The mainstream Christian church talks a lot about the Holy Spirit, and we can learn much from them on this subject. However, it important to review the church’s understanding of this member of the Godhead in light of a more holistic, whole Bible, Hebraic perspective. In so doing, we might make some important discoveries that we have previously overlooked.
Let’s first make sure that our terminologies are correct. In Hebrew, the words for Holy Spirit is Ruach haKodesh meaning “Set-Apart Spirit.” Set-Apart Spirit is a better translation of the Hebrew than is “Holy Spirit” because of the pagan origins of the word holy, as we will discuss below. The Torah forbids the saints from taking on their lips the names of pagan deities (Exod 23:13). This is pretty hard to do, since there are many English words that have pagan derivations. If at all possible, to follow the command of the Torah, we should endeavor not to use any of names of pagan deities in reference to Elohim. Holy, God and Lord would be examples of names that have pagan connotations.
How the Holy Spirit Fits into the Godhead
Where does the Christian concept of the trinity fit into the biblical concept of the “Godhead” (for lack of a better term)? The doctrine of the trinity is an ancient Christian concept that goes back to the early church fathers. Suffice it to say, the term trinity isn’t found in the Bible. The one Bible verse that some Christians will use to try to substantiate this doctrine is 1 John 5:7. In fact, this verse was added to the Bible by a misguided Christian copiest in about the ninth century, and is not found in the earliest Greek versions of the Testimony of Yeshua (New Testament). Christian scholars recognize this as any will honest Bible commentary. This verse is the one and only verse in the Bible that should be crossed out and removed.
It is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss or critique the Christian doctrine of the trinity. All this author cares about is what the Bible has to say on the subject, which we will discuss briefly below. Suffice it to say, with a simple, childlike faith, I believe Elohim is one as stated in Deuteronomy 6:4, but that he has chosen to reveal himself in three ways to humans (Matt 28:19). The Hebrew word for one is echad (from Deut 6:4) means “a compound unity” comprising of several parts that when combined are one like numerous grapes making up a single bunch. As such, the title Elohim is (most likely) a plural form of the Hebrew words El and Elohah. We can see the plurality of the “Godhead” from the “Us” passages in the Scriptures (e.g. Gen 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isa 6:8). Other Scriptures that indicate the plurality of the “Godhead” include Isaiah 54:5 (in Heb. Maker and Husband are both plural), Ecclesiastes 12:1 (in Heb. Creator is plural), and Job 35:10 and Psalm 149:2 (in both passages, the Heb. word for Maker is plural).
In the Scriptures, there are numerous references to the “members” of the “Godhead” (too many to list here). The Bible reveals that there is the Father, the Son and the Set-Apart Spirit (see Matt 28:19; 3:16; 2 Cor 13:14; Eph 2:18).
The Gender of the Set-Apart Spirit
In the Christian doctrine of the trinity, the Father, the Son and the Set-Apart Spirit are said to be all masculine in gender. Is this a biblical way to view the “Godhead” or is this simply a tradition of man that has been passed on down for so long that now no one dares question it? What is the biblical truth on this matter? Are the Father, Son and Spirit all masculine Beings?
One thing we know from the Bible is that the Father is a father and is masculine. Likewise, the Son is the also masculine. What about the Set-Apart Spirit? Masculine or feminine? Who are we going to listen? Men’s traditions or the Bible? Hold that thought.
In Genesis 1:27 we find an interesting verse.
So Elohim created man in his own image, in the image of Elohim created he him; male and female created he them. (See also Gen 5:1–2.)
From this passage, we find that Elohim (plural) has both male and female components. We know that the Father and the Son aren’t female, so what’s left? The Set-Apart Spirit. The femininity of the Spirit is substantiated by the fact that the Hebrew word for spirit (ruach) is in the feminine gender. Interesting!
Does the Bible anywhere ascribe a masculine gender of the Spirit? Well, sort of, but not in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). This is to be found in the Greek New Testament in only four places.
In Yeshua’s final instructions to his disciples before he went to the cross, he promised to send the Spirit of Elohim whom he referred to in four places as “the Comforter” or “Helper” (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). In Greek, the word of Comforter is paracletos, which in Koine Greek is in the masculine gender. On the other hand, the Greek word for spirit in reference to the Holy or Set-Apart Spirit is pneuma, which is in the neuter gender. The word pneuma in reference to the Set-Apart Spirit is to be found in the Greek New Testament more than 200 times.
So, based on the evidence found in the Scriptures, we have verses that can be used to prove that the Spirit of Elohim is a he, she and an it. The Tanakh (or Old Testament) indicates that the Elohim has a female component and the Spirit of Elohim is female. On the other hand, the Greek New Testament, which often proceeds from or comes out of the revelation of the Hebrew Tanakh and, in some cases, is a translation of passages therefrom, refers to the Spirit by both the masculine and neuter genders. When translating the Greek New Testament, the Christian translators were faced with a dilemma. They could take the neuter word pneuma and follow the Hebrew gender of the word ruach refer to the Spirit by the pronouns she and her, but this wouldn’t be a proper translation of the neuter gender Greek word pneuma. The pronouns relating to this word would be it or its. The other option for the translators was to land on the Greek word paracletos, which is in the masculine gender, and refer to the Spirit as him. It seems that this is what they did, even though the preponderance of biblical evidence is that the Spirit of Elohim is neither masculine, nor can it be neuter, which leaves only one option: It is feminine.
In fact, Christian Bible translators have been so intent on forcing the concept of a masculine Spirit, thus upholding the cherished all male trinity doctrine, that in at least three places (discussed below), they use the male pronoun he when referring to the neuter word pneuma. In these instances, to be honest to they should they should have used the pronoun it. This is dishonest translating, which upholds a non-biblical tradition of men!
Why “Set-Apart Spirit” Instead of “Holy Spirit”? — The Pagan Origins of the Word Holy
In my research, I can’t find a definitive etymological or historical link between the English word holy and the Greek word helios, which is the name of the Greek sun deity, or the Hindu festival Holi in honor of their sun god Krishna. This is in spite of the assertions made by C. J. Koster in his book, Come Out of Her My People” and others. These assertions seem presumptive and tenuous at best according to my research.
There is irrefutable historical and etymological evidence, however, that the word holy derives from the Germanic words heilig (or variant spellings thereof) and heil, which trace their origins back to the pagan Germanic (Saxon) deity Heil the worship of which made its way into England via the Saxons and Celts as the evidence below shows.
Based on the pagan derivation of the word holy, it would seem preferable not to apply this adjective to the Spirit of Elohim. The Scriptures admonish us to abstain from all appearances of evil (1 Thess 5:22), and not to take the name of foreign or pagan gods on our lips (Exod 23:13). This is difficult to do, since so many English words trace their origins back to pagan deities. As a result, we, like Isaiah, are people of unclean lips in the midst of a people of unclean lips. Yet Elohim is merciful and will cleanse our lips as he did with Isaiah (Isa 6:5–7). Nevertheless, the righteous need to be careful when it comes to borrowing names that have pagan originations at attaching them to YHVH Elohim. This, in my opinion, would apply to the word holy when we use terms like “Holy God” or “Holy Spirit.”
Below are the sources I found that show the pagan originations of the word holy.
From (from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=holy)
Holy (adjective) — Old English halig “holy, consecrated, sacred; godly; ecclesiastical,” from Proto-Germanic *hailaga- (source also of Old Norse heilagr, Danish hellig, Old Frisian helich “holy,” Old Saxon helag, Middle Dutch helich, Old High German heilag, German heilig, Gothic hailags “holy”), from PIE kailo- “whole, uninjured” (see health). Adopted at conversion for Latin sanctus. Primary (pre-Christian) meaning is not possible to determine, but probably it was “that must be preserved whole or intact, that cannot be transgressed or violated,” and connected with Old English hal (see health) and Old High German heil “health, happiness, good luck” (source of the German salutation Heil). Holy water was in Old English.
The English words whole, health and hale (cognates of holy) derive from the German heil — whole (adj.) Look up whole at Dictionary.com; Old English hal “entire, whole; unhurt, uninjured, safe; healthy, sound; genuine, straightforward,” from Proto-Germanic *haila- “undamaged” (source also of Old Saxon hel, Old Norse heill, Old Frisian hal, Middle Dutch hiel, Dutch heel, Old High German, German heil “salvation, welfare”), from PIE *kailo- “whole, uninjured, of good omen” (source also of Old Church Slavonic celu “whole, complete;” see health).
Old English hælþ “wholeness, a being whole, sound or well,” from Proto-Germanic hailitho, from PIE kailo- “whole, uninjured, of good omen” (source also of Old English hal “hale, whole;” Old Norse heill “healthy;” Old English halig, Old Norse helge “holy, sacred;” Old English hælan “to heal”). With Proto-Germanic abstract noun suffix -itho (see -th (2)). Of physical health in Middle English, but also “prosperity, happiness, welfare; preservation, safety.” An abstract noun to whole, not to heal. Meaning “a salutation” (in a toast, etc.) wishing one welfare or prosperity is from 1590s. Health food is from 1848.
Heil derives from an ancient Nordic god by the same name relating to health, luck, fortune or something dedicated to the same god.
Heil was an ancient Saxon god that made its way into early English literature as referenced in the writings of the English monk Bede (AD 672–732).
From http://celto-germanic.blogspot.com/2013/10/heil-lost-god-of-anglo-saxons.html in an article entitled,“Heil, Lost God of the Anglo-Saxons.”
Recently whilst perusing my copy of Charles Isaac Elton’s Origins of English History I noticed a reference to an obscure Anglo-Saxon deity. Whilst discussing the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to xtianity he writes:
“The history of the conversion is full of incidents which illustrate the character of the English paganism. We are told of Ethelbert’s care to meet the missionaries under the open sky, for fear of the magical influence which they might gain by crossing his threshold; of the king bowing before his idol in a road-side shrine near Canterbury, and taking part with his nobles in the offering of the sacrifices, and of Augistine in his journey to the West breaking to pieces the image of a god which was adored by the villagers. The local traditions preserve the remembrance of the Woden-Hill within sight of the missionaries’ landing-place, and of a temple on the site where Westminster Abbey stands, once ‘a place of dread’ on the march-land where several kingdoms joined, but dedicated to the wealthy ‘King of London’, at the request of his protector Ethelbert.”
The footnote to this text states:
“Bede, Hist. Eccl. i. 25; Thorn`s Chronicle, Dec. Script. 1760. ‘Cerne Abbey was built by Austin, the English apostle, when he had dash’d to pieces the idol of the pagan Saxons called Heil, and had delivered them from their superstitious ignorance.’ Camden, Brit. 56; Will. Malmesb. Gesta Pontificum, 142.”
I can’t, however, find any reference to the incident of the destruction of the idol of Heil in the relevant section of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People. However according to Paul Newman`s Lost Gods of Albion:
“The French hagiographer Gotselin[1058-98] was the first to record St Augustine`s visit to Cerne not long after he settled at Canterbury in 1090. Drawing on an earlier source-quite possibly Saxon-he describes the ‘demoniac’ worshippers of ‘Helia’ taunting and driving out St Augistine and his band. This account filtered into ampler chronicles, notably De Gestis Anglorum, written and compliled by William of Malmesbury, a scion of mixed Norman and English stock who died c. 1143.”
Newman goes on to recount how Augistine came to ‘Cernel’, the old name for Cerne and he was jeered at and repulsed by the local community. He also refers to the Life of St Augistine in which the author tells us that Augustine destroyed the idol Heil, or Hegle. Walter of Coventry, a 13th century chronicler also recites a version of the story in which he refers to the idol as Helith. The well of Augustine still stands at Cerne Abbas. Could it be that Heil, Hegle or Helith is the Anglo-Saxon name for Cerne? According to the 1789 edition of William Camden’s Britannia and William Stukely the chalk hill figure was called ‘Helis’.
Whether this figure has its origins with the Anglo-Saxons no one can determine but it is absolutely clear that our ancestors did venerate this figure and equated it with Heil. This often happens when new peoples take over an ancient sacred site. They honour it but name it after their own god or gods. One interesting aspect of the Cerne giant is that he wields a club in his right hand and some have speculated that he represents Hercules and thus has a Roman origin. However we need to bear in mind that Thunor also wielded a club as an alternative to the axe or hammer and thus it could just as easily be related to Him. The etymology though is against this idea and it is more likely that this area was sacred to the God referred to as Heil. The name would imply possibly a deity of healing. This name, particularly in the form Helith is in fact suggestive of a Goddess rather than a male deity. It is interesting that the well I referred to is reckoned to have healing properties and thus predates Augustine’s arrival there. Some have speculated that Helith may be related to Frau Hoelle or the Norse Hel but more research is surely needed about this deity before we can speak with any authority about Him/Her.
The Celtic god Heil is referenced in the book Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia (Vol. 1-, Volume 3 at https://books.google.com/books?id=f899xH_quaMC&pg=PA396&lpg=PA396&dq=saxon+god+heil&source=bl&ots=p0XAhgzwWJ&sig=reQazfvx0efarDafwEe3RSM9gvQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiF5bfW0cPNAhUBI2MKHd1lAGkQ6AEILTAC#v=onepage&q=saxon%20god%20heil&f=false) and Journal of the British Archaeological Association, Volume 28 (https://books.google.com/books?id=cmo_AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA66&lpg=PA66&dq=saxon+god+heil&source=bl&ots=E-ejryNrbl&sig=no_BgT3o8rFxms6Bj_iYZjEAoxQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiF5bfW0cPNAhUBI2MKHd1lAGkQ6AEILzAD#v=onepage&q=saxon%20god%20heil&f=false).
The Dishonesty of the Bible Translators
There are several examples in the New Testament where the Bible translators have read their own biases into the Scriptures and mistranslated the gender of the Ruach.
Acts 8:16, Romans 8:16, 26–27 and 1 Corinthians 12:11 are examples of this. Here the translators refer to the Spirit in the masculine gender when the word Spirit, which is the antecedent, is the Greek word, whichpneuma, is a noun in the neuter gender. To be honest, the translators should have said it instead of he. There is no grammatical justification for this mistranslation. This is biased translating to uphold a false and unbiblical doctrine.
The Set-Apart Spirit Is Both a Force and a Personality
Most people view the Spirit of Elohim as a personality, while some view it as not being a personality, but only a spiritual force or power that operates in the life of the saint. Actually, the Scriptures reveal that it’s both a personality and a force.
A spiritual force or a power:
- John 20:22
- Acts 1:2, 5, 8, 16
- Rom 15:13
- 1 Cor 3:16
- Gal 5:16
- Eph 3:16
The idea of the Set-Apart Spirit being revealed more as a person as opposed to merely an anthropomorphism is based on fact that the Bible presents the Spirit of possessing “beingness” , as opposed to it being merely an inanimate force.
- Acts 10:19; 13:2; 1 Tim 4:1; Heb 3:7; 10:15, The Spirit speaks to humans.
- Acts 16:6, 7, the Spirit forbids or permits people from doing things.
- Rom 8:26, The Spirit intercedes for us with unspeakable groanings.
- 1 Cor 2:10, The Spirit searches the deep things of Elohim
- Person and force working together/juxtaposed
- Acts 10:4, (person), 9 (force)
- 1 Cor 2:10, 11, 13 (person), 12 (force)
- Gal 5:18, Be led of the Spirit
The Down Payment of the Spirit
Everyone who surrenders to Yeshua receives a down payment of the Set-Apart Spirit. But there is more for those who seek it. This down payment is like heavenly earnest money of more that is to come. It shows Elohim’s intent to give more to those who seek, love and obey him. When Elohim places the down payment of his Spirit in a person, he is actually places a piece of his divine nature, a piece of himself or his divinity, in that person. Think about this. Ponder and reflect. A piece of the divine Creator, the Almighty Elohim living inside of you!
- Rom 8:23
- 2 Cor 1:22
- 2 Cor 5:5
- Eph 1:12
How Eager Are You for More of the Holy Spirit and Its Gifts?
The Scriptures encourage us to be “thirsty” for and “earnestly desire” or “covet” the Spirit and its gifts.
- Isa 44:3
- Luke 11:13
- 1 Cor 14:1, 12, 39
The Three Personalities of the Godhead Work Together
Numerous scriptures could be given from one end of the Bible to the other to show how the Father, the Son and the Set-Apart Spirit work together in singularity and unity of purpose. This could be a whole study in itself. For now, consider 2 Corinthians 13:14 in this regard where read about “the grace of Yeshua,” “the love of Elohim,” and “the communion [i.e., fellowship, joint participation, intimacy, intercourse] of the Spirit” (cp. Heb 10:29 where is mentioned “the Spirit of grace”).
Yeshua Dwells in Us Through His Spirit
- 1 John 4:13
In a Sense the Spirit of Elohim Is Like a Logic Machine
The Set-Apart Spirit operates by the universal spiritual principle of cause and effect. You get out of it what you put into it. The more you invest, the more returns to you. The end result of a worthy investment will be eternal life. Sadly, some people get weary along the way and quit investing. Just because one doesn’t see a quick return on one’s investment, doesn’t mean that it won’t come. Those who overcome the world, the flesh and the devil, have faith in the promises of YHVH’s word and endure to the end will reap what they have sown if they don’t become weary and give up.
- Gal 6:8–9
Do You Use the Sword of the Spirit?
The sword of the Spirit of Elohim is like a surgical scalpel that cuts evil out of us, but it’s also a defensive weapon— sharp two-edged sword—that when used properly will destroy our enemies.
- Heb 4:12
- Eph 6:17–18 (cp. Matt 4:1–11; Rev 1:16; 2:16; 19:15)
Being Filled With the Spirit Is Like Being Drunk on Wine?
In some instances, being filled with the Spirit might like being drunk with wine. In fact, the initial evidence of receiving the baptism of the Set-Apart Spirit is experiencing of joy (Acts 13:52, like being filled with wine). This is then followed by manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit including speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4).
Acts 2:11–16, When the disciples were filled with the Set-Apart Spirit on the day of Pentecost, some thought they were drunk. One can become so full of the Spirit that it overwhelms the physical senses and one becomes so full of joy at the Presence of Elohim that one can act excitable and giddy as if inebriated by alcohol.
Eph 5:18, Paul warns believers to become full of the Spirit rather than to become dissipated through the misuse of alcohol. He’s juxtaposing the two as if both had similar effects on the human body, the former in a positive way and the latter in a negative way.
What Are the Seven Spirits Before Elohim’s Throne
Are these seven spirits different than the Set-Apart Spirit or are they different aspects of the one Spirit of Elohim?
One possible explanation is as follows:
The seven Spirits of Elohim refer to the one Set-Apart Spirit as being complete, perfect, and lacking nothing in that it possesses all the character attributes of Elohim, since seven is the divine number signifying perfection.
Yeshua was full of the Spirit. The Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 11 states that Spirit of YHVH would rest on Yeshua; he would have all seven Spirits (Isa 11:1–2, the Spirit of YHVH, wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and the fear of YHVH), and we know that he had the Set-Apart Spirit without measure (John 3:34). We read in Revelation that Yeshua has the seven Spirits of Elohim (Rev 3:1), and these seven Spirits are like a menorah burning before Elohim’s throne (Rev 4:5). Fire is light and heat making it a metaphor for the light of truth and the power Elohim.
We know from our study of the Tabernacle of Moses that the seven-branched menorah contained therein was symbolic of the Set-Apart Spirit of Elohim and corresponds with the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot or Pentecost), which is when the Israelites received the spiritual light of Elohim’s Torah and when the early church received the baptism of the Spirit, which wrote the Torah on their hearts in the upper room in Acts chapter two. The menorah was a hollow tube filled with the purest olive oil, which in turn fueled the flames of the menorah’s lamp stand. In the Bible, olive oil is a picture of the Set-Apart Spirt and the Torah. Yeshua was the Messiah, or the one who was smeared or anointed (beyond measure) with the oil of the Spirit. He was also the Living Torah-truth of Elohim incarnate. In him dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and he had the fullness of the Spirit, and was the image of the Father and was the Word of Elohim incarnate.
Yeshua revealed that it is the Spirit of Elohim that teaches us all things, brings to our remembrance everything Yeshua taught (John 14:26), brings truth and testifies of Yeshua (John 15:26), convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8), and guides people to the truth and glorifies Yeshua (John 16:13–14).
In the Bible, the Spirit is pictured as a lamp and symbolized by the menorah, which is also a symbol for the church of Yeshua. Yeshua is a tree of life and the saints are to be grafted into him, or to abide in him, for he is the vine and we are his branches (John 15:1ff). If we draw our spiritual sustenance from him, and since he is full of the seven Spirits of Elohim without measure, then we should be growing in manifesting the seven attributes of the Spirit (from Isa 11:1–2) in our lives, along with the fruits and gifts of the Spirit.
We further read that the glorified Yeshua has seven horns and seven eyes which are the seven Spirits of Elohim (Rev 5:6). Seven horns speak of the complete power and authority (or omnipotence) that Elohim has given to Yeshua, while the seven eyes speak of Yeshua possessing all knowledge (omniscience), which he will need in order to righteously judge all humans ultimately. The seven eyes also speak of perfect spiritual vision with which to be able to judge righteously—to able to see by the Spirit into all dimensions of existence and to possess a perfect understanding of all truth.
Finally, the prophet Zechariah ties the concept the seven eyes together with the Spirit and the Messiah using poetic imagery. He links the Messiah, or the Branch (from the line of David), with a stone (Yeshua is the Chief Cornerstone), the name Yeshua, and the seven eyes, which are part of the stone (Zech 3:8–9). In conclusion, the prophet links the Spirit of Elohim (Zech 4:6) with the plumb line of spiritual truth and the seven eyes, which see and know all that occurring on the earth (Zech 4:10).