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The Spirit of God explained in 5 minutes.


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The Holy Spirit


God's Spirit, Explained

What is the Spirit?

In the Bible there a whole bunch of references to the concepts of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, and even the idea of being “spiritual”, and it can be difficult to distinguish them from each other and understand who or what they are. So, what is the Spirit?

The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek and so to properly understand what is meant by the spirit, we need to take a look at the Hebrew and Greek words behind the english word spirt. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for Spirit is the word Ruach, and in the New Testament it’s the Greek word Pneuma.

You may recognize the word Pneuma because we use it all the time: in words like Pneumatic, or  Pneumonia. In fact, both words are associated with that idea. At the most basic level, Ruach and Pneuma refer to a gusts or currents of air, and there’s two really helpful visual examples that bring this to life. There’s an invisible force that makes the tree branches sway and the leaves blow. We call it wind, but in Hebrew, that’s Ruach. Now take a big breath. The force and the life that you can feel is Penuma. Together, these two words emphasize different aspects of God’s spirit.

First, think about wind. Wind is invisible. We can’t see it, but we observe its effect on things around it. It’s an immaterial force. Second, is breath. Breathing is essential for life. Without it we die. The air we breath helps us think, and allows us to move and live. It is Spirit. What do both of these examples have in common? A power or force. You can’t see it, but you know its there.

Life Giving Power

So in Genesis chapter 2, when God created the first human Adam, it says, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” God’s breath was what gave Adam life. He used his creative power, described as his breath to make an inanimate object living.

In Job 33:4 we have both ideas of the word spirit presented beautifully: A man named Elihu says “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.

So to recap, from the Bible’s perspective, the two ideas of breath and wind are the basis for how we understand the use of the word spirit. Just like wind is invisible and powerful, the spirit is an invisible power or force that comes from God. And just like breath keeps us alive, so God’s spirit is how all life was made and given life.

The Spirit Word

Now, you may have heard the Bible referred to as the “spirit” word. That’s because In 2 Timothy 3, we read that “All scripture is breathed out by God." In other words, just as our breath flows through our bodies, the spirit of God flows through His word and makes that word active and living – because the Bible isn’t just a book. It is the spirit-filled, living words of God.

Think of it like this: just as we are sustained by breath and air, the spirit word should sustain our lives. That means that just like the air we breathe allows us to live and move and think, so too the spirit word is meant to affect how we live and move and think. This effect that the Bible can have on our life is what the Bible calls the fruit OF the spirit (Gal 5). Fruit such as love, joy, peace, are things that should start to become alive in our character.  The spirit word is meant to affect HOW we live: the choices we make, and the things we think about. That means that just like God’s spirit, or breath, gave life to Adam in creation, his spirit word has the power to change our lives, and in a sense make us ‘spiritual’. 

The Holy Spirit

The last concept to take note of is what is called the  “Holy Spirit”, and now that we’ve established an idea of what the spirit is, it’s really not hard to understand the Holy Spirit. All you have to do, is define what it means to be Holy.

In the Bible, the word Holy means to be separate, or specially set apart. For example, the Israelites where chosen by God to a holy nation: separate and distinct from all others, because they were God’s chosen people.  So the Holy Spirit is a power that is separate, or special. In fact, it’s God’s power. 

For example, when God caused Jesus to be born, it was through God’s HOLY Spirit – his special power, that Mary conceived Him. When Jesus was Baptized he was given this power and he used God’s Holy spirit, his special power, to perform miracles. In fact, in the Book of Acts, God gifted some of that special power, his Holy Spirit to his apostles and disciples. They used it to perform miracles like Jesus, it helped them to speak in different languages, and even helped them record the New Testament books of the Bible that we have today.


So to recap:

  • The Hebrew and Greek words for spirit relate to a current of air

  • It's something that gives life and is an invisbile power or force

  • It can refer to God's word which teaches us how to live a life that pleases God, and

  • It can refer to God's Holy Spirit power that he gifted to people in times past to do miraculous things, and which he used to create a sustain all life

The Holy Spirit

What is God's Spirit?

The Spirit of God explained in 5 minutes.

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