Holy Spirit in the Old Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

" (Gen. 1:2.)

The Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit is seen as the original creative force that creates all life. However, the reference to the Spirit in Gnesis also refers to its distance and potential separation from mankind. In times of sin and wickedness God warns that "...my Spirit will not always strive with man." (Gen. 6:3) the passage also implies that the"... Spirit's very presence and ministry could be withdrawn from the human race in some sense."

At this point the apparent distinction between and Spirit and Holy Sprit should be reiterated. As one commentator notes; " Although the Old Testament uses the epithet "Spirit of God," it does not speak of the Holy Spirit per se.

The appellative Spirit of God became popular in late Old Testament narratives to replace the name of God by its attributes. The epithet did not infer the idea that the Spirit was a "person" either. Nevertheless, the meaning of Spirit of God and Holy Spirit are synonymous, since one meaning of the word "holy" is "of God."

Therefore, in the few examples that have so far been noted, the Spirit in the Old Testament refers to dynamic impulse of God that is related by analysis to the wind or to life-giving breath. This can also be related to other interpretations, such as the view that God's Sprit or the Holy Spirit enters into the heart of people; for example in Ezekiel; " I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." (Ez 36:26)

The theological rationale or explanation given is as follows:

Since air is so tenuous, it penetrates not only into our body, but all of its spaces and clefts. This helps to understand that "the spirit of the Lord fills the whole world" (Wis 1:7) and that it penetrates especially "all intelligent, pure and most subtle spirits" (7:23), as the Book of Wisdom says.

The Holy Spirit is also seen as a means of knowledge and understanding that is provided by God. The concept of the Spirit as a guide in the Old Testament can be clearly seen in the example of Exodus. "God in days of old had led Israel from Egypt and through the hardships of the desert by his holy spirit, although they had "grieved his holy spirit" by their rebellion." (Isa. 63:10-14).

The Spirit is associated with cleansing the heart and regeneration of the human. We see this clearly in the references to the Spirit of God and Holy Spirit in Psalms.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Ps. 51:10-11.)

The spirit is also mentioned in the close relationship between Moses and God. As one commentator has noted;"... probably on account of the close relationship between Moses and God throughout the wilderness experience, some modern translations translate the expression as "His Spirit" making reference to the Holy Spirit."

Therefore, to summarize, the Spirit in the Old Testament is a, symbol of the power, purpose, and presence of the living God active in the world of men...The spirit signifies all that God is and all that he may mean to men in righteousness, redemption, and personal peace. It also means much that man is, since man has been made in the image of God and accordingly has received his spirit.

Ezekial provides some of the most telling visions of the meaning and power of the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit. In Ezekiel 1 we read,

Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking. (Ezek. 1:28)

Spirit is also referred to a number of times on many other books of the Old Testament. In the Book of Judges the Holy Spirit is referred to as influencing certain individuals to carry out the purpose that God envisages for them. However, it should be noted that, "God's Spirit throughout is the Spirit of Yahweh rather than the emphasis on the Spirit of Elohim found in the Pentateuch."

The Book of Judges adds to this aspect of the Holy Spirit entering into and influencing individuals to carry out God's divine purpose. An example is the influence of the Spirit of Yahweh upon Gideon. "Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him." (Judges. 6:34)

Similarly, the Spirit of Yahweh also comes upon Jephthah (Judges. 11:29) as he leads the Israelites in victory against the Ammonites.

A comparable example is to be found in 1 and 2 Kings, where the emphasis on the way that the Holy Spirit relates to the prophet Elijah. There are also further explicit references to the Holy Spirit of God. However, there are no references to the Spirit in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon.

Other examples are two references in Job. Elihu tells Job that his creator is the Spirit of God; "The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life." (Job 33:4)

In Job the Sprit of God is referred to in terms of creation and providence.

Psalms also has a number of references to the Spirit of God or Holy Spirit.

For example, in Psalm 104:30 we read; " When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth."

This refers directly to the creation and the care and generation of all creation by the Spirit. Another example from Psalm deals with sin in the rebellion of the children of Israel against the Spirit of God. " for they rebelled against the Spirit of God, and rash words came from Moses' lips." (Psalm 106:33)

One particularly enlightening example is from Psalm 51, which deals with David's confession.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.

This refers to the cleansing of one's inner being and establishment of a correct relationship with God. Note that David refers directly to the Holy Spirit of God in his earnest request for the Spirit not to be taken away form him. The psalm emphasizes the "joy of your salvation" which is necessary to "sustain" him. The words sustain refers in turn to the very core of being and existence that requires the presence of the Holy Spirit.


The above discussion has explored some of the ways that the Spirit of God is referred to and cited in the Old Testament. An important concept is the relationship between the Spirit and Holy Spirit, which is such an essential aspect of the New Testament and Trinitarian concerns. This leads to the following insight:

it was the association of Spirit and Word, as this in its various forms determined the Old Testament conception of the Spirit, which was incomparably fulfilled in the New Testament belief in the Holy Spirit, through whose power Jesus accomplished his prophetic mission, and in the Paraclete sent by him, who continually renews his work in the community, and gives to the members of the Body of Christ a share in a life of divine power.

This is a view that reasserts the stance that the Spirit of the Old testament continues and is developed in the Holy Spirit of the New Testament and, barring some aspects, that the Spirit if the Old testament and the Holy Spirit of the New Testament are essentially the same phenomenon. This is not meant to suggest that the two can be simply conflated but rather that there is a continuity between them and the Old and new Testaments.

The above discussion of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament has focused on come central aspects of its revelation and meaning; one of the most important of these being the association between the creative act and the Spirit of God and its role in the creation of earth and man. A second aspect is that way that the Holy Sprit is seen to interact with humanity and the relationship between a pure heart and the infusion of the Spirit of God. This also includes the view that the Spirit is in fact "alien" or distinct to the human and…

Sources Used in Document:

Walther Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament, trans J.A. Baker, Vol. 2 [book online] (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1967, accessed 7 October 2008), 80; available from Questia, http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=85792449;Internet.

A www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=85792449

Walther Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament, trans J.A. Baker, Vol. 2 [book online] (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1967, accessed 7 October 2008), 80; available from Questia, http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=85792449;Internet.

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