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Fruit & Gifts of the Spirit

The study of the Holy Spirit is called pneumatology. Before we learn about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we must define who he is. God is a triune being, comprising the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He is also known as the "Spirit of God," such as when God hovered over the deep at the creation of the world (cf. Gen. 1:1-2). The Greek word pneuma (G4151) can mean "spirit," "breath," or "wind." Jesus emphasized this fact when he told Nicodemus, "What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, 'You must be born from above.' The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit" (John 3:6-8).

 

The Holy Spirit is unpredictable to us, yet the Father knows where he sends him. In keeping with scripture and church tradition, we know the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone, but that Jesus sends him from the Father (cf. John 14:26; 15:26; see "Nicene Creed'). Therefore, the triune dynamics of God never contradict his singular purpose and identity. Jesus described the Holy Spirit as our Paraklētos (G3875), that is our Advocate, Comforter, Consoler, Counselor, Helper, and even Intercessor who runs beside as like a guide runner in a race. He also acts as our defense attorney, providing evidence that exonerates us before God, as well as our authorities in this world. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul of Tarsus listed the fruit of the Spirit: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (5:22-23a). Many of the biblical Greek words have more specific meanings: agapē (G26; "steadfast love"), chara (G5479; "grace"), eirēnē (G1515; "peace"), makrothumia (G3115; "push away anger"), chrēstotēs (G5544; "serviceable for good use"), agathōsunē (G19; "inherent goodness"), prautēs (G19; "gentle force"), pistis (G4102; "trust," "faith"), enkrateia (G1466; "self-mastery").

Gifts of the Spirit in the Bible

Paul wrote extensively about the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Greek: charismata; G5486; "free gifts of grace"), even admonishing us, "Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy" (1 Cor. 14:1).

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. . . . Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses (1 Cor. 12:1, 4-11).

 

For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God's except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:10b-14).

The author of Hebrews wrote, "While God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will" (2:4).

Gifts: Ceased or Continue?

Christians today are divided whether the spiritual gifts, especially tongues and prophesy, have ceased or continue. Cessationism is the conviction that the gifts ceased some time in early church history and cannot be available to us now. Continuationism is the belief that the gifts not only continue, but that Christians should be seeking to use them to expand Christendom. As a ministry, "Christian Origins/Current Faith" teaches a careful and moderate continuationism (see "Beliefs & Character"). We take a more measured approach to being open to God's call, but we do not consider the gifts necessary for salvation or a mark of spiritual maturity. They are gifts in the truest sense of the word, that God gives them for his own reasons.

 

Nevertheless, the historical evidence from the early church leaders show that while some gifts continued until the third century, most of them ceased by the time Origen of Alexandria (AD 185–254) wrote Against Celsus around AD 248. He said, "For they have no longer prophets nor miracles, traces of which to a considerable extent are still found among Christians, and some of them more remarkable than any that existed among the Jews; and these we ourselves have witnessed, if our testimony may be received" (2.8). Origen also testified, "Moreover, the Holy Spirit gave signs of his presence at the beginning of Christ's ministry, and after his ascension, he gave still more; but since that time these signs have diminished, although there are still traces of his presence in a few who have had their souls purified by the gospel, and their actions regulated by its influence" (7.8). 

Prayer

Blessed are you, LORD our God, King of the universe, for the gifts of your Holy Spirit poured out upon prophets and evangelists, to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth, and to bring all peoples under the reign of Jesus the Messiah, our Lord. Amen.

Bibliography

Attridge, Harold W., ed. The NRSV HarperCollins Study Bible, Revised and Updated with Apocryphal and Deuterocanonical Books. San Francisco: HarperOne, 2006.

 

The Book of Common Prayer. Huntington Beach, CA: Anglican Liturgy Press, 2019. p. 157.  http://bcp2019.anglicanchurch.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/BCP2019.pdf.

Chadwick, Henry. "Origen." Encyclopædia Britannica. London: Britannica, 2020.  https://www.britannica.com/biography/Origen.

​Dobson, Kent, ed. NIV First-Century Study Bible: Explore Scripture in Its Jewish and Early Christian Context. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014.

Kaiser, Walter C., Jr., and Duane Garrett, eds. NIV Archaeological Study Bible: An Illustrated Walk Through Biblical History and Culture. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006.

Keener, Craig S., and John H. Walton, eds. NRSV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2019.

McReynolds, Paul R., ed. Word Study Greek-English New Testament. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1999.

Moore, Edward. "Origen of Alexandria (185–254 CE)." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Martin: Univ. of Tennessee at Martin, 2022. https://iep.utm.edu/origen-of-alexandria.

Schaff, Philip. Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second 4. Grand Rapids: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 2022.  https://ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf04/anf04.

Strong, James. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible: Updated and Expanded Edition. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007.