1-3. The Deity of the Holy Spirit
New Covenant Christian Proto-Trinitarians are pretty well in complete agreement with classical Trinitarians from the Protestant, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches when it comes to the biblical doctrine of the Father and the Son. Where we differ a little is in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The Protestants and Catholics differ with the Eastern Orthodox Church over the Holy Spirit too (e.g. the 'Filioque Controversy') and we are closer to the Eastern Orthodox in this regard than the Western Churches. Nevertheless there is, in reality, very little difference between us as we all accept the Deity of the Holy Spirit.
To lie to the Holy Spirit is to lie to God (Acts 5:3-4). The linking of the Spirit with the Lord Yahshua (Jesus) and the Father in such places as 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 and 2 Corinthians 13:14 would be near blasphemy if 'He' were not 'Himself' God. The Holy Spirit is also personal. Thus 'He' wills (Acts 13:2; 1 Corinthians 12:11); 'He' understands (Romans 8:27); 'He' may be grieved (Ephesians 4:30). Such terms would be meaningless if applied solely to an impersonal influence or power.
We do not have nearly as much data on the Holy Spirit's personality as we do of Christ, as we would expect of an invisible Being. There are two problems with the classical Trinitarian fomulation on the Holy Spirit:
Classical Trinitarianism acknowledges only that the Holy Spirit is personal and masculine which, in the view of the New Covenant Church of God, is a total misrepresentation of the Bible witness. We therefore consider classical Trinitarianism to be defective in its doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Since the Bible does not give a precise formulation of the Holy Spirit, neither do we. And since the term 'Holy Spirit' is often used interchangeably with both the Father and the Son, it is not possible to arrive at any definite formulation based on the biblical data alone. As the data stands, it is possible to arrive at several conclusions. It is here that further revelation is needed.
- a. The Holy Spirit is described in both Testaments as both personal and impersonal;
- b. The Holy Spirit is exclusively described in neuter terms in the Greek New Testament, in exclusively feminine terms in the Hebrew Old Testament, but as male and neuter terms in our English translations.
Part of the problem we have with the New Testament is that the one used by the Western Churches is a Greek translation of the original Hebrew, a language evolved within a pagan context as opposed to the Hebrew of the Old Testament which was, we believe, the original divine language and which evolved within the context of a divine theocracy (Israel). This means, in our opinion, that Hebrew is more precise and inspired than Greek. Moreover, we have good reason to believe that most, if not all, the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew and subsequently translated into Greek. Therefore in terms of defining the gender of the Holy Spirit, New Covenant Christians are more disposed to the Hebrew Old and New Testament witness of the Bible which overwhelmingly reveals the Holy Spirit to be feminine.
Recent studies of the original Hebrew New Testament, before it was translated into Greek, show conclusively that the Holy Spirit is feminine in both Old and New Testament. James S. Trimm, Hebrew and Aramaic New Testament scholar writes:
Trimm is of the view that whilst the Holy Spirit is 'spiritually female', She is 'sexually neuter'. Our view is that She is both spiritually and sexually female.
One problem that presents itself in translating the New Testament from Hebrew and Aramaic into English is that of the gender of the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit). English is very different from Hebrew and Aramaic. To begin with, English has three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter (i.e. he, she and it). Hebrew and Aramaic have no neuter gender. In Hebrew and Aramaic everything is either a "he" or a "she" and nothing is an "it". Also gender plays a much more important role in Hebrew and in Aramaic than in English. In English gender is usually only an issue when dealing with pronouns. But in Hebrew and Aramaic nouns and verbs are also maculine or feminine. And while there are no true adjectives in Hebrew (nouns are also used as adjectives), noun modifiers must agree in gender with the noun. Now the Hebrew word RUACH (Aramaic RUCHA) is gramatically feminine as is the phrase Ruach haKodesh. This is matched by the rôle of the Ruach haKodesh as "comforter" (Jn.14-16) and the identifier of the "comforter" with YHWH acting as a "mother" (Is.66:13).
Now in English the Ruach is often referred to as "he" or "it" as also in the Greek New Testament. However this seems very odd indeed to the Semitic mind.
Now it is very clear that the gender of the RUACH has been revised in many passages of the Aramaic to agree with the Hellenistic concept of the Holy Spirit as being either a "he" or an "it". Thus the pronouns used for the Ruach haKodesh in Jn.14-16 in the Peshitta are all masculine. However, the hand of revision is very clear. For example while both the Peshitta and Old Syriac have "he" in Jn.16:8 the Old Syriac has "she" just a few verses further down in 16:13 while the Peshitta has "he".
Moreover there are many passages in which the Peshitta itself pairs the Ruach haKodesh with feminine verbs and/or feminine modifiers. Mk.1:10; Jn.1:32-33; 6:63; 7:39; Acts 8:29,39; 16:17; Rom.8:9-11,16,26a,26b; 1 Cor.3:16; 1 Tim.4:1; 1 Pet.1:11; 4:14 and 1 Jn.5:6. In fact the Peshitta Aramaic of Rom.8:16 opens with:
"And she the Ruach gives testimony ..."
(James S. Trimm, Hebraic-Roots Version "New Testament", 2001, SANJ, Hurst, Texas, pp.xxxiii-xxxiv)
New Covenant Christians believe that the Holy Spirit is a female personage and I shall now give other biblical reasons for doing so.
Karen Vaughan, reviewing the book "Sophia in the Biblical Tradition" (Harper and Row; 1986) by Susan Cady, Marian Ronan and Hal Taussig, writes : "Sophia, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Hochmah is the feminine personification of Wisdom in the Pentateuch. She is neither a goddess nor a new age creation of feminist theologians. She was a real biblical person with more material on her in the Old Testament (with Apocrypha) than anyone in the scriptures, except God, Job, Moses and David...
"One reason we little consider Sophia, even in readings of the Old Testament, is that English translations usually translate the feminine "Sophia" into the abstract "Wisdom". Although the Greek and Hebrew words were fully feminine, the English is not. The fullest development of her is in the so-called "Wisdom Books" of the apocryphia in the Greek Pentateuch that were canonized into Christian Scripture and are still used by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Sophia dominates the first nine chapters of Proverbs and is found in both the Old and New Testaments.
"In the Hebrew tradition, Sophia was considered to have been with God from the beginning of Creation. In Proverbs 8:27-51, Sophia says:
"Sophia, in the biblical creation was not a god, but was a divine being. It is not clear that she was uncreated like Jesus: the word used to refer to her creation also means "acquired" by God. Proverbs 8:22 - "God created me [acquired me] (Sophia) when God's purpose first unfolded." Ecclesiasticus 1:14 - "before all things, Sophia was created." She serves at the heart of the creative process, as Wisdom and as Teacher who was sent by God to save humanity. The book of Wisdom speaks to her divinity (7:25-26):
When God [Yahweh] set the heavens in place, I was present,
When God drew a ring on the surface of the deep,
When God fixed the clouds above,
When God fixed fast the wells of the deep,
when God assigned the sea its limits-
and the waters will not invade the land,
when God established the foundations of the earth,
I was by God's side, a master craftswoman,
delighting God day after day,
ever at play by God's side,
at play everywhere in God's domain,
delighting to be with the children of humanity.
Let me summarise what the Bible teaches about Sophia:
She is the breath of God's power and a stream of pure glory of the Almighty.
This is why nothing polluted enters her.
For she mirrors God's energy completely, and she images God's goodness."
Do we have any indications in the Bible of a similar creation process? We do. If we look at the story of Eve's creation from Adam we find a remarkable parallel. Eve was created out of Adam in the same way that Sophia was created out of Yahweh. Eve was created to be a helpmeet and co-ruler with Adam in the same way as Sophia was created by Yahweh from Himself to be a helpmeet and co-creator. We may therefore say that in the same way as Eve is the mother of the human race, that Sophia is the mother of Creation as a Heavenly Mother along with Yahweh our Heavenly Father.
- (a) She is a created Being;
- (b) She is Divine
So I repeat: the creation of Eve from Adam as a helpmeet and companion is a simulitude of the creation of Sophia (or Hochmah) from Yahweh for similar reasons.
Are New Covenant Christians feminists or New Age? Abolutely not. We are merely acknowledging what the Bible teaches. We absolutely reject feminism and New Age paganism. The purpose of feminism is antithetical to biblical Christianity and the New Age worships a female deity in place of the Father - and whilst they assert this is "Sophia" it is, in fact, a demon which goes under many names (e.g. "Maia"). We must also remember that in contradistintion to Yahshua haMashiach (Jesus Christ), who was uncreated and has always been God, Sophia is a special creation.
Our assertion that the Godhead contains Female Deity does not undermine Patriarchy - it does, however, undermine gentile patriarchy which has virtually excluded the female altogether, except in the apostate Catholic Church where they have blasphemously elevated a mortal human being, the Virgin Mary, as the "Mother of God", many even claiming she is "co-redemptrix", or co-saviour with Christ. We affirm the biblical doctrine most strongly, namely, that there is only one Saviour, Yahshua (Jesus). Thus Helenic (Greek-inspired) Christianity has removed the Divine Female from the original faith of the Hebrews.
What does this mean for us as Christians? It means a deep respect for the feminine as must of necessity be as we consider the subject further.
The ancient Hebrews knew of Sophia as SHEKINAH which literally means, "the Divine Presence". She was also known by the Israelites as the "Sabbath Queen". Her name comes from the Hebrew word shakhan which means "to dwell".
The Godhead consists of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit being the Shekinah or the Heavenly Mother. That the Holy Spirit, also known as Wisdom, is female is shown by the plethora of scriptures on her.
It is through the Holy Spirit that God the Father communicates to us invisibly. Without Her we would have no access. However, she is not to be worshipped because she is not the head - Yahweh is the Head. Moreover, in terms of authority, she lies in Third place after Christ who, though He is her "son" by the flesh through the Virgin Mary, is not her Son by the Spirit, for Christ is uncreated. Yahshua commanded us in the Lord's Prayer to only pray to the Father and did not include the Mother who, inspite of Her high position, is a Created Being. Neveretheless She is honoured and regarded so highly that Yahshua said that anyone who blasphemed Him could be forgiven but the sin against the Holy Spirit was unforgivable.
Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gates leading into the city, at the entrances, she cries aloud: "To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding. Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. To the discerning all of them are right; they are faultless to those who have knowledge (Proverbs 8: 1-9).
What kind of a Being is the Shekinah?
If Shekinah is the personification of Wisdom then it is quite possible that someone else is the personification of Prudence with whom She "dwells". But that is another story altogether!
"I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power." (Proverbs 8: 12-14)
The phrase, "fear of the Lord," which we often find in the Scriptures, does not mean fright or terror. It means a good relationship with God based upon reverence and respect. In the passage above the fear of the Lord refers to righteous living. If we listen to the counsel of the Inner Voice that seeks to guide us, we hear the Father's Living Word of Truth and learn to live in accordance with His plan.
So we see that the Holy Spirit identifies Herself in Scripture as "Wisdom." When we listen to the Voice of Wisdom,
We have already seen how the Holy Spirit identifies Herself as Wisdom, but do the scriptures identify Wisdom with the Holy Spirit? They do:
- We make wise and prudent decisions.
- We possess knowledge and act discreetly.
- We release false pride and arrogance which leads to error.
- When we heed Her counsel, we gain understanding and power because we gain access to Yahshua. Then we shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make us free.
"I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity. My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, bestowing wealth on those who love me and making their treasuries full". (Proverbs 8: 17-21)
Who was with Yahweh before the world began?
"The LORD [Yahweh] brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began. When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water; before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before he made the earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world. I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth. Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind." (Proverbs 8: 22-31)
We learn further that the Holy Spirit is a divine teacher or instructor which I can see might upset some men with darkened minds who, through misreading the scriptures, do not even allow their women to open their mouths in Church:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." (Genesis 1: 1-2)
"Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness..." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1: 26-27)
"By wisdom the LORD laid the earth's foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place." (Proverbs 3:19)
Prior to the birth of Christ the Shekinah/Holy Spirit was the divine intercessor with the Father. The Scriptures also make plain in the light of the above that women have leadership rôles in the Church of God. In saying this, though, I am not advocating identical leadership rôles but parallel ones.
"But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding" (Job 32:8).
"She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue" (Proverbs 31:26).
"Now then, my sons, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death" (Proverbs 8: 32-36).
"For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul" (Proverbs 2:10).
"Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding" (Proverbs 4: 5-7).
This is important and if we don't strictly adhere to it we will end up as the feminists in the liberal churches whose work has been so destructive of true patriarchy leading to serious compromises with homosexuality and lesbianism (amongst other blasphemies). Accordingly there are different priesthood orders for men and women in the true Church of God.
Yet us first see the characteristics of the Holy Spirit's leadership rôle in the Godhead for this will give us some idea of true women's priesthood rôles here in the earthly Church. The following summary is courtesy of Evan Randolph:
1. WISDOM IS VERY POWERFUL -
- "for she is the breath of the power of God" - Septuagint, Wisdom VII; 25
- "For God loveth none but him that dwelleth with wisdom" - Septuagint, Wisdom VII: 28
- "wisdom reacheth from one end to another, mightily; and sweetly doth she order all things." - Septuagint, Wisdom VIII: 1
- "The Lord of all things himself loved her. For she is privy to the mysteries of the knowledge of God, and a lover of his works." - Septuagint, Wisdom VIII: 2
2. WISDOM WAS INVOLVED IN CREATION-
- "God by wisdom founded the earth" - Septuagint, Proverbs III:19
- "And wisdom was with thee: which knoweth thy works, and was present when thou madest the world" - Septuagint, Wisdom IX : 9
- "And God said, Let us make man according to our image (plural) and likeness.. .And God made man, according to the image of God, he made him, male and female he made them." - Septuagint, Genesis I: 25, 27
3. WISDOM PROVIDES SALVATION-
- "For so the ways of them which lived on the earth were reformed, and men were taught the things that are pleasing unto thee, and were saved through wisdom." - Septuagint, Wisdom lX:18
4. WISDOM PROVIDES SANCTIFICATION-
- "and in all the ages entering into men's souls, she maketh them friends of God, and prophets." - Septuagint, Wisdom VII: 27
5. WISDOM PROVIDES RECREATION -
- "she maketh all things new" - Septuagint, Wisdom VII: 27
6. WISDOM PROVIDES ETERNAL LIFE-
- "moreover by means of her I shall obtain immortality"- Septuagint, Wisdom VIII :13
- "how that to be allied unto wisdom is immortality" - Septuagint, Wisdom VIII :17
7. WISDOM PROVIDES FULFILLMENT-
- "honour Wisdom, that ye may reign for evermore" - Septuagint, Wisdom VI: 21
- "All good things together came to me with her, and innumerable riches in her hands. And I rejoiced in them all, because Wisdom goeth before them: and I knew not that she was the mother of them." - Septuagint, Wisdom VII: 11 - 12
- "If riches be a possession to be desired in this life; what is richer than wisdom, that worketh all things?" - Septuagint, Wisdom VIII: 5
- "and in the works of her hands are infinite riches"- Septuagint, wisdom VIII: 18
- "They that serve her shall minister to the Holy One: and them that love her the Lord doth love---and he that attendeth unto her shall dwell securely" - Septuagint, Eccles. IV:14-15
- "Behold with your eyes, how that I have had but little labour, and have gotten unto me much rest. Get learning with a great sum of money, and get much gold by her." - Septuagint, Eccles. LI : 27
8. WISDOM PROVIDES PROTECTION-
- "But wisdom delivered from pain those that attended upon her." - Septuagint, Wisdom X : 9
- "She defended him from his enemies, and kept him safe from those that lay in wait." - Septuagint, Wisdom X :12 (Wisdom during Exodus)
- "Guided them in a marvelous way, and was unto them for a cover by day, and a light of stars in the night season; brought them through the Red sea, and led them through much water: but she drowned their enemies, and cast them up out of the bottom of the deep." - Septuagint, Wisdom X: 17-19
9. WE SHOULD SING THE PRAISES OF WISDOM -
- "And refrain not to speak, when there is occasion to do good, and hide not thy wisdom in her beauty. For by speech wisdom shall be known" - Septuagint, Eccles. IV : 23 - 24
- "I learned diligently, and do communicate her liberally: I do not hide her riches. For she is a treasure unto men that never faileth." - Septuagint, Wisdom VII: 12 - 14
10. WISDOM - HOLY SPIRIT GAVE JESUS POWER:
- "The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and power,a spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord" - NEB, Isaiah xi. 1,2
(ref Yahshua/Jesus) "he is the power of God and the wisdom of God." -NEB, 1 Corinthians 1.24
- "You are in Christ Jesus by God's act, for God has made him our wisdom..." -NEB, 1 Corinthians 1. 30
11. YAHSHUA (JESUS) SAID THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL TEACH US:
- "... your advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will call to mind all that I have told you..." -NEB, John xiv. 26
- "..you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you..." -NEB, Acts of Apostles i. 8
12. DO NOT SPEAK AGAINST THE SPIRIT:
- "Any man who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but if anyone speaks against the Holy Spirit, for him there is no forgiveness, either in this age or in the age to come." -NEB, Matthew xii.32
- "For into a malicious soul wisdom shall not enter: nor dwell in the body that is subject unto sin. For the holy spirit of discipline will flee deceit,.... For wisdom is a loving spirit; and will not acquit a blasphemer of his words: ... For the Spirit of the Lord filleth the world: ..." - Septuagint, Wisdom I : 4-7
13. WISDOM IS NOT FOR ALL-
- "She is with all flesh according to his gift, and he hath given her to them that love him." - Septuagint, Eccles. 1:10
- "She is very unpleasant to the unlearned: he that is without understanding will not remain with her. She will lie upon him as a mighty stone of trial; and he will cast her from him ere it be long. For wisdom is according to her name, and she is not manifest unto many." - Septuagint, Eccles. VI: 20 - 22
- "But foolish men shall not attain her, and sinners shall not see her. For she is far from pride, and men that are liars cannot remember her." - Septuagint, Eccles. XV : 7
I wish to point out here that the apocryphal book, The Wisdom of Solomon, is one of the secondary canonical books we use. Our basis for acceptance is multifold but one of them is the fact that the writers of the early Church used to quote it as being of equal authority with the Old Testament. One such writer was Origen. It is so similar in content to the Book of Proverbs that it is likely both books had the same author, traditionally believed to be Solomon.
There is one other factor in the equation of the Holy Spirit that we must not forget. We have already seen that God is both one and three. The unity of the Holy Spirit is also stressed throughout the Bible. However, we are also told that the Holy Spirit is SEVEN, something that the formulators of the classical Trinitarian doctrine entirely missed:
"And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth" (Rev.5:6, KJV).
"And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God" (Rev.4:5, KJV).
"And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead" (Rev.3:1, KJV).
"John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne" (Rev.1:4, KJV).
Most commentators have tried to explain these passages away by saying that the Spirit of God is seven-fold without explaining exactly what that means. And whilst that is certainly one sense of the meaning, there can be no doubt that we are dealing - as in the Godhead sense generally - both seven influences as well as seven Personages.
What this means is that the Holy Spirit is Seven-in-One just as the Godhead is Three-in-One.
If these things are true, then clearly the classical formulation of the Trinity is inadequate in defining the Holy Spirit. This leads us to another area of difficulty, namely, the question of Subordinationism.
This page was created on 17 July 1999
Last updated on 8 October 2002
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