the one in whom the prophecy of the pouring out of the spirit in Joel will be fulfilled. John bears witness to this. Neither Joel nor the other prophets understood Trinity or ever called GOD by that name. Receiving the spirit of God was well understood but the scale of receiving the sprit i.e. all types of people not just the prophets or priests was fulfilled in Christ on the day of Pentecost.

Born of the Spirit and Water

Joh 3:5  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God! 

Joh 3:6  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 
Joh 3:7  Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born anew. 
Joh 3:8  The wind bloweth where it will, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Question: How is one to be born of the spirit? Is this same as being baptized by the holy spirit?

Suggested Answer: Baptism by the Holy spirit does not make one auto-righteous or auto-spiritual. Free will is not taken from a person. In the church of Corinth, though the believers had the spirit they showed no respect for the emblems of Christ and were drunk. Paul had to rebuke and correct them. Saul was disobedient, so the spirit departed from him. David committed adultery and murder and prayed for God not to withdraw his holy spirit from him.

Jesus is teaching Nicodemus about rebirth in water and spirit. The rebirth that occurs by the spirit is a commitment to newness of life in righteousness. Our natural births produce deaths but living in the spirit produces life. To be born of the spirit is to walk in the way pleasing to God manifested as the fruit of the spirit:

Gal 5:16,17  But I say, walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.   For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would.

Gal 5:22, 23, 25  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law. If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk.

To be born of the spirit is to live according to the will of God. Our life should be God centered or spirit centered i.e. spiritually lead as opposed to the flesh.

Joel’s prophecy of pouring out the spirit was to receive visions, dreams, etc which was the manifestation of gifts of the Spirit. But here, Jesus is speaking of spiritual things required for salvation.

Baptism by water as Paul explained is:

Rom 6:3  Or don’t you know that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

Rom 6:11  Thus consider yourselves also to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Rom 6:12  Therefore don’t let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.

Jesus was teaching the Jewish leader that salvation comes by water and spirit that is  renewal and walking by the spirit or by the will of God (not circumcision).

Example of walking in the Spirit:

Col 3:1 If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God.
Col 3:2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth.
Col 3:3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Col 3:4 When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory.
Col 3:5 Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry;
Col 3:6 for which things’ sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.

Jesus’ focus of being born by water and spirit is renewal and rebirth at a spiritual level.

Joh 3:3,6 Jesus answered him, “Most certainly, I tell you, unless one is born anew, he can’t see God’s Kingdom.”… That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Spirit is contrasted with Flesh! This is not fulfilled at the Pentecost or by a miracle but by faith that produces good works.

God is A spirit

Joh 4:21  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father.

Joh 4:22  Ye worship that which ye know not: we worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews.

Joh 4:23  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for such doth the Father seek to be his worshippers.

Joh 4:24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

Greek word of spirit: pneuma 

a current of air, that is, breath (blast) or a breeze;…

Hebrew word for spirit: roo’-akh

wind; by resemblance breath, that is, a sensible (or even violent) exhalation; figuratively life

Jesus is talking of worship – which mountain? In most religions, it is a commonly held view that God lives inside a temple or church building and worshippers pay a visit to God when they visit these places. Therefore the location becomes important and holy. Jesus is teaching the woman the ‘physical’ place of worship will no longer be important but that we should worship in ‘truth’ and ‘spirit’ (not physical). We should connect to God via mind i.e. our spirit and not flesh and physical building because the being of God is a spirit [i.e. not flesh and bones].

Jesus is not teaching a new doctrine and introducing a new God that everyone missed before. People of many religions make an idol to connect to the creator so they can see and focus. But Jesus is teaching that this is a fleshly way. Now, the woman was not worshiping idols, but she needed something physical. Under the old Covenant the temple worship was significant but with the destruction of the temple the worship was to take place in the hearts and minds of the believer. The believer was to be transformed into a living temple for God where God can make a dwelling as God dwells in a temple. So our bodies need to be holy for God to make his abode in us.

When Jesus teaches ‘God is a spirit’ he does not imply a trinity. He implies that God does not have a physical form but only a spirit form so also believers should connect to God by their spirit in truth. The following verse shows the fulfilment of Jesus’ teachings:

Eph 2:20 You have been built on the foundation made up of the emissaries and prophets, with Messiah Yeshua Himself being the cornerstone.
Eph 2:21 In Him the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple for the Lord.
Eph 2:22 In Him, you also are being built together into God’s dwelling place in the Ruach.

Jesus’ words are spirit

Joh 6:63  It is the spirit that giveth life; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, are are life.

Jesus’ is implying that his words can be trusted and that they produce life. Jesus spoke by the Holy spirit and therefore his words were the words of God. He is calling on his listeners to believe i.e. to believe them and follow them as they will produce life.

You will notice that spirit is constantly contrasted with the flesh.

Spirit produces life v/s Flesh produces death

Romans 8:1 (LITV) There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to flesh, but according to Spirit.

Romans 8:5-9 (LITV) 5 For the ones that are according to flesh mind the things of the flesh. And the ones according to Spirit mind the things of the Spirit.
6 For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace;
7 because the mind of the flesh is enmity towards God; for it is not being subjected to the Law of God, for neither can it be.
8 And those being in the flesh are not able to please God.
9 But you are not in flesh, but in Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, this one is not His.

Come unto me and drink

Joh 7:36  What is this word that he said, Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me; and where I am, ye cannot come?
Joh 7:37  Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. 
Joh 7:38  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water.
Joh 7:39  But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified.

It is interesting to note that in many passages we see the spirit and water coming together. Similar Expressions are also used: ‘Pouring of the spirit’.

Cross reference

Zec 14:8  And it shall come to pass in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the eastern sea, and half of them toward the western sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.

Eze 47:1  And he brought me back unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward (for the forefront of the house was toward the east); and the waters came down from under, from the right side of the house, on the south of the altar.
Eze 47:6  And he said unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the bank of the river.
Eze 47:7  Now when I had returned, behold, upon the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other.
Eze 47:8  Then said he unto me, These waters issue forth toward the eastern region, and shall go down into the Arabah; and they shall go toward the sea; into the sea shall the waters go which were made to issue forth; and the waters shall be healed. 
Eze 47:9  And it shall come to pass, that every living creature which swarmeth, in every place whither the rivers come, shall live; and there shall be a very great multitude of fish; for these waters are come thither, and the waters of the sea shall be healed, and everything shall live whithersoever the river cometh.

The prophecies of Zechariah and Ezekiel refer to the future glory of Jerusalem when Jesus shall return as king. But Jesus is making the connection so believers can experience the kingdom of God now through the spirit. The living waters produce and sustain life and receiving God’s spirit through Jesus produces salvation (eternal life).

John make a comment:

‘because Jesus was not yet glorified’

After Jesus would ascend to heaven, all power would be given to him including the influence of the power of the spirit. He would distribute the spirit (become the source of the spirit) and later other disciples in turn would distribute by the laying of hands.

Comforter

Joh 14:16  And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever,
Joh 14:17  even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him: ye know him; for he abideth with you, and shall be in you.
Joh 14:18  I will not leave you desolate: I come unto you.

Joh 14:26  But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.

These verses find fulfilment as explained in the previous section. After Jesus’ departure the spirit would still be active and will guide the believers. The work of preaching the gospel to the whole world would be achieved by the working of the spirit in apostles. Jesus preached to Jews, but Paul would preach to the rest of the world.
The work of the spirit is nothing new, what the spirit achieved through prophets of old would be achieved by the disciples of Jesus. When Jesus was on earth, he a source of knowledge and strength/power to the believers (by the power of the spirit o God). After Jesus’ departure, the holy spirit would provide that comfort to endure persecution and preach the gospel.

Example:

Luk 12:11 But when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious how or what you should speak in your own defense or what you should say,
Luk 12:12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that same hour what it is necessary to say.

This verse is shown often that the spirit is a person because of the gender associated (He) and that the spirit is called ‘Comforter’. The physical manifestation of the spirit is tongue of fire, dove, wind, etc. and NEVER a MAN (He). Jesus’ is giving the spirit a personality (poetic language), but this in no way implies a triune Godhead.

The ABP literal translation helps to understand better:

Joh 14:17  The   spirit    of truth;   whom   the   world   is not   able   to receive,   for   it does not   contemplate   it,   nor   knows   it.   But you    know   it,   for   [2with   3you   1it abides],   and   in   you   it will be. 

The spirit is referred as ‘it’ as is consistent with the reset of the scriptures. Translating the spirit as HE is not an issue as long it does not create a new christian god called trinity.

 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, John 14:16

Jesus is implying that the Father is still greater thank Jesus and that the Father would give the spirit to his disciples at the son’s request.

The spirit is given to the disciples in Jesus’ name. The Father is the one who gives the spirit (to the prophets, to Jesus, to the apostles, to the believers):

Joh 14:26  But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.

The role of the Comforter was to bring to accurate memory the testimony of Jesus to be recorded for all ages. The work of the spirit as a comforter is also seen in this verse:

2Pe 1:21  For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit.

Examples of fulfilment:

Act 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Act 5:32  And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Act 8:29  The Ruach said to Philip, “Go, catch up with this chariot.”

Act 9:31  So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

It is worth going through all references in Acts to see how the holy spirit acted as the promised Comforter!

Spirit of God has independent authority?

Joh 16:13  Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come.

Truth is essential for salvation. Jesus is saying the spirit is from the Father and the spirit speaks the will of the Father. Does the spirit has a different ‘will’ from God?

It has to be remembered that Jesus is giving personality to a pneuma i.e. wind or air. This does not imply the spirit would have hands and legs but that the spirit would provide further truths.

Jesus spoke the words of God by the spirit. The disciples also did likewise. The prophets also did the same thing. But why the spirit gains so much prominence in the NT is because of the prophecy of Joel i.e. the availability of the spirit to all people including non Jewish believers.

Receive ye the Holy Spirit

Joh 20:21  Jesus therefore said to them again, Peace be unto you: as the Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
Joh 20:22  And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit:
Joh 20:23  whose soever sins ye forgive, they are forgiven unto them; whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

The above verses mention the work of the Father, son and spirit.

  1. Father sent the son.
  2. Jesus achieved the will of God and is glorified and empowered.
  3. Jesus sends his disciples as “as the Father hath sent me, even so send I you” – Jesus is also subject to the Father. As the disciples were not sent from heaven so also Jesus was not sent from heaven. ‘Sent from heaven’ refers to authority rather than literal.
  4. God is above Jesus.
  5. Jesus now is the baptizer or distributer of the spirit of God [not to be read as distributer of the 3rd God]
  6. Jesus forgave sins and now his disciples also forgives sins. Jesus is not God because he can forgive sins as that logic will make gods of his disciples.

Finally, can the spirit be defined as a third person of trinity or power of God or mind of God? It is easiest to understand the spirit of God as the spirit of God and the role and work of the spirit from the numerous passages of scriptures.

By definition, spirit is WIND – A physical form – Wind can be felt but not seen.

And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Gen 1:2

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s