The Quickening Spirit

There is no life without the Spirit of God, and His Spirit creates, animates, sustains, and restores all life

Waterfalls WV - Photo by Sean Robertson on Unsplash
To his disciples, Jesus declared that “
the Spirit makes alive [‘quickens’]. The flesh profits nothing. The words which I have spoken to you are spirit, and they are life.” His words echo the scriptural principle that life and the “Spirit” are inextricably linked. The “flesh” is not inherently evil, but it has no life without the spirit that is given by God - [Photo by Sean Robertson on Unsplash].

In John 6:63, the Greek word rendered “makes alive” or “quicken” is zôopoieô; literally, “to make alive” (Strong’s – #G2227), a combination of the noun zôon - a “living being” - and the verb poieô - “to make.” Thus, the sense becomes to “cause to live, quicken, vitalize.”

And the “words” spoken by Jesus are “spirit” because they originate from the “Father of spirits,” God Himself. And above all, his words are the source of “everlasting life – (Hebrews 12:9).
  • For I speak not from myself; but the Father that sent me, he has given me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting; the things, therefore, which I speak, even as the Father has said to me, so I speak” – (John 12:49).

The Apostle Paul uses the same verb, zôopoieô, to make a similar point to the Corinthians, namely, that the “spirit makes alive”:
  • (2 Corinthians 3:6) – “But our sufficiency is from God; who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit quickens.

The “letter of the law” kills mortal men. Not only does it condemn them to death for sin, but only the Spirit of God can impart life with or without the Mosaic law, and only the Spirit can write the law of God on the hearts of His children - (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

COVENANT AND RESURRECTION

And the Spirit is the fundamental and vital element that establishes, characterizes, and sustains the “new covenant.” Without it, there is no life and no everlasting covenant. Paul makes a similar point in his epistle to the churches of Rome:
  • (Romans 8:10-11) – “And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will quicken also to your mortal bodies through his Spirit that dwells in you.

By this, he means especially the gift of the Spirit that is received by every believer. Just as the Spirit of the living God raised Jesus from the dead and gave him an immortal and glorified body, so the same Spirit “quickens” our mortal bodies with everlasting life at the resurrection.

And because bodily resurrection is an act of new creation - we will receive a new immortal body - the Spirit is intimately involved in “quickening our mortal bodies” – (1 Corinthians 15:51-57).

The Spirit of God is His creative and life-sustaining power, and this idea is not unique to the New Testament. Paul is building on the firm foundation already laid in the Hebrew Bible.

For example, the claim that God’s spoken word creates life, and the connection of His words to the Spirit, appear in the Psalms:
  • (Psalm 33:6) – “By the word of Yahweh, the heavens were made, and by the spirit of his mouth, all their host.
  • (Psalm 104:29-30) – “You hide your face, they are dismayed. You withdraw their spirit, they cease to breathe, and to their own dust do they return. You send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.

The entire universe was created by His Spirit, and man is dependent on the Spirit for sustaining and renewing life.

CREATION

But the Psalmist was expanding on what had been written centuries earlier in the first passages of the book of Genesis where the Spirit of Yahweh was responsible for the original creation of the Cosmos and all that followed:
  • (Genesis 1:1-3) – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was waste and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Before God created anything, His Spirit was “brooding” over the face of the waters. This translates the Hebrew verb râkhaph (Strong’s - #H7363), and it suggests the image of a female bird “brooding” over her nest and hatchlings.

Deuteronomy applies the same verb to the tender care of Yahweh for His people:
  •  “For Yahweh's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness. He compassed him about, he cared for him, He kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle that stirs up her nest, that broods over her young, He spreads abroad his wings, he took them, He bares them on his pinions” - (Deuteronomy 32:9-11).

In Genesis, the presence of the Spirit at the creation indicates just how pivotal it is to the creation of all things and the continuing existence of life. That the Spirit was “brooding” suggests more than just caring for the universe. It anticipates the creation of His crowning achievement, Adam.
  • And Yahweh formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul” – (Genesis 2:7).

In the preceding passage, “breathed” translates the Hebrew term naphach from a root verb with the sense “puff, to blow” (Strong’s #H5301). “Living-soul” represents the noun nephesh, meaning a “breathing creature” (Strong’s #H5315).

Sunlight + Photo by Thomas Kinto on Unsplas
[Photo by Thomas Kinto on Unsplash]


The stress is on breath, the act of breathing. As Job wrote, “the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life,” connecting the “Spirit of God” to His “breath of life” – (Job 33:4),

The same passage from Genesis is cited by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians when explaining the resurrection body:
  • (1 Corinthians 15:42-45) – “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in powerit is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, The first man Adam became a living soul; the last Adam, a LIFE-GIVING SPIRIT.

The Apostle contrasts the body of Adam, the “first man,” with the resurrection bodies of believers. The first man’s body was corruptible, weak, and natural, and, in the end, subject to death. In contrast, the resurrection body does not decay or die, it is “raised in power,” it is a “spiritual body,” bodily existence dominated by the Spirit.

Jesus is the “last Adam,” the forerunner of all resurrected saints. But he differs in one key regard. Because of his resurrection, he is also the “life-giving spirit.” From now on, he alone has the authority to impart life through the Spirit of God. As Paul clarifies, the future resurrection of the righteous is based on his past resurrection.

In the Bible, the Spirit of God is the source of all life, including the future immortal bodies of resurrected saints.

And in Scripture, the “Spirit” speaks of God as the creative source of all things, especially of His power to create, sustain, renew, and, when necessary, restore life. Without His Spirit, there is no life, either now or in the future.



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