The Holy Spirit’s Ministry in the Fourth Gospel -- By: Walt Russell

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 08:2 (Fall 1987)
Article: The Holy Spirit’s Ministry in the Fourth Gospel
Author: Walt Russell

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 Bultmanns influence by attributing much of Johannine theology to Hellenistic thought, especially in the realm of pneumatology. Actually, Johns theology of the Spirit is based on themes found in OT eschatological passages, themes that are shared by John with the rest of the NT, especially Luke-Acts. When one examines the themes of Messiahs baptism of others with the Holy Spirit, the Spirits own regenerating work as he incorporates believers into Messiahs kingdom, and the Spirits enabling of Messiahs followers to proclaim the Gospel, it is clear that John (along with the NT in general) shares these ideas with the OT prophets and has not imbibed them from Hellenistic sources.

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In his monumental work, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, C. H. Dodd concludes that the author of the fourth gospel faithfully reproduces the main articles of the tradition of Jewish eschatology dealing with God’s πνεῦμα. This tradition understood that the Messiah, or the people of God in the age to come, or both, would be invested with the divine πνεῦμα 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 πνεῦμα 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:

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: ἐνεφύσησεν καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, λάβετε πνεῦμα ἅγιου [“He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’“] (John 20:22).You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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