The Spirit

 

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Preface
Abbreviations Used

Introduction
General Subjects
Exposition
  Matthew
  Mark
  Luke
  John
  John 14-16
  Acts
  Romans
  1 Corinthians
  2 Corinthians
  Galatians
  Ephesians
  Philippians
  Colossians
  1 & 2 Thess.
  1 & 2 Timothy
  Titus
  Hebrews
  James
  1 & 2 Peter
  1 John
  Jude
  Revelation
Gifts of the Spirit
Inter-Ecclesial Offices
Word Studies
Bibliography
Index
Epilogue Acknowledgements
Exposition of The Spirit in John
   

John 1:16
"And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace".

The Apostles who authenticated John's gospel in the Epilogue ("we know that his testimony is true" - John 21:24) also identify themselves with Johns opening witness to the Christ. "The Word . . . dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory . . . full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). They also say, along with John of course, "and of his fulness have all we received and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (v.16-17). The words "fulness" and "grace" never appear elsewhere in the writings of John except for "grace" in the opening salutation of his second epistle. This fact would suggest that "fulness" and "grace" were, like the prologue itself, specially linked with the experience of the Apostles and of those first century disciples into whose custody John committed his Gospel on its completion. In Ephesians, Spirit gifts are styled "grace" (e.g. 4:7), where the word used is the same as that in John 1:14, 16. This is, in fact, characteristic of the writings of Paul (Eph. 3:7 RV; Rom. 12:3; 1 Cor. 1:4-7, etc.). It seems, therefore, that John's words (1:14-17) actually cover the same field of thought as Paul's in Ephesians and Colossians . . .

During his ministry, Jesus received the Spirit without measure from the Father, but not until he was glorified were believers "filled with Holy Spirit". It is undoubtedly to this effusion, which began at Pentecost, that John is referring when he says: "Of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace" - "one grace (or gift) after another" (TCNT and BERK), in rich profusion, with Christ distributing "to man severally as he willed". From such gifts of grace came "truth" in prophecy, revelation, doctrine and healings (1 Cor. 12 & 14). The omniscience of the Lord would ensure that the gifts were wisely distributed out of the rich diversity of the Spirit, in exact relation to the capacity and disposition of the recipient: "Unto everyone . . . is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ". (Eph. 4:7).


John 3:5
"unless one is born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (RSV)

PROBLEM:

This verse is sometimes taken to mean that the one born again or born of the Spirit receives the Spirit directly at baptism.
e.g. "As a community we correctly emphasize the need for baptism but how often do we emphasize and explain the birth of the Spirit?"

"It is much more than a mere change of heart and each of us at our baptisms recognized this. We were not giving ourselves coldly and analytically to God we were doing something we could not stop! There was a driving force within us that we could not but heed, together with a warm, glowing awareness of the presence of God. In those few days we had walked with God and we experienced within ourselves the workings of His Spirit."1

SOLUTION:

  1. The general context is the key to the interpretation of this verse. Baptism here does not refer to the Christian baptism which Christ instituted three years later.2 It was John's baptism that Jesus was practising at this stage in his ministry (cf. 3:22, 23, 26). Once the historical context in relation to baptism is clearly grasped, an understanding of being "born of the Spirit" is much easier to grasp.

  2. The words "born of the Spirit" cannot mean "be given the Holy Spirit" in any sense because the Holy Spirit was not given in this manner until Pentecost about three years later. It is an invalid argument that refers the words to a possession of the Holy Spirit now or then.

  3. Jesus elaborates on the statement of being "born of the Spirit" in verses 6-8. Verse 8 should be correctly translated as:

    "The Spirit breatheth where it pleaseth, and thou art hearing3 the Voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh and whither it goeth".4

    "The Spirit breatheth where it pleaseth"

    The idea is that God was not working through the channels that the spiritual leaders expected, (i.e. the High Priest) but through humbler persons.

    "Thou art hearing the Voice thereof"5

    God was speaking through John the Baptist and Jesus. John claimed: "I am the voice" (ch. 1:23). "We" therefore refers to John and Jesus.

    "thou knowest not whence it cometh and whither it goeth."

    Nicodemus could not know when or where, or through whom, God would choose to speak to the nation.

    This explanation by Jesus shows that being "born of the Spirit" was in fact believing the Divine teaching that came through the "Voice" of "the Spirit". Only this combination of hearing the voice and being baptized could cause the birth from above. The Apostle John confirms this by his statement in the prologue:

    "As many as received him" and "believed on his name" were "born of God" and became "sons of God"(1:12,13)

  4. "Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ" (Rom. 10:17). We read the Word of God that was given by the Holy Spirit. If it has its proper effect, then "You have been born again . . . through the living . . . Word of God" (1 Pet. 1:23 NASB).

TODAY'S APPLICATION

John chapter three agrees with other scriptures that the birth of the Spirit comes, like faith, by hearing, and that by the Word of God. In terms of Christ's conversation with Nicodemus, a man must receive and believe "the Voice" of the Spirit heard in the Word given through prophets such as Jesus and John the Baptist. That same Word having been permanently recorded, it demands an identical response today, just as it did before Christ.

Obviously there is a secondary application in which the person who hears the water of life and the words of the Spirit [now only through the written word] and is baptized in water then goes on to live a life of probation and in the future if judged worthy [through the grace of God] is born of the Spirit, or his mortal body infused with the immortal power of the Spirit.

John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
In other words listen to the words of Jesus and next be baptized.
Rom. 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Eph. 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Col. 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
Matt. 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit…:
Rom. 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
See www.christadelphia.org/books/spirit/Romans.htm#8:11 for an explanation of the last verse.

TEST, Vol. 43, P. 231.
1 ESSA, P. 15.
2 It is possible, however, that Christ meant it to have these overtones when written later by John.
3 Present continuous tense.
4 This translation is taken from TEST, Vol. 44, P. 70 and is largely from Bro. Thomas and the RV margin. (This is the only occurrence of 379 (cf. Luke 2:40) in the N.T. where pneuma is rendered wind by the AV. So we see that centuries of theological dust have covered the proper meaning of these verses.)
5 Jesus words do not give support to those who claim the gift of the Spirit is given to every believer at baptism. The Lord calls Nicodemus a "teacher in Israel" and says he ought to have known these things (v. 10). Therefore he cannot be referring to some new method of revelation, but to something that was then operative in Israel.

John 4:10
"Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water."

PROBLEM:

The occurrence of dorean in this verse is used by some to say that:- "Dorea is never used of the spirit gifts."

SOLUTION:

  1. ". . . God gave His only begotten Son . . ." (John 3:16) is probably the idea referred to in the phrase "the gift of God".

  2. Symbollically, Jesus was offering to this Samaritan woman the water of life -- his teaching which would spring "up into everlasting life" (John 4:14, cf. 3:16). It is obvious that the fuller meaning of the words "living water" in John 4:10 occurs in ch. 7:39.

    "(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)"6 v. 39

  3. John 7:37-39 is a fuller explanation by the inspired revelator and refers to the day of Pentecost where in Acts 2:33 it is obvious that Jesus had been glorified. It is obvious to anybody who examines the evidence that more than one miraculous gift of the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, as evidenced by the fact that the Apostles spoke in tongues and gave inspired revelation. Later evidence is recorded that demonstrates that they had the power to pass on the gifts to others, so as well as all the other gifts they had this powerful ability that no one else had.

  4. If John 4:10 was the only occurrence of dorea or dorean then one might be excused for concluding the quote in the problem. However, we have proven elsewhere at Acts 2:38,397 and in looking at the word Gift on p 2918 that 8 out of 11 occurrences [or 73 percent, which is a big majority] of dorea or dorean refer to the miraculous gifts of the Spirit.

  5. So the reader needs to add the wider context of John 7:39 and Ephesians 4:8 to the occurrences of dorean in John 4:10 above and doreas in Ephesians 4:7.

  6. The author of the words quoted in the problem admits that Eph. 4:8 & 11 is referring to "spirit gifted brethren is true", so in effect he admits his view of dorea in v. 7 is wrong. What was given? "Christ's gift". What was that? "Spirit gifted brethren".

6 It was "not yet given" when Jesus spoke the words prior to v39, but John's comment in v. 39 was written after Pentecost, because his gospel was written after that event. See The Gospel of John, John Carter, CMPA, 1953 p. 99.
7 See Problems VIII through XI and their solutions.
8 http://www.christadelphia.org/books/spirit/SectionF.htm

John 4:24
"God is spirit; and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (RSV)

PROBLEM:

This verse is cited to show that unless we have the Spirit we cannot worship God. It is also used to show that God is not tangible.

SOLUTION:

  1. Jesus is not saying that God is immaterial9 nor is he just referring to the nature of God10, but is stating that God is acting in a specific manner for the redemption of man, as He once acted in the past11.
  2. It is in the framework of this purpose that men must worship the Father12. Jesus was teaching the woman that in the redemption he had brought, he had living waters13 to offer so that they could worship God "in spirit".
  3. The verse does not say that we must have received some divine effluent from God into our hearts before we can worship correctly. The context shows that:
    1. correct knowledge ("in truth") is one necessity, "salvation is of the Jews". (v. 22).
    2. attitude of mind ("in spirit" i.e. sincerity, Josh. 24:14) is the other necessity14.

    "Ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father." (v. 21).


9 cf. Section B - "God is Corporeal."
10 Jesus is concerned with redemption and worship that is acceptable not with a description of whether God is tangible or not. cf. v.7 - 23.
11 We should continually remember that to Israel God was Spirit, an Angel bearing His Name. This statement can be verified by an analysis of Isaiah 48:16, 17, 20.

"The Lord GOD, and his Spirit hath sent me. Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God ... which leadeth thee the way that thou shouldest go."

Note that the Spirit is "the Holy One of Israel".
In this Spirit activity of redemption, there was to be corresponding spirit in their worship.

"Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this ... The LORD hath redeemed his servant Jacob". (v.20).

12 "To be spiritually minded is life". (Rom. 8:6).
13 the teaching of the Spirit (i.e. Word of God) (cf. v.14).
14 It was not where the worship occurred (empty tradition or letter) that mattered but the attitude of the worshipper that mattered i.e. a positive response showing love and zeal for the truth. cf. 2 Cor. 3:5, 6.


John 6:44
"No one can come to Me, unless the Father . . . draws him."

PROBLEM:

It is claimed that this is evidence of the Holy Spirit "descending in the form of an experience."

SOLUTION:

  1. Jesus goes on to say how the Father draws: "And they shall all be taught of God! Every one who has heard . . . comes to me." (v. 45)
  2. "Faith", says Paul, "comes from hearing, and hearing by the word." (Rom. 10:17).
  3. James says: "In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth". (James 1:18).
  4. For you have been born again through the . . . word of God . . . which was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:23, 25).
  5. So it can be seen that the Father draws us by putting us in a place where we can hear (or read) the word of God. He does not draw us in the sense outlined in the problem above.
  6. The operation can be compared to a magnet. It will only draw materials that are capable of being magnetized. God will only draw us if we have shown some interest in Him.
  7. Jesus is not giving the impression that God has respect of persons and makes distinctions between men and women in the offer of salvation; rather he is proving that God had already made provision for man's salvation. The word is the means that God uses to draw attention to Jesus. (cf. Luke 8:15 and Acts 10:34-43).

John 6:45
"It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught15 of God.' Every one who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to me."

PROBLEM:

This verse, if taken out of context, may appear to teach the idea that no-one can come to Christ unless they are taught directly by God (i.e. have an experience which enables them to "see" Christ). Having thus "learned from the Father", they can "accept Jesus".

SOLUTION:

This verse must be seen in its broad context.

Whether we take the meaning of the phrase as:
a) taught about God
b) taught by God
c) God's taught ones (B) the idea expressed is just different shades of the same thing. Probably all are correct.

However, we must not assume that God himself did (or does) the teaching directly, for "the Son of man shall give unto you that meat which endureth unto everlasting life (for him hath God the Father sealed)". (v. 27). "He that hath seen the Father" did so because they "hath heard and hath learned" of the Father by listening to Jesus speaking God's words. (Heb. 1:2). We see, therefore, that Jesus applied the prophecy of Isa. 54:13 to himself. The contextual interpretation proves the theory expressed in the Problem is wrong.


15 There are only 2 occurrences of the word taught (didaktos). Here (persons taught) and in 1 Cor. 2:13 (things taught).
John 6:63
"It is the Spirit that quickeneth"

Christ was saying in effect 'Obedience to the words that I speak leads to eternal life'. Christ's words were spirit because He spoke the words of God. Also the word of God is spirit because it was revealed by the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Peter 1:21).


John 7:37-39
". . . Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given because that Jesus was not yet glorified."

PROBLEM:

  1. This verse is sometimes used to show that if we believe on him we will receive the Spirit if we ask for it.
  2. These verses, especially the last one, are ignored by those who wish to conclude that dorea is never used of the Holy Spirit gifts.

SOLUTION I:

  1. The Apostle's explanation applies to first century believers generally, and not to the twelve. This is evident from "If any man thirst, let him come unto me" (v. 37).

  2. The above problem arises because the context is forgotten.

    They were not to receive the Spirit until Pentecost. That meant that the outpouring was limited16 on one hand until after Pentecost. As has been demonstrated17 elsewhere in this treatise, it was limited on the other hand by the death of the apostles. Therefore this verse cannot be used to demonstrate a continuous outpouring of the Spirit on all18 believers.

  3. The gift of the Spirit was only intermittently imparted (Matt. 17:14-20) at that time. While Jesus was with the disciples they needed not that the spirit should dwell in them, but when he sent them to fulfill his will he imparted to them power to perform it, if the object they were to effect, transcended ordinary human ability.

    At Pentecost the gifts were imparted and the person possessed the gift given.

  4. The Spirit gifts in the first century enabled the possessors to dispense "living water".

SOLUTION II:

  1. See exposition above.
  2. Then read carefully the exposition at John 4:10.

16 see Section B - "Outpouring Limited and Special".
17 cf. 1 Cor. 13:10; Eph. 4:13.
18 cf. Section B - "Outpouring Limited and Special", (points 5 and 6).

John 10:41
"John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true."

PROBLEM:

This verse is offered as proof that although miracles cannot be worked, present possession of the Holy Spirit is a reality just as it was in John the Baptist.

Claimants reason in this way:

a) John had the Holy Spirit, but did "no miracle".
b) We do no miracles. Therefore we have the Holy Spirit in the same way as John!

SOLUTION:

  1. Are we Johns? How can claimants in the twentieth century apply this to themselves? Where is their raiment of camel's hair? Do they eat locusts? Do they spend their years in the desert?

  2. John the Baptist may not have raised the dead or spoken in tongues, but he did work the "miracle" of rousing all Judaeal9 with his message of repentance. This would have been impossible without the Holy Spirit.

  3. "Claimants using John's case as a fulcrum to raise unfounded hopes, overlook completely that John was anointed with Holy Spirit20 for his office and work of a prophet21. He was a "man sent from God22."23

  4. How dare any, because John (in common with many prophets) worked no spectacular wonder, claim for themselves on that basis, a point of parallel as title to "possession" when their only parallel is their inability to work a wonder? That has long been a universal, but not a qualifying, disability.

  5. As has been demonstrated24, wherever the believer possessed the Spirit contextual evidence demonstrates that it was one or more gifts of the Spirit and it enabled them to work miracles.

  6. The absence of visible proof that they have the Spirit is evidence that the claimants have not got the Spirit.

19 Mark 1:4-5.
20 "He shall be filled with the Holy Spirit… and he shall go in the spirit and power of Elijah" Luke 1:15,17.
21 cf. Isa. 40:3 and Luke 7:28 "There is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist". Prophecy is one of the gifts of the Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:10)
22 John 1:6
23 J. S. Thomas, TEST, 1955, P. 20.
24 TEST, Vol. 43.

John 15:4 "Abide in me, and I in you."
John 17:23 "I in them, and thou in me."
2 Cor. 13:5 "Jesus Christ is in you."
Gal. 2:20 "Christ liveth in me."
Eph. 3:17 "Christ may dwell in your hearts."

PROBLEM:

These verses are connected with 1 John 3:24 and 1 John 4:4, 12, 13, 15, 16 to bolster up the claim that "the Spirit is a present possession."

SOLUTION:

  1. Any series of verses may be grouped together and a hasty conclusion drawn which is far from the facts. The false doctrines of the apostasy on:
    1. the devil;
    2. going to heaven or hell;
    3. deity of Christ etc;
    are evidence of this evil practice of wresting scripture to their own destruction. They wrest mainly by:
    1. not understanding of the real meaning of the words;
    2. disregarding the context;
    3. making the Bible fit their theories.
  2. We get into Christ by Christ's words causing an effect on us so that we desire to forsake being "in Adam". By being baptized we become "in Christ25". By us continuing on the path of righteousness, we abide26 (remain) "in Christ". It is therefore, not only something God does but is also dependent upon the steadfastness of the disciple. This is demonstrated by the following illustration.
FLESH MANIFESTATION GOD MANIFESTATION
"in Adam" "in1 Christ"2 Christ in us God in Jesus Jesus in God
John 15 Does not bear fruit (2)




Cannot bear fruit (4)
Can do nothing (5)


Thrown away, burned (6)
"bears fruit" (2)

"He (God) prunes it"(2)
"clean because of the word which I have spoken" (3)
"bears much fruit" (5)
"by this is My Father glorified" (8)
"My words abide in you" (7)
"ask whatever you wish" (16)
"if you keep my commandments" (10)
"my words abide in you" (7)

"My disciples" (8)
"You will abide in love" (10)
"My joy may be in you" (11)
"I abide in his love" (10) "I have kept my Father's commandments" (10)
John 17 "I pray not for the world" (9) They have kept thy word (6)
"I am glorified in them" (10)

"they are not of the world"
"through their word" (20)
"I pray for them" (9)
I speak in the world that
they might have my joy" (13)
"glorify thy son"
"glorify thou me" (5)
"Son may glorify thee" (1)
"I have glorified thee on the earth (4)
"I have finished the work" (4)
"I have manifested thy name" (6)
"I have kept them in thy name" (12)
"I have kept" (12)
"I have given them thy word" (14)
"I pray for . . . them also which shall believe on me" (20)
1 Cor. 15 "all die" (22) "all shall be made alive" (22)

Table Footnotes:
1 If all the words "do(es) for" are substituted for "in" the meaning is clearer.
2 The following are alternate translations:
    "because of their relationship to" GSPD.
    "as members of Christ" PHI
    "through union with Christ" TCNT

John 15:4 (continued)

    If we are in Jesus, then we are in God through the fellowship that we have with Him through His Son. Jesus shows us that the evidence of the Father in him was the works (John 14:11). Evidence of Jesus in us then will be the works that we do and not what we claim! (cf. 1 John 2:5-6).

  1. Paul says, "I am again in labour until Christ is formed in you27." How was Christ formed in them?
    By apostolic preaching and not by 'receiving the Spirit'!

  2. The last quote (Eph. 3:17) explains the others.28 Faith produces works and develops a Christ-like character. If we have no faith then we cannot manifest Christ.

  3. The double relationship of abiding is made clearer by considering 1 John 5:18-19 where:
        the world is in the evil one and     the evil one is in the world.

  4. God by His word has always been in the hearts29 of His children. An Old Testament example:

    "Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is contrite and of a humble spirit."30

    This abiding therefore, is not dependent on the giving of the Holy Spirit in New Testament times.

  5. For Christ to abide in us is exactly the same as "my words abide in you". It is a parallel passage (cf. John 15:7, 5).

25 cf. Gal. 3:27-29.
26 These phrases Christ in you (etc.) indicating an "indwelling" are figures of speech and unless we recognize this we will be led into all kinds of mysterious interpretations of this subject. These phrases are used to indicate the believer's moral position relative to God.
27 NASB (Gal. 4:19)
The word "Christ" by the figure of metonymy means the principles and characteristics which are manifested in him.
28 cf. Notes on Epistles of John.
When the words or doctrine, of the Eternal Spirit are the supject matter of our faith we dwell in Christ and Christ dwells in us. (LOGOS, J. Thomas, Phanerosis, P. 84).
29 A parallel illustration may be helpful. Two intimate friends dwell in each other's heart by the love they share even though they may be separated. The souls of David and Jonathan were "knit together" (i.e. they dwelt in each other's heart though David had to flee from the presence of Jonathan.)
30 Isa. 57:15.

John 20:22
'He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit".'

The first time in Scripture that we meet with the phrase "He breathed" is when God breathed into the nostrils of man "the breath of life; and man became a living being." God created and then gave life. In like manner, the body of believers whom God created through His Son Jesus, was now given Spiritual life. The Greek word for "breathed" (emphusao) used here is the only occurrence31 in the N.T. and is the same word used in the LXX32 for the word "breathed" in Gen. 2:7! This is obviously a fundamental point. Here we have a word of "action"; not of "thought". Adam did not live because God thought life into his brain, but rather because of the action of the Spirit. This distinction needs to be maintained and remembered. The Holy Spirit then, was not something which merely altered the thought processes of the Apostles but rather in the example of Adam it gave them power for action.

The work given them was a limited one and is defined in the next verse:

"If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have33 been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."

This limited power (of knowing whose sins had been forgiven or retained by God) continued until the day of Pentecost when forty days later the nine Spirit Gifts were given to them.

We recall that Peter earlier had been promised this power described as the "keys of the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 16:19). On previous occasions Christ had given them power to heal and to raise the dead34 but this was only a temporary arrangement.


31 (Y)
32 Concordance to the Septuagint. (London: Bagster & Sons), 1970.
33 "have previously" been forgiven. The correct sense is given by most NASB editions i.e. above but not by the AV or RSV.
34 Luke 10:9; Matt. 10:8.