Types and Symbols of the Holy Spirit – Wind

Non-literal language is sometimes used in the Scripture to depict the Holy Spirit. A type is a person or thing in the OT believed to foreshadow another in the NT. A symbol stands for or suggest something else by reason of relationship, association, convention, or accidental resemblance; especially, a visible sign of something invisible. For instance, the lion is a symbol of courage. Types and symbols are employed in the Scriptures to illustrate or represent the Holy Spirit and bridge the gaps between the familiar-unfamiliar and temporal-spiritual realms.

WIND. The wind is the most natural representation of the Holy Spirit since the Hebrew and Greek words may be translated wind as well as Spirit. In explaining new birth to Nicodemus, Jesus compared the Spirit to the wind.

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).

Like the Holy Spirit, the wind is invisible, immaterial, powerful, free and inescapable. Just as the origin and the destination of the wind are unknown to the one who feels it. Similarly, the new life of one born of the Spirit is unexplainable by ordinary reasoning; and its outcome is unpredictable, though its actuality is undeniable. Everyone that is born of the Spirit is, in some respects, like the effects of the wind. You see it not, you cannot discern its laws, but you see its effects, and you know therefore that it does exist and operates. The operation of the regeneration is not bound to any rule understandable by the senses; it is perceived only by its action on the human heart. It is impossible to know where the wind begins and ends. The laws of both are practically unknown; both are unseen; the presence of both is revealed in their effects. Thus, Jesus told Nicodemus that he should not reject a doctrine merely because he could not understand it.

In light of Jesus’ explanation to Nicodemus, we should not be surprised that the sound of the wind was employed with the sending of the Holy Spirit.

When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech (Acts 2:1-4).

“A sound like that of a violent rushing wind” symbolizes God’s power and sovereignty in the sending of the Spirit. Hence, the Spirit is a gift from God. Earlier Jesus had taught His disciples to pray for this gift of the Spirit.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? (Luke 11:13).

We can assume the beneficiaries of God’s gift were praying for the Holy Spirit. Those gathered together already believed in Christ—His death and resurrection. The gift of the promised Spirit launched the New Covenant and gave birth to the Church. However, one passage seems to indicate the disciples received the Holy Spirit prior to Pentecost.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” After saying this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:21-22)

We cannot interpret this passage in a way that would have John contradicting the disciples receiving the Spirit on Pentecost as recorded in the book of Acts. The word rendered “spirit” in the Scriptures denotes wind, air, breath, as well as Spirit. Hence, the operations of the Holy Spirit are compared to the wind (John 3:8; Acts 2:2).

According to Albert Barnes, “His breathing on them was a certain sign or pledge that they would be endowed with the influences of the Holy Spirit.” According to the Jamieson, Fausset Brown Commentary, this breath or puff of wind (emfusaw emphusa) is “an earnest and first-fruits of the more copious Pentecostal effusion.” If so, the Lord’s breath was a token of new and lasting privilege or a symbolic act demonstrating what He would do on the day of Pentecost—a foretaste. Interestingly, the Lord’s breathing on them takes us back to the in breathing of God into the first man. The very word used here, and which occurs nowhere else in the NT, and is used in the Septuagint for this original act, by virtue of which Adam became a living soul.

The Spirit moved the holy men of old in writing the Scriptures. They were “moved” along as a ship is driven by the wind.

First of all, you should know this: no prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, moved by the Holy Spirit, men spoke from God (2 Peter 1:21).

A primary ministry of the Holy Spirit is to move the believer as a ship borne by the wind towards the things of God.


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