The Spirit


Abbreviations Used

General Subjects
  John 14-16
  1 Corinthians
  2 Corinthians
  1 & 2 Thess.
  1 & 2 Timothy
  1 & 2 Peter
  1 John
Gifts of the Spirit
Inter-Ecclesial Offices
Word Studies
Epilogue Acknowledgements
Exposition of The Spirit in Philippians

Paul had gone to Philippi because of the vision he received by the Spirit gift of prophecy: "Come over into Macedonia and help us." By divine intervention through angelic agents, God caused an earthquake that set the prisoners free. This miracle convinced the Jailor and his household of the need to be baptized. (Acts 16:14-26). These miraculous events involving Philippi are evidence of the operation of the Spirit there.

Phil. 1:19
"For I know that this shall turn out for my deliverance1 through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ."

Through the Spirit, Christ had clearly indicated that Paul would experience hardship. In addition, the Spirit revelations were a controlling influence in his journeys. (cp. Acts 13:2; 16:6; 18:9; 20:23; 21:11; 23:11)

These revelations, which guided his steps, would have strengthened Paul who would realize how closely Christ was involved in his activities.

1Grk. soteria = safety, soundness (Y) salvation (AV), release (MOFF).
Phil. 1:27
"... You are standing firm in one spirit".

The rest of this verse defines this phrase. The idea is that in singleness of mind the ecclesia should act like a team of athletes united together as one body bending its whole life energy "for ... the gospel." Phil. 4:1 describes this as standing "fast in the Lord".

"with one mind striving together for the faith"

The two phrases above are parallel so that "spirit" = "mind".

Phil. 2:1
"If any fellowship of the Spirit."


This is sometimes cited as proof of the present possession of the Holy Spirit.


  1. This fellowship which was formed by the work of the Holy Spirit, was much more than having a share of the Holy Spirit2. This fellowship finds practical expression in working together, worshipping together, and if need be, suffering together. This is evident in the following:

    "that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death." (Phil. 3:10 NASB.)

  2. We cannot have fellowship3 with the Spirit because the Spirit is not a person.

  3. The RSV rendering may help: "Any participation in the Spirit":
    Here the idea is that of participation in the blessings and the advantages which God through His Spirit has revealed.

  4. "Fellowship of the Spirit" has been the joy of believers in all ages:

    "Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another." (Mal. 3:16).

cf. notes at 2 Cor. 13:14.
2 That was only a temporary part of fellowship (Eph. 4:13) and was not a requirement of it. (cf. Acts 8:12, 15).
3 see 1 John 1:3-4; Acts 2:42 which express a fellowship of the Spirit.

Phil. 2:12,13
"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling"
"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of
his good pleasure."

"Work all the more strenuously at your salvation with reverence and trembling, for it is God who in his goodwill enables you to will this and achieve it". (MOFF)
"For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure". (RSV)
"For God is the one operating in you both the to will and the to operate on behalf of the (his) goodwill." (MARS)


This verse is often quoted along with a string of like passages without explanation or contextual consideration in an attempt to prove that the Holy Spirit directly controls our ‘will’ so that we ‘do’ things which will give God pleasure.


  1. It is said that anything can be proved out of the Bible by such tactics as above, i.e. "Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him". "Jesus said, Go and do thou likewise".

  2. The context shows it is a partnership. We must work (v.12) and God must work (v. 13). "We are labourers together with Godl."
            Paul plants.
            Apollos waters.
            God gives the increase.

    Our part is insignificant but necessary2. The planting and watering must be done if there is to be an increase.

  3. For God to work with us, in4 us and through us, and for us to possess the Holy Spirit, are two totally different things3.

  4. God, in the "ways of providence", works in this manner. There is no reference here to the believer possessing the Spirit gifts.

  5. Those who use this verse to try to demonstrate present possession should be pressed hard for an explanation of Eph. 2:2

    "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience".

  6. The emphasis lies on God for two reasons. First in the matter of salvation they have to do not with Pau15 (much more in my absence), but with God. Second they must not enter upon this momentous course lightly, but with "fear and trembling", for if they miss the goal they have set aside the purpose of God (in their lives).

  7. Ephesians 1:3-14 demonstrates clearly the workings of the partnership mentioned in point 2.

    - blessed the Ephesians with every spiritual blessing (v. 3)
    - chose them in Him (v. 4)
    - adopted them as sons through Christ (v. 5) (the kind intention of His will).

    EPHESIANS: that more may give praise to his glory (v.6).

    - provided redemption through Christ’s blood (v. 7) - forgiveness of sins because of His abundant mercy. - made known unto us the mystery of His will (v. 9) - with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of times (v. 10) - we have obtained an inheritance (v. 11) (because He works all things after the counsel of His will).

    EPHESIANS - to the praise of His glory (v. 12).

    GOD - provided message of truth, the (13) gospel of salvation.

    EPHESIANS - believed (13).

    GOD - sealed them with the Holy Spirit of promise.

  8. The assumption expressed in the problem is that God does this directly by His Spirit. Other verses, however, show that it is through His word that He works in us:

    "the word of God, which also6 performs its work in you who believe." (1 Thess. 2:13).


We can see from this that the Spirit does not directly control our will. By preaching He shows us how sinful we are and how merciful He is. We can accept or refuse this offer of salvation. Any spiritual desire can be said to be God working in us because He has provided the message that creates the desire. Spiritual work is the result of God manifestation. (cf. also Rev. 4:11).

1 1 Cor. 3:9 cf. Eph. 2:10.
2 See ‘An analysis of the Christadelphian Responsibility to Preach the Truth’, R. Abel. (Summary points of a three-night series at the Christadelphian Church Street Bible Class, Nov. 1967).
3 See Section B - "God working through Men" which clearly demonstrates this.
4 The word ‘in’ can be translated ‘among’ (cf. MARS at 2:5).
5 "Not in my presence only" suggests that the Philippians slacked off a little when Paul was not around.
6 The word "also" implies two stages:
  1. preached and heard (no profit).
  2. mixed with faith it profits the hearer because. it is living and active. (Heb. 4:2,12).

Phil. 3:3
"we . . . worship God in spirit" (RSV)

Our interpretation must take into account that Paul is contrasting "spirit" with "flesh".

Worshipping in flesh is to do as he lists in v. 4-6. It was to trust in:

  1. circumcision of the flesh
  2. fleshly descent from Israel
  3. keeping the Law
  4. zealous acts against "heresy".
  5. works.

Worshipping in spirit is the recognition that "the LORD hath redeemed his servant" (Isa. 48:20). (cf. John 4:24; Rom. 2:29; 1:9). Such worship is free from such externals as place (Jerusalem) and law. If the heart is right in our worship, then we worship in spirit (sincerity, Josh 24:14).

Phil. 4:23
"be with your spirit"

cf. Gal. 6:18 notes and Luke 2:40 footnote 2.