Gregg Allison and Andreas Köstenberger take us through what the entire Bible says about God’s Spirit in their The Holy Spirit by B & H Academic (in the Theology for the People of God series). This includes the Holy Spirit’s involvement in creation as well as in regeneration in both the Old and New Testament.
The Holy Spirit is sectioned into two parts: Part I (“Biblical Theology”) goes through the Christian cannon section by section, while Part II (“Systematic Theology”) deals with the deity and personhood of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit in relation to the Father and Son, as well the Nicene Creed.
The bulk of part I understandably deals more with the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. In the section on Paul and the Holy Spirit, there is much interaction with the great tome by Gordon Fee, “Gods Empowering Presence” which deals with every reference to the Holy Spirit in the letters of Paul. I found this section solid through and through.
Being that Holy Spirit is usually appealed to using primarily the New Testament (leaving many with the impression that the Old Testament has little to say), I found the Old Testament section helpful and was at times pleasantly surprised at how many references there are to God’s Spirit within the Hebrew Bible. The brief treatment of Psalm 51 I found very helpful and useful for when preaching on this text.
The Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity, & the New Creation
The authors speak of one work of the Holy Spirit as having to do with “Creating, re-create, and perfecting” (p. 291). Now though all persons of the God-head are involved in this, the Spirit seems to play a pivotal role. “As this present world will one day come to an end, the consummation of all things will be the climax of the Spirit’s perfecting work. He is the eschatological Spirit whose orientation is always toward the future” (same p.).
Another work of the Spirit is to fill believers (individually and communally) with the Presence of the Triune God. Here the authors appeal to Ephesians 3:14-17 as well as to John 14:23 where Jesus promises, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come and make our home with him” which is to be understood in the context of Jesus promising “another Counselor to be with you forever” in John 14:16.
The Holy Spirit & Spiritual Warfare
One section is dedicated to the Holy Spirit and Angelic Beings. Here the Holy Spirit’s role in spiritual warfare is touched upon, the authors reflecting on Jesus’ own ministry. Noting how our emphasis is often placed on the miraculous and on the power of the Holy Spirit, what can be left out of the discussion is the the goodness of the Spirit. In point of fact, it is through the Spirit that the demonically oppressed were set free, the blind regained sight, people were returned whole to their families and communities, reintegrated into society and into synagogue and temple worship. Lastly, it is only through the power of God’s Spirit that the Church can “stand firm against the evil one and his minions” (p. 332).
Towards the end, the debate between complementarianism and continuationism is brought up, addressed in an even-handed way. There is also a helpful section evaluating Pentecostalism, the Charismatic Movement, and Third Wave Pentecostalism.
When evaluating the modern Pentecostal movement, the authors note an anti-hierarchy leaning generally commonplace within Pentecostal circles. And yet often enough, Pentecostals end up producing their own form of hierarchy “and elitism, with those who have experienced baptism with the Spirit, speaking in tongues, and the like as the most highly regarded” (p. 466).
For pastors this is an invaluable resource on a vital topic. For professors, they will find a well-documented, well-researched summation of what the Bible teaches on the Holy Spirit. For Christians who are neither pastors nor professors, this can prove to be a great addition to their library in understanding better an undervalued theme.