Some Thoughts on the Use of the Term the Holy Ghost
GHOST, n. 1. Spirit; the soul of man.
2. The soul of a deceased person; the soul or spirit separate from the body; an apparition.
To "give up the ghost", is to die; to yield up the breath or spirit; to expire.
The Holy Ghost, is the third person in the adorable Trinity.
Oxford English Dictionary
Holy Ghost - another term for Holy Spirit
The American Heritage English Dictionary Fifth Edition, Copyright 2015
Holy Ghost - noun. Christianity, The Holy Spirit
Middle English holi gost, holy spirit, from Old English hālig gāst (translation of Latin spīritus sānctus) : hālig, holy; + gāst, spirit.
Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary
Holy Ghost - "Holy Spirit" in British English. In the Christian church, God in the form of a spirit
The Wordsmyth English Dictionary
Holy Ghost - The Third member of the Christian Trinity; Holy Spirit
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen
The Westminster Confession of Faith 1646 in Chapter II, Of God, and the Holy Trinity gives 1 John 5:7 as their first reference.
III. In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God THE HOLY GHOST. The Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding: the Son is eternally begotten of the Father: the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.
1 John v. 7; Matt. iii. 16, 17; Matt. xxviii. 19; 2 Cor. xiii. 14; John i. 14, 18; John xv. 26; Gal. iv. 6.
The Heidelberg Catechism of 1563 says, “Since there is but one only divine essence, why speakest thou of Father, Son, and HOLY GHOST?
Answer: Because God has so revealed himself in his word, [b] that these three distinct persons are the one only true and eternal God.”
Footnote b says, “…1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the HOLY GHOST: and these three are one…” (The Heidelberg Catechism, (CRTA), section 8.)
The term, the Holy Ghost, is found in the Authorized King James Bible ninety ( 90 ) times and all are in the New Testament. In the King James Holy Bible the term the holy Spirit (small 'h') is found six times while the Holy Spirit (capital 'H') is found only once. I believe there is great spiritual significance to these numbers.
Not only does the King James Bible use the term the Holy Ghost, but all earlier English Bibles did as well. The Holy Ghost is found in the Anglo-Saxon Gospels 1000 A.D. - Mark 1:8 - “Ic fullige eow on waetere he row fullao on HALGUM GASTE.”
Martin Luther's German Bible 1545 - Matthew 1:18 (etc.) "she was found with child of THE HOLY GHOST" - "Heiligen Geist."
Dutch Staten Vertaling Bible - Matthew 1:18 - "Heiligen Geest.
Wycliffe's translation 1395 -"And the Hooli Goost cam doun in bodili form", Tyndale’s New Testament 1525, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew's Bible 1549, the Bishops' Bible 1568, the Douay-Rheims 1582, the Geneva Bible 1587, the Beza N.T. 1599, Mace N.T. 1729, Whiston's Primitive N.T. 1745, Wesley's N.T. 1755 - "she was found with child of the HOLY GHOST.", Worsley New Testament 1770 - "she was found with child by the Holy Ghost", The Clarke N.T. 1795, and in more modern times it is also found in the Patrick Paraphrase Bible 1822, The Hammond N.T. 1845, The Hussey N.T. 1845, The Hewett N.T. 1850, the Julia Smith Translation 1855, the Revised Version 1885 - "and the HOLY GHOST descended in a bodily form, as a dove, upon him", The Smith Bible 1876, The Clarke New Testament 1913, Montgomery’s New Testament 1924, the Catholic Douay version 1950, the KJV 21st Century version 1994, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, God's First Truth 1999, The Tomson New Testament 2002 - "she was found with child of THE HOLY GHOST.", The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, the Bond Slave Version 2009, and the BRG Bible 2012.
The word ghost means the soul of a man. The phrase “give up the ghost” means to die. The idea being that the soul of man continues to go on living after his body has died. Physical death is not the end. Man’s soul or ghost will exist forever.
Dr. Larry Bednar of KJV Textual Technology writes: "The crucial matter is use of Holy with Ghost, which prevents any sense of irreverence even in modern English. Further, the entire term Holy Ghost is proper since it's really more personal. That is, departure of the ghost of a person brings death, so that his ghost gave him life, and the Holy Ghost gives eternal life to all who are in Christ. Thus Ghost can relate only to personage, but spirit can relate to inanimate concepts like a spirit of cooperation or skepticism. This difference is what differentiates the two names, Holy Ghost signifying the person in the Trinity, while Spirit (and other spirit terms) signifies the form in which He works on earth"
Some preachers and teachers still use the term "the Holy Ghost", who are not even King James Bible believers.
Holy Ghost and Charity - In this short video about the Perseverance or Preservation of the saints, R.C. Sproul (who certainly is not KJB only) twice uses the word “charity” (at the 14:45 and 15:30 mark) and twice uses the term “the Holy Ghost” when referring to the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit. (at the 19:20 and 19:50 mark)
It is ironic that the NKJV, NIV, NASB, RSV and many other modern versions have tossed out the term Holy Ghost, yet they have introduced the totally false idea of human ghosts. There are no “ghosts” in the sense of the departed spirit of a man roaming about after he has died. He is either in the presence of the Lord or in hell; he is not haunting the land of the living on this earth.
For more development on how the modern versions like the NKJV, NIV, NASB, RSV and others have introduced the false New Age idea of "ghosts" existing among us here on this earth, please see the article here:
The expression “to give up the ghost” is found in Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew's Bible 1549, the Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, Beza's N.T. 1599, the King James Bible 1611, the Revised Version 1885, Darby's translation (Matthew 27:50), the Douay Version 1950, the KJV 21st Century Version 1994, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, God's First Truth 1999 "he gave up the ghost" (John 19:30 etc.), the Updated Bible Version of 2003, The Evidence Bible 2003, the Bond Slave Version 2009. It is used many times in both the Old and New testaments.
This is not an archaic expression. In fact, one dictionary I consulted used the example of "My television gave up the ghost." In John 19:30 we read that Jesus said “It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost”. Here the Greek says παρέδωκεν τὸ πνεῦμα and he gave up the spirit or ghost.
Some people, like Bible corrector Al Maxey and others, criticize the King James Bible for using the phrase “gave up the ghost”, but they speak in ignorance of their own English language, and they themselves do not believe that ANY Bible in ANY language is or ever has been the complete, preserved, inspired and 100% true words of God.
A typical Bible Agnostic, Al Maxey, says regarding the King James Bible: “It should never be overlooked that this version (The KJB), like all others both before and after it, is the work of mere uninspired, fallible men to provide the people with God's Word in their own language.”
It should be pointed out to men like Mr. Maxey that God also used “mere uninspired and fallible men” to provide us the the originals in the first place. If God cannot use fallible men to give us His pure words, then we never would have had the long lost and non-existent originals to begin with. But of course, men like Mr. Maxey do not not have any inspired and perfect Bible NOW, nor did they EVER have one.
Regarding the phrase “gave up the ghost” Mr. Maxey says: “In Genesis 25:8 the KJV reads, "Then Abraham gave up the ghost..." This is a very liberal paraphrase of a verb which simply means to "die, expire." It says nothing at all about a "ghost" being given up by one's physical body at death. Indeed, no such thing is taught in the Bible; this is a false teaching. This was a popular expression and belief in England at the time, however, and thus it was written into the text in place of the literal Hebrew "to die."
Mr. Maxey is again horribly wrong and misinformed. The word “ghost” simply means the human spirit when the KJB and others use the phrase “gave up the ghost”. In fact, several Bible translations say “gave up his spirit”. And perhaps more importantly, it is the modern versions like the NIV, used by Mr. Maxey, the NASB and the NKJV that actually teach that there are such things as “ghosts”!!!
The phrase “gave up the ghost” meaning simply “ he died” is found in many Bible translations.
Here are some examples:
ASV - American Standard Version of 1901
Genesis 25:8 - “And Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years, and was gathered to his people.”
Genesis 25:17 - And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, a hundred and thirty and seven years. And he gave up the ghost and died, and was gathered unto his people.
Genesis 35:29 - And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, old and full of days: and Esau and Jacob his sons buried him.
Lamentations 1:19 - I called for my lovers, but they deceived me: My priests and mine elders gave up the ghost in the city, While they sought them food to refresh their souls.
Mark 15:37 -And Jesus uttered a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.
Mark 15:39 - And when the centurion, who stood by over against him, saw that he so gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.
Luke 23:46 - And Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said this, he gave up the ghost.
Acts 5:5 - And Ananias hearing these words fell down and gave up the ghost: and great fear came upon all that heard it.
Acts 5:10 - And she fell down immediately at his feet, and gave up the ghost: and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her by her husband.
Acts 12:23 - And immediately an angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.
The phrase “gave up the ghost” exists not only in the ASV but also in the following Bible translations: Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew's Bible 1549, the Bishops’s Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1560 to 1602, the Beza N.T. 1599, The Bill Bible 1671, the Mace N.T. 1729, Whiston's N.T. 1745, John Wesley’s 1755 translation - John 19:30 - "When Jesus had taken the vinegar, he said, It is finished, and bowing the head, he gave up the Ghost." , the Clarke N.T. 1795, the English Revised Version 1885, Darby’s translation 1890 - Matthew 27:50 - And Jesus, having again cried with a loud voice, gave up the ghost. - the Douay-Rheims version 1899, the 21st Century KJV 1994, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, God's First Truth 1999, Tomson New Testament 2002 - "fell down AND GAVE UP THE GHOST" (Acts 5:5 and others), the Updated Bible Version of 2003, The Evidence Bible 2003, the Bond Slave Version 2009 and The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011 - "fell down AND GAVE UP THE GHOST."
The Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010 uses the phrase "and gave up the ruach" = "gave up the ghost (spirit)
The Holy Ghost is the same as the Spirit.
Luke 3:22 “And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”
Matthew 3:16 “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.”
John 1:32 “And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.”
What then is the special significance of the term the Holy Ghost being used exactly 90 times and all exclusively in the New Testament?
Let’s look at the very first time this blessed name is used. Matthew 1:18 “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”
This was not a natural conception but a miraculous birth. It concerns a promised Seed Who would bring life out of death, establish the New Covenant of grace and be the Firstborn of many brethren.
The number 90 is also associated with another miraculous birth that typifies the new covenant of grace, life out of death, and the bringing forth of the promised seed. Events in the lives of Abraham and his wife Sarah picture for us the two covenants.
“For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants: the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.”
Law and the energy of the flesh are pictured by Ishmael; grace and the promise of the Spirit are typified by Isaac.
Romans 9: 7-9 - “Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, And Sara shall have a son."
When was this promise given to Abraham and Sarah? In Genesis 17: 15-19 God told Abraham concerning Sarah: “I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, THAT IS NINETY YEARS OLD, bear?”
And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed: and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.”
Sarah, who typifies the mother of us all, was 90 years old when the promise was given. She was past the age for bearing a child; her womb was dead. Her promised seed was Isaac, ( our father- Romans 9:10 ); and we, as Isaac, are the children of promise. We receive life out of death. We are not under the law of the Old covenant but under the grace of the New.
The Holy Ghost likewise appears only in the New Testament. He takes part in another miraculous birth that brings forth the promised Seed who ushers in the New Covenant and heads up the family of God.
This is one reason why I believe the number 90 is highly significant. Nine is the number of fruit, see Galatians 5:22,23 and Leviticus 25:20-22; and one of the meanings of 10 is testing or trial. The spiritual significance of 90 is bringing forth fruit under testing or trial.
Likewise I think the term “holy Spirit” being used 6 times has spiritual significance. The emphasis is on the holiness of “ the holy Spirit” in His relationship to man. Man’s number is 6. Compare Psalms 51:11 where David has sinned so grievously and asks God to renew a right spirit in him and “take not thy holy spirit from me”.
I understand the "holy spirit" in this verse is referring to the "clean heart and renew a right spirit within me". See also Isaiah 63:10, 11 and in the New Testament Ephesians 1:13; 4:30 and 1 Thessalonians 4:8 “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.” He is with us to make us holy.
The one time where the term Holy Spirit is used (capital 'H') is in Luke 11:13. In the context they were still under the Old Covenant but God gave assistance to those who asked Him. Jesus says: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”
There is then a total of 7 times, the number of divine perfection, that the holy Spirit is mentioned in the King James Bible. There are 90 times the term the Holy Ghost is mentioned, all in the New Testament. This is also the number of the age of Sarah when God promised to bring life out of death, give the promised seed who was named before he was born, and typify the New Covenant of grace.
Clearly the use of "the Holy Ghost" and "the holy Spirit" are not errors in the KJB and the other versions that likewise employ these terms.
It seems the KJB actually has a more accurate rendering of these terms. Apparently the KJB translators were divinely guided to use the term "Holy Ghost" when it simply refers to the third Person of the blessed Trinity and His activity, thus indicating He is a Person.
The KJB likewise uses the term "holy Spirit" or "Holy Spirit" when emphasizing the aspect of His "holiness". Look carefully at all 7 times this term is used and in each case the idea of holiness is directly involved in the context.
Even in the one that at first glace does not seem to fit, upon closer examination, does. Luke 11:11-13 describes the giving of a proper gift by a father to a son. Christ says to his disciples: "If ye then, BEING EVIL, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father (the only one who is truly good and holy) give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
The Holy Spirit enabled them, who by nature were evil, to ask for the right things from God rather than asking for evil, selfish, or harmful things.
The Holy Ghost is the third Person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit Who is Holy and enables us to partake of His holiness.
Truly the word of God is wonderful. “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” Psalm 119:18
In the following portion of an article a Bible correcting unbeliever in the infallibility of any Bible in any language, Robert Joyner, criticizes the KJBs use of "Holy Ghost" and Bible believer Herb Evans answers him. -
Joyner - "The KJV calls the Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost. The Bible says, "God is a Spirit." (John 4:24). Sometimes the KJV translates the same word as Ghost and sometimes Spirit. The NASV always translates the word as Spirit. God is a Spirit, not a Ghost. "
Herb Evans - "The Holy Ghost and the Spirit of God are spoken in the same context, proving that it is a matter of style and not error. Also, the disciples used the word “SPIRIT” to describe a GHOST in Matthew 14:26. Mr. Joyner somehow equates uniformity with superiority and non-uniformity with error. This is a straw man objection.
"But this spake he of the SPIRIT, which they that believe on him should receive: for the HOLY GHOST was not yet given . . . the Father . . . shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the SPIRIT OF TRUTH . . . for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." John 7:39; 14:16, 17
"the things of God knoweth no man, but the SPIRIT OF GOD . . . the SPIRIT which is of God . . . Which things also we speak . . . which the HOLY GHOST teacheth" 1 Cor. 2:11
"no man speaking by the SPIRIT OF GOD calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the HOLY GHOST." 1 Cor. 12:3
"And they were all filled with the HOLY GHOST, and began to speak with other tongues, as the SPIRIT gave them utterance." Acts 2:4
"And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, it is a SPIRIT [NIV - GHOST]; and they cried out for fear." Matt 14:26 (end of section by Herb Evans)
The following is not from a King James Bible Only Pastor, but he has some very interesting comments to make about the terms "Holy Ghost" and "Holy Spirit" and the RSV.
The Disappearing Ghost by Pastor William P. Terjesen
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (Matthew 28:19 KJV)
OLD: In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. NEW: In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Note the extra, grating syllable at the end? Like a pimple!
The word 'ghost' is not an archaic word. People still use that word today and know what it means. It is similar to the German word 'geist' and is still in common use in English speaking countries.
People in churches who use older Bibles and hymnals use the term with no confusion whatever. My dictionary doesn't make any references to its being archaic, except to mention that it comes from the Anglo Saxon word 'gast'. Therefore, we shouldn't be deprived of a lovely, round, evocative word on the false claim that it is archaic and obsolete.
But some will say, "Yes, but when modern people hear the word 'ghost' they think of ghosts and goblins, Halloween and things that go bump in the night." Well, that may be overstating it a bit. People are not as stupid as the "rennovators" constantly suppose. But even if they do, what of it? At least they are thinking of a personal being!
Think about it. We use the term 'spirit' in all kinds of impersonal ways. We talk of the 'American spirit', or, 'school spirit', by which we mean certain attitudes or dispositions. In an age that frequently thinks of God as "The Force", an impersonal influence or power, the term 'Holy Spirit' is easily misunderstood. The term 'Holy Ghost' is not.
When we consider that unitarian universalists, liberal rationalists, Jehovah's Witnesses, New Agers, and other heretics are pleased with the term 'Holy Spirit' because they can interpret it according to their heresies in which the "holy spirit" is an impersonal power or influence, isn't it a shame that the Christian Church of the 20th century has played right into their hands?
In the term 'Holy Ghost' we have a euphonic, clear, understandable and accurate designation that forces us to think in terms of personal being, and thus steers us away from thinking in ways that are heretical. Let's use it and enjoy it.
I am not suggesting that we should use only the term 'Holy Ghost'; there are times when it is appropriate and acceptable to use the term 'Holy Spirit'. Even the Authorized Version uses 'Holy Spirit' occasionally. Nor am I castigating anyone who has in good faith preferred the more modern term.
What I am suggesting is that in this day of manifold heresies, we reclaim a perfectly good, accurate and useful word, 'ghost', and thus in our prayers and Bible readings make clear to a dark world precisely what we mean when we confess that we "believe in the Holy Ghost...", that we are unabashedly orthodox Trinitarians.
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