Dr. Daniel Segraves continues his discussion on The Holy Spirit: A Commentary.
Each time I came across a text offering insight on the oneness of God in relation to the Holy Spirit, I sought to take the time necessary to explain it from an apostolic point of view. By this, I mean I read the text in the larger context of all Scripture. This calls for a close reading of related Old Testament Scriptures as well as other New Testament texts dealing with the same ideas.
For example, the quotation below from the book discusses a key text related to the spiritual gifts together with the Shema:
The oneness of the Spirit is also seen in Paul’s discussion of spiritual gifts: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:13). As in Ephesians 4:4, there is one body and one Spirit.Each time I came across a text offering insight on the oneness of God in relation to the Holy Spirit, I sought to take the time necessary to explain it from an apostolic point of view. Click To Tweet
Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (I Corinthians 12:3–7, ESV)
The Deity of Jesus
We notice first in this text that the Holy Spirit testifies to the deity of Jesus: He is Lord. Then, it is the same Spirit that grants diverse gifts. These gifts are the manifestation of the Spirit.
But why the references to the same Spirit, the same Lord, and the same God?
Earlier in this same letter, Paul appropriated the Shema to remind his readers of the nothingness of idols and of the existence of only one God.
Some read this as evidence of three “persons” in the Godhead. But to do so is to forget Paul’s commitment to the Shema. Earlier in this same letter, Paul appropriated the Shema to remind his readers of the nothingness of idols and of the existence of only one God. Then, in language obviously informed by the Shema, he wrote: “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live” (I Corinthians 8:6). Perhaps this could be described as a revision or reshaping of the Shema, but it would be more appropriate to see it as an explanation of the Shema in view of the Incarnation. In the words of Richard Bauckham, “Paul offers a Christian formulation of the Shema.”
In view of the radical monotheism of the Hebrew Scriptures, this is a dramatic, inspired move on Paul’s part. If the Lord (Yahweh) our God (Elohim) is one Lord (Yahweh), how can God be the Father and Jesus the Lord? New Testament faith is deeply rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures. First-century Jewish believers saw their faith as having been anticipated by and as having fulfilled the Old Testament. This is seen by the fact that the New Testament quotes from, paraphrases, and alludes to the Old Testament in at least eight hundred places, although some scholars estimate a much greater frequency of those references.
A footnote on I Corinthians 12:4-6 reads:
Surely this text does not mean that the Spirit is responsible for gifts, the Lord for ministries, and God for activities! Notions like this fragment God into some kind of divine committee. When we see references to “Lord” and “God,” we must keep in mind that the faith of the writers of the New Testament was deeply influenced by the Hebrew Scriptures’ first commandment, the Shema. (See Mark 12:29–30.)
Resources and Links
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