We Believe in the Holy Spirit

καὶ εἰς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἃγιον,
τὸ κύριον, καὶ τὸ ζωοποιόν,
τὸ ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκπορευόμενον,
τὸ οὺν πατρὶ καὶ υἱῷ
συμπροσκυνούμενον καὶ συνδοξαζόμενον,
τὸ λαλῆσαν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν·
Et in Spiritum Sanctum,
Dominum et vivificantem,
qui ex Patre Filioque procedit;
qui cum Patre et Filio
simul adoratur et conglorificatur;
qui locutus est per Prophetas.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son
he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.

Historical Context: The Council of Nicaea in 325 provided a short, succinct confession of the Holy Spirit in its creedal formulation. It simply said: “We believe in the Holy Spirit." It said this, however, in the context of a trinitarian structure that was first established by Christ himself when he listed the Spirit along with himself and the Father in the baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." These words, along with the other words recorded in John and the other Gospels, contain an implicit confession by Christ, and by the church, which followed him, that the Spirit exists along with the Father and the Son as a personal being trans. Boris Jakim (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), 1.—what the Cappadocians came to refer to later as a hypostatic being, a being that has his own individual and complete identity, in and of itself.

The subsequent history of the church in Acts bears out the truth of Jesus’ words. The wind that blew at Pentecost was not an impersonal force or an act of nature or some amorphous spiritual creature. The Holy Spirit was the living God, personally present as the Paraclete, the Comforter, strengthening and encouraging, living among and giving life to a thriving community of believers in the first century and beyond. The recorded history of the Gospels and the letters of Paul and Peter paint the picture of a personal Spirit who can be lied to and resisted. The Spirit is called God. He is referred to as a witness to Christ alongside the apostles, and also as collaborating in decisions such as those at the council of Jerusalem. He fills the faithful. He is given by grace and received by faith. The Spirit speaks to individuals such as Philip, Peter and Paul as well as to groups. The Spirit also prevents Paul from entering Asia or Bythinia. He appoints bishops for the church. We hear of the Spirit’s work in Corinth manifested in the speaking of tongues, which Paul himself experienced. Thus the Spirit was experienced as God interacting with his people and his church.

And yet it is safe to say that the person of the Holy Spirit was perceived as the most enigmatic of the three persons of the Trinity. Father and Son are easy to picture as persons. Not so the Spirit. Athanasius called the Spirit the image of the Son even as the Son was the image of the Father. 1.19. See also Didymus On the Trinity 2.5, 11 and John of Damascus On the Orthodox Faith 1.13, as cited in T. F. Torrance, The Trinitarian Faith (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1988), 194.As Torrance notes, it may seem rather strange at first to think of the Spirit as the "Image” of the Son until one begins to realize that the Spirit himself is imageless. But if the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are of one and the same nature, “it must be in an ineffable, imageless and wholly spiritual way that we are to think of them and of their relations with one another in the Holy Trinity.” 194.

The Nicene Creed of 325 reflected this perception of the Holy Spirit as a kind of imageless enigma about whom the Scriptures were relatively silent. But up until that time there also was no impetus to speak further about the Spirit in trying to define who or what he was. The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 expanded on what the church believed about the Holy Spirit largely because of the challenge of heretical groups such as the Eunomians and Pneumatomachians who considered the Holy Spirit an exalted created being, but nothing more. Before the controversy over the Holy Spirit erupted, however, a simple confession of belief in the Holy Spirit, along with the Father and the Son, in the Creed and in the liturgical and sacramental life of the church was considered adequate, as the Spirit was worshiped along with the Father and the Son in the church’s hymns, prayers, blessings, baptisms and doxology.

Overview: When we speak of the Holy Spirit, whatever we say will be inadequate (Cyril of Jerusalem). We still must say something, however, in case our silence allows error to prevail (Gregory of Nyssa). The relative silence of the Scriptures on the person of the Spirit is due, in part, to the Spirit’s purpose in drawing attention to Christ rather than to himself (Cyril of Alexandria). Because of this, there was previously some disagreement on the Holy Spirit, although Scripture was clear enough (Gregory of Nazianzus). Mercifully, God allowed a gradual revelation of the Spirit in Scripture and the subsequent age of the church in proportion to our ability to receive him (Gregory of Nazianzus).

The presence and divinity of the Spirit is definitely present in both the Old and New Testament to those who can perceive it (Gregory of Nazianzus).While the work of the Spirit in the Old Testament may have been more episodic (Novatian), once the Spirit was bestowed at Pentecost after Jesus had been glorified, his presence was poured out abundantly on believers and his continuing presence is more clearly known among us now (Augustine) through the Scriptures, which were written by the Spirit of God (Origen).

The ancient Christian writers speak of the Holy Spirit as the breath of God poured forth from the divine essence (Cyril of Alexandria)that enables the Word to be spoken and heard (John of Damascus). The church has been entrusted with this Word and with the Spirit that enlivens it (Irenaeus). The Spirit exists wherever the church is, and vice versa (Tertullian).

Scripture refers to the nature of the Spirit by many different names in the Old and New Testaments, but they all refer to one and the same Spirit (Cyril of Jerusalem).It is the wind that blows where it pleases (Chrysostom) that blew mightily at Pentecost (Romanus). The Spirit manifested itself also as fire at Pentecost, a fire that ultimately is tempered by the waters of baptism (Ephrem), a fire that can nurture and restore but also destroy with the fury of a refiner’s fire (Theodotus).The Spirit is often connected with fire and wind as well as water in Scripture (Maximus). It hovered over the waters in Genesis even as it continues to hover over the waters of baptism (Tertullian), because water and the Spirit provide the source of physical and spiritual life (Cyril of Jerusalem). The Spirit will continue to flow in the age to come as the abundant River that flows from Jesus in the heavenly Jerusalem (Ambrose).

The Spirit is also associated in Scripture with the dove, present with Noah at the flood in the Old Testament and present with Christ at his baptism in the New (Cyril of Jerusalem).The dove, with its protective wings (Gregory of Nyssa), is a symbol of the peace that only the Spirit can bring to the church (Augustine, Cyprian). But the Spirit also did truly appear in bodily form as a dove, and not just as a symbol (Augustine).

The Spirit is sometimes viewed as the wisdom who was present at creation (Irenaeus, Theophilus)and is often referred to by the number seven corresponding to the sevenfold spirit in Isaiah (Augustine). The Holy Spirit was also present as the Finger of God who wrote the Law fifty days after Passover, even as the Spirit descended on the church fifty days after the Passover in the New Testament (Augustine).

The Holy Spirit, however, is not simply to be understood as the finger of God or breath or wind (Didymus),nor is he to be considered as merely an activity or action of the Godhead (Gregory of Nazianzus). He is a distinct person, related to the unity of the Godhead (Origen). The Spirit is a person, in the proper sense, of the Trinity (Niceta) with his own unique identity in the Trinity (Gregory of Nyssa). The Spirit is not an it; he is a living, intelligent, divine being who provides the sanctifying power for everything that exists (Cyril of Jerusalem).

In early Syriac Christianity up to about the fifth century, the Holy Spirit.was almost always treated grammatically as feminine due to affinity with the Hebrew word for spirit, which is also feminine (Aphrahat, Macarius, Synesios). Such allusions helped emphasize the motherly care God provides. However, in later Syriac references to the Spirit, this feminine ascription decreased due to the possibility for misunderstanding, especially among pagan converts whose former religions included a divine triad of father, mother and son. Ultimately, as Jerome pointed out when discussing the Hebrew text, in deity there is no gender except in so far as God reveals himself in gendered terms such as Father and Son. And so, although the Spirit has been referred to as he and she and even it, the Godhead in its nature is beyond gender (Gregory of Nazianzus).

Christ promised his disciples he would leave them with the Holy Spirit (Bede).Although he may have left them in a bodily sense, he still left them and us with the presence of his Spirit, who brings his gifts to us (Theodore). The unique office of this Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, is that of comforter (Didymus). His office is distinguished from that of the Son, who is also called the Paraclete. The Son acts as our advocate in interceding with the Father on our behalf because of our sins (Origen). The Holy Spirit is a comforter in a different sense, as one who consoles us in our grief (Didymus) and steels us against temptation (Cyril of Jerusalem). God has sent us what Jesus called "another advocate,” someone in addition to our Savior who is also on our side and who will lighten the load of the afflicted (Theodore). Jesus has given us his Spirit, who is with us in times of trouble (Cyril of Jerusalem) and who will help us in time of need (Nicetas).

Scripture’s Relative Silence About the Spirit

Whatever We Say Will Be Inadequate. Cyril of Jerusalem: We need spiritual grace, in truth, if we are going to teach about the Holy Spirit. This is not to say in any way that we could speak worthily of him, for that would be impossible. Rather, by speaking the words of the divine Scriptures we may run our course without danger. For a truly fearful thing is written in the Gospels, where Christ has plainly said, “Whoever shall speak a word against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world nor in that which is to come.” And there is often fear that someone might receive this condemnation through speaking what he should not concerning the Spirit, either from ignorance or from supposed reverence. The judge of the living and the dead, Jesus Christ, declared that such a person has no forgiveness. If therefore anyone offends in this way, what hope is there? It must therefore belong to Jesus Christ’s grace itself to grant both to us to speak without deficiency and to you to hear with discretion. For discretion is necessary not only to those who speak but also to those who hear, in case they hear one thing and misconceive another in their mind. Let us then speak nothing but what is written concerning the Holy Spirit. And let us not busy ourselves about whatever is not written. The Holy Spirit himself spoke the Scriptures. He has also spoken concerning himself as much as he pleased—or at least as much as we could receive. Let us therefore speak those things that he has said. For whatever he has not said, we dare not say either. Catechetical Lecture 16.1-2.

Silence May Leave Room for Error. Gregory of Nyssa: It may indeed be undignified to give any answer at all to statements that are foolish. We seem to be pointed that way by Solomon’s wise advice “not to answer a fool according to his folly.” But there is a danger that through our silence error may prevail over the truth, and so the rotting sore of this heresy 4.4. may invade it and make havoc of the sound word of the faith. It has appeared to me, therefore, that it is imperative to answer their objections—not indeed according to the foolishness of these people who offer objections of such a description to our religion but for the correction of their depraved ideas. For that advice quoted above from the Proverbs gives, I think, the watchword not for silence but for the correction of those who are displaying some act of foolishness. Our answers, that is, are not to run on the level of their foolish conceptions but rather to overturn those unthinking and deluded views as to doctrine. What then is the charge they bring against us? They accuse us of profanity for entertaining lofty conceptions about the Holy Spirit. On the Holy Spirit, Against the Macedonians i.

The Spirit Testifies About Christ. Cyril of Alexandria: When the Spirit comes, Jesus says, “He will not speak from himself." Jesus does not say, “He will make you wise and will reveal to you the mystery of the truth.” He, Jesus says, will tell you nothing that is not in agreement with my teaching, nor will he expound to you any strange doctrine because he will not be introducing laws peculiar to himself. Instead, since he is my Spirit and as it were my mind, he will surely speak to you of the things concerning me. And the Savior says this not so that we should think the Holy Spirit has merely ministerial functions, as some ignorantly maintain. He says this, rather, from a desire to satisfy the disciples that his Spirit is not separate from him as far as identity of substance is concerned and that it will surely speak what concerns him [Jesus] and will work and bring about the same things. Commentary on the Gospel of John 10.2. Disagreement on the Spirit. Gregory of Nazianzus: Now the subject of the Holy Spirit presents a special difficulty...The Sadducees altogether denied the existence of the Holy Spirit, just as they did that of angels and the resurrection. They reject (on what grounds, I do not know) the important testimonies concerning him in the Old Testament. And of the Greeks—those who are more inclined to speak of God and who approach nearest to us—have formed some conception of him, as it seems to me, though they have differed as to his name. They have addressed him as the Mind of the world, or the external Mind, and similar appellations. But of the wise people among us, some have conceived of him as an activity, some as a creature, some as God. And some have been uncertain what to call him, out of reverence for Scripture, they say, as though Scripture did not make the matter clear either way. And therefore they neither worship him nor treat him with dishonor but take up a neutral position, or rather a very miserable one with respect to him. And of those who consider him to be God, some are orthodox in mind only, while others venture to be so with the lips also. Oration 31.2, 5.

The Spirit Reveals Himself Gradually.Gregory of Nazianzus:

Now, if someone seeks to understand the heavenly Spirit’s divinity

Through the pages of divinely inspired Law,

He shall see many ways, close-packed, collected into one,

If he has yearned and gathered something of the

Holy Spirit with his heart and if his piercing mind has perceived.

But if he seeks a plain assertion of his beloved divinity,

Let him know this, he seeks unsensibly. For it would not have been right,

When Christ’s own had not yet appeared to most of humankind

To lay on feeble hearts a weight of doubt.

For, with beginners, it is not the time

For more consummate language. Who shows a fire’s whole glow

To still-dim eyes or gorges them with light insatiable?

It is better if, bit by bit, you bring on the fiery glowings,

Lest you even hurt in some way the springs of a sweeter light.

For as of old the Scriptures displayed the whole deity

Of the royal Father, and Christ’s great fame began to dawn,

Disclosed to people of little understanding,

So also, later when the Son’s shone more distinctly,

The brightness of the Spirit’s deity glowed.

Now to them he gave a small illumination, while most he left to us,

Even distributing himself to us later in tongues of fire

Betokening divinity, after the Savior had gone up from the earth.

Dogmatic Poems 1.1.3, On the Holy Spirit 10-30. 31.26.

The Spirit Revealed When the RecipientIs Ready. Gregory of Nazianzus: The lights come on gradually when it comes to the order of theology. There are some things that are better not to proclaim too suddenly, but we best not keep them hidden until the end either. ...To proclaim things before someone is ready to hear them would be too startling to outsiders, while keeping it hidden would alienate our own people...Our Savior had some things that, he said, his disciples could not handle at that time—even though they had been filled with many teachings—perhaps for the reasons I just mentioned. And therefore they remained hidden. He did say that all things should be taught to us by the Spirit when he would come to dwell among us. One of these things, I take it, was the deity of the Spirit, which would be made clear later on when they were ripe for such knowledge and it was capable of being received. Oration 31.27.

Presence of the Spirit in Old and New Testaments Compared. Novatian: The Spirit is not new in the gospel, or even newly given. For it was he himself who accused the people in the prophets, and in the apostles he gave them the appeal to the Gentiles...He is therefore one and the same Spirit who was in the prophets and apostles, except that in the former he was present on certain occasions; in the latter he is always present. In the former times, he was not always in them; in the latter times, he always remains in them. In the former times, he distributed his gifts with reserve; in the latter times, everything is poured out. In the former times, he was given sparingly; in the latter, he is bestowed liberally—although he is not yet shown before the Lord’s resurrection but conferred after the resurrection. On the Trinity 29.

A New Dispensation of the One Spirit. Augustine: But what is meant when he says, “For the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified’’?...The meaning is not that the Spirit of God, which was with God, was not in existence, but that it was not yet in those who had believed on Jesus. For the Lord Jesus was disposed not to give them the Spirit in this way until after his resurrection. And this not without cause...What then is the cause why the Lord Jesus Christ determined not to give the Holy Spirit until he should be glorified? We need to inquire about this before we speak any further, in case anyone becomes troubled as to how it is that the Spirit was not yet in holy people when we read in the Gospel concerning the Lord himself newly born, that Simeon by the Holy Spirit recognized him; that Anna the widow, a prophetess, also recognized him; that John, who baptized him, recognized him; that Zachariah, being filled with the Holy Spirit, said many things; that Mary received the Holy Spirit to conceive the Lord. We have therefore many preceding evidences of the Holy Spirit before the Lord was glorified by the resurrection of his flesh. Nor did the prophets have a different spirit when they proclaimed beforehand the coming of Christ. But still, there was to be a certain manner of this giving that had not at all appeared before. For nowhere do we read before this that people being gathered together had, by receiving the Holy Spirit, spoken in the tongues of all nations. But after his resurrection, when he first appeared to his disciples, he said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Of this giving then it is said, “The Spirit was not given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” Tractates on the Gospel of John 32.6.

The Word and the Spirit

Scripture Written by the Spirit. Origen: The books of Scripture were written by the Spirit of God. Against Celsus 5.60.

The Holy Spirit Is the Breath of God. Cyril of Alexandria: The Son, sharing the same nature as God the Father, has the Spirit in the same manner that the Father would be understood to have the Spirit. In other words, the Spirit is not something added or that comes from without, for it would be naive— even insane—to hold such an opinion. But God the Father has the Spirit, just as each one of us has our own breath within us that pours forth from the innermost parts of the body. This is why Christ physically breathed on his disciples, showing that as the breath proceeds physically from the human mouth, so too does Christ, in a manner befitting God, pour forth the Spirit from the divine essence. Commentary on the Gospel of John 9.1.

The Breath of the Word Enables It to Be Heard. John of Damascus: For there to be a Word there must be breath. and certain passages of Scripture in which the word seemed to retain that sense more or less (see especially Ps 33:6 [32:6 lxx]), spoke of the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father like the breath of his mouth in the utterance or emission of his Word. Notice how even our own speech is not devoid of breath, although in our case our breath is distinct from our being. It is an inhaling and exhaling of the air that is breathed in and out for the sustenance of our body. It is this which on the occasion of articulation becomes the vocal expression of speech and evidences in itself the power of speech. Now, in the simple and uncompounded divine nature, we must piously confess the existence of a Spirit of God, for the Word of God is no more deficient than our own word. It would be impious to consider the Spirit as something foreign to God and introduced from outside at a later time like what happens with us who are of a compound nature. On the contrary, when we heard there was a Word of God, we did not conceive of this as having no distinct existence, or as accruing from learning or as being expressed vocally and being diffused in the air and lost. Rather, we conceived of him as having a distinct existence, endowed with free will and activity as well as being all-powerful. In the same way, too, having learned that there is a Spirit of God, we conceive of him as associated with the Word and making the operation of the Word known. We do not conceive of him as an impersonal breath of air, for the majesty of the divine nature would be reduced to a lower level if its Spirit were likened to our own breath. Rather, we conceive of him as a substantial power found in its own individuating personality, proceeding from the Father, coming to rest in the Word and declaring him, not separated from God in essence or from the Word with whom it is associated. We conceive of him as having power, as someone not dissipated away into nonexistence but having a distinct existence like the Word—living, endowed with will, self-moving, active, at all times willing good, exercising his power for the prosecution of every design in accordance with his will, without beginning and without end. On the Orthodox Faith 1.7.

The Church IsWherever the Spirit Is. Irenaeus: The preaching of the church is everywhere consistent and continues in the same consistent way, receiving testimony from the prophets, the apostles and all the disciples— as I have proved—throughout its beginning, middle and end and through the entire dispensation of God and that well-grounded system that tends to humanity’s salvation, namely, our faith. We preserve this faith that we received from the church and that always, by the Spirit of God, renews its youth as if it were some precious deposit in an excellent vessel—causing even the vessel that contains it to renew its youth also. For this gift of God has been entrusted to the church, as breath was given to the first created human being, so that all the members receiving it may be enlivened. And the means of communion with Christ has also been distributed throughout the church. This means is the Holy Spirit, the promise of incorruption, the means of confirming our faith and the ladder of our ascent to God. “For in the church,” it is said, “God has set apostles, prophets, teachers,” and all the other means through which the Spirit works. Not all, however, share in these gifts when they do not join themselves to the church. Instead, they defraud themselves of life through their perverse opinions and infamous behavior. For where the church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God is, there is the church and every kind of grace. Against Heresies 3.24.1.

The Spirit Binds the Church Together. Tertullian: The church itself is, properly and principally, the Spirit in whom exists the Trinity of the one Divinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Spirit combines that church that the Lord has made to consist in “three.” And thus, from that time forward, every number of persons who may have joined together into this faith is considered to be “a church,” from the Author and Consecrator of the church. Accordingly, “the church,” it is true, will forgive sins, but it will be the church of the Spirit by means of a spiritual person, not the church that consists of a number of bishops. For the right and decision-making is the Lord's, not the servant's; God’s, not the priest’s. On Modesty 21.

The Spirit in Scripture

The Spirit’s Work and His Many Names in Scripture. Cyril of Jerusalem: But just in case anyone, from lack of learning, should suppose from the different titles of the Holy Spirit that these are diverse spirits instead of them being one and the same Spirit— of which there is only one— the catholic church, in order to protect you ahead of time, has provided this profession of the faith: that you “believe in one Holy Spirit the Comforter who spoke by the prophets.” This is so that you might know that, although he has many names, the Holy Spirit is but one. Let us now rehearse for you just a few of the many names by which he is called. He is called the Spirit, according to the Scripture just now read, “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom.”He is called the Spirit of truth, as the Savior says, “When he, the Spirit of truth, comes.” He is also called the Comforter, as he said, “For if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you.” But the following clearly demonstrates that he is one and the same, although called by different titles. For the Holy Spirit and the Comforter are the same, as these words declare when they say, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit.” That the Comforter is the same as the Spirit of truth is declared when it is said, “And I will give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth.” And again, “But when the Comforter comes whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth.” And he is called the Spirit of God, just as it is written, “And I saw the Spirit of God descending.” And again, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the children of God.” He is also called the Spirit of the Father, as the Savior says, “For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” And again Paul says, “For this cause I bow my knees to the Father ... that he would grant you to be strengthened by his Spirit.” He is also called the Spirit of the Lord, according to that which Peter spoke, “Why is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord?” He is also called the Spirit of God and Christ, as Paul writes, “But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if it is the case that the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him.” He is also called the Spirit of the Son of God, as it is said, “And because you are children, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son.” He is also called the Spirit of Christ, as it is written, “Searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ that was in them signified.” And again, “Through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Catechetical Lecture 17.3-4.

Other Titles of the Spirit in Scripture. Cyril of Jerusalem: You will also find many other titles of the Holy Spirit. Thus he is called the Spirit of holiness, as it is written, “According to the Spirit of holiness.” He is also called the Spirit of adoption, as Paul says, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” He is also called the Spirit of revelation, as it is written, “May he give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.” He is also called the Spirit of promise, as Paul also says, “In whom you also after you have believed, were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise." He is also called the Spirit of grace, as when he says again, “And has outraged the Spirit of grace. And he is named by many other similar titles. And you heard plainly in the preceding lecture, that in the psalms he is called at one time the good Spirit 16.28; Ps 143:10 (142:10 lxx). and at another place the princely Spirit. which the rsv renders “free Spirit.” And in Isaiah he was styled the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and might, of knowledge and of godliness, and of the fear of God. Through all of these Scriptures, both those before and those now alleged, it is established that although the titles of the Holy Spirit are different, he is one and the same. He lives and subsists and is always present together with the Father and the Son. He is not uttered or breathed from the mouth and lips of the Father or the Son or dispersed into the air, but he has a real substance. 11.10; 16.13. It is he himself who speaks and works and dispenses and sanctifies, even as the working out of the plan of salvation for us from the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is inseparable and harmonious and one. For I want you to keep in mind those things that were recently spoken and to know clearly that there is not one Spirit in the Law and the Prophets and another in the Gospels and apostles. Rather, it is one and the same Holy Spirit who both in the Old and in the New Testament spoke the divine Scriptures. 4.16; 16.4. Catechetical Lecture 17.5.

The Spirit as Wind and Fire

The Power of the Wind and the Power of the Spirit. Chrysostom: Jesus says to Nicodemus, “You hear the sound [of the Spirit], but you cannot tell where it comes from and where it is going.” Although he says “it blows where it pleases,” he does not say this as if the wind had any power of choice. He is simply declaring that its natural motion is powerful and cannot be hindered because of its power...The expression therefore, “blows where it pleases,” is that of one who would show that it cannot be restrained, that it is spread abroad everywhere and that none can hinder its passing here and there, but that it goes abroad with great might, and no one is able to turn aside its violence...For if no one can hold the wind, but it moves where it pleases, much less will the laws of nature, or limits of bodily generation or anything similar, be able to restrain the operations of the Spirit. Homilies on the Gospel of John 26.1-2.

The Wind and Fire at Pentecost.Romanus the Melodist:

When the divine Pentecost was complete, the eleven chosen ones set up a din. As they persevered in their prayers;

And as the passage read from Acts says,

When the sound of the powerful wind of the spirit suddenly

Came resounding from heaven,

The whole chamber was filled with fire.

Indeed it amazed the beloved disciples rather too much.

When they saw the dwelling tossed like a boat, they cried:

"O Master, check the storm and send

The All-Holy Spirit.”

When the disciples recognized that the whole upper room

Was shaken as by an earthquake from the wind,

They all lowered their eyes in fear;

And lo! Another trembling still more to be shuddered at,

And one upon another marvel brought a second trembling

In addition to the first fear,

For fiery tongues touched them anew

And began to appear on the heads of the chosen group.

Indeed the fiery tongues did not burn their hair but lighted

Up their hearts

And sent them forth cleansed and purified—

The All-Holy Spirit.

Peter, seeing all the things that were happening,

Cried out: “Brothers,

Let us hold in reverence what we see, and let us not examine it.

Does anyone say what it is that has been done?

For what has been accomplished transcends belief

And defies thought.

Spirit and fire are united—a true miracle,

Air and flame are joined together—awesome sight!

Along with winds, torches; along with dew, sparks of fire.

Who has seen, who has heard of this? Who is able to speak of what

Is produced by

The All-Holy Spirit?

"Do you, then, dearly beloved, stand and

simply observe the fire

Which the One who is in heaven has sent from on high;

Do not fear, for the coals do not burn;

Do not be amazed that the fire does not burn;

but as prudent men remember

How long ago the fire received kindly the three children,

How their bodies were not burned, nor their hair,

How the furnace revealed the three as four,

For it gave back those whom it received with interest, since it feared

The All-Holy Spirit.

“Then, brothers, let the One descended upon us cast out fear from our minds,

And make a show of love to the ascended One.

Since he loved those whom he called,

Since all the things that he prophesied, he has fulfilled,

And since he has done as he said,

Why, then, should we be afraid of a flame that does not burn?

Let us consider the fire as roses, which indeed it is.

It has been placed on our heads like flowers,

And on our heads it has formed a crown, an ornament,

And illumined us,

This All Holy Spirit.”

Kontakion on Pentecost 33.8-12.

Fire Tempered by Water

The Fire of the Spirit in Baptism. Ephrem the Syrian:

Happy are those whose bodies have been made to shine!

God in his mercy stooped and came down,

To mingle his compassion with the water

And to blend the nature of his majesty

With the wretched bodies of humanity.

He made occasion by the water

To come down and to dwell in us:

Similar to the occasion of mercy

When he came down and dwelled in the womb:

O the mercies of God

Who seeks for himself all occasions to dwell in us!

To the cave in Horeb he stooped and came down,

And on Moses he caused his majesty to dwell;

He imparted his glorious splendor to mortals.

There was therein a figure of baptism:

He who came down and dwelled in it,

Tempers within the water

The might of his majesty,

That he may dwell in the feeble.

On Moses dwelt the Breath,

And on you the perfecting of Christ.

That might then none could endure;

Not Moses chief of deliverers,

Nor Elijah chief of zealots;

And the Seraphim too veil their faces,

For it is the might that subdues all.

His mercy mingled gentleness

In the water and by the oil;

That humankind in its weakness

Might be able to stand before him

When covered by the water and the oil.

The captive priests again in the well

Hid and concealed the fire of the sanctuary,

A mystery of that glorified fire

That the high priest mingles in baptism.

The priests took up of the mire,

And on the altar they sprinkled it;

For its fire, the fire of that well,

With the mire had been mingled;

A mystery of our bodies that in the water

With the fire of the Holy Spirit have been mingled.

The famous three in Babylon

In the furnace of fire were baptized, and came forth;

They went in and bathed in the flood of flame,

They were buffeted by the blazing billows.

There was sprinkled on them there

The dew that fell from heaven;

It loosed from off them there

The bonds of the earthly king.

See how the famous three went in and found a fourth in the furnace.

That visible fire that triumphed outwardly,

Pointed to the fire of the Holy Spirit,

Which is mingled and hidden in the water.

In the flame baptism is figured,

In that blaze of the furnace.

Come, enter, be baptized, my brothers,

For see how it looses the bonds;

For in it there dwells and is hidden

The Daystar of God,

Who in the furnace was the fourth.

Hymns on the Epiphany 8.1-6.

The Nurturing and Refining Spirit. Theodotus: John says, "I indeed baptize you with water, but one comes after me that baptizes with the Spirit and fire.” But he baptized no one with fire. But some, as Heraclius says, marked with fire the ears of those who were sealed, understanding the apostolic saying in that way, “For his fan is in his hand, to purge his floor, and he will gather the wheat into the garner, But the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” He joins the expression “by fire” to “by the Spirit,” since by the Spirit he separates the wheat from the chaff, that is, from the material husk. As the chaff is separated when it is fanned by the wind, in the same way the Spirit possesses a power of separating material forces. Since, then, some things are produced from what is unproduced and indestructible—that is, the germs of life—the wheat also is stored and the material part, as long as it is joined together with the superior part, remains. When separated from it, however, it is destroyed because it had its existence in something else. This separating element is the Spirit, and the destroying element is the fire—and material fire is to be understood. But since what is saved is like wheat and what grows in the soul is like chaff— and the one has no body while the other, which is separated, is made of matter—to the one with no body he opposes his Spirit, which is rarefied and pure—almost more so than mind. That which is material, however, he opposes with fire, not that the fire is evil or bad, but because it is strong and capable of cleansing away evil. For fire is conceived as a good force and powerful. It destroys what is base and conserves what is better. ... And so, when God is called “a consuming fire” it is because it is a name and sign of power, not wickedness. Excerpts 25-26.

The Spirit as Water

Spirit as Water, Spirit, Fire and Holy Spirit. Maximus the Confessor:Some are reborn through water and the spirit; others receive baptism in the Holy Spirit and in fire. I take these four things—water, spirit, fire and Holy Spirit—to mean one and the same Spirit of God. To some the Holy Spirit is water because he cleanses the external stains of their bodies. To others he is simply spirit because he makes them active in the practice of virtue. To others he is fire, because he cleanses the interior defilement that lies deep within their souls. To others, according to Daniel, he is Holy Spirit because he bestows on them wisdom and spiritual knowledge. For the single identical Spirit takes his different names from the different ways in which he acts on each person. Second Century on Theology 63.

Water as a Worthy Vehicle for the Spirit. Tertullian: We now proceed to treat the question: “How foolish and impossible it is to be formed anew by water. In what respect has this material substance merited an office of such high dignity?” The authority, I suppose, of the liquid element does have to be examined. This authority, however, is found in abundance right from the beginning. For water is one of those things that—before any part of the world had been furnished—was quiescent with God in a yet unformed state. “In the first beginning,” Scripture says, “God made the heavens and the earth. But the earth was invisible and unorganized,. and darkness was over the abyss; and the Spirit of the Lord was hovering over the waters.” The first thing that you have to venerate is the age of the waters in that their substance is ancient. The second thing you should be impressed by is their dignity, in that they were the seat of the divine Spirit— more pleasing to him, no doubt, than all the other then existing elements... Only water alone—always a perfect, joyful, simple material substance, pure in itself—supplied a worthy vehicle to God... After the world had been set in order through its elements and given to its inhabitants, “the waters” were the first to receive the command “to bring forth living creatures.” Water was the first to produce that which had life so that no one should be amazed that in baptism the waters know how to give life. For was not the work of fashioning man himself also achieved with the aid of waters?... It makes no difference whether someone is washed in a sea or a pool, a stream, a fountain, a lake or a trough. There is also no distinction between those whom John baptized in the Jordan and those whom Peter baptized in the Tiber, unless the eunuch whom Philip baptized in the midst of his journeys with chance water derived more or less of salvation from that water than others. All waters, therefore, in virtue of the pristine privilege of their origin, do, after invocation of God, attain the sacramental power of sanctification. For the Spirit immediately supervenes from the heavens and rests over the waters, sanctifying them from himself. And when the waters are sanctified in this way, they imbibe at the same time the power of sanctifying. On Baptism 3-4.

Water as the Source of Life. Cyril of Jerusalem: Observe what Jesus says, “He that believes on me ... out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” These are not rivers perceived by sense that merely water the earth with its thorns and trees. But these are rivers that bring souls to the light. And in another place he says, “But the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of living water springing up into everlasting life”—a new kind of water living and springing up, springing up unto those who are worthy. And why did he call the grace of the Spirit water? Because by water all things subsist; because water brings forth grass and living things; because the water of the showers comes down from heaven; because it comes down one in form but works in many forms. For one fountain waters the whole of paradise, and one and the same rain comes down on all the world, yet it becomes white in the lily, and red in the rose, and purple in violets and hyacinths, and different and varied in each variety. So it is one in the palm tree and another in the vine, and all in all things; and yet is one in nature, not diverse from itself. For the rain does not change itself and come down first as one thing, then as another, but adapting itself to the constitution of each thing that receives it, it becomes to each what is suitable. 9.9-10. And so does the Holy Spirit. Being one, and of one nature and indivisible, he divides to each his grace, according as he wills. And as the dry tree, after partaking of water, puts forth shoots, so also the soul in sin, when it has been through repentance made worthy of the Holy Spirit, brings forth clusters of righteousness. Catechetical Lecture 16.11-12.

The Holy Spirit Is the Abundant River Flowing from Jesus. Ambrose: So, then, the Holy Spirit is the River, and the abundant River, which according to the Hebrews flowed from Jesus in the lands, as we have received it having been prophesied by the mouth of Isaiah. This is the great River that always flows and never fails. And it is not only a river but also a stream filled to capacity and overflowing greatness, as David also said, “The stream of the river makes glad the city of God.” For that city, the heavenly Jerusalem, is not watered by the channel of any earthly river. It is watered by the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the fountain of life. It will take only a small drink for us to be satiated by him who seems to flow more abundantly among those celestial thrones, dominions and powers, angels and archangels, rushing in the full course of the seven virtues of the Spirit. For if a river rising above its banks overflows, how much more does the Spirit, rising above every creature, when he touches the low-lying fields of our minds, make glad that heavenly nature of the creatures with the larger fertility of his sanctification. On the Holy Spirit 1.16.177-78.