- 1 The Apostles called the Lord “the Spirit”
- 2 The Spirit in the Gospels
- 3 The Spirit of Christ in the Gospel of John
- 4 The Spirit of Christ in Acts
- 5 The Spirit of Christ in the Letters of Paul
- 6 The Spirit in Revelation
- 7 “Spirit” and “the Spirit”
The Apostles called the Lord “the Spirit”
The Spirit of Christ was called “the Spirit” from the Old Testament. The Apostle Paul said, “The Lord is the Spirit.” In the Appendix, we list about seventy instances where the expression “the Spirit” is used for the Spirit of Christ in the New Testament.
The expression “the spirit” for the spirit of God before the Day of Pentecost results from the grammatical definiteness of the expression the “ruah of ELOHIM.” This described ‘the spirit of God” in the Old Testament. While God was the Lord, the spirit of God was called “the Spirit.” But after the Day of Pentecost, the spirit of God was described as “spirit,” as an anointing.
The Spirit in the Gospels
Jesus was “the Spirit” described in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament, and He preached the message of the kingdom of God, in which He became “the Lord.” The message of the Spirit in the kingdom of God begins in Matthew 5:3, which actually reads, “Blessed are the poor in the Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
In the Appendix, we list about ten uses of the phrase “the Spirit” by Jesus, and all of these describe “the Spirit” in the kingdom of God as “the Spirit of Christ.” We know this because Paul explains nearly all of them in his Epistles.
The most famous use of the expression “the Spirit” is Matthew 26:41: “The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” This illustrates the struggle of Christ and His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. From here, Paul describes the conflict between the flesh and the Spirit.
Paul explained every use of the phrase “the Spirit” in John’s gospel.
In John 3:5–6, Jesus told us that we must be born of “the Spirit.” In explanation, Paul said, “God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, by which we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’”
In John 6:63, Jesus said, “The Spirit gives life.” Therefore, Paul called Christ “a life-giving Spirit.” “For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
In John 11:33 and 13:21, Jesus “groaned in the Spirit.” Paul said, “All creation groans . . . The Spirit (as the firstborn) intercedes for the saints, with groanings too deep for words.”
In John 14:2, Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. I go to prepare a place for you.” Paul described Christ as the cornerstone of God’s house: “a holy temple in the Lord in whom you are built up together as a dwelling place for God in spirit.”
In John 15:1-5, Jesus said, “I am the vine, and My Father is the vinedresser . . . He who abides in Me bears much fruit.” Paul said, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace.”
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 John 8:28: “I do nothing of Myself.”
The Father sets 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 at 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 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 verses 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 spirit.”
There are two spirits that 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.”
“You are light in the Lord . . . for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness.”
In John 15, Jesus describes 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).
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, and 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). 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.
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 manifested 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. Therefore, modern translations record Acts 8:26 as “an Angel of the Lord.” However, 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, Greek grammarian scholar Apollonius Dyscolus described the rules of Greek grammar. He explained the rule of Greek grammar, which we call “Apollonius’ Canon.” It says that if two nouns are anarthrous (presented without an article), one governs the other, and if 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 “γγελος δὲ Κυρίου” (Angel of Lord) can only be translated as “the Angel of the Lord,” just as it was in the Old Testament. Apollonius’s 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.”
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 a 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 at the beginning of creation and brought 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 presented “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, which came from Christ, “the Ministry of the Spirit”—which he calls “the law of the Spirit of life” in Romans 8:2.
These 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 Spirit of Promise
In 2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5 and Ephesians 1:13, we are told that God has given us “the Spirit”— the Spirit of Christ, as a pledge, or guarantee. In 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Paul says, “He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.” In Galatians 4:6, he affirms that the Spirit in our hearts is “the Spirit of His Son.”
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.“
Ephesians 1:12–15 is a series of appositive statements describing “the Anointed One – the Holy One.” Ephesians 1:12-15 reads: “To be for us the praise of the glory of Him, the ones who first trusted in the Anointed One (ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ)—in whom, you also, having heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom, you also, having believed, were sealed—the Spirit of Promise, the Holy One (τῷ Πνεύματι τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῷ Ἁγίῳ), who (ὅς) is the guarantee of our inheritance, to the redemption of the acquired possession, to the praise of the glory of Him.” There is a break between τῷ Χριστῷ and τῷ Πνεύματι that Steven Runge describes as a “right-dislocation”; he cites a very similar example in Ephesians 4:22-24.1 In fact, τῷ Πνεύματι is a dative of apposition to τῷ Χριστῷ. Then, τῷ Πνεύματι is restricted or modified by the genitive τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῷ Ἁγίῳ. The next phrase “He Who” ὅς is masculine because it describes Christ. Daniel B. Wallace, in Greek Grammar and the Personality of the Holy Spirit, page 117, says the only pronoun that cannot be explained for the holy spirit is ὅς, in Ephesians 1:3. But of course, it does not describe the holy spirit; it describes Christ, the Holy One.
The “Promise” is the promise of our salvation in Ephesians 2:12 and 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.
The Spirit of Adoption
“God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, by which we cry out ‘Abba, Father.’”
“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.”
God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, as Paul explained in Galatians 3:5 and 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
“The Spirit itself intercedes for us.”
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 says, “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 with God in 1 John 2:1 and the communication of the spirit of God with us in John 14:16, 15:26, and 16:17. Christ is our advocate, and God is Christ’s advocate!
The Spirit in Revelation
“Hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.”
Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, and 22
The Spirit is the Spirit of Christ who appears in all the manifestations described in Revelation 2:1 ,8, 18, and 3:1, 7, and 14.
“Spirit” and “the Spirit”
Finally, we want to eliminate any doubts about the expressions: “spirit” and “the Spirit.” The expression “the Spirit” refers to the Spirit of Christ exclusively, and the expression “spirit” without the article only describes the spirit of God. Paul said, “You are in spirit if indeed the spirit of God makes its home in you” (Romans 8:9).
These two expressions, “spirit” and “the Spirit,” often appear together. When we compare these two expressions in all biblical passages, we see that their meanings are entirely consistent.
The expressions “the Spirit” and “spirit” first appear together in John 7:38–39.
In verse 38, Jesus says, “The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”
In verse 39, John notes, “But this He said in reference to the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for spirit (πνεῦμα) was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
In Galatians 4:6 and 2 Corinthians 1:22, Paul told us that God sent the Spirit of His Son into the hearts of the believers. This is “the Spirit” in our hearts, our innermost being. Jesus Christ is the Lord in our hearts. The spirit of God speaks of what it hears and echoes the things of Christ.
Spirit and the Spirit in Revelation
The Apostle John used the expression “spirit” in Revelation 1:10; 4:2; 17:3, and 21:10 to describe the anointing of the spirit of God. He used the expression “the Spirit” in Revelation 2:7, 14, 17, and 29 and 3:6, 13, and 22 to describe the Spirit of Christ.
Spirit and the Spirit in Paul’s Letters
In the Appendix, we list all uses of the phrases “spirit” and “the Spirit” in the New Testament. Most of them are in Paul’s Epistles.
In Romans 8, Galatians 5, and 1 Corinthians 2 and 12, he uses these expressions together several times. In every case, the meaning is consistent, as you can see in the table below.
The meaning of “spirit” and “the Spirit” is consistent throughout his epistles.
There is no doubt that “the Spirit” refers only to the Spirit of Christ, as we have explained.
The expression “spirit” describes the anointing of the Holy Spirit, beginning with Matthew 1:20 and 22:43. After the Day of Pentecost, the holy spirit is only the spirit of God.
Jesus called the “holy spirit”—“the spirit of your Father” (Mat 10:20, cf Mark 13:11, and Luke 12:12), and Paul called “the Spirit”—“the Spirit of His Son” in Galatians 4:6. The Spirit of His Son was the firstborn of creation.
“Spirit” and “the Spirit” in Paul’s Epistles
|“Spirit” (the holy spirit)
· Eph 2:18, “we in one Spirit have access to the Father”
· Eph 4:4, “there is one body, and one spirit”
· 1 Cor 12:13, “for by one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body”
|“The Spirit” (The Spirit of Christ)
|· Gal 3:3, “Having begun in spirit, are you now trying to make yourself perfect in the flesh?”||· Gal 3:2 “Did you receive the Spirit by the law, or hearing of faith?”
· 2 Cor 1:12, “Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God”
|· Gal 4:29, “persecuted him who was born according to spirit”||· Gal 4:6, “God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts by which we cry out ‘Abba, Father”
· 2 Cor 1:22, “who also sealed us, and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge”
· Eph 1:13-14, “the Spirit of Promise, who is our pledge”
· Rom 8:15-16, “we have received the Spirit of adoption, the Spirit itself testifies that we are the children of God”
|· Gal 5:16, “walk in spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh”
· Rom 8:4, “who do not walk according to flesh but according to spirit”
· Rom 8:9, “you are not in flesh but in spirit, if indeed God’s spirit makes its home in you”
|· Gal 5:17, “the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh”
· Rom 8:5, “those according to flesh, the things of the flesh, but those according to spirit, the things of the Spirit”
|· Gal 5:18, “now if you are led by spirit, you are not under the law”
· Rom 8:14, “all who are being led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God”
|· Rom 8:27, “He who searches the hearts, knows what the mind of the Spirit is” (God searches the hearts of men, and the Spirit of Christ searches God)||· 1 Cor 2:10, “for God revealed them through the Spirit, the Spirit searches all things even the deep things of God”
· 1 Cor 12:7, “for to each one is given the revelation of the Spirit for the common good”
- Runge, Steven E., Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament. Peabody Mass: Hendrickson, 2010, pg. 332 ↩