A Simple Understanding of the Holy Ghost Part I
And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost, Acts 19:2.
Who, or what is the Holy Ghost? If someone were to ask me, who or what are you? I could answer that quite simply. As for who I am, I am John Asquith. I am the natural issue of Russell M. Asquith Jr. and his wife Shirley (nee) Straight. To answer what I am would take more time. I am a human being. I am a citizen of the United States. I am a resident of the State of New York. I am a husband. I am a father. I am an ordained Baptist preacher. I am an author. Likewise, the who and what of the Holy Ghost is multifaceted.
In the Old Testament there is no excuse to not see in the revelation of God that he portrays himself in more than one personality. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: Deuteronomy 6:4. Yes, he is one LORD, but he does not dwell alone. For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones, Isaiah 57:15. He does not always act alone. The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire, Psalms: 18:13.
Search as you will, only two personalities are revealed in the 39 books that we refer to as the Old Testament. That is reflected in the verse we use as a header, Acts 19:2. Twelve disciples of John the Baptist who are obviously cosmopolitan enough to travel to Ephesus and to be standing in front of a synagogue to talk to Paul had never heard that there was a Holy Ghost. How could any Jew even mildly familiar with Holy Writ not know that God had a Spirit? And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, Genesis 1:2.
Either these twelve men are the most ignoramus disciples that John ever made, and despite their desire to be at a synagogue together in Ephesus, and despite their having repented of sin and submitting themselves to John's Baptism, they managed to stay wholly ignorant of scripture. Throughout the volume of the book it is obvious that God has a Spirit. Why didn't these men know that there was a Holy Ghost? Because the Holy Ghost is never mentioned in the Old Testament.
Ghost and spirit are not synonymous. In the bible a spirit of a person is a real entity that helps form that person's thinking. If a person has an unclean spirit, they are plagued with unclean thoughts interposing themselves over the most mundane aspects of life. Every person has a spirit. In fact, man is born with seven distinctly different spirits. Click here to read about it. And Here. Each of those spirits guides man in the sinful nature with which he was born. God has more than one Spirit. John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne, Revelation 1:4.
A ghost is the soul and spirit of a person combined. In the Old Testament a ghost is symbolized by fat. If you have ever seen a hunter or trapper skin an animal, you have seen that moment when the outer fur and skin are carefully slit and then pulled off. What is left is a ghastly outline of that animal. It shimmers with the exact form that it had in life, bereft of skin and fur. That is what the ghost of a person is like when it is stripped of its earthly body.
In the Old Testament, God carefully orchestrated the writing of scripture and the prophecies that guided Israel. He did this in a form in which he did not reveal himself. As a hidden benefactor, God's soul and Spirit combined to keep Israel holy through prophecy and scripture. It is not until the New Testament, that that aspect of God with his own distinct personality is revealed with a name. That is why the disciples of Acts 19:2 never heard of him.
The English Bible is the greatest revelation of God ever given to man. There is nothing therein that is not from God and there is nothing that God wants man to know not stated therein. The term "Holy Ghost" is a term that is unique to Germanic tongues of which English is one. It is found in German, Dutch, Anglo-Saxon, Afrikaans, and English as well as many extinct or rare Germanic tongues. It is unknown in Greek, Latin, Spanish or other major tongues. It gives the English-speaking person the advantage of having the third distinct person of the Godhead isolated with his own title when he is spoken of.
At no time in the Old Testament did the translators ever see the third person in the Old Testament ever manifest in his own right as a person. Therefore he is not named. His work is everywhere, his name is not.