The Miraculous and Non-Miraculous Work of the Spirit

This is part 11 of an ongoing series on the Holy Spirit. For previous parts click here.

What Happened After Baptism

In the previous part of this study it was observed that the “mighty rushing wind”, “tongues as of fire” and the miraculous ability to speak in tongues from Acts 2:1-4, was recognized by Peter as the outpouring of the promised Holy Spirit, and the fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32. Then in Acts 2:38-39, Peter promised that the gift of the Holy Spirit himself would be given to all those who would repent and be baptized for remission of sins.

What then would Peter’s audience have expected to happen for those who were baptized? It seems they would expect to receive the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 2, what does it look like when a person receives the Holy Spirit? Up to this point, it has looked like the things they were seeing and hearing on Pentecost (cf. 2:33), namely the mighty rushing wind, the tongues of fire, and the speaking in tongue.

What then would Peter’s audience have expected to happen for those who were baptized? It seems that they would expect to receive the Holy Spirit in the same way the apostles did.

That expectation makes what happens next even more interesting and noteworthy. Notice carefully what the result is (and what it is not) when those who received Peter’s words were baptized.

So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many signs and wonders were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Acts 2:41-47

Did you catch that? About three thousand people received his word and were baptized, but there is not one word about a mighty rushing wind, tongues of fire, or speaking in tongues. In fact, Luke specifically mentions that they were in awe at the “sign and wonders being done through the apostles.” That makes it clear that signs and wonders were not being performed by everyone. Instead of describing a recurrence of the events of Acts 2:1-4, Luke gives us a picture of unity, fellowship, self-sacrificial giving, with glad and generous hearts.

What should we make of this? There are only two possible explanations.

  1. Peter was wrong. Despite Peter’s promise, those who were baptized failed to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  2. Peter was right. The gift of the Holy Spirit was given in baptism, but the three thousand who were baptized did not receive the Holy Spirit in the same way the apostles did, nor did they experience the same kind of results as the apostles did.

Again, since the gift of the Holy Spirit was promised to all who would repent and be baptized (2:38-39), and since “signs and wonders” were only being done by the apostles after the three thousand were baptized (2:43), this means that the three thousand who were baptized did not receive the ability to work signs and wonders as the apostles had when they received the Holy Spirit.

So which is it? If Peter was wrong, and the gift of the Holy Spirit was not given to the three thousand in baptism, what would we expect to read next? We would probably read a description of disappointment, as their expectations to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit were not realized.

But what we see next is anything but disappointment. Instead we see gladness and joy. We see God’s people, who were once scattered (2:9-11), enjoy unity and fellowship with one another. We see where Christians self-sacrificially gave up their possessions for one another. We see that no one was left in need.

Luke makes it clear that something incredible happened when the three thousand were baptized. Something had changed. What is it that Luke trying to communicate to his readers?

Prophecy Fulfilled

Here it may be helpful to revisit the prophesies referred to in Peter’s sermon. If we go back and read Joel’s prophesy about the Spirit in context, we can see that the coming age, the age that would be characterized by the Spirit’s presence, would be an age when God’s people would have their needs satisfied.

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.

Joel 2:26

When Jesus was raised from the dead (which was understood to be an act of the Holy Spirit, see Part 8), the result would be joy and gladness.

I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.

Acts 2:25-28 (cf. Ps. 16:8-11)

Doesn’t that sound remarkably similar to what Luke describes at the end of Acts 2? When Luke describes the unity of God’s people, with no one lacking what they need, who experience joy and gladness, he is describing the new age; the age that the prophets had said would be brought by the Spirit.

It seems that Luke is showing his readers that, yes, the early Christians did in fact receive the promised Holy Spirit in baptism, albeit not in the same manner, nor with the same miraculous results experienced by the apostles in Acts 2:1-4. As we continue to carefully read the book of Acts, it will be seen that Luke continually describes the miraculous reception of the Holy Spirit as something separate from the way the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit in non-miraculous ways.

A Parallel Passage to Acts 2

After Acts 2:38, the Spirit is not mentioned again until Acts 4:8. To set the context, In Acts 3:1-10, Peter miraculously healed a lame beggar. Peter then stood at the temple and preached a sermon about the risen Jesus (3:11-28) which resulted in the arrest of Peter and John. The following day, Peter and John were called before the Jewish authorities. It is here that we read:

And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired: “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders…

Acts 4:7-8

You may notice that Luke mentioned the Holy Spirit filling Peter as Peter was opening his mouth to give a defense. The idea of the Holy Spirit giving someone words to speak shouldn’t surprise us. This has always been an activity of the Spirit (see Parts 3 and 4). This is the same things that happened on Pentecost in Acts 2 (See Part 10). This also reminds us of what Jesus had told his disciples previously about the Spirit giving them words to speak.

And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you should say.

Luke 12:11-12

After Peter and John gave their defense we read:

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

Acts 4:13

How did they know that Peter and John had been with Jesus? It wasn’t Peter’s miracle itself (although they certainly recognized this as an undeniable sign). It was the boldness of their speech.

The following day, after Peter and John had been released, we read:

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Acts 4:31

Once again, we see that being “filled with the Holy Spirit” is connected with the disciple’s boldness as they continued to speak the word of God. Here once again, Luke shows us the result of the Holy Spirit filling the disciples.

Now the number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

Acts 4:32-35

Did you notice the parallels to Acts 2:42-47? After the Holy Spirit filled the disciples with boldness, the result was unity, fellowship, and self-sacrificial giving. Once again, Luke specifically mentions that the apostles continued to with great power (4:33), but they were all filled with the Holy Spirit (4:31), and they were all living like a transformed community of people.

Once again, just as in Acts 2, Luke describes work of the Holy Spirit, not only in miraculous signs and wonders done by the apostles, but also in the transformation, boldness, and generosity of all those who follow the way of Christ.

The Holy Spirit Raised Jesus From the Dead

This is part 8 of an ongoing study of the Holy Spirit. For previous parts, click here.

During the time of Israel’s rebellion, the prophets looked forward to a future age, when the Messianic king would set all things right, sins would be forgiven, and the exile would be over. This would be accomplished by God’s Spirit (see Part 5).

In all four accounts of the gospel, the Holy Spirit is emphasized as playing a major role in the life of Jesus (see Parts 6 and 7). Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Mt. 1:18), declared to the be the Son of God when the Spirit descended on him like a dove (Lk. 3:21-22), was led by the Spirit (Lk. 4:1; 14-15), attributed his ministry to the Spirit (Lk. 4:17-21), and spoke God’s words by the Spirit (Jn. 3:34). The gospel accounts thus portray all of Jesus’ life, leading up to and culminating in his death on the cross, as the work of the Spirit.

It should be no surprise when we see that the Holy Spirit is said to be the one who raised Jesus from the dead.

God Raised Jesus from the Dead

After Jesus rose from the dead, the disciples quite naturally attributed this to the work of God.

God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Acts 2:24

This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses.

Acts 2:32

God raised him on the third day and made him appear.

Acts 10:10

But God raised him from the dead.

Acts 13:30

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into dead, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:4

Paul, an apostle – not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.

Galatians 1:1

God is the one who created life. The only way a dead body can be resurrected to life is by the creative act of God. Without God, there is no life, and there is no resurrection from the dead.

God Raised Jesus From the Dead By the Holy Spirit

As noted in part 2 of this study, God created life by his Spirit. In Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones, it was God’s Spirit that resurrected the dead bones into living bodies. Since resurrection was an act of the Spirit, we can see how the disciples concluded that Jesus was raided from the dead by the Holy Spirit.

For Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit.

1 Peter 1:18

He was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 1:4

Jesus was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit and Our Resurrection

Not only is the Holy Spirit the one who raised Jesus from the dead, but our resurrection will also be the act of the Holy Spirit.

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 8:11

In order for us to be raised from the dead like Jesus was, we must have the Spirit dwelling in us like Jesus did. Without the Spirit in us to give us life, there is no hope for the resurrection. This raises the question of how Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to his disciples, and what does it mean for us to have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. These are the questions we will consider in the upcoming parts of this study.

The Holy Spirit (Part 5): Prophesies Concerning the Spirit

In previous parts of this study it was observed that the Hebrew word for “Spirit” includes the idea of “wind” or “breath”. Spirit refers to that which is invisible and inside a living person which makes them alive. All living persons have a spirit, and God himself has a Spirit. We have also observed the things God’s Spirit is described as doing in the Old Testament, including creation, sustaining life, and re-creation. Sometimes God’s Spirit is said to fill special individuals in a unique and personal way. This is a way of attributing the words and actions of those individuals to God who speaks and works through them. When people were filled with God’s Spirit, their words could rightly be attributed to God’s own mind.

Before turning to the New Testament, it will be important to note what the inspired prophets said concerning the Spirit. After years of rebellion, the prophets warned that Israel was facing exile as a consequence of their sins. But the prophets also preached hope. Something better was coming. A future ruler was coming who would set things right. A new age was coming, an age when sins would be forgiven and the exile would be over. What was old and broken in the world would be made new. The world would be set right.

The important thing to note is that all of this would be accomplished by God’s Spirit.

The Prophesies of Isaiah

Isaiah prophesies of a future king who will have the Spirit of the Lord resting upon him.

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

Isaiah 11:1-2

There would be a future king from the line of David (Jesse was David’s father). Four different times Isaiah says that he will have the Spirit of the Lord upon him, permeating him in all that he does. His wisdom and understanding will come from the Lord’s Spirit. His counsel and might will come from the Lord’s Spirit. His knowledge will and fear of the LORD will come from the Lord’s Spirit. Practically everything about this future king can be attributed to the Lord’s Spirit. His attributes, his thinking, and his mindset will all be God’s own attributes, thinking, and mindset. This includes his just judgments (11:3), his care for the poor (11:4a), his supremacy over his enemies (11:4b), and his righteousness and faithfulness (11:5). The result of his kingship will be a peace that is so perfect it can be compared to a wolf lying down with a lamb, or a child playing in a vipers’ den without fear (11:6-9). In that day, “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (11:9).

Is Isaiah prophesying about the church? Is he talking about heaven? Or perhaps something else? At this point in the Bible, that isn’t yet clear. What we can clearly see is that Isaiah foresaw a very different and much better era coming in the future, and this future era was going to come about because of a Messiah who would be filled with God’s Spirit.

Another prophesy about the Spirit can be found in Isaiah 32.

For the palace is forsaken,
the populous city is deserted;
the hill and the watchtower
will become dens forever,
a joy of wild donkeys,
a pasture of flocks;
until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.
Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.
And the effect of righteousness will be peace,
and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.
My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,
in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.

Isaiah 32:13-18

Found in a section that has Messianic implications (cf. 32:1), Isaiah looked forward to a day when the world is going to be dramatically changed. This future age will be characterized by justice, righteousness, and peace, and will involve “pouring out” of the Spirit in a new way.

Another prophecy about the Spirit is recorded in Isaiah 44.

For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams of water on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit upon your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
They shall spring up among the grass
like willows by flowing streams.
This one will say, “I am the LORD’s,”
and another will call on the name of Jacob,
and another will write on his hand, “The LORD’s,”
and name himself by the name of Israel.

Isaiah 44:3-5

Here Isaiah describes a “pouring out” of His Spirit upon Israel’s descendants. Note how the promise of the Spirit is connected with the figure of water given to satisfy thirst. Later on, Jesus will describe the Spirit using similar imagery (Jn. 7:37-39). The key thing to notice throughout all of Isaiah’s prophesies is that the world was going to change, and this change would be brought about by God’s Spirit.

The Prophesies of Ezekiel

If the world is going to change, it will be necessary that people are changed as well. According to the prophesies of Ezekiel, rebellious Israel would be transformed by God’s Spirit.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Ezekiel 36:26-27

Ezekiel recognized that Israel needed to be fixed from the inside. The only way this would occur would be for God to give them a new heart and a new Spirit, which will enable them to walk in God’s statutes and keep his rules. This is very similar to how David prayed about the Holy Spirit in Psalm 51.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 51:10-12

In Ezekiel 37, following the vision of the valley of dry bones, Ezekiel once again speaks of God’s Spirit being put into his people. If Israel was as dead as dry bones, the only way they would be made alive again would be if God’s Ruakh/Spirit/Breath gave them new life.

I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land.

Ezekiel 37:14

Another prophecy that relates to the promise of the Spirit is found in Ezekiel 39, which looks beyond the time of captivity to the restoration of Israel.

And I will not hide my face from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 39:29

Like Isaiah, Ezekiel foresaw a new age coming which would be brought about by God’s Spirit.

The Prophecy of Zechariah

And I will pout out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him as one weeps over a firstborn.

Zechariah 12:10

It is not entirely clear whether Zechariah refers to the future pouring out of the Holy Spirit, or if he speaks of a generic attitude of grace and pleas for mercy that will eventually characterize his people. What is clear is that Zechariah spoke of a future day when God would pour out a spirit, and the attitudes of God’s people would change. Note the connection between “spirit” and how we think. Again, this makes sense when we understand how the Hebrew word for “spirit” was used in the Old Testament (Part 1). When we turn our study to the New Testament, it will be important to remember this connection between “spirit” and “attitude” or “thinking.”

The Prophecy of Joel

And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophecy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon the blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

Joel 2:28-32

Similar to the other prophets, Joel looked forward to a day when the world would be dramatically different. This future day would be brought about by God’s Spirit. One element of this prophecy of particular interest is that is speaks of God’s Spirit being poured out on “all flesh.” This includes sons and daughters, young and old, and male and female servants (including Gentiles???).

In part 3 of this study we observed that throughout the Old Testament, God’s Spirit was occasionally said to be with a few special individuals (such as judges, kings, and prophets) in a special and unique way.  Whenever people were said to have God’s Spirit, it meant that they had God’s mind, God’s thoughts, God’s wisdom, God’s words, or God’s strength. It means that their words or successes are attributed to God working through them as opposed to that person speaking or acting on their own wisdom. Here Joel speaks of a day when God’s Spirit will no longer be reserved for just a few special individuals, but will in some way be poured out on “all flesh.”

The Spirit in the Old Testament

This concludes the Old Testament portion of this study of the Holy Spirit. The specific meaning of these prophesies may not be entirely clear at this point. But what we can observe is that the Old Testament prophets anticipated that a new age was coming, and this coming age would be characterized by the work and influence of God’s Spirit being poured upon his people. The Spirit would be necessary to enable the people of God to keep his will.

This naturally raises questions. What exactly do these prophesies mean in the New Testament and for today? How exactly is God’s Spirit poured out on his people, and how does God’s Spirit work in the lives of Christians today? We will attempt to study these questions as we move into the New Testament portion of our study. The challenge will be to observe exactly what the New Testament says concerning the Spirit without reading any preconceived ideas into those passages.

In Summary:

  • Spirit, like wind or breath, is that invisible substance that makes things move and/or live
  • God’s Spirit is closely related to God’s mind, God’s thoughts, and God’s words
  • God’s Spirit is responsible for creating the world, and breathing life into all living beings
  • Sometimes God’s Spirit is said to come upon special individuals: Bezalel, Gideon, Samson, Saul, David, etc. When this happens, God speaks or acts through that person, so that their words and actions can be attributed to God rather than to the individuals speaking or acting on their own
  • When God’s Spirit fills a prophet, their words are God’s own words (See 2 Samuel 23:2; Micah 3:8)
  • Just as God’s Spirit created the world, so the prophets spoke of future renewal of all things. This new creation would be brought about by God’s Spirit
  • The Messianic King would be filled with God’s Spirit (Isaiah 11)
  • God’s new covenant people would be transformed by God’s Spirit. This transformation would be so complete that it is visualized as a resurrection of dry bones (Ezekiel 36-37)
  • God’s Spirit would one day be poured out on “all flesh” (Joel 2)

The Holy Spirit (Part 4): The Holy Spirit Gave Us the Old Testament

In Hebrew, the word for “Spirit” (Ruakh) was the same word for “breath”. That’s why, for Hebrews, there would have been a very natural connection between “Spirit” and spoken “words.” You can’t have spoken words without spirit/breath. (See Part 1 for more on the meaning of “Spirit”).

In the Old Testament men were sometimes said to speak by God’s Spirit. That means that their words were not simply their own, but were God’s own spoken words.

The Spirit of the LORD speaks by me:
his word is on my tongue.

2 Samuel 23:2

But as for me, I am filled with power,
with the Spirit of the LORD,
and with justice and might,
to declare to Jacob his transgression
and to Israel his sin.

Micah 3:8

But the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and he spoke with me and said to me… I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, “Thus says the Lord GOD.”

Ezekiel 3:24-26

When the prophets were filled with the Spirit, they spoke words from God. That’s why when the New Testament quotes from the Old Testament, the words of scripture are frequently attributed to the Holy Spirit rather than to the human author.

Jesus Attributed the Old Testament to the Holy Spirit

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet’?
If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?”

Matthew 22:41-45

When Jesus quoted from Psalm 110, he recognized that he was reading the words of David. He also recognized that David spoke those words “in the Spirit.”

Mark records the same conversation with the following words:

And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that Christ is the son of David? David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared,
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet.’
David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?”

Mark 12:35-37

Jesus recognized that Psalm 110 contained the words of “David himself”. He also recognized that David wrote those words while “In the Holy Spirit.” This means that God’s words were on David’s tongue (2 Sam. 23:2). At the same time, these were still the words of David. It was still written in David’s vocabulary, David’s style, and for David’s purpose. They were both David’s words and God’s words at the same time.

Peter Attributed the Old Testament to the Holy Spirit

Peter uses similar language when referring to Psalm 109.

In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.

Acts 1:15-17

Later on, Peter attributes the predictions of the prophets to the Holy Spirit.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

1 Peter 1:10-12

Notice that Peter says the prophets did not always understand the meaning of what they wrote. This indicates that there was another mind or spirit behind these words other than their own. The Holy Spirit expressed his words through them so that the final product was what God intended to say.

Paul Attributed the Old Testament to the Holy Spirit

Paul used similar language when he attributed the writings of Isaiah to the Holy Spirit:

And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:

“Go to this people, and say,
‘You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.’
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’”

Acts 28:24-27

The Book of Hebrews Attributed the Old Testament to the Holy Spirit

The book of Hebrews also attributes the Old Testament to the Holy Spirit. Notice the way it refers to the books of Exodus and Leviticus (the law), the book of Jeremiah (the prophets), and the book of Psalms (the writings), thus attributing the three major sections of the Old Testament all to the Holy Spirit.

The law (referring to Exodus 25-26; 36; and Leviticus 16):

Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand, and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covering on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing.

Hebrews 9:1-8

The prophets (quoting Jeremiah 31:33-34):

And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”

then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

Hebrews 10:15-17

The Psalms (quoting Psalm 95:7-11):

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, if you will hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest.’”

Hebrews 3:7-11

Stephen Speaks of Resisting the Holy Spirit

Stephen accused his persecutors of resisting the Holy Spirit.

You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have not betrayed and murdered.

Acts 7:51-52

How did their ancestors resist the Holy Spirit? By persecuting the prophets and resisting the words the Holy Spirit had spoken concerning the Righteous One.

The Holy Spirit Gave Us the Old Testament

Peter says that the writers of the Old Testament were “driven” or “carried along” by the Holy Spirit.

Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1:20-21

The Greek word translated “carried along” was the word used of a ship being driven or carried along by the wind in its sail.

And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind (pnuma), we gave way to it and were driven along.

Acts 27:15

This indicates that the Holy Spirit/Pnuma “carried along” the human authors when they wrote scripture. It was the Spirit that “drove them” or “moved them” as they wrote their messages. Ultimately, they were writing what the Holy Spirit wanted them to write.

This does not mean that we should imagine the biblical authors as going into some sort of mindless trance, as their hand magically wrote words without their realizing what was being written. It is possible that David stayed up long hours of the night crafting the poems we now call the psalms. It is possible that the biblical authors wrote rough drafts, and revised those drafts multiple times. It is possible that they researched and compiled from other sources. It is possible that God inspired prophetic editors to craft the books into their final forms. The Old Testament was written by human authors, and contains the fully human words of those authors themselves. We just don’t know all the details.

All we have is the final product, and we know that the end result was God’s authoritative word, as spoken through the Holy Spirit. It was God’s words on their tongues (cf. 2 Sam. 23:2). They wrote exactly what God wanted them to say. Exactly how this occurred, the Bible doesn’t say. But we do know that the Holy Spirit/Breath/Mind of God gave us the Old Testament.