Luke’s Fascination With The Holy Spirit

It is notable, in Luke’s Gospel, how often he mentioned the Holy Spirit. If you were to do a word search for each of the Gospels, here’s what you’d get from, for example, the New International Version (NIV)

The Holy Spirit is mentioned:

Matthew: 12 times

Mark: 6 times

Luke: 17 times

John: 20 times

John is the winner because he wrote extensively about Jesus’ last evening with His disciples when He explained Who the Holy Spirit was, and what the Spirit’s mission is.

The Holy Spirit is called an ever-present Counselor, Advocate, Comforter and Strengthener

  • He works in conjunction with scripture, to illuminate what God has said
  • He enables Christians to understand God through His word
  • The Spirit empowers believers to do God's will
  • The Spirit gives believers particular gifts, like teaching, preaching, giving, and serving, in order to build up the whole of the church.
  • Believers discover that they can grieve the Spirit and even quench His flame – He won't leave them, but it will be like He is gone if one chooses to refuse Him.

So writers of the New Testament also talked about a "filling" of the Holy Spirit, which can occur repeatedly, and often. The biggest way you know you are being filled with the Holy Spirit is when you find yourself openly praising God, and highlighting the Lord Jesus in some way.

Some people have tried to illustrate God’s embodiment of both masculine and feminine by pointing to the Holy Spirit as the ‘feminine’ aspect of God. I’m not sure about that. In the original Hebrew of the Old Testament, the word for “spirit” is "rūaḥ," a feminine noun. The word for “spirit” in New Testament Greek is “pneuma,” a neuter noun. That’s one of those “open tabs” in Theological circles.

However, there are a few occasions when God used feminine metaphors to describe His love and care for his own—for example:

1. In the very first chapter of the Bible, God explained that He had made men and women in His own image—men in God’s image, and women in God’s image. (Genesis 1:27)

2. The prophet Isaiah quoted God’s description of Himself as a mother quite a lot, comparatively speaking:

  • Woman in labor: “For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept myself still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant.” (Isaiah 42:14)
  • Nursing mother: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15)
  • Comforting mother: “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 66:13)

3. The Psalmist also described God as a comforting mother: “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.” (Psalm 131:2)

4. The prophet Hosea spoke for God as a mother bear, saying, “Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and tear them asunder…” (Hosea 13:8)

5. Jesus described Himself with the tenderness of a mother hen, saying, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37)

There are a few other references I didn’t mention here, including even the apostle Paul describing himself as both a mother and a father to the new believers in Thessalonica, Greece.

Certainly we can be sure of this: God has a great, and equally infinite and eternal, love and purpose for women, as He does for men. Paul made it clear that God does not go by the divisions we make, here on earth. To God there is no difference between wealthy or impoverished, between people groups and nations, between classes in society, powerbrokers and the enslaved….and between men and women. To God we are all equal.