It might help to read the first installment of this series to fully get what is expounded here.
Scripture (depending on your translation) will often refer to the Holy Spirit as the Holy Ghost. The simplest translation is “wind, breath, mind, etc.” When referencing Him specifically, the Hebrew word used is generally “ruwach” (roo-auk). And the Greek (New Testament) is the word “pneuma” (new-ma).
One the greatest lessons to grasp when it comes to the things of God is that they are real. Very real. There are a number of Scriptures that talk about the reality of God. For instance, Paul wrote in Romans, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what had been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Rom. 1:20, NKJV)
He is here. He is real. He is involved. Accepting this reality will allow us to grow in the knowledge of God and topics such as this one will make more sense to us.
Take the meanings of the two words above. This ruwach and pneuma. These words refer to the “Spirit” of God. But they mean wind or breath. Can you feel the wind? Can you feel someone’s breath? Yes, of course. If you are close enough, which can bring up a powerful lesson about mouth care, which we will not go into…
But we can feel these things, the wind and the breath. The Holy Spirit does many things behind the scenes. It’s one of His key jobs. But it is very true that we can feel His presence. This wind and breath. We know they are there. They are things that prove their own presence.
Sometimes, a person’s breath can be strong (not in odor). They are breathing hard. Sometimes, the wind can blow trees over. Most often, even though they are present, we hardly notice them. But the breathing is always moving. The wind is always stirring just as the Holy Spirit is constantly working.
Let’s look at some of the English translated names given to the Holy Spirit.
Again, depending on the translation you use, you may find the word Comforter or Helper. Both have similar meanings and strong indications of Someone who is present to assist us.
The King James Version uses the word Comforter as Jesus is talking of the One He will be sending to us. (John 14, 15, 16). A person might get the impression that the Holy Spirit is just now coming onto the scene for the first time. But as we talked about in Part 1, He is a Member of the Trinity and so, therefore, has been present since the beginning. Let’s define that fact:
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:1-2, NKJV).
A couple of Scriptures most Christians learn shortly after memorizing John 3:16. However, what you might not know is that the entire Trinity is actually referenced here. The word “God” in the first sentence is the English translation of the Hebrew word Elohim (ee-low-heem), which is a plural word. Much like the word “they.” Scholars and ministers are nearly unanimous that this refers to the Father and the Son. Yes, Jesus was in the mix way back then.
As the passage goes on, it says that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” This is the Hebrew word for (you guessed it) “breath or wind.” Ruwach. At this point, we can say, in a very real sense, that the Holy Spirit is the “Breath of God.”
From there, we see the Spirit was present from the beginning. If you study the Old Testament (which you really should), you will find a number of references to this same Spirit throughout.
Now, having dispensed with the confusion on the newness of the Spirit, let’s move on.
These words (ruwach or pneuma) that are used to describe the Holy Spirit can be found to have a number of other versions. For instance, the word “Counselor” is often used. In the ESV, it is used as Helper and Advocate. But the same Hebrew/Greek meaning.
So we are left with multiple names. Can they all mean the same thing? Let’s see what the American Dictionary* says:
- A person who comforts
- A quilt
- A long woolen scarf, usually knitted
- The Comforter. Holy Ghost
- A person or thing that helps or gives assistance, supports, etc
- An extra locomotive attached to a train to help on steep inclines
- An advisor
- A faculty member who advises students
- An assistant at a children’s camp – sometimes high school/college student age
- A lawyer
- An official of an embassy ranking below the ambassador or minister
- To speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly
- To act as an advocate
- A person who speaks or write in support, etc.
- A person who pleads for or in behalf of another; intercessor
- A person who pleads the cause of another in a court of law
A fascinating word study for certain. But we are given some very real descriptions of the Holy Spirit. Even www.dictionary.com recognizes the Holy Spirit as “The Comforter.”
So do they all have the same meaning? No, they clearly do not. Why? Because the Holy Spirit has many jobs and is therefore given many names. All of this is found in One Spirit. The Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit.
So Jesus promised Someone who would bring us comfort like a warm quilt. Someone who is there to help us up the steep parts of our journey. The perfect Advisor who knows we are made innocent and will fight that battle for us! An advocate that goes to bat for us and pleads our case.
And though we have seen that He was truly there from the beginning, on Pentecost, He arrived as He never had before.
The defining of the Holy Spirit (as best as my feeble mind can) requires much. And there is much more to cover on just grasping His names and references. Suffice it to say, until the next part where we will go further on Who He is, you need Him. We all do!
There are hills we cannot climb without Him. There are battles we cannot win alone. There are times we need His arms to reassure us. And decisions we should never make without His input.
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
Jude 1:20, NKJV
Featured Image by Saad Chaudhry