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Dictionaries :: Spirit

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Easton's Bible Dictionary


(Heb. ruah; Gr. pneuma), properly wind or breath. In 2 Thess. 2:8 it means "breath," and in Ecc 8:8 the vital principle in man. It also denotes the rational, immortal soul by which man is distinguished (Act 7:59; 1Cr 5:5; 6:20; 7:34), and the soul in its separate state (Hbr 12:23), and hence also an apparition (Job 4:15; Luk 24:37,39), an angel (Hbr 1:14), and a demon (Luk 4:36; 10:20). This word is used also metaphorically as denoting a tendency (Zec 12:10; Luk 13:11).

In Rom 1:4, 1Ti 3:16, 2Cr 3:17, 1Pe 3:18, it designates the divine nature.

International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia


spir'-it (ruach; pneuma; Latin, spiritus):

1. Primary and Figurative Senses

(1) As Wind, Breath

(2) As Anger or Fury

(3) As Mental and Moral Qualities in Man

2. Shades of Meaning

(1) As Life-Principle

(2) As Surviving Death

(3) Spiritual Manifestations

3. Human and Divine Spirit

(1) The Human as Related with the Divine

(2) Operations of the Divine Spirit as Third Person of the Trinity

4. Old Testament Applications

5. Various Interpretations

1. Primary and Figurative Senses:

(1) As Wind, Breath:

Used primarily in the Old Testament and New Testament of the wind, as in Ge 8:1; Nu 11:31; Am 4:13 ("createth the wind"); Heb 1:7 (angels, "spirits" or "winds" in margin); often used of the breath, as in Job 12:10; 15:30, and in 2Th 2:8 (wicked consumed by "the breath of his mouth").

(2) As Anger or Fury:

In a figurative sense it was used as indicating anger or fury, and as such applied even to God, who destroys by the "breath of his nostrils" (Job 4:9; Ex 15:8; 2Sa 22:16; see 2Th 2:8).

(3) As Mental and Moral Qualities in Man:

Hence, applied to man-as being the seat of emotion in desire or trouble, and thus gradually of mental and moral qualities in general (Ex 28:3, "the spirit of wisdom"; Eze 11:19, "a new spirit" etc.). Where man is deeply stirred by the Divine Spirit, as among the prophets, we have a somewhat similar use of the word, in such expressions as: "The Spirit of the Lord came.... upon him" (1Sa 10:10).

2. Shades of Meaning:

(1) As Life-Principle:

The spirit as life-principle in man has various applications: sometimes to denote an apparition (Mt 14:26, the King James Version "saying, It is a spirit"; Lu 24:37, the King James Version "had seen a spirit"); sometimes to denote angels, both fallen and unfallen (Heb 1:14, "ministering spirits"; Mt 10:1, "unclean spirits"; compare also Mt 12:43; Mr 1:23,26,27; and in Re 1:4, "the seven Spirits.... before his throne").

(2) As Surviving Death:

The spirit is thus in man the principle of life-but of man as distinguished from the brute-so that in death this spirit is yielded to the Lord (Lu 23:46; Ac 7:59; 1Co 5:5, "that the spirit may be saved"). Hence, God is called the "Father of spirits" (Heb 12:9).

(3) Spiritual Manifestations:

Thus generally for all the manifestations of the spiritual part in man, as that which thinks, feels, wills; and also to denote certain qualities which characterize the man, e.g. "poor in spirit" (Mt 5:3); "spirit of gentleness" (Ga 6:1); "of bondage" (Ro 8:15); "of jealousy" (Nu 5:14); "of fear" (2Ti 1:7 the King James Version); "of slumber" (Ro 11:8 the King James Version). Hence, we are called upon to "rule over our own spirit" (Pr 16:32; 25:28), and are warned against being overmastered by a wrong spirit (Lu 9:55 the King James Version, "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of"). So man may submit to the "spirit of error," and turn away from the "spirit of truth" (1 Joh 4:6). Thus we read of the "spirit of counsel" (Isa 11:2); "of wisdom" (Eph 1:17).

3. Human and Divine Spirit:

(1) The Human as Related with the Divine:

We go a step higher when we find the human spirit brought into relationship with the Divine Spirit. For man is but a creature to whom life has been imparted by God's spirit-life being but a resultant of God's breath. Thus life and death are realistically described as an imparting or a withdrawing of God's breath, as in Job 27:3; 33:4; 34:14, "spirit and breath" going together. The spirit may thus be "revived" (Ge 45:27), or "overwhelmed" (Ps 143:4), or "broken" (Pr 15:13). And where sin has been keenly felt, it is "a broken spirit" which is "a sacrifice to God" (Ps 51:17); and when man submits to the power of sin, a new direction is given to his mind: he comes under a "spirit of whoredom" (Ho 4:12); he becomes "proud in spirit" (Ec 7:8), instead of being "patient in spirit"; he is a fool because he is "hasty in spirit" and gives way to "anger" (Ec 7:9). The "faithful in spirit" are the men who resist talebearing and backbiting in the world (Pr 11:13). In such instances as these the difference between "soul" and "spirit" appears.


(2) Operations of the Divine Spirit as Third Person of the Trinity:

On this higher plane, too, we find the Divine Spirit at work. The terminology is very varied here: In the New Testament we read of the "Holy Spirit" (1Co 6:19; Mt 1:18,20; 1Th 1:5,6); the "Spirit of God" (1Co 2:10 ff; 3:16; Ro 8:9,11; Eph 3:16, etc.); the "Spirit of Christ" (Ro 8:9; 1Co 3:17; Ga 4:6); or simply of "Spirit," with distinct reference to God (1Co 2:10; Ro 8:16,23, etc.). God Himself is Spirit (Joh 4:24). Hence, God's power is manifested in human life and character (Lu 4:14; Ro 1:1; 1Co 2:4; especially Lu 24:49). The Book of Ac may be termed the Book of the Holy Spirit, working with power in man. This Spirit is placed on a level with Father and Son in the Apostolic Benediction (2Co 13:14) and in the parting message of the Saviour to His disciples (Mt 28:19). As the agent in redemption and sanctification His work is glorified by lives "renewed" in the very "spirit of the mind"-a collocation of terms which has puzzled many interpreters (Eph 4:23,24), where pneuma and nous appear together, to indicate a renewal which is all-embracing, ?renewed in the spirit of your mind, so that the new man is put on, created in righteousness and true holiness' (see also Joh 14:17,26; 15:26; 16:13; 1Co 12:11, etc.).

4. Old Testament Applications:

In the Old Testament this spirit of God appears in varied functions, as brooding over chaos (Ge 1:2; Job 26:13); as descending upon men, on heroes like Othniel, Gideon, etc. (Jud 3:10; 6:34), on prophets (Eze 37:1), on "cunning workmen," like Bezalel and Aholiab (Ex 31:2,3,4, "filled with the Spirit of God"), and specially in such passages as Ps 51:11, where the very presence of God is indicated by an abiding influence of the Holy Spirit: "The Spirit of Yahweh is Yahweh himself."

5. Various Interpretations:

May we not reach a still higher stage? Wendt in his interesting monograph (Die Begriffe Fleisch und Geist), of which extracts are given in Dickson's Paul's Use of the Terms Flesh and Spirit, draws attention to the transcendental influence of the Divine ruach in the Old Testament as expressed in such phrases as ?to put on' (Jud 6:34), ?to fall upon' (14:6,19), ?to settle' (Nu 11:25 f). May we not then rightly assume that more is meant than a mere influence emanating from a personal God? Are we not right in maintaining with Davidson that "there are indeed a considerable number of passages in the Old Testament which might very well express the idea that the Spirit is a distinct hypostasis or person."? (see SUBSTANCE). Rejecting the well-known passage in Genesis: "Let us make man after our own image," which some have interpreted in a trinitarian sense, we may point to such texts as Zec 4:6, "by my Spirit"; Isa 63:10,11, "They rebelled, and grieved his holy Spirit"; "Where is he that put his holy Spirit in the midst of them?" This is borne out by the New Testament, with its warnings against "grieving the Holy Spirit," "lying against the Holy Spirit," and kindred expressions (Eph 4:30; Ac 5:3). It is this Spirit which "beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God" (Ro 8:16)-the spirit which, as Auberlen has put it (PRE1, article "Geist des Menschen"), "appears in a double relationship to us, as the principle of natural life, which is ours by birth, and that of spiritual life, which we receive through the new birth (Wiedergeburt)." Hence, Paul speaks of God whom he serves "with his spirit" (Ro 1:9); and in 2Ti 1:3 he speaks of serving God "in a pure conscience."

Written by J. I. Marais






Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
1 Strong's Number: g4151 Greek: pneuma


primarily denotes "the wind" (akin to pneo, "to breathe, blow"); also "breath;" then, especially "the spirit," which, like the wind, is invisible, immaterial and powerful. The NT uses of the word may be analyzed approximately as follows:

"(a) the wind, Jhn 3:8 (where marg. is, perhaps, to be preferred); Hbr 1:7; cp. Amo 4:13, Sept.;

(b) the breath, 2Th 2:8; Rev 11:11; 13:15; cp. Job 12:10, Sept.;

(c) the immaterial, invisible part of man, Luk 8:55; Act 7:59; 1Cr 5:5; Jam 2:26; cp. Ecc 12:7, Sept.;

(d) the disembodied (or 'unclothed,' or 'naked,' 2Cr 5:3, 4) man, Luk 24:37, 39; Hbr 12:23; 1Pe 4:6;

(e) the resurrection body, 1Cr 15:45; 1Ti 3:16; 1Pe 3:18;

(f) the sentient element in man, that by which he perceives, reflects, feels, desires, Mat 5:3; 26:41; Mar 2:8; Luk 1:47, 80; Act 17:16; 20:22; 1Cr 2:11; 5:3, 4; 14:4, 15; 2Cr 7:1; cp. Gen 26:35; Isa 26:9; Eze 13:3; Dan 7:15;

(g) purpose, aim, 2Cr 12:18; Phl 1:27; Eph 4:23; Rev 19:10; cp. Ezr 1:5; Psa 78:8; Dan 5:12;

(h) the equivalent of the personal pronoun, used for emphasis and effect:

1st person, 1Cr 16:18; cp. Gen 6:3;

2nd person, 2Ti 4:22; Phm 1:25; cp. Psa 139:7;

3rd person, 2Cr 7:13; cp. Isa 40:13;

(i) character, Luk 1:17; Rom 1:4; cp. Num 14:24;

(j) moral qualities and activities: bad, as of bondage, as of a slave, Rom 8:15; cp. Isa 61:3; stupor, Rom 11:8; cp. Isa 29:10; timidity, 2Ti 1:7; cp. Jos 5:1; good, as of adoption, i.e., liberty as of a son, Rom 8:15; cp. Psa 51:12; meekness, 1Cr 4:21; cp. Pro 16:19; faith, 2Cr 4:13; quietness, 1Pe 3:4; cp. Pro 14:29

(k) the Holy Spirit, e.g., Mat 4:1 (see below); Luk 4:18;

(l) 'the inward man' (an expression used only of the believer, Rom 7:22; 2Cr 4:16; Eph 3:16); the new life, Rom 8:4-6, 10, 16; Hbr 12:9; cp. Psa 51:10;

(m) unclean spirits, demons, Mat 8:16; Luk 4:33; 1Pe 3:19; cp. 1Sa 18:10;

(n) angels, Hbr 1:14; cp. Act 12:15;

(o) divine gift for service, 1Cr 14:12, 32;

(p) by metonymy, those who claim to be depostories of these gifts, 2Th 2:2; 1Jo 4:1-3;

(q) the significance, as contrasted with the form, of words, or of a rite, Jhn 6:63; Rom 2:29; 7:6; 2Cr 3:6;

(r) a vision, Rev 1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10." *
[* From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp 204, 205.]


(1) For phantasma, rendered "spirit," Mat 14:26; Mar 6:49, AV, see APPARITION.

(2) For the distinction between "spirit" and "soul," see under SOUL, last three paragraphs.

The Holy Spirit

The "Holy Spirit" is spoken of under various titles in the NT ("Spirit" and "Ghost" are renderings of the same word, pneuma; the advantage of the rendering "Spirit" is that it can always be used, whereas "Ghost" always requires the word "Holy" prefixed.) In the following list the omission of the definite article marks its omission in the original (concerning this see below): "Spirit, Mat 22:43; Eternal Spirit, Hbr 9:14; the Spirit, Mat 4:1; Holy Spirit, Mat 1:18; the Holy Spirit, Mat 28:19; the Spirit, the Holy, Mat 12:32; the Spirit of promise, the Holy, Eph 1:13; Spirit of God, Rom 8:9; Spirit of (the) living God, 2Cr 3:3; the Spirit of God, 1Cr 2:11; the Spirit of our God, 1Cr 6:11; the Spirit of God, the Holy, Eph 4:30; the Spirit of glory and of God, 1Pe 4:14; the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead (i.e., God), Rom 8:11; the Spirit of your Father, Mat 10:20; the Spirit of His Son, Gal 4:6; Spirit of (the) Lord, Act 8:39; the Spirit of (the) Lord, Act 5:9; (the) Lord, (the) Spirit, 2Cr 3:18; the Spirit of Jesus, Act 16:7; Spirit of Christ, Rom 8:9; the Spirit of Jesus Christ, Phl 1:19; Spirit of adoption, Rom 8:15; the Spirit of truth, Jhn 14:17; the Spirit of life, Rom 8:2; the Spirit of grace, Hbr 10:29." *
[* From Notes on Galatians, by Hogg and Vine, p. 193.]

The use or absence of the article in the original where the "Holy Spirit" is spoken of cannot always be decided by grammatical rules, nor can the presence or absence of the article alone determine whether the reference is to the "Holy Spirit." Examples where the Person is meant when the article is absent are Mat 22:43 (the article is used in Mar 12:36); Act 4:25, RV (absent in some texts); 19:2, 6; Rom 14:17; 1Cr 2:4; Gal 5:25 (twice); 1Pe 1:2. Sometimes the absence is to be accounted for by the fact that Pneuma (like Theos) is substantially a proper name, e.g., in Jhn 7:39. As a general rule the article is present where the subject of the teaching is the Personality of the Holy Spirit, e.g., Jhn 14:26, where He is spoken of in distinction from the Father and the Son. See also Jhn 15:26 and cp. Luk 3:22.

In Gal 3:3, in the phrase "having begun in the Spirit," it is difficult to say whether the reference is to the "Holy Spirit" or to the quickened spirit of the believer; that it possibly refers to the latter is not to be determined by the absence of the article, but by the contrast with "the flesh;" on the other hand, the contrast may be between the "Holy Spirit" who in the believer sets His seal on the perfect work of Christ, and the flesh which seeks to better itself by works of its own. There is no preposition before either noun, and if the reference is to the quickened spirit it cannot be dissociated from the operation of the "Holy Spirit." In Gal 4:29 the phrase "after the Spirit" signifies "by supernatural power," in contrast to "after the flesh," i.e., "by natural power," and the reference must be to the "Holy Spirit;" so in Gal 5:17.

The full title with the article before both pneuma and hagios (the "resumptive" use of the article), lit., "the Spirit the Holy," stresses the character of the Person, e.g., Mat 12:32; Mar 3:29; 12:36; 13:11; Luk 2:26; 10:21 (RV); Jhn 14:26; Act 1:16; 5:3; 7:51; 10:44, 47; 13:2; 15:28; 19:6; 20:23, 28; 21:11; 28:25; Eph 4:30; Hbr 3:7; 9:8; 10:15.

The Personality of the Spirit is emphasized at the expense of strict grammatical procedure in Jhn 14:26; 15:26; 16:8, 13, 14, where the emphatic pronoun ekeinos, "He," is used of Him in the masculine, whereas the noun pneuma is neuter in Greek, while the corresponding word in Aramaic, the language in which our Lord probably spoke, is feminine (rucha, cp. Heb. ruach). The rendering "itself" in Rom 8:16, 26, due to the Greek gender, is corrected to "Himself" in the RV.

The subject of the "Holy Spirit" in the NT may be considered as to His Divine attributes; His distinct Personality in the Godhead; His operation in connection with the Lord Jesus in His birth, His life, His baptism, His death; His operations in the world; in the church; His having been sent at Pentecost by the Father and by Christ; His operations in the individual believer; in local churches; His operations in the production of Holy Scripture; His work in the world, etc.


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