It is common for Christians to assume that the Holy Spirit is confined to the pages of the New Testament. While it’s true that the Holy Spirit appears often in the life of Yeshua and the early Jesus movement, Israel’s Scriptures also mention the Holy Spirit explicitly, and the apostolic writers reaffirm the Spirit’s presence among the ancient Israelites. According to the biblical narrative, the Holy Spirit is the very presence of God among the people, and the Spirit speaks in order to impart divine messages to Israel.

New Testament readers are aware of the Spirit’s more conspicuous appearances at Jesus’ baptism (cf. Matt 3:16; Mk 1:10; Lk 3:22; Jn 1:32-33) or as tongues of fire at Pentecost (see Acts 2:1-4). Yet, the Holy Spirit (רוח הקדשׁ; ruach ha’qodesh) had been working among God’s people long before the Messiah’s arrival. In fact, the Spirit’s interaction with Israel goes all the way back to the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt. Isaiah recalls that God “put his Holy Spirit (רוח קדשׁו; ruach qadsho) in the midst of them… dividing the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name” (Isa 63:12-13). The Psalms also refer to the Holy Spirit as another way of speaking about God’s presence among humanity. The psalmist asks, “Create a clean heart in me, God; renew a true spirit within me. Do not cast me from before your face (מלפניך; milphanekha), and do not take your Holy Spirit (רוח קדשׁך; ruach qadshekha) from me” (Ps 51:10-11). In the poetry of the Psalms, the reference to God’s face parallels the Holy Spirit, which shows that the psalmist understood the Spirit as the equivalent of God’s very self. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is the concrete presence of the Lord in the historic experience of Israel.

The New Testament reaffirms the relational work of God’s Spirit in Israel’s history. For instance, the writer of Hebrews quotes God’s words in Jeremiah and attributes them to the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Spirit (τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον; tò pneuma tò hágion) also bears witness to us… saying, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord (λέγει κύριος; légei Kúrios): I will put my laws in their hearts, and write them on their minds’” (Heb 10:15-16; cf. Jer 31:33). Although the “Holy Spirit” (רוח הקדשׁ; ruach ha’qodesh) does not feature in the original Hebrew text of Jeremiah, the Greek epistle to the Hebrews affirms that the Spirit promised a new covenant long before the emergence of the New Testament.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Many times I have wondered about the Holy Spirit. There are scriptures which show that Holy Spirit was active with the prophets and Moses also
  2. Is this Holy Spirit a person, a third member of the GodHead and co-equal as taught by Trinitarians or it is just the Power and Presence of the Most High God and of Christ Jesus?
    • The "Trinity" is a philosophical attempt by later Christians to understand God's complex unity. Trinitas, a Latin term, doesn't appear in the Hebrew or Greek of the Bible, and some of the concept's presuppositions and strict assertions are influenced more by Neoplatonic philosophy than by Jewish theology. However, the basic tenets of Trinitarianism do a fair job of expressing the presentation of divine ontology in Scripture. For more, see https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/did-the-apostles-believe-in-the-trinity/
  3. Thank you for this. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit, and indeed, He was the very presence of God among the people.
  4. Dr.Nicholas, thanks very much for the good job. I have a question... If the Holy Spirit existed before the New Testament, what about Tongue speaking, did Tongues also exist before the New Testament or came as something new on the day of Pentecost?
    • Thanks for your question, Kuete. There's no exact parallel between NT tongue speaking and the Spirit's impact in Israel's Scriptures. However, the Spirit does bring on moments of ecstatic behavior and prophetic speech (e.g., Num 11:17-29; 1 Sam 10:6-13; 19:20-23; 2 Sam 23:2). The Pentecost event was a specific case in which the Spirit was reversing the fracturing of languages that occurred at Babel (see Gen 11:1-9); languages are confused at Babel, and then every person at Pentecost understands the apostles in their own language through the Spirit.
  5. We first encounter the Holy Spirit in the second verse of Genesis, as she broods over the waters. Thus she is given prominence as the major force in creation.
  6. I have never really thought of the Holy Spirit as male or female. Only spirit. Now you mention Her as female? Why so? I probably think the Holy Spirit was male because it make more sense because you needed a he to make a her (Mary) pregnant.God is consistent.
  7. Thank you for this. I am as Christian since I was born 54 years ago. According to my experience, I never experience the the power of Holly spirit. But I keep going to be a Christian. Is the Holy spirit still exist? I any way to fulfill the Holy spirit?
  8. In 2 Timothy 3:16 it tells, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God; and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." In Genesis the very first verse, God the Creator is introduced in His oneness. But in the second verse, He introduced His Spirit persona. "The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters". God began forming the earth that was without form, from the darkness and void in the deep face of the earth in collaboration with His Holy Spirit. John 4:24 says, "God is Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." Amen. In Zechariah 4:6 it declares, "...Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." Later the first Adam was created to introduce the Last Adam later of His perfect plan that fell, but He is the Almighty who went before all the creation and outdid the devil of destruction in tempering with the first Adam. This is his manly side that identified with his creation that He made in His image, Jesus the Christ, who came from heaven to dwell with man and be the sinless sacrifice to redeem His own (the chosen and elect) to His very own (the Triune God). This is the perfect man returning to the perfect through His grace and wisdom in Christ Jesus amen.

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