The Understanding of Genesis 1:2 in the time of Christ
The Hebrew word RUAH can be translated as wind, breath or spirit.
The Psalmist wrote, “You send out your RUAH and they are created and you renew the face of the earth” (Psalm 104:30). This described the breath of God in Genesis 1:2, and Genesis 8:1, that created and restored the face of the earth, which the Targum called a merciful wind or breath that blew over the waters.
In 30 AD, the Jewish theologian Philo wrote,
why, since he knew the name of the Spirit when he says, “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the Waters,” he now speaks of breath, and not of the Spirit. 1
The Spirit of God as God Himself was always identified in the Old Testament as the Spirit of YHVH, using masculine pronouns. This is what Philo meant by “the name of the Spirit.” The Spirit of YHVH as God Himself was differentiated from the anointing of YHVH by feminine pronouns. But the feminine expression Spirit of ELOHIM in Genesis 1:2 did not describe the anointing on the Sons of God. It described the Spirit of life in all men, that we can see in Genesis 6:3, 7:22, Job 34:14-15, and Isaiah 40:7.
Psalms 33:6, and Job 34:10, explained that that ELOHIM in Genesis 1:1 was the Word, and the RUAH of God in Genesis 1:2 was the Spirit of the breath of life.
The Jews’ Effort to Destroy the Apostle’s Message of “the Word”
Early in the second Century, Jewish Rabbis sought to destroy the truth of “the Word.” They said that the Metatron was the Holy Spirit in the prophets. They claimed the RUAH of God in Genesis 1:2, was the Holy Spirit that would be poured out in the time of the Messiah. And they promoted the idea of three Holy Spirits in a Godhead, calling the Spirit of God in Genesis 1:2, the “Holy Spirit” that faces downwards.
After they equated the Spirit of God in Genesis 1:2 to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of EL in Job 34:10 was no longer equated to “the Word” in Psalms 33:6, because the meaning of Genesis 1:2 had changed from “breath,” to “Spirit.”
Justin Martyr said the Prophetic Spirit was born on the waters in Genesis 1:2
The suggestion that the promised Holy Spirit first appeared in Genesis 1:2 was “proof” that the Holy Spirit was not just the anointing on the Sons of God.
In 150 AD, Justin Martyr used the writings of Plato to prove that the “spirit of prophecy” was “born on the waters” in Genesis 1:2. He said that all the good angels, including “the Spirit of prophecy,” should be worshipped.
His explanation was addressed to the Roman Emperor, and carried such influence, that the first Christian Emperor ordered the burning of writings that opposed his teaching.
The Eastern Churches rejected the doctrine of a third Person
Justin Martyr’s idea that the Spirit of prophecy, was one of the Spirits who came into being in Genesis 1 was explained by Origen in 236 AD, “We believe that…only the Father is unbegotten…all things were produced through the Word.” From here, came the Latin expression “filioque,” “from the Father and the Son,” the phrase that divided the Churches of the East and West.
There is no Third Person
Paul told us that every person, like God, has a spirit. But of course, their spirit is not another person. The Eastern churches understood Paul’s message, and they knew all the “He” references to the Holy Spirit, in the New Testament, were only a function of the Greek grammar.
Today, Trinitarian theologians who understand the Greek language, will admit there is no evidence in the Bible, of a third person called “the Holy Spirit.” The seemingly personal description of the Spirit of truth in the Gospel of John, was explained in his first epistle as “the anointing that teaches you all things” (1 John 2:27).
The Holy Spirit that “proceeds from the Father” (John 15:26), could not be described better than in Daniel 7:10, where we see “a river of fire flowing and coming out before” the Ancient of Days. From here, the Spirit of God was described as a “river” and as “fire” throughout the New Testament.
- Allegorical Interpretation, XIII (33). ↩