Intro

This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I began the project on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed it on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. I still do that every once in a while.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Old Testament Names for the Holy Spirit

The first name that is found in the Bible is Ruach Elohim (רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים), the Spirit of God. He moved upon the face of the waters. The word spirit literally signifies breath. All nations express things immaterial by the use of the most subtle material representatives. The best symbol for the invisible, immaterial thinking agent in man is the wind or breath, that kind of matter which is the thinnest and has least of the grosser elements. Says Martin Luther: "They who desire to speak of God without these material envelopes strive to scale heaven without ladders. For it is necessary, when God reveals Himself to us that He should do this through some veil or kind of wrapper, and say, 'Lo, under this involucrum, or cover, you certainly grasp me.'" The Old Testament form of statement is not that God is Spirit, but rather that He has the Spirit and sends Him forth out of Himself.

This may have suggested to the thoughtful Hebrew that the Spirit is God and is a personality distinct from Him from whom He proceeds.

The only other Old Testament designation is the Holy Spirit. This occurs only in Ps. li. 11 and Isa. lxiii. 10, 11. In the New it is very common. The adjective holy cannot be distinctive of the quality of purity which is not found in equal degree in the Father and the Son. Both are holy. Hence, as it is not descriptive of an attribute peculiar to the Spirit, we infer that it points to the peculiar office of the Spirit, in the redemptive scheme, to make men holy. The Holy Spirit, then, is the scriptural term for the Sanctifier, a term not found in the scriptures as a designation of the Spirit.

Holy Spirit is a name in English preferable to Holy Ghost, for the reason that words like men flourish and decay. Ghost and ghostly were once dignified words, as "ghostly adviser" for spiritual adviser. But these words have become degraded so that it would sound strange to us and repulsive to hear the words "the Ghost of God." Hence we commend the American revisers for substituting uniformly Holy Spirit for Holy Ghost.

— edited from The Gospel of the Comforter (1898) Chapter 1.