Why Study the Holy Spirit?

The study of the Holy Spirit is a vast undertaking. It is fraught with dangers and presuppositions.

Many tend to interpret Scripture through experience, instead of interpreting experience through Scripture. Often the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is limited to facts accepted by all, using a few selected passages. Sometimes logic and human reason clash with revelation and wisdom from God when studying the Spirit. Yet, man’s most intimate relationship with the Godhead is discovered in the ministry of the Spirit. Thus, we dare not ignore learning from Scripture all we can about the Holy Spirit; for the Spirit is the key to supernatural living—the abundant life.

Here are nine reasons why the study of the Holy Spirit is of special significance to us.

1. The Spirit is the Regenerator of the believer.
2. The Spirit is the Administrator of the New Covenant.
3. The Spirit is the Sanctifier of the believer.
4. The Spirit is the Bestower of spiritual gifts.
5. The Spirit is the Source of spiritual fruit.
6. The Spirit is the Counselor of the believer.
7. The Spirit is the Indweller in the believer.
8. The Spirit is the Revealer of God and His will.
9. The Spirit is the Guarantor of Salvation.

The Holy Spirit’s work is more prominent in this present age, yet the Spirit’s person and His work have been neglected by many believers. Paul’s admonition to Timothy applies to all believers.

I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:5-7 NIV).

As we will see in our study, “the gift of God” is the Holy Spirit. Whether we capitalize “Spirit” or not in this verse, this term refers to the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer. The spirit of the believer (heart) is indwelt by the Spirit of God, who imparts power, love and a sound mind. Though saved through faith, believers are to anaxwpurew (anazopureo “kindle afresh”) the Spirit of God in them.

My goal of this study of the Holy Spirit is for you to kindle afresh the Gift of God, which is in you.

Etymology of the Spirit

In theological terms, the study of the Holy Spirit is classified as pneumatology, coming from pneuma (pneuma), the Greek for “spirit” in the Septuagint and NT. The Hebrew for “spirit” is xwr (ruwach).

The origins of both words stem from associations with “breath” and “wind,” which were connected by ancient cultures to unseen spiritual force. Jesus connected this concept when speaking to Nicodemus about new birth.

The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit (John 3:8).

In this verse, pneuma (pneuma) is first translated “wind” and then “Spirit.” The context provides the key to the translation of both the Hebrew and Greek terms. For instance, the word “trunk” in English can refer to a trunk of a tree, elephant, car, luggage, line, or shorts. If we read, “There are peanuts in the trunk,” we would have to discover from the context to what kind of “trunk” it referred.

The etymology of the English word “Spirit” is Middle English, from Old French or Latin; Old French, from Latin spiritus, literally, breath, from spirare to blow, breathe, Dating from the 13th century. Fourteen meanings for “spirit” are assigned by the Merrian-Webster Collegiate Dictionary:

Etymology: Middle English, from Old French or Latin; Old French, from Latin spiritus, literally, breath, from spirare to blow, breathe. Date:13th century.

1 : an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms
2 : a supernatural being or essence: as a capitalized : HOLY SPIRIT b : SOUL 2a c : an often malevolent being that is bodiless but can become visible; specifically : GHOST 2 d : a malevolent being that enters and possesses a human being
3 : temper or disposition of mind or outlook especially when vigorous or animated <in high spirits>
4 : the immaterial intelligent or sentient part of a person
5 a : the activating or essential principle influencing a person <acted in a spirit of helpfulness> b : an inclination, impulse, or tendency of a specified kind : MOOD
6 a : a special attitude or frame of mind <the money-making spirit was for a time driven back J. A. Froude> b : the feeling, quality, or disposition characterizing something <undertaken in a spirit of fun>
7 : a lively or brisk quality in a person or a person’s actions
8 : a person having a character or disposition of a specified nature
9 : a mental disposition characterized by firmness or assertiveness <denied the charge with spirit>
10 a : DISTILLATE 1: as (1) : the liquid containing ethyl alcohol and water that is distilled from an alcoholic liquid or mash often used in plural (2) : any of various volatile liquids obtained by distillation or cracking (as of petroleum, shale, or wood) often used in plural b : a usually volatile organic solvent (as an alcohol, ester, or hydrocarbon)
11 a : prevailing tone or tendency <spirit of the age> b : general intent or real meaning <spirit of the law>
12 : an alcoholic solution of a volatile substance <spirit of camphor>
13 : enthusiastic loyalty <school spirit>
14 capitalized, Christian Science : GOD 1b

Many of these meanings appear in English translations of the Scriptures for xwr (ruwach) and pneuma (pneuma). One needs to be careful not to attach meanings that do not belong to the Holy Spirit.

“Spirit” is widespread in the NT but sparse in the OT. The synoptic gospels contain less on the Spirit than the Gospel of John. Luke contains more than Matthew and Mark. However, there is an array of references to the Spirit in the book of Acts and the letters of the NT.

The KJV uses the term “Holy Ghost” for “Holy Spirit” based on an obsolete usage of the Anglo-Saxon use of word “ghost,” meaning “breath” and “wind.” In our day, the term “ghost” invokes thoughts of a dead, disembodied spirit.

“Holy” in the Hebrew is vdq (qodesh), which denotes “apartness,” “holiness,” “sacredness,” and “separateness.” The Greek term for “Holy” is agiov (hagios) and it denotes “sacred” or “separateness.” When used of God, it signifies His purity, majesty and glory.


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