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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Eph. 4:30 "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit".

Eph. 4:30
"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (RSV)

"In the N[ew] T[estament] there is no direct suggestion of a doctrine of the Trinity. The spirit is conceived as an impersonal power by which God effects his will through Christ." - An Encyclopedia of Religion, Ferm (ed.), 1945, p. 344.

"It is important to realize that for the first Christians the Spirit was thought of in terms of divine power." - New Bible Dictionary, p. 1139, Tyndale House Publishers, 1984.

"On the whole, the New Testament, like the Old, speaks of the Spirit as a divine energy or power." - A Catholic Dictionary.

p. 269, The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1976, admits: "In the OT the Holy Spirit means a divine power ..."

Since Jehovah's (the Father's) holy spirit is actually his active force, it can do anything God wants done.

What it does or 'says,' etc. is really the Father (or whoever the Father allows to use that force) acting through it.

An imperfect example might be a person listening to a two-way radio. He can only see the radio and hear the message from the radio, but there really is a person somewhere far away whose thoughts are conveyed to him through invisible electrical energy and through the radio. That person is not the electrical energy and not the radio (which is actually 'speaking' to the man).

The personification of this holy force of God's should not be considered proof that it is a person. Certainly it is not evidence that it is God!

Even the trinitarian A Catholic Dictionary admits that the personification of the holy spirit in the New Testament certainly does not mean that it is a person:
"Most of these places furnish no cogent proof of personality....We must not forget that the NT personifies mere attributes such as love (1 Cor. xiii. 4), and sin (Rom. vii. 11), nay even abstract and lifeless things, such as the law (Rom iii.19), the water and the blood (1 John v.8)."

This understanding was not confined only to scriptural usage but was in common use. Included with the early Christian letter, "The Epistle to Diognetus," is a 2nd or 3rd century Christian's statement written in the same Greek language as used in the NT manuscripts. It states:

"the grace [charis] of the prophets is recognized.... If thou grieve [lupeo] not this grace [charis] thou shalt understand." - "Epistle to Diognetus," The Apostolic Fathers, Lightfoot and Harmer, Baker Book House, 1984 ed., pp. 499 (text) and 510 (translation). Also see p. 183, Early Christian Writings, Staniforth, Dorset Press, 1986 ed.

And Young's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible tells us that "Abstract and inanimate things are frequently personified" and then gives a long list of such things found in the Bible, including "a will [attributed to] the flesh and mind .... knowing, rejoicing [attributed] to the sun..." - "Hints and Helps to Bible Interpretation," #2. (Also see Jn 3:8 where "the pneuma ['wind' or `spirit'] blows where it wills.")

So, it is certainly no surprise to find that holy spirit can be "grieved" in New Testament figurative language: "do not be grieving God's Holy Spirit." Eph. 4:30. Certainly anything you do to (or against) God's direct active force you are also doing to (or against) God himself.

Also see:

What about scriptures that seem to show the Holy Spirit being personified? (SFBT)

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