Chapter 19.—The Holy Spirit is Called the Gift of God in the Scriptures. By the Gift of the Holy Spirit is Meant the Gift Which is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is Specially Called Love, Although Not Only the Holy Spirit in the Trinity is Love.
33. Is this too to be proved, that the Holy Spirit is called in the sacred books the gift of God? If people look for this too, we have in the Gospel according to John the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who says, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink: he that believeth on me, as the Scripture saith, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” And the evangelist has gone on further to add, “And this He spake of the Spirit, which they should receive who believe in Him.” 1016 And hence Paul the apostle also says, “And we have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” 1017 The question then is, whether that water is called the gift of God which is the Holy Spirit. But as we find here that this water is the Holy Spirit, so we find elsewhere in the Gospel itself that this water is called the gift of God. For when the same Lord was talking with the woman of Samaria at the well, to whom He had said, “Give me p. 218 to drink,” and she had answered that the Jews “have no dealings” with the Samaritans, Jesus answered and said unto her, “If thou hadst known the gift of God, and who it is that says to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto Him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: whence then hast thou this living water, etc.? Jesus answered and said unto her, Every one that drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whose shall drink of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a fountain of water springing up unto eternal life.” 1018 Because this living water, then, as the evangelist has explained to us, is the Holy Spirit, without doubt the Spirit is the gift of God, of which the Lord says here, “If thou hadst known the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.” For that which is in the one passage, “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water,” is in the other, “shall be in him a fountain of water springing up unto eternal life.”
34. Paul the apostle also says, “To each of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ;” and then, that he might show that by the gift of Christ he meant the Holy Spirit, he has gone on to add, “Wherefore He saith, He hath ascended up on high, He hath led captivity captive, and hath given gifts to men.” 1019 And every one knows that the Lord Jesus, when He had ascended into heaven after the resurrection from the dead, gave the Holy Spirit, with whom they who believed were filled, and spake with the tongues of all nations. And let no one object that he says gifts, not gift: for he quoted the text from the Psalm. And in the Psalm it is read thus, “Thou hast ascended up on high, Thou hast led captivity captive, Thou hast received gifts in men.” 1020 For so it stands in many mss., especially in the Greek mss., and so we have it translated from the Hebrew. The apostle therefore said gifts, as the prophet did, not gift. But whereas the prophet said, “Thou hast received gifts in men,” the apostle has preferred saying, “He gave gifts to men:” and this in order that the fullest sense may be gathered from both expressions, the one prophetic, the other apostolic; because both possess the authority of a divine utterance. For both are true, as well that He gave to men, as that He received in men. He gave to men, as the head to His own members: He Himself that gave, received in men, no doubt as in His own members; on account of which, namely, His own members, He cried from heaven, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” 1021 And of which, namely, His own members, He says, “Since ye have done it to one of the least of these that are mine, ye have done it unto me.” 1022 Christ Himself, therefore, both gave from heaven and received on earth. And further, both prophet and apostle have said gifts for this reason, because many gifts, which are proper to each, are divided in common to all the members of Christ, by the Gift, which is the Holy Spirit. For each severally has not all, but some have these and some have those; although all have the Gift itself by which that which is proper to each is divided to Him, i.e. the Holy Spirit. For elsewhere also, when he had mentioned many gifts, “All these,” he says, “worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to each severally as He will.” 1023 And this word is found also in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where it is written, “God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts 1024 of the Holy Ghost.” 1025 And so here, when he had said, “He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, He gave gifts to men,” he says further, “But that He ascended, what is it but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things. And He gave some apostles, some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and doctors.” (This we see is the reason why gifts are spoken of; because, as he says elsewhere, “Are all apostles? are all prophets?” 1026 etc.) And here he has added, “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.” 1027 This is the house which, as the Psalm sings, is built up after the captivity; 1028 since the house of Christ, which house is called His Church, is built up of those who have been rescued from the devil, by whom they were held captive. But He Himself led this captivity captive, who conquered the devil. And that he might not draw with him into eternal punishment those who were to become the members of the Holy Head, He bound him first by the bonds of righteousness, and then by those of might. The devil himself, therep. 219 fore, is called captivity, which He led captive who ascended up on high, and gave gifts to men, or received gifts in men.
35. And Peter the apostle, as we read in that canonical book, wherein the Acts of the Apostles are recorded,—when the hearts of the Jews were troubled as he spake of Christ, and they said, “Brethren, what shall we do? tell us,”—said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins: and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” 1029 And we read likewise in the same book, that Simon Magus desired to give money to the apostles, that he might receive power from them, whereby the Holy Spirit might be given by the laying on of his hands. And the same Peter said to him, “Thy money perish with thee: because thou hast thought to purchase for money the gift of God.” 1030 And in another place of the same book, when Peter was speaking to Cornelius, and to those who were with him, and was announcing and preaching Christ, the Scripture says, “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all them that heard the word; and they of the circumcision that believed, as many as came with Peter, were astonished, because that upon the Gentiles also the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.” 1031 And when Peter afterwards was giving an account to the brethren that were at Jerusalem of this act of his, that he had baptized those who were not circumcised, because the Holy Spirit, to cut the knot of the question, had come upon them before they were baptized, and the brethren at Jerusalem were moved when they heard it, he says, after the rest of his words, “And when I began to speak to them, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us in the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, that John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit. If, therefore, He gave a like gift to them, as also to us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I could hinder God from giving to them the Holy Spirit?” 1032 And there are many other testimonies of the Scriptures, which unanimously attest that the Holy Spirit is the gift of God, in so far as He is given to those who by Him love God. But it is too long a task to collect them all. And what is enough to satisfy those who are not satisfied with those we have alleged?
36. Certainly they must be warned, since they now see that the Holy Spirit is called the gift of God, that when they hear of “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” they should recognize therein that mode of speech which is found in the words, “In the spoiling of the body of the flesh.” 1033 For as the body of the flesh is nothing else but the flesh, so the gift of the Holy Spirit is nothing else but the Holy Spirit. He is then the gift of God, so far as He is given to those to whom He is given. But in Himself He is God, although He were given to no one, because He was God co-eternal with the Father and the Son before He was given to any one. Nor is He less than they, because they give, and He is given. For He is given as a gift of God in such way that He Himself also gives Himself as being God. For He cannot be said not to be in His own power, of whom it is said, “The Spirit bloweth where it listeth;” 1034 and the apostle says, as I have already mentioned above, “All these things worketh that selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.” We have not here the creating of Him that is given, and the rule of them that give, but the concord of the given and the givers.
37. Wherefore, if Holy Scripture proclaims that God is love, and that love is of God, and works this in us that we abide in God and He in us, and that hereby we know this, because He has given us of His Spirit, then the Spirit Himself is God, who is love. Next, if there be among the gifts of God none greater than love, and there is no greater gift of God than the Holy Spirit, what follows more naturally than that He is Himself love, who is called both God and of God? And if the love by which the Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father, ineffably demonstrates the communion of both, what is more suitable than that He should be specially called love, who is the Spirit common to both? For this is the sounder thing both to believe and to understand, that the Holy Spirit is not alone love in that Trinity, yet is not specially called love to no purpose, for the reasons we have alleged; just as He is not alone in that Trinity either a Spirit or holy, since both the Father is a Spirit, and the Son is a Spirit; and both the Father is holy, and the Son is holy,—as piety doubts not. And yet it is not to no purpose that He is specially called the Holy Spirit; for because He is common to both, He is specially called that which both are in common. Otherwise, if in that Trinity the Holy Spirit alone is love, then doubtless the Son too turns out to be the Son, not of the Father only, but also of the Holy p. 220 Spirit. For He is both said and read in countless places to be so,—the only-begotten Son of God the Father; as that what the apostle says of God the Father is true too: “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His own love.” 1035 He did not say, “of His own Son.” If He had so said, He would have said it most truly, just as He did say it most truly, because He has often said it; but He says, “the Son of His own love.” Therefore He is the Son also of the Holy Spirit, if there is in that Trinity no love in God except the Holy Spirit. And if this is most absurd, it remains that the Holy Spirit is not alone therein love, but is specially so called for the reasons I have sufficiently set forth; and that the words, “Son of His own love,” mean nothing else than His own beloved Son,—the Son, in short, of His own substance. For the love in the Father, which is in His ineffably simple nature, is nothing else than His very nature and substance itself,—as we have already often said, and are not ashamed of often repeating. And hence the “Son of His love,” is none other than He who is born of His substance.
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