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              THE HOLY SPIRIT'S MINISTRY

                    IN THE FOURTH GOSPEL

 

                                            WALT RUSSELL


 

 

 

      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.

 

* * *

INTRODUCTION

 

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 1:32-33; 3:34; 7:39; 14:16-17; 20:22).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

then concludes:

 

     1C. H. Dodd, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel (Cambridge: Cambridge

Uiversity, 1953) 222.

     2Ibid.

     3Ibid., 223-26.


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 20:22).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 Qumran now reveals such concessions

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," TrinJ NS 7

(1986) 52, 57.

             7 See particularly R. Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament (New York:

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 Qumran from the common source of OT escha-

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 1:32-33; 3:34).

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 Qumran,

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 Israel in over four hundred years (cf. 1:19-21). To

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 Israel (v 31).

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 3:34).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; Philadelphia: Westminster,

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

interpretation.

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

enter the kingdom of God, but it is not by water "from below" used

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

(1982) 59-91.

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 Israel by

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 Israel" (v 5). God's heavenly outpouring is the

precursor to Israel's full possession of his kingdom blessings.18

The gospel writer reinforces this understanding about the Holy

Spirit in John 4:24 and 6:63. In 4:24 while speaking with the

Samaritan woman, Jesus asserts the universality of New Covenant

worship for all peoples. Such worship is decentralized geographically

(not in Jerusalem or at Mt. Gerizim) and centralized personally.

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

kingdom.

 

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 (4:35) is

further explained by John (John 7:37-39; 14-16; 20:22).

 

John  7:37-39

 

For sheer picturesque imagery and vividness, John 7:37-39

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

Holy Spirit.


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

5:15; 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 7:38 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 7:38 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

7:39 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.

20 See I. Abrahams, Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels (Cambridge: Cambridge

University, 1917, 1924; reprint ed.; New York: Ktav, 1967) 1.11-12.

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 7:37-39," BSac 139

(1979) 239-48 and B. Grigsby, "Gematria and John 21:11-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 7:37-38," 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

Jerusalem (14:10), make her secure forever (14:11), and collect the

wealth of the nations for her (14:14). Jerusalem will finally be the

center of worship for all the nations, and they will come to her to

celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (14:16-21).

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

4:16-30). At his return Jerusalem would be the cup that makes the

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

Jerusalem, and "they will look on me, the one they have pierced, and

they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve

bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son" (14:10; cf. John

19:34-37).

Most significant for this discussion is the statement, "on that day

a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants

of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity" (Zech 13:1).

Jesus' (and John's) point seems to be that worship of the Father is

not presently centralized around a fountain in Jerusalem, per se, but

in the Person of Jesus the Messiah. He is the fountain that will be

opened in Jerusalem (cf. John 19:34). As Jesus told the Samaritan

woman, "Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring  of

water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:14). 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

from Jerusalem and centralized around faith in Jesus via the media-

tion of the Holy Spirit (John 4:24). 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

come to Jerusalem for the fountain, but the personal, individual

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)

33-60.


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.

 

John 14-16

 

The four occurrences of the term  para<klhtoj (John 14:16; 26;

15:26; 16:7) in conjunction with the four occurrences of  pneu?ma (John

14:17, 26; 15:26; 16:13) 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.

Segovia "John 15:18-16:4a: A First Addition to the Original Farewell Discourse?"

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 Qumran, ed. James H.

Charlesworth (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1972) 38-61; and A. Shafatt, "Geber of the

Qumran ,Scrolls and the Spirit-Paraclete of the Gospel of John," NTS 27 (1981)

263-69.

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

Para<klhtoj; is appropriate in the setting of John 14-16 because

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. Findlay, The Fellowship in Life Eternal (New York: Hodder and

Stoughton, 1909; reprint ed.; Minneapolis: James and Klock, 1977) 117, concurs with

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.

Carson, "The Function of the Paraclete in John 16:7-11," JBL 98 (1979) 547-66; and

George Johnston, "The Spirit-Paraclete in the Gospel of John," Perspective 9 (1968)

29-37 and The Spirit-Paraclete in the Gospel of John (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni

versity, 1970).

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 11:29)."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.

 

John 20:22

 

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 18:15), 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.

39 Ibid.,402-3.


238               GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL

 

Jesus himself is the New Torah, because he has seen the Father and

explains him (John 1:17-18). While manna was given through Moses,

Jesus himself is the true manna from heaven (John 6:32-35). "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 20:22. 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 2:28-32; 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

OT allusions.

 

CONCLUSION

 

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 12:32).

 

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.

 

 

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