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What does “the Spirit was not yet” in John 7:39 refer to?

What does "the Spirit was not yet" in John 7:39 refer to?

But this He said concerning the Spirit, whom those who believed into Him were about to receive; for the Spirit was not yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified. John 7:39

What does it mean that “the Spirit was not yet” in John 7:39?

It’s a question few Bible readers would ever consider asking. That’s because few Bible translations render the text of John 7:39 this way.

Most Bible translators feel the need to supply the word given. But if you check the original Greek text or go to the Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible you’ll find the word given is not there.

Besides Young’s Literal Translation, all the other translations I have checked say “the Spirit was not yet given.” That is, all except the Darby Translation and the Recovery Version.

Then you may ask, “What difference does it make?”  A lot.

That’s because hidden beneath this mysterious text is a crucial point of truth concerning “the Spirit.”

Now let’s consider the mystery of “the Spirit was not yet before Jesus was glorified” and unlock its meaning for our enjoyment of Christ.

“The Spirit was not yet” is the mystery that unlocks our enjoyment of Christ

Knowing what it means that “the Spirit was not yet before Jesus was glorified” opens a door to a wealth of spiritual experience. According to its context it was such a Spirit that was needed in order for the Lord’s thirsty believers to have rivers of living water flowing out of their innermost being (John 7:37-39).

This mystery of “the Spirit was not yet” being due to a limiting understanding of the divine Trinity

Confusing God’s eternal essence with His economy.

Theologians often have a hard time with John 7:39 because essentially, that is, according to God’s existence, the Father, the Son and the Spirit are all eternal. Hebrews 9:14 says,

“Jesus offered Himself to God through the eternal Spirit.”

So if the Spirit is eternal, how can you say “the Spirit was not yet before Jesus was glorified.” Hence it makes sense to add the word given.

But don’t be so quick. Is there something we’re missing here?

Yes, it’s the economic aspect of the Trinity.

Most believers only know that the Father, Son and Spirit are all God, all eternal and all coexist…and this is correct essentially. We can say such a Triune God is immutable, unchanging in His Godhead. That is correct.

The Spirit was not yet because Jesus had not yet been glorified - John 7:39b

The mystery of “the Spirit was not yet” in John 7:39 being related to God economy

God’s economy is simply God’s plan to dispense Himself into His chosen, redeemed people. In His economy God took some definite steps to dispense Himself, in His Trinity, into us to gain many sons to form the Body of Christ.

In God’s economy, He passed through some processes to get into us.

Was not Christ’s incarnation a process?

John 1:1-2 clearly tell us that our Lord was the eternal Word, who was God from eternity…not just part of God, and not becoming God at a later time.

Then, verse 14 says,

“The Word became flesh.”

For God to “become flesh” definitely indicates a process.

As such, Colossians 2:9 could say of Christ, “for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”

In His economy, the entire Godhead is pleased to dwell in Christ with a physical body.

Were not Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection processes?

This incarnated Word lived a human life for 33 ½ years, and became the Lamb of God to take away our sins (John 1:29).

Christ went to the cross willingly to accomplish a full redemption for us all.  But death could not hold Him. So after three days He rose from the grave victorious over death and Hades (1 Cor. 15:3-4).

Jesus, who “had not yet been glorified” in John 7:39, died and resurrected. His resurrection was His glorification (Luke 24:26). This glorified Jesus can now enter into us as “the Spirit.”

Speaking in the context of Christ’s resurrection, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:45b,

The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.

For Christ, as a man  in the flesh, the last Adam,  to become a life-giving Spirit in resurrection was a great process! Our Lord became a life-giving Spirit so that He could enter into us to be our life!

But does this mean that there are two Spirits—the eternal Spirit of God and the life-giving Spirit who was Christ in His resurrection?

No, it means that the Spirit after Christ’s resurrection, has been compounded with all the elements of Christ’s eternal divinity, genuine, perfect humanity and completed processes.

“The Spirit” is the issue of Christ’s processes

“The Spirit” is not just another term for the Holy Spirit, but a particular title for the Spirit of God after all Christ’s processes (Gal. 3:2, 5).

He is no longer just the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit. He is “the Spirit”–the Spirit of the glorified Jesus, the consummated Spirit (Phil. 1:19).

The Spirit of God is still there. The Holy Spirit is still there.  But into this divine Spirit as the base were added all the elements of Christ’s Person and work–Christ’s humanity, human living, death and resurrection. All that Christ is, is now in “the Spirit.” It is in this way that Christ can live in us (Gal. 2:20).

It is like the compound ointment referred to in Exodus 30:23-25. Olive oil, signifying the Spirit of God, was the base. To this oil, four precious spices were added to make a holy anointing ointment.

The spices added to the oil signify all the elements of Christ’s Person and work. To stick to the point, we’ll need to save those awesome details for another post.

“The Spirit” became a drink for us to receive and enjoy

The blending of many ingredients is a wonderful picture. It’s like a smoothie with various fruits and vegetables added to pure water or milk to make a delicious and nutritious drink.

“The Spirit” promised in John 7:39 is such an enriched, consummated Spirit that we can now drink to quench our spiritual thirst and supply us inwardly with divine life.

It is “the Spirit,” this life-giving drink coming into us with all the elements of Christ’s Person and work that enables us to live the Christian life.

Such a Spirit is now available to be received by us. In fact, 1 Corinthians 12:13 says that we,

“Were all given to drink one Spirit.”

But how can we drink the Spirit?

Go back to verse 3 of the same chapter,

“No one can say Jesus is Lord! except in the Holy Spirit.”

Just call on Him, “Jesus is Lord! O Lord Jesus! ” …and see how rich He becomes to you (Rom. 10:12).

Just drink Him and enjoy Him!

Out of your innermost being will flow rivers of living water!

If you’ve been helped by reading this post, please take a moment to confirm with a short comment.

References and Further Reading:

About Tom Smith

Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!

14 Replies

  1. Tom Smith

    A picture that helps to illustrate the point of this post is the water (signifying “the Spirit”) flowing out of the cleft rock in Exodus 17:6. Moses was instructed to strike the rock so that water would come out of it for the people to drink. The water flowing out of this smitten rock typifies the Spirit in John 7:37-39. In 1 Corinthians 10:4 Paul says, “And all drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank of a spiritual rock which followed them, and the rock was Christ.”

    We need to drink of the rock (Christ) but what we receive as the water is “the Spirit,” Christ as the life-giving Spirit in resurrection (1 Cor. 15:45b).

    In God’s eternal existence there is surely a distinction between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But in our experience of the divine life, the indwelling Spirit is identical with the indwelling Christ (Rom. 8:9-11). We don’t have two different divine Spirits in us. We have one wonderful Triune God dwelling in us to be our life! [Eph. 4:6 (the Father in you), Rom. 8:10 (Christ in you), Rom.8:11 (the Spirit in you).

  2. Allison

    Thank you Lord for this ministry. I have always wondered and conversed with fellow believers about this verse ” because the spirit was not yet”
    and it’s meaning. Thank you Lord for clarity!

    1. Tom Smith

      Allison, I’m so glad that you found the post helpful. I’m so thankful for this helpful understanding of John 7:37-39 to realize how to experience and enjoy Christ as the thirst quenching river of living water out from our innermost being. It is by this wonderful Christ becoming the life-giving Spirit in His resurrection (1 Cor. 15:45). As such a One, Christ can enter into our human spirit, indwell us and make our spirit life (Rom. 8:10). This becomes the inner source, from which the rivers of living water flow. Such an inner flowing of divine life in Christ, becomes the supply we need to live a normal Christian life.

  3. Theresa

    I Loved that! We have a Bible study every Wednesday at my house. I’d love to follow your postings. Do I just get there with a friend request on Face Book?

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you enjoyed the blog. You can subscribe on the right side of the home page or if you have difficulties, just reply and I’ll add you manually. Thanks. it’s great to know one of my wife’s childhood friends is interested in Holding to Truth. Keep enjoying the Word!

  4. Reynaldo

    The ministry feeds us. This feeding causes us to grow and be filled with all the riches of this wonderful Spirit who is the process and consummated Triune God living and saturating all our tripartite being to become a divine and human incorporation which will become the bride of Christ and which will bring in the kingdom of God for the eternal enjoyment in the New Jerusalem. Praise the Lord for the Spirit!!!!

    1. Tom Smith

      Yes, praise the lord for the Spirit! In Galatians 3:2, 5 Paul indicates that we receive the Spirit through the hearing of faith. Genuine ministry is a ministry of the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:6) as life into us so that we may grow and be transformed into living and precious stones (1 Pet. 2:2, 5) for the building up of God’s spiritual house. Such an organic building, a divine and human incorporation, will become Christ’s corporate bride, and God’s kingdom for His and our mutual enjoyment, the New Jerusalem for eternity (Rev. 21:2, 9). How much God needs us to see and experience the Spirit as life for fulfillment of His eternal purpose (Eph. 3:11)!

  5. Pat

    This was a great help brother as I was just musing on the Father, Son ans Spirit. I really enjoyed seeing the Spirit of God as the compound ountment and all the elements of Christ added to become the life giving spirit mingled with our spirit. Praise Him!

    Grace to you,

  6. Bongi Chawane

    God is holy, every Spirit from Him is holy. I am greatful for your teaching I searched but This is so helpful thank you. I am teaching on this subject currently at our church.

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you found the post helpful. It is wonderful to realize that according to John 7:37-39, the Spirit is a spring of water flowing out of the believer’s innermost being. We simply need to come to the Lord Jesus to drink. When we call on the Lord Jesus, He, as the life-giving Spirit, becomes so rich to us, saves us, and quenches our inner thirst. (Romans 10:12-13). Thanks for sharing your appreciation in a comment.

  7. Wonderful revelation! Thank you so much! I believed ‘the Holy Spirit had not yet been given’ was incorrect as the Bible tells us the likes of Joshua had the Spirit itnside him. I lead a ministry group to Israel each year from Ireland. This year we are acting out scenes from Jesus’ life, including His journey on the road to Emmaus. How wonderful that I will be able to share these nuggets of truth on our own journey. Thanks again.

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Surely the Spirit of God was there to care for God’s people even in the the Old Testament times. However, John 7:39 points out that “the Spirit was not yet because Jesus had not yet been glorified.” It was in His visit with the two on the road to Emmaus that Jesus said, “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory” (Luke 24:26). It was in resurrection that Jesus entered into His glory. So Paul, in speaking of Christ’s resurrection could say in 1 Cor. 15:45, “The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit. It is of such a life-giving Spirit in resurrection that we may freely drink by calling on the name of the Lord, “Lord Jesus!” Thank you for your comment.

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