The “Holy Spirit” is a phrase in the Bible used to describe the mystery and power of God’s personal presence. In this video we explore the original Hebrew meaning of the word “spirit/breath,” and how understanding this can help you see the storyline of the entire Bible in a whole new way. This video by The Bible Project explains more.
If you have ever heard the phrase “the Holy Spirit”
and you want to know what it means,
where do you start?
Well, you have to start on page one of the Bible.
Where the uncreated world is depicted as this
dark chaotic place. But then, above the chaos
God’s Spirit is there, hovering, ready to bring about life and order and beauty.
Okay, but what is God’s Spirit?
Yeah, so the Spirit is the way the Biblical authors
talk about God’s personal presence.
The Hebrew word is Ruakh.
Ruu-a-achh? Yeah, you’ve gotta clear your throat at the end.
So, what is it?
Ruakh can refer to a number of different things,
but what they all have in common is energy.
Energy? How so?
So, there’s an invisible energy,
that makes the clouds move or the tree branches sway.
Right, wind. So in Hebrew,
that’s Ruakh. Okay!
Now, take a big breath, uwwshh!
So you feel that, inside you.
Yeah, the air?
Well, specifically the energy,
right, the vitality in your body that you get from
that too is, Ruakh.
And this is the same word
used in the Bible, to describe God’s
Just like wind and breath are invisible,
God’s spirit, is invisible.
Wind is powerful, and so God’s spirit is powerful.
And just as breath keeps us alive
so God’s spirit sustains all of life.
as we continue on in the story of the Bible
We see God’s ruakh giving special empowerment to people for specific tasks.
The first person in the Bible that happens to
God’s spirit enables him to understand and interpret dreams.
And then it happens to this guy named “Betsaleel” and he’s an artist!
God’s spirit empowers him with wisdom and skills.
He’s given creative genius to make beautiful things in the tabernacle.
And we also see God’s ruakh empower a group of people called “the prophets”.
They’re able to see what’s happening in history from God’s point of view.
That’s exactly right!
And here’s the problem as the prophet saw it.
While God’s ruakh had created a really good world
humans have given in to evil.
They’ve unleashed chaos into it through their injustice.
A new type of disorder.
And the prophet said the spirit would come,
just like in Genesis 1,
but now, to transform the human heart,
to empower people to truly love God and others.
How will this new active God spirit happen?
Well, centuries past and we’re introduced to Jesus.
And at the beginning of his mission,
there’s a beautiful scene where Jesus is being baptized in the waters of the Jordan river.
Yeah, the sky opens up and God’s spirit comes and rests on him like a bird.
The story sang that God’s spirit is empowering Jesus to begin the new creation.
And we see this happening when he heals people or forgives their sins.
He’s creating life where there once was death.
Now, Israel’s religious leaders oppose Jesus and they eventually have him killed.
But even here, God’s spirit is at work.
The earliest disciples of Jesus who saw him alive from the dead
said it was God’s energizing spirit that raised Jesus.
This is the beginning of new creation.
Yes, and it is still going.
When Jesus appeared to his closest followers,
he breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
And soon after that, the Spirit powerfully comes on all of his disciples.
So that they can become a part of this new creation
and share the good news and learn how to live by the energy and influence of God’s spirit.
And so today, the spirit is still hovering in dark places.
Yes, pointing people to Jesus,
transforming and empowering them so they can love God and others.
And the Christian hope is that the Spirit is going to finish the job.
The story of the Bible ends with a vision of a new humanity
living in a new world that’s permeated with God’s love and life-giving spirit.