The Promise of the Holy Spirit

Does Gal 3:14 mean that the promise of the Holy Spirit is a person as a gift? No. The Spirit is the Spirit OF Christ which was God at work especially in the Prophets by Christ and the prophecies made more perfect by Jesus of Nazareth Whom God made to be both Lord and Christ. 

Jesus of Nazareth died, was resurrected, was changed  into HIs post-resurrected state. We will be like Him because we will see Him as He is.

Jesus' spirit returned to God Who gave it.
He received the gift of The Holy Spirit which was His state in the presence of the One God
He returned as The Holy Spirit and at Pentecost "HE Shed forth that which" the apostles saw and Heard.

Jesus is still the one Mediator or Intercessor between man and God.

The Gift of The Holy Spirit One
The Gift of The Holy Spirit Two
John Mark Hicks: claiming Alexander Campbell was a trinitarian
Father Son Spirit Passages: there is ONE GOD and Jesus of Nazareth whom God made to be both Lord and Christ
Augustine: Faith and Creed
Athenagoras - The Trinity
Theophilus who first used the Word Trias

Unfortunately, when the word spirit occurs we too quickly translate it into The Holy Spirit as the third member of the godhead. However, the promise of the Holy Spirit in Galatians is not the possession of a personal Deity as a gift to us. God give gifts but we deceive our selves and may be arrogant to imagine that the God of the universe gives Himself away to His creatures. The context shows that it was the promise which the Spirit made through inspiration.

That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Gal 3:14

Not only does this lead to the false belief that we are personally inspired by the literal presence of God in our literal bodies--another incarnation--it shuts off any clear understanding of the context.

Rubel Shelly, minister of Woodmont Hills Church of Christ and writer of Faith Matters, follows the lead of many ministers in somewhat denying the power of Christ through the written gospel by insisting that it must be empowered (discerned) by a direct operation of the Holy Spirit as a third member of the God family:

"Even so, the Word of God is made powerful by virtue of the Holy Spirit of God.  The spoken or written Word is the 'sword' which the Spirit of God uses to convict hearts, lay us bare to the truth about our condition as sinners, and impress us with what heaven has done to save us." (Rubel Shelly, In Step with the Spirit, 20th Century Christian.")

However, the faith which matters comes from the Word of God which is perfectly adequate of life and Godliness:

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Eph 6:13

And take the helmet of salvation, and (and you take) the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  Eph 6:17

The Sword of the Spirit Our Mouth Speaking Christ's Words

Paul said, "you take the sword of the Spirit."  It is the Christian evangelist (he has no office) who prepares like a soldier and then "takes" the powerful sword to the world.  If not then the Holy Spirit, like He is said to have done in creation, takes the "totally worthless" and powerless Words Jesus said are "spirit and life" (Jn 6:63) and infuses power into them. 

Why not, then, find an honest job and let the Spirit swing His sword without our usually hindering effort? To the Hebrews Paul personifies the same written word as Solomon personified Wisdom.  This is true because the revealed Words of Christ are Spirit and Life and must inform sermon and song (Eph 5).  When the "un-paradigmed" or "un-patterned" word is taught "as it has been delivered to you" it does what it is supposed to do:

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  Heb.4:12

This is true because:

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63

To understand the promise of the Spirit as the promise which the Spirit made:

First, the promise was made through the prophets who spoke as they were moved by the Spirit of Christ in them (1 Pe 1:11)

Second, the promise was made by Jesus Christ that He would return as the "another Comforter" which was the same Father-Son Who had been with the Apostles and would be in them after Pentecost (Jn 14:16-18).

Jesus said that He existed before Abraham. Therefore, He was there as Spirit or angel or Rock to pour out supernatural knowledge to the prophets:

I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" Jn.8:58

Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' Lu.16:29

Third, Peter showed that it was the Spirit of Christ who made the promises through the prophets:

Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 1Pe.1:11

The promise of the Spirit was not the promise of the gift of the personal, literal Holy Spirit as a divine Being in the literal body. Rather, Paul shows that God supplied His spirit as a result of hearing and believing Paul's preaching:

Does God give (supply) you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? Gal 3:5

Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Gal 3:6

Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. Gal 3:7

And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith,

preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. Gal 3:8

The process is not to first hear and then God gives the Holy Spirit directly into the body of the hearer. Rather, By hearing the Words of the Spirit Christ we are supplied with Spirit or the Mind of Christ.

The Lord appeared to Isaac He said that the blessings would come (not because of the Law of Moses) but-

Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.  26:5

Scripture, like Spirit or Wisdom, is personified. When "Scripture" preached to those living under the Old Testament, it was Christ the Spirit preaching to them:

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 1Pe 3:18  (Jesus laid down and took up His life)

By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 1Pe 3:19

Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 1 Pe1:11

The Law was given as a curse when Israel rejected the Abrahamic covenant restated as The Book of the Covenant at Mount Sinai.

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Gal 3:13

That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Gal 3:14

Now the blessing of Abraham is not Abraham as a blessing.   Rather, the blessing of Abraham is the promise made by the Spirit of Christ that Abraham's descendants and the whole world would be blessed as a result of faithful obedience to the promise made by the Spirit. That is, the promise was not that we would personally have a literal person living in us. Rather, the promise was the promise which the Spirit of Christ made.

The rest of Galatians shows that the promise of the Spirit was the promise which the Spirit of Christ made:

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. Ga.3:16

And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. Ga.3:17

For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Gal 3:18

Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. Ga.3:21

But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. Gal 3:22

But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Gal 3:23

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Gal 3:24

But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. Gal 3:25

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:26

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Gal 3:27

And if ye be Christs, then are ye Abrahams seed, and heirs according to the promise. Ga.3:29

Christ, who was in the very form of God because He was God, laid aside His Majesty, glory and privileges as God. He was made manifest or apparent in the body of flesh "prepared for him." After He was crucified He was resurrected by that glorious power He laid aside. He ascended back and sat down beside the Majesty He laid aside to become a human. As a human He was God's right hand or shoulder.

Christ the Abiding Comforter

It was to the apostle's advantage that He leave His physical body, return to heaven and then come back as the One and Only Comforter, Advocate or Mediator because He is the only image who paid the price. This was in fulfillment of the prophecy which Christ made and then breathed on them as He told them to receive the Holy Spirit:

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Jn 14:16

Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. Jn 14:17

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Jn 14:18

While in the flesh Christ "had the Father with Him" because He was God manifested in the flesh. When they saw the Son they saw the Father and Thomas identified the Christ as both Lord and God. When He came again as Spirit, Christ would adopt us unto Himself. This confirms that the presence of God is as both Father and Son:

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, Ep.1:5

After promising to come again as Comforter, Jesus continued:

At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. Jn 14:20

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Jn 14:21

Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jn 14:22

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. Jn 14:23

Therefore, when the Son made a promise the Father made a promise. Not only did the Son make the promise as the fleshly embodiment of the Father, when Pentecost came it was Jesus the Son Who shed forth or poured forth the signs of sight and sound:

And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. Lu.24:49

And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me Ac.1:4

Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. Ac.2:33

The visible signs would prove that both Father and Son were in the Apostles in Mind or Spirit. The proof was that they remembered what Jesus said in Person and they were guided into all truth. Furthermore, they were able to bestow Spirit power on certain representative groups as the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Gift of the Spirit to individuals was always subsequent to their baptism, was always by the hands of the apostles and was always manifested in speaking in tongues. This was not a universal promise any more than the power to handle snakes and drink poison.

Promise of the Holy Spirit is the Promise Made By The Spirit of Christ

It seems clear that the promise of the Spirit in Galatians is the promise which the Spirit made.

Jesus was the visible manifestation of the invisible God. Full Deity dwelled in Him. He made the promise to return as "another comforter" at Pentecost. He breathed on the Apostles and told them to receive the Spirit. Therefore, the promise of the receiving of the Spirit--always supernaturally--was the promise of the Spirit.

When the Apostles received the gift of the Spirit and Cornelius received the "like gift" these were unconditional signs that God was speaking through the common people and even the Gentiles. None of the thousands baptized at Pentecost were said to have "received the gift of the Spirit."

When the church spread out over the years, each representative group was given the sign that they could be saved. These were Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles and those "far away" in Ephesus. Paul received a "like gift" on the Road to Damascus when Jesus appeared in His form as light. It was Jesus Christ, the only Comforter, Who reminded Paul of what he had already heard and would be with Him to guide him into new truth.

The promise of the Spirit, therefore, was the promise made by the Spirit of Christ through the prophets that God would live with, walk among and dwell within the hearts which would be recreated for God's indwelling.

The promise Jesus made as He "breathed on them" and taught through the Holy Spirit (along with Father) was that Father and Son would return in Spirit form to live within believers. At the same time, believers would live within Father and Son. Perhaps we should remember that Jesus said that He spoke to the multitudes because "hearing they cannot hear."Rubel

Kenneth Sublett

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