The Holy Spirit: An Apostolic Perspective on Pneumatology, Lesson 1

This Sunday, December 2, 2018, I will begin teaching a series of thirteen weekly lessons at The Sanctuary UPC in Hazelwood, Missouri. The lessons will be drawn from a book I am writing on the Holy Spirit, which I hope will fill the need for a book on pneumatology to be published by Word Aflame Press.

From week to week, I plan to post the lesson handout here, followed early the next week by the video of the class session. Here is the handout for the first week.


Introduction

The development of a truly biblical understanding of the Holy Spirit requires more than a mere listing of all the verses that mention the Spirit.[1] It requires more than a systematic categorization of these verses into topical headings. We must allow our understanding to arise from the text itself as we weave together the various contexts of the biblical witness to the Holy Spirit. This contextual interweaving occurs not only within individual books of Scripture, but also among them. It also includes the way in which the two testaments embrace one another in their doctrine of the Holy Spirit (i.e., pneumatology).

When it comes to the development of biblical pneumatology, it is helpful to avoid the limitations of systematic theology. This is not to say there is no value to systematic theology; it is, however, but one approach. Scripture was not written as a systematic theology.[2] The text presents itself to us as a book, in such a way that a natural reading of it results in a biblical theology.

As it relates to pneumatology, for example, it is interesting that the Spirit appears extremely early and very late in the text.  The second verse of Scripture informs us that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2).  The third from the last verse reads, “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ ” (Revelation 22:17).  Regardless of the implications of the immediate contexts in which these verses are found, and regardless of how many other verses may be found describing the Spirit as “hovering” or as participating in an invitation, the location of these two verses indicates that the Holy Spirit has an extremely high profile in Scripture. We could say all of Scripture is bracketed by the Holy Spirit.

Pentecostal pneumatology has by default always been a more biblical pneumatology in that the Pentecostal experience heightens our interest in the full scope of Scripture’s testimony to the Holy Spirit. Oneness, or apostolic, Pentecostals emphasize as normative the experience of baptism with the Holy Spirit with the initial sign of speaking with tongues. As a result, virtually all of those identified with Oneness Pentecostalism speak with tongues. This does not mean, however, that all have developed a view of the Holy Spirit that could be described as a biblical pneumatology. A single-minded focus only on speaking with tongues sometimes comes at the expense of minimizing other experiences with the Holy Spirit such as the full range of spiritual gifts, empowerment, and fruit.

We must not be satisfied with approaches to the text that do anything less than reading it as it was meant to be read, in a holistic literary fashion, allowing the text to speak for itself and refusing to reshape it into our own image.

The Holy Spirit

The Hebrew word translated “spirit” is ruach. It appears 377 times in the Old Testament with the usual range of meaning also including wind or breath. In about eighty cases, ruach refers to the Holy Spirit, but this precise term is used only three times. (See Psalm 51:11; Isaiah 63:10-11.) Other references to the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament use phrases like “the Spirit of the Lord,” “the Spirit of God,” “my Spirit,” “your Spirit,” “His Spirit,” and “the Spirit.” In some cases, the word “spirit” may not be used, but the context makes it clear the Spirit is in view.

In the New Testament, the Greek word pneuma is translated “spirit.” It is a virtual synonym for ruach and includes the ideas of wind or breath. In nearly 250 cases, a form of pneuma refers to the Holy Spirit, but other phrases include “the Spirit of the Lord,” “the Spirit of God,” “my Spirit,” “His Spirit,” and “the Spirit.” One phrase refers even to “the Spirit of His Son” (Galatians 4:6) and another to “the Spirit of Christ” (I Peter 1:11).

Altogether, then, there are more than 330 references to the Holy Spirit in Scripture. Since there are 1,189 chapters in the Bible, this means the Spirit is mentioned on average about once every 3.6 chapters. In the Old Testament, the Spirit is referred to about once every 11.6 chapters. In the New Testament, with 260 chapters, the Spirit is referred to almost once per chapter.

The first reference to the Spirit of God appears in the second verse of the Bible: “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). The word translated “God” is the Hebrew noun Elohim, which appears thirty-three times in Genesis 1. Although Elohim is plural in form, the referent is singular. This is because in the Hebrew language, the verb governs the number of the noun. When there is a singular verb with a plural noun, the noun does not refer to more than one of something; the plural form is used for other reasons.[3] Elohim must be accompanied by plural modifiers and plural verb forms to function as a plural noun. If accompanied by singular modifiers and singular verb forms, it functions as a singular noun.[4]

In the phrase “Spirit of God,” the word “Spirit” is in the construct state, which means it is grammatically bound to the word “God.”[5] It is the Spirit possessed by God.[6] There is no suggestion here that the Spirit is a person distinct from God. Instead, the context created by the relationship between the first two verses of Genesis is that the phrase “Spirit of God” in this case refers to God in activity. In Genesis 1:1, the word translated “created” (bara’) is in the perfect form, indicating action that is completed. In English, the perfect is usually translated as the “simple past or present perfect.”[7] The point is that Genesis 1:1 describes a completed action.

In Genesis 1:2, the word translated “was hovering” (rachaph) is a participle, suggesting “continuous occurrence of an activity or a mode of being.”[8] As the Pentateuch draws to a close, a form of the word translated “was hovering” appears again for the first time since Genesis 1:2. Here, in the Song of Moses, the Lord[9] is described as an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young (Deuteronomy 32:11). It is significant that this image of God appears both at the beginning and ending of the Torah.[10] As with the entirety of Scripture, we could say that the Torah is bracketed by the Holy Spirit. This is especially true since the fourth verse from the end of the Pentateuch tells us that Joshua “was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him” (Deuteronomy 34:9).

It should also be noted that just as the Spirit of God was involved in His creative work, so the Spirit was involved in the work of the building of the tabernacle. Indeed, the thing that enabled Bezalel to accomplish his work was that he was filled with the Spirit of God (Exodus 31:3; 35:30-31).[11]

Endnotes

[1] From the perspective of systematic theology, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is referred to as pneumatology. In this series of lessons, we will avoid excessive use of theological terms in favor of biblical language.

[2] Although the biblical text can be approached and interpreted in a variety of ways (e.g., historical theology, philosophical theology, practical theology, exegetical theology, systematic theology, or in various ideologically driven ways), none of these captures fully the way the text presents itself to us.

[3] Concerning Elohim, C. L. Seow points out that “[t]he form of the noun is plural, but the referent is singular. This is sometimes called ‘plural of majesty’ ”(A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew, [Abingdon Press, 1987], 19n. He further notes that “[n]ouns that occur in the plural of majesty . . . take the singular verb” (Ibid., 96).

[4] Page H. Kelly, Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company 1992, 32.

[5] Seow, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, 70.

[6] See Logos Exegetical Guide.

[7] Seow, A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew, 92-93.

[8] Seow A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew, 47.

[9] In this series of lessons we will follow the common practice of presenting the Hebrew Yahweh as Lord.

[10] See the discussion by John H. Sailhamer, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1990), 25.

[11] As Sailhamer points out, “The parallels between God’s work in Creation and Israel’s work on the tabernacle are part of the Pentateuch’s larger emphasis on the importance of the work of God’s Spirit among his people. This is the same emphasis found in later biblical books where the new covenant notion of faith and of internal change of heart are put at the center of the human relationship with God. Genuine obedience to the will of God comes only after the renewal of the human heart by the Spirit of God (cf. Eze 36:26-27). It is of interest here to note that the two key characters in the Pentateuch who provide a clear picture of genuine obedience to God’s will, Joseph and Joshua, are specifically portrayed in the narrative as those who are filled with the Spirit of God (Ge 41:38; Dt 34:9).” See John H. Sailhamer, The Pentateuch as Narrative (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992), 309.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Daniel L. Segraves

Another new lesson submitted: Hope for the Last Days: As in the days

A few minutes ago I submitted the second lesson in a series of four on Hope for the Last Days. It will be included in the Winter 2019-20 Discipleship Series, published for the adult level curriculum by Word Aflame Publications (i.e., United Pentecostal Church International, Inc.).

The Big Idea for lesson two is As in the days of Noah, God is directing His church toward His promise of salvation. The lesson includes an interesting account of several attempts to set dates for the Second Coming.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to participate in the writing ministry. It keeps me thinking, praying, and making new discoveries!

New Lesson Submitted: In Like Manner

Yesterday I received an email from Jonathan McClintock, Adult Curriculum Editor for Word Aflame Publications. He was in a bit of a “jam,” to use his word, with four lessons due in about two weeks and no writer. I agreed to accept the project.

At 6:36 this evening, I submitted the first of these lessons, titled “In Like Manner.” The four lessons are part of a series titled “Hope for the Last Days,” and they will be published for the Winter 2019-20 quarter of The Discipleship Project.

The series “Big Idea” is: Because Jesus promised to return for His church, we should look for His appearing, with Titus 2:13 as the Scripture focus. I especially like the New King James Version of this verse, and I’m sure you will see why: “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious apearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

The “Big Idea” for lesson 1 is: We can have hope because Jesus is returning for His people, with I Thessalonians 4:18 as the Scripture focus. I finished the lesson with precisely 3200 words.

I hope you will consider using The Discipleship Project, published by the Pentecostal Publishing House. You can check out the resources available at www.pentecostalpublishing.com.

Changes in teaching videos and updates on coming lessons

Early on this blog, I began to post study guides and videos when teaching series of lessons at The Sanctuary UPC in Hazelwood, Missouri. It’s easy and quick to post the study guides. The videos have been another matter.

To record the videos, I set my iPhone up on a tripod. This is straightforward, but then the time consuming work begins. I’ve been using YouTube to upload the videos, but first I must get them off the iPhone onto my PC, then from the PC to YouTube. This process alone can take hours. After the videos are on YouTube, it’s necessary to edit them by trimming the videos off on both ends. This can be a challenge, and when it’s finished, it can again take hours for an edited video to be saved in its new format. When this is finished, there is the matter of posting the final video to my blog, which also shares it on Twitter. This last step can also be time consuming, because the results are not always consistent. I don’t want YouTube suggesting other videos when the teaching video is over. The results can be unpredictable.

I am committed, however, to making the videos available. Now, YouTube has announced a redesign of the program that makes all this happen, and it is no longer possible to block suggested videos from appearing at the end of the posted teaching videos.

So I am switching to Vimeo. Although this still consumes time, I’m able to prevent suggested videos and the process seems simpler. The lesson “The Spirit of God in the Minor Prophets” is the first video I’ve posted using Vimeo.

Now here are a couple of announcements about lessons coming up soon.

Beginning on December 2, I will teach a series of lessons on the Holy Spirit: An Apostolic Perspective. This will continue each Sunday through the end of February. We are Pentecostals, and we emphasize the experience of baptism with the Holy Spirit. We are right to do this. But Scripture has much more to tell us about the Spirit. There are nearly 100 references to the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and about 350 in the New Testament. The Bible begins and ends with references to the Spirit.

Each Sunday during December, January, and February, we will explore surprising and helpful insights from rarely noticed texts that will give us greater understanding and appreciation for our experience with the Spirit of the Lord.

I want you always to be able to read posts and view videos free of charge. You will be able to download videos for a minimal fee. I hope this will help defray the costs of using Vimeo.

The lessons I will be teaching for the next three months will be related to the book I am now writing on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. I’m enjoying the research and writing for this project, and I hope it will be helpful to those who view the videos and read the study guides.

The Spirit of the Lord in the Minor Prophets

The Sanctuary UPC | Hazelwood, MO | November 18, 2018

Daniel L. Segraves, Teacher

Although specific references to the Spirit of the Lord are few in the Minor Prophets [the Book of the Twelve], when these books are read as one, they have a rich pneumatology [doctrine of the Holy Spirit] rooted in the Pentateuch [the first five books of the Bible, also known as the Torah] and pointing to the pneumatological [Holy Spirit] experience of the first century church.[1]

Joel

Joel’s promise of the pouring out of the Spirit of the Lord was fulfilled in the event of Pentecost.[2]

And it shall come to pass afterward

    That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;

    Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

    Your old men shall dream dreams,

    Your young men shall see visions.

    And also on My menservants and on My maidservants

    I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

    And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:

    Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.

    The sun shall be turned into darkness,

    And the moon into blood,

    Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.

    And it shall come to pass

    That whoever calls on the name of the LORD

    Shall be saved.

    For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,

    As the LORD has said,

    Among the remnant whom the LORD calls (Joel 2:28-32).

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,

That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;

Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

Your young men shall see visions,

Your old men shall dream dreams.

And on My menservants and on My maidservants

I will pour out My Spirit in those days;

And they shall prophesy.

I will show wonders in heaven above

And signs in the earth beneath:

Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.

The sun shall be turned into darkness,

And the moon into blood,

Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.

And it shall come to pass

That whoever calls on the name of the LORD

Shall be saved’ (Acts 2:16-21).

Micah

Micah declares that the Spirit of the Lord is not restricted and that he is full of power by the Spirit of the Lord.

You who are named the house of Jacob:

“Is the Spirit of the LORD restricted?

Are these His doings?

Do not My words do good

To him who walks uprightly? (Micah 2:7).

The Hebrew word qatsar translated “restricted”, includes within its range of meaning the ideas of to “be short, impatient, vexed, grieved.”[3]

Especially in view of Peter’s dependence on Joel 2:28-32, it may be possible that there is at least an echo of Micah 3:8 in Acts 1:8.

But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the LORD,

And of justice and might,

To declare to Jacob his transgression

And to Israel his sin (Micah 3:8).

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Haggai

In Haggai, the Lord declares that His Spirit remains among His people.

I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am the Lord their God (Exodus 29:45-46).

According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear (Haggai 2:5).

 Zechariah

Zechariah has four references:

  1. The Lord informs Zerubbabel that the building of the temple will not be “by might nor by power, but by My Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6).

 

  1. An angel, speaking on behalf of the Lord, informs Zechariah in a vision, “See, those who go toward the north country have given rest to My Spirit in the north country” (Zechariah 6:8).

 

  1. The Lord informs Zechariah that He sent His words by His Spirit through the former prophets (Zechariah 7:12).

 

  1. He promises, “I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication: then they will look on Me whom they pierced.[4] Yes, they will mourn for him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10).[5] John sees this promise as connected with the events involved in the crucifixion of Christ (John 19:37) and alludes to it in conjunction with the coming of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:7). Since the Lord declares “they will look on Me” in this messianic text, the Lord is identified as the Messiah.

[1] These references are found in Joel, Micah, Haggai, and Zechariah.

[2] For further detail on the connections between Joel and Acts, see Daniel L. Segraves, Reading Between the Lines (Hazelwood, MO: WAP Academic, 2008), Chapter 10.

[3] R. Laird Harris, ed., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, vol. 2 (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), 809.

[4] The change in pronoun is done for stylistic reasons; the subject is still God (John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible [Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016], Zechariah 12:10. “The character of the Messiah as both God and man is suggested by referring to Him in verse 10 as both ‘me’ (that is, God) and ‘him’ (see Isa. 9:6–7; a similar phenomenon occurs in passages where the angel of the Lord is referred to both as the Lord and as someone distinct from the Lord; see Gen. 16:7–13; Exod. 3:2–4; Judg. 6:11–27; Zech. 3:1–6)” (E. Ray Clendenen, “The Minor Prophets,” in Holman Concise Bible Commentary, ed. David S. Dockery [Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998], 388). “Because of the difficulty of the concept of the mortal piercing of God, the subject of this clause, and the shift of pronoun from ‘me’ to ‘him’ in the next, many MSS read אַלֵי אֵת אֲשֶׁר (’ale ’et ’asher, “to the one whom,” a reading followed by NAB, NRSV) rather than the MT’s אֵלַי אֵת אֲשֶׁר (’ela ’et ’asher, “to me whom”). The reasons for such alternatives, however, are clear—they are motivated by scribes who found such statements theologically objectionable—and they should be rejected in favor of the more difficult reading (lectio difficilior) of the MT” (Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes [Biblical Studies Press, 2006], Zec 12:10).

[5] Since Zechariah 12:10 has to do with the Messiah pouring out the Spirit, there may be an anticipation of Acts 2:33, where the Messiah has poured out the Spirit.

A discovery from 30 years ago

My good friend and colleague, Terry Baughman, was recently cleaning out some files and discovered an article I wrote more than thirty years ago. He took the time to scan it and email it to me, so I’m sharing it here with you. Click on the link below to read what I was thinking when I was about forty-two years old.

Children Are People, Too.

Logos Bible Software … I like it!

Acts 238 [widescreen]

A couple of weeks ago, I recommended Logos Bible Software and mentioned that BibleWorks is no longer in operation. Although BibleWorks will continue to be useful for those who already have the software, there will be no further updates.

The more I use Logos, the better I like it, and I’m just barely scratching the surface. You can check it out for free at www.logos.com, but you can continue to upgrade with a vast array of resources, all integrated to simplify and quicken your research and writing.

The slide above popped up when I searched for resources on Acts 2:38.

I was asked earlier this week to teach an adult Sunday school class this next Sunday, and my preparation time was minmized by Logos, resulting in the handout I plan to use. I posted the handout here on WordPress last night.

Congratulations to the Urshan System

High congratulations are in order on the selection of Dr. Brent Coltharp as the president of Urshan College and Urshan Graduate School of Theology. He will lead with spiritual and professional excellence.

Other good news includes the decision by the Urshan System Board of Directors to authorize the purchase of a new campus for the schools.

In the fall of 1974, I began a career of teaching in schools endorsed by the United Pentecostal Church. My first office was located on the ground floor of what was then Gateway College of Evangelism. At the conclusion of my last year in this career in 2017, my office was on the second floor of the same building, then known as Urshan College.

Between these dates, it was my privilege to serve as pastor of the First Pentecostal Church in Dupo, Illinois for seven and one-half years, executive vice-president of Christian Life College, first for nineteen and one-years, then as president for five and one-half years. During the entire twenty five years at Christian Life College, I also served as chairman of the department of theology.

From the first year of operation of Urshan Graduate School of Theology, I served as an adjunct faculty member. In 2007, we moved from California back to Missouri, and I functioned variously in part time and full time roles as a member of the faculty and administration of Urshan Graduate School of Theology.

I am quite pleased to see the progress that has been made in the educational ministries of the United Pentecostal Church International [UPCI]. A young minister recently observed, “It is a wonderful time to be part of the UPCI!” Indeed, it is!

Oh, and by the way, during the years between my first floor office at Gateway College and my second floor office in the same building forty three years later, I was in eight other offices. It took a long time to get to the second floor.

I thank God for sparing my life.

This past Sunday, November 4, 2018, could have been the end of my life. At about 3 p.m., Susan and I returned from Branson, Missouri, where we had attended the Missouri District Ministers’ Retreat and enjoyed some leisure time with Susan’s son, David, and his daughter, Averie. They were on a dad and daughter trip for her fourteenth birthday.

After we drove into the garage, Susan went on into the house. I retrieved a package from our front porch and began the process of carrying our luggage and hanging clothes into our home. As I reached near the top of the steps, with clothing in my left hand and the package in my right, I suddenly realized something was wrong. Without time to fully comprehend what was happening, I fell backwards down the steps, striking the back of my head on the concrete floor of the garage.

Usually, when we get home from a trip, Susan goes into the house and readies it for our return. For some reason – and we now know why – she didn’t do that this time. Instead, she returned quickly to the garage. She saw me there, lying on the floor, my head next to the left front tire on our car. She was sure I was dead.

Other than my initial sense of disorientation, I remember nothing about the fall. I awoke to see Susan standing over me. She said something, and I responded.

Panic stricken, Susan rushed back into the house to find her phone. As she returned to the garage, her hands were shaking so badly she could hardly dial 911. She saw the blood streaming from the back of my head, forming what looked to her like two “rivers.” The 911 operater was able to calm her to give our address and to advise her on how to use clean cloths to try to stem the blood flow.

The ambulance, with three EMTs or paramedics, arrived in about twelve minutes. For fear that I might have broken my neck, they placed it in a collar. Soon, I was on a stretcher being transported to the emergency room at Saint Joseph’s hospital in St. Charles, Missouri. The personnel on the ambulance called ahead to inform the hospital about my arrival, what had happened to me, and my current condition.

The emergency room staff was ready for me. I was taken immediately into a room where  I was attached to various medical instruments and visited by a nurse and doctor. Susan had followed the ambulance in our car, and in a very short time our pastor, Mitchell Bland, Susan’s daughter and son-in-law, Michael and Becky Christman, Susan’s granddaughter and her husband, Ashley and Shaq Lester, and our friends, Terry and Julia Gunn, arrived. A neighborhood pastor, Tom Trimble, also arrived soon, laying his hands on me and praying. A member of Pastor Trimble’s church was visiting another patient; he also came to see me.

The hospital staff performed various tests, including CT cervical spine and CT head, and XR chest. There was the possibility that I could have broken my neck or have experienced internal injuries to my head. Neither was the case.

The wound in the back of my head required six stitches. After giving me all the time I needed to see if I felt like trying to walk, a nurse helped me up and saw that I was able to rise and walk a few steps. I was dismissed, then, and Susan drove me home.

It was around 9 p.m. when we got home. Michael, Becky, Shaq and Ashley were waiting for us. They had cleaned the blood from the garage floor, they helped me into the house, and they prayed for me before leaving.

I am so grateful to God for sparing my life. I realize falls like this can be fatal. If not fatal, they can result in broken bones, paralysis, and a number of other life-threatening or permanently disabling injuries. I am dealing with some dizziness, but that’s it. Dizziness is to be expected.

I cannot fully express my gratitude to God, for His mercies . . . to Susan, for her loving care . . . to first responders, for their willingness to devote themselves to rescuing people they don’t know . . .  to medical personnel, who spend years in training to qualify for the demands they constantly face . . .  to family, friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ for their unconditional love and spiritual support.

I turned seventy-two years of age on October 29, just a few days before my injury. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the gift of salvation and for each day of life You have given me.

I am a teacher, so I won’t resist offering some advice: