The Rejection of Pascal's Wager
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The Holy Spirit

We will now take a look at how the third person in the Trinity took its place in the Godhead. The word "spirit" as it is used by the Christians, had it's origin in the Hebrew word ruah which means "sigh" or "breath". The fact that Judaism is still today a strictly monotheistic religion, unlike the disguised polytheism of Christianity, shows that the word ruah does not designate a person distinct from God. The word is used to mean a divine influence or inspiration, a sign of God's presence.

Paul translated the Hebrew ruah to the Greek pneuma which means "breeze", "wind" "air" or "breath". Paul's understanding of the word pneuma does not extend to a distinct person of the Godhead. But he did stretch the meaning of original Hebrew concept to encompass a kind of divine atmosphere that fills the entire existence of Christians. Paul was also fond of adding the adjective "holy" (Greek: hagion) to spirit. Hence the Christian term "Holy Spirit". [1] It is important to note that nowhere in the Bible is the Holy Spirit defined a God. [2]

The early Christians had always baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19), yet its precise meaning was never clear to them. They seldom addressed any prayer to the Holy Spirit. In devotional hierarchy, the Holy Spirit was always a distant third behind the Father and the Son. [3]

In fact, the word "Trinity" did not appear on the Christian scene until the end of the second century, when Theophilus of Antioch used the Greek word trias to describe the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Latin word Trinitas was also first used around this time by Tertullian (c160-c225). Many early Christians, including the "orthodox" Irenaeus, refused to accept the implication of polytheism that the term implies. [4]

It was only in the year 381, in the first council of Constantinople, that the first official definition of the Trinity was made. Here it was defined that there are three eternally distinct substances in one God: the Father "exists in himself"; the Son, "eternally begotten"; and the Holy Spirit, "proceeds from the Father".

This definition did not please everyone, for the council in Nicaea in 325 had already defined Jesus to be of the same substance and hence the complete equal of the Father. The definition of Constantinople seems to give some priority to the Father by stating that the Holy Spirit proceeds only from the Father. [5]

Saint Augustine (354-430), the famous theologian of the Roman Church disagreed with the formula of Constantinople and taught that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both Father and Son at once. A council in Toledo in Spain in 589 accepted the Augustinian formula and modified the Constantinopolitan creed to read that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

This addition, which eventually became known as the Filique (Latin for "and the Son") clause, was never accepted by the eastern half of the church. In 867, Photius (c810-c895), Patriarch of Constantinople condemned the Filique clause as heretical. The east accepted Photius' stand. It was on this issue, in 1054, that the eastern church broke with the western one in what is now known as the Great Schism. The western church accepted the Filique clause. Even during the sixteenth century reformation, the Protestant leaders such as Luther and Calvin fully accepted the Toledonian conception of the Trinity. [6]

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1.Craveri, The Life of Jesus: p320
2.Wilken, The Myth of Christian Beginnings: p95
3.Ibid: p95-96
4.Craveri, The Life of Jesus: p321
5.Ibid: p322
Robertson, A Short History of Christianity: p114
6.Craveri, The Life of Jesus: p323
Livingstone, Dictionary of the Christian Church: p193,401
Robertson, A Short History of Christianity: p114

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