Throughout much of the history of Christianity, the Holy Spirit mentioned so often in the New Testament was not mentioned very often by Christians. But that really started to change at the turn of the twentieth century with the emergence of the Pentecostals and, later, their younger brothers and sisters the charismatics. In fact, this group has been most responsible for the growth of Christianity over the past century as major churches have experienced a decline in the number of worship workers.
Therefore, Church historians now divide the history of Christianity into three sequential segments called “the three waves of Christianity”: Catholicism, Protestantism, and Pentecostalism. According to the New Testament in particular, Pentecostals and charismatics have rightly emphasized the Holy Spirit as a source of power to live the Christian life, to personally evangelize, and to manifest spiritual gifts for the benefit of others. Pentecostalism has really created a stir in what has been the greatest religion in the world for at least the last sixteen centuries.
But at the start of the Pentecostal movement, it went through a difficult period of controversy over the Catholic and Protestant doctrine of the Trinity, according to which the one God is three co-equal and co-eternal persons: Father, Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit. . The Assemblies of God church denomination, which has grown to be the largest in the world today with approximately 68 million members, has fully endorsed the doctrine of the Trinity. But some Pentecostals didn’t. Most of them became known as Oneness Pentecostals, and they number now about 24 million. The United Pentecostal Church is the largest group among them, with approximately 3 million members. Unitarian Pentecostals believe that God is a person who manifests primarily in three ways: Father, Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit. Yet all Pentecostals emphasize the Holy Spirit over what most Christians have done throughout the history of Christianity.
This Pentecostal focus and emphasis on the Holy Spirit has led some of them to believe that the Bible sometimes overlooks the Holy Spirit. But they are not alone; many non-Pentecostal Christians who are Trinitarians thought the same thing. I believe it was largely because of their Trinitarianism that they thought so.
For example, “the Holy Spirit” is never mentioned in the book of Revelation. Some Christians wonder why the blatant absence of the Holy Spirit in this greatest apocalyptic book ever written. The apocalyptic chronicles the behind-the-scenes activity, revealing the mystery of godliness in the world and informing of the great conflict going on in the universe between good and evil and God and Satan. Wouldn’t the Holy Spirit have a major role in this activity?
“The Spirit” is mentioned several times in chapters 2 and 3 of this last book of the Bible. But after that, “the Spirit” is not mentioned again until towards the end of the book, in Revelation 22:17. This scenario contrasts so much with the book of Acts and the letters of the apostle Paul in the New Testament, which make up more than a third. “The (Holy) Spirit” is mentioned there so often and thus proves to be so important in doing God’s work among humans.
The main focus of the book of Revelation is the sovereignty of God and the centrality of his enthronement in heaven, with “the Lamb” – the ascended and exalted Jesus – seated at the right hand of God on his throne. And this God is the one whom Jesus regularly identified as “the Father” (Rev 2.27; 3.5, 21; 14.1). But where is the Holy Spirit on this throne? According to the doctrine of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is just as much God as the Father and Jesus are?
Or take the 144,000 saints mentioned in Revelation 7,4-8 and 14.1. We are told that they have the names of God the Father and Jesus the Lamb written on their foreheads (Rev 7.3; 14.1); yet, there is no mention of the name of the Holy Spirit written on their foreheads as well. Or is the Holy Spirit not a name? If so, does the Holy Spirit not have a name? Why all these questions about the Holy Spirit? Did the author of the book of Revelation overlook the Holy Spirit in his book?
The problem is, people haven’t understood the Holy Spirit as it is presented in the Bible. To be frank, they were misled by the Church Fathers who formulated the doctrine of the Trinity, which is not Bible teaching. And since then the church has mistakenly adopted this teaching without properly examining it.
I think the best way to understand the nature of the (Holy) Spirit is to look at creation as described in Genesis 1-2. That is to say, the Holy Spirit is to God what the spirit of man is to man, because man was made in the image of God. Since the spirit of man is not a person distinct from the personality of man, then the Spirit of God is not a person distinct from the personality of God, whom the latter Jesus called “the Dad “. For if God is a tri-personal being, as the Trinity doctrine asserts, then man should be a tri-personal being, which is absurd.
When Jesus sent his newly chosen apostles to preach and heal the people, he warned them that they would be persecuted and brought before kings and pagan authorities for questioning (Matthew 10). But he told them, “Don’t worry about how you’re going to talk or what you’re going to say; for what you are going to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father ”(vv. 19-20). The Spirit of the Father is the Holy Spirit.
James DG Dunn is a leading scholar of the New Testament, and he is right. In his 2010 book, Did the early Christians worship Jesus? Evidence from the New Testament (pp. 72-73), Dunn explains, “in Jewish thought the Spirit of God was more naturally understood as closely identified with God, as a dimension or aspect of God, or as a way of characterizing presence and the power of God…. Paul can view the Spirit of God as analogous to the human spirit. Dunn adds (p. 74) that we should “not so much” understand “the Spirit of God as if the Spirit were a different and distinct being from God, but more precisely God as Spirit. “
Dunn then approvingly quotes another scholar, Mr. Fatehi, who explains, “In Judaism as a whole, the Spirit refers to God in his active role in relation to his creation and his people … never conceived or experienced as a separate entity. or somehow separable from God. The Jewish experience of the Spirit is always and primarily an experience of God himself… the language of the Spirit is used precisely when the personal presence and activity of God… is in sight.
I believe that if the church fathers – who were all Gentiles and many of whom were heavily influenced by Hellenism – had not become somewhat anti-Semitic, they might not have strayed from this Bible teaching of the Holy Spirit.
In conclusion, I think that the absence of mention of the (Holy) Spirit in the book of Revelation after chapter 3 (Rev. 4.2 is disputed as to whether “spirit” refers to the spirit of John or to the Spirit of God) is in part due to the multiple accounts from heaven concerning God and Jesus there and that the judgments on earth of the seals come from Jesus and that the trumpets and vials are conducted by the angels of God . Either way, if God is mentioned or portrayed, it is not necessary to mention his Spirit and thus his Spirit is not overlooked.
To see a list of titles of over 130 articles (2-3 pages) that talk about Jesus not being God in the Bible, with a few on God not being a Trinity, on the Kermit Zarley Blog, click “Chistology” in the header bar. Most are condensations of my book, The Restitution of Jesus Christ. Check out my website servetustheevangelical.com which is all about this book, complete with reviews etc. Check out my books and buy them at kermitzarley.com. I was a Trinitarian for 22 years before reading it myself in the Bible.