The Holy Spirit of God Almighty
The Holy Spirit - God's Divine Power
"The Holy Spirit, rather than being a distinct person, is spoken of in the Bible as being God's divine power. The Anchor Bible Dictionary, in its article on the Holy Spirit, describes it as"the manifestation of divine presence and power perceptible especially in prophetic inspiration" (Vol. 3, Doubleday, New York, 1992, p. 260).
Scripture refers to the Holy Spirit as the power of God (Zechariah 4:6; Micah 3:8). Paul told Timothy that it is the"spirit of ... power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7, emphasis added throughout).
Luke 4:14 records that Jesus Christ began His ministry"in the power of the Spirit."Speaking of the Holy Spirit, which would be given to His followers after His death, Jesus told them," You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you ..." (Acts 1:8).
Peter relates how"God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, [and Jesus] went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him" (Acts 10:38). The Holy Spirit is here associated with the power by which God was with Him - the power through which Jesus Christ performed mighty miracles during His earthly, physical ministry. The Holy Spirit is the very presence of God's power actively working in His servants.
According to various Jewish/Christians scholars the Holy Spirit in the Bible is regarded as:
1. Some mysterious, creative power of God, possessing and inspiring humans;
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.
1 Corinthians 3:16
Now the Lord is that Spirit: And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
2 Corinthians 3:17
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God
Rom. 8: 14
Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: For we know not what we should pray for as we ought:
But the Spirit itself makes intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered.
And he that searches the heart know, what is the mind of the Spirit,
Because She makes intercessions for the saints, according to the will of God.
Rom. 8: 26-27
2. The Spirit of God;
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Then said Mary unto the angel, how shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost will come unto thee:
Therefore also that holy thing that shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God."
For what man knows the things of man, save the spirit of man which is in him?
Even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God;
That we may know the things that are freely given to us of God.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches,
But which the Holy Ghost teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
1 Corinthians 2: 13
3. The inner principal in the 'new life' in Christ;
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because She hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor;
She hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives,
And recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised
4. A quasi-physical force in the form of wind;
But knowest not whence it comes and where it goes; thus is every one that is born of the Spirit.
5. The personal activity of God Himself;
Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.
6. A supreme Spirit in prophecy;
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man:
But holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
2 Peter 1:21
7. The Spirit which baptizes;
For John truly baptized with water;
But ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence.
Acts 1: 5
8. The mode of God's activity in history;
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father,
Even the Spirit of Truth, which proceeds from the Father, She shall testify of Me.
"We might go so far, as to consider the Holy Spirit, God's feminine presence in the world. The primary attribute of the feminine principle is receptivity. Therefore, the Holy Spirit demonstrates itself through it receptivity to others. I have mentioned before, the Kabbalist look upon Shekinah, a Hebrew term which means God's presence, as the feminine expression of the Divine. Likewise, in the Genesis story, the Spirit of God is said to be"hovering"over the void and formless world just before creation. In college, my Old Testament Professor remarked," It's the idea of a hen hovering over her egg, waiting for it to hatch."In this sense, the Holy Spirit, is mother God, who loves and shelters all her children without condition."
9. The living energy of a personal God;
But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God is come unto you.
10. The breath of the Almighty;
By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
Psalms 33: 6
The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty has given me life.
Job 33: 4
Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, they are created: and Thou renewest the face of the earth.
Psalms 104: 30
The grass withers, the flowers fade: Because the Spirit of the Lord blows upon it.
The other word used most often of the Holy Spirit is the Greek word pneuma. It is translated as"breath"or"spirit"and means breath, breeze, wind or spirit."
"The term"Spirit"translates the Hebrew word ruah, which, in its primary sense, means breath, air, wind. Jesus indeed uses the sensory image of the wind to suggest to Nicodemus the transcendent newness of him who is personally God's breath, the divine Spirit."
J. Cardinal Ratzinger, Catechism of the Catholic Church
(J.C.R., Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994, p. 182.)
11. The Spirit in supernatural endowments of ethical and spiritual understanding;
I have heard of thee that the Spirit of the Gods is in thee,
And the Light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee.
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of Wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of Knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
Isaiah 11: 2
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man, to profit withal.
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; To another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
To another faith by the same Spirit; To another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; To another discerning of spirits;
To another diverse kinds of tongues; To another the interpretation of tongues;
But all these worketh that one and selfsame Spirit.
1. Corinthians 11: 7-11
12. The Spirit of wisdom and judgement;
But there is a Spirit in man: And the inspiration of Almighty gives them understanding.
Great men are not always wise: Neither do the aged understand judgement
Turn you at My reproof: Behold, I will pour out My Spirit unto you, I will make known My Words unto you.
13. The mode of human communion with God;
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions, and also upon the servants and upon the handmaidens,
In those days will I pour out My Spirit.
14. The mode of transmitting God's revelation to humans;
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me,
To peach good tidings unto the meek; He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.
15. The Spirit which liberates;
Now the Lord if that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
2 Corinthians 3:17
16. The Spirit which brings renewal;
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us,
By the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.
Titus 3: 5
17. The Spirit which brings hope;
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts,
By the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all the joy,
And peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
18. The Spirit which comforts;
I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter,
That may abide with you forever.
John 14: 16
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father,
Even the Spirit of Truth which preceedeth from the Father, She shall testify of me.
And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
John 15: 26-27
Supporting evidence that the Holy Spirit is Feminine
If any of you lack wisdom [Sophia], let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
- James 1:5
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
- Luke 11:13
Perhaps the first argument which can be offered in support of the feminine gender of the Holy Spirit is Her association with"the spirit of wisdom" (Exodus 28:3; Ephesians 1:17). In both the Old and New Testaments, Wisdom is often personified in the feminine gender:
"Say that Wisdom is thy sister" (Proverbs 7:4)
"Wisdom has built a house for herself, and set up seven pillars" (Proverbs 9:1)
Proverbs chapters 8 and 9 are in fact an extended allegory of Wisdom depicted as a woman.
"Wisdom is known by her children" (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:35)
"Therefore also said the Wisdom of God, I will also send them prophets and apostles ..." (Luke 11:49). In this text our Lord is equating the"Wisdom of God"with the Holy Spirit who provided Divine inspiration to those who wrote the Scriptures (2 Peter 1:21). He refers to Wisdom in the feminine gender.
The Old Testament word for"wisdom"is chokmah which has the feminine ending.
The New Testament word - in the Greek - is sophia - also feminine. In fact"Sophia"is the name for a goddess of wisdom in the Greek pantheon. It should be obvious that the Early Church, when reading the Greek Septuagint - the translation of the Old Testament for the Greek-speaking Jew - would have made the connection between that goddess and the Holy Spirit. Of course, a Gentile Christian would have known that the Holy Spirit was not a Greek goddess. Rather, he would have confessed that the Holy Spirit was the true Sophia in contrast to the pagan imitation.
The connection between the Holy Spirit and Sophia is more pronounced in the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha are writings from the Intertestamental Period which was contained in the Septuagint but are not included in our modern Bibles. (They are regarded as deutero- canonical by the Anglican Church).
For Sophia is a loving spirit... For the Spirit of the Lord filleth the world.
- Wisdom of Solomon 1:5,7
For Sophia, which is the worker of all things, taught me: for in her is an understanding spirit, holy, one only... For she is the breath of the power of God, and a pure influence flowing from the glory of the Almighty ... And being but one, she can do all things: and remaining in herself, she maketh all things new: and in all ages entering into holy souls, she maketh them friends of God and prophets. For God loveth none but him that dwelleth with Sophia.
- Wisdom chapter 7 (excerpts)
And thy counsel who hath known, except thou give Sophia, and send thy Holy Spirit from above?
In the writings of the Early Church, Wisdom (Sophia) is preserved as feminine (e.g. the Shepherd of Hermes)
Jesus associates the"spirit of truth"with the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). Sophia and the Holy Spirit share identical roles (1 Corinthians 2:7-11; Romans 5:5; 1 John 5:6-7 KJV). Were it not for the masculine bias of later theologians, the Church would likely have acknowledged the allegorical associations in the Old Testament as literal theophanies of the Holy Spirit.
The second argument which can be offered in support for the feminine gender of the Holy Spirit is found in the very names ascribed to God and the Holy Spirit. The name for God in the Hebrew language is"Elohim". Most scholars acknowledge that this word has a plural ending, which some use to suggest an Old Testament anticipation of the Trinity. What most scholars either do not know or care not to inform their constituents is that"Elohim"is not the plural of"El" the masculine form of the name. It is plural of the feminine," Elowah". Strictly speaking, we can translate the Old Testament name for God as"goddesses".
Such a fact is naturally shocking to traditionalists who are largely ignorant of the origins of their faith. We do not favor, however, a translation of the name for God into the feminine because masculine pronouns are used in association with"Elohim". But we do argue that the use of the feminine ending by Divine Revelation ought to settle unequivocally that God's being encompasses both the masculine and feminine genders. Indeed, when describing man as made in God's image, the Scriptures say,
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
- Genesis 1:27
Thus indicating that both genders exist in the Godhead.
That the Holy Spirit is the designated representation of the feminine principle is further supported by the Hebrew word for"spirit". I quote now Jerome, the author of the Latin Vulgate:
In the Gospel of the Hebrews that the Nazarenes read it says," Just now my mother, the Holy Spirit, took me."Now no one should be offended by this, because"spirit"in Hebrew is feminine, while in our language [Latin] it is masculine and in Greek it is neuter. In divinity, however, there is no gender.
- Jerome's Commentary on Isaiah 11
This explanation contains an astonishing admission. First, it tells us that there was a tradition among a sect of Early Christians which believed that the Holy Spirit was our Lord's spiritual mother. Second, Jerome - a more orthodox figure cannot be imagined - admits that the Hebrew word for"spirit" (ruach) is feminine, meaning that for the 1st Century Christians - who were largely operating in the Aramaic world (Paul's churches were tiny in comparison) - the Holy Spirit was a feminine figure. It was lost in the translation from the Hebrew into the Greek, and then it was changed to a masculine gender when it was translated from the Greek into the Latin.
Finally, Jerome's theological bias leads him to believe the distinction of gender is unimportant. He believes there is no gender in God, therefore, it does not matter whether God is referred to as a"he"or a"she"or an"it", presumably. With many centuries of misogynist behavior by Christian leaders behind us, I think it does matter. We are not allowed to change one"jot or tittle"of the Law, and if God is represented as a being encompassing both the masculine and feminine genders, then we are foolish to hide that fact in our translations of the Sacred Text.
The third argument which can be offered is the example of early Christian leaders in how they handled this doctrine. In his Homily on Jeremiah 15, the learned Origen argued the case that the Holy Spirit was Christ's mother. In a more practical application, Methodius - also a leader with an impeccably orthodox reputation - states directly that the family is meant to reflect analogously the blessed Trinity:
[T]he innocent and unbegotten Adam being the type and resemblance of God the Father Almighty, who is uncaused, and the cause of all; his begotten son [Seth] shadowing forth the image of the begotten Son and Word of God; whilst Eve, that proceedeth forth from Adam, signifies the person and procession of the Holy Spirit.
- Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 6, p. 402
The Didascalia, a 3rd Century clergy manual, commanded the churches that," the deaconess should be honored by you as the Holy Spirit is honored". Thus, officially confirming that the role of the Holy Spirit is of a feminine nature.
It should be emphasized that we are not saying that the Holy Spirit is a woman. Neither is God the Father a man. We are made in God's image. God is not made in our image. We must maintain a theistic perspective, rather than a humanistic one. The Holy Spirit is not married to the Father, nor is She His wife in any human sense of the word. Rather, marriage is a creaturely reflection of the glorious unity which exists within the Trinity. As long as we remain loyal to the Ecumenical Creeds, we will not go astray with this doctrine.
In conclusion, we affirm that it is not impious, nor does it in any way diminish the deity of the 3rd Person, to address the Holy Spirit as a"She"rather than as a"He". While we do not favor the call for a gender neutral Bible, we do believe that a new translation of the Scriptures is in order - under the supervision of the Desposyni - which will correct the Latin biases which have been carried over from the Vulgate.
Supporting evidence that the Holy Spirit is Feminine
The Divine Feminine in Biblical Wisdom Literature
The Divine Mother by Ricky Hoyt
The Divine Feminine In China
The Feminine Spirit: Recapturing The Heart Of Scripture
The Divine Feminine: The Great Mother
Searching for the Divine Feminine
The Shekinah: Image of the Divine Feminine
The Shekinah is the Cosmic Womb
Shekinah: The Voice of Wisdom
On the Nature of the Divine Mother or Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit: The Feminine Aspect Of the Godhead
She is the holiest and most secret inwardness of Allah
The Indian Religion of the Goddess Shakti
The Divine Feminine is deeply embedded in us
Jesus finally restores all things to God
Feminine Spirit of God is working for our providence, redemption ...
Divine Feminine will sooner or later begin to take its proper place
Yogic Secrets of the Dark Goddess by Shambhavi Chopra
After showering the first few raindrops i know She will continue
Kali as the Yuga Shakti: The Power to Create a New World Age
Chidagni: The Goddess as the Fire of Consciousness
And they asked him in amazement: "Who is our Mother?
Feminine Gender of the Holy Spirit
Disclaimer: This non-profit site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the education and research provisions of"fair use"in an effort to advance a better comprehension of controversial religious, spiritual and inter-faith issues. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than"fair use"you must request permission from the copyright owner.