Two spirits are clearly distinguishable in the Bible. First, there’s God’s Holy Spirit. Second, the spirit God formed in humans.
Two spirits are present in the Bible narrative. It behooves us to understand their differences and their relationship. Especially since in both the Old and New Testaments, they use the same Biblical Hebrew (ruach) and Greek (pneuma) words.
(Origin of Humankind, chapter 2.16)
Here’s a summary of what we’ve covered in Genesis 2.7 so far about the creation of the first man. Yahveh formed man out of dust, the most sterile part of the ground. Yahveh, the Potter, the future Jesus then breathed into his nostrils. That man is called a living soul composed of a material body and an immaterial singularity, akin to the mind, that only humans possess. This is a result of the breath of life which is the neshama, which again, only humans and God possess, revealing a relationship between humans and God. This neshama meaning confers lives (plural) on humans, confirmed by reference to resurrections (plural). Hence neshama meaning is better rendered by the divine essence of lives. Neshama is always associated with ruach, both of which are possessed by God and humans.
In Genesis 1.2 it says the Spirit (ruach) of God moved upon the face of the waters. This is the first time the Spirit is mentioned in the Bible and it is certainly God’s Holy Spirit. A little later on in Genesis 6.7 there is a clear verse saying … God will bring a flood to destroy all flesh wherein is the breath (ruach) of life. This is evidently the second spirit which animates living beings.
Both of these distinct spirits belong to God. One spirit has been distributed to ALL living beings. The Explanation has pointed out, the ruach endows beings with physical breath and mental abilities, be they on the animal level (instinct) or, when coupled with the neshama, on the human level (mind and mind-power). The latter level is unattainable by any animal.
The second Spirit, God’s Spirit, is NOT for general distribution. It is endowed on certain circumstances only to humans who have a relationship with God. The Explanation will expound this, but not now.
These two spirits and two groups of people (1. With the spirit in humans. 2 With the spirit in humans AND God’s Spirit) are distinct groups referred to in the Bible.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
Verse 16 is clear. Two different spirits with the possibility of a distinct relationship between them. There’s God’s Holy Spirit and our spirit. Again, to stay focused, no details about this relationship right now.
At this point in Genesis 2.7, we’re discussing Adam who received the neshmat chayim, the breath of life as it’s translated. Or as I translated it, the Godly essence of lives. Adam obviously, also received the spirit in man which God formed in him (Zechariah 12.1). Adam and Eve did NOT receive the Holy Spirit, symbolized by the Tree of Life.
In theory, and if I follow the schema I’ve set up for commenting the Genesis narrative, I should NOT be talking about the Holy Spirit at this juncture. But, I must do it. Discussing it in Genesis 1.2 would’ve been premature, without enough comprehension. In particular that of understanding there are two spirits.
The Spirit of God
It’s time to throw back the curtain and discuss God’s Holy Spirit. Most lack the comprehension of what the Holy Spirit really is. That statement might astound you as the Holy Spirit is possibly one of the most talked about subjects in Christianity, no matter what the viewpoint might be.
When religious leaders, theoretically Bible scholars, asked Christ a question regarding social life after the resurrection He made this statement. Jesus answered and said unto them, You do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. (Matthew 22.29). That’s quite a jibe. Christ tells these theologians they don’t understand what they’re studying and secondly, they don’t understand the power available to God. This power is that of the Holy Spirit.
It is this power of the Holy Spirit that I want to address. It is that creative and transformative power that moved on the face of the waters as the Bible starts its narrative. We have present Elohim and Their (it is plural, Let US make man in our image.) Spirit. Elohim is composed of the Father and future Son and They are in possession of Their Spirit. Elsewhere, in John 1 it becomes clear that the Father allotted the role of Creator of the Universe and the Earth in Genesis chapter One to Jesus Christ. It is this latter, YHVH, who is the Word and Who pronounces the Words Let there be Light.
Look at these three verses for confirmation of the Son’s role as the Word. All He had to do was speak, and His Spirit created and remade the face of the Earth. When I say “all He had to do…”, that is the understatement of the year. What is going on here absolutely defies the imagination. This is NOT fiction but it demands faith, a lot of faith.
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. 9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.
By his spirit (this should have a capital S) he has garnished the heavens; his hand has formed the crooked serpent. (see the explanation of the crooked serpent here)
You [YHVH] send forth your spirit (this should have a capital S), they [everything on Earth] are created: and you renew the face of the earth.
I realize that reading these three verses might not necessarily have a particular impact on readers. Or it might bring a smile of incredulity to your face. We live in a very technical, scientific, rather jaded world. And the words of a 3000-year-old book don’t hold a lot of weight. If we could shed that shell and look at this in light of the words Christ was trying to impress on the Pharisees: Know the POWER of God.
Humans have a MIND to conceive plans and inventions. Then, humans have WORDS to give instructions to other humans or they can use their own HANDS to execute and build their plans and inventions. On the God-plane, YHVH simply has to SAY a WORD and it is DONE, CREATED. God’s SPIRIT executes the plan that was in God’s Mind instantly. There’s no need to either transmit those plans or use hands to accomplish anything. God’s WORD is sufficient to CREATE and RENEW the face of the Earth. Know the POWER of God.
The spirit in humans
Humans have a spirit. Our spirit (coupled inexorably with the neshama) allows us to conceive unbelievable inventions. We’re creating robots with Artificial Intelligence. We’ve orbited all sorts of communication and sophisticated satellites, including the space station. Humans have a CREATIVE SPIRIT. That is one of our singularities that distinguishes us from animals. We, as human beings, alone have HANDS, to execute every single idea our minds imagine. Humans use their minds, their inventions, their toys to control and govern this world and its environment. Humankind has been endowed with POWER, but it is obviously a very limited power when compared with God’s Power.
I really don’t want to get into another subject here but contemplate this. Humans were created in the IMAGE of God. We are seeing to what extent this is such a strong resemblance. God has the power of the Holy Spirit. Humans have the power of the human spirit and mind. God has the imagination and creativity to create the Universe, Earth, and everything, including animals and humans to occupy it. Humans have the imagination and creativity to create everything to do with their environment and populate it.
Our human spirit is the counterpart of God’s Holy Spirit. Our spirit is powerful but on a much, much, much, much lower level than God’s Spirit. In fact, there’s no comparison in the power. That said, our human spirit IS the image of God’s Spirit. Our neshama, mind, is the counterpart of God’s neshama, His MIND.
This comprehension, that there are two spirits, God’s Holy Spirit and the human spirit is basic understanding. The relationship that our human spirit is the counterpart of God’s Spirit and can work JOINTLY with God’s Spirit is basic understanding. The comprehension that our neshama, our mind is the counterpart of God’s MIND and that ONLY humans possess this attribute and quality is basic understanding.
Without this comprehension, the rest of the Bible narrative will begin to get jumbled or fade away and become nonsense. Without this solid foundation of who humans are, starting with Adam, where they came from and their relationship with their Creator, the rest of the instruction manual will be garbled. This is part of the reason for all the confusion and miscomprehension when it comes to theology and Bible meaning.
Do we see WHO GOD IS? His Mind, His Power? Who humans are? Our minds and our power? Do we see our relationship with our Creator?
Over the next few blog posts, The Explanation will expand on the POWER of GOD. The RUACH, God’s Spirit is the key to understanding the creation and the functioning of our Universe.
This blog post is an excerpt from chapter 2.16 of the book Origin of Humankind.
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