Grace Theological Journal 8.2 (1987) 227-39
Copyright © 1987 by Grace Theological Seminary. Cited with permission.
THE HOLY SPIRIT'S MINISTRY
IN THE FOURTH GOSPEL
C. H. Dodd, in The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, errs in
acceding to Bultmann's influence by attributing much of Johannine
theology to Hellenistic thought, especially in the realm of pneuma-
tology. Actually, John's theology of the Spirit is based on themes
found in OT eschatological passages, themes that are shared by John
with the rest of the N1: especially Luke-Acts. When one examines
the themes of Messiah's baptism of others with the Holy Spirit, the
spirit's own regenerating work as he incorporates believers into
Messiah's kingdom, and the Spirit's enabling of Messiah's followers
to proclaim the Gospel, it is clear that John (along with the NT in
genneral) shares these ideas with the OT prophets and has not imbibed
them from Hellenistic sources.
* * *
IN his monumental work, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel,'
C. H. Dodd concludes that the author of the fourth gospel faith-
fully reproduces the main articles of the tradition of Jewish escha-
tology dealing with God's pneu?ma. This tradition understood that the
Messiah; or the people of God in the age to come, or both, would be
invested with the divine pneu?ma in the sense of prophetic inspiration
(John -33; ; ; -17; ).1 Dodd then states: "It
does not however follow that the meaning he attached to the term
pneu?ma coincided exactly with its meaning in other NT writings.”2
Dodd argues that while John's usage may have had roots in a Hebrew
mindset, it ended up largely compatible with Hellenistic thought.3 He
1C. H. Dodd, The Interpretation of
the Fourth Gospel (
Uiversity, 1953) 222.
228 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
Accordingly, the gift of the Spirit to the Church is represented, not as
if it were a separate outpouring of divine power under the forms of
wind and fire (as in the Acts), but as the ultimate climax of the
personal relations between Jesus and His disciples: e]nefu<shsen kai>
le<gei au]toi?j, la<bete pneu?ma a!giou ["He breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit."'] (John ).4
Such an understanding is increasingly popular in this existent
age. Dodd certainly heightens its appeal with amazing erudition
drawing out some of the unique Johannine nuances of the Person a
work of the Holy Spirit.
However, it is the thesis of this article that in contrast to Do
the view of the Holy Spirit in John's gospel5 is essentially the same
that in the rest of the NT-especially Luke-Acts. While John uses
more intimate and personal language, both he and Luke nevertheless
speak consistently of the Holy Spirit in the terminology of OT
eschatology. This common backdrop results in a Lucan and Johannine
sharing of at least two themes: that the giving of the Spirit in-
augurates a new age centered in Messiah and his eschatological
program, and that the Spirit empowers believers to engage in a
"prophetic" and universal ministry of proclaiming the gospel.6 This
view directly counters the view championed by Bultmann which
attributes J ohannine terminology to Hellenistic influence.7 While
Dodd also sought to oppose this view, he nonetheless made soome
concessions to it. The discovery of Johannine-type terminology in the
pristine Jewish atmosphere of
to be patently erroneous. As Brown has said,
The critical import of the parallels between the Scrolls and John is that
one can no longer insist that the abstract language spoken by Jesus in
the Fourth Gospel must have been composed in the Greek world of the
4Ibid., 227. Translation is mine.
5While I believe that the author of the fourth gospel was the Apostle John
proving this position is considerably beyond the scope of this article. Therefore, the use
of "John" can be taken simply as the traditionally-used name for the author. See
L. Morris, Studies in the Fourth Gospel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969) 215-92, and
L. Morris, The Gospel According to John (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971)
8-30 for recent defenses of this ancient view. See also the remarkable defense of the
Apostle John's authorship in J. A. T. Robinson, The Priority of John, ed. by J.F.
Coakley (London: SCM, 1985).
6 See W. Russell,
"The Anointing with the Holy Spirit in Luke-Acts,"
(1986) 52, 57.
7 See particularly R. Bultmann, Theology of
the New Testament (
Scribner's, 1951) 2.3-92, and R. Bultmann, The Gospel of John. A Commentary
(Philadelphia: Westminster, 1971).
RUSSELL: THE HOLY SPIRIT'S MINISTRY 229
early second century A.D. What Jesus says in John would have been
quite intelligible in the sectarian background of first-century Palestine.8
Thus, Dodd's acknowledging of Hellenistic philosophy--especially
platonic thought-as a significant influence upon John's categories is
a syncretism that never occurred. These categories apparently appeared
in both John and
tology. This is not to deny that John wrote in a manner sensitive to
the Gentile Hellenists who were a part of his audience,9 but it is to
affirm that Dodd (and Bultmann) overstated the ideological impact
that this sensitivity had on John's gospel-especially regarding the
Spirit. This article will explore John's systematic presentation of the
Holy Spirit from the perspective of OT Messianic expectation, inter-
acting with Dodd's position and others as the discussion progresses.
BAPTISM WITH THE SPIRIT
The Messiah's baptism of others with the Holy Spirit distin-
guishes the messianic age from the present one (John -33; ).
John 1:19-51 is the Evangelist's treatment of the ministry of John
the Baptist and of some of his disciples. The pivotal event is Jesus'
baptism, and it is treated in similar fashion to the synoptics,10 yet
with Johannine uniqueness. For example, the Baptist's identification
of Jesus as the Lamb of God (v 29), the emphasis on Jesus' pre-
existence over the Baptist (vv 30-31), the fact that the Spirit "re-
mained" [e@meinen] on Jesus (v 32), and the retrospective narration of
the baptism (vv 32-34) are not found in the synoptics. If John is
writing a later and supplementary gospel (as most commentators
recognize), these new insights are significant.
Perhaps most important for this discussion, however, is the
account recording the transfer of loyalty to Jesus by some of
the Baptist's disciples. Given the widespread existence of the
8R. Brown, "The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New
Testament," in John and
ed. James H. Charlesworth (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1972) 8.
9Cf. W. Nicoll, "The History of Johannine Research during the Past Century,"
Neotestamentica 6 (1972) 13: "Many leading scholars recently expressed the opinion
that the Mid-East was permeated with a kind of pre-Gnosticism in the first century and
that the Fourth Gospel shows a general relatedness to it ...If a Gnostic feeling of life
therefore formed the climate in the city or town of the Fourth Evangelist, it is to be
expected that his preaching would show signs of his using the language of his
environment. ..aimed at convincing hearers with a Gnostic frame of mind."
10 Cf. S. S. Smalley, "Salvation Proclaimed VIII. John 1:29-34," ExpTim 93 (1982)
327: "Like the synoptic writers, the gift of the Spirit is seen by the author of John's
gospel as an act of consecration, showing that Jesus is both royal Messiah (cf. Isa
11:1-5; 61:1-3) and suffering, messianic Servant of God (cf. Isa 42:1-4)."
230 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
master/disciple relationship in both the Greek and Jewish culture of
the Mediterranean world,11 this transfer of loyalty was pregnant with
meaning to John's readers. Certainly Jewish readers would under-
stand that Jesus' authority now superseded the authority of the first
great prophet in
emphasize this, the gospel writer speaks only of John's baptism in
terms of its water content (v 31), while contrasting it to Jesus' baptism
with the Holy Spirit (v 33). John's water baptism was for
and places him in continuity with the present age. Messiah's perma-
nent possession of the Holy Spirit (v 32) and his baptizing of others
with the Spirit signals the beginning of the long-awaited Messianic
Age (Isa 11:1-2; 42:1; 48:16; 59:21; 61:1-2; and Isa 32:15; 44:3-5;
Ezek 18:31; 36:25-27; 37:14; 39:39; Joel 2:28-32). The significance for
those who follow Messiah is that they will now take part in the are
characterized by the Spirit being given without measure (John ).12
Therefore, the transfer of loyalty by John the Baptist's disciples was a
significant step. They would partake of the prophesied eschatological
baptism of the Spirit and speak of it, not of their former teacher’s
baptism of repentance. As prophetic trainees, if you will, they entered
into the new realm of the abiding Spirit when they chose to follow
Jesus the Messiah.
REGENERATION BY THE SPIRIT
While the sacramental13 and physiological interpretations14 of
Jesus' conversation with the Pharisee Nicodemus persist, these views
tend to blend together how Nicodemus would understand Jesus’
words and how John wanted his readers to understand them. As
Dodd has noted,15 the overarching theme of John 2-4 is "The New
11 See K. H. Rengstorf, “maqhth<j," TDNT(1967) 4.415-61, for a good overview of
the Greek and Jewish understanding of being a "disciple."
12 Dodd, Interpretation, 310-11, confesses an inability to determine whether God
the Father or God the Son is the giver of "the Spirit without measure" in John 3:34,
while C. K. Barrett sees the sense of the passage as referring to God the Father giving
the Spirit to Jesus (The Gospel According to John [2nd ed;
1979] 226). Barrett's view fits the context of John 3 and underscores the fact that Jesus
is given the authority to baptize with the eschatological gift of the Holy Spirit because
the Father has given the Spirit without measure to him.
13 See R. E. Brown, The Gospel According to John 1-12 (AB 29; Garden City:
Doubleday & Co., 1966) 137-44 for a discussion of recent adherents of this
14 See M. Pamment, "A Short Note on John 3:5," NovT 25 (1983) 189-90 for a
recent defense of this interpretation. For a differing understanding of this passage, see
R. W. Paschal, "Sacramental Symbolism and Physical Imagery in the Gospel of John,”
TynBul 32 (1981) 159-61.
15 Dodd, Interpretation, 297-317.
RUSSELL: THE HOLY SPIRIT'S MINISTRY 231
Beginning" that Jesus has brought. His new order transcends Judaism
as represented by Nicodemus and the exact nature of this newness
seems to be the crux of the discussion between Jesus and this Pharisee.
In the course of the conversation, both Nicodemus's misunderstand-
ing16 and Jesus' expressions of double meaning17 play significant roles
in giving this dialogue its enduring quality. Nicodemus is functioning
out of a concrete, Old Covenant mindset greatly supplemented by
many decades of authoritative oral traditions. Jesus speaks from the
perspective of the new beginning of the eschatological age that he
inaugurates in this era of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.
At issue with this Sanhedrin Pharisee is entrance into this age-
Messiah's kingdom (3:3). To enter one must be born from above
(a@nwqen). Nicodemus understands this very concretely as born again-
an equally plausible meaning for a@nwqen. Jesus' paraphrasing of
"born from above" is to be "born of water and the Spirit" in 3:5.
How would Nicodemus (and the readers) most naturally under-
stand this? It seems inescapable that "water" in both contexts must
refer to purification from sin and defilement. Not only did John the
Baptist's baptism build on this understanding, but Pharisaic ritual
washings were a foundational part of their life of table fellowship (cf.
Mark 7:1-23). John's readers had already been informed of the
Pharisaic need for an abundant amount of water for this purification
(John 2:6). Therefore, it seems rather straightforward of Jesus to use
this common symbol. Under the Old Covenant the Pharisees had
taken the priestly cleansings with water (e.g., Lev 16:4), democratized
them, and thereby carried them to an absurd end. Jesus previously
commented on what he thought of their abundant use of water by
turning it into Messianic wine (John 2:1-11)! This gives an ironic
twist to Jesus' mentioning of the need for water to Nicodemus.
However, much more important than irony is Jesus' point that
the water needed is not Old Covenant water (which is now wine!), but
New Covenant water. Jesus' use of water and Spirit with Nicodemus
must have immediately brought to mind one of the clearest OT
passages on the inauguration of the New Covenant Age-Ezek 36:25-
27. Jesus' point seems to be that purification by water is needed to
by the Pharisees, but water "from above" that only God can send.
The whole thrust of Ezekiel's prophecy seems to be that God will
16 See M. de Jonge, "Nicodemus and Jesus: Some Observations on Misunder-
standing and Understanding in the Fourth Gospel,” BJRL 53 (1970-71) 337-59 and
D. A. Carson, "Understanding Misunderstandings in the Fourth Gospel,” TynBul 33
17 For a recent study see E. Richard, "Expressions of Double Meaning and Their
Function in the Gospel of John,” NTS 31 (1985) 96-112.
232 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
inaugurate the New Covenant form of his kingdom with
pouring out water from above for cleansing (Ezek 36:25) and by
pouring out his Spirit from above for a new obedience (Ezek 36:26-
27). This heavenly outpouring is the prior necessity to entering the
kingdom under the New Covenant. Isaiah echoes this in 44: 1-5 when
he states: "For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on
the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring and my
blessing on your descendants" (v 3). The prophet goes on to say:
"One will say, 'I belong to the Lord,' another will call himself by the
name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand, 'The Lord's,' and
will take the name
The gospel writer reinforces this understanding about the Holy
Spirit in John and 6:63. In while speaking with the
Samaritan woman, Jesus asserts the universality of New Covenant
worship for all peoples. Such worship is decentralized geographically
Worship is mediated through the person of the Holy Spirit to ensure
its truthfulness for all peoples. In this age of the abiding Spirit, he
aids anyone who genuinely wants to worship God, regardless of their
ethnic group or geographical location. This is necessary because "it is
the Spirit who gives life" (6:63a). Using the words that Jesus spoke,
which are spirit and life (6:63b), the Holy Spirit bestows the life from
above. This is the life that draws those who believe into Messiah’s
EMPOWERING BY THE SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit also personally enables Messiah's followers to
proclaim his gospel to the nations like the prophets of old. The
decentralized, universal worship of God under the New Covenant is
mediated by the Holy Spirit under Messiah's authority as has already
been seen in the brief, but powerful words of John 4:24. How the
Spirit mediates the universal harvest that has already begun () is
further explained by John (John -39; 14-16; ).
For sheer picturesque imagery and vividness, John -39
unmatched among passages about the Holy Spirit. The setting is the
18 See Z. C. Hodges, "Water and Spirit-John 3:5," BSac 135 (1978) 206-20 for an
understanding of "water and Spirit" as "water and wind." He sees Isa 44:1-5 and
Ezek 37:9-10 as the OT proof-texts behind this double metaphor for the work of the
RUSSELL: THE HOLY SPIRIT'S MINISTRY 233
Feast of Booths or Tabernacles (John 7:2). As many have noted, the
liturgy of this Jewish festival was dominated by the themes of water
and light (see m.Sukk. 3-4).19 Sensitive to the opportunities for
teaching provided by these themes, Jesus apparently delivered a
sermon on each while at the feast ("water" in John 7 and "light" in
John 8). We also know that Zechariah 12-14 was a central passage in
the liturgy of the festival20--probably because the Feast of Taber-
nacles is mentioned in the eschatological setting of Zechariah 14. This
passage has been championed as the OT Scripture behind Jesus'
words along with Exod 17:5-6; Num 20:7-11; Ps 78:15-16; Prov
; 18:4; Isa 12:3; 55:1; 58:11; and others.21 Some also strongly
conjecture that Ezek 47: 1-12 provided the OT backdrop for under-
standing the daily water ceremonies during the feast.22 Since the
reference to the OT in John is singular and vague (''as the
Scripture said"), it has been difficult choosing among the many OT
texts relating to water and the Spirit. While there may be some
difficulties in matching up the imagery of Zechariah 12-14 with John
7:37-39, it still seems to be the most straightforward choice as the
primary Scripture because of its use as a Tabernacle's haphtarah and
its immediate familiarity to the festival hearers.
Several scholars have suggested that the punctuation of the tra-
ditional English translations of John is incorrect and that Christ,
not the believer, is the one from whom the living waters flow.23
However, Cortes and others24 have shown that such suggestions are
inadequate and that the believer is clearly the source of the rivers of
living water. The introductory tou?to de> ei#pen ("this he said") in John
demands that the immediately preceding statement be a reference
to the believer by Jesus and not a part of John's editorial comment.
It well may be that Jesus used Zechariah 12-14 not only because
it was a part of the festival liturgy, but also because it was loved by
the Jews for its promise of judgment upon the oppressor nations
19 See Dodd, Interpretation, 345-54 and particularly A. Guilding, The Fourth
Gospel and Jewish Worship (Oxford: Clarendon, 1960),92-120 for a full development
of this dual theme in John 7-8.
University, 1917, 1924; reprint ed.;
21 See Brown, The Gospel According to John 1-12, 321-23 for a discussion of
these OT texts.
22 For example, Z. C. Hodges, "Rivers of Living Water-John -39," BSac 139
(1979) 239-48 and B. Grigsby, "Gematria and John -Another Look at Ezekiel
47:10," ExpTim 95 (1984) 177-78.
23 See Brown, The Gospel According to John, 320-21 for some of these attempts.
24 J. B. Cortes, "Yet Another Look at Jn -38," CBQ 29 (1967) 75-86; G. Fee,
"Once More-John 7:37-39," ExpTim 89 (1978) 116-18; and Hodges, "Rivers of
Living Water," 239-43.
234 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
(Zech 14:1-7, 12-19). This judgment will take place when the Lord is
King over the whole earth (14:9). He will then literally raise up
wealth of the nations for her ().
center of worship for all the nations, and they will come to her to
celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (-21).
Jesus' point in using such a passage is that he was soon going to
establish his kingdom over the nations, but his agenda at the present
time was not judgment, but gracious preaching (cf. Isa 61:1-2 in Luke
nations reel and the flaming torch that ignites them in judgment
(Zech 12:1-9). Also at that time, the spirit of grace and supplication
would be poured out upon the house of David and the inhabitants of
they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve
bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son" (; cf. John
Most significant for this discussion is the statement, "on that day
a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants
Jesus' (and John's) point seems to be that worship of the Father is
not presently centralized around a fountain in
in the Person of Jesus the Messiah. He is the fountain that will be
woman, "Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of
water welling up to eternal life" (John ). John now clarifies in his
editorial comment that this overflowing spring/ river of living water is
the overflow of the Holy Spirit in the life of each believer in Jesus
(John 7:39). That is why the worship of God is now decentralized
tion of the Holy Spirit (John ). He who comes to drink by faith
from Jesus will himself "become an 'intermediate source' through
whom the living waters he receives from God's son will flow.”25 In
other words, in the terms of Zech 13:1, the nations do not have to
extensions of the Living Fountain can now overflow to the nations.26
25 Hodges, "Rivers of Living Water," 243.
26 Note that John informs the readers of his focus on the nations in this context
including the ironic statement of the Jews in John 7:35: "The Jews therefore said to one
another, 'Where does this man intend to go that we shall not find Him? He is not
intending to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks, is He?’”
For a recent study that sees "the Jews" in John as basically the leaders of the nation,
see U. C. von Wahlde, "The Johannine 'Jews': A Critical Survey," NTS 28 (1982)
RUSSELL: THE HOLY SPIRIT'S MINISTRY 235
Rather than judgment upon the nations, this message about the Feast
of Tabernacles brings only good news. The overflow of the Holy
Spirit in the lives of Messiah's followers ensures that.
The four occurrences of the term para<klhtoj (John ; 26;
; 16:7) in conjunction with the four occurrences of pneu?ma (John
, 26; ; ) have aroused an enormous amount of
scholarly debate over the last decades.27 Establishing the exact mean-
ing of para<klhtoj has been no easy task because of its rarity in
Greek literature and its broad usage. Some have emphasized a legal
sense and have argued for the translation "advocate" (e.g. Liddell-
Scott, 1313; Behm in TDNT, 5.803; and the majority of Johannine
commentators since). Some have emphasized the LXX usage and
suggest (Eschatological) "Comforter",28 while others speak of the
Paraclete as "the Spirit of Christian paraclesis [messianic procla-
mation].“29 Brown advises transliteration because, like love, the term
is "a many-splendoured thing!”30 The most reasonable solution seems
to be that suggested recently by Grayston in his excellent diachronic
study.31 He advocates a general, flexible term like "supporter" or
"sponsor." This fits the usage of para<klhtoj from the fourth century
B.C. to the third century A.D. and explains John's focus on various
aspects of this broad term in his four gospel usages.32 In these
occurrences and all others, para<klhtoj is someone usually more
27 For example, see R. Bultmann, The Gospel of John, 566-72; H. Windisch, The
Spirit-Paraclete in the Fourth Gospel, trans. J. W. Cox (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968);
R. E. Brown, "The Paraclete in the Fourth Gospel," NTS 13 (1966-67) 113-32;
Barrett, The Gospel According to John, 454-55; J. Painter, "The Farewell Discourses
and the History of Johannine Christianity," NTS 27 (1981) 525-43; F. F. Segovia,
"The Theology and Provenance of John 15:1-17," JBL 101 (1982) 115-28; F. F.
CBQ 45 (1983) 210-30; D. B. Woll, "The Departure of 'The Way': The First Farewell
Discourse in the Gospel of John," JBL 99 (1980) 225-39; A. R. C. Leaney, "The
Johannine Paraclete and the Qumran Scrolls,"
in John and
Charlesworth (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1972) 38-61; and A. Shafatt, "Geber of the
28 J. G. Davies, "The Primary Meaning of para<klhtoj," JTS n.s. 4 (1953) 35-38.
29 Barrett, The Gospel According to John, 461-63.
3O Brown, "The Paraclete in the Fourth Gospel," 118-19.
31 K. Grayston, "The Meaning of PARAKLETOS," JSNT 13 (1981) 67-82.
32 Brown, "The Paraclete in the Fourth Gospel," 118, summarizes how John uses
the term to speak of a witness in defense of Jesus and a spokesman for him in his
trial-context, a consoler of the disciples, and, most importantly, a helper of them as a
teacher and guide.
236 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
prominent and powerful who comes alongside to support or sponsor
one in need-sometimes in a legal context.33
Jesus is commissioning the disciples to carryon his work on earth.
More specifically, the genre appears to be that of prophetic com-
missioning, as several have observed.34 Such an overwhelming task
demands heavenly support and sponsorship. This Jesus provides with
his eschatological gift to his disciples-the promised Holy Spirit --
and his upper room teaching explains exactly how the Spirit will be
their sponsor in the work of prophetic proclamation. This is the
climactic purpose of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the fourth .
gospel, and John has been building toward it since Jesus' baptism in
John 1:32-34. Dodd misses this sense of empowering and simply
describes John's account of the gift of the Spirit of the Church as "the
ultimate climax of the personal relations between Jesus and His
disciples.”35 Certainly, it is this, but while John speaks of the Spirit's
bestowal in terms more intimate and personal than other NT authors,
his pastoral language does not reveal a divergent purpose for that
bestowal. Barrett concurs and sees the Paraclete as the Spirit of
Christian preaching, paralleling the well-known rabbinic description
of the Holy Spirit as the "Spirit of prophecy.”36 Barrett's view, while
not diminishing the personhood of the Spirit, explicitly emphasizes
his role in sponsoring the work of prophetic proclamation. Boring
and Isaacs, in their studies of the various functions of the OT prophet,
33 G. G.
this description: "The relationship of advocate and client constituted a settled personal
tie involving acquaintanceship, and often kinship, between the parties. The para<klhtoj
of the old jurisprudence, in the best times of antiquity, was no hired pleader connected
with his client for the occasion by his brief and his fee; he was his patron and standing
counsel, the head of the order or the clan to which both belonged, bound by the claims
of honour and family association to stand by his humble dependent and to see him
through when his legal standing was imperilled; he was his client's natural protector
and the appointed captain of his salvation." -
34 For example, M. E. Boring, "The Influence of Christian Prophecy on the
Johannine Portrayal of the Paraclete and Jesus," NTS 25 (1978) 113-23 and especiclly
M. E. Isaacs, "The Prophetic Spirit in the Fourth Gospel," HeyJ 24 (1983) 391-407,
See also, H. S. Benjamin, "Pneuma in John and Paul-A Comparative Study of the
Term with Particular Reference to the Holy Spirit," BTB 6 (1976) 27-48; D. A.
George Johnston, "The Spirit-Paraclete in the Gospel of John," Perspective 9 (1968)
29-37 and The Spirit-Paraclete in the Gospel of John (
35 Dodd, Interpretation, 227.
36 Barrett, The Gospel According to John, 462.
RUSSELL: THE HOLY SPIRIT'S MINISTRY 237
expand Barrett's insight by showing how all of these prophetic func-
tions are ascribed to the Spirit Paraclete in the fourth gospel.37 These
include the functions of being a divine messenger and spokesman, one
who glorifies God (Jesus), a teacher and interpreter of events, a
witness, one who predicts the future, and one whose message is
rejected in the present. "Furthermore, his [the Holy Spirit's] perma-
nent presence within the Christian community is the fulfillment of the
hope that all the Lord's people should be prophets (cf. Num )."38
Although in this age believers are not prophets in the technical sense
of the term, surely this was Jesus' encouraging word to the disciples
on the night he was betrayed. They would be equipped from above by
the long-awaited, abiding presence of the Prophetic Spirit to proclaim
as "prophets" the good news of their Savior.
Only this last occurrence of the Holy Spirit in the fourth gospel
remains to be dealt with in this study. Again, the context appears to
be one of prophetic commissioning:
Jesus therefore said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father
has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed
on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit" [John 20:21-22].
Jesus' sending of his disciples as he was sent by the Father and
his emphasis on receiving the Holy Spirit suggest a continuation of
his Spirit-anointed "prophetic" ministry:
The tandem relationship between Jesus and the spirit-paraclete is used
by John to stress the continuity of function rather than to suggest that
Jesus is subordinate. Greater claims are made for Jesus than the
paraclete, and it is he as the prophet par excellence who provides the
model for the prophetic spirit. ...: he figure of Moses may also lie
behind John's description of Jesus bequeathing his spirit to his disciples
(John 20:22; cf. LXX Gen 2:7) Besides endowing the seventy elders
with his self-same spirit of prophecy (Num 11:24f), at the end of his
farewell discourse he hands on his spirit to his successor, Joshua.39
At various points in the fourth gospel, John has subtly demon-
strated that, as the second Moses (Deut ), Jesus is far greater
than Moses. For example, while the Torah was given through Moses,
37 Boring, "The Influence of Christian Prophecy," I 13-20 and Isaacs, "The
Prophetic Spirit in the Fourth Gospel," 393-99.
38 Isaacs, "The Prophetic Spirit in the Fourth Gospel," 399.
238 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
Jesus himself is the New Torah, because he has seen the Father and
explains him (John -18). While manna was given through Moses,
Jesus himself is the true manna from heaven (John -35). "It is
because Jesus supersedes Moses that ascriptions such as 'life,' 'light,'
'bread,' and 'water,' which were previously applied to the Mosaic
Torah, are transferred to him.”40
John brings all of this Mosaic imagery to a climax in . The
second and greater prophet Moses-the Eschatological Prophet-is
now bequeathing not just the temporary Spirit of prophecy as Moses
did, but the abiding, eschatological gift of the Holy Spirit. He will
enable all of God's people to proclaim like prophets of old the good
news of the New Moses (cf. Joel -32; Acts 2:1-21). John's in-
clusion of this bestowal of the Spirit does not appear to be his official
account of Pentecost, but rather it is simply his way of giving finality
to the prophetic commissioning he has been picturing since John
7:37-39. In John's typical style, it is personal, intimate, and filled with
Dodd made a lasting contribution to NT studies with his book,
According to the Scriptures,41 in which he isolated the most important
OT testimonia behind numerous NT passages. Dodd's error in viewing
the Holy Spirit's ministry to the Church in the fourth gospel may lie
in the fact that he did not fully integrate his brilliant work about the
OT testimonia into his study of John. This is crucial because it seems
John is always writing at two levels. Some of his first readers appear
to have been Hellenized Gentiles who were uninformed of the rich
OT foundation underlying the life and ministry of Jesus and the
Church. John's gospel is perfectly intelligible to them without this
background. The second group of readers appear to have been Jews
and Hellenistic Gentiles who did know the OT well and readily
picked up on the twenty-odd OT quotations and the hundred-plus
OT allusions in his gospel. Obviously the fourth gospel is immensely
enriched with the addition of this dimension.
The person and work of the Holy Spirit can be seen in the same
two-fold manner in John. The Holy Spirit can be readily distinguished
from the impersonal forces and unholy spirits with which Gentiles
would be familiar from the standard Greco-Roman mystery religions.
John fosters this distinction by his emphasis on the personhood of the
Spirit and the personal relationship the Christian has with him.
However, John does not reduce pneu?ma to reality or absolute being.
40 Ibid., 403.
41 C. H. Dodd, According to the Scriptures (London: Nisbet & Co., 1952).
RUSSELL: THE HOLY SPIRIT'S MINISTRY 239
His rich anchoring in OT testimonia about the Spirit makes such an
identification impossible. Therefore, John's view of the Holy Spirit
can be summarized as a more personal and intimate view of the same
prophesied Messianic anointing or empowering found in Luke-Acts
and the rest of the NT.42 Such an anointing both inaugurates a new
Messianic age and empowers those who believe in Jesus to make the
"prophetic" proclamation to the nations that he who has been lifted
up wants to draw all men to himself (John ).
42 See Russell, "The Anointing with the Holy Spirit in Luke-Acts," 47-63 for a
development of the theme of Messianic anointing in Luke's writings.
This material is cited with gracious permission from:
Grace Theological Seminary
Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at: email@example.com