Re: Simeon's spirit

From: mjoseph (
Date: Mon Dec 01 1997 - 16:44:11 EST

Is this entire list composed of "Jehovah's" Witnesses? One person only
brings up the classical proofs for the personality and divinity of the
Holy Spirit, while everyone else argues against.

Martin Arhelger wrote:

>> As to Luke 2:25, I encourage again to look at the context:
>> Luke 2:26 "And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should
>> not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ." Its difficult for me
>> to imagine somebody (something ?) that is able to reveal something while
>> being no person but a thing (force, abillity ?).
>> Look also at Acts 8:29; 13:2.4; 16:6-7 etc.

and Thomas Kopecek responded:

>You are right that "force" and "ability" do not convey what the texts
>seem to convey. Would "presence" work, as in God's "presence"? Yet there
>is a dynamism that "presence" doesn't convey. You have put your finger
>on precisely why I asked Rolf to share with us the results of his
>comprehensive study of Spirit and Holy Spirit in Lk/Acts. Maybe in the
>end one should let it be "breath" or "wind", with the understanding
>that one's breath is part and parcel of one's active self.

Why the desire to understand "presence" (after first having attempted the
Arian "force")? Is there some reason that PNEUMA *shouldn't* be
translated "Spirit"?

>If it were
>all that clear to those Greek-speaking Catholic Christians in the fourth
>century (some of whom had to be convinced even after Constantinople 381)
>that the Holy Spirit in Lk/Acts is "divine" and "person" in the sense of
>co-equal to Father and Son, the Trinitarian debates within fourth
>century Catholicism would make little sense.

This is simply a non sequitur. 1,500 years later, with the entire
historical church, Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant church united in a
Trinitarian understanding of God, there are still a few who refuse it
(one knocked on my door yesterday). This is not because the texts aren't

The whole Bible is Trinitarian, right from the first paragraph (verse 1,
"God"; verse 2, "the Spirit of God"; verse 3 "and God *said*" implying
more than a little the Word of God) right to the end (Rev. 22:3, 17).
The fact that intensely monotheistic Jews of the New Testament period
didn't hesitate to speak of Christ and of the Holy Spirit as God, and to
attribute to them divine names and works, should give us pause (Mt. 28:19
and 2 Cor. 13:14 come to mind).

Rolf Furuli adds:

>To illustrate: Who gave the
>law and spoke to the people at Sinai? YHWH (Ex 20:1)? No, angels (Gal 3:19,
>Acts 7:53). Who hardened the heart of Pharao? YHWH (Ex 7:3)? No, Pharao
>himself (Ex 8:15). Who wisited Abraham and spoke in the 1st person? YHWH
>(Gen 18:17)? No, evidently angels (Ex 33:20). Who did Paul persecute? Jesus
>(Acts 9:5)? No, the disciples of the Lord (Acts 9:1). Even when P h. is
>mentioned in one line and God is mentioned in a parallel line, this does
>not prove that P h. IS God. It need not show anything more than that P.h.
>REPRESENTS God (remember "the problem of induction"!).

This is another non sequitur, and even more serious. While we might see
a principle of representation in Scripture, it should be noted that the
examples given are all of created beings--angels, Pharaoh, disciples. To
say, then, that the Holy Spirit analogously "represents" God doesn't do
justice to the presentation of the Holy Spirit in the Bible.

Wes Williams adds:

>Therefore, Ananias could YEUDOMAI ("lie" "be false") to a thing or force
>and therefore Acts 5:3,4 cannot be used to prove or disprove the "nature"

This certainly looks like an attempt to explain away a very clear text.
If parallelism counts for anything in the Scriptures, Acts 5:3-4 is
trying to state that the Holy Spirit is both personal and God. Question:
if these verses *don't* teach that the Holy Spirit is God, how could this
truth be stated?

>I've always viewed the "spirit" much like Carl's illustration, as dynamic
>personified energy that makes things happen, illustrated by electricity.
>The electricity contrasted/ compared with the mere latent power that would
>be stored in a battery ("power").

>This should come from what the scriptures say about PNEUMA hAGION,
>including the strong witness of the O.T.

Agreed. We might start with Isaiah 63:10, where we read that Israel
"rebelled and grieved His (God's) Holy Spirit" (NIV; I believe that it
doesn't materially affect the sense if we translate literally, "the
Spirit of His holiness"). Even if one could nullify the personal nature
of the verb YEUDOMAI (which I doubt), this can't be done here. The verb
"rebelled" is MARAH, for which BDB gives gives as the root meaning "be
contentious, refractory, rebellious." The root is used 22 times in the
Qal, and *all* 22 are personal--twice of a son rebelling against his
father, and the other twenty of rebellion against God. BDB, hardly a
bastion of fundamentalism, even lists Is. 63:10 under this last category.
 The second verb, 'ITSTSEV (I'm not sure how to transliterate this--it is
ayin-tsade-bet in the Piel) is listed as meaning "hurt, pain grieve."
While there are a few references which might be taken impersonally, the
majority are very personal, and "pain" is the key concept. The piel stem
is only used twice, so I can't be sure about this, but a meaning of "they
caused pain" to His Holy Spirit is surely not out of the question (yes, I
know that the hiphil is the causative stem, but the piel rather
frequently has a causative meaning, too).

I would say that this verse, Gen. 1:2, the explanation of Luke 2:25 in
verse 26, and the verses Martin originally pointed out (Acts 8:29;
13:2.4; 16:6-7) go a long way toward establishing the personality and
deity of the Holy Spirit, and that other verses, which could, though
don't necessariIy, teach that the Holy Spirit could perhaps be
interpreted as a force, should be interpreted in the light of these
unambiguous verses. It is certainly OK not to believe in the deity of
the Holy Spirit (and hence, in the Trinity) because one refuses to for
various theological or political reasons, but it is quite another thing
to say that the texts don't teach any such doctrine.

Mark Joseph

There are two kinds of fools:
The first says, "This is old, therefore it is good."
The other says, "This is new, therefore it is better."

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