Truth, Understanding, Insight


9th August 2009, mgh


1) 'Spirit' in Old and New Testaments

From Strong's definitions, it appears that the Hebrew 'ruach' and Greek 'pneuma' have similar meanings.

Hebrew 7307 ruach roo'-akh from 7306; wind; by resemblance breath, i.e. a sensible (or even violent) exhalation; figuratively, life, anger, unsubstantiality; by extension, a region of the sky; by resemblance spirit, but only of a rational being (including its expression and functions):-air, anger, blast, breath, X cool, courage, mind, X quarter, X side, spirit((-ual)), tempest, X vain, ((whirl-))wind(-y)
Greek 4151 pneuma pnyoo'-mah from 4154; a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively, a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., --ghost, life, spirit(-ual, -ually), mind.

But just as the modern world has passed from an agrarian world to an industrial and scientific world and then to a technological age, the ancient world also underwent significant changes.

The first century CE had been shaped by the forces of Greek and Roman thought and practices as those empires expanded across the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern world. Philosophy, science, mathematics and various forms of government were shaping a new age. The monotheistic religion of the Jews was challenged by the paganism of the Greeks and Romans.

The Greek language itself was to present challenges to the definition of many of the fundamental concepts and beliefs of Judaism and monotheism.

'Spirit' of Greek, not 'Spirit' of Hebrew

As the New Testament was in Greek the word 'spirit' had the connotation of substance or energy of life existing in all visible things. The Hebrew word 'ruach' only applied to human and animal life, and wind. The Greek 'pneuma' after the third century BC and the influence of the Stoics, could refer to what we recognise as atoms in everything including inanimate objects. The Greeks would apply this word as a force or energy that determines the characteristics for all matter.

For the Jews in New Testament times, they had to differentiate a way by which this 'pneuma' only referred to life from God, the breath of life. For this reason in the New Testament, the spirit pneuma, had to be further defined. Whereas the Greeks pondered the nature of fire and substances such as rock, and what made silver different to gold, the Hebrews had a more pragmatic approach to substances and just used them.

The word translated as just 'spirit' (pneuma) in the New Testament was usually defined clearly unless the context made its application obvious.

The following are a few examples that give an indication of the use of 'pneuma' in the New Testament. The whole verse is not quoted but the location is given.

“spirit of the world” (1 Corinthians 2:12); “spirit of your father” (Matthew 10: 20); “spirit of the Lord” (Luke 4: 18); “spirit of an unclean devil” (Luke 4: 33); “spirit of infirmity” (Luke 13: 11); “spirit of truth”, ie. Comforter (John 5: 26); “spirit of divination” (Acts 16: 16); “spirit of holiness” (Romans 1: 4); “spirit of bondage” (Romans 8: 15); “spirit of slumber” (Romans 11: 8); “dumb spirit” (Mark 19: 17); “unclean spirit” (Matthew 10: 1, Mark 1: 23, Mark 3:11, Mark 6: 7, Luke 4: 36); “evil spirit” (Acts 9: 16, Luke 7: 21, 8: 32, 9: 39); “spirit of Christ” (Romans 8: 9, Philippians 1: 19), “spirit of God” (Matthew 3: 16, Romans 8: 14); “eternal spirit” (Hebrews 9: 14).

These are but a very few examples. They demonstrate that 'pneuma' was a broad term and was qualified in most cases by a descriptive word, that gave information related to people. It can refer to people afflicted with mental or physical illness and the intellectual and emotional state of a person. Paul uses 'spirit' meaning 'Godly' as opposed to 'flesh' (human). It cannot be said that the word 'spirit' (pneuma) in the New Testament refers to aspects of Yahweh's power specifically.

Pneuma referred to anything where there was visible evidence of an effect without a cause being seen.

Diagram of relationship between Hebrew and Greek word for 'spirit'

Holy Spirit in the New Testament

English translations of the Old Testament have the term 'holy spirit' in only 2 passages, with only 3 occurrences. Why is it so little in evidence when it is used often in the New Testament?

One reason is that, as the Greek term for 'spirit' was so wide in meaning, 'holy' was added as clarification. Another answer is quite surprising and reveals that the precise term 'the holy spirit' is used somewhat less than the translators show. When it was used, it had a specific application. In addition, the 2 passages of the Old Testament translated 'holy spirit', in the Greek Septuagint translation, have deep resonances with the way the Greek text of the New Testament was written.

Before we turn to the investigation of holy spirit in the New Testament. We should understand the use of 'holy'.

2) Holy in New and Old Testaments

The word 'holy' is a word that we sense what it means rather than concretely know. We would associate 'holy' with things set apart from ordinary living and associated with Deity. But a study of the use of the word in the Bible shows the word 'holy' is most often not about things.

'Holy' in both Greek and Hebrew are similar in meaning from Strong's.

Hebrew: 6944 qodesh ko'-desh from 6942; a sacred place or thing; rarely abstract, sanctity:--consecrated (thing), dedicated (thing), hallowed (thing), holiness, (X most) holy (X day, portion, thing), saint, sanctuary.
Greek: 40 hagios hag'-ee-os from hagos (an awful thing); sacred (physically, pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially, consecrated):--(most) holy (one, thing), saint.

The differences are subtle but significant. The Hebrew qodesh relates first to the dwelling place, and therefore the visible presence of Deity, whereas the Greek word hagios is about an 'awesome' thing, or an object.

Holy in the Old Testament

The first use of the word 'holy' is to describe the ground Moses is standing on (Exodus 3:5), as at that place and time Yahweh Elohim's presence was on earth in the fire. The second occurrence is to describe the gathering of the Sabbath (Exodus 12:6). The third reference is Israel being guided to the holy habitation of Yahweh (Exodus 15:13). At this time there was neither tabernacle or temple, therefore it spoke of his presence among them (Deuteronomy 23:16). These are typical. The majority of references in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy refer to the tabernacle where Yahweh dwelled, specific items associated with it and the gatherings where the people present themselves to Yahweh. Anything described as 'holy' belonged directly to Yahweh and was associated with his visible presence.

There is one aspect the translators of the English versions have not emphasised. The Hebrew writers, despite having a word for 'things' and 'place', did not write 'holy things' or 'holy place' but 'the holies' ha -kodeshim (הקדשׁים) and 'the holy' ha- kodesh (הקדשׁ) . The most holy was not called 'most holy' but kodesh ha-kodeshim (קדשׁ הקדשׁים), literally 'holy the-holies'. The emphasis is not on the place or the things, but the presence of Deity. This Hebrew thinking becomes even more evident in Isaiah, as Isaiah calls the name of the God of Israel, 'holy'.

Thus says the high and lofty his dwelling eternity and his name holy
elevated and holy his dwelling even among those of contrite and humble spirit to revive the spirit of the humble and revive the heart of the contrite. (Isaiah 57:15)

Isaiah writes also and uses the same word for 'holy' as above,

Cry out and shout, dwellers in Zion; for great in the midst is holy of Israel (Isaiah 12:6)

Isaiah does not write 'holy one' but 'holy'. The expression is used by the prophets to describe Yahweh dwelling with his people (Hosea 11:9, Ezekiel 39:7, Jeremiah 50:29, Isaiah 60: 14 also Job 6:10).

By contrast, when something or some place is described as 'holy', in Hebrew the word 'holy' as an adjective is placed after the thing or place. For example Moses stands on 'ground holy' (Exodus 3:5). Israelites were not to eat animals found dead in the field as they were 'men holy' (Exodus 22:31). Jerusalem was 'mountain holy' (Psalm 2:6, 3:4, 15:1). But Jerusalem was called the 'city the-holy' (Nehemiah 11:1,18, Isaiah 48:2 52:1, 62:12) and also 'mountain the-holy' (Zechariah 8:3). The addition of the word 'the' to 'holy' indicates that the Hebrews in describing Jerusalem were not describing a characteristic, that it was holy, but rather its ownership, that it belonged to 'the-Holy' (one). But the Hebrew text has no capital letters and does not differentiate in describing something as 'holy' or describing Yahweh himself.

Holy Spirit in the Septuagint

The term 'Holy Spirit' occurs in 2 passages in the English translation of the Old Testament: Psalm 51 and Isaiah 63.

A literal translation from Hebrew of Psalm 51:11 reads 'and-spirit holy-yours not take out-of me'. In Isaiah 63:10&11 'his holy spirit' literally reads '(even /namely) spirit holy-his' .

But remarkably when the Hebrew was translated directly to Greek in the Septuagint version, the Greek in all 3 verses above is 'to pnema to hagion', (τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιόν) a peculiar phrase, which, if literally translated into English is 'the spirit the holy'. Isaiah 63:11 reads word for word in Greek that Yahweh gives 'out-of himself the spirit the holy'.

The Hebrews who translated these verses into Greek knew something about what was intended by the word 'holy'. In Isaiah 63 the word underlined above is not translated into English as there is no equivalent in English. It could be described in long hand as 'the self of', or 'the entity of', 'even the' or 'namely'. The word occurs 2 times in Genesis 1:1 and is not translated. It literally reads “Firstly create God even/namely the heaven and even/ namely the earth”. In this case 'the heaven' and 'the earth' are proper names. That the translators into Greek chose to put a definite article in front of 'holy' and write 'the holy', indicates that 'the holy' was being used as a proper noun, or a name.

This is consistent as the Hebrew word 'holy', due to context, often is translated as 'Holy One' and Isaiah's declaration about “the high and lofty”, that his name is “holy” (Isaiah 57:15).

From the context, The Psalmist and Isaiah were not speaking of the general spirit that sustained life and controlled the winds, but of the mind and mental attitude of 'the Holy'. Though it is a poor analogy, we breathe without thinking and this is spirit, yet when we consciously think the outworking is the spirit of our character. In these passages they are speaking of the spirit, the consciousness and mind of Yahweh.

Holy in the New Testament

In Greek the word 'holy' is less linked to Yahweh the God of Israel than the Hebrew word was. In the Greek world of the apostles era, with its multiplicity of gods and heroes, many things were set apart, or revered, or seen as 'holy'.

This study leaves pre-conceptions and examines what is actually written. After an exhaustive study of all occurrences of the word 'holy' in the New Testament, in the ancient Greek language 'holy' seems to be more used as a description, or an adjective, than in Hebrew. We must be wary as in the years since the apostles the pagan Greek culture has had great influence on our culture. Even today people are happy to speak of a lot of things, totally unconnected with God, as being 'sacred' or 'holy', such as items related to sport or a nation's history.

We have cultural ideas that we have acquired which might not be right. It may be that what we think is correct might not be how it really is. It was found there was information lost in translation.

Making it a bit more holy

The temptation to slot in an extra adjective of 'holy' where it fitted was not resisted by the translators of the KJV and CEV, as 'holy' appears in Matthew 12:31, but the word is in no Greek text.

This tendency to add the word 'holy' was not resisted by the scribes of the 4th century Greek text (later taken up by Textus Receptus and Majority text). 'Holy' is not a word that an otherwise careful scribe would leave out. Therefore, if minority manuscripts with few scribe errors seem to have left out 'holy', it indicates that the scribes of the dominant Majority Text may have added the word where they felt, just as the KJV and CEV translators did. Remembering also that by the 4th Century there were schisms and the dominant Christianity was considered by many commentators of the era to be lax.

Comparing Nestle and the Diaglot Greek texts and using the Open Scriptures 'Manuscript Comparator' (, it was found that the Majority Texts added 'holy' before the word 'angels' in Matthew 25:31, before 'brethren' in 1Thessalonians 5:27, and before 'prophets' in Revelation 22:6. The Majority Text added 'holy' before God in 2 Peter 1:21. They also added 'holy' before the word 'spirit' in Acts6:3, Acts 8:18 and 1 John 5:8 and after 'spirit' in 1Corinthians2:13.

That the scribes of the Majority Text added 'holy' as an adjective before the subject, rather than after it, tells us they were making it a bit more 'holy' as this word order occurs rather less than we may have thought.

Often in the Greek text the word 'holy' is after the thing or place which it describes. The examples are:

'covenant holy' (Luke 1:72), 'Father holy' (John 17:11), 'writings holy' (Romans 1:2), 'place holy' (Matthew 24:15), 'temple holy' (Ephesians 2:21), 'ground holy' (Acts 7:31), 'brethren holy' (Hebrews3:1), 'kiss holy' (Romans 16:16, 1 Cor. 16:20, 1 Thess. 5:26), 'calling holy' (2 Tim 1:9 ), 'nation holy' (1 peter 2:9), 'priesthood holy' (1 Peter 2:5), 'sacrifice living holy' (Romans 12:1) and 'Temple of-the God holy' (1 Cor. 3:17). Paul writes 'So that the indeed law holy, and the commandment holy' (Romans 7:12) also 'if also the first-fruit holy and the lump and if the root holy also the branch' (Romans 11:16).

This word order seems the way to describe a thing as holy.

By contrast certain things merit a different word order where 'holy' is placed first. The examples are fewer in number and are:

'the holy city' (Matthew 4:5, 27:53), 'the holy servant' (Acts 4:27, 30), 'the holy apostles' (Eph 3:5) 'the holy women' (1Peter 3:5), 'the holy mount' (2 Peter 1:18) 'itself holy commandment' (2Peter2:21) 'the holy prophets' (2 Peter 3:2), 'in holy conversation' (2Peter3:11) and 'the holy place this' (Acts 21:28).

It is to be noted this is less frequent in usage and most often 'the', or 'self', the definite article precedes it. The Greek definite article 'the' also means 'he', 'she', 'it' and implies an entity of a character. A sole exception is Paul's greet with a 'holy kiss' (2 Cor 13:12) which varies from his three other letters, including 1 Corinthians, which say greet with a 'kiss holy'.

The word order is significant. Holy in such examples as 'nation holy' is a description, whereas 'holy apostles' is more a title, with 'holy' becoming part of the name. We will return to this point.

'The Holy'

In the Old Testament the word 'holy' in some contexts meant 'Holy One', being a title for the God of Israel. This seems to be reflected in the New Testament, where the definite article 'the' precedes 'holy'. The Greek 'the' is a bit like the Hebrew eth 'even/namely' which has no equivalent in English. The word we see as 'the' in an English translation in Greek means also 'this, that, one, he, she, it', with the context determining whether it means 'the', 'he', 'she' or 'it'. The Greek word 'the' describes an entity, either a person or a thing.

For example (word for word) Jesus said, “don't give 'the holy' to the dogs” (Matthew7:6), Stephen was accused of “speaking against the place 'the holy' and the law (Acts 6:13). Peter says to the leaders “You 'the holy' and righteous denied” (Acts 3:14). Also “spoke through mouth 'of-the holy' from the age of the prophets” (Luke 1:69, Acts 3:21), A man cried out “I know you who (you) are, 'the holy' of the God” (Mark 1:24, Luke 4:34). John writes “And you an anointing have from 'the holy', and you know all-things” (1John 2:20) and “be glad over her, heaven and 'the holy' and the apostles and the prophets” (Revelation 18:20). Paul speaks of “the intent 'the holy' and unblamable” (Eph 5:27), of Jesus (Yeshua) “but through his own blood entered once for all into 'the holy'” (Hebrews9:12) and he “entered in by 'the holy'” (Hebrews 9:25).

The apostles used a different word for 'holy', meaning 'sacred/ righteous' when they quoted, “thou will not give 'the righteous' of you to see corruption” (Acts 2:27,13:35). These all match the Old Testament usage, where the 'holy' spoke of the dwelling of Yahweh himself, the temple and items belonging to Yahweh. The 'holy' also seems a name of the God of Israel. Paul speaks of the spirit promised by 'the holy' (Eph 1:13), and Mary stated it in praise,

'because did to me great things the Mighty. And holy the name of-him' (Luke 1:49)

The use of 'the holy' results in a few expressions that sound odd when translated word for word from Greek into English. Whereas Matthew speaks of Jerusalem being 'the holy city' (Mat. 4:5 15:23), John speaks of new Jerusalem as 'the city the holy' (Revelation 11:2, 21:2,10 and 22:19). John is using a Hebrew concept. 'The city the holy' corresponds to a group of people, called 'the holy' or belonging to the Holy One.

Of the 160 occurrences of the word 'holy' in the New Testament 84 relate to the spirit. Before we understand the way holy and spirit are used, we should understand how the Greek expression varies for 'holy angels'.

The holy angels, angels holy, the angels of the Holy

When the English translation has 'holy angels', the Greek reads the same,

When he comes in the glory of himself, and of the father, and of the holy angels' (luke 9:26)

Notice the definite article 'the' is used. But in Acts where the translations have 'holy angel' the Greek text, word for word reads,

Cornelius a man just and fearing the God, being testified of ..was warned by a-angel holy (Acts 10:22).

The angel is described as 'holy' or 'awesome'. Also in Revelation,

by fire and suphur before angels holy and before the lamb. (Rev 14:10)

But where it has 'Holy angels' in English, Mark wrote the phrase 'the angels the holy' ton aggelon ton hagion (των αγγελων των αγιων)

when he comes in the glory of the father of him with 'the angels the holy'(Mark 8:38)

The English translations conceal the variations in the three expressions: angels holy, the holy angels and the angels the Holy. The last quote speaks of the angels belonging to 'the Holy'. The Greek text differentiates between those titled 'the holy angels', angels who are 'awesome', and the angels belonging to Yahweh, where the English translations do not.

3) Holy Spirit in the New Testament

In English translations where the text reads 'holy spirit', (which occurs 84 times) there are no less than 8 different Greek phrases.

When literally translated they are,

1.'a-spirit holy' (pneuma hagion πνευμα αγιον)

2.'with-spirit holy' (pneuma hagio πνευματι αγιω)

3.'of-spirit holy' (pneumatos hagios πνευματος αγιου

4.'the spirit the holy' (to pneuma to hagion, το πνευμα το αγιον).

5.'to-the spirit to-the holy' (to pneuma to hagio τω πνευματι τω αγιω)

6.'of-the spirit of-the holy' (tou pneumatos tou hagiou του πνευματος του αγιου).

7.'the holy spirit' (to hagios pneuma τὸ αγιον πνεῦμα)

8.'of-the holy spirit (ton hagios pneuma του αγιου πνευματος)

Though clearly some of the difference is due to grammar, there are three basic expressions: spirit holy, the spirit the holy, the holy spirit.

Why were these three variations lost in the English translation? It is suspected it was because the translators had a theory about “the Holy Spirit”. They ignored the subtleties of meaning of 'spirit', ranging from 'mind' to 'breath', and applied their theory to all cases.

The following reveals the significant differences that were concealed by those who applied what turns out to be a very poor theory.

Spirit Holy

1. 'A-spirit holy' (pneuma hagion πνευμα αγιον)

Perhaps the simplest expression is 'a-spirit holy' with 9 occurrences in 8 verses. This is a spirit that is described by its character as holy, hallowed and separate. The examples are:

Mary was told “'a-spirit holy' would come upon her” (Luke 1:35). God would “give 'a-spirit holy' to those asking him” (Luke 11:13). “Not yet was (given) 'a-spirit holy' because Yeshua not yet was glorified” (John7:39). Before Yeshua ascended he breathed on the disciples saying “receive you 'a-spirit holy'” (John 20:22). Prayer was offered “so that they might receive 'a-spirit holy'” (Acts 8:15). “They placed the hands on them, and they received 'a-spirit holy' (Acts 8:17, 8:19). Baptised believers were asked “If 'a-spirit holy' you received having believed?” They replied, “But not even if 'a spirit holy' exists, have we heard” (Acts19:2).

All these speak of a singular spirit that comes upon them that is described as being 'holy' in character. The spirit that came upon Mary had a different function to the one Yeshua gave when he breathed on his disciples. And this singular 'spirit' was not that 'comforter' (John 14:26) or 'power from high' (dunamis) that they were to wait in Jerusalem to receive (Luke 24:49). It would be absurd to say they were to wait in Jerusalem to receive it if they already had it! One type of spirit came with Jesus' breath the other type came with cloven tongues like fire (Acts 2:3), and they were not the same. One spirit came from Yehsua and was 'separate' and 'hallowed' in nature and gave them unity with the mind of Yeshua but seemed to have done little visibly, the other spirit from Yahweh was greater. We will return to this.

The translators were so sloppy they translated it as 'the holy spirit' when Luke wrote of Simeon that 'a-spirit was holy upon him' (Luke 2:25). Clearly Simeon felt moved by 'a spirit' and knew it was holy in character.

2. 'With-spirit holy' (pneuma hagio πνευματι αγιω)

Very similar but slightly different in grammar is 'with-spirit holy' which occurs 15 times. They are:

John the Baptist says of Yeshua, “He shall baptise 'with spirit holy'” (Matt. 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33, and Acts 11:18). Y'shua said you shall be baptised in 'spirit holy', not after many these days (Acts 1:5). The apostles say how God anointed Jesus “'with-spirit holy' and power” (Acts 10:38). Paul says “truth I speak ... in 'spirit holy' (Romans 9:1). The “Kingdom is joy in 'spirit holy'” (Romans14:17). The offering of the Gentiles was acceptable being “sanctified in 'spirit holy'” (Romans 15:16). “No one is able to say Lord Jesus, if not by 'spirit holy' (1 Cor 12:3), “in/by 'with-spirit holy' by love unfeigned” (2 Cor 6:6). “That the gospel of us not came in word only but also in power even with 'spirit holy' (1 Thes 1:5), “which now were announced to you through the -ones having preached to you by 'spirit holy' sent-forth from heaven” (1Peter1:12). Jude ends, “But you, beloved, building up yourselves in the holiness of your faith in 'spirit holy' praying” (Jude 1:20).

The first examples speak of special skills given by God that were later called by Yeshua 'the holy spirit', but, in the last example the 'spirit', in the context, is the disciple's mind. If their faith is holy (separate) then their spirit of mind is holy, and in this holy thinking they are to pray (all other prayer being of little use as we may gather from John's comments in 1John 5:14). For Paul this 'spirit' that was called 'holy', could be either a way of thinking in us (2 Cor 6:6), or the power given to the Apostles (1 Thess 1:5). We need to look at the context to determine whether the 'spirit' described as holy, refers to 'an energy' or if it refers to 'a way of thinking'. They are distinct and different and must not be confused.

3.'Of-spirit holy' (pneumatos hagios πνευματος αγιου)

The predominate Greek expression with 22 occurrences is the expression 'of-spirit holy'. The passages are

“Mary was found with child in womb 'of spirit holy'” (Matthew 1:18). Zechariah says of John “of 'spirit holy' he will be filled even from womb” (Luke 1:15). When Mary greets Elizabeth, the babe leaps and Elizabeth was filled 'of-spirit holy' (Luke 1:41) Zechariah is filled 'of-spirit holy' and prophesied (Luke 1:67). Yeshua full of 'spirit holy' returned from the Jordan (Luke 4:1). “Yeshua having given charge to the apostles, through 'spirit holy' whom he chose, he was taken up” (Acts1:2). “And they were all filled 'of-spirit holy' and they began to speak with other tongues as the spirit gave them to speak” (Acts2:4). Peter speaks being filled 'of- spirit holy' (Acts 4:8). Stephen was “a man full of faith and 'of-spirit holy'” (Acts 6:5, 7:55). Barnabas was a man good, and full 'of-spirit holy' and faith (Acts 11:24). Paul is told he would see again and be filled 'of-spirit holy' (Acts 9:17). Paul being filled 'of-spirit holy' gazing at him said: 'O full of all deceit”(Acts 13:9). “The disciples were filled of-joy and 'of-spirit holy' (Acts 13:52).

In all of these instances there is a dwelling of a spirit described as holy.

Paul says the love of God was shown “through 'spirit holy'” given to them (Romans 5:5). Paul says to Timothy to keep the words “given through the 'spirit holy' of-that (which) dwells in us” (2 Timothy 1:14). Peter adds (word for word from Greek)

“For not by will of man was-borne prophecy at-any-time, but by 'of-spirit holy' being borne men spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:21).

Paul writes, “in power 'of-spirit holy'” (Romans 15:13), “with joy 'of-spirit holy'” (1 Thess 1:6) and “through washing regeneration and renewing of-spirit holy” (Titus 3:5). Paul and Timothy partake of the same in-dwelling spirit, which they described as being holy. Paul puts it this way, (a literal translation) saying that God bore witness through

various miracles and 'of-spirit holy' broken-off-to-be-given according to that himself determines (Hebrews 2:4)

Though disciples could wander from the faith and repent, according to Paul it was impossible for those who were partakers 'of-spirit holy' to do so without, in effect, crucifying Yeshua afresh (Hebrews 6:4). This implies that this 'of-spirit holy' was something special, or separate. There were people of the Apostle's day that possessed part 'of-spirit holy' that was 'broken-off' and given them. Those people were without excuse. It is at this point we must remember, despite modern translations that make it feel otherwise, that the New Testament is an ancient text written to others long dead, and not to us about our lives. Some at that time had felt the Apostles hands and been given part of a spirit the Apostles had.

Summary of the 3 terms

For the set of three different terms above, if writing in Hebrew they would merely have spoken of 'spirit' as ruach, as ruach only referred to aspects associated with Yahweh Elohim, but in Greek the word pneuma needed clarification or further description. However the Greek terms for 'spirit' have subtle variants, where pneumatos implies an indwelling spirit and it should not to be confused with pneuma which could mean an energy or by contrast, a way of thinking.

The spirit of the Holy (One)

4. 'the spirit the holy' (to pneuma to hagion, το πνευμα το αγιον).

The second most common Greek expression, used 20 times, which is translated in the English versions as the 'holy spirit' is 'the spirit the holy'. This is the exact expression used by the Greek Septuagint in Psalms and Isaiah, which is not surprising as the Septuagint was widely read when the New Testament was written.

Yeshua when replying to those who questioned the source of the power of his miracles says it was forgiveable to speak against himself but,

“Whoever blasphemes against 'the spirit the holy', has not forgiveness.” (Mark 3:29).

This shows Yeshua knew the spirit he accessed to heal belonged to the Holy One. He confirms this, saying, “I can of my own self do nothing” (John 5:30). This is consistent with Yeshua's advice to the apostles,

“Whatever is given you in the hour, this speak you: for you are not the (ones) speaking but 'the spirit the holy'” (Mark 13:11).

Yeshua is saying the spirit of the Holy One will speak, not themselves.

When Yeshua was baptised there descended “'the spirit the holy' in a bodily form like a dove” (Luke 3:22). Here again this spirit was seen to come from the Holy-One. This is confirmed by Matthew who says that they saw the “spirit of God (Theos)” descending like a dove on him (Matthew 3:16).

Yeshua speaks of “the helper 'the spirit the holy', which the father will send in the name of me” (John 14:26). We will return to this. Peter speaks of this same spirit, “which spoke before 'the spirit the holy' through mouth of David” (Acts 1:16). Again, the spirit was that of the Holy-One. Peter asked Ananias why he deceived 'the spirit the holy' (Acts 5:3). Peter equates this to 'the spirit of the Lord'(Acts 5:9), which in Hebrew would be 'the spirit of Yahweh'.

Luke would have been familiar with the Septuagint and he records that Peter said, “we are the witnesses of the these matters and 'the spirit the holy' which gave of the God to those obeying him” (Acts 5:32). [As an aside in this verse the Majority Text has an insertion and reads 'the spirit also the holy'. This implies a separation of 'the spirit' and 'the holy', but it is incorrect, and shows the Majority Text is not to be relied on].

The witness of a power coming upon Cornelius' household is consistently described as that of 'the spirit the holy'. “While Peter was speaking these words, “fell 'the spirit the holy' on all those hearing the word” (Acts 10:44). The Apostles saw this was the same as they experienced at Pentecost, saying that they ought to be baptised as they had “'the spirit the holy' received as also we” (Acts10:47, Acts 11:15). This was considered a “witness” from God as he gave “the spirit the holy” (Acts 15:8). When Paul placed his hands on certain chosen people then “came 'the spirit the holy' upon them” (Acts 19:6). Then it is recorded that they were to, “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock in which you 'the spirit the holy' placed overseers” (Acts 20:28).

The term refers often to the word of Yahweh. Paul clarifies this point saying that God “having-given the spirit of-himself the holy to us” (1Thes.4:8). When a group were fasting, “said 'the spirit the holy' separate (Greek: apostle) you indeed for me the Barnabas and the Paul.” (Acts 13:2). Paul said that “'the spirit the holy' every city witnesses to me, saying, that bonds and afflictions await me” (Acts 20:23). Paul, condemning those Jews who would not hear, said 'That well 'the spirit the holy' spoke though Isaiah the prophet to the fathers of us” (Acts 28:25). He says later, “Therefore as says 'the spirit the holy', today if the voice of him you will hear” (Hebrews 3:7) and “witnesses now to-us also the spirit the holy” (Hebrews 10:15). Paul wrote not to “sorrow 'the spirit the holy' of-the God” (Ephesians 4:30) which refers to Isaiah 63:10, which in the Septuagint uses the same Greek expression.

This link suggests that when the writers of the New Testament wrote 'the spirit the holy' they had in their mind the two Old Testament passages. This usage is also consistent with Hebrew thinking and their use of the expression 'the holy' in Greek to speak of Yahweh himself or his dwelling. Therefore 'the spirit the holy' refers to either the mind or the power of Yahweh, himself. By contrast where they used 'of-spirit holy' the Bible is always speaking of humans who possess an extraordinary power.

We could say that if the spirit belonging to the Holy One is given out then people show forth and are full 'of-spirit holy'. This distinction is lost in the English translations.

5.'to-the spirit to-the holy' (to pneuma to hagio τω πνευματι τω αγιω

The expression 'the spirit the holy' has a Greek grammatical variant of 'towards-the spirit to-the holy'. It has 3 occurrences. They are as follows:

David himself said through (the action of) the spirit through-the holy: (Mark 12:36)
Uncircumcised in the heart and the ears you always 'towards-the-spirit towards-the holy' fight against (Acts 7:51)
It seemed good indeed 'to-the spirit to-the holy' and to us (that) nothing more be put on you (Acts 15:28)

An action towards, or relating to the spirit is involved in each case above, but it translates poorly into English. The sense of an action towards, or to, or through 'the Holy' was not valued by the copyists of the Majority Text who leave out the prepositions in Mark 12:36 saying “David said by 'spirit holy'”. In Acts 15:28 both the Majority Text and Textus Receptus change the word order to read “it seemed good to 'the holy spirit'”.

But this Greek expression encapsulates an idea that words may come by God 'through' a human which is also in this Hebrew proverb,

To man belongs the plans of the heart,
and/but from out of Yahweh is the answer of the tongue. (Proverbs 16:1)

6.'Of-the spirit of-the holy' (tou pneumatos tou hagiou του πνευματος του αγιου).

There are 4 more instances of a slightly different grammar perhaps best rendered 'of-the spirit of-the holy'. These instances are:

Whoever speaks thus 'of-the spirit of-the holy' it will not be forgiven to him (Matthew 12:32)

Luke says it was revealed to Simeon,

“under (or though the means of) 'of-the spirit of-the holy' he would see the Anointed (Luke 2:26)

Peter speaks of Yeshua,

The right hand therefore of-the God having been exalted, and also promise 'of-the spirit of-the holy' having received from the father (Acts2:33)

Paul speaks of Yeshua's role in opening the way into the Most Holy

This revelation 'of-the spirit of-the holy' not yet to have been manifested the way of-the holies (Greek of Hebrew for Most Holy) (Hebrews 9:8)

After an exhausting exhaustive search of the Greek definite article tou it was found there were no other instances than these four where that word was used and it was not translated as something in English.

Why did (and do) translators consistently think the word (tou) was unimportant only here? It is possible it was because the translators into English were so used to the idea of an entity called “the Holy Spirit” they couldn't conceive of another idea? Perhaps they forgot that to a Hebrew 'The Holy' and 'of-the Holy' was another way of referring directly to Deity. Jews still do it today speaking of 'Hashem', literally 'the name', but they mean Yahweh as a living being, not his name. Jeremiah said that Judah after going to Egypt would no longer name the “great name” of Yahweh (Jeremiah 44:26), this could explain why the Hebrews used 'the Holy' instead of 'Yahweh'.

[As an aside, the Acts 2:33 passage above is from the minority texts. The Majority Text has instead that 'the holy spirit' made the promise. The Majority Text is not consistent as elsewhere the Apostles quote the Old Testament they speak of 'the spirit the holy' (Acts1:16, 28:25, Heb. 3:7.]

There is a distinction the Majority Text scribes felt was unimportant between 'the spirit of the holy' and 'the holy spirit', but it is incredibly revealing. Where the Majority Text says of Barnabas and Paul they were “sent forth by 'of-the spirit of-the holy' (Acts 13:4) the minority texts have instead they were sent 'of the holy spirit'.

The minority text shows two things happened. Firstly it was revealed by 'the spirit of the Holy' (Acts13:2) that Barnabas and Paul were to be separated for a work. We note they were not given specific instructions. Then after the Apostles laid hands on them 'the holy spirit' guided them as to where to go (Acts 13:4). This is not an insignificant difference.

When 'the holy spirit' is used it signifies something more specific than 'the spirit of the Holy One'

4) The Holy Spirit

7.'The holy spirit' (to hagios pneumaτὸ αγιον πνεῦμα)

The Greek term 'the holy spirit' occurs only 2 times.

According to Luke, Yeshua is the first to use the term 'the holy spirit'.

He said,

Everyone who shall say a word against the son of the man it will be forgiven him to the but against 'the holy spirit' blasphemy not be forgiven. (Luke 12:10)
That truly 'holy spirit' will teach you in this the hour, what ought to say. (Luke 12:12)

8.'Of-the holy spirit (ton hagios pneuma του αγιου πνευματος)

This term occurs 9 times. Yeshua also speaks first of-the holy spirit,

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and 'of-the holy spirit' (Matthew 28:19)

Among his last words are

But you shall receive power having come of-the holy spirit upon you and you shall be witnesses to me (Acts 1:8)

Peter speaks to the first generation to whom a promise was given of the gift of the holy spirit (Acts 2:39),

Repent, and be baptised each one of you in the name of Yeshua Anointed, for forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift 'of-the holy spirit' (Acts 2:38)
Being built up and proceeding in the fear of-the Lord and the consolation 'of-the holy spirit', were multiplied (Acts 9:31)
because also on the Gentiles the gifts 'of-the holy spirit' has been poured out (Acts 10:45)

As mentioned above Barnabas and Paul after being separated by the spirit of the Holy One then they were,

sent forth through 'the holy spirit' (Acts 13:4)

This continues to determine the course of the apostles' life,

Being prevented by 'the holy spirit' from speaking the word in the Asia (Acts 16:6)
And the fellowship 'of-the holy spirit' with all of you (2 Cor. 13:14)

In that first generation of disciples many had experienced outworking of the holy spirit as Peter had said (Acts2:39), and they had a fellowship based on the visible work of the holy spirit.

These 11 occurrences indicate that term 'the holy spirit' was used as a name. In Greek where 'holy' is part of a noun, or proper name, it has 'the' in front of it and the word order is “the holy ... ”. If something is described as having a holy characteristic, holy comes after the word “ ... holy”. The majority of times when spirit is spoken of in the New Testament it has holy attached as a characteristic. But in 11 places it is a proper name. It is false to build a theory on this minority of 11 passages and apply it to all 84.

The result of poor theory seems to have led to a disregard for the text. The minority texts say of the gathering with Peter and John there was a shaking of the building and

They were filled all 'of the holy spirit' and spoke the word of the God with frankness (Acts 4:31)

The Majority text says instead they were filled all 'of spirit holy' (πνευματος αγιου). They repeated what is said in Acts Chapter 2,

“And they were all filled 'of-spirit holy' and they began to speak with other languages as the spirit gave them to speak” (Acts2:4).

Though we can't be dogmatic, it seems the original text read that they were filled 'of the holy spirit' as the minority text indicates. In Acts 2 a miracle occurred. Then the spirit of the Holy One came upon them and they were then filled of this spirit holy and so they spoke a language they had never learned (note 'tongue' is a literal translation of the Greek for language). In Acts 4 the disciples were together and something very different happened. They were given courage to speak their own language. This was the work of the holy spirit that was promised, the spirit of truth, the spirit to speak truth and the comforter or helper.

Link to a list of all the verses containing the 8 different phrases for holy spirit, to print out and mark up in your Bible, go to A summary of Holy Spirit

For more Holy Spirit