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The Greek Definite Article &
The Holy Spirit of God
OF A FALSE IDEA THAT HAS HINDERED UNDERSTANDING OF THE WAYS OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD
Remember:
At Pentecost
the Spirit was given
to Christ's Church
corporately
not as to individuals
Introduction:  
E.W.
Bullinger (1837-1913) is one source of the false idea that absence of the definite article ('the') from the term Holy Spirit in the New Testament in its original language means that it is not the person of the Holy Spirit Himself but merely a function or action of the Spirit that is referred to. For instance Bullinger writes of "Holy Spirit" without the definite article –
 
 
"it is never used of the Holy Spirit but always of what He does; it is never used of the Giver, but always of His gifts and operations"
(as quoted affirmatively in the Faculty Field Studies of the Full Gospel Church of God in Southern Africa).
Full Gospel Church Error
Sincere Pentecostal attempt
to explain their doctrine of 'subsequence'
concerning the Spirit:
'how one can be
born-of-the-Spirit
without having yet
received the Spirit'.
This
rather absolute and seemingly authoritative statement is misleading, and a distraction that significantly deviates us from a proper understanding of the Gift of the Holy Spirit to the church of Jesus Christ! As such it is to be opposed wherever the error is found.
 
This theory seems to have originated with Bishop Middleton of Calcutta in an 1808 study he published. Several later writers followed his thinking, among other, Westcott, Swete, Bullinger, and Turner (who strangely even described this view as "grammatical insight").
In
addition to the source of this particular interpretation, because of some arguments used, it is important to remember that the Koinê Greek of our New Testament is not the literary Greek of Attic Greece with its subtleties. It is the Greek of the Eastern Mediterranean, without roots in the local soil, a basic utilitarian, administrative and commercial language, used internationally at the time.
 
In the past this has sometimes not been adequately taken into account by some scholars.
 
A
scientific approach to this issue would not have focused on the definite article with special regard to the Holy Spirit, but the use of the definite article with regard to any noun in the common Greek of the first century. That language, as the common people of that time understood it, is the real issue!
 
On a purely grammatical basis of interpretation, Professor Gordon Fee therefore writes that –  
Please Note:
"the presence of the article ['the'] with the Spirit is always controlled by whether the noun it modifies is
articular [has the definite article] or not, not by a distinction between 'a spirit' and 'the Spirit'."
(1994:18, emphasis mine)
So,
it is important to be aware that the use of definite ('the') and indefinite ('a', 'an') articles in English bear no relation whatsoever to the use of the definite article in the Greek language.
 
Note:
Greek has no in-definite article ("a"), and its definite article may even be used as a pronoun or a possessive adjective.
 
 
Unfortunately, Bullinger's statement above has then been used to 'prove' that the person of the Holy Spirit Himself was not given, or did not come, on the day of Pentecost, but merely His working or His action. This is a serious misrepresentation of what God did.
 
Jesus
had previously announced the future coming of The Spirit at His Last Supper (Jn.14:15-17,26): not a coming 'function' or coming 'action' of the Spirit, but the coming of the Spirit Himself.
 
 
However, the definite-article theory is used to try and 'prove' that this did not happen at Pentecost but at some time before the event of that Day. (One is then left with the question of 'when?'. When did the Spirit Himself come?). A more honest treatment of Scripture would show otherwise.

 
 
Bible's Answer:
 
The
definite-article theory of interpretation flies in the face of the most respected translators of our New Testament who have consistently added the word 'the' in our English translations when absent in the Greek.
 
 
Further, the Bullinger theory is shown to be false by the Scripture itself as in the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary (Lk.1:35) where "Holy Spirit" and "Most High" are both without the definite article.
 
 
Clearly, the "Most High" is no less than God-Most-High, even without the definite article. The absence of the definite article cannot be made to mean that the term "Most High" only means some divine quality and not God Himself. The lack of a definite article in no way reduces the reality of the person referred to.
"Most High" refers directly to God Himself even with the definite article.
 
At Christ's
baptism experience, the Holy Spirit is referred to both with and without the definite article –
without a definite article in Matthew 3:16*,  and with a definite article in Luke 3:22.
Likewise, concerning the great Pentecost event, the same Holy Spirit is referred to both –
with (John 7:39)  and without (Acts 1:5) the definite article. 
*Nestle Greek Text
Simply stated,
Christ announced at His last supper that the Father would send "the Holy Spirit" – with the definite article (John 14:26).
And the Bible says that this is what God did at Pentecost!

 
Error's
Motive:
 
It is
not true therefore that, in the common or Koinê Greek language of the first century, the absence of a definite article changed the meaning from the object to a quality or function of that object! At most it could imply a change of emphasis within the context but never a change of meaning.
The definite-article theory about the Holy Spirit is unfortunately manufactured/invented for theological purposes.
 
 
The motivation behind the use of this mistaken idea is to try and explain how-it-could-be that God would give the Holy Spirit to those who had already been 'born-again' by this same Holy Spirit. Because it was erroneously assumed that after the Pentecost event God continued to give the Spirit subsequent to conversion (as a second installment of grace), it was thought that there then had to be some difference between the Spirit Himself indwelling a believer (without whom one cannot be a Christian) and this subsequent Gift or Baptism of the Spirit.
Doctrine of Subsequence
This
way of thinking made the discovery of some explanation necessary. And so, the occasional lack of the definite article in the Greek text became a basis for differentiating between the Holy Spirit as a person and holy-spirit as a quality of spiritual energy or ability conferred on the Day of Pentecost. Accordingly, at Pentecost then ONLY the power or gifts of the Spirit were given, as distinguished from His person. This teaching degrades the divine act at Pentecost and ultimately dishonours the Spirit Himself!

 
  Theologically Impossible:  
Truly,
he who has the Spirit of God cannot, in potential, lack any quality of that same Spirit!
 
 
One may fail to conform to the qualities or nature of the Spirit in some way, but the Spirit Himself cannot be divided between His attributes, as though one can receive one part of Him and not the other.
 
 
A human personality may be distinguished from his physical ability, but the Holy Spirit is the infinite Spirit of God. There are no distinguishings within His being. Neither are the gifts of the same Spirit to be thought of as varied components or abilities of the Spirit distributed among believers. They are the variegated method of ministry that the Spirit chooses to use through various believers!
 
Further,
and perhaps even more seriously, the idea that this 'energy' or 'power' of the Spirit can be received as a separate component from the person of the Spirit violates the very nature of deity!
 
 
God – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – cannot be separated from the intrinsic qualities of their divine person!
 
 
Christ's own self-humbling, in which He became weak for our sakes, did not mean He left His omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence behind in heaven, as though He could be separated from these qualities of His own nature.
 
 
Jesus voluntarily humbled Himself in fully restricting Himself to the human circumstance into which He came as our substitute and atonement. As a man, the Lord Jesus truly submitted to the Holy Spirit to directly empower Him in His ministry! (Mk.1:12; Lk.5:17). Likewise, he who has the Spirit has all that the Spirit Himself chooses to use through him.

 
The Reality:  
At
Pentecost, the Spirit of God Himself was given – given as a bride is given in marriage – given to belong in a direct, intimate relationship to every Christian (Rom.8:9), in which the flesh of each Christian thus becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit's presence in God's relation to this world.
 
 
Such a relationship as this had never ever been/existed in all history, except only – in the Spirit's relationship to the sinless man Christ Jesus! Thus, at Pentecost, Christ's Church became Christ's Body! 
 

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