Episode 8: The Spirit of God
There is so much baggage attached to the concepts of ‘the Spirit of God’ or ‘the Holy Spirit’ that it can be really difficult to know where to start in understanding what the concept means in scripture and in our daily lives. Sam Thomas talks to Paul Davenport about how to unpick the basic concept and its meaning in scripture. Listen in to find out what it’s all about!
Sam and Paul start by tracing the Hebrew word ruakh that is often translated “spirit” through the Old Testament. A quick survey of numerous passages, (e.g. Genesis 7:15,22; Genesis 8:1,21; Psalm 77:3, Numbers 11:25,26, Job 26:12-13), and we quickly discover that this word has meanings that span concepts such as breath, wind, smell and spirit. These are all things that have an effect but are unseen.
It’s the same for the Greek word as well. The word pneuma has similar examples, (John 3:8; John 11:33), and again it seems to be about something that is unseen yet produces an observable effect, like the wind.
More uses of the word spirit
Sam and Paul then talk more about how this principle applies when the spirit has a qualify associated with it. They discuss the Spirit of God and how He is unseen but His effects are seen in the world. Similarly, the power of God is like this and closely connected. These examples also have something to do with how the spirit is a source of life, like breath the unseen element of life within a person.
In fact, the spirit becomes a metaphor for the mind and the attributes of a character. The unseen element of a person which directs how they act. When this describes God’s spirit, it very easy to see how this can be described as “holy” – that is pure and sanctified, as opposed to an unclean or impure spirit. This is a great foundation to understand verses in the New Testament like Romans 8:9-12 (“the Spirit of God dwells in you”) and Galatians 5:16, and Galatians 5:25 (“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit”).
Sam and Paul acknowledge that there is so much more that needs saying about this topic, but that is left for another time!