Archive for Holy Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23

5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 5:23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

(OPB::NIV)

Personally I think Paul goes overboard excoriating the pleasures of the flesh: I’m sure enjoying our physical humanity does not entail turning away from the Spirit (John 2:1 after all). So, I’ve omitted a bit of context here.

However, I can’t fault Paul’s celebration of the Spirit. What I like especially about the above is the ambiguity of the last sentence:

  • (a) there happens to be no law against these things; or
  • (b) there can be no law against these things: the fruit of the Spirit is the highest law, and conquers all.

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Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me. That life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.

(WEB)

One of the nicest verses so far. Being imbued with the Holy Spirit.

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Romans 8:26-27

8:26 In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses, for we don’t know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which can’t be uttered. 8:27 He who searches the hearts knows what is on the Spirit’s mind, because he makes intercession for the saints according to God.

(WEB; OPB)

8:27 sounds good, but I find it rather obscure. The commentary tab at the Online Parallel Bible is useful. After reading that I interpret 8:27 as:

He who searches the hearts [i.e. God] knows what is on the Spirit’s mind, because he [i.e. the Holy Spirit] makes intercession for the saints [i.e. the saints = the praying person(s)] according to God.

So, the Holy Spirit helps us pray, and helps us pray for the right things in the right way. The Holy Spirit is that which brings us closer to God.

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Matthew 3:7-12

Matthew 3:11

I indeed baptize you in water for repentance, but he who comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit (some version add: and with fire).

Luke 3:16:

John answered them all, “I indeed baptize you with water, but he comes who is mightier than I, the latchet of whose sandals I am not worthy to loosen. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire.

(World English Bible)

Matthew and Luke add fire and a bit of Wrath of God to the cooler John the Baptist in Mark. Personally, I don’t think the Matthew & Luke versions add anything. The point is surely to be baptised in the Holy Spirit; the rest is just decoration.

Mark might not be a “passionate” read, but I like the cool simplicity and directness of the message.

For trainspotters: at Biblos.com all Greek texts for the Luke include the “and fire” (“και πυρι”), and for the Matthew all but one has it, the “Greek NT: Byzantine / Majority Text (2000).” So the Majority Text is in the minority. I found some explanation of what the Majority Text is here (I didn’t read it all because I am not a trainspotter ;).

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Mark 13:11

When they lead you away and deliver you up, don’t be anxious beforehand, or premeditate what you will say, but say whatever will be given you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.

(World English Bible)

I like the sound of this. Several times I have been planning for a meeting or for a day on-site with a client, only to catch myself and say, “None of this matters. None of this planning will make any difference. What matters is that I am on form on the day.”

Being “on form” means more than just being healthy, clean, smart, relaxed and alert. For me, it means being open to what people are saying, and being able to understand what might be underneath that; it means being able to respond and intervene appropriately, without being arrogant. It means doing all this and more, all as part of being “myself”. It’s very hard to do all that consciously and on purpose. I just have to open myself up to some kind of inspiration.

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Mark 3:28-29

3:28 Most certainly I tell you, all sins of the descendants of man will be forgiven, including their blasphemies with which they may blaspheme; 3:29 but whoever may blaspheme against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”.

(World English Bible)

To me this seems a very timely warning. Not that I blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, but that the times we live in do. The prevailing culture of the times is anti-human not to say misanthropic: fear and loathing of ourselves, of each other, of human potential seems to be the promoted norm; the most intimate or humdrum aspects of our lives are medicalised or bureaucratised; striving for an ideal — any ideal — is seen as naive or even dysfunctional.

In this context I interpret the current craze for religious intolerance (i.e., intolerance of religious conviction, especially Christianity), as an intolerance of conviction per se.

To me this passage says that the most important thing of all is the striving for perfection, for moral purity, if you like the imitation of the perfect human. If you lose that you lose everything.

See also What is the Holy Spirit?

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What is the Holy Spirit?

re question 1 from Mark 1:12-13.

Here’s how I interpret the Trinity at the moment:

  • I interpret God more or less as Spinoza does:

    VI. By God, I mean a being absolutely infinite—that is, a substance consisting in infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality.
    Explanation. I say absolutely infinite, not infinite after its kind: for, of a thing infinite only after its kind, infinite attributes may be denied; but that which is absolutely infinite, contains in its essence whatever expresses reality, and involves no negation.

    (Ethics, part 1, Definitions.)
    I realise that might not be too helpful.

  • I interpret Jesus as a kind of perfection of the human.
  • I interpret the Holy Spirit as a kind of striving for moral purity, a kind of passion. As a passion it’s something that comes upon us from outside. If it is a kind of passion then succumbing and following blindly might be harmful. It is perhaps more important to listen within carefully, understand how the passion works within us, and follow only when we can turn the passion into action.

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Mark 1:12-13

Jesus has just been baptised by John:

1:12 Immediately the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness. 1:13 He was there in the wilderness forty days tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals; and the angels were serving him.

(World English Bible)

I have a few questions about this passage, some of which I’ll probably have to defer, but I’ll list them all here anyway:

  1. I think of Jesus as a kind of perfection of the human. How should I think of the Holy Spirit?
  2. Why did the Spirit drive Jesus out into the wilderness? Matthew 4:1 says explicitly that it was in order to be tempted. But the question just comes back: why did the Spirit drive Jesus out to be tempted?
  3. Jesus was tempted by Satan. What does it mean for Jesus — a perfection of the human — to be tempted? That even he hears these voices, and must struggle against them?

I think I can try to work on (3). The others will have to wait.

I welcome comments from readers too of course!

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Mark 1:7-8

1:7 He preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and loosen. 1:8 I baptized you in water, but he will baptize you in the Holy Spirit.”

(WEB)

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