Word Study

A Greek Word For Your Mind:

Pneuma (Spirit)


We sing “Spirit of God, unseen like the wind...” How else can one describe the dynamic, unseen yet powerful force of the Eternal God? Simply put, the “Spirit” is the electricity of God, working in the world and in and through us: unseen, but powerful.


The Old Testament word (Ruach) had to serve three purposes. It was used to describe:
1. “wind” (inanimate power, either gentle or gale force). See Genesis 1:2.
2. “breath” (the air which animates all life).
3. “spirit” (dynamic, hidden spiritual force),
i.e. the unseen, life-giving power of God as the Source of all life (Gen 3:7, 6:17).


Ezekiel 37 is a fascinating play on the different meanings of ruach as “wind” and
“breath”. There are some further interesting extensions of meaning as “courage”
(hidden strength, Josh 2:11); “anger” (deep breathing, Judges 8:3); and emotion, “agitated heart” (1 Samuel 1:15). In other words, “spirit” was used to describe
a variety of human emotions. Some 25 times “The Divine Spirit is spoken of as
enticing man (sic) for the purpose of giving life, power, wisdom or right feeling”.

(Girdlestone, Synonyms, 60)


In the New Testament there are separate words for “wind” (anemos) and “spirit”
(pneuma). In only one instance does pneuma carry both meanings (John 3:8).
Pneuma (cf our English word pneumatic describing the “wind” in our tyres) occurs
some 385 times and represents the unseen but powerful force of God, not as an
inanimate wind, but as a personal, dynamic, life affirming power. The very first instance of this activity is seen in the Annunciation to Mary (“The power of the
Most High shall overshadow you...” Luke 1:35), and in the prophetic work of
John the Baptiser (Luke 1:15).


The Holy Spirit, then, must be seen as the continuing Presence of God, active
in Creation (Genesis 1:2), incarnate in the Person of Jesus Christ (John 1:14, 33),
and following Christ's physical departure, through God's people, the church (Acts
1:8
). It is then the one and same God, operating powerfully in and through all. Thus, Spirit of God = Spirit of Christ = Holy Spirit: the “electric energy” (energeia) of God flowing through us (Ephesians 1:19).


The pure materialist sees only the physical, perishable, material reality, that
which can be scientifically “proved”; those with spiritual eyes (pneumatikos)
see beyond the visible world to a Living Power, the Eternal Spirit of God operating
in and through all that exists, animating it and giving it purpose and meaning
(see 1 Corinthians 2:12-14).


Rev Graham Warne

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