10. The Holy Spirit in the Prophets

The Messenger became “the Word”

The prophetess Deborah, said “curse Menoz, says the Messenger of YHVH” (Judges 5:23).  In this statement she prophetically spoke the message of the Angel of YHVH.

But after the Messenger stopped appearing, the Messenger became known as “the Word,” beginning with the Prophet Samuel. The Word was identified as the Spirit who spoke to Elijah, and all the prophets.

In Jesus’ time, the Jews spoke Aramaic. The official Aramaic translation of the synagogue, the Targum, called the Holy Spirit in the prophets, “the Word.”

For example, Zechariah 4:6 read,

“not by strength, nor by might, but by My Word.”

And Zechariah 7:12 read,

“lest they should hear the Law and the words which the LORD of Hosts sent by His Word.”

In our Bibles, we read Isaiah 63:10-11, as “they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit…where is He who put His Holy Spirit within them?”

The Targum translated this as: “they rebelled against the Word of His holy prophets, and blasphemed…where is He who made the Word of his holy prophets dwell among them?”

Elihu equated Spirit to “breath,” in Job 32:8,

But there is a Spirit in a man,
and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.

The Targumist recognized that “breath” meant “the Word,” and translated Job 32:8 as,

It is the Spirit of Prophecy in a human being,
and the Word of the Almighty which makes them understand.

The Apostles told us that the Spirit of Christ was in the Prophets

The Apostle John told us that Christ was the Word.

Peter told us that the Spirit of Christ was in the prophets (1 Pet 1:10-11).

In Numbers 11:25, God took of the Spirit on Moses, and put the same on the 70 Elders. The Targum referred to this Spirit as “the Holy Spirit.”

The Jews believed that there was only one Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.

Paul described Christ as the Holy Spirit of the Old Testament, saying,

“all were drinking from the spiritual rock, and the rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:4)

The Holy Spirit in John the Baptist

The last prophet to be moved by the Spirit of Christ was John the Baptist.

Regarding John,  Jesus said, “among those born of women there is no one greater than John the Baptist, yet he who is the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Luke 7:28).

John the Baptist was the greatest born among women, because he was filled with the Holy Spirit from birth. John had “the Spirit of Elijah” (Luke 1:17), the Holy Spirit that was in the prophets.

But those who receive the spirit of God in the kingdom of God are greater than John the Baptist, because they become the Sons of God.

The Holy Spirit that came upon Mary

The Apostle Paul told us that the meaning of manifest in the flesh was difficult for many. Many wondered how the Spirit of Christ could be in John the Baptist, and also manifest in the man Jesus Christ.

Many began to believe that the spirit of God was in John the Baptist, and also came upon Mary.

Therefore, when explaining the Holy Spirit that came upon Mary in Luke 1:35, Justin Martyr wrote,

“It is wrong, therefore, to understand the Spirit and the power of God as anything else than the Word, who is also the first-born of God.”

In his book, “Early Christian Doctrines,” the Trinitarian Theologian J.N.D. Kelly said this was the “all but unanimous” interpretation of Luke 1:35, before the Nicene creed of 325 AD.