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What is this, some kind of mystical presence? An "it" or a "He"? Let's talk.

What role does the Holy Spirit play?

Postby Newbie » Fri Jul 25, 2014 12:17 pm

If you will: What interventional role, if any, does the Holy Spirit play before Abraham and after the Apostle John?
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Re: What role does the Holy Spirit play?

Postby jimwalton » Fri Jul 25, 2014 12:32 pm

As we both know, the Spirit is only mentioned twice before Abraham, once in Gn. 1.2 and the other in Gn. 6.3.

From John Walton's book "The IVP Bible Backgrounds Commentary" coauthored with Matthews: Some interpreters have translated this as a supernatural or mighty wind (the Hebrew word translated “Spirit” is sometimes translated “wind” in other passages), which has a parallel in the Babylonian Enuma Elish. There the sky god, Anu, creates the four winds that stir up the deep and its goddess, Tiamat. There it is a disruptive wind bringing unrest. The same phenomena can be seen in Daniel’s vision of the four beasts where “the four winds of heaven were churning up the great sea” (7:2), a situation that disturbs the beasts there. If this is correct, then the wind would be part of the negative description of v. 2 paralleled by the darkness.

But in conversation with him (previously), he said that "The Spirit here represent an extension of God's power, just as his hand or his breath would." "The wind of Gn. 1.2 was a supernatural wind that was permeated with the power and presence of God, circulating over the surface of the waters." I interpret that to mean that it was an actual wind, but the presence of God was in the wind. The Hebrew word is ruach, which as you know can mean wind, spirit, or breath. Jn. 1.1-3 and Col. 1.16 both intimate that more than one person of the Godhead was involved in creation, and there is no reason to believe that the Holy Spirit was present and active as well.

I have no comments from John re: Gn. 6.3, so I'll make my own: There is no reason to believe that the Spirit of God was inactive before Abraham. We learn from the NT that no one comes to God unless the Father draws him, and since we see Abel honoring God, as well as Seth, Enoch, Noah, and others (Gn. 4.26), consistency of theology would tell us that the Spirit of God was as active then as he is now. Now, we also understand that the presence of the Spirit took on a new aspect after the resurrection of Jesus, coming to dwell in people who follow the Lord. So I would say that the Spirit was active in a different way (in that he did not indwell), but still and active presence and force of God in the world. Gn. 6.3 could easily confirm such an understanding, because it seems that the Spirit had been at work in the lives of people, but the force of evil was pulling men away from the Lord (and hence the flood).

After the Apostle John (by which I presume you mean the book of Revelation), Jesus tells us what role the Spirit will have: indwelling, convicting, teaching, guiding, judging, and bestowing gifts for ministry.
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Re: What role does the Holy Spirit play?

Postby Nick Tavani » Sat Oct 04, 2014 2:51 pm

I appreciate the thoughtful responses. I read them in light of your professed belief in the Trinity so I am glad to see you give the Spirit a (possible) active role in the Genesis account. The "actual wind" brings to mind the East Wind God used at the Red Sea crossing. So I'm okay with that.


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