Compendium: The Holy Spirit in the Preparations of Redemption

As the Incarnate Son is the Redeemer of Mankind in virtue of His perfect work of Reconciliation, so the Holy Ghost in His Divine personality is the Administrator of that redemption. His revelation as such has kept pace with the revelation of the redeeming Son. In the Old-Testament age He was the promise of the Father, even as the Christ was: and, as the promised Christ already was the world’s unrevealed Saviour, so the Spirit was the unrevealed Dispenser of His salvation. The Redeemer made the promise of the Father His own promise; and, on His ascension, obtained and sent, as the fruit of His mediatorial obedience, the Holy Ghost in His most abundant influence as the Third Person of the Godhead and the Personal Agent in the final accomplishment of the purpose of the Mediatorial Trinity.

The Holy Spirit in the Preparations of Redemption

The distinct personality of the Holy Ghost is not made prominent in Scripture until the act of atonement is on the eve of completion. But the light of the later Scriptures thrown back upon the earlier reveals Him as a Divine Person present and active throughout the preparatory economy. With the coming of Christ His agency becomes more distinct; and it is from that time forward intimately connected with our Lord’s redeeming Person and work. The full disclosure, however, of the Person and Offices of the Spirit, and of His relation to the finished redemption of the world, was not given until the set time for the Pentecostal revelation of the Third Person was fully come; that is, until the Redeemer had ended His work upon earth and ascended to heaven.


The Holy Ghost in His special relation to the Christian economy was not sent down until Pentecost. But, as the Person in the Holy Trinity by Whom the Father’s Revelation of Himself through the Son, whether in Creation or Providence or Redemption, is accomplished in act, He has been present and operative from the beginning: the Administrator of the work of the Three-One God in every dispensation.

1. The Spirit, like the Son, but without concealment of His name, is throughout the Old Testament disclosed as the Agent of the Godhead in the production of all life, especially of the living spirit of man. In anticipation, as it were, of Pentecost, He was at the beginning the Lord and Giver of life; and Job’s word may be used in the widest extent concerning man as such: the Spirit of God hath made me (Job 33:4). The Son from the beginning has been the Life of men; but it was not till the Incarnation that He gave that life more abundantly, and was fully revealed as the Life (John 1:4). This distinction also holds good between the unrevealed and the revealed relation of the Personal Medium of the gift of life (Gen. 1:2). The same Spirit Who moved upon the face of the waters was breathed into the face of man and made him a living soul (Gen. 2:7). And, as the Son was from the beginning the Light of men (John 1:4), so the Spirit is represented as moving upon and striving with man from the beginning (Gen. 6:3). The unrevealed Second Person gave special and mysterious manifestations of Himself as the Angel of Jehovah, the Word of the Lord, and so the unrevealed Third Person is often referred to as the Divine Agent in spiritual gifts and influences. Thus of Bezaleel it is said: I have filled him with the Spirit of God (Ex. 31:3). And of Moses, Joshua, and the Judges, and the first kings, it is recorded that the Spirit endowed them for their office (Num. 11:17; 27:18). Thus, carrying back the personality of the Holy Ghost from the New Testament to the Old, we are taught that without Him the Eternal did not act on the world throughout the ancient economy (Judges 3:10).

2. But specifically in the administration of the prophetic preparations of the Gospel is this truth seen (1 Sam. 16:13, 14). The doctrine of the Saviour’s Person and Work has made it plain that the revelation of the Son was mediated by the Spirit of Christ which was in the prophets; that the entire Old Testament as the record of the Gospel before the Advent was given by His inspiration; and that He, no less than the Son Himself, was the Promise of the Father (Acts 1:4).


The Holy Spirit in the history of the Lord’s manifestation and life upon earth occupies a midway position between the Old Testament and the Pentecost. As the Administrator of Redemption He appears as the actual Agent in the raising up and the mission of the Incarnate Saviour; while He is at the same time the Object of our Lord’s prophecy as His future Agent in carrying out His work. Every reference to the Holy Ghost in the Gospels falls under one or other of these heads.

1. With regard to the former, it is enough to recapitulate what has already been established: first, that the human nature of the Son was the special Divine production of the Holy Ghost; and, secondly, that whatever in the Incarnate Person and Work of Jesus belongs to Him as the representative of mankind is under the Spirit’s direction; while all that belongs to Him as the representative of Deity is the act of His own Eternal Spirit as the Son. The Third Person presides especially over the humble and subordinate relation of the Mediatorial Second Person in the economy of redemption.

2. With regard to the latter, the records of the Evangelists furnish a series of testimonies of the Saviour Himself concerning the future dispensation of the Spirit which culminate in the farewell discourses and the resurrection promise.

(1.) How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him! (Luke 11:13) begins the series with a free and unlimited declaration which should throw its grace over all that follows throughout this department of theology. It is to the administration of redemption what the Protevangelium is to redemption itself: it is the dawn of the Pentecostal day.

(2.) This spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:39). In this saying, the link between the former and the final promises, St. John, as his manner is on special occasions, expounds his Master’s word, writing long after Pentecost: it teaches us that the Person and gifts of the Spirit were reserved until the Saviour’s glorification and the full manifestation of both dependent upon it. Jesus must be glorified of the Father before the Spirit glorified Him.

(3.) Passing over the specific promises of the Spirit to the Apostles, as contained in the Synoptists, we have our Lord’s most full foreannouncement of the coming and function of His Divine Representative. The farewell discourse is in truth a revelation of the Trinity; our Lord, setting out with a declaration of His own identity with the Father in the Divine nature, proceeds to declare that the Spirit should come as a Person, to abide for ever with His people, as the Revealer of all His truth and the indwelling Guide of all believers (John 14:16). Before He fulfilled His course on earth, like the Baptist He announced the coming of Another: but did not add, like His own forerunner, He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30). The Holy Spirit, though Himself God, should, in the present economy, only glorify the Son, by revealing His Person and expanding His doctrine and administering His kingdom. We are the witnesses of Him; and so is also the Holy Ghost (Acts 5:32).