Holy Spirit

Holy Ghost, Paraclete, Comforter

General Information

In Christian theology, the Holy Spirit, or Holy Ghost, is the third person of the Trinity, distinct from but coequal with God the Father and God the Son. The Holy Spirit is sometimes described as the creative, healing, renewing presence of God. Theologians point to a gradual development of the doctrine in Scripture. In the Old Testament, the Spirit was at work in the creation of the world (Gen. 1) and in prophecy (Isa. 61:1). In the New Testament, the Spirit was present in the life and works of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:12) and continues to be present as the Paraclete (advocate) in the Christian community (John 14:26). The early church saw the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles at Pentecost as the outpouring of divine gifts of holiness, love, prophecy, healing, and speaking in Tongues. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit was formulated at the Council of Constantinople in 381.

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Holy Ghost

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The third Person of the adorable Trinity.

His personality is proved
  1. from the fact that the attributes of personality, as intelligence and volition, are ascribed to him (John 14:17, 26; 15:26; 1 Cor. 2:10, 11; 12:11). He reproves, helps, glorifies, intercedes (John 16:7-13; Rom. 8:26).
  2. He executes the offices peculiar only to a person. The very nature of these offices involves personal distinction (Luke 12:12; Acts 5:32; 15:28; 16:6; 28:25; 1 Cor. 2:13; Heb. 2:4; 3:7; 2 Pet. 1:21).

His divinity is established

  1. from the fact that the names of God are ascribed to him (Ex. 17:7; Ps. 95:7; comp. Heb. 3:7-11); and
  2. that divine attributes are also ascribed to him, omnipresence (Ps. 139:7; Eph. 2:17, 18; 1 Cor. 12:13); omniscience (1 Cor. 2:10, 11); omnipotence (Luke 1:35; Rom. 8:11); eternity (Heb. 9:4).
  3. Creation is ascribed to him (Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13; Ps. 104:30), and the working of miracles (Matt. 12:28; 1 Cor. 12:9-11).
  4. Worship is required and ascribed to him (Isa. 6:3; Acts 28:25; Rom. 9:1; Rev. 1:4; Matt. 28:19).

(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)

Holy Spirit

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In the NT, the third person of the Trinity; in the OT, God's power.

The Old Testament

In the OT the spirit of the Lord (ruah yhwh; LXX, to pneuma kyriou) is generally an expression for God's power, the extension of himself whereby he carries out many of his mighty deeds (e.g., 1 Kings 8:12; Judg. 14:6ff; 1 Sam. 11:6). As such, "spirit" sometimes finds expression in ways similar to other modes of God's activity, such as "the hand of God" (Ps. 19:1; 102:25); "the word of God" (Ps. 33:6; 147:15, 18); and the "wisdom of God" (Exod. 28:3; 1 Kings 3:28; Job 32:8). The origins of the word "spirit" in both Hebrew (ruah) and Greek (pneuma) are similar, stemming from associations with "breath" and "wind," which were connected by ancient cultures to unseen spiritual force, hence "spirit" (cf. John 3:8, note the association with air in English; e.g., "pneumatic," "respiration," etc.). The AV uses the term "Holy Ghost" for "Holy Spirit" based on an obsolete usage of the word "ghost" (from Middle English and Anglo-Saxon, originally meaning "breath," "spirit", cf. the German Geist). Thus it is understandable that God's creative word (Gen. 1:3ff.) is closely akin to God's creative breath (Gen. 2:7). Both ideas are identified elsewhere with God's spirit. As an agent in creation, God's spirit is the life principle of both men and animals (Job 33:4; Gen. 6:17; 7:15).

The primary function of the spirit of God in the OT is as the spirit of prophecy. God's spirit is the motivating force in the inspiration of the prophets, that power which moved sometimes to ecstasy but always to the revelation of God's message, expressed by the prophets with "thus saith the Lord." Prophets are sometimes referred to as "men of God" (1 Sam. 2:27; 1 Kings 12:22; etc.); in Hos. 9:7 they are "men of the Spirit." The general implication in the OT is that the prophets were inspired by the spirit of God (Num. 11:17; 1 Sam. 16:15; Mic. 3:8; Ezek. 2:2; etc.).

The phrase "Holy Spirit" appears in two contexts in the OT, but is qualified both times as God's holy Spirit (Ps. 51:11; Isa. 63:10-11, 14), such that it is clear that God himself is the referent, not the Holy Spirit which is encountered in the NT. The OT does not contain an idea of a semi-independent divine entity, the Holy Spirit. Rather, we find special expressions of God's activity with and through men. God's spirit is holy in the same way his word and his name are holy; they are all forms of his revelation and, as such, are set in antithesis to all things human or material. The OT, especially the prophets, anticipates a time when God, who is holy (or "other than/separate from" men; cf. Hos. 11:9) will pour out his spirit on men (Joel 2:28ff.; Isa. 11:1ff.; Ezek. 36:14ff.). who will themselves become holy. The Messiah/ Servant of God will be the one upon whom the spirit rests (Isa. 11:1ff.; 42:1ff.; 63:1ff.), and will inaugurate the time of salvation (Ezek. 36:14ff.; cf. Jer. 31:31ff.).

Intertestamental Judaism

Within intertestamental Judaism several significant developments shaped the idea of "Holy Spirit" as it was understood in NT times. After the OT prophets had proclaimed the coming of the Spirit in the messianic age of salvation, Judaism had developed the idea that the spirit of prophecy had ceased within Israel with the last of the biblical prophets (Syriac Bar. 85:3; 1 Macc. 4:46; 14:41; etc.; cf. Ps. 74:9). Consequently, there arose from time to time a hope of the dawning of the new age, especially within the apocalyptic movement, which generally pointed to a supposed messiah and/or prophetic reawakening of some kind (cf. Acts 5:34ff.). The Qumran community is illustrative of this, since it understood itself to be involved in the fulfillment of Israel's messianic hope as the "preparers of the way of the Lord" (Isa. 40:3; cf. 1QS 8. 14-16). The Qumran literature also shows increased identification of the spirit of prophecy with "God's Holy Spirit" (1QS 8. 16; Zadokite Documents II. 12). The phrase, "the Holy Spirit," occasionally occurs in Judaism (IV Ezra 14:22; Ascension of Isa. 5:14; etc.), but, as in the rabbis, it generally meant "God's spirit of prophecy." Thus, the messaianic expectation of Judaism, which included the eschatological outpouring of God's spirit (e.g., 1 Enoch 49:3, citing Isa. 11:2; cf. Sybilline Oracle III, 582, based on Joel 2:28ff.), was bound up with the conviction that the Spirit had ceased in Israel with the last of the prophets; the Holy Spirit was understood as God's spirit of prophecy, which would be given again in the new age to a purified Israel in conjunction with the advent of a messiah.

The concept of the Holy Spirit was broadened through the Wisdom Literature, especially in the personification of wisdom as that idea came into contact with the idea of Spirit. As early as Prov. 8:22ff. and Job 28:25ff. wisdom is presented as a more or less independent aspect of God's power (here as agent in creation), and wisdom is credited with functions and characteristics that are attributed to the Holy Spirit in the NT. Wisdom proceeded from the mouth of God and covered the earth as a mist at creation (Sir. 24:3); she is the breath of the power of God (Wisd. Solomon 7:25); and by means of his wisdom God formed man (Wisd. Sol. 9:2). The Lord poured out wisdom upon all his works, and she dwells with all flesh (Sir. 1:9-10). Moreover, wisdom is full of spirit, and indeed is identified with the Spirit (Wisd. Sol. 7:22; 9:1; cf. 1:5). Thus the Jews of NT times were familiar with the background of these ideas as they are variously expressed in the NT, ideas which use these background concepts but move beyond them to some unexpected conclusions. Indeed, Jesus taught that his messiahship and the corresponding outpouring of the Spirit were firmly rooted in OT understanding (Luke 4:18ff., citing Isa. 61:1-2), and, similar to intertestamental Judaism, understood the messianic Spirit of the Lord to be the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:32), the spirit which had foretold through the prophets that the coming Messiah would inaugurate the age of salvation with the pouring out of the Spirit on all flesh. Jesus developed the idea of the Holy Spirit as a personality (e.g., John 15:26; 16:7ff.), specifically as God working in the church.

The New Testament

The NT teaching of the Holy Spirit is rooted in the idea of both the spirit of God as the manifestation of God's power and the spirit of prophecy. Jesus, and the church after him, brought these ideas together in predicating them of the Holy Spirit, God's eschatological gift to man. When Mary is "overshadowed" by the power of the Most High, a phrase standing in parallel construction to "the Holy Spirit" (Luke 1:35; cf. 9:35), we find echoes of the OT idea of God's spirit in the divine cloud which "overshadowed" the tabernacle so that the tent was filled with the glory of the Lord (Exod. 40:35; Isa. 63:11ff. identifies God's presence in this instance as "God's Holy Spirit"). Luke records Jesus' power to cast out demons "by the finger of God," an OT phrase for God's power (Luke 11:20; Exod. 8:19; Ps. 8:3). This power is identified as the "Spirit of God" (Matt. 12:28), i.e., the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:32). At Jesus' baptism the spirit came upon him (Mark 1:10; "the spirit of God," Matt. 3:16 "the Holy Spirit," Luke 3:21), and he received God's confirmation of his divine sonship and messianic mission (Matt. 3:13ff., par.). Jesus went up from the Jordan full of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1), and after the temptation began his ministry "in the power of the Spirit" (Luke 4:14). Taking up the message of John the Baptist, Jesus proclaimed the coming of the kingdom of God (Matt. 4:17; cf. 3:1), a coming marked by the presence of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:28ff., par.) as the sign of the messianic age of salvation (Luke 4:18ff.; Acts 10:38; etc.).

From the beginning of Jesus' ministry he identified himself with both the victorious messiah king and the suffering servant figures of OT prophecy (Isa. 42:1ff.; cf. Mark 10:45), ideas which Judaism had kept separate. Jesus further defined the role of God's Messiah as proclaiming God's favor, God's salvation, in the new age, a message stressed far beyond that of "judgment of the nations," which the Jews had come to expect. At the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16ff.) when Jesus identified himself with the Messiah promised in Isa. 61:1-2a he stopped short of reading the "words of judgment" of Isa. 61:2b (even though Isa. 61:2c, "comfort to those who mourn," is part of Jesus' teaching at Matt. 5:4). This emphasis is made again when John the Baptist asks whether Jesus is indeed the one who was to come (Luke 7:18-23). Indeed, even though John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus to be the one who would "baptize in the Holy Spirit and in fire" as aspects of the new age (salvation and judgment, respectively, Luke 3:15ff; note the clear judgment connections of "baptism with fire" in 3:17), Jesus' own focus was on the positive, salvific aspect of the new age as represented in the baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5; 11:16).

Jesus understood the Holy Spirit as a personality. This comes out especially in John's Gospel, where the Spirit is called the "Paraclete," i.e., the Comforter (Counselor, Advocate). Jesus himself was the first Counselor (Paraclete, John 14:16), and he will send the disciples another Counselor after he is gone, i.e., the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit (14:26; 15:26; 16:5). The Holy Spirit will dwell in the believers (John 7:38; cf. 14:17), and will guide the disciples into all truth (16:13), teaching them "all things" and bringing them "to rememberance of all that [Jesus] said" to them (14:26). The Holy Spirit will testify about Jesus, as the disciples must also testify (John 15:26-27).

In Acts 2:14ff. Peter interpreted the Pentecost phenomena as the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy of the outpouring of the spirit upon all flesh in the messianic age (Joel 2:28ff.). The outpouring of the spirit upon all flesh was accomplished for the benefit of Jew and Gentile alike (Acts 10:45; 11:15ff.), and individual converts had access to this gift of the age of salvation through repentance and baptism into the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38). This, according to Peter, put the converts in contact with the promise of Joel's prophecy, the gift of the Holy Spirit; "for to you is the promise..., for all whom the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:39; Joel 2:32). The apostles and others carried out their ministries "full of the Holy Spirit" (4:31; 6:5; 7:54; etc.), and the Holy Spirit, identified in Acts 16:7 as the Spirit of Jesus, directed the mission of the fledgling church (Acts 9:31; 13:2; 15:28; 16:6-7). The salvific aspects of the new age practiced by Jesus, notably healing and exorcism, were carried out by the early church through the power of the Holy Spirit. Visions and prophecies occurred within the young church (Acts 9:10; 10:3; 10:ff.; 11:27-28; 13:1; 15:32) in keeping with the Acts 2 citation of Joel 2:28ff. The experience of the early church confirmed that the messianic age had indeed come.

Paul taught that the Holy Spirit, poured out in the new age, is the creator of new life in the believer and that unifying force by which God in Christ is "building together" the Christians into the body of Christ (Rom. 5:5; II Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:22; cf. I Cor. 6:19). Romans 8 shows that Paul identified the spirit, the spirit of God, and the spirit of Christ with the Holy Spirit (cf. the spirit of Christ as the spirit of prophecy in I Pet. 1:10ff.), and that these terms are generally interchangeable. If anyone does not have the spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ (Rom. 8:9); but those who are led by the spirit of God are sons of God (Rom. 8:14). We all have our access to the Father through one spirit (Eph.2:18), and there is one body and one spirit (Eph. 4:4). We were all baptized by one spirit into one body, and we were all given the one spirit to drink (I Cor.12:13). The believer receives the spirit of adoption or "sonship" (Rom. 8:15), indeed, the spirit of God's own Son (Gal. 4:6), by whom we cry, "Abba, Father," that intimate address of filial relationship to God pioneered by Jesus, the unique Son of God (Mark 14:36).

The believers are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the spirit (Eph. 4:22). To each one was apportioned grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ (Eph. 4:7; cf. Rom. 12:3), and Christ has given different ones to be prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Eph. 4:11) for the edification of the body. Similarly, the Spirit gives different kinds of spiritual gifts for different kinds of service (I Cor. 12:4-5;7), all for the common good. The way of love is to be followed in all things; indeed, the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, etc. (Gal. 5:22ff.). All of this is because God has initiated the new covenant (Jer. 31:31ff.; Ezek. 36:14ff.;26) in the hearts of men by means of his eschatological spirit (II Cor. 3:6ff.). In this new age the spirit is the earnest of our inheritance (II Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14), a "firstfruits," the seal of God (II Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13; 4:30). These phrases point out the "already vs. the not yet" tension of the new age: the new age has dawned, and the eschatological spirit has been poured out, yet all of creation awaits the final consummation. Even though the spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are sons of God (Rom. 8:16) and we truly have the firstfruits of the spirit (Rom. 8:23), we await the adoption as sons (8:23) at the final consummation. Until that time Christians have the Comforter, the Spirit who intercedes on behalf of the saints according to the will of the Father (Rom. 8:27).

Patristic and Medieval Theology

In the patristic period we encounter little that moves beyond the biblical ideas of the Holy Spirit. The apostolic fathers reflect the NT idea that the spirit is operative in the church, inspiring prophecy and otherwise working within individuals (Barnabas 12:2; Ignatius, Phil . 7:1). Itinerant Christian prophets are dealt with as a present reality in the Didache, but as time passes, such charismata are treated as theoretical. The view that the spirit of OT prophecy is one and the same Holy Spirit that inspired the apostles is periodically encountered (Justin, Dialogues 1-7; 51; 82; 87; etc.; Irenaeus, Against Heresies II, 6.4; III, 21.3-4), and the apostles emerge as the "Spirit-bearers" (pneumatophoroi), a designation given to the OT prophets (Hos. 9:7, LXX). The Holy Spirit is credited with empowering the church, even with inspiring certain noncanonical writings, as late as the fourth century.

Even though the "trinitarian" formula of Matt. 28:19 is found in the apostolic fathers, the word "trinity" is first applied to the Godhead by Theophilus of Antioch (To Autolycus 2:15). Tertullian clearly taught the divinity of the Holy Spirit, an idea that was later to occupy the church in discussion for a thousand years. Tertullian wrestled with the problem of the tension between the authority of the Spirit in the church versus apostolic tradition and Scripture as received revelation. He espoused montanism for a time, a system which placed primary importance on the current inspiration of the Spirit in the body. The church, however, rejected montanism in favor of the objective authority of apostolic tradition as reflected in Scripture, and montanism eventually died out. The church's stand against the montanist heresy was largely responsible for the demise of Christian prophecy and other charismata. The Muratorian Canon (lines 75ff.) states that the number of prophets is settled, and even the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, which elevates charismatic leadership above ecclesiastical structure, restricts the term "prophet" entirely to the canonical prophets. In the late fourth century John Chrysostom could speak of the spiritual gifts as belonging to an age in the past.

In the period immediately prior to Nicaea the church was preoccupied with the famous "Christological controversies" and paid scant attention to a doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The Nicene Creed confesses faith in the Holy Spirit, but without any development of the idea of the Spirit's divinity or essential relationship to the Father and the Son. This question became a major issue within the church in the late fourth century and following, and the Council of Constantinople added to the words of the Nicene Creed, describing the Holy Spirit as "the Lord and Giver of Life, proceeding from the Father, to be worshiped and glorified together with the Father and the Son." A controversy developed around the source of the Spirit, specifically concerning whether he ought not also be confessed as "proceeding from the Son." Following Augustine's teaching, the phrase filioque ("and the Son") was added by the Western church to the above creed at the Council of Toledo in 589. The Eastern church rejected the filioque doctrine, and the creed constituted confessional grounds for the split between East and West which had already taken place in practice.

Although other aspects of the Spirit were occasionally discussed, the procession of the Spirit continued to occupy theologians in the West. Anselm of Canterbury brought the debate into the era of scholasticism and, although reason as proof of doctrine was unevenly received, filioque remained the standard of the church. Peter Lombard argued from Scripture for filioque, and the fourth Lateran Council again espoused Trinitarianism and filioque. Although Aquinas rejected reason as a means to know the distinctions of the Divine Persons, he affirmed that the spirit proceeds from the special relationship that exists between the Father and the Son. Such discussions as this continued into the fifteenth century, when the Council of Florence again attempted to unite the Western and Eastern churches. The filioque idea was reaffirmed and, although a cosmetic change of wording was made in an attempt to satisfy the Eastern church, the Greek Orthodox Church rejected the substance of the creed. The position of the Roman Catholic Church has remained essentially unchanged, and the rift between East and West over this issue remains to the present.

The Reformation

Although other aspects of the Spirit's work were of importance in medieval theology, including sanctification and illumination, it was not until the Reformation that the work of the Spirit in the church was truly rediscovered. This was due at least in part to the rejection of Rome's dogma of church tradition as the gurantor of correct Scripture interpretation and formation of true doctrine. This reaction led to a Reformation stress on the idea of sola Scriptura and the work of the Spirit in salvation independent of the Catholic Church's "unbroken succession back to Christ." While Luther rejected "enthusiasm" (the subjective claim of direct guidance by the Spirit independent of Scripture or church structure, he stressed Spirit over structure, and understood the Spirit to be at work through the Word (the gospel), primarily in preaching, and in the sacraments, and therefore in salvation.

The Spirit works in salvation by influencing the soul to reliance, by faith, on Christ. Faith is itself a mystical gift of God whereby the believers mit Gott ein Kuche werden (become kneaded into one cake with God). Without the grace and work of the Spirit man is incapable of making himself acceptable to God or of having saving faith (cf. The Bondage of the Will, 1525). This is accomplished by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. Salvation is thus a gift bestowed by the grace of God, and Luther implies that the Word (the Gospel) as preached is primarily the efficacious Word of God after the Spirit works upon the heart of the hearer. For Luther, the Word is the main sacrament, for faith and the Holy Spirit are conveyed through the preaching and the teaching of the gospel (Rom. 10:17); baptism and the Lord's Supper are signs of the "sacrament of the Word," in that they proclaim the Word of God. Luther favored the preached Word over the written Word, but did not hold the two to be mutually exclusive. To be Christian the preaching of the church had to be faithful to the Scripture; but to be faithful to Scripture, the church had to preach.

The Word, primarily the incarnate Logos, is God's channel for the Spirit. Man brings the Word of the Scripture to the ear, but God infuses his Spirit into the heart; the word of Scripture thus becomes the Word of God (Lectures on Psalms; Epistle to the Romans). No one can rightly understand the Word of Scripture without the working of the Spirit; where the Word is, the Spirit inevitably follows. The Spirit does not operate independent of the Word. Luther resisted the enthusiasts' sharp distinction between inward and outward Word. On the other hand, he rejected the Roman Catholic idea that the Spirit is identified with church office and that the sacraments are effective in and of themselves (ex opere operato). Thus the Spirit makes Christ present in the sacraments and in Scripture; only when the Spirit makes Christ present in the word is it Gods own living Word. Otherwise the Scripture is letter, a law, it merely describes, it is only history. But as preaching, the Word is gospel (as opposed to law); the Spirit makes it so. The Spirit is not bound to the Word; he exists in God's eternal glory, away from the Word and our world. But as revealing Spirit he does not come without the Word.

Melanchthon followed Luther with few exceptions. Although allowing more room for man's response to the gospel than did Luther, he still stressed the primary work of the Spirit in salvation. Melanchthon showed more flexibility than Luther in the issue of the real presence in the Lord's Supper (cf. the Wittenberg Concord), but was in basic agreement with Luther as seen in the Augsburg Confession and its Apology. Zwingli departed from Luther and Melanchthon over the work of the Spirit in the sacraments, denying the necessity of baptism and asserting the largely commemorative significance of the Lord's Supper. The radical Reformers, too, were at odds with Luther and Melanchthon, and taught the priority of immediate revelation over Scripture. Lutherans and Catholics alike were condemned by the Schwarmer (fanatics) for their dependence upon the letter of Scripture instead of making the Bible subject to tests of religious experience.

Calvin taught that the Spirit works in regeneration to illumine the mind to receive the benefits of Christ and seals them in the heart. By the Spirit the heart of a man is opened to the penetrating power of the Word and sacraments. Calvin went beyond Luther in asserting that not only is the preached Word the agent of the Spirit, but the Bible is in its essence the Word of God (Genevan Catechism). The Spirit works in the reading of Scripture as well as in the preaching of the Word, and the Word, preached or read, is efficacious through the work of the Holy Spirit. The divine origin of Scripture is certified by the witness of the Spirit; the Scripture is the Word of God given by the Spirit's guidance through limited human speech. Thus the exegete must inquire after God's intention in giving Scripture for us (e.g., in the modern application of the OT; Institutes 2.8.8).

The highest proof of Scripture derives from the fact that God in person speaks in it, i.e., in the secret testimony of the Spirit (Inst. 1.7.4). We feel the testimony of the Spirit engraved like a seal on our hearts with the result that it seals the cleansing and sacrifice of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the bond by which Christ unites us to himself (Inst. 3.1.1). Although Calvin rejected rational proofs as a basis for authenticating Scripture, interconfessional battles later caused the rigidifying of Reformed thought, and a tradition of scholastic proofs was developed to overcome the subjectivism of Calvin's authentication theory (cf. the Canons of Dort).

A seventeenth century reaction to strict Calvinism arose in Holland among the followers of James Arminius. Arminius rejected strict predestination, allowing for man's freedom to reject God's offer of grace. The Arminian position was denounced by the Synod of Dort, but had great influence in England. John Wesley grew up in early eighteenth century England within this climate of Arminianism, and through him Methodism was given its distinctive Arminian character. For Wesley, God acts in cooperation with, but not in violation of, free human response in the matter of saving faith. God does not merely dispense upon man justifying grace, nor does man simply acquire such grace by believing. There is rather a unified process of God's giving and man's receiving. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin and also bears witness of justification. Thereafter the Holy Spirit continues to work in man in sanctification, such that the believer feels in his heart the mighty workings of the Spirit of God. God continually "breathes" upon man's soul, and the soul "breathes unto God", a fellowship of spiritual respiration by which the life of God in the soul is sustained. Sanctification, the renewal of man in the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness, is effected by the Spirit through faith. It includes being saved from sin and being perfected in love. Works are necessary to a continuance of faith, and "entire sanctification," perfection, is the goal of every believer.

The Modern Period

While seventeenth century radical Puritanism produced the Quakers with their emphasis on subjective experience of the Holy Spirit (the Inner Light of George Fox), such that Scripture is only a secondary source of knowledge for faith and practice (Robert Barclay Apology), eighteenth century Methodism expressed a more balanced approach to the work of the Spirit. The focus of later Methodism on the work of the Spirit after conversion as an experience of divine grace has found development in the modern Holiness Movement, represented by churches in the Christian Holiness Association.

Another development that can be traced to Methodism's stress on sanctification is the twentieth century reawakening of Pentecostalism. Stemming from earlier emphases upon "second experience," Pentecostalism has placed great importance upon the "baptism of the Holy Spirit," which is seen as the completion of a two-stage process of salvation. Since the inception of this modern movement at the turn of the century, speaking in tongues has been proclaimed as the main sign of Spirit baptism, although other "gifts of the Spirit", notably healing, are also emphasized. From its fundamentalist/biblicist beginning the Pentecostal movement has grown into what is loosely called the charismatic movement, which now touches all of Protestantism and has made inroads into Roman Catholicism. This movement generally proclaims a distinct experience of "Spirit baptism" and, as a rule, focuses on speaking in tongues as the manifestation of that experience.

One of the most significant twentieth century developments in understanding the Holy Spirit was made in the teaching of Karl Barth. Barth was a Reformed theologian who was largely responsible for the introduction of neoorthodoxy, the so-called dialectical or crisis theology. Barth and others broke with classical liberalism in the first decades of the twentieth century, denying liberalism's theology of pious religious selfconsciousness, its man-centeredness (Schleiermacher; Ritschl; Feuerbach). Barth emphasized the "infinite qualitative distinction" between man and God, and prophetically proclaimed God's nein to all of man's attempt at self-righteousness. Barth's Letter to the Romans sounded this note of man's "crisis", the acknowledgement that what man knows of God, God has himself revelaed. Barth developed his idea of God's self-revelation in terms of the doctrine of the Word of God (Church Dogmatics I/1 and I/2). First and most importantly, Jesus is the incarnate Logos, the Word of God. The Word of God is subsequently found in the preaching of the gospel, and "among the words of Scripture" (cf. Luther's doctrine of Spirit and Word). The Word of God is God himself in Holy Scripture. Scripture is holy and the Word of God, because by the Holy Spirit it became and will become to the church a witness to divine revelation. This witness is not identical to the revelation; it is not itself revelation, but the witness to it. Faith in Jesus as the Christ, specifically in Jesus' resurrection, is effected through the work of the Holy Spirit. The subjective "in Spirit" is the counterpart to the objective "in Christ". God's grace is manifested both in the objective revelation of God in Christ and man's subjective appropriation of this revelation through the Spirit. According to Scripture, God's revelation occurs in our enlightenment by the Holy Spirit to a knowledge of God's Word. The outpouring of the Spirit is God's revelation. In this reality we are free to be God's children and to know, love, and praise him in his revelation. The Spirit as subjective reality of God's revelation makes possible and real the existence of Christianity in the world. For, Barth observes, "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (II Cor. 3:17); God in his freedom discloses himself to man and so makes man free for him (Evangelical Theology, pp. 53ff.).

Concluding Observations

This sketch shows some of the diversity in the development of Christian thinking about the Holy Spirit. It is ironic that God's eschatological gift to man has so often been a point of contention and division among Christians. Since the road ahead appears no less difficult than the way we have come, we would do well to be humbly mindful of God's sovereignty and of our weakness.

Because God in Christ has initiated the messianic age with its outpouring of the Spirit, man's relationship to God has been forever changed. No longer can the law be used as a means of exclusion and oppression of the disenfranchised: Jesus has preached the messianic gospel of release to the captive, sight to the blind, and good news to the poor; the new law of life has been written on the hearts of men. Thus we must abhor any new legalism which uses the Scripture to exclude and oppress, this is to turn the good news of Christ into "the letter that kills." We must, rather, recognize the "God-breathed" character of Scripture, and the "Spirit that makes alive." Only so will the Scripture be profitable. Conversely, the Spirit cannot be claimed as the mark of an elite, as that which distinguishes and divides. The gospel of Jesus Christ includes the message that the Holy Spirit has been poured out on all flesh. All abuses of Scripture and the Spirit must hear God's message: "The promise is to those who are near, and to those who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."

T S Caulley
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)

C. K. Barrett, The Holy Spirit and the Gospel Tradition; F. D. Bruner, A Theology of the Holy Spirit; J.D.G. Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit and Jesus and the Spirit; M. Green, I Believe in the Holy Spirit; H. Gunkel, The Influence of the Holy Spirit; G. S. Hendry, The Holy Spirit: Growth of a Biblical Tradition; C. F. D. Moule, The Holy Spirit; P.D. M. Ramsey, Holy Spirit; E. Schweizer, The Holy Spirit; H. B. Swete, The Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church and The Holy Spirit in the New Testament; H. Watkins-Jones, The Holy Spirit from Arminius to Wesley.


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Advocate, (Gr. parakletos), one who pleads another's cause, who helps another by defending or comforting him. It is a name given by Christ three times to the Holy Ghost (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7, where the Greek word is rendered "Comforter," q.v.). It is applied to Christ in 1 John 2:1, where the same Greek word is rendered "Advocate," the rendering which it should have in all the places where it occurs. Tertullus "the orator" (Acts 24:1) was a Roman advocate whom the Jews employed to accuse Paul before Felix.

(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)


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Comforter, the designation of the Holy Ghost (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7; R.V. marg., "or Advocate, or Helper; Gr. paracletos"). The same Greek word thus rendered is translated "Advocate" in 1 John 2:1 as applicable to Christ. It means properly "one who is summoned to the side of another" to help him in a court of justice by defending him, "one who is summoned to plead a cause." "Advocate" is the proper rendering of the word in every case where it occurs. It is worthy of notice that although Paul nowhere uses the word paracletos, he yet presents the idea it embodies when he speaks of the "intercession" both of Christ and the Spirit (Rom. 8:27, 34).

Spirit, Breath

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Ruah: "breath; air; strength; wind; breeze; spirit; courage; temper; Spirit." This noun has cognates in Ugaritic, Aramaic, and Arabic. The word occurs about 378 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.

First, this word means "breath," air for breathing, air that is being breathed. This meaning is especially evident in Jer. 14:6: "And the wild asses did stand in the high places, they snuffed up the wind like dragons...." When one's "breath" returns, he is revived: "...When he [Samson] had drunk [the water], his spirit [literally, "breath"] came again, and he revived..." (Judg. 15:19). Astonishment may take away one's "breath": "And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built, And the meat of his table,... there was no more spirit in her [she was overwhelmed and breathless]" (1 Kings 10:4-5). Ruah may also represent speaking, or the breath of one's mouth: "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth" (Ps. 33:6; cf. Exod. 15:8; Job 4:9; 19:17).

Second, this word can be used with emphasis on the invisible, intangible, fleeting quality of "air": "O remember that my life is wind: mine eyes shall no more see good" (Job 7:7). There may be a suggestion of purposelessness, uselessness, or even vanity (emptiness) when ruah is used with this significance: "And the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them ..." (Jer. 5:13). "Windy words" are really "empty words" (Job 16:3), just as "windy knowledge" is "empty knowledge" (Job 15:2; cf. Eccl. 1:14, 17, "meaningless striving"). In Prov. 11:29 ruah means "nothing": "He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind...." This nuance is especially prominent in Eccl. 5:15-16: "And he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labor, which he may carry away in his hand. And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath labored for the wind?"

Third, ruah can mean "wind." In Gen. 3:8 it seems to mean the gentle, refreshing evening breeze so well known in the Near East: "And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool [literally, "breeze"] of the day...." It can mean a strong, constant wind: "... And the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night ..." (Exod. 10:13). It can also signify an extremely strong wind: "And the Lord turned a mighty strong west wind ..." (Exod. 10:19). In Jer. 4:11 the word appears to represent a gale or tornado (cf. Hos. 8:7). God is the Creator (Amos 4:13) and sovereign Controller of the winds (Gen. 8:1; Num. 11:31; Jer. 10:13).

Fourth, the wind represents direction. In Jer. 49:36 the four winds represent the four ends of the earth, which in turn represent every quarter: "And upon Elam will I bring the four winds [peoples from every quarter of the earth] from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come." Akkadian attests the same phrase with the same meaning, and this phrase begins to appear in Hebrew at a time when contact with Akkadian-speaking peoples was frequent.

Fifth, ruah frequently represents the element of life in a man, his natural "spirit": "And all flesh died that moved upon the earth,... All in whose nostrils was the breath of life ..." (Gen. 7:21-22). In these verses the animals have a "spirit" (cf. Ps. 104:29). On the other hand, in Prov. 16:2 the word appears to mean more than just the element of life; it seems to mean "soul": "All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits [NASB, "motives"]." Thus, Isaiah can put nepes, "soul," and ruah in synonymous parallelism: "With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early ..." (26:9). It is the "spirit" of a man that returns to God (Eccl. 12:7).

Sixth, ruah is often used of a man's mind-set, disposition, or "temper": "Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not inqiuity, and in whose spirit there is no guile" (Ps. 32:2). In Ezek. 13:3 the word is used of one's mind or thinking: "Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirits, and have seen nothing" (cf. Prov. 29:11). Ruah can represent particular dispositions, as it does in Josh. 2:11: "And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you ..." (cf. Josh. 5:1; Job 15:13). Another disposition represented by this word is "temper": "If the spirit [temper] of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place ..." (Eccl. 10:4). David prayed that God would "restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free Spirit" (Ps. 51:12). In this verse "joy of salvation" and "free Spirit" are parallel and, therefore, synonymous terms. Therefore, "spirit" refers to one's inner disposition, just as "joy" refers to an inner emotion.

Seventh, the Bible often speaks of God's "Spirit," the third person of the Trinity. This is the use of the word in its first biblical occurrence: "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" (Gen. 1:2). Isa. 63:10-11 and Ps. 51:12 specifically speak of the "holy or free Spirit."

Eighth, the non-material beings (angels) in heaven are sometimes called "spirits": "And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him" (1 Kings 22:21; cf. 1 Sam. 16:14).

Ninth, the "spirit" may also be used of that which enables a man to do a particular job or that which represents the essence of a quality of man: "And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him ..." (Deut. 34:9). Elisha asked Elijah for a double portion of his "spirit" (2 Kings 2:9) and received it.

Holy Ghost

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The doctrine of the Catholic Church concerning the Holy Ghost forms an integral part of her teaching on the mystery of the Holy Trinity, of which St. Augustine (De Trin., I, iii, 5), speaking with diffidence, says: "In no other subject is the danger of erring so great, or the progress so difficult, or the fruit of a careful study so appreciable". The essential points of the dogma may be resumed in the following propositions:

The Holy Ghost is the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity.

Though really distinct, as a Person, from the Father and the Son, He is consubstantial with Them; being God like Them, He possesses with Them one and the same Divine Essence or Nature.

He proceeds, not by way of generation, but by way of spiration, from the Father and the Son together, as from a single principle.

Such is the belief the Catholic faith demands.


All the theories and all the Christian sects that have contradicted or impugned, in any way, the dogma of the Trinity, have, as a logical consequence, threatened likewise the faith in the Holy Ghost. Among these, history mentions the following:

In the second and third centuries, the dynamic or modalistic Monarchians (certain Ebionites, it is said, Theodotus of Byzantium, Paul of Samosata, Praxeas, Noëtus, Sabellius, and the Patripassians generally) held that the same Divine Person, according to His different operations or manifestations, is in turn called the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; so they recognized a purely nominal Trinity.

In the fourth century and later, the Arians and their numerous heretical offspring: Anomans or Eunomians, Semi-Arians, Acacians, etc., while admitting the triple personality, denied the consubstantiality. Arianism had been preceded by the Subordination theory of some ante-Nicene writers, who affirmed a difference and a gradation between the Divine Persons other than those that arise from their relations in point of origin.

In the sixteenth century, the Socinians explicitly rejected, in the name of reason, along with all the mysteries of Christianity, the doctrine of Three Persons in One God.

Mention may also be made of the teachings of Johannes Philoponus (sixth century), Roscellinus, Gilbert de la Porrée, Joachim of Flora (eleventh and twelfth centuries), and, in modern times, Günther, who, by denying or obscuring the doctrine of the numerical unity of the Divine Nature, it reality set up a triple deity.

In addition to these systems and these writers, who came in conflict with the true doctrine about the Holy Ghost only indirectly and as a logical result of previous errors, there were others who attacked the truth directly:

Towards the middle of the fourth century, Macedonius, Bishop of Constantinople, and, after him a number of Semi-Arians, while apparently admitting the Divinity of the Word, denied that of the Holy Ghost. They placed Him among the spirits, inferior ministers of God, but higher than the angels. They were, under the name of Pneumatomachians, condemned by the Council of Constantinople, in 381 (Mansi, III, col. 560). Since the days of Photius, the schismatic Greeks maintain that the Holy Ghost, true God like the Father and the Son, proceeds from the former alone.


This heading implies two truths:

The Holy Ghost is a Person really distinct as such from the Father and the Son;

He is God and consubstantial with the Father and the Son.

The first statement is directly opposed to Monarchianism and to Socinianism; the second to Subordinationism, to the different forms of Arianism, and to Macedonianism in particular. The same arguments drawn from Scripture and Tradition may be used generally to prove either assertion. We will, therefore, bring forward the proofs of the two truths together, but first call particular attention to some passages that demonstrate more explicitly the distinction of personality.

A. Scripture

In the New Testament the word spirit and, perhaps, even the expression spirit of God signify at times the soul or man himself, inasmuch as he is under the influence of God and aspires to things above; more frequently, especially in St. Paul, they signify God acting in man; but they are used, besides, to designate not only a working of God in general, but a Divine Person, Who is neither the Father nor the Son, Who is named together with the Father, or the Son, or with Both, without the context allowing them to be identified. A few instances are given here. We read in John, xiv, 16, 17: "And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with, you for ever. The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive"; and in John, xv, 26: "But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me." St. Peter addresses his first epistle, i, 1-2, "to the strangers dispersed . . . elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, unto the sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ". The Spirit of consolation and of truth is also clearly distinguished in John 16:7, 13-15, from the Son, from Whom He receives all He is to teach the Apostles, and from the Father, who has nothing that the Son also does not possess. Both send Him, but He is not separated from Them, for the Father and the Son come with Him when He descends into our souls (John 14:23).

Many other texts declare quite as clearly that the Holy Ghost is a Person, a Person distinct from the Father and the Son, and yet One God with Them. In several places St. Paul speaks of Him as if speaking of God. In Acts 28:25, he says to the Jews: "Well did the Holy Ghost speak to our fathers by Isaias the prophet"; now the prophecy contained in the next two verses is taken from Isaias 6:9-10, where it is put in the mouth of the "King the Lord of hosts". In other places he uses the words God and Holy Ghost as plainly synonymous. Thus he writes, I Corinthians 3:16: "Know you not, that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" and in 6:19: "Or know you not, that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you . . . ?" St. Peter asserts the same identity when he thus remonstrates with Ananias (Acts 5:3-4): "Why hath Satan tempted thy heart, that thou shouldst lie to the Holy Ghost . . . ? Thou hast not lied to men, but to God." The sacred writers attribute to the Holy Ghost all the works characteristic of Divine power. It is in His name, as in the name of the Father and of the Son, that baptism is to be given (Matthew 28:19). It is by His operation that the greatest of Divine mysteries, the Incarnation of the Word, is accomplished (Matthew 1:18, 20; Luke 1:35). It is also in His name and by His power that sins are forgiven and souls sanctified: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them" (John 20:22-23); "But you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11); "The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us" (Romans 5:5). He is essentially the Spirit of truth (John 14:16-17; 15:26), Whose office it is to strengthen faith (Acts 6:5), to bestow wisdom (Acts 6:3), to give testimony of Christ, that is to say, to confirm His teaching inwardly (John 15:26), and to teach the Apostles the full meaning of it (John 14:26; 16:13). With these Apostles He will abide for ever (John 14:16). Having descended on them at Pentecost, He will guide them in their work (Acts 8:29), for He will inspire the new prophets (Acts 11:28; 13:9), as He inspired the Prophets of the Old Law (Acts 7:51). He is the source of graces and gifts (1 Corinthians 12:3-11); He, in particular, grants the gift of tongues (Acts 2:4; 10:44-47). And as he dwells in our bodies sanctifies them (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19),so will and them he raise them again, one day, from the dead (Romans 8:11). But he operates especially in the soul, giving it a new life (Romans 8:9 sq.), being the pledge that God has given us that we are his children (Romans 8:14-16; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Galatians 4:6). He is the Spirit of God, and at the same time the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9); because He is in God, He knows the deepest mysteries of God (1 Corinthians 2:10-11), and He possesses all knowledge. St. Paul ends his Second Epistle to the Corinthians (13:13) with this formula of benediction, which might be called a blessing of the Trinity: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity of God, and the communication of the Holy Ghost be with you all." -- Cf. Tixeront, "Hist. des dogmes", Paris, 1905, I, 80, 89, 90,100,101.

B. Tradition

While corroborating and explaining the testimony of Scripture, Tradition brings more clearly before us the various stages of the evolution of this doctrine. As early as the first century, St. Clement of Rome gives us important teaching about the Holy Ghost. His "Epistle to the Corinthians" not only tells us that the Spirit inspired and guided the holy writers (viii, 1; xlv, 2); that He is the voice of Jesus Christ speaking to us in the Old Testament (xxii, 1 sq.); but it contains further, two very explicit statements about the Trinity. In c. xlvi, 6 (Funk, "Patres apostolici", 2nd ed., I,158), we read that "we have only one God, one Christ, one only Spirit of grace within us, one same vocation in Christ". In lviii, 2 (Funk, ibid., 172), the author makes this solemn affirmation; zo gar ho theos, kai zo ho kyrios Iesous Christos kai to pneuma to hagion, he te pistis kai he elpis ton eklekton, oti . . . which we may compare with the formula so frequently met with in the Old Testament: zo kyrios. From this it follows that, in Clement's view, kyrios was equally applicable to ho theos (the Father), ho kyrios Iesous Christos, and to pneuma to hagion; and that we have three witnesses of equal authority, whose Trinity, moreover, is the foundation of Christian faith and hope.

The same doctrine is declared, in the second and third centuries, by the lips of the martyrs, and is found in the writings of the Fathers. St. Polycarp (d. 155), in his torments, thus professed his faith in the Three Adorable Persons ("Martyrium sancti Polycarpi" in Funk op. cit., I, 330): "Lord God Almighty, Father of Thy blessed and well beloved Son, Jesus Christ . . . in everything I praise Thee, I bless Thee, I glorify Thee by the eternal and celestial pontiff Jesus Christ, Thy well beloved Son, by whom, to Thee, with Him and with the Holy Ghost, glory now and for ever!"

St. Epipodius spoke more distinctly still (Ruinart, "Acta mart.", Verona edition, p. 65): "I confess that Christ is God with the Father and the Holy Ghost, and it is fitting that I should give back my soul to Him Who is my Creator and my Redeemer."

Among the apologists, Athenagoras mentions the Holy Ghost along with, and on the same plane as, the Father and the Son. "Who would not be astonished", says he (Legat. pro christian., n. 10, in P.G., VI, col. 909), "to hear us called atheists, us who confess God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Ghost, and hold them one in power and distinct in order [. . . ten en te henosei dynamin, kai ten en te taxei diairesin]?"

Theophilus of Antioch, who sometimes gives to the Holy Ghost, as to the Son, the name of Wisdom (sophia), mentions besides (Ad Autol., lib. I, n. 7, and II, n. 18, in P.G., VI, col. 1035, 1081) the three terms theos, logos, sophia and, being the first to apply the characteristic word that was afterwards adopted, says expressly (ibid., II, 15) that they form a trinity (trias). Irenæus looks upon the Holy Ghost as eternal (Adv. Hær., V, xii, n. 2, in P.G., VII, 1153), existing in God ante omnem constitutionem, and produced by him at the beginning of His ways (ibid., IV, xx, 3). Considered with regard to the Father, the Holy Ghost is his wisdom (IV, xx, 3); the Son and He are the "two hands" by which God created man (IV, præf., n. 4; IV, xx, 20; V, vi, 1). Considered with regard to the Church, the same Spirit is truth, grace, a pledge of immortality, a principle of union with God; intimately united to the Church, He gives the sacraments their efficacy and virtue (III, xvii, 2, xxiv, 1; IV, xxxiii, 7; V, viii, 1).

St. Hippolytus, though he does not speak at all clearly of the Holy Ghost regarded as a distinct person, supposes him, however, to be God, as well as the Father and the Son (Contra Noët., viii, xii, in P.G., X, 816, 820). Tertullian is one of the writers of this age whose tendency to Subordinationism is most apparent, and that in spite of his being the author of the definitive formula: "Three persons, one substance". And yet his teaching on the Holy Ghost is in every way remarkable. He seems to have been the first among the Fathers to affirm His Divinity in a clear and absolutely precise manner. In his work "Adversus Praxean" lie dwells at length on the greatness of the Paraclete. The Holy Ghost, he says, is God (c. xiii in P.L., II, 193); of the substance of the Father (iii, iv in P.L., II, 181-2); one and the same God with the Father and the Son (ii in P.L., II, 180); proceeding from the Father through the Son (iv, viii in P.L., II, 182, 187); teaching all truth (ii in P.L., II, 179). St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, or at least the Ekthesis tes pisteos, which is commonly attributed to him, and which dates from the period 260-270, gives us this remarkable passage (P.G., X, 933 sqq.): "One is God, Father of the living Word, of the subsisting Wisdom. . . . One the Lord, one of one, God of God, invisible of invisible. . .One the Holy Ghost, having His subsistence from God. . . . Perfect Trinity, which in eternity, glory, and power, is neither divided, nor separated. . . . Unchanging and immutable Trinity."

In 304, the martyr St. Vincent said (Ruinart, op. cit., 325): "I confess the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father most High, one of one; I recognize Him as one God with the Father and the Holy Ghost."

But we must come down towards the year 360 to find the doctrine on the Holy Ghost explained both fully and clearly. It is St. Athanasius who does so in his "Letters to Serapion" (P.G., XXVI, col. 525 sq.). He had been informed that certain Christians held that the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity was a creature. To refute them he questions the Scriptures, and they furnish him with arguments as solid as they are numerous. They tell him, in particular, that the Holy Ghost is united to the Son by relations just like those existing between the Son and the Father; that He is sent by the Son; that He is His mouth-piece and glorifies Him; that, unlike creatures, He has not been made out of nothing, but comes forth from God; that He performs a sanctifying work among men, of which no creature is capable; that in possessing Him we possess God; that the Father created everything by Him; that, in fine, He is immutable, has the attributes of immensity, oneness, and has a right to all the appellations that are used to express the dignity of the Son. Most of these conclusions he supports by means of Scriptural texts, a few from amongst which are given above. But the writer lays special stress on what is read in Matthew 28:19. "The Lord", he writes (Ad Serap., III, n. 6, in P.G., XXVI, 633 sq.), "founded the Faith of the Church on the Trinity, when He said to His Apostles: 'Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.' If the Holy Ghost were a creature, Christ would not have associated Him with the Father; He would have avoided making a heterogeneous Trinity, composed of unlike elements. What did God stand in need of? Did He need to join to Himself a being of different nature? . . . No, the Trinity is not composed of the Creator and the creature."

A little later, St. Basil, Didymus of Alexandria, St. Epiphanius, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, St. Ambrose, and St. Gregory of Nyssa took up the same thesis ex professo, supporting it for the most part with the same proofs. All these writings had prepared the way for the Council of Constantinople which, in 381, condemned the Pneumatomachians and solemnly proclaimed the true doctrine. This teaching forms part of the Creed of Constantinople, as it is called, where the symbol refers to the Holy Ghost, "Who is also our Lord and Who gives life; Who proceeds from the Father, Who is adored and glorified together with the Father and the Son; Who spoke by the prophets". Was this creed, with these particular words, approved by the council of 381? Formerly that was the common opinion, and even in recent times it has been held by authorities like Hefele, Hergenröther, and Funk; other historians, amongst whom are Harnack and Duchesne, are of the contrary opinion; but all agree in admitting that the creed of which we are speaking was received and approved by the Council of Chalcedon, in 451, and that, at least from that time, it became the official formula of Catholic orthodoxy.


We need not dwell at length on the precise meaning of the Procession in God. (See TRINITY.) It will suffice here to remark that by this word we mean the relation of origin that exists between one Divine Person and another, or between one and the two others as its principle of origin. The Son proceeds from the Father; the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son. The latter truth will be specially treated here.


That the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father has always been admitted by all Christians; the truth is expressly stated in John, xv, 26. But the Greeks, after Photius, deny that He proceeds from the Son. And yet such is manifestly the teaching of Holy Scripture and the Fathers.

(1) In the New Testament

(a) The Holy Ghost is called the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), the Spirit of the Son (Galatians 4:6), the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7). These terms imply a relation of the Spirit to the Son, which can only be a relation of origin. This conclusion is so much the more indisputable as all admit the similar argument to explain why the Holy Ghost is called the Spirit of the Father. Thus St. Augustine argues (In Joan., tr. xcix, 6, 7 in P.L., XXXV, 1888): "You hear the Lord himself declare: 'It is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you'. Likewise you hear the Apostle declare: 'God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts. Could there then be two spirits, one the spirit of the Father, the other the spirit of the Son? Certainly not. Just as there is only one Father, just as there is only one Lord or one Son, so there is only one Spirit, Who is, consequently, the Spirit of both. . . Why then should you refuse to believe that He proceeds also from the Son, since He is also the Spirit of the Son? If He did not proceed from Him, Jesus, when He appeared to His disciples after His Resurrection, would not have breathed on them, saying: 'Receive ye the Holy Ghost'. What, indeed, does this breathing signify, but that the Spirit proceeds also from Him?" St. Athanasius had argued in exactly the same way (De Trinit. et Spir. S., n. 19, in P.G., XXVI, 1212), and concluded: "We say that the Son of God is also the source of the Spirit."

(b) The Holy Ghost receives from the Son, according to John 16:13-15: "When he, the Spirit of truth, is come he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you. He shall glorify me; because he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it to you. All things whatsoever the Father hath, are mine. Therefore I said, that he shall receive of mine, and shew it to you." Now, one Divine Person can receive from another only by Procession, being related to that other as to a principle. What the Paraclete will receive from the Son is immanent knowledge, which He will afterwards manifest exteriorly. But this immanent knowledge is the very essence of the Holy Ghost. The latter, therefore, has His origin in the Son, the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son. "He shall not speak of Himself", says St. Augustine (In Joan., tr. xcix, 4, in P.L., XXXV, 1887), "because He is not from Himself, but He shall tell you all He shall have heard. He shall hear from him from whom He proceeds. In His case, to hear is to know, and to know is to be. He derives His knowledge from Him from Whom He derives His essence." St. Cyril of Alexandria remarks that the words: "He shall receive of mine" signify "the nature" which the Holy Ghost has from the Son, as the Son has His from the Father (De Trinit., dialog. vi, in P.G., LXXV, 1011). Besides, Jesus gives this reason of His assertion: "He shall receive of mine": "All things whatsoever the Father hath, are mine Now, since the Father has with regard to the Holy Ghost the relation we term Active Spiration, the Son has it also; and in the Holy Ghost there exists, consequently, with regard to both, Passive Spiration or Procession.

(2) The same truth has been constantly held by the Fathers

This fact is undisputed as far as the Western Fathers are concerned; but the Greeks deny it in the case of the Easterns. We will cite, therefore, a few witnesses from among the latter. The testimony of St. Athanasius has been quoted above, to the effect that "the Son is the source of the Spirit", and the statement of Cyril of Alexandria that the Holy Ghost has His "nature" from the Son. The latter saint further asserts (Thesaur., assert. xxxiv in P.G., LXXV, 585); "When the Holy Ghost comes into our hearts, He makes us like to God, because He proceeds from the Father and the Son"; and again (Epist., xvii, Ad Nestorium, De excommunicatione in P.G., LXXVII, 117): "The Holy Ghost is not unconnected with the Son, for He is called the Spirit of Truth, and Christ is the Truth; so He proceeds from Him as well as from God the Father." St. Basil (De Spirit. S., xviii, in P.G., XXXII, 147) wishes us not to depart from the traditional order in mentioning the Three Divine Persons, because "as the Son is to the Father, so is the Spirit to the Son, in accordance with the ancient order of the names in the formula of baptism". St. Epiphanius writes (Ancor., viii, in P. G., XLIII, 29, 30) that the Paraclete "is not to be considered as unconnected with the Father and the Son, for He is with Them one in substance and divinity", and states that "He is from the Father and the Son"; a little further, he adds (op. cit., xi, in P.G., XLIII, 35): "No one knows the Spirit, besides the Father, except the Son, from Whom He proceeds and of Whom He receives." Lastly, a council held at Seleucia in 410 proclaims its faith "in the Holy Living Spirit, the Holy Living Paraclete, Who proceeds from the Father and the Son" (Lamy, "Concilium Seleuciæ", Louvain, 1868).

However, when we compare the Latin writers, as a body, with the Eastern writers, we notice a difference in language: while the former almost unanimously affirm that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and from the Son, the latter generally say that He proceeds from the Father through the Son. In reality the thought expressed by both Greeks and Latins is one and the same, only the manner of expressing it is slightly different: the Greek formula ek tou patros dia tou ouiou expresses directly the order according to which the Father and the Son are the principle of the Holy Ghost, and implies their equality as principle; the Latin formula expresses directly this equality, and implies the order. As the Son Himself proceeds from the Father, it is from the Father that He receives, with everything else, the virtue that makes Him the principle of the Holy Ghost. Thus, the Father alone is principium absque principio, aitia anarchos prokatarktike, and, comparatively, the Son is an intermediate principle. The distinct use of the two prepositions, ek (from) and dia (through), implies nothing else. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Greek theologians Blemmidus, Beccus, Calecas, and Bessarion called attention to this, explaining that the two particles have the same signification, but that from is better suited to the First Person, Who is the source of the others, and through to the Second Person, Who comes from the Father. Long before their time St. Basil had written (De Spir. S., viii, 21, in P.G., XXXII, 106): "The expression di ou expresses acknowledgment of the primordial principle [ tes prokatarktikes aitias]"; and St. Chrysostom (Hom. v in Joan., n. 2, in P.G., LIX, 56): "If it be said through Him, it is said solely in order that no one may imagine that the Son is not generated": It may be added that the terminology used by the Eastern and Western writers, respectively, to express the idea is far from being invariable. Just as Cyril, Epiphanius, and other Greeks affirm the Procession ex utroque, so several Latin writers did not consider they were departing from the teaching of their Church in expressing themselves like the Greeks. Thus Tertullian (Contra Prax., iv, in P.L., II, 182): "Spiritum non aliunde puto quam a Patre per Filium"; and St. Hilary (De Trinit., lib., XII, n. 57, in P.L., X, 472), addressing himself to the Father, protests that he wishes to adore, with Him and the Son "Thy Holy Spirit, Who comes from Thee through thy only Son". And yet the same writer had said, a little higher (op. cit., lib. II, 29, in P.L., X, 69), "that we must confess the Holy Ghost coming from the Father and the Son", a clear proof that the two formulæ were regarded as substantially equivalent.


Proceeding both from the Father and the Son, the Holy Ghost, nevertheless, proceeds from Them as from a single principle. This truth is, at the very least insinuated in the passage of John, xvi, 15 (cited above), where Christ establishes a necessary connection between His own sharing in all the Father has and the Procession of the Holy Ghost. Hence it follows, indeed, that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the two other Persons, not in so far as They are distinct, but inasmuch as Their Divine perfection is numerically one. Besides, such is the explicit teaching of ecclesiastical tradition, which is concisely put by St. Augustine (De Trin., lib. V, c. xiv, in P.L., XLII, 921): "As the Father and the Son are only one God and, relatively to the creature, only one Creator and one Lord, so, relatively to the Holy Ghost, They are only one principle." This doctrine was defined in the following words by the Second Ecumenical Council of Lyons [Denzinger, "Enchiridion" (1908), n. 460]: "We confess that the Holy Ghost proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, not as from two principles, but as from one principle, not by two spirations, but by one single spiration." The teaching was again laid down by the Council of Florence (ibid., n. 691), and by Eugene IV in his Bull "Cantate Domino" (ibid., n. 703 sq.).


It is likewise an article of faith that the Holy Ghost does not proceed, like the Second Person of the Trinity, by way of generation. Not only is the Second Person alone called Son in the Scriptures, not only is He alone said to be begotten, but He is also called the only Son of God; the ancient symbol that bears the name of Saint Athanasius states expressly that "the Holy Ghost comes from the Father and from the Son not made not created, not generated, but proceeding". As we are utterly incapable of otherwise fixing the meaning of the mysterious mode affecting this relation of origin, we apply to it the name spiration, the signification of which is principally negative and by way of contrast, in the sense that it affirms a Procession peculiar to the Holy Ghost and exclusive of filiation. But though we distinguish absolutely and essentially between generation and spiration, it is a very delicate and difficult task to say what the difference is. St. Thomas (I, Q. xxvii), following St. Augustine (Do Trin., XV, xxvii), finds the explanation and, as it the were, the epitome, of the doctrine in principle that, in God, the Son proceeds through the Intellect and the Holy Ghost through the Will. The Son is, in the language of Scripture, the image of the Invisible God, His Word, His uncreated wisdom. God contemplates Himself and knows Himself from all eternity, and, knowing Himself, He forms within Himself a substantial idea of Himself, and this substantial thought is His Word. Now every act of knowledge is accomplished by the production in the intellect of a representation of the object known; from this head, then the process offers a certain analogy with generation, which is the production by a living being of a being partaking of the same nature; and the analogy is only so much the more striking when there is question of this act of Divine knowledge, the eternal term of which is a substantial being, consubstantial within the knowing subject. As to the Holy Ghost, according to the common doctrine of theologians, He proceeds through the will. The Holy Spirit, as His name indicates, is Holy in virtue of His origin, His spiration; He comes therefore from a holy principle; now holiness resides in the will, as wisdom is in the intellect. That is also the reason why He is so often called par excellence, in the writings of the Fathers, Love and Charity. The Father and the Son love one another from all eternity, with a perfect ineffable love; the term of this infinite fruitful mutual love is Their Spirit Who is co-eternal and con-substantial with Them. Only, the Holy Ghost is not indebted to the manner of His Procession precisely for this perfect resemblance to His principle, in other words for His consubstantiality; for to will or love an object does not formally imply the production of its immanent image in the soul that loves, but rather a tendency, a movement of the will towards the thing loved, to be united to it and enjoy it. So, making every allowance for the feebleness of our intellects in knowing, and the unsuitability of our words for expressing the mysteries of the Divine life, if we can grasp how the word generation, freed from all the imperfections of the material order may be applied by analogy to the Procession of the Word, so we may see that the term can in no way befittingly applied to the Procession of the Holy Ghost.


Having treated of the part taken by the Son in the Procession of the Holy Ghost, we come next to consider the introduction of the expression Filioque into the Creed of Constantinople. The author of the addition is unknown, but the first trace of it is found in Spain. The Filioque was successively introduced into the Symbol of the Council of Toledo in 447, then, in pursuance of an order of another synod held in the same place (589), it was inserted in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed. Admitted likewise into the Symbol Quicumque, it began to appear in France in the eighth century. It was chanted in 767, in Charlemagne's chapel at Gentilly, where it was heard by ambassadors from Constantine Copronymnus. The Greeks were astonished and protested, explanations were given by the Latins, and many discussions followed. The Archbishop of Aquileia, Paulinus, defended the addition at the Council of Friuli, in 796. It was afterwards accepted by a council held at Aachen, in 809. However, as it proved a stumbling-block to the Greeks Pope Leo III disapproved of it; and, though he entirely agreed with the Franks on the question of the doctrine, he advised them to omit the new word. He himself caused two large silver tablets, on which the creed with the disputed expression omitted was engraved to be erected in St. Peter's. His advice was unheeded by the Franks; and, as the conduct and schism of Photius seemed to justify the Westerns in paying no more regard to the feelings of the Greeks, the addition of the words was accepted by the Roman Church under Benedict VIII (cf. Funk, "Kirchengeschichte", Paderborn, 1902, p. 243).

The Greeks have always blamed the Latins for making the addition. They considered that, quite apart from the question of doctrine involved by the expression, the insertion was made in violation of a decree of the Council of Ephesus, forbidding anyone "to produce, write, or compose a confession of faith other than the one defined by the Fathers of Nicæa". Such a reason will not bear examination. Supposing the truth of the dogma (established above), it is inadmissible that the Church could or would have deprived herself of the right to mention it in the symbol. If the opinion be adhered to, and it has strong arguments to support it, which considers that the developments of the Creed in what concerns the Holy Ghost were approved by the Council of Constantinople (381), at once it might be laid down that the bishops at Ephesus (431) certainly did not think of condemning or blaming those of Constantinople. But, from the fact that the disputed expression was authorized by the Council of Chalcedon, in 451, we conclude that the prohibition of the Council of Ephesus was never understood, and ought not to be understood, in an absolute sense. It may be considered either as a doctrinal, or as a merely disciplinary pronouncement. In the first case it would exclude any addition or modification opposed to, or at variance with, the deposit of Revelation; and such seems to be its historic import, for it was proposed and accepted by the Fathers to oppose a formula tainted with Nestorianism. In the second case considered as a disciplinary measure, it can bind only those who are not the depositaries of the supreme power in the Church. The latter, as it is their duty to teach the revealed truth and to preserve it from error, possess, by Divine authority, the power and right to draw up and propose to the faithful such confessions of faith as circumstances may demand. This right is as unconfinable as it is inalienable.


This title and the theory connected with it, like the theory of the fruits of the Holy Ghost and that of the sins against the Holy Ghost, imply what theologians call appropriation. By this term is meant attributing especially to one Divine Person perfections and exterior works which seem to us more clearly or more immediately to be connected with Him, when we consider His personal characteristics, but which in reality are common to the Three Persons. It is in this sense that we attribute to the Father the perfection of omnipotence, with its most striking manifestations, e.g. the Creation, because He is the principle of the two other Persons; to the Son we attribute wisdom and the works of wisdom, because He proceeds from the Father by the Intellect; to the Holy Ghost we attribute the operations of grace and the sanctification of souls, and in particular spiritual gifts and fruits, because He proceeds from the Father and the Son as Their mutual love and is called in Holy Writ the goodness and the charity of God.

The gifts of the Holy Ghost are of two kinds: the first are specially intended for the sanctification of the person who receives them; the second, more properly called charismata, are extraordinary favours granted for the help of another, favours, too, which do not sanctify by themselves, and may even be separated from sanctifying grace. Those of the first class are accounted seven in number, as enumerated by Isaias (11:2-3), where the prophet sees and describes them in the Messias. They are the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety (godliness), and fear of the Lord.

The gift of wisdom, by detaching us from the world, makes us relish and love only the things of heaven.

The gift of understanding helps us to grasp the truths of religion as far as is necessary.

The gift of counsel springs from supernatural prudence, and enables us to see and choose correctly what will help most to the glory of God and our own salvation.

By the gift of fortitude we receive courage to overcome the obstacles and difficulties that arise in the practice of our religious duties. The gift of knowledge points out to us the path to follow and the dangers to avoid in order to reach heaven.

The gift of piety, by inspiring us with a tender and filial confidence in God, makes us joyfully embrace all that pertains to His service.

Lastly, the gift of fear fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread, above all things, to offend Him.

As to the inner nature of these gifts, theologians consider them to be supernatural and permanent qualities, which make us attentive to the voice of God, which render us susceptible to the workings of actual grace, which make us love the things of God, and, consequently, render us more obedient and docile to the inspirations of the Holy Ghost.

But how do they differ from the virtues? Some writers think they are not really distinct from them, that they are the virtues inasmuch as the latter are free gifts of God, and that they are identified essentially with grace, charity, and the virtues. That opinion has the particular merit of avoiding a multiplication of the entities infused into the soul. Other writers look upon the gifts as perfections of a higher order than the virtues; the latter, they say, dispose us to follow the impulse and guidance of reason; the former are functionally intended to render the will obedient and docile to the inspirations of the Holy Ghost. For the former opinion, see Bellevüe, "L'uvre du Saint-Esprit" (Paris, 1902), 99 sq.; and for the latter, see St. Thomas, I-II, Q. lxviii, a. 1, and Froget, "De l'habitation du Saint-Esprit dans les âmes justes" (Paris, 1900), 378 sq.

The gifts of the second class, or charismata, are known to us partly from St. Paul, and partly from the history of the primitive Church, in the bosom of which God plentifully bestowed them. Of these "manifestations of the Spirit", "all these things [that] one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as he will", the Apostle speaks to us, particularly in I Corinthians 12:6-11; I Corinthians 12:28-31; and Romans 12:6-8.

In the first of these three passages we find nine charismata mentioned: the gift of speaking with wisdom, the gift of speaking with knowledge, faith, the grace of healing, the gift of miracles, the gift of prophecy, the gift of discerning spirits, the gift of tongues, the gift of interpreting speeches. To this list we must at least add, as being found in the other two passages indicated, the gift of government, the gift of helps, and perhaps what Paul calls distributio and misericordia. However, exegetes are not all agreed as to the number of the charismata, or the nature of each one of them; long ago, St. Chrysostom and St. Augustine had pointed out the obscurity of the question. Adhering to the most probable views on the subject, we may at once classify the charismata and explain the meaning of most of them as follows. They form four natural groups:

Two charismata which regard the teaching of Divine things: sermo sapientiæ, sermo scientiæ, the former relating to the exposition of the higher mysteries, the latter to the body of Christian truths.

Three charismata that lend support to this teaching: fides, gratia sanitatum, operatio virtutum. The faith here spoken of is faith in the sense used by Matthew 17:19: that which works wonders; so it is, as it were, a condition and a part of the two gifts mentioned with it.

Four charismata that served to edify, exhort, and encourage the faithful, and to confound the unbelievers: prophetia, discretio spirituum, genera linguarum, interpretatio sermonum. These four seem to fall logically into two groups; for prophecy, which is essentially inspired pronouncement on different religious subjects, the declaration of the future being only of secondary import, finds its complement and, as it were, its check in the gift of discerning spirits; and what, as a rule, would be the use of glossololia -- the gift of speaking with tongues -- if the gift of interpreting them were wanting?

Lastly there remain the charismata that seem to have as object the administration of temporal affairs, amid works of charity: gubernationes, opitulationes, distributiones. Judging by the context, these gifts, though conferred and useful for the direction and comfort of one's neighbour, were in no way necessarily found in all ecclesiastical superiors.

The charismata, being extraordinary favours and not requisite for the sanctification of the individual, were not bestowed indiscriminately on all Christians. However, in the Apostolic Age, they were comparatively common, especially in the communities of Jerusalem, Rome, and Corinth. The reason of this is apparent: in the infant Churches the charismata were extremely useful, and even morally necessary, to strengthen the faith of believers, to confound the infidels, to make them reflect, and to counterbalance the false miracles with which they sometimes prevailed. St. Paul was careful (I Corinthians 12, 13, 14) to restrict authoritatively the use of these charismata within the ends for which they were bestowed, and thus insist upon their subordination to the power of the hierarchy. Cf. Batiffol, "L'Eglise naissante et le catholicisme" (Paris, 1909), 36. (See CHARISMATA.)


Some writers extend this term to all the supernatural virtues, or rather to the acts of all these virtues, inasmuch as they are the results of the mysterious workings of the Holy Ghost in our souls by means of His grace. But, with St. Thomas, I-II, Q. lxx, a. 2, the word is ordinarily restricted to mean only those supernatural works that are done joyfully and with peace of soul. This is the sense in which most authorities apply the term to the list mentioned by St. Paul (Galatians 5:22-23): "But the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity." Moreover, there is no doubt that this list of twelve -- three of the twelve are omitted in several Greek and Latin manuscripts -- is not to be taken in a strictly limited sense, but, according to the rules of Scriptural language, as capable of being extended to include all acts of a similar character. That is why the Angelic Doctor says: "Every virtuous act which man performs with pleasure is a fruit." The fruits of the Holy Ghost are not habits, permanent qualities, but acts. They cannot, therefore, be confounded with the virtues and the gifts, from which they are distinguished as the effect is from its cause, or the stream from its source. The charity, patience, mildness, etc., of which the Apostle speaks in this passage, are not then the virtues themselves, but rather their acts or operations; for, however perfect the virtues may be, they cannot be considered as the ultimate effects of grace, being themselves intended, inasmuch as they are active principles, to produce something else, i.e. their acts. Further, in order that these acts may fully justify their metaphorical name of fruits, they must belong to that class which are performed with ease and pleasure; in other words, the difficulty involved in performing them must disappear in presence of the delight and satisfaction resulting from the good accomplished.


The sin or blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is mentioned in Matthew 12:22-32; Mark 3:22-30; Luke 12:10 (cf. 11:14-23); and Christ everywhere declares that it shall not be pardoned. In what does it consist? If we examine all the passages alluded to, there can be little doubt as to the reply.

Let us take, for instance, the account given by St. Matthew which is more complete than that of the other Synoptics. There had been brought to Christ "one possessed with a devil, blind and dumb: and he healed him, so that he spoke and saw". While the crowd is wondering, and asking: "Is not this the Son of David?", the Pharisees, yielding to their wonted jealousy, and shutting their eyes to the light of evidence, say: "This man casteth not out devils but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils." Jesus then proves to them this absurdity, and, consequently, the malice of their explanation; He shows them that it is by "the Spirit of God" that He casts out devils, and then He concludes: "therefore I say to you: Ever sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but the blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not he forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come."

So, to sin against the Holy Ghost is to confound Him with the spirit of evil, it is to deny, from pure malice, the Divine character of works manifestly Divine. This is the sense in which St. Mark also defines the sin question; for, after reciting the words of the Master: "But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost shall never have forgiveness", he adds at once: "Because they said: He hath an unclean spirit." With this sin of pure downright malice, Jesus contrasts the sin "against the Son of man", that is the sin committed against Himself as man, the wrong done to His humanity in judging Him by His humble and lowly appearance. This fault, unlike the former, might he excused as the result of man's ignorance and misunderstanding.

But the Fathers of the Church, commenting on the Gospel texts we are treating of, did not confine themselves to the meaning given above. Whether it be that they wished to group together all objectively analogous cases, or whether they hesitated and wavered when confronted with this point of doctrine, which St. Augustine declares (Serm. ii de verbis Domini, c. v) one of the most difficult in Scripture, they have proposed different interpretations or explanations. St. Thomas, whom we may safely follow, gives a very good summary of opinions in II-II, Q. xiv. He says that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost was and may be explained in three ways.

Sometimes, and in its most literal signification, it has been taken to mean the uttering of an insult against the Divine Spirit, applying the appellation either to the Holy Ghost or to all three Divine persons. This was the sin of the Pharisees, who spoke at first against "the Son of Man", criticizing the works and human ways of Jesus, accusing Him of loving good cheer and wine, of associating with the publicans, and who, later on, with undoubted bad faith, traduced His Divine works, the miracles which He wrought by virtue of His own Divinity.

On the other hand, St. Augustine frequently explains blasphemy against the Holy Ghost to be final impenitence, perseverance till death in mortal sin. This impenitence is against the Holy Ghost, in the sense that it frustrates and is absolutely opposed to the remission of sins, and this remission is appropriated to the Holy Ghost, the mutual love of the Father and the Son. In this view, Jesus, in Matthew 12 and Mark 3 did not really accuse the Pharisees of blaspheming the Holy Ghost, He only warned them against the danger they were in of doing so.

Finally, several Fathers, and after them, many scholastic theologians, apply the expression to all sins directly opposed to that quality which is, by appropriation, the characteristic quality of the Third Divine Person. Charity and goodness are especially attributed to the Holy Ghost, as power is to the Father and wisdom to the Son. Just, then, as they termed sins against the Father those that resulted from frailty, and sins against the Son those that sprang from ignorance, so the sins against the Holy Ghost are those that are committed from downright malice, either by despising or rejecting the inspirations and impulses which, having been stirred in man's soul by the Holy Ghost, would turn him away or deliver him from evil.

It is easy to see how this wide explanation suits all the circumstances of the case where Christ addresses the words to the Pharisees. These sins are commonly reckoned six: despair, presumption, impenitence or a fixed determination not to repent, obstinacy, resisting the known truth, and envy of another's spiritual welfare.

The sins against the Holy Ghost are said to be unpardonable, but the meaning of this assertion will vary very much according to which of the three explanations given above is accepted. As to final impenitence it is absolute; and this is easily understood, for even God cannot pardon where there is no repentance, and the moment of death is the fatal instant after which no mortal sin is remitted. It was because St. Augustine considered Christ's words to imply absolute unpardonableness that he held the sin against the Holy Ghost to be solely final impenitence. In the other two explanations, according to St. Thomas, the sin against the Holy Ghost is remissable -- not absolutely and always, but inasmuch as (considered in itself) it has not the claims and extenuating circumstance, inclining towards a pardon, that might be alleged in the case of sins of weakness and ignorance. He who, from pure and deliberate malice, refuses to recognize the manifest work of God, or rejects the necessary means of salvation, acts exactly like a sick man who not only refuses all medicine and all food, but who does all in his power to increase his illness, and whose malady becomes incurable, due to his own action. It is true, that in either case, God could, by a miracle, overcome the evil; He could, by His omnipotent intervention, either nuillify the natural causes of bodily death, or radically change the will of the stubborn sinner; but such intervention is not in accordance with His ordinary providence; and if he allows the secondary causes to act, if He offers the free human will of ordinary but sufficient grace, who shall seek cause of complaint? In a word, the irremissableness of the sins against the Holy Ghost is exclusively on the part of the sinner, on account of the sinner's act.

Publication information Written by J. Forget. Transcribed by W.S. French, Jr.. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York


On the dogma see: ST. THOMAS, Summa Theol., I, Q. xxxvi-xliii; FRANZELIN, De Deo Trino (Rome, 1881); C. PESCH, Pælectiones dogmaticæ, II (Freiburg im Br., 1895) POHLE, Lehrbuch der Dogmatik, I (Paderborn, 1902); TANQUEREY, Synop. Theol. dogm. spec., I, II (Rome, 1907-8). Concerning the Scriptural arguments for the dogma: WINSTANLEY, Spirit in the New Testament (Cambridge, 1908); LEMONNYER, Epîtres de S. Paul, I (Paris, 1905). Concerning tradition: PETAVIUS, De Deo Trino in his Dogmata theologica; SCHWANE, Dogmengeschichte, I (Freiburg im Br., 1892); DE REGNON, Etudes théologiques sur la Sainte Trinité (Paris, 1892); TIXERONT, Hist. Des dogmes, I (Paris, 1905); TURMEL, Hist. de la théol. positive (Paris, 1904).

Holy Spirit

Jewish Viewpoint Information

Biblical View of the Spirit.

The most noticeable difference between sentient beings and dead things, between the living and the dead, is in the breath. Whatever lives breathes; whatever is dead does not breathe. Aquila, by strangling some camels and then asking Hadrian to set them on their legs again, proved to the emperor that the world is based on "spirit" (Yer. Ḥag. 41, 77a). In most languages breath and spirit are designated by the same term. The life-giving breath can not be of earthly origin, for nothing is found whence it may be taken. It is derived from the supernatural world, from God. God blew the breath of life into Adam (Gen. ii. 7). "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life" (Job xxxiii. 4; comp. ib. xxvii. 3). God "giveth breath unto the people upon it [the earth], and spirit to them that walk therein" (Isa. xlii. 5). "In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind" (Job xii. 10). Through His spirit all living things are created; and when He withdraws it they perish (ib. xxxiv. 14; Ps. civ. 29, 30). He is therefore the God of the spirits of all flesh (Num. xvi. 22, xxvii. 16). The breath of animals also is derived from Him (Gen. vi. 17; Ps. civ. 30 [A. V. 29]; Eccl. iii. 19-21; Isa. xlii. 5). The heavenly' bodies likewise are living beings, who have received their spirit from God (Job xxvi. 13; Ps. xxxiii. 6). God's spirit hovered over the form of lifeless matter, thereby making the Creation possible; and it still causes the most tremendous changes (Gen. i. 2; Isa. xxxii. 15).

Hence all creatures live only through the spirit given by God. In a more restricted sense, however, the spirit of God is not identical with this life-giving spirit. He pours out His own spirit upon all whom He has chosen to execute His will and behests, and this spirit imbues them with higher reason and powers, making them capable of heroic speech and action (Gen. xli. 38; Ex. xxxi. 3; Num. xxiv. 2; Judges iii. 10; II Sam. xxiii. 2). This special spirit of God rests upon man (Isa. xi. 2, xlii. 1); it surrounds him like a garment (Judges vi. 34; II Chron. xxiv. 20); it falls upon him and holds him like a hand (Ezek. xi. 5, xxxvii. 1). It may also be taken away from the chosen one and transferred to some one else (Num. xi. 17). It may enter into man and speak with his voice (II Sam. xxiii. 2; Ezek. ii. 2; comp. Jer. x. 14). The prophet sees and hears by means of the spirit (Num. xxiv. 2; I Sam. x. 6; II Sam. xxiii. 2; Isa. xlii. 1; Zech. vii. 12). The Messianic passage in Joel ii. 28-29, to which special significance was subsequently attached, is characteristic of the view regarding the nature of the spirit: "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit."

The Divine Spirit.

What the Bible calls "Spirit of Yhwh" and "Spirit of Elohim" is called in the Talmud and Midrash "Holy Spirit" ("Ruaḥ ha-Ḳodesh." never "Ruaḥ Ḳedoshah," as Hilgenfeld says, in "Ketzergesch." p. 237). Although the expression "Holy Spirit" occurs in Ps. li. 11 (LXX. πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον) and in Isa. lxiii. 10, 11, it had not yet the definite meaning which was attached to it in rabbinical literature: in the latter it is equivalent to theexpression "Spirit of the Lord," which was avoided on account of the disinclination to the use of the Tetragrammaton (see, for example, Targ. to Isa. xl. 13). It is probably owing to this fact that the Shekinah is often referred to instead of the Holy Spirit. It is said of the former, as of the Holy Spirit, that it rests upon a person. The difference between the two in such cases has not yet been determined. It is certain that the New Testament has πνεῦμα ἅγιον in those passages, also, where the Hebrew and Aramaic had "Shekinah"; for in Greek there is no equivalent to the latter, unless it be δόξα (="gleam of light"), by which "ziw ha-shekinah" may be rendered. Because of the identification of the Holy Spirit with the Shekinah, πνεῦμα ἅγιον is much more frequently mentioned in the New Testament than is "Ruaḥ ha-Ḳodesh" in rabbinical literature.

Nature of the Holy Spirit.

Although the Holy Spirit is often named instead of God (e.g., in Sifre, Deut. 31 [ed. Friedmann, p. 72]), yet it was conceived as being something distinct. The Spirit was among the ten things that were created on the first day (Ḥag. 12a, b). Though the nature of the Holy Spirit is really nowhere described, the name indicates that it was conceived as a kind of wind that became manifest through noise and light. As early as Ezek. iii. 12 it is stated, "the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing," the expression "behind me" characterizing the unusual nature of the noise. The Shekinah made a noise before Samson like a bell (Soṭah 9b, below). When the Holy Spirit was resting upon him, his hair gave forth a sound like a bell, which could be heard from afar. It imbued him with such strength that he could uproot two mountains and rub them together like pebbles, and could cover leagues at one step (ib. 17b; Lev. R. viii. 2). Similarly Acts ii. 2 reads: "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting" (it must be noted that this happened at Pentecost, i.e., the Feast of Revelation). Although the accompanying lights are not expressly mentioned, the frequently recurring phrase "he beheld ["heẓiẓ"] in the Holy Spirit" shows that he upon whom the spirit rested saw a light. The Holy Spirit gleamed in the court of Shem, of Samuel, and of King Solomon (Gen. R. lxxxv. 12). It "glimmered" in Tamar (Gen. xxxviii. 18), in the sons of Jacob (Gen. xlii. 11), and in Moses (Ex. ii. 12), i.e., it settled upon the persons in question (see Gen. R. lxxxv. 9, xci. 7; Lev. R. xxxii. 4, "niẓoẓah" and "heẓiẓ"; comp. also Lev. R. viii. 2, "hitḥil le-gashgesh"). From the day that Joseph was sold the Holy Spirit left Jacob, who saw and heard only indistinctly (Gen. R. xci. 6).

The Holy Spirit, being of heavenly origin, is composed, like everything that comes from heaven, of light and fire. When it rested upon Phinehas his face burned like a torch (Lev. R. xxi., end). When the Temple was destroyed and Israel went into exile, the Holy Spirit returned to heaven; this is indicated in Eccl. xii. 7: "the spirit shall return unto God" (Eccl. R. xii. 7). The spirit talks sometimes with a masculine and sometimes with a feminine voice (Eccl. vii. 29 [A. V. 28]); i.e., as the word "ruaḥ" is both masculine and feminine, the Holy Spirit was conceived as being sometimes a man and sometimes a woman.

In the Form of a Dove.

The four Gospels agree in saying that when Jesus was baptized the Holy Spirit in the shape of a dove came down from the opening heaven and rested upon him. The phraseology of the passages, especially in Luke, shows that this description was not meant symbolically, as Conybeare ("Expositor," iv., ix. 455) assumes, following Alexandrian views (comp. Matt. iii. 16; Mark i. 10; Luke iii. 22; John iv. 33; and Hastings, "Dict. Bible," ii. 406a). This idea of a dove-like form is found in Jewish literature also. The phrase in Cant. ii. 12, "the voice of the dove" (A. V. "turtle"), is translated in the Targum "the voice of the Holy Spirit." The passage in Gen. i. 2, "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters," is interpreted by Ben Zoma (c. 100) to mean, "As a dove that hovers above her brood without touching it" (Ḥag. 15a). As the corresponding passage in the Palestinian Talmud (Ḥag. 77b, above) mentions the eagle instead of the dove, the latter is perhaps not named here with reference to the Holy Spirit. A teacher of the Law heard in a ruin a kind of voice ("bat ḳol") that complained like a dove: "Wo to the children, because of whose sins I have destroyed my house" (Ber. 3a, below). Evidently God Himself, or rather the Holy Spirit, is here referred to as cooing like a dove (comp. Abbot, "From Letter to Spirit," pp. 106-135). See Dove.

Dissemination of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit dwells only among a worthy generation, and the frequency of its manifestations is proportionate to the worthiness. There was no manifestation of it in the time of the Second Temple (Yoma 21b), while there were many during the time of Elijah (Tosef., Soṭah, xii. 5). According to Job xxviii. 25, the Holy Spirit rested upon the Prophets in varying degrees, some prophesying to the extent of one book only, and others filling two books (Lev. R. xv. 2). Nor did it rest upon them continually, but only for a time. The stages of development, the highest of which is the Holy Spirit, are as follows: zeal, integrity, purity, holiness, humility, fear of sin, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit conducts Elijah, who brings the dead to life (Yer. Shab. 3c, above, and parallel passage). The pious act through the Holy Spirit (Tan., Wayeḥi, 14); whoever teaches the Torah in public partakes of the Holy Spirit (Cant. R. i. 9, end; comp. Lev. R. xxxv. 7). When Phinehas sinned the Holy Spirit departed from him (Lev. R. xxxvii. 4; comp. Gen. R. xix. 6; Pesiḳ. 9a).

In Biblical times the Holy Spirit was widely disseminated, resting on those who, according to the Bible, displayed a propitious activity; thus it rested on Eber and, according to Josh. ii. 16, even on Rahab (Seder 'Olam, 1; Sifre, Deut. 22). It was necessary to reiterate frequently that Solomon wrote his three books, Proverbs, Canticles, and Ecclesiastes, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Cant. R. i. 6-10), because there was a continual opposition not only to the wise king personally, but also to his writings. A teacher of the Law says that probably for this reason the Holy Spirit rested upon Solomon in his old age only (ib. i. 10, end).

Holy Spirit and Prophecy.

The visible results of the activity of the Holy Spirit, according to the Jewish conception, are the books of the Bible, all of which have been composed under its inspiration. All the Prophets spoke "in the Holy Spirit"; and the most characteristic sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit is the gift of prophecy, in the sense that the person upon whom it rests beholds the past and the future. With the death of the last three prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, the Holy Spirit ceased to manifest itself in Israel; but the Bat Ḳol was still available. "A bat ḳol announced twice at assemblies of the scribes: 'There is a man who is worthy to have the Holy Spirit rest upon him.' On one of these occasions all eyes turned to Hillel; on the other, to Samuel the Lesser" (Tosef., Soṭah, xiii. 2-4, and parallels). Although the Holy Spirit was not continually present, and did not rest for any length of time upon any individual, yet there were cases in which it appeared and made knowledge of the past and of the future possible (ib.; also with reference to Akiba, Lev. R. xxi. 8; to Gamaliel II., ib. xxxvii. 3, and Tosef., Pes. i. 27; to Meïr, Lev. R. ix. 9; etc.).

The Holy Spirit rested not only on the children of Israel who crossed the Red Sea (Tosef., Soṭah, vi. 2), but, toward the end of the time of the Second Temple, occasionally on ordinary mortals; for "if they are not prophets, they are at least the sons of prophets" (Tosef., Pes. iv. 2). The Holy Spirit is at times identified with the spirit of prophecy (comp. Seder 'Olam, 1, beginning; Targ. Yer. to Gen. xli. 38, xliii. 14; II Kings ix. 26; Isa. xxxii. 15. xl. 13, xliv. 3; Cant. R. i. 2). Sifre 170 (to Deut. xviii. 18) remarks: "'I will put My words into his mouth,' means 'I put them into his mouth, but I do not speak with him face to face'; know, therefore, that henceforth the Holy Spirit is put into the mouths of the Prophets." The "knowledge of God" is the Holy Spirit (Cant. R. i. 9). The division of the country by lot among the several tribes was likewise effected by means of the Holy Spirit (Sifre, Num. 132, p. 49a). On "inspiration" see Jew. Encyc. iii. 147, s.v. Bible Canon, § 9; especially Meg. 7a; and Inspiration. It may simply be noted here that in rabbinical literature single passages are often considered as direct utterances of the Holy Spirit (Sifre, Num. 86; Tosef., Soṭah, ix. 2; Sifre, Deut. 355, p. 148a, six times; Gen. R. lxxviii. 8, lxxxiv. 12; Lev. R. iv. 1 [the expression "and the Holy Spirit cries" occurs five times], xiv. 2, xxvii. 2; Num. R. xv. 21; xvii. 2, end; Deut. R. xi., end).

Gentiles and the Holy Spirit.

The opposite of the Holy Spirit is the unclean spirit ("ruaḥ ṭum'ah"; lit. "spirit of uncleanliness"). The Holy Spirit rests on the person who seeks the Shekinah (God), while the unclean spirit rests upon him who seeks uncleanness (Sifre, Deut. 173, and parallel passage). Hence arises the contrast, as in the New Testament between πνεῦμα ἅγιον and πνεῦμα ἀκάθαρτον. On the basis of II Kings iii. 13, the statement is made, probably as a polemic against the founder of Christianity, that the Holy Spirit rests only upon a happy soul (Yer. Suk. 55a, and elsewhere). Among the pagans Balaam, from being a mere interpreter of dreams, rose to be a magician and then a possessor of the Holy Spirit (Num. R. xx. 7). But the Holy Spirit did not appear to him except at night, all pagan prophets being in possession of their gift only then (ib. xx. 12). The Balaam section was written in order to show why the Holy Spirit was taken from the heathen-i.e., because Balaam desired to destroy a whole people without cause (ib. xx. 1). A very ancient source (Sifre, Deut. 175) explains, on the basis of Deut. xviii. 15, that in the Holy Land the gift of prophecy is not granted to the heathen or in the interest of the heathen, nor is it given outside of Palestine even to Jews. In the Messianic time, however, the Holy Spirit will, according to Joel ii. 28, 29, be poured out upon all Israel; i.e., all the people will be prophets (Num. R. xv., end). According to the remarkable statement of Tanna debe Eliyahu, ed. Friedmann, the Holy Spirit will be poured out equally upon Jews and pagans, both men and women, freemen and slaves.

In the New Testament.

The doctrine that after the advent of the Messiah the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon all mankind explains the fact that in the New Testament such great importance is assigned to the Holy Spirit. The phrase τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον occurs from eighty to ninety times (Swete, in Hastings, "Dict. Bible," ii. 404); while the phrase τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ δεοῦ is comparatively rare, it occurs several times. In Acts i. 5, 8 it is said, as in the midrash quoted above, that in the Messianic time the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon every one, and in Acts ii. 16 et seq. Peter states that Joel's prophecy regarding the Holy Spirit has been fulfilled. "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God" (ib. x. 44-46). Luke also says (Luke xi. 13) that God gives the Holy Spirit to those that ask Him. The phrase "joy of the Holy Ghost" (I Thess. i. 6) also recalls the Midrash sentence quoted above referring to the contrast between the clean and the unclean spirit (Mark iii. 30). The inspiration of the Biblical writers is acknowledged in the same way as in rabbinical literature (Matt. xxii. 43; Mark xii. 36; II Peter i. 21). Hence the conception of the Holy Spirit is derived from one and the same source. But as the New Testament writers look upon the Messiah, who is actually identified with the Holy Spirit, as having arrived, their view assumes a form fundamentally different from that of the Jewish view in certain respects; i.e., as regards: (1) the conception and birth of the Messiah through the Holy Spirit (Matt. i. 18 et seq.; Luke i. 35; John iii. 5-8); (2) the speaking in different tongues ("glossolalia"; Acts ii. et passim): (3) the materialistic view of the Holy Spirit, evidenced in the idea that it may be communicated by means of the breath (e.g., John xx. 22); and (4) the strongly developed view of the personality of the Holy Spirit (comp., for example, Matt. xii. 32; Acts v. 3; I Cor. iii. 16; Eph. ii. 22; I Peter ii. 5; Gospel to the Hebrews, quoted inHastings, "Dict. Bible," ii. 406, foot, et passim). In consequence of these fundamental differences many points of the Christian conception of the Holy Spirit have remained obscure, at least to the uninitiated.

In the Apocrypha.

It is noteworthy that the Holy Spirit is less frequently referred to in the Apocrypha and by the Hellenistic Jewish writers; and this circumstance leads to the conclusion that the conception of the Holy Spirit was not prominent in the intellectual life of the Jewish people, especially in the Diaspora. In I Macc. iv. 45, xiv. 41 prophecy is referred to as something long since passed. Wisdom ix. 17 refers to the Holy Spirit which God sends down from heaven, whereby His behests are recognized. The discipline of the Holy Spirit preserves from deceit (ib. i. 5; comp. ib. vii. 21-26). It is said in the Psalms of Solomon, xvii. 42, in reference to the Messiah, the son of David: "he is mighty in the Holy Spirit"; and in Susanna, 45, that "God raised up the Holy Spirit of a youth, whose name was Daniel." Josephus ("Contra Ap." i. 8) expresses the same view in regard to prophetic inspiration that is found in rabbinical literatur (comp. Jew. Encyc. iii. 147b, s.v. Bible Canon; Josephus, "Ant." iv. 6, § 5; vi. 8, § 2; also Sifre, Deut. 305; Ber. 31b, above; Gen. R. lxx. 8, lxxv. 5; Lev. R. vi.; Deut. R. vi.-the Holy Spirit defending Israel before God; Eccl. R. vii. 23; Pirḳe R. El. xxxvii., beginning). See also Hosanna; Inspiration; Ordination; Tabernacles, Feast of.

Joseph Jacobs, Ludwig Blau
Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.

F. Weber, Jüdische Theologie, 2d ed., pp. 80 et seq., 190 et seq., and Index, s.v. Geist, Leipsic, 1897; Herzog-Hauck, Real-Encyc. 3d ed., vi. 444-450 (with full bibliography); Hastings, Dict. Bible, iii. 402-411; Bacher, Ag. Tan. passim; idem, Ag. Pal. Amor. passim; E. A. Abbot, From Letter to Spirit, ch. vii. et passim, London, 1903; E. Sokolowsky, Die Begriffe Geist und Leben bei Paulus, Göttingen, 1903; H. Weinel, Die Wirkungen des Geistes und der Geister (his quotations [pp. 81, 131, 164, 190] from Christian writers are interesting from a Jewish point of view).J. L. B.

Also, see:
Spiritual Gifts

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