24. The Lord is the Spirit

The Apostles Equated the Lord to the Spirit

After the Day of Pentecost, only the Spirit of God was called the Holy Spirit, because the Spirit of God was the Spirit that sanctified the Body of Christ. After the Day of Pentecost, the Spirit of Christ was called “the Spirit.”

In the Appendix, we list more than 80 instances where the expression “the Spirit” is used for the Spirit of Christ, after the Day of Pentecost. This expression “the Spirit,” for the Spirit of Christ, occurs more frequently than the 30 uses of the phrase “Holy Spirit,” for the Spirit of God.

The Spirit of Christ in the Gospel of John

The message that Jesus Christ was the Sanctified Spirit of the Old Testament began in John 1:1, where John called Christ, the Word.

Jesus explained His sanctification in John 5:19, “the Son can do nothing of Himself,” and in John 8:28, “I do nothing of Myself.”

The Father set Christ apart as His image and as His speaker at the beginning of creation. In John 10:36, He said, “do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, you are blaspheming?” By “sent into the world,” Jesus referred to the sending into the world of His Spirit, in the beginning of creation.

In John 14, Jesus described Himself as the Spirit that makes the house of God. In John 15, He described Himself as the Vine, from which we get the expression “the fruit of the Spirit.”

Jesus explained His sanctification again in John 17:19, “I sanctify Myself, that they may also be sanctified by the truth.”

The Gospel of John has two powerful messages about the identity of Jesus Christ — He was the God of Israel, and He was the Word, the Holy Spirit in the Prophets.

Both of these messages climaxed in John 20:

  • In John 20:28, Thomas said to Jesus, “my Lord, and my God,” and
  • In John 20:22, Jesus breathed His Spirit into His disciples and said, “receive the Holy Spirit, if you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven.” Here, He referred to His authority cited in the Old Testament, “do not provoke Him for He will not pardon your transgressions” (Exodus 23:21).

The Spirit that makes the House of God

 “a holy temple in the Lord, a dwelling of God in the Spirit”
Ephesians 2:21, 22

“My Memra (Word) will be . . . a wall of fire round about . . .
and I will make My Shekinah (dwelling) dwell in her midst.”
Zechariah 2:5 Targum Jonathan

The Spirit of Christ is “the dwelling place” of the Spirit of God.

Jesus made this analogy in John 14, saying, “in My Father’s house there are many dwelling places, I go to prepare a place for you” ( John 14:2). The Father’s house is the Church of God; it is the house in which the Spirit of God dwells. The Apostle Paul calls the Church, “the Church of God” ten times. He never used the expression “Church of Christ.” The Church is the house, built by Christ, where God dwells. The boundaries of this house are set by the Spirit of Christ; and therefore, Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” In John 14:23, He said, “we will come and make our home with Him.”

The Apostle Paul continued Christ’s analogy of a house in Ephesians 2:6: “He . . . made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” and in verse 21 and 22, “in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom, you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” You can see, from the underlined words, that Paul has equated “the Lord” with “the Spirit.”

There are two Spirits who come to live inside us: The Spirit of Christ, who makes the house, and the Spirit of God, who dwells in the house.

The Fruit of the Spirit

 “The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,”
Galatians 5:22

“you are light in the Lord . . . for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness”
Ephesians 5:8–9

In John 15, Jesus described Himself as the vine, saying, “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit” (John 15:5). Therefore, Paul wrote, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, joy” (Galatians 5:22).

The Spirit of God is the sanctifying Spirit. Jesus said, “My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1–2).

In Sanctification of the Spirit

In John 17:19, Jesus described Himself as the Spirit who sanctifies Himself, saying, “for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they may also be sanctified in truth.” Paul described this as “sanctification by the Spirit, and faith in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). Peter called it, “the sanctifying work of the Spirit” (1 Peter 1:2). In the introduction of Chapter 24, we said that the Spirit of God sanctifies, separates believers, but the “body of Christ” is the body of believers, “the Spirit,” that sanctifies itself.

The Spirit of Christ in Acts

The expression “Spirit of Jesus” is used in Acts 16:7, and the expression “the Spirit” is found in Acts 10:19, 11:12,28, 19:21, 20:22, 21:4.

The expression “Spirit of the Lord” is first used in Acts 5:9. Peter accused Ananias of lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3) and to God (Acts 5:4). And he accused Ananias’ wife of putting the Spirit of the Lord to the test (Acts 5:9).

The most interesting use of the phrase “Spirit of the Lord” is in Acts 8, where the Angel of God spoke to Philip.

The Spirit who spoke to Philip

In Acts 8:29, “the Spirit,” called “the Angel of the Lord” in Acts 8:26, told Philip to join the chariot of the Ethiopian eunuch. Philip baptized him, and then “the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away” (Acts 8:39).

After the Spirit of Christ was manifest in the flesh as the Son of man, He continued to appear as “the Angel of the Lord.” We can see this in the Gospels, throughout the Book of Acts, and in the Book of Revelation.

Trinitarians do not believe that the Spirit of Christ was “manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). They do not believe that the Spirit of Christ appeared as the Angel of the Lord and Archangel in the New Testament. So modern translations record Acts 8:26 as “an Angel of the Lord.” But the translation of Acts 8:26 as “an Angel of the Lord” breaks the rule of Greek grammar.

The King James Version correctly reads “the Angel of the Lord.” In the second century, a Greek Grammarian Scholar Apollonius Dyscolus described the rules of Greek grammar. He explained a rule of Greek grammar, we call “Apollonius’ Canon.” It says that if two nouns are anarthrous (presented without a definite article), and one governs the other, and one is known to require the definite article, then both nouns are read with the definite article. Otherwise, both nouns are read with an indefinite article. Therefore, the Greek expression  Ἄγγελος δὲ Κυρίου (Angel of Lord), can only be translated as “the Angel of the Lord,” just as it was in the Old Testament. Apollonius’ Syntax of Greek Grammar was translated into Latin in 1590 by F. Portus and was the source of grammatical reference for the translators of the King James Version in 1611. The King James translators faithfully translated Matthew 1:20, Acts 5:19, 8:26, and Acts 12:7, as “the Angel of the Lord” (and Luke 1:11 as “an Angel of the Lord” describing the Angel Gabriel, because they understood that the Angel of Gabriel was not “the Angel of the Lord,” the Spirit of Christ).

The expression “the Angel of the Lord” in the New Testament has no different meaning than it did in the OId Testament. The Angel of the Lord was the Spirit of Christ who appeared to Joseph, while the baby Jesus was in Mary’s womb, and later appeared to the Apostles after Jesus’ resurrection.

The Spirit of Christ in the Letters of Paul

The Lord is the Spirit

“The Lord is the Spirit”
2 Corinthians 3:17

“Just as from the Lord, the Spirit”
2 Corinthians 3:18

A Life-Giving Spirit

“The second Adam became ‘a life-giving Spirit’”
1 Corinthians 15:45

“The Letter kills but the Spirit gives life”
2 Corinthians 3:6

“The Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus”
Romans 8:2

The spirit, or breath of God, in the Old Testament was called “the breath of the Spirit of life” (Genesis 7:22). Jesus Himself said, “just as My Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom He wishes” (John 5:21). God gave us physical life, but Christ gives us spiritual life.

The Apostle Paul made the comparison of physical and spiritual life in 1 Corinthians 15:45–46, “So, it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.” The last Adam, was Christ, the life-giving Spirit, who breathed the breath of life into Adam, in the beginning of creation, and brings us spiritual life today, as Paul described in 2 Corinthians 3:6, “for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

Paul also explained Christ as a life-giving Spirit in Romans 2:29, “by the Spirit, not by the letter (which resulted in death [Romans 7:10]).” In Romans 8:2 he described, “the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.”

In 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, he identified Christ as the Spirit who made man in His image, saying, “we are all being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

The Ministry of the Spirit

 “But if the ministry of death in letters engraved on stone, came with glory . . .
how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be with even more glory?”
2 Corinthians 3:7–8

In 2 Corinthians 3:7–8, Paul contrasts the “ministry of death,” which came by the law to the ministry of life that came from Christ, “the Ministry of the Spirit”—which he called “the law of the Spirit of life” in Romans 8:2.

These same two “ministries” are described in John 1:17: “For the law was given through Moses; but grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”

The Pledge of the Spirit, the Guarantee

It is rather unfortunate that Ephesians 1:13 has not been translated literally. Beginning with 2 Corinthians 1:22, Paul explains that God sealed us and gave us the Spirit as a pledge. The Spirit, as a pledge, is also found in 2 Corinthians 5:5.

As noted in the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, Ephesians 1:13–14 literally reads,

after you believed you were sealed. The Spirit of Promise, the Holy One, is our pledge.“

The “Holy One” is Christ, who was crucified (Acts 3:14), and was buried (Acts 2:27, Psalms 16:10), and poured out the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:20, cf. Acts 2:33; Zechariah 12:10). The Holy One of Israel is the Word, as you we can see in Pauli’s translation of the Targum (Isaiah 5:24, 10:17; 10:20; and 17:7), and in Bruce Chilton’s translation (Isaiah 10:17; 10:20, and 17:7). You can also see Christ as the “Holy One” in Isaiah 29:23, 41:14; 41:16, 43:14, 47:4, 48:17; and 54:5; Hosea 11:9; and Habakkuk 3:3.

The “Promise” is the promise of our salvation in Ephesians 2:12, 3:6.

The seal is from God, from the Holy Spirit, as explained in Ephesians 4:30, and first in John 6:27. Paul is giving us the metaphor of a document, or pledge, which is the Spirit of Christ, sealed by the Spirit of God.

God gave us the Spirit of Christ as a pledge; and Christ anoints us with the Spirit of God, as a seal.

The Spirit of Adoption

 “God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, by which we cry out ‘Abba, Father.’”
Galatians 4:6

“you have received a spirit of adoption by which we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit itself testifies with our spirit that we are the sons of God.”
Romans 8:15–16

God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, as Paul explained in Galatians 3:5, 4:6.

Why is the Spirit of Christ called “the Spirit of Adoption?” Why wouldn’t the Spirit of God be called “the Spirit of Adoption?” The answer is in Romans 8:9: “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, then he does not belong to Him.” It is the Spirit of Christ, and not the Spirit of God, that secures our position as the children of God. This is a very significant theological truth.

The Spirit of Christ Intercedes for Us

“Access by one Spirit to the Father”
Ephesians 2:18

“the Spirit itself intercedes for us”
Romans 8:26

Our intercessor is always Christ. We read this in 1 John 2:1, Hebrews 7:25, 1 Timothy 2:5, and many other passages. In Romans 7:25, Paul described this intercession when he said, “I thank God through Jesus Christ.”

In Romans 8:26–27, Paul equates Christ, who intercedes for us, to “the Spirit.”

To fully understand this, let us substitute the phrase, “Spirit of Christ,” where Paul has written, “the Spirit,” in Romans 8:26–27:

In the same way, the Spirit of Christ also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit of Christ Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and God (the One) who searches the hearts knows what the (mind) desire of the Spirit of Christ is, because He/it (the Spirit of Christ) intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

God was called the One “who searches the hearts” in Jeremiah 17:10.

It is very interesting that the word “counsellor” or “advocate” describes the communication of Christ to God in 1 John 2:1 and the communication of the Spirit of God to us in John 14:16; 15:26; 16:17.

Walk according to the Spirit

Romans 8:4 and Galatians 5:16 tell us to walk according to the Spirit, according to Christ and His teachings. Jesus is our Lord. We follow Him. When we walk as Christ did, we walk according to the Spirit. In Galatians 5:18, Paul told us to be “led by the Spirit” and he described “the fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22.

Led by the Spirit of God

After Jesus ascended, the Spirit of Christ led the Apostles. In Acts 16:7, we read “the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them.”

But you may wonder why, in the previous verse, Acts 16:6, we were told that the Apostles were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit (God) to speak the word in Asia.” Which Spirit did not permit them?

The Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth, is the speaker for the Spirit of Christ, as Jesus told us, “He (it) will guide you into all truth, for He (it) will not speak on its own authority” (John 16:13). The Spirit of God is the Spirit we actually “hear.” The Spirit of God is the advocate for the Spirit of Christ.

In Romans 8:14. Paul said, “those who are led by the Spirit of God are the Sons of God.” Here, he compared us to Christ, who was led by the Spirit of God (Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38; John 5:19, etc.). The Spirit of God also directs us, but is only conveying the message of Christ. Just as the Spirit of Christ conveyed the message of God in the Old Testament.

The Angel of God in Revelation

“Hear what the Spirit says to the Churches”
Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22

The Angel of God in Revelation is the Spirit of Christ who speaks to John throughout the Book, and gives the message to the Seven Churches in Revelation 2 to 3.