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The Holy Spirit:

Blasphemy against, Restraining Ministry, and Gender

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Question #1:   Please tell me if you have to have a verb used with taken, in 2thess.2:7 in order for some thing to be taken out of the midst (removal). I believe you do. Thank you

Response #1:  There is indeed a verb in 2nd Thessalonians 2:7: genetai, the aorist middle subjunctive 3/s of gignomai (to "become"). Here is how I translate the entire passage in broader context:

Do not let anyone deceive you in any way. For [the 2nd Advent cannot come] unless the Apostasy [the great falling away of the faithful in the first half of the Tribulation] has already occurred, and the man of lawlessness [antichrist] has been revealed, that "son of destruction" (cf. Jn.17:12 of Judas), the one who will oppose and exalt himself against every so-called god and object of worship to such a degree that he will take his seat in the temple of God and represent himself as being God. Don't you remember that I was telling you these things while I was still with you? Even now you know what it is (i.e., the Spirit) that restrains [antichrist] so that he will be revealed [only] in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work - it is only the Restrainer [who keeps things in check, and will] until He moves out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the Spirit of His mouth, and will annihilate with the appearance of His coming.
2nd Thessalonians 2:3-8

Paul uses the verb gignomai in verse seven with the prepositional phrase ek mesou. This is a fairly idiomatic phrase, it is true, but no doubt for good reason. I would have been easier to say something like "until The Restrainer moves out of the way", instead of "becomes / happens to be out of the way". Paul's careful language no doubt reflects the fact that, as he knew full well, the Holy Spirit is God and is therefore omnipresent. Incorrectly describing Him as "moving away" from the earth during the Tribulation would tend to diminish our appreciation of His true deity. The language as it stands only indicates the cessation of a particular ministry, that of restraint. Please see the following links for more on this subject:

The Restraining Ministry of the Holy Spirit (in SR #2)

The Restraining Ministry of the Holy Spirit (in Coming Tribulation 2B)

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill

Question #2:  

Hi again Doc!

What exactly is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Some have suggested attributing the works of God to Satan, and others have suggested that it refers to continual rejection of the Gospel. What exactly does it mean? thanks!

Response #2: 

Rejecting Jesus Christ is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matt.12:30-32; Mk.3:28-30), because it is the Spirit who makes clear to the hearer that Jesus is the Son of God and that salvation is through faith in His Name, His Person and His work (1Jn.5:6-10; cf. 1Cor.2:9-16; 1Jn.2:27; 3:24; 4:13). Since the Spirit makes clear to the hearer that these things are true indeed whenever the gospel is presented, for the recipient then to say in his/her heart or with his/her mouth "that's not true" is the same as calling the Spirit a liar (since the Spirit has just told them that the gospel is true). This is made clear in Mark 3:30 where it says "[Jesus] said this because they were saying 'He has an evil spirit' " – but it was not and evil spirit but the Holy Spirit who was testifying to the truth of His words. See also the following links:

The unpardonable sin.

Have I committed the unforgivable sin?

Six Questions

Sinning Arrogantly

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3:  

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

As most people, I find your site extremely helpful in navigating the Bible and growing in my understanding of the Word. I am especially in need of information on the feminine aspects of God. Women are also in God's image (and I'm not speaking physically, of course). Where is the feminine in the Trinity? Is the Holy Spirit "feminine"?

Thank you for your time and consideration,

PS. If you have time, you must be so busy answering all of our questions!, take a look at this article. I found it very interesting: http://www.theology.edu/journal/volume3/spirit.htm

More Than Just a Controversy: All About The Holy Spirit by R.P. Nettelhorst

Response #3: 

Let me start by thanking you for your encouraging comments about this ministry. As to your question, the nexus of doctrines connected to the Holy Spirit are numerous and deep, so much so that in traditional systematic theology an entire section is generally devoted to "Pneumatology". In fact, at some point in the future there will be a entire section of the Basics series at Ichthys devoted to that topic as well (under construction at present, and, sadly, a long way from posting, but see the following link for related files: Basics part 5).

There are two things I would wish to say by way of introduction to this topic, both of which will serve to frame the issue so specific points may then be addressed. First, in my view, there is much too much made of gender roles when it comes to theology. I suppose that as a man that is "easy for me to say", but I do take very seriously Paul's words in Galatians to the effect that "there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal.3:28). In this world it is true there are discernible races, discernible social statuses, and discernible genders, and it is also true that for the most part these are divinely designed or assigned (in the sense that God is "working everything out for good for those who love Him"). We may be able to change our social status (but for the large majority of the human race over the ages, this has always been a small percentage thing), it might even be remotely possible to change our nationality (but much harder and never really involves a complete transformation), but we cannot change our genders (certainly not in God's eyes). It is also true that in this world, each of these areas of distinction necessarily involves advantages and limitations, as well as simple characteristics which are not necessarily either pluses or minuses (whatever one's point of view).

Significantly, this is also true in the Church in terms of the spiritual gifts assigned by the Spirit very well laid out in the article you linked. And as Paul says in his comparison of the members of the Church to the members of a human body in 1st Corinthians 12:12ff. (a discourse importantly applicable to this topic), a hand is a hand and an eye is an eye; each has its own particular function and role to play and neither should take it personally because they are what they are: that was God's decision (specifically, the choice of the Spirit), and made for the collective good of the entire Body. But all of these distinctions are meaningful in this world alone – and this world is dust, temporary, and fading away. We are only here, and, indeed, the closer we get to Jesus and the more we begin to appreciate the truth of all we say we believe, the only reason we would even wish to remain here, is for the fulfilling of the purpose our Master has for us. In eternity, we who believe shall all have an equal share in Jesus Christ (cf. the parable of the workers in Matt.20:1-16: they all receive an equal share). In fact, the only meaningful distinction between us in eternity that can even be compared to the sorts of things that separate us on earth (class, money, intellect, athletic ability, etc., etc.) will be the rewards we are given for our service to Jesus Christ and to His Body, our brothers and sisters in the true Church. And on that score, every single Christian has an equal opportunity to win all three of the crowns (and much "gold, silver, and precious stones": 1Cor.3:1-15; see the link "Crowns"). Our Lord most definitely will take everything into account when He evaluates our service, including whatever advantages we had, and whatever disadvantages we had to labor under.

As one begins to take the "long view" and really live it, the rest of these things that grate on us begin to dissolve in our anticipation of all the blessedness to come. Any Greek (gentile) may feel the rub of disadvantage of not being a member of Israel, the people of promise; a slave would no doubt wish rather to be free (1Cor.7:21-22); and I can well understand how and why many women may feel that traditional theology has dealt them a bad and possibly an un-biblical hand (in some cases I would agree), but in fact just as in eternity we shall all be one in Christ experientially even now by our position in Jesus we are in truth all "one". Correctly understood, we the entire Church, are "the feminine" while Jesus Christ is in truth "the masculine", for we are "His Bride", and our responsibility is to respond to Him as the Head with all appropriate obedience. Let me hasten to add that I am not writing rules for marriage nor women's roles generally; as to the one, as I have said many times, scripture is very clear that staying single is better than marriage in any case, and as to the latter, every individual has a role to play that is based upon the gifts and specific ministries which God actually assigns, regardless of gender.

But what this does mean vis-ŗ-vis the issue at hand is that marriage is a divine institution one of whose major functions is to teach us about our relationship with Jesus (e.g., that is why I would agree with Luther that the Song of Solomon is best taken as an allegory wherein we see His love for us and our response to Him in love). Just so by observing married people, we see what our role as Christ's Bride should be (see the link: "The Bride of Christ"). This is true even if the marriage we observe is a bad one, because it still suggests the ideal we all have set deep in our hearts of a completely considerate and loving Husband and a completely responsive and enthusiastic Bride – so we know how we ought to respond to our Lord, even when we or others don't. Therefore in my reading of the Bible, the main reason for gender is not from any need or necessity based on a supposed gender or genders of God (who as spirit has no gender: see the link: "The Essence of God"), but rather gender exists in order to teach us about our relationship to Him in perfect love: Jesus has done everything for us out of love, even dying on the cross in our place; and He wants us to appreciate and respond to that love from our own free will rather than from necessity – exactly what a perfect husband would want from a perfect wife (q.e.d.).

Secondly (and possibly a bit more briefly), it is a common misconception amongst non-specialists that grammatical gender and physical gender are somehow closely related. In fact, while it is true that generally speaking substantives which represent actual people or their jobs/roles do take the gender of the person/persons they represent, in all other cases gender tends to follow other avenues completely divorced from any notion of physical sex, the most common of these being noun type (i.e., certain noun types tend to be feminine, others masculine, others neuter, regardless of the meaning of the noun), or class (e.g., trees in Latin tend to be feminine), or usage (just as we can't always explain irregular verb forms any other way than by understanding that they became popular for some unknown reason in the past, the same is true for non-intuitive genders of certain nouns). All that is a long-winded way of saying that the Holy Spirit is "neuter" in the New Testament because the noun pneuma is a neuter noun, following the pattern of all -ma nouns (usually resultative based on a verb stem; here pneuo = "blow"; pneu-ma, "the result of blowing" or "wind"). In the Old Testament, we have a similar situation in that one should not make too much (I would say, "anything") of the fact that ruach is normally feminine. For one thing, it is occasionally masculine. For another, since Hebrew has no neuter gender, only a masculine and a feminine, they had to use one of the two for neuter conceptions, and they usually use the feminine for anything non-distinct in this regard (the opposite of what happens in the verbal system in Hebrew and generally speaking in Greek where all mixed groups are masculine). But the bottom line here is that the word ruach meaning "wind" existed and had this meaning before the Bible was written and before this word was then employed for the Spirit. So the feminine gender of the word precedes any theological application in my view. And while it is certainly true that "God knows everything in advance", it does beg the question of why if this were an important theological point this distinction is not continued in the New Testament (e.g., the word pnoe, feminine, is a synonym and could easily have been employed in place of the neuter pneuma).

This brings me to the four points the article uses to suggest that the distinction is important (and for this entire section please be aware that there are many other important, related issues for which time and space do not allow here but which are addressed at the link "Bible Basics 3A: Anthropology: the Biblical Study of Man"). The author claims first that understanding the Spirit as feminine helps explain how women are made in the image of God, but in my view this erroneous idea can only obscure the issue that men and women are equally and identically made in God's image, according to His likeness. Adam's priority of creation has some application to the issue of gender rules in this world of dust, especially after the fall when sin begets the need for an authority structure (1Tim.2:11-13; see the link: "The Judgment"), but as far as any feminine and masculine elements are concerned, at the very least this erroneous idea obscures the issue that the "image" is all about having free will to choose for God in faith and determine our eternal future thereby, while the "likeness" speaks about the necessity for each of us to do so individually – regardless of our gender or any other factor (please see the link: "The Image and Likeness of God"). Adding anything else in my view only dilutes the essential gospel appeal of the need to accept God's truth for eternal life as a responsibility which falls equally on us all with no distinction, regardless of gender or any other factor. Being collectively "the feminine", we all have to respond to God's overtures of love in Jesus Christ if we want to be saved.

Secondly, the author thinks that equating divine "wisdom", a feminine noun, with Christ is "virtually impossible" because "the genders of the words in question get in the way". But in fact, as we have seen above, that is not a theologically significant point: the standard word for wisdom used in Proverbs 8, chokhmah, is a grammatically feminine noun, and thus invites the metaphor of wisdom being a woman in that context, but logos, "the Word", certainly includes the idea of a superintendent divine wisdom and is a grammatically masculine noun; nothing should read into the gender of either one. Further, in respect to our Lord, there is much about His role in His humanity during His unglorified time on earth during the first advent which is very feminine in many aspects. This is not in anyway to diminish the complete and total masculinity of our Lord, but to point out that His submissiveness to the Father's plan, even unto death, is unparalleled in human history – and He is our ultimate role model.

You too should have this attitude which Christ Jesus had. Since He already existed in the very form of God, equality with God was [certainly] not something He thought He had to grasp for. Yet in spite of this [co-equal divinity He already possessed], He deprived Himself of His status and took on the form of a slave, [and was] born in the likeness of men. He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even [His] death on [the] cross [for us all].
Philippians 2:5-8

Thirdly, I do not find the Spirit's role in any meaningful way to be "subservient", and that is an adjective that I do not find in any way appropriate for describing the proper role of Christian women. For as Peter tells us in commending the women of old as examples, Christian women should be "like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear." (1Pet.3:5-6 NIV). But in any case, the fact that the Spirit is "felt but not seen" is certainly not an indication of femininity or even of any sort of "feminine" subordination, at least to my lights. And while it is clear that the Father is the authority figure, the Spirit's relinquishing of that role does not seem to me to be on the same level of submissiveness as that of Jesus who came into the world and as a human being and followed all of the Father's commands, being "obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Phil.2:8).

Finally, if the role played here by the Spirit were that of a "mother", scripture could easily have used this terminology and made that clear. But in fact, scripture scrupulously avoids doing anything of the sort, even though of course in all pagan religions this idea of the mother figure goddess is ubiquitous (a fact that helps explains the perverse veneration of Mary in R.C. tradition). We have to conclude that this omission in the Bible, a striking one given the otherwise universal parallels of other "religion", is not accidental but deliberate.

But the most important thing I can say about all this is that the Bible says what it says, and since in my understanding of scripture the Spirit specifically and God generally is never described in terms of femininity, for us to do so would be incorrect and therefore could lead us in some potentially dangerous directions (if only by obscuring the truths we might otherwise be able to grasp). As suggested above, we believers collectively are "the feminine" and God is "the masculine". Are we born as males? Then we have the responsibility to act as God's regents in a perfect and just way, and if married in terms of our wives in a perfect and loving way – how short we fall! Are we born as females? Then our responsibility is to respond to God in a perfectly subordinate way (not that men do not share this – we do), and if married in terms of husbands in a perfectly responsive way – impossible even if they were perfect which they are not. However, the relationship with our Lord shows us the pattern, and that pattern is usually misunderstood as flowing "from God to marriage" when in fact it is the other way around:

For a man is head of the wife as Christ is head of the Church – He Himself is Savior of the Body.
Ephesians 5:23

This mystery is great – and I am [really] speaking about Christ and about the Church (i.e., rather than the putative subject of the passage, the proper relationship between man and wife).
Ephesians 5:32

Instead of being over-focused on gender issues and marriage issues and relationship issues (as much of contemporary Christianity unarguably is and morbidly so), scripture tells us that in doing so we have things exactly backwards, for these earthly distinctions and considerations only exist to teach us how we ought to be responding to our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.

I hope this is helpful to you, and would be happy to speak with you about it further.

In the One who is our Bridegroom forever, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill

Question #4:  

Hello! Thank you, beyond what I can express, for your sincere, informative, and Godly website!

I started studying The Gifts of the Spirit, and altho' I believe in the gift of tongues as you do ( an actual language that God gives, not given to all) I have come across another issue concerning tongues. Someone told me there are 2 different types of tongues........the Gift of Tongues and Praying in Tongues (the "private" prayer used alone when speaking to God, not publicly) I question that idea. They said that they speak in tongues privately to God when they just don't have the words themselves. But it seems that "babbling" with a Godly intention is of no meaning, just an emotional experience. I see how some Bible verses can be used to back up this "experience", but I am still skeptical. Thanks for any insight.

Response #4: 

I agree with your take on tongues entirely, and I am aware of this "distinction" which proponents of tongues sometimes advance in order to avoid the obvious problems with squaring what they are doing with the Bible. We are told to "pray in the Spirit" (Eph.6:18), and that is surely the passage such proponents have in mind. However it is quite a leap to assume that "praying in the Spirit" means praying with vocalization of sounds which are not coherent in any known language! Not only is there nothing in scripture of which I am aware to justify such a connection, Ephesians 6:18 actually says that we are to engage in this sort of prayer "at all times", and it seems clear to me that even those who support this twist on tongues do occasionally and probably often pray in conventional ways at least some of the time, both out loud and silently. Furthermore, the context of Eph.6:18 is a prayer request for something very specific, and that couldn't be carried out if there were no meaningful verbal content to the prayer being requested. Clearly then, what Ephesians 6:18 really means is prayer in the power of the Spirit (and this is indeed what the Greek phrase en pneumati most often signifies: cf. in this very epistle: Eph.2:22; 3:5; 5:18).

As believers in Jesus, we have the power of the Spirit potentially at all times when we are being responsive to God and to His will, with the Spirit's power being enhanced and maximized when we grow spiritually and respond to His guidance (Gal.5:16-25), and minimized or hindered when we backslide or fall into carnality (1Cor.11:27-32; Eph.4:30; 1Thes.5:19; Jas.4:3). This is Paul's way of saying what Peter also says at 1st Peter 3:7, namely, that spirituality and spiritual growth, a humble spirit and a careful walk with God are all things which enhance prayer, while selfishness, carnality and spiritual decline hinder it. Finally, even if one were to take the opposite view on this passage, there are still problems. For instance, whatever else one might say about such behavior it would still have to qualify as a type of "tongues" to be at all legitimate by any standard, and we know from 1st Corinthians 12:30 that "not all speak in tongues" which is at odds with the interpretation that everyone who has gotten the Spirit does/can engage in this type of (incoherent) speaking in tongues.

From your e-mail, it seems that you are probably already aware of these links, but I'll plug them in here just in case they might be of some help:

Spiritual Gifts and Spiritual Growth

Is "speaking in tongues" a sin?

An Extended Conversation about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Is "speaking in tongues" biblical?

"The baptism which now saves you": 1st Peter 3:21

Confession of Sin, Fellowship, and the Filling of the Holy Spirit

The baptism of the Holy Spirit as distinct from speaking in tongues.

Tongues: does 'no man' understand?

All Things Charismatic

 

Thanks for all your good words about this site and this ministry.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill

Question #5:  

 

Hi Doc!

Is the Holy Spirit removed according to 2nd Thessalonians 2? I thought he was omnipresent? and that believers are

removed?

Someone had said:

"before Pentecost, the Spirit only came upon men. He did not dwell within men. The Spirit did not dwell upon the earth until after Christ's ascension. The word in verse 7 for way is dealing with being removed from the midst of. So, yes, the Holy Spirit will be taken. Since men will be saved in the Tribulation, it may be the Spirit will function once more as He did in pre-Pentecost days."

Is this correct?

Response #5: 

This is another one of those detailed subjects about which I have written quite a bit. To give you a brief overview, 2nd Thes. chapter two is speaking of the termination of the Spirit's present, special restraining ministry – not to His absence. For, as you very correctly deduce, He is omnipresent. Additionally, He continues to indwell believers, even during the Tribulation (cf. Rom.8:9). The Greek phrase here "out of the way" does not necessitate a complete absence of His presence. Instead, it indicates that the Spirit, who at present often performs the function of the invisible Restrainer, will allow behavior on earth during the Tribulation of a type and to a degree which He presently is not allowing. Please see the following links for the details:

The Restraining Ministry of the Holy Spirit (in SR #2)

The Restraining Ministry of the Holy Spirit (specifically its removal during the Tribulation - CT 2B)

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6:  

Hi Doc!

Thanks for the links, but I have some questions I couldn't find the answers to. Verse 7 of 2 Thess. 2:7: "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way."

Why does it say "he" (a person) if referring to His restraining power (influence)? Thanks!

And I have heard that the HS could leave the same way He came at the Pentecost. What I don't understand is how a omnipresent spirit would have to be "sent" (John 15:26) if He is everywhere? Thanks for your patience and help!

Response #6: 

The Spirit is omnipresent, but He can also exercise a more intense, more vibrant, more sustaining presence locally. God is everywhere and in everything (Acts 17:28), but He certainly is "in" believers much more than He is "in" unbelievers. The sending of the Spirit thus refers to the new empowerment of believers by the Spirit from Pentecost onward whereby we have the "indwelling" of the Spirit, a far more intense presence of the Spirit than most Old Testament believers experienced. And this presence can intensify too, for we know that some believers were noted for being "filled" with the Spirit (cf. Acts 6:5), even though we are all told to "be ful-filled" by the Spirit (Eph.5:18). As to the gender of the Spirit in 2nd Thessalonians 2:7, the Spirit is a "He" in that passage even though sometimes He is referred to as "it" (because the word for wind and spirit, pneuma, is neuter in Greek). During the Tribulation "He moves out of the way" – not that He is still not present in the sense of His omnipresence, but He moves out of the way of the devil, the beast, and their followers and allows the events of the Tribulation to take place. Were He continuing His ministry of restraint, the Tribulation would be impossible – and that would make the second advent impossible too. So while we regret the removal of His influence during those dark days to come, like the pains of a woman in labor, we understand that the trouble has to come first if we are going to experience the new birth of resurrection when our Lord Jesus returns.

In anticipation of that glorious day!

Bob L.

Question #7:  

 

Hi again Doc!

I forwarded your reply and amazingly I have received an answer from someone that I cannot make sense of. She said:

"Does the Bible mean the Spirit came upon them or not in the Old Testament when it says the Spirit came upon them? In Acts 2, does the Bible say the Spirit filled them or not? It either says it came upon them or the bible is wrong there. It either says it filled them at Pentecost or the bible is wrong. My point is not that the Spirit is NOT ominpresent. My point is that I believe that HE will be taken out of the way. That's the Spirit himself and us in whom He dwells. My take is that He will return to the work he did before Christ came upon the earth. I think the Trib saints bear the same marks of salvation that the OT saints bore which is not the same as ours."

I appreciate all the help and thanks in advance!

Love,

Response #7: 

My answer here is precisely along the lines I addressed before. There are many times in scripture where two things are true that to human logic are not reconcilable. Jesus is God – and Jesus is a true human being. How can they both be true (since, among other things, God is by definition omnipresent and man is by nature limited in terms of time and space)? They are both true, and through careful study and exegesis of the scriptures this particular question can be answered (although of course it was the cause of much controversy in the history of the Church, and even today there are many heresies which are based upon a misunderstanding or deliberate perversion of the truth of this "double truth"). There are many such examples. Whenever one is trying to understand or explain a point of scripture or a point of doctrine, it is always dangerous to argue, "in my human logic, something has to be either A or B; so if this is A, it can't be B, or if it's B, it can't be A" (since theology is not limited to what is true in the time-and-space material world with which we are so conversant, in scripture and in doctrine sometimes we have situations where both A and B are true). For example, the Spirit is sent both by the Son and by the Father and therefore the scripture can at one time emphasize the One and at another time the Other (failure to understand this particular truth, the procession of the Spirit, was the stated reason for the break between the Roman catholic and Greek orthodox churches). For example, it is also true that God has ordained all we do and elected to eternal life all believers, and yet we have true free will and everything we do and decide is thus very important because without deciding to believe in Jesus and maintaining that faith true to the end we cannot be saved. Those who only want to accept the former truth are hyper-Calvinists; those who only want to accept the latter are hyper-Arminianists – but both principles are true.

It is the same with the removal of the restraining ministry of the Spirit. For example, we know that God fills the universe; that the Father is everywhere since "in Him we live and move and exist" (Acts 17:28) – and yet in Revelation 21:3 we find the Father "coming" to earth to make His dwelling with mankind in a very localized way (the Father's advent/return). To us this is illogical, but not to God. God is omnipresent, but He is also free to be locally present or not in certain ways with varying intensities and for various purposes. The Spirit is omnipresent, but we believers after Pentecost have the Spirit in all of us – a unique development in human history. Furthermore, this local presence of the Spirit can be more or less intense. For if we don't have the Spirit in us, then we do not belong to Jesus Christ (Rom.8:9) – and yet we are told to be "filled with the Spirit" (Eph.5:18), a phrase which clearly teaches that a more intense, more potent presence of the Spirit is possible (through drawing closer to God in Jesus Christ by means of the truth of the Word).

The removal of the Spirit's restraining ministry is just such a case. He is here; has always been here; will always be here – but He ceases His activity of exceptional Church Age restraint during the Tribulation (without which "removal", the Tribulation could not take place). Just as our Lord rebuked Peter who could not imagine that anything like the suffering of the cross could or would happen to Jesus, so we have to accept now that the Tribulation for all of its horrors is a necessary part of the plan of God. Therefore the Spirit must "come to be out of the way" – but that has nothing to do with the fact that He is God and will still be here (indeed, without His continued help, how would any believers survive until the second advent?). God is by definition omnipresent (see the link: Omnipresence), so that the Spirit as God is so as well.

In our Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #8:  

Could you please take a look at Acts 28:26-28? Now, is the "saying" there a referent back to the Holy Spirit, or to Isaiah? I say the Holy Spirit, since Isaiah is in a prepositional phrase, and verbs don't agree with objects of prepositional phrases. My friend, said that this is an example of an ad sensum. That, in vs. 25, Paul says, "The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the Prophet..." is "spoke" here third person neuter? And is "saying" third person masculine? I say it is the Holy Spirit doing the "saying." A Jehovah's Witness says it refers to Isaiah. He says here:

"The fact is, this is an example of ad sensum. It is not a "change in referents," but a change in case, which is exactly what I have argued for in Acts 28. In this case the subject becomes the object, in Acts 28, Isaiah becomes the subject. That it is Isaiah and not the Holy Spirit in Acts 28 is thus pointed to by the masculine gender of the participle."

The subject becomes the object? Not sure what he means, here. But what do you think? And please look at Hebrews 3:7-11. It plainly says that the Holy Spirit spoke these words. I don't see how anyone can get around it. Is the verb here 3 person masculine, or neuter? In Ps. 95, it is YHWH speaking; here, it seems to me, it is the HS speaking, ergo, the Holy Spirit is YHWH. It seems obvious to us Trinitarians, but Jehovah's Witnesses will move heaven and earth to disprove this.

Response #8: 

I think I see what your friend is saying here, but I would switch things around just a bit. The Holy Spirit is a Person, and as a (masculine) Person He may be referred to with the masculine gender. In Hebrew the word "ruach-spirit" is usually feminine in gender, and often the grammar reflects the referent noun rather than the Person the noun represents (so that the feminine gender is frequently used), while in Greek, the word "pneuma-spirit" is neuter so that the use of the neuter gender is most common. It all depends upon whether the writer (under the influence of the Spirit!) is stressing the word "Spirit" or thinking of the Person behind that description. For example, in 2nd Thessalonians 2:6-7 the Spirit in His capacity of Restrainer is referred to in verse 6 in the neuter gender – but then in the very next verse the exact same participle from katecho is used again with the exception that this time it occurs in the masculine gender (see the link: "The Restraining Ministry of the Holy Spirit"). So indeed there is a sort of ad sensum idea in play (i.e., lining the grammar up with what one has in mind rather than in accordance with strict rules of grammar; cf. 1Jn.1:1, "that which was"), but the "sense" that switches around in the mind of the biblical authors in such cases is the choice of genders, with the neuter (or feminine in Hebrew) being the "default setting" since it agrees grammatically with the Spirit's descriptive title, but with the masculine being available as well on those occasions where it is important for His Person to be emphasized. In the case of Acts 28, it would seem to me that Paul is emphasizing the point that this is God's opinion given through Isaiah rather than merely Isaiah's opinion (since on that particular occasion there seems to have been some fairly "liberal" theologians in his audience, for want of a better word).

As to Hebrews 3:7-11, unlike Hebrew, Greek finite verbs do not identify gender, so the 3/s form would work for any gender here. However, your application of the context in Psalm 95 where we clearly have the LORD speaking so that in Hebrews 3:7 the Holy Spirit must be the LORD is really first rate work! I'll be adding this point to my Theology Basics study.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #9:  

Thanks for your help. So, it is your opinion that the "saying" in Acts 28:26 goes to the Holy Spirit, not to Isaiah? Is there any way to prove this? And glad I could help with the theology. I didn't know I was doing that. Thanks.

Response #9: 

Yes, that's my opinion. I'm not sure about "proof positive" that will satisfy everyone and anyone. I'm not sure that sort of proof really exists, since God puts the knowledge of Himself into the hearts of everyone and also the proof of Himself into entire fabric of His universe – but most still end up denying Him.  Grammatically, the participle should agree with the main verb, which would make the masculine participle "saying" agree with the Spirit in Acts 28:26 since it is nominative and the Spirit is the subject.

Anyway, the best proof I can offer on the over all point is that Paul undisputedly says here that it was "the Holy Spirit" who "said", and that He said it "through Isaiah". Since the Holy Spirit is the One doing the speaking and using Isaiah as the instrument of the speech, then it stands to reason that the participle meaning "saying" agrees with the One already identified to have "said", rather than the one presented as an instrument. In any case, it is very clear from the context that the Spirit is a Person since He speaks. And since what He spoke is the Word of God proceeding directly from Himself (rather than indirectly as in "through" Isaiah), how then can He not be God? As to the attribution of the participle, therefore, while I do think that there is no doubt that it refers to the Spirit even though it is masculine, it really doesn't make much difference. That is because the unquestionable meaning of the context in either case is that God the Spirit inspired the message spoken through Isaiah, a situation which makes both the personality and the divinity of the Spirit hard to dismiss regardless of who is doing the "saying".

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #10:  

Dear Robert

I was blessed so much by your response as to what determines canonicity I will file it and refer to it whenever in doubt of scripture. God is indeed working something through your ministry. If only God could raise many in this ministry.

I understand there now are some Bible versions which omit 1John 5:7, Why? I am also made to understand that the Catholic Jerusalem Bible explains in a footnote that 'this text is not found in any of the early Greek or the best Latin manuscripts of the Bible. It is spurious. It was added, no doubt, to try to support the Trinity.'

What would be your response?

Thank you for ever being so patient.

Rgds

Response #10: 

I certainly appreciate your kind words, and am very pleased to hear that you have found this ministry helpful.

As to 1st John 5:7, I don't have a copy of the Jerusalem Bible so I am guessing here, but I suspect they are referencing the words inserted into some manuscripts of the Vulgate (Latin) version. Coming after the true Greek text of verse seven, "because there are three who bear witness" and "and these three have the same purpose", one finds a late, extra-biblical gloss (or explanation) that has been inserted into some late Latin manuscripts which reads ". . . from heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit . . .". It's pretty clear that these additional words have been added not so much as a way to defend the Trinity, I would say, as much as to explain this passage which some have found confusing. Part of the problem is that precisely because the passage confused some scribes in the early church, the third witness, the Spirit, was left out in verse six in many of the manuscript traditions. Here is perfectly good translation of the verse that accords with the original Greek text:

(6) This is the one who came by water and bloodóJesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. (7) For there are three that testify: (8) the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.
1st John 5:6-8 NIV

Scripture is really very clear on the Trinity, so that there is no need to "pad" the evidence (if that was indeed the motivation of the scribe who placed these additional words in the Latin version). On which please see the following links:

The Trinity (in part 1 of Bible Basics)

The Trinity in Scripture

Questioning the Trinity

The Trinity in Isaiah 63

The One True God and the Trinity in the Old Testament

While we are very probably meant to see a reference to the Trinity here in principle (with "spirit" referring to the Holy Spirit, and with "water" referring to the water of the Word which originates with the Father, and with "blood" referring to Jesus and His sacrifice in verses 6-8), what 1st John 5:6-8 is primarily referring to is the trio of witnesses to the Person (deity and true humanity) and work of Christ, with the Spirit of God, the Word of God, and the sacrifice of Jesus all combining to provide an indisputable array of proof that He is the Messiah and the Savior of the world. These verses also hearken back to John's gospel and Jesus' body on the cross being pierced by the lance so that "water and blood" ran out (Jn.19:34-35). John makes a point in that passage of saying that he was "witness" to it and "his witness is true". So there we have the Spirit witnessing through John (writing scripture to us under His inspiration) about the water (symbolizing Him who is the Word) and the blood (symbolizing the death He died for sin on the cross), and in that place also showing beyond any doubt that 1) Jesus really was human as well as divine (in spite of some later heretical claims to the contrary) and that 2) He did not bleed to death but had the "power to lay down His life" (Jn.10:18) after undergoing spiritual death for our sins in the darkness of the three hours (Matt.27:45) before He "gave up His spirit" (Matt.27:50). So it is that we see John appealing to these believers to recall that their victorious faith is based not on a whim but on the strongest of all possible evidence (i.e., the Spirit within them, the Word of God, and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to which he was personally a witness). This is something that certainly would have resonated with his audience and should also resonate with every believer who knows a little about the scriptures. The sad thing is that for many over many centuries it has instead been a matter of some confusion, a clear indication that the church visible has never been as enthusiastic about the Word as it ought to be.

Yours in the Lamb of God sacrificed for us so that we might have eternal life.

Bob L.

Question #11:  

 What church do you represent? Are you oneness or trinitariun? Do you believe and teach that a believer can lose salvation?

Response #11: 

Dear Friend,

Thank you for your e-mail. The answers to your questions are readily available at Ichthys:

1. Who are you and what church do you represent?

I am a follower of Jesus Christ and, like all believers, part of His Church. I am not a member of any denomination. My CV is available on-line at this link: About the author.

2. Are you oneness or trinitarian?

The scripture teaches that God is one in essence, three in Person. That is what I teach. For the details, see the study, Theology: the Study of God.

3. Do you believe and teach that a believer can lose salvation?

The scripture teaches that those who believe are saved. Since faith can be lost, so can salvation. Please see Peter #27: Three False Doctrines that Threaten Faith.

Please feel free to write me back for any additional clarification you might desire.

In the One who died that we might have eternal life, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill

 

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