|Topical Bible Study||May 1961|
The Holy Spirit Series—Lesson I
The Power of God
THE word Spirit, denoting God’s Holy Spirit, appears in the Bible several hundred times. In the Old Testament it is a translation of a Hebrew word meaning wind, or breath; and in the New Testament it translates a Greek word with the same meaning.* In the New Testament the same Greek word is erroneously translated “ghost,” ninety-two times. This error has been corrected in the Revised Version, and in many other newer translations of the Scriptures.
* Strong’s Greek Dictionary of the Bible.
We are not to understand that the Holy Spirit of God is a holy wind. Ancient languages were much more limited than languages generally are today. The words in the Hebrew and Greek meaning wind or breath came to be used to denote invisible power, since wind is invisible and powerful. The power of God is invisible, so these words were applied to it, and usually translated “Spirit.” Since everything pertaining to God is holy, his power, or Spirit, is frequently referred to in the Scriptures as the Holy Spirit.
The Scriptures ascribe all the accomplishments of God as functions of his Holy Spirit, or power. In the first use of the word Spirit in the Bible, we are told that it “moved upon the face of the waters.” (Gen. 1:2) The Hebrew text gives the thought that God’s Spirit “brooded” over the waters. This suggests God’s Spirit functioning as a creative, or life-giving energy.
The Bible informs us that God put his Spirit upon certain Israelites in the wilderness and thereby gave them the necessary skills to make the furnishings of the tabernacle. (Exod. 31:1-6; 35:30-35) In this instance, the Spirit of God did not affect those who received it in any moral sense, although it was an operation of God’s power upon their minds.
Another function of the Holy Spirit was the enabling of God’s prophets to record his thoughts as they pertain to his people and to the development of his plan of salvation. (II Pet. 1:21) In the case of the prophets, God’s Spirit did not fully reveal the meaning of their writings. The understanding of these things was to come later, and through a different manifestation of God’s holy power.—I Pet. 1:10-12
This revealing power of God began to function with the first advent of Jesus, and he was the first to have his mind enlightened by it. This is symbolically described as the opening of the heavens to Jesus. (Matt. 3:16) Thus Jesus was given the ability to understand what had previously been recorded by the Old Testament prophets.
Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be given to his apostles to enable them to call to remembrance the things which he had said to them, and to guide them into all truth. (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13) This was fulfilled at Pentecost. Another error of translation the student should observe in the King James Version of the Bible is the use of the personal pronoun when reference is made to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God is not a person, and should be referred to as “it.”
Our study thus far indicates the manner in which the inspired Word of God was written for the guidance and inspiration of his people. It is through his Word that the power of God directs, comforts, and otherwise blesses his people, even begetting them to a new hope of life. This, as are all the works of God, is a miracle to us. Our finite minds cannot comprehend it. (Eccles. 11:5) We can only stand in awe and rejoice in the ability he gives us to understand his will and ways.
Many who have spent years in college would be unable to give correct answers to these questions pertaining to the Holy Spirit. Can you?
What is the basic meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words which are translated “Spirit” in the Bible? Is the word “ghost” a proper translation?
Why were Hebrew and Greek words denoting wind applied to the power of God?
Where is the Spirit of God first referred to in the Bible? Explain this reference.
Did the power of God that enabled certain Israelites to make the furnishings of the tabernacle in any way change their characters?
What does the Bible say about the operation of God’s Spirit upon his holy prophets?
Explain when and how the revealing power of God began to function. When did it reach the followers of Jesus?
Should we expect to understand the workings of God’s Holy Spirit?
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT THOUGHTS
The Holy Spirit is the holy power of God, employed by him for the accomplishment of all his purposes. It is not a person.