What Scripture Says About Salvation
A Bible Study by Fred Kenison
Monograph 24: Pneumati, God's Gift to Men
When Jesus was teaching his sermon on the mount, he said,
"Blessed are the poor in spirit [toi pneumati]." (Matthew 5:3)
This is locative dative, and is often interpreted as a kind of meekness. But, since Jesus also used the word poor, ptochoi, the meaning changed.
Even though the definite article was used, it did not set out the spirit objectively, but rather denoted a quality for definite observation (Vines, p. 109). Jesus was actually telling them that they were utterly destitute of spiritual things and were therefore on the basis of always beseeching God for their spiritual needs. They were "beggar ones," or poor ones. Trench says,
"they were the ‘beggar' ones and lived spiritually not by their own labor."
While this verse described their condition at that time, keep in mind that this was before the ascension of Jesus and the coming of holy spirit. Since then, some of the spirit has been bestowed upon everyone and people are no longer in the position of beggars. They are now in a position to either put themselves under that portion of spirit they have been given, or to be in rebellion against God. They either actively "receive" the spirit and are thereby obedient, or they ignore the spirit given to them and are thereby disobedient.
Pneumati, spiritual gifts, have been given to all and they become our possession, either to be used for the glory of God, or to be ignored, and thereby hidden from view. This was illustrated in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) where some servants used the money they were given while one hid it. Those who used the money were blessed, and the one who hid it was rebuked. All have pneumati, spirit; it is their gift from God, through Jesus Christ.
Paul called himself a doulos, or abject slave of God (Titus 1:1). Paul's pneumati was the call to be an apostle. He often spoke of this as a grace of God.
Bauer (p. 878) says,
"Paul knows through the karis (grace) of God he has been called to be an apostle, and that he has been fitted out with the powers and capabilities requisite for this office from the same source. Rom. 1:5, 12:3, 15:15, l Cor. 3:10. The karis of God manifests itself in various karismata (gifts, abilities given freely). Paul refers to his apostleship in Rom. 12:3. ‘For I say to you through the grace given to me, to everyone that is among you, not to be high-minded above what it behooves you, but to be sober-minded as God has divided a measure of faith to each. For even as in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same function; thus, we the many are one body in Christ, and each one members of each other. But having different gifts according to the grace given us, whether prophecy...according to the proportion of faith; or service...in service; or he that teaches...in teaching; or that exhorts...in exhortation; he that imparts...in simplicity; he that take the lead...with diligence; he that shews mercy...with cheerfulness.'"
In Romans 12:3-8, Paul listed several gifts in addition to those listed in I Corinthians 12. Paul considered his calling, or gift, or pneumati, in such a way as to require his complete submission. He referred to this as a form of slavery, with himself as a slave; but he also knew that in absolute submission he had found freedom and liberty. What a truth!
The way to truth and freedom, not only from the law but also from the world, lies in slavery to God. This is the only way we can see our situation in the proper perspective. In essence, Paul was teaching that men should seek to know their pneumati and then become slaves to it. That charis, or gift, should be the predominant factor in their lives.
The holy spirit is the truth, the truth that comes from God. This is the truth that was poured out through Jesus which allows us to know God. The holy spirit reveals the things of God to us.
In II Corinthians 5:14-19, Paul said,
"For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation."
The phrase "if anyone be in Christ" is written in the first condition, which indicates a statement of fact. There is a new creation; and this new creation is that all are reconciled, all are brought back to their former position, all are in Christ, old things such as the law are passed away, all are to live unto Jesus Christ, and all have been enabled to do so by the bestowal of pneumati to all flesh. Within pnuemati lies the power to be whatever God asks us to be.
Dana and Mantey say of en pneumati,
"It indicates the one for whom, or in whose interest, an act is performed. Thus it carries the basal significance of the dative."
When Paul referred to himself as a slave, he indicated that he was to act in submission to and for pneuma, which is what en pneumati is all about. We are to be surrounded by holy spirit, acting within the sphere of holy spirit, empowered by holy spirit.
Several points might be emphasized here. First, our "gift" lies within that portion of holy spirit we received when God poured out his spirit upon all flesh. When we commit ourselves to God we allow holy spirit to manifest that truth, or gift, through us. The greater our commitment, the greater the manifestation.
Since few of us are totally committed to God, a lot of flesh gets mixed in with spirit and there is a mixed manifestation. When we try to do things on our own, in our own strength, trying to operate through a gift we do not have, the results are always fleshly. We wind up with lots of facts, but little truth.
Second, we do not use holy spirit; holy spirit uses us. Paul said he was a slave. Jesus said he did nothing except what the Father told him. The condition of en pneumati means that the spirit is all we think about, that we are completely submerged in spirit, that we are engrossed by the spirit, that we don't pay any attention to other things, that other things are not important.
Third, God continually provides for those who are submitted to him, en pneumati. God will do in us, and through us, whatever he requires of us, if we do not rebel against whatever pnuemati God has given us.
No one has ever been granted "the holy spirit" except Jesus; only he had the complete truth. The rest of us have holy spirit, a portion of "the holy spirit," a portion of the truth, the portion that God chooses to reveal. Holy spirit (without the article) is a portion of the holy spirit (with the article), a characteristic of the holy spirit, some quality of the holy spirit, some portion of the truth.
The first three synoptic gospels refer to only three people as having pneumati: Jesus, John, the Baptist, and Simeon. The exception to this would be an Old Testament quote about David. At this time, before the ascension of Jesus, holy spirit was not yet given to all flesh. Only those specially chosen by God for a specific purpose had it.
In Matthew 12:28, Jesus said,
"But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you."
Jesus had been given pneumati to drive out demons; he knew this, and he used it to heal people.
Mark 1:23 relates how Jesus confronted a man with an "unclean spirit," a man in the sphere of a morally unclean, spirit. It was his own spirit which he had allowed to control his life with evil.
Many times people dwell upon some evil thing and practice it until they become captive to a driving impulse, or spirit, in their lives. They usually do not even realize that it originates from their own minds and that they become captive to their own thoughts.
For example, Romans 1:28-32 says,
"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over [captive] to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient."
Mark 5:2-13 tells about the man among the tombs infested with many morally unclean spirits, or attitudes, which were completely controlling his behavior. Again, Jesus freed the man to tell those of his own household and town what Jesus had done for him.
We must carefully guard our minds. People still believe they can immerse their minds in evil literature, movies, and pictures and escape unharmed. It cannot be done. Many attitudes which do not glorify God will control us if we are not obedient to the pneumati God has poured out upon us to glorify him. In fact, we will be controlled either by that which is godly and righteous, or by that which is worldly and evil.
Several scriptures referring to Jesus show that the pnuemati described is his own, that it has been given to him as his own.
"And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves."
"And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign?"
"And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit."
"In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit."
"When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled."
"When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit."
Luke 1:17, the prophecy about John, the Baptist, which the angel gave to Zacharias, shows the dative of investiture.
"And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
Webster's Dictionary says that the dative of investiture is,
"1. the act of establishing in office; 2. Something that covers or adorns."
In other words, John, the Baptist, would be clothed with, or empowered with, the spirit and power of Elijah.
Luke 2:25 says,
"And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him."
Since this is without the article it is questionable whether it was Simeon's own spirit or holy spirit which brought him into the temple to see Jesus.
Luke 2:26 is a classic example of agency.
"And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ." Luke 2:27 says, "And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child."
Although this verse has the definite article, there is a question of whether it refers back to verse 2:25 where spirit is without the article, or to verse 2:26 where the article is used as agency.
Many of the next scriptures are either purely dative without a preposition, or locative with the preposition en. In some instances, those which are purely dative may also be translated as either locative or instrumental. The instrumental is usually translated as someone doing something "by the spirit" and most people take this to mean that the spirit has either "come upon" or "fallen upon" someone to take them under its complete control. However, this is not the case. Instrumental, in many cases, is the dative of means or association.
Robertson (p. 536) says,
"The idea of the dative is that of personal interest. It is sometimes used of things, but of things personified. The accusative, genitive, and dative are all cases of inner relations, but the dative has a distinctive personal touch not true of the others."
Instrumental may be that which is used as a means by which something is accomplished. Some of the following scriptures show that the instrumental case is very close to the English description of attitude.
Galatians 6:1 admonishes us to,
"restore such an one in the spirit [en pneumati] of meekness."
This is definitely an attitude to be shown by those attempting to correct another person's actions. Philippians 1:27 says to,
"stand fast in one spirit [en eni pneumati]."
Acts 18:5 says that,
"Paul was pressed in the spirit [toi pneumati, slavery again], and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ."
This scripture carries not only the connotation of attitude but also means. It might be interpreted as though Paul was pressed by his calling, apostleship, and used it as a means of witnessing to the Jews.
Acts 10:38 says there is power in association with pneumati.
"God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power [investiture]: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him."
Spirit and power are used in association in I Thessalonians 1:5:
"For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost."
Acts 18:25 says that Apollos was,
"being fervent in the spirit."
Acts 20:22 says that Paul was going,
"bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem [slavery again]."
The definite article is used many times, as in this case, to note a specific quality of spirit being referred to. It is clear from the context that Paul was speaking of,
"the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 18:24).
I Corinthians 4:21 refers to,
"a spirit of meekness."
In II Corinthians 2:13, Paul said,
"I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother."
We would say he was uneasy.
In Galatians 3:2-3, Paul asked,
"Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?"
These are all different aspects of the dative.
It is easy for believers to stray from the concept of grace into one of synergism, mixing grace and works. It is the spirit which God has poured out upon us that has the power to produce proper works. Law will never do this.
When viewed from God to man, the activating energy lies in pnuemati; when viewed from man to God, it is faith, or obedience, that activates this energy to produce works pleasing to God. In some contexts, although Paul seemed to use faith and pneumati as nearly synonymous, they were actually only parallel.
In Romans 2:29, Paul identified circumcision as,
"of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."
In Romans 8:9, Paul said,
"But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
The criteria Paul gives here for being en pnuemati is showing a divine, God-like attitude, specifically one of love, like Christ. If not, he said, you are not of Christ, or not a follower who abides in his fellowship (see Green, p. 240).
In telling Timothy (I Timothy 3:16) how to conduct himself, Paul gave the following example.
"And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."
Simply stated, Paul was telling Timothy to look to Jesus as the example of piety, and consider how he lived here on earth and manifested the Father.
Jesus did that because he had en pnuemati. And because he had pnuemati without measure, he could tell Phillip,
"he that hath seen me hath seen the Father."
God gave the power, and Jesus was obedient to the calling which he had accepted, or enslaved as was Paul, but both willingly so.
In II Corinthians 3:2-5, Paul wrote that the Corinthians were also examples of Christ.
"Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living [pneumati] God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God."
Paul wanted the Corinthians to know that the ability to be seen as an epistle of Christ's was not of themselves but of God, en pnuemati, the gift of God to every person.
In Ephesians 1:13-14, Paul stated essentially the same thing:
"In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."
Note that the Ephesians believed after they heard the good news of their salvation, and the seal or mark which showed this belief was that of pnuemati. This is also the earnest of our inheritance, when overcomers will receive a body like Jesus', subject only to spirit. The battle with the flesh will be over. People today still recognize the followers of God by the pneumati displayed.
However, in Ephesians 2:19-22, Paul said that until that time arrives,
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."
Paul repeatedly stated that pneumati is a gift from God. Why? In Genesis 12:2-3, God told Abraham that,
"I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."
How were they to be blessed? In Genesis 18, God told Abraham that he and Sarah would have a child even though they were quite old, and then God said,
"Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?"
What was this covenant or blessing the Lord gave Abraham? Psalms 25:12-14 says,
"What man is he that feareth the Lord? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant." Genesis 22:15-18 says, "And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice."
In John 15:26, Jesus told his disciples,
"But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me."
Upon his [Jesus] return to the Father, he received the gift of the spirit of truth, which is the holy spirit, and he in turn imparted some of it upon all flesh, which is what Peter said happened on the day of Pentecost.
In Acts 13:32-33, Paul preached in the synagogue in Antioch:
"And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee."
Paul called the resurrection of Jesus "the glad tidings" that God had fulfilled his promise to the fathers, which included Abraham.
Paul knew that when Jesus was resurrected and returned to the Father, he received and sent forth the holy spirit and poured out some of it upon all flesh. And in Galatians 3:16, he said,
"Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ."
And what was the promise? What was the blessing? The answer is in Galatians 3:14:
"That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
The spirit was not given because of our faith, but that is the only way we can actively "receive" spirit. The gift of God to everyone is the power to be pleasing to God in our actions because of his great gift, pneumati.
This gift of pneumati is the fulfillment of God's covenant with Abraham that through him all nations would be blessed (Genesis 12:2-3). With the gift of some of his spirit upon all flesh, all were equipped to retain the salvation given to them through God's grace.
# Since the ascension of Jesus some of the holy spirit has been bestowed
upon everyone. They are now in a position to either put themselves
under that portion of spirit they have been given, or to be in rebellion
# People either actively "receive" the spirit and are thereby obedient, or
they ignore the spirit poured out upon them and are thereby
# Some of the spirit has been poured out upon all of us and its gift
becomes our glory, either to be used for the glory of God, or to be
ignored, and thereby hidden from view.
# The way to truth and freedom, not only from the law but also from the
world, lies in slavery to God.
# Paul taught that we should seek to know our pneumati (gift) and then
become slaves to it. That gift should be the predominant factor in our
# The holy spirit is the truth, the truth that comes from God. This is the
truth that was poured out through Jesus which allows us to know God.
# The holy spirit reveals the things of God to us.
# Within pnuemati lies the power to be whatever God asks us to be. God
will do in us, and through us, whatever he requires of us, if we do not
rebel against whatever pnuemati God has given us.
# Our gift is our calling; it came at the same time we received holy spirit.
Our gift lies within that portion of holy spirit poured out upon us.
When we commit ourselves to God we allow holy spirit to manifest that
truth, or gift, through us. The greater our commitment, the greater the
# Since few of us are totally committed to God, a lot of flesh gets mixed
in with spirit and there is a mixed manifestation.
# When we try to do things on our own, in our own strength, trying to
operate through a gift we do not have, the results are always fleshly.
We wind up with lots of facts, but little truth.
# We do not use holy spirit; holy spirit uses us.
# The condition of en pneumati means that the spirit is all we think about,
that we are completely submerged in spirit, that we are engrossed by
the spirit, that we do not pay any attention to other things, that other
things are not important.
# God continually provides for those who are submitted to him, en
# No one has ever been granted "the holy spirit" except Jesus; only he
had the complete truth. The rest of us have holy spirit, a portion of
"the holy spirit," a portion of the truth, the portion that God chooses to
# Holy spirit (without the article) is a portion of the holy spirit (with the
article), a characteristic of the holy spirit, some quality of the holy
spirit, some portion of the truth.
# Many times people dwell upon some thing and practice it until they
become captive to a driving impulse, or spirit, in their lives. They
usually do not even realize that it originates from their own minds and
that they have become captive to their own thoughts.
# We must carefully guard our minds. People still believe they can
immerse their minds in evil literature, movies, and pictures and escape
unharmed. It cannot be done.
# Many attitudes which do not glorify God will control us if we are not
obedient to the pneumati God has poured out upon us to glorify him.
# We will be controlled either by that which is godly and righteous, or by
that which is worldly and evil.
# It is easy for believers to stray from the concept of grace into one of
synergism, mixing grace and works. It is the spirit God has poured out
upon us which has the power to produce proper works.
# When viewed from God to man, the activating energy lies in pnuemati;
when viewed from man to God, it is faith, or obedience, that activates
this energy to produce works pleasing to God. In some contexts,
although Paul seemed to use the two words as nearly synonymous,
they were actually only parallel.
# Other people recognize the followers of God by the pneumati
# The spirit was not given because of our faith, but that is the only way
we can actively "receive" spirit.
# The gift of God to everyone is the power to be pleasing to God in our
actions because of his great gift, pneumati.
# The gift of pneumati is the fulfillment of God's covenant with Abraham
that through him all nations would be blessed. With the gift of some of
his spirit upon all flesh, all were equipped to retain the salvation given
to them through God's grace.
© 2009, Fred Kenison and Merrill Douglass. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.