The Spirit and the Gospel

A. The Powerful Effusion of the Spirit

1. Introduction – The coming of the second person of the Trinity is properly called incarnation; the coming of the third person of the Trinity, effusion. Historically it is first indicated passively – they were filled (Acts 2:4); then it is explained actively (Acts 2:17), in accordance with the Word. The effusion of the Spirit flows from the promise of the OT (Joel 2; Zech 12; Ezek 36) and the word and work of Christ (Acts 1:7-8).
The various outpourings of the Spirit in the book of Acts (Acts 2:1-4; 8:14-17; 10:44-46; 19:6) relate to the fulfillment of the different stages of the promise of Christ (Acts 1:8). It is significant that the feast of Pentecost was fulfilled in the outpouring of the Spirit. This is the feast of the first-fruits (Ex 23:16), the Spirit being the first-fruits of the inheritance for believers, and the earnest for the glory, which will be hereafter (2 Cor 5:5; Rom 8:23). It is also the feast of the celebration of the law. Now the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is made manifest and works an abundant work (cf. Rom 8:2).
2. Difference from OT
Reynolds: “The fathers were sanctified by the same Spirit of Christ with us: difference there is none in the substance, but only in the accidents and circumstances of effusion and manifestation; as light in the sun, and light in a star, is, in itself, the same original light, but every much varied in the dispensation.”

a. General

Pentecost is the enormous acceleration (stroomversnelling) in the course of God’s salvation (de Reuver).  John 7:39: Holy Spirit compared to water: “Now water, besides its purging property, is first of a spreading nature: it hath no bounds nor limits to itself, as firm and solid bodies have, but receives its restraint by the vessel or continent which holds it: so the Spirit of the Lord is not straitened in himself, but only by the narrow hearts of men in which he comes. ‘Ye are not straitened,’ saith the apostle, ‘in us,’ that is, in the ministry of grace, and dispensation of the Spirit, which is committed to us, ‘but in your own bowels.’” (Reynolds). To carry forth simile of water, Spirit connotes growing, multiplying, fructifying.

b. Particulars

i. Clarification: “manifestively declared” (2 Cor 3:3);

As in this dispensation of Christ, revealed in the New Testament, we have a fuller and plainer discovery of our fallen state, our guilt and danger, our degenerate sinful natures, and our weakness to all that is good; so also we have much brighter manifestations made of the pardon of sin, and justification of our persons, the methods of its procurement by the obedience, sufferings and death of Christ, which made a proper atonement for sin, the adoption of us into the family of God, the sanctification of our natures by the influences of the Holy Spirit, to enable us to repent of sin, and mortify it daily, together with all our consolations in life, and hope in death. And besides all this, the future state both of saints and sinners, the resurrection of the body, the everlasting happiness of good men, and the eternal misery of the wicked, are brought much nearer to our view, as motives to our duty, and support to our hope: And they are set much plainer before us in all the blessings and the terrors of them, together with the duties of faith and love toward the Son of God our Redeemer.   Source

ii. Abrogation: from the emblems of the covenant of grace required as duties, that is the ceremonies, rites, and multiplicity of civic legislation (Col 2; Heb 9-10; Gal 5:2)

iii. Globalization: Gentiles (Acts)

iv. Actualization: The promises of the OT and of Christ (Acts 1-2)

v. Radicalization: The antithesis (Acts)

vi. Concentration of Anticipation (Revelation)

B. The Gradual Change from Judaism to Christianity

1. In Relation with Previous Dispensations

The dispensations of Adam and Noah had application to all nations; the dispensations of Abraham and Moses particular application to the Jewish nation, in the main. The new and last dispensation again applies to all nations. God will teach all nations (Matt 28:19). He now commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).

2. In Relation to Christ’s Death and Resurrection

The disciples had the right (ius) to preach to the Gentiles was concerned, from the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ already. The practice (actus) of their commission unfolded gradually, as divine wisdom enlightened them.

3. In Relation to Pentecost

a. Days of Pentecost, when the apostles preached to the Jews and proselytes.
b. Preaching in Samaria (Acts 8:5); then Phenice, Cyprus, Antioch (Acts 11:19)
c. Gospel brought to God-fearers such as Cornelius and his house (Acts 10:44-48)
d. Gospel brought to the idolatrous Gentiles, perhaps Sergius Paulus, also Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:7,14).
e. The apostolic decree, loosening Christians from ceremonies, except eating blood and eating things strangled, and food sacrificed to idols (Acts 15:21).
f. This apostolic decree seems to be but temporary, for Paul did not hold the Corinthian converts to it, but permitted them to eat things offered to idols, where so ever their liberty could not be made an occasion of offence, or stumbling to other weaker Christians (cf. 1 Cor 8:7-13). The full realization of the liberty of the gospel is explicit in Col 2:16; 1 Cor 10:25; Tit 1:15; Rom 14:13,14; 1 Cor 8:8; 1 Tim 4:3,4,5.
g. With the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, prophesied by Christ (Mark 13; Matt 24), the abolition of the ceremonial and civic laws was fully transacted.

Through these stages the full import of the spiritual kingdom, not being of this world (otherwise would my servants fight [John 18:36]) became abundantly transparent.

For a conclusion. It may be truly said (as it hath been by some of the ancients) that as Christ was the fulfiller of the law, and the end of the law (Rom. 10), so that the Spirit is the complement, the fulfiller, and maker good of all the gospel, otherwise all that Christ did would have profited us nothing, if the Holy Ghost did not come into our hearts and bring all home to us. Christ made his will by his death, Heb. 9; but the Spirit is his administrator. Christ’s blood and purchase gave us, by His redeeming us, jus ad rem [a right to it]; but the Holy Ghost, by applying it, only jus in re [a right in the thing]; he gives us possession, livery, and seisin [possession]. Himself is the Arrha(?): the earnest and the investiture of all is by Him. The promises had been but as blanks else to us; but it is the Holy Ghost is the sealer of us by them, the verifier of them, 2 Cor. 1:20, 22. Christ also came, and delivered his commands to his apostles, to teach his church to do them, as in Mat. 28:20; but withal it is expressly said of him, and that after his being risen again, that he gave those his commands to them by the Holy Ghost, Acts 1:2. And then again, those great truths he uttered only by word of mouth; but it was the Holy Ghost which recovered them when they were almost lost, and in a manner clean gone out of the apostles’ weak and shallow memories and understandings. And he it was that added a thousand more truths to them, which Christ never uttered; to whom therefore Christ refers them: John 16:12, 13, ‘I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak.’   source


C. The Presentation of the Spirit in the Gospels

1. Synoptics

a. Birth by power of Holy Spirit(Matt 1:18; Luke 1:35)
b. Baptize with Holy Spirit (Mark 1:18)
c. Baptism; anointed with Spirit (Matt 4:18)
d. Power over evil Spirits (Matt 12:18)
e. Holy Spirit will teach believers (Luke 12:12)

2. John

a. Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:32-34)
b. Spirit rest on Christ without measure (John 3:34)  Barrett (quoted in Ladd): Jesus has the Spirit in order that he may confer it; and it is the gift of the Spirit which pre-eminently distinguishes the new dispensation from the old.”
c. “Out of his belly” – rivers (John 7:39)
d. Spirit breathed Spirit on disciples and said – “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22)
e. Gift of the Paraclete (14:17, etc.) – his mission – led church into all truth, convict world sin, righteousness, judgment


  1. J. P. Versteeg, Christus en de Geest
  2. G. Vos, “The Eschatological Aspect of the Pauline Conception of the Spirit.”
  3. R. Gaffin, Perspectives on Pentecost; Resurrection and Redemption


D. The Presentation of the Spirit in Paul

1. 1 Cor 15:45: Here Christ is called “the last Adam.” In the risen Christ the end time is realized, for in Him (as the last Adam), the new creation has been established. He “is made a quickening spirit.” The word “spirit” is a reference to the Spirit of God. Weiss said that in His resurrection Christ merged into the Pneuma. This is wrong. Schweizer says that Christ was taken up into the sphere of the Pneuma. This too is mistaken. This is what is meant: as the creation of the first Adam resulted in a creatural man, thus the resurrection of the last Adam resulted in the gift of the Spirit.
2. Rom 1:3-4a and 1 Tim 3:16 show that the resurrection of Christ manifests the power of the Holy Spirit, on the one hand declaring Christ to be the Son of God, or in other words, justifying him, and on the other hand, bringing that out by the Spirit sent forth upon the resurrection.
3. 1 Cor 6:17 (and indirectly 1 Cor 12:3) show that the connection between Christ and the Spirit is described as the eschatological fulfillment of Gen 2:24: “Being joined to the Lord” and “being one Spirit with Him” both entail partaking of the eschaton realized in the risen Christ. Thus the bodies of believers are “temples of the Holy Spirit” (6:19).
4. 2 Cor 3:16 says that “The Lord is that Spirit.” There is a unity of the risen Christ and the spirit of God in relation to the new covenant. Just as Paul might have said: “Moses is the letter,” he says: “The Kyrios is the Spirit.” Just as Moses and the letter are equally characteristic of the old covenant, the Kyrios and the Spirit are so of the new covenant. The new covenant is the covenant realized in Christ, as the Kyrios and man cannot partake of it but through the life-giving work of the Spirit. Paul emphasizes this unity of Kyrios and Pneuma in face of his opponents who drew a direct line from the law to the Spirit. In contradiction to them Paul maintains that the Spirit is only to be found in Christ as the Kyrios. This unity is eschatological.
5. Rom 8:1-11  –  The unity of Christ and the Spirit is raised already in verse 2 in the phrase “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” Versteeg: It is clear that the unity of Christ and the Spirit is here a unity in respect of the new eschatological life. The Spirit grants no life but life in Christ Jesus. In verses 3-9a the term flesh stands for human sinfulness, not merely human limitation or weakness. The workings of the Spirit are directed to the redemption of man from the power of sin. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ. If you have not Christ, you have not the Spirit; if you have Christ, you must also have the Spirit; and if you have the Spirit, you must also have Christ (cf. vv. 9-11). Yet there is not an identification of Christ and Spirit, but a unity, which appears in the resurrection of Christ.

E. The Relationship of Spirit and Eschatology (especially Vos)

1. Spirit in the OT is also eschatological: The Spirit heralds the near approach of the future world by special signs (Joel 2:28ff); The Spirit as official equipment of the Messiah; The Spirit as source of the future new life of Israel; The Spirit as the comprehensive formula for the transcendental, the supernatural.
[Spirit in the inter-Testamental times: Spirit communicated by the Messiah to others.] 2. Spirit in the Gospels: Synoptics concentrate on Christology, but do indicate that Christ imparts the Spirit; in John, the descent of the Spirit upon Christ is indeed important
3. Spirit in Petrine Speeches in Acts: The outpouring of the Spirit eschatological (2:17), also experiential (10:45,47).
4. Spirit in Paul:

i. Spirit and Resurrection belong together: Rom 8:11
ii. Spirit and eternal life belong together: Gal 6:8
iii. Spirit is the substantial make-up of the future life, and the present possession of the Spirit is viewed in this light (2 Cor 5:5)
iv. The Spirit is mentioned as aligned with the eschatological state, within which the resurrection of Christ was the genesis and Christ’s glory the essence: Rom 1:3-4
v. The Spirit imparts to Christ life-giving power which is peculiarly the Spirit’s own: 1 Cor 15:42-50

Conclusion: The Spirit is both the instrumental cause of the resurrection-act and the permanent substratum of the resurrection-life. In terms of order or logical or chronological priority: the thought of the resurrection-life as pneumatic in character is with him first in order, and that, in partial dependence on this at least, the idea emerges of the Spirit as the author of the act of the resurrection.

F. Relationship of Soteriology and Eschatology via Spirit (Vos)

To what extent do the soteriological operations of the Spirit reveal eschatological affinity?

The forensic sphere is subsumed under the great rubric of justification
The pneumatic sphere is subsumed under the great rubic of regeneration and sanctification.

1. Justification: The possession of the Spirit is for Paul the natural correlate, the crown and in so far the infallible exponent of the state of “righteousness.” Cf. the resurrection of Christ as the justification of Christ (Rom 4:25; 1 Cor 15:17; Rom 8:34; Rom 10:7; 1 Tim 3:16).
By becoming Pneuma Christ has become the living witness of the eternal presence of righteousness for us in the sight of God. The possession of the Spirit seals the actuality of righteousness, because in no other way than on the basis of righteousness could the Spirit have been bestowed (cf. Rom 8:10; Gal 3:5,14; 4:6; Tit 3:5-6; 1 Cor 6:11).

Conclusion: The Spirit as a living attestation of the state of righteousness in the believer has this significance, because He is in principle the fountain of the blessedness of the world to come. Cf. righteousness in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17; 8:23; Gal 5:5)

2. Regeneration and Sanctification:  The Spirit is the “Spirit of life” (Rom 8:2); the Spirit gives life (2 Cor 3:6); believers walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:25). Does this have anything to do with eschatology?
2 Cor 5:5: the present Spirit is the anticipation of the future Spirit.

Cf. Petrine speeches: The Spirit appears as the gift of the glorified Christ. It was given to Jesus in fulfillment of the promise of the Father, and having received the promised Spirit, He immediately poured it forth upon the disciples (Acts 2:33)

Cf. Paul: Christ not only receives the Spirit as an objective gift in order to dispense it; the Spirit becomes His own subjective possession, the Spirit dwelling in Him, the source of His own glorified life, so that when He communicates the Spirit, He communicates of His own, whence also the possession of the Spirit works in the believer a mystical, vital union with Christ.

Thus Paul speaks of the process of renewal and sanctification in terms which posit a real, vital connection between Christ and the Spirit, so that what takes place in the believer is an actual self-production of what was transacted in Christ.
3. Heavenly Sphere
From another angle, the Christian state is represented as a belonging to and participating in the sphere of heaven and the heavenly order (Rom 12:2; Gal 6:15; Eph 1:20-21; Eph 2:6; Phil 3:19-20; Col 3:1,2; Eph 1:3).
Note: Paul’s thoroughness with which the pneumatic factor is equally distributed over the entire range of the Christian life, so that from the subjective side the Christian and the pneumatic become interchangeable, and especially in the emphasis with which the center of the Spirit’s operation is placed in the ethico-religious sphere.  The theocentric bent of Paul’s mind makes for the conclusion that in the Christian life all must be from God and for God, and the Spirit of God would be the natural agent for securing this.