Why is the third person of the Trinity called "Ghost"?

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chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
I understand Father and Son because of begetting. Is there a reason why the third person is called "Ghost" or "Spirit"? It seems God in essence is a Spirit.

What is God? God is a Spirit...
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Are you looking for a rationale, something besides his scripturally-supplied name?

What follows is some speculation as to human motivations for the choice of expression to describe God (going back to Moses).

ISBE, James Orr, General Editor, 1915,1939
article, "Holy Spirit"
"But as the human breath was an invisible part of man, and as it represented his vitality, his life and energy, it was easy to transfer the conception to God in the effort to represent His energetic and transitive action upon man and Nature. The Spirit of God, therefore, as based upon the idea of the rūaḥ or breath of man, originally stood for the energy or power of God (Is.31:3; compare A. B. Davidson, Theology of the Old Testament, 117-18), as contrasted with the weakness of the flesh."
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I understand Father and Son because of begetting. Is there a reason why the third person is called "Ghost" or "Spirit"?

Is the question asking whether the person of the "Spirit" is connected to the act of "spiration" in the same way that the person of the "Son" is connected to the act of "filiation?" If so, the answer is, Yes.

Consider the following from W. G. T. Shedd:

The theological term "spiration" comes from the Biblical term "Spirit," appropriated to the third person. It is applied to him technically, with reference to the manner in which he has the essence: spiritus, quia spiratus [spirit, because spirated]. He is no more spiritual in substance than the Father or Son. But the essence is communicated to him by spiration, or outbreathing (pneuma = spiritus = breath).

[Note, Shedd is very helpful in this and the preceding paragraph of his Dogmatics; but his use of the word "modified" with regard to the divine essence is questionable and easily misunderstood.]
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
I understand Father and Son because of begetting. Is there a reason why the third person is called "Ghost" or "Spirit"?

Is the question asking whether the person of the "Spirit" is connected to the act of "spiration" in the same way that the person of the "Son" is connected to the act of "filiation?" If so, the answer is, Yes.

Consider the following from W. G. T. Shedd:

The theological term "spiration" comes from the Biblical term "Spirit," appropriated to the third person. It is applied to him technically, with reference to the manner in which he has the essence: spiritus, quia spiratus [spirit, because spirated]. He is no more spiritual in substance than the Father or Son. But the essence is communicated to him by spiration, or outbreathing (pneuma = spiritus = breath).

[Note, Shedd is very helpful in this and the preceding paragraph of his Dogmatics; but his use of the word "modified" with regard to the divine essence is questionable and easily misunderstood.]

Yes, this is exactly what I was asking - in better terms. God is a Holy Spirit in substance. The Father and Son are named so because of their personal properties. How is the third person named with respect to his personal properties? "Holy Spirit", why? Spiration or spirated seems to be the answer.

But the essence is communicated to him by spiration, or outbreathing (pneuma = spiritus = breath).

I thought the essence was communicated by "proceeding." Is "spiration" another name for that?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I thought the essence was communicated by "proceeding." Is "spiration" another name for that?

As I understand it, generation (or begetting) is the Father's work, and filiation (or being begotten) is the Son's property. Likewise, spiration is the work of the Father and Son, and procession (being spirated) is His property. The Father begets the Son and the Son is begotten. The Father and Son spirate the Spirit and the Spirit proceeds.
 

MichaelNZ

Puritan Board Freshman
The modern English word ghost comes from Old English gast, which could mean breath, soul, spirit, ghost, or being. The King James translators used the term "Holy Ghost" to refer to the third Person of the Trinity, as did the Book of Common Prayer. The word's meaning has narrowed since then (although you may still see the term "gave up the ghost"). The people who use the term "Holy Ghost" today include Pentecostals, Anglican churches using the BCP, and English-speaking traditionalist Roman Catholics.
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
I thought the essence was communicated by "proceeding." Is "spiration" another name for that?

As I understand it, generation (or begetting) is the Father's work, and filiation (or being begotten) is the Son's property. Likewise, spiration is the work of the Father and Son, and procession (being spirated) is His property. The Father begets the Son and the Son is begotten. The Father and Son spirate the Spirit and the Spirit proceeds.

That makes sense. Forgive my Biblical ignorance, but when was "Spirit" first employed referring to the person, not essence? Did the author use it with this "spiration" in mind and that's why he used "Spirit"? Or was it a name given by prophesy or some other revelation?
 
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Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Gen.1:2 "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Did the author use it with this "spiration" in mind and that's why he used "Spirit"?

Consider the following portion from George Smeaton's Doctrine of the Holy Spirit:

Had we no other word of Scripture through which to think on this matter, the single title "THE SPIRIT OF GOD" shows the relation of two Persons, the one proceeding from the other, just as the title "the Son of God" proves the eternal Sonship. He is called (1) the Spirit of the Lord (Isa. 11:2); (2) the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:9); (3) the Spirit that proceedeth from the Father (John 15:26); (4) the Spirit of His Son (Gal. 4:6); and we should grievously err if we believed that these phrases have no significance. We ascribe no such procession to Him as is in any way associated with the idea of imperfection. We acknowledge, however, something fitly represented by the analogy of respiration, for it would be irreverence to imagine that there is no analogy in the terms employed.
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
Did the author use it with this "spiration" in mind and that's why he used "Spirit"?

Consider the following portion from George Smeaton's Doctrine of the Holy Spirit:

Had we no other word of Scripture through which to think on this matter, the single title "THE SPIRIT OF GOD" shows the relation of two Persons, the one proceeding from the other, just as the title "the Son of God" proves the eternal Sonship. He is called (1) the Spirit of the Lord (Isa. 11:2); (2) the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:9); (3) the Spirit that proceedeth from the Father (John 15:26); (4) the Spirit of His Son (Gal. 4:6); and we should grievously err if we believed that these phrases have no significance. We ascribe no such procession to Him as is in any way associated with the idea of imperfection. We acknowledge, however, something fitly represented by the analogy of respiration, for it would be irreverence to imagine that there is no analogy in the terms employed.

Thanks. Very helpful as usual. You must have an incredible memory to pull these passages at the right moment.
 
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