Holy spirit

Invisible and Unequivocal: How the Scriptures Describe the Holy Spirit

God is incomprehensible. This means that although we can really know him (because he reveals himself to us), we can never focus on him. He is infinite, eternal and triune, and so he reveals himself to us in a way that corresponds to our capacities. As a theologian says, God speaks from man to man, which makes true knowledge of God possible.

Even so, we still sometimes struggle to know God, and not just in the personal sense of knowing, but in the fundamental sense of what we are talking about. This is especially the case with our knowledge of the Holy Spirit.

As far as the Father is concerned, we have a concrete basis from which to work. We all have earthly fathers (for better or for worse), and so we have a starting point for engaging with God our Heavenly Father. Likewise, with regard to the Son, we have a concrete basis in the incarnation. The Son became man for us and for our salvation. The Gospels give us a magnificent image of Jesus the Messiah, fully God and fully man, and this allows us to go to him.

“The fundamental work of the Holy Spirit in the new covenant is to show and magnify Jesus.”

But Spirit is elusive, even a little abstract. Although we know him and confess him as a divine “person,” we struggle to find a concrete basis for understanding him. And on some level, that’s by design. Jesus tells us that when the Holy Spirit comes, “he will glorify me” (John 16:14). In other words, the basic work of the Holy Spirit in the new covenant is to show Jesus and magnify him.

Nevertheless, Scripture gives us a number of images to help us better understand the person of the Holy Spirit.

Wind, Breath, Spirit

The very name of the Spirit (pneumatic in Greek) connects it to the wind, the breath and the spirit. Wind is moving air that has significant effects on the world while remaining invisible. In John 3, Jesus tells us that we must be born from pneumatic (John 3:5). He goes on to say that the pneumatic breath where he wants; we hear its sound but do not see where it comes from and where it goes (John 3:8). This suggests that we know the Spirit the same way we know the wind—by its effects.

“We know the Spirit as we know the wind – by its effects.”

Like wind, breath is invisible air in motion – this time, air that animates a body. God breathe in Adam, and he becomes a living being (Genesis 2:7). In John 20:22, Jesus breathe on his disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Thus, we come to know the work of the Spirit by considering how the breath enters and exits and animates our physical body.

Word pneumatic also refers to the inner disposition or temperament of a person’s mind. Jesus blesses those who are “poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). Peter describes the character of a godly woman as “the undying beauty of a meek and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). We might think of our mind as the invisible inclination of our souls that shapes our visible actions.

River, Oil, Dove

Beyond these, the Bible provides a number of additional images to help us understand the Spirit and his work. In John 7, Jesus describes the Spirit as a river flowing from the lives of his disciples.

Whoever believes in me, as the scripture says, “Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” Now he says this about the Spirit that those who believed in him were to receive, for the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:38-39)

We could link the river of John 7 to the river of water of life described in Revelation 22, “flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb in the middle of the street of the city” (Revelation 22:1-2). . ). The city is New Jerusalem, the bride of Christ, the church of the living God. Thus, the Spirit is the river of living water flowing from Jesus to his people and from him to the world for the healing of the nations. It is the river “whose currents gladden the city of God” (Psalm 46:4), the river of God’s delights and the source of life (Psalm 36:8-9).

Linking the Spirit to the river of living water also recalls the idea that the Spirit is “poured out” on his people (Acts 2:33; 10:45; Romans 5:5; Titus 3:6), that the people of God are “filled” with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), and that we are baptized in the Spirit as we are baptized in water (Mark 1:8; Acts 1:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13 ).

Beyond water, the scriptures connect the Holy Spirit to the anointing oil used to ordain priests and kings in the Old Testament. David receives the Spirit when Samuel anoints him with oil in 1 Samuel 16:12-13. Isaiah and Peter in the book of Acts echo this connection in their descriptions of the Messiah.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
bring good news to the poor. (Isaiah 61:1)

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. (Acts 10:38)

Finally, the Bible connects the Spirit with bird imagery, particularly a dove. The Spirit “hovered” like a bird over the waters at creation (Genesis 1:2). Above all, the Spirit descended on Jesus “like a dove” at his baptism (Matthew 3:16; John 1:32-33).

God on the move

If we start putting these images together, we see the importance of movement in the descriptions of the Spirit. The Spirit blows like the wind, breathes like the air that flows in and out of the lungs, flows like water from a fountain, hovers and descends like a bird. Certain images (wind, breath and spirit) signify both the invisibility of the Spirit and the indisputable proof of its presence.

More so, if we examine these images in detail, we see a repeated connection with the life, love, pleasure and joy of God. The Streams of the River of God make happy the city of God (Psalm 46:4). God’s love is “poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). When the servant of the Lord is anointed with the Spirit of God, he gives “the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a weak spirit” (Isaiah 61:3).

This is no surprise since the Spirit is closely linked to the love of God throughout the Bible. Consider 1 John 4. There we learn that “God is love” (1 John 4:8), and that abiding in love is abiding in God and having God in us (4:12; 4:16). . And we know that we abide in him and that he abides in us “by the Spirit which he hath given us” (4:13; 4:18). It’s almost as if God respectful, love respectful, and Mind stay are different ways of expressing the same reality.

Psalm 36:7-9 brings together God’s unwavering love with the image of a bird that provides shelter, the fat of God’s house (related to oil), and a river and fountain.

How precious is your unwavering love, O God!
The children of humanity take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you water them in the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see the light.

Spirit of the Groom – and the Bride

All of these culminate in the baptism of Jesus. Here we have the incarnate Son of God at a river flowing with water. He is baptized in this water, and as he emerges the Spirit descends upon him like a dove in what other passages call an anointing. And then God the Father speaks with his breath, bringing all the images together with clear and unambiguous words: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am very happy(Matthew 3:16-17).

In truth, the baptism of Jesus is the beginning of the climax. The Spirit-inspired scriptures turn our eyes to the incarnate Christ. This Spirit then leads Jesus into the desert to be tested, then propels him to Israel to announce the arrival of the kingdom of God. The Spirit of God empowers Jesus for his ministry and strengthens him as he walks the road to Calvary. This river is so powerful that it flows upwards, like Jesus ascending Golgotha ​​with a cross on his back. And the Spirit blows through the empty tomb so that Jesus, the second Adam, becomes the life-giving Spirit.

Now the same Spirit is being poured out on God’s people, flowing into our lives with God’s love and joy, and out of our lives in fruitful service to others, while giving us a voice so that the Beloved Spirit and Bride, the Dove of God and the Dove of Christ, say to their heavenly Spouse: “Come!