The Holy Spirit in the Holy Scripture

Friday, October 13, 2006

Hans Hübner presented in his 1989 article, “The Holy Spirit in Holy Scripture” in The Ecumenical Review, an interesting look at the most significant aspects of biblical pneumatology. He studied the Holy Spirit from different parts of the New Testament with their relevant reference to the Old Testament: Luke 4:16 with Isaiah 61:1, Acts 2:16 with Joel 2 and Romans 8 with possible parallels in Ezekiel.

Luke 4:16ff – pneumatology and Christology

Luke 4:16-21 (ESV)
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

Luke in his gospel states emphatically that in speaking of the Messiah, one must first speak of the Holy Spirit. In Luke, the Holy Spirit is tied to Christ. Where Christ is, what He says, what he does, there is the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ existence according to Luke is a pneumatic existence.

Acts 2:16ff – pneumatology, ecclesiology and eschatology

Acts 2:16-21 (ESV)
But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: "'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'

Luke in this second volume, Acts, presents the Spirit endowed church. The “epoch of the church” is that of the Holy Spirit as the chief protagonist in the church, especially in the church’s missionary activity. The church, guided by the Holy Spirit, must primarily preach the Word. The Spirit opens up the universal perspective for the church: where the Spirit is at work, the church thinks on a worldwide basis.

Romans 8 – existence in the Holy Spirit

Romans 8:9-17 (ESV)
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Romans 8 is the most important chapter of the epistle for Paul’s pneumatology, where he talks about the existence of those who are justified as being in the sphere of the influence of the Spirit. When God does something with us as human beings, he does it through the Spirit, who is the strength and power of God in the sphere of history. The doctrine of the Spirit in Romans 8 is wholly integrated in the Pauline doctrine of justification; for Paul the doctrine of justification is the horizon of the doctrine of the Spirit, but the doctrine of the Spirit of the focus for the doctrine of justification.

Picture by Eugene Rudyy

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