Volume 2 No. 1

Keys to Research

The Word of God interprets itself. 

To understand God's Word certain keys to research must be understood and applied when working the Word to avoid private interpretation and maintain the integrity of the original text.

 These studies are provided to outline some of the simple keys to understanding God's Word.

Michael Cortright

Keys to the Word's Interpretation

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The Giver and the gift
Acts 2:4
   And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, [holy spirit] and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

   A great deal of confusion and misunderstanding of God's Word has come from a failure to make a distinction between God who is The Holy Spirit and the gift He gave to mankind on the day of Pentecost which is also called holy spirit.  In the New Testament there are nine distinct usages of the word "spirit."  These usages are explained and covered in Appendix II of Victor Paul Wierwille's Receiving the Holy Spirit Today, 7th ed. (New Knoxville, Ohio: American Christian Press, 1982). 

   In English we can make a distinction between the Giver and His gift by the use of capital and lowercase letters.  God is "The Holy Spirit."  His gift to us is "holy spirit."

   When the Bible was put into English it was translated from manuscripts called UNCIAL which were written in continuous capital text such as FORGODSOLOVED; or the English was translated from CURSIVE manuscripts which were continuous hand written script such as forgodsoloved .  
   There were no spaces between words or distinctions made for proper nouns by capitalization in the manuscripts.  The translators made the decisions about what was to be capitalized and how words would be translated.  As a result an understanding of the distinction between God and His gift is very difficult for the casual reader of the Bible.

   In the King James Version of the New Testament of the Bible the word spirit is translated from the Greek word pneuma.  The word holy is translated from the Greek word hagion.  The translators presented these words as follows in the KJV:

  • pneuma  (spirit) is used a total of  - 385 times
  • pneuma as spirit with a lower case "s" - 153 times
  • pneuma as Spirit with an upper case "S" - 133 times
  • pneuma as spiritual - 1 time
  • pneuma as ghost - 2 times
  • pneuma as life - 1 time
  • pneuma as wind - 1 time
  • pneuma as spiritually - 1 time
  • pneuma hagion as holy spirit - 4 times
  • pneuma hagion as holy ghost - 89 times
  To understand the distinction between God who is Holy Spirit and His gift which is holy spirit we must study the context in which the words pneuma and hagion occur in the Word of God and ignore the use of capital letters and the translator's interpretation of these words.  We must let them speak for themselves in their context.  Let us begin by understanding that God is The Holy Spirit.

John 4:24
   God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Psalm 99:5
   Exalt ye the Lord our God and worship at his footstool; for he is holy.

   God is holy and God is spirit.  This is the nature of God.  In English when we are referring directly to God we would capitalize the words as proper nouns.  God is "The Holy Spirit."  When the Word of God refers to God directly as the source of supply - the giver, the words should be capitalized and translated Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:35
   And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost [The Holy Spirit - God] shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

John 3:6
   That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

   God is The Spirit and that which He gives us when we believe His Word as recorded in Romans 10:9-10 is also called spirit.  Since God is Holy and God is Spirit, when we are born again of God we receive the nature of God: holy spirit and become His sons and daughters.  We do not receive God.  We receive His gift which is holy spirit.  In most references in the New Testament God is referred to as God or the Father and that which He gave us and we received is called holy spirit.  His gift of spirit to us makes us spiritual beings. 
   Although capitalized in many places in the King James Version the gift of holy spirit that we received does not refer to God and therefore should not be capitalized. Some examples of God's gift are as follows:

Matthew 3:11
   I [John] indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, [holy spirit] and with fire.

  The article "the" does not appear in the original text and along with the capital letters changes the meaning of God's Word. Jesus Christ came to make sonship available. He came to make the gift of holy spirit available to all who would believe.

Acts 1:8a
   But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost [holy spirit] is come upon you: and ye shall be witnessess unto me . . .

Acts 2:4
   And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, [holy spirit] and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit [God - the giver] gave them utterance.

I Corinthians 12:3
   Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God [spirit from God] calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. [holy spirit]

  Each use of the word pneuma (spirit) must be carefully studied in its context in God's Word if we are to understand and rightly divide the difference between God: the Giver, and his gift of holy spirit which we received when we got born again.

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Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. II Peter 1:20
Keys to the Word's Interpretation
Volume 2 No. 1

URL http://www.cortright.org/key21.htm
© Copyright February 1999 Michael Cortright