The Holy Spirit: The Synoptic Gospels, Summary

The synoptic Gospels, especially Matthew, begin and end with the Spirit. They are centered on Jesus, but the Spirit nonetheless permeates their narratives.

The Spirit conceives Jesus. The Spirit inspires prophets to glorify God in announcing the birth of the Savior. The Spirit descends on the baptized Jesus to demonstrate God’s anointing.

The Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted, and the Spirit empowers Jesus to do miracles. Jesus declares that the Spirit’s role is such that blasphemy against the Spirit cannot be forgiven.

The Spirit empowers the missionaries sent by Jesus, and the Spirit gives joy in their successes.

Jesus concludes his ministry by telling his disciple to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Gospels are about Jesus, but much of the narrative is driven by the Spirit, because the Spirit’s role is to bring glory to Jesus.


7 Responses

  1. And who is this most powerful spirit ? This Holy Spirit ?

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

  2. Jay:
    I appreciate your giving attention to the message of the Spirit’s role in the Gospels.

    What you highlight stands in stark contrast to a careful, creeping deemphasis in our day by some. For example, L. Michael White’s 508-page look at the Gospels and earliest Christianity includes a grand total of ONE mention of the Spirit: a Quote of Acts 1:8. And in the quote Dr. White is not even talking about the work of the Spirit. (see From Jesus to Christianity: How Four Generations of Visionaries & Storytellers Created the New Testament and Christian Faith, San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 251).

    The book served as something of a companion volume to the PBS Special From Jesus to Christ. L. Michael White’s roots in the Restoration Movement makes this all the more surprising — and disconcerting.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton

  3. Its a tradeoff for real eye witness testimony. Because the gospels that were written as eye witness accounts like the gospel of Peter were docetic in nature, the Catholic church decided to produce four gospels that pretend to be written by the spirit rather than an actual human witness.

  4. Metasmart,

    The four Gospels have been long attributed to human witness. Second, the Gospels were written and in circulation long before there was an institution known as the “Catholic church.” Meanwhile, the alleged gospel of Peter is plainly a late forgery. Scholars date it to the late second century.

  5. Matthew was an apostle. We suppose he wrote the book which bears his name. John was an apostle. We suppose he wrote the five books in the New Testament canon which bear his name. Mark and Luke were both associates of the apostle Paul, so had many opportunities to learn from him what he knew and had been told by the Lord prior to his first trip to Jerusalem where some of the apostles still were serving. We have good reason to suppose these four gospels were written early in the Christian age while many still alive could have corrected any “error” in them.

    We are not taught as followers of Jesus to serve the Holy Spirit or to worship Him. We are told the Spirit will help US serve Jesus, which was the role of the Spirit during Jesus’ earthly ministry. The Spirit helped. Jesus taught, healed, and served. The Spirit helped. We are told to teach and serve and are promised help which is the gift of God’s Spirit to walk with us. The gospel we share with others is all about JESUS, not about the Spirit. Salvation is through JESUS, not through the Spirit. The Spirit’s role is to help us serve JESUS here on earth. Yes?

  6. Ray,

    Yes. This will become clear when we get to John’s Gospel.

  7. “We are not taught as followers of Jesus to serve the Holy Spirit or to worship Him.”
    Ray, you must read a different bible than I do.
    That is the entire message delivered by Jesus , worship and serve God.
    That brings to mind John’s question about separating The Spirit from God, when you do that you loose all reason for the gospels. How many times does Jesus have to say,I am not about me , I represent my Father.

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