“THE” IN “THE HOLY SPIRIT”
This is a fourth part to “THE” little Big Words of the Spirit.
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“The Greek language used its Definite Articles with very great precision. When an Article is omitted in the Greek language, there is a very good reason.”i
If this be true, then when we get down to the nitty gritty, for better understanding of passages in the New Testament, we should respect the presence or absence of the such things as the definite article “the.” The article “the” (e.g., ho) accounts for 14% of the words in the Greek New Testament.”ii On the one hand, “the” appears to be used with God's Holy Spirit just as “the” is used with the names of Jesus (nominative case, "ο Ιησους"-316 times) and God ("ο θεός"- 221 times). Or, “the” is used after a spirit is specified, such as “the” unclean spirit. On the other hand, a man's spirit or a quality of spirit has no article “the” in the original Greek.iii
An example of the absence of the definite article: “But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:29). The English translators have inserted “the” with “spirit” to perhaps accommodate the way we speak in English. But the context is not talking about God's Spirit. The inspired Greek writer chose not to have the definite article “the” for a specific purpose. The circumcision is to be in a spirit of man. Not the Spirit of God.
THE BAPTISM OF GOD'S SPIRIT. Since January 1, 1901, it has been taught that it is Scriptural and paramount for man to obey something called "to be baptized with or in the Holy Spirit".iv The fact is, even the apostles did nothing (except passively wait in Jerusalem) to be baptized by the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit was a promise and Jesus fulfilled it. The only other example of the Holy Spirit falling on a group in such a manner is in Cornelius's house. The apostle Peter rehearses, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning” (Acts 11:15). Cornelius' group heard only the start of a sermon on salvation and yet they were “baptized” by the Holy Spirit. They obeyed nothing but they were baptized by the Holy Spirit.
There is a passage that is sometimes used to show that one must actively do something to “get the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” The passage is in Ephesians. “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the spirit” (Ephesians 5:18 NASB). The endings of the Greek indicate either passive or middle voice (same endings).
First of all, the verb form “getting drunk” would be decisively in the Greek middle voice. That means, a person is not made to be drunk from outside forces. Since a person does this to himself, it is said to be in Greek's middle voice. The conjunction “but” is a coordinate conjunction for the following contrast. This makes us to grammatically to expect the same verb tense and same voice for the added contrast of what should be our “filling.” In other words, we are being told to fill ourselves. A command.
These verbs can be translated, “Do not get yourself drunk, but in contrast fill yourself.” The word “spirit” is in the dative case which indicates the noun to which something is given. For example, in the English, “I treated myself a milk shake”, “myself” is in the dative case.
The Greek preposition “with” used with the noun “spirit” is the Greek word for in” and I think it would be clearer if it were so translated. There is no “the” in the Greek verse. In fact, there is no “holy” at all in the text. It is unfortunate that teachers often supply both “holy” along with the definite article “the” in teaching this passage. They would require that we force feed ourselves with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Rather, it is our spirit that is the object of our feeding.
The parallel reading in Colossians 3:16 may clarify this for us: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” In interpretation then, both passages command us to fill ourselves; not our flesh, but our spirit. It is not the Holy Spirit at all.v
Let's look at the controversial Acts 2:38 which, by the way, does has the article “the” with “Holy Spirit” in the Greek as well as the English.
“And Peter said to them, Repent, and be immersed each of you in the name of Jesus Christ for a release of sins! And you shall receive the present of the holy spirit.” (ABP+). “Holy” is G39 orG40 in Strong's Greek list.
The “gift of the Holy Spirit” here has been a matter of mystery and controversy for years. The best answer for unity's sake has been, “If we can't agree on what it refers to, all we need to know is that the obedient receive it. Period.”
THE GIFT OF THE SPIRIT. An interpretation that I used to suggest as an option is that Acts 2:38 could mean that the obedient receives a gift of a clean, sanctified, and holy, spirit, washed in the blood of the Lamb. There is no doubt that the obedient does receive a sanctified (holy) spirit. 1 Corinthians 6 supports this. Paul proclaimed, “...but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). “Sanctified” is Stong's G37, and means “to make holy” and is from G40 (see Acts 2:38 above). Since the Christians' spirits have been washed in baptism (and hence, the blood of Jesus, Ephesians 5:26) and made holy, could this be the “gift of a 'holy' spirit” in Acts 2:38? Was this Peter's point?
John Wesley's Explanatory Notes toyed with a similar interpretation but dismissed it.
The answer must be a "NO." I was incorrect. Because if we acknowledge as a rule that the Holy Spirit of God is identified by the definite article “the” then a spirit of man is no longer an option in this passage. Acts 2:38 does use the definite article. Therefore, Peter is not referring to a gift of one's spirit being made holy. The Holy Spirit inspires Peter to refer to God's Spirit. The one that obeys the gospel call will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as a promise not just to the Jews but to all that God would call; this includes the Gentiles.
Note: E. W. Bullinger (1837-1913) erroneously taught that “the” Holy Spirit did not come on Pentecost but rather His essence or quality did.vi The point he made was that “the” is not there. But this is not true. The apostles waited for the promise of the Father (and Jesus) and after their “immersion”, Acts 2:4 reads “began to speak with other languages as THE Spirit gave to them.” Again in Acts 2:33 [ABP+], “and the promise of THE Holy Spirit having received by the Father, He poured out this which you now see and hear.”
iv“Origin of Assemblies of God.” Bill Smith. Your religious Neighbor's Beliefs Vol. II. Helm Publishers, Oklahoma City, p. 14.