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Holy Spirit

… And in the Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father, who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets…

The Holy Spir­it bears the title of Lord with God the Father and Christ the Son. He is the Spir­it of God and Spir­it of Christ. He is eter­nal, uncre­at­ed, and divine; always exist­ing with the Father and the Son; per­pet­u­al­ly wor­shipped and glo­ri­fied with them in the one­ness of the Holy Trin­i­ty.

Just like the Son, there was no time when there was no Holy Spir­it. The Spir­it is before cre­ation. He comes forth from God, as does the Son, in a time­less, eter­nal pro­ces­sion. “He pro­ceeds from the Father,” in eter­ni­ty in a divine­ly instan­ta­neous and per­pet­u­al move­ment (Jn 15:26).

Ortho­dox doc­trine con­fess­es that God the Father is the eter­nal ori­gin and source of the Spir­it, just as He is the source of the Son. Yet, the Church affirms as well that the man­ner of the Father’s pos­ses­sion and pro­duc­tion of the Spir­it and the Son dif­fer accord­ing to the dif­fer­ence between the Son being “born,” and the Spir­it “pro­ceed­ing.” There have been many attempts—by holy men inspired by God and with a gen­uine expe­ri­ence of His Trini­tar­i­an life to explain the dis­tinc­tion between the pro­ces­sion of the Spir­it and the beget­ting or gen­er­a­tion of the Son. For us it is enough to see that the dif­fer­ence between the two lies in the dis­tinc­tion between the divine per­sons and actions of the Son and the Spir­it in rela­tion to the Father, and so as well to each oth­er and to the world. It is nec­es­sary to note fur­ther that all words and con­cepts about God and divin­i­ty, includ­ing those of “pro­ces­sion” and “gen­er­a­tion” must give way before the mys­ti­cal vision of the actu­al Divine Real­i­ty which they express. God may some­how be grasped by men as He has cho­sen to reveal Him­self. How­ev­er, the essence of His Tri­une exis­tence remains—and will always remain—essentially incon­ceiv­able and inex­press­ible to cre­at­ed minds and lips. This does not mean that words about God are mean­ing­less. It only means that they are inad­e­quate to the Real­i­ty which they seek to express…

At this point also it is nec­es­sary to note that the Roman and Protes­tant church­es dif­fer in their credal state­ment about God by adding that the Holy Spir­it pro­ceeds from the Father “and the Son” (fil­ioque)—a doc­tri­nal addi­tion unac­cept­able to Ortho­doxy since it is both unscrip­tur­al and incon­sis­tent with the Ortho­dox vision of God.

With the affir­ma­tion of the divin­i­ty of the Holy Spir­it, and the neces­si­ty of wor­ship­ping and glo­ri­fy­ing him with the Father and the Son, the Ortho­dox Church affirms that the Divine Real­i­ty, called also the Deity or the God­head in the Ortho­dox Tra­di­tion, is the Holy Trin­i­ty.

The Holy Spir­it is essen­tial­ly one in his eter­nal exis­tence with the Father and the Son; and so, in every action of God toward the world, the Holy Spir­it is nec­es­sar­i­ly act­ing. Thus, in the Gen­e­sis account of cre­ation it is writ­ten: “The Spir­it of God was mov­ing over the face of the waters” (Gen 1:2). It is this same Spir­it who is the “breath of life” for all liv­ing things and par­tic­u­lar­ly for man, made in the image and like­ness of God (Gen 1:30; 2:7). Gen­er­al­ly speak­ing the Spir­it in Hebrew is called the “breath” or the “wind” of Yah­weh. It is he who makes every­thing alive, the “giv­er of life” who upholds and sus­tains the uni­verse in its exis­tence and life (e.g. Ps 104:29; Job 33:4).

The Holy Spir­it is also he who inspires the saints to speak God’s word and to do God’s will. He anoints the prophets, priests, and kings of the Old Tes­ta­ment; and “in the full­ness of time” it is this same Spir­it who “descends and remains” on Jesus of Nazareth, mak­ing him the Mes­si­ah (anoint­ed) of God and man­i­fest­ing him as such to the world. Thus, in the New Tes­ta­ment at the first epiphany (which means lit­er­al­ly show­ing forth or man­i­fes­ta­tion) of Christ as the Messiah—his bap­tism by John in the Jordan—the Holy Spir­it is revealed as descend­ing and rest­ing upon him “as a dove from heav­en” (Jn 1:32; Lk 3:22, see also Mt 3:16 and Mk 1:9). It is impor­tant to note, both here and in the account of the Spirit’s com­ing on the Day of Pen­te­cost, as well as in oth­er places in the Scrip­tures, that the words “as” and “like” are used in order to avoid an incor­rect “phys­i­cal” inter­pre­ta­tion of the events record­ed where the Bible itself is lit­er­al­ly speak­ing in quite a sym­bol­i­cal and metaphor­i­cal way.

Jesus begins his pub­lic work after his bap­tism, and imme­di­ate­ly refers Isaiah’s prophe­cy about the Mes­si­ah direct­ly to him­self: “The Spir­it of the Lord is upon me …” (Is 61:1; Lk 4:18).

All the days of his life Jesus is “full of the Holy Spirit”—preaching, teach­ing, heal­ing, cast­ing out dev­ils and accom­plish­ing every sign and won­der of his mes­si­ahship by the Spirit’s pow­er (Lk 4:11). It is writ­ten that even his self-offer­ing to God on the cross is made “through the eter­nal Spir­it” (Heb 9:14). And it is through the same divine Spir­it that he and all men with him are risen from the dead (Ezek 37:1–4).

On the day of Pen­te­cost the Holy Spir­it comes upon the dis­ci­ples of Christ in the form of “tongues as of fire,” with the sound “like that of a mighty rush­ing wind” (Acts 2:1–4). We note once more the use of “as” and “like.” The com­ing of the Spir­it on Pen­te­cost is the final ful­fill­ment of Christ’s earth­ly mes­sian­ic mis­sion, the begin­ning of the Chris­t­ian Church. It is the ful­fill­ment of the Old Tes­ta­men­tal prophe­cy that in the time of the mes­si­ah-king, the Spir­it of God will be “poured out on all flesh” (Joel 2:28; Acts 1:14). It is the con­di­tion of the age of the final and ever­last­ing covenant of per­fect mer­cy and peace (Ez 34:37; Jer 31–33; Is 11:42, 44, 61).

The Chris­t­ian Church lives by the Holy Spir­it. The Spir­it alone is the guar­an­tee of God’s King­dom on earth. He is the sole guar­an­tee that God’s life and truth and love are with men. Only by the Holy Spir­it can man and the world ful­fill that for which they were cre­at­ed by God. All of God’s actions toward man and the world—in cre­ation, sal­va­tion and final glorification—are from the Father through the Son (Word) in the Holy Spir­it; and all of man’s capa­bil­i­ties of response to God are in the same Spir­it, through the same Son to the same Father.

Holy Spir­it is the Spir­it of life.

If the Spir­it of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your mor­tal bod­ies through the Spir­it who dwells in you (Rom 8:11).

The Holy Spir­it is the Spir­it of truth.

When the Spir­it of Truth comes he will guide you into all the Truth; for he will not speak on his own author­i­ty, but what­ev­er he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come (Jn 16:13; see also Jn 14:25; Jn 15:26).

The Holy Spir­it is the Spir­it of divine son­ship.

For all who are led by the Spir­it are sons of God. For you did not receive the Spir­it of slav­ery. …but you received the Spir­it of son­ship. When we cry “Abba! Father!” it is the Spir­it him­self bear­ing wit­ness with our spir­it that we are chil­dren of God (Rom 8:14; also Gal 4:6).

The Holy Spir­it is the per­son­al pres­ence of the new and ever­last­ing covenant between God and man, the seal and guar­an­tee of the King­dom of God, the pow­er of the divine indwelling of God in man.

…you are a let­ter from Christ, deliv­ered by us, writ­ten not with ink but with the Spir­it of the liv­ing God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. …our suf­fi­cien­cy is from God who has qual­i­fied us to be min­is­ters of a new covenant, not in writ­ten code but in the Spir­it, for the writ­ten code kills, but the Spir­it gives life (2 Cor 3:2–6).

Do you not know that you are God’s tem­ple and that God’s Spir­it dwells in you. …For God’s tem­ple is holy, and that tem­ple you are (1 Cor 3:16; also Rom 6:19).

… through him (Christ) we both have access in one Spir­it to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and sojourn­ers but you are fel­low cit­i­zens with the saints and mem­bers of the house­hold of God, built upon the foun­da­tion of apos­tles and the prophets, Christ Jesus him­self being the cor­ner­stone, in whom the whole struc­ture is joined togeth­er and grows in a holy tem­ple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spir­it (Eph 2:18–22; also 1 Pet 2:4–9).

In the Holy Spir­it men have the pos­si­bil­i­ty of receiv­ing every gift from God, of shar­ing His divine nature and life, of doing what Christ has done by ful­fill­ing his “new com­mand­ment” to love one anoth­er even as he has loved us, “because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spir­it which he has giv­en us” (Rom 5:5).

The fruit of the Spir­it is love, joy, peace, patience, kind­ness, good­ness, faith­ful­ness, gen­tle­ness, self-con­trol. …And those who belong to Christ Jesus have cru­ci­fied the flesh with its pas­sions and desires. If we live by the Spir­it, he who sows to the Spir­it will from the Spir­it reap eter­nal life (Gal 5:22–25; 6:8).