There is no life without the Spirit of God, for it is His Spirit that creates, animates, sustains, and restores all life, and now, only through Jesus.
To his disciples, Jesus declared that “the spirit makes alive [‘quickens’]… The words which I have spoken to you are spirit, and they are life.” Here, his words echo the scriptural principle that life and the “spirit” are inextricably linked. The “flesh” is not inherently evil, but it has no life without the spirit. And the words of Christ are added into the mix, for there is no “life” found apart from them.
The Greek word rendered “makes alive” or “quicken” is zôopoieô; literally, “to make alive” – (Strong’s – #G2227), a combination of the noun zôon, a “living being,” and the verb poieô, “to make.” Thus, its sense is to “cause to live, quicken, vitalize.” The Apostle Paul used the same verb to make a similar point to the Corinthians:
- (2 Corinthians 3:6) – “But our sufficiency is from God; who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the Spirit quickens.”
The “letter of the law” kills mortal men. Not only does it condemn them to death for sin, but only the Spirit of God is also able to impart life, with or without the Mosaic law. And the Spirit is the fundamental factor that establishes, characterizes, and sustains the “new covenant.” Without the Spirit, there is no life and no everlasting covenant between God and man.
Paul made a similar point in his epistle to the churches of Rome:
- (Romans 8:10-11) – “And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will quicken also to your mortal bodies through his Spirit that dwells in you.”
By the Spirit that “dwells in you,” Paul meant especially the gift of the Spirit received by every believer. Just as the Spirit of the living God raised Jesus from the dead and gave him an immortal body, so also, that same Spirit will “quicken” our mortal bodies with everlasting life at the resurrection.
The idea that the Spirit of God is His creative and life-sustaining power is not unique to the New Testament. While the Apostles revealed new information about the Spirit in the light of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, he was building on the firm foundation already laid in the Hebrew Bible. For example, the theme appears in the Psalms:
- (Psalm 33:6) – “By the word of Yahweh, the heavens were made, and by the spirit of his mouth, all their host.”
- (Psalm 104:29-30) – “You hide your face, they are dismayed. You withdraw their spirit, they cease to breathe, and to their own dust do they return. You send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.”
Not only humanity and the earth, but the Cosmos and its celestial bodies were created by the Spirit of God. Noteworthy in the second passage is the description of how man is dependent on the Spirit for sustaining and renewing life.
But the Psalmist was expanding on what had been written centuries earlier in the first passages of the Book of Genesis:
- (Genesis 1:1-3) – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was waste and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”
Before God created anything, His Spirit was “brooding” over the face of the waters. This translates the Hebrew verb râkhaph – (Strong’s – #H7363), and it suggests the picture of a female bird “brooding” over her nest with her eggs and hatchlings. Deuteronomy applies the same verb to the tender care of Yahweh for His people:
- “For Yahweh’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness. He compassed him about, he cared for him, He kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle that stirs up her nest, that broods over her young, He spread abroad his wings, he took them, He bares them on his pinions” – (Deuteronomy 32:9-11).
In the Genesis account, the presence and activity of the Spirit at the commencement of the creation indicates just how pivotal the Spirit is to the creation of all things, animate and inanimate, but especially to biological life. That the Spirit was “brooding” suggests more than just care for the creation, for it anticipates the creation of His crowning achievement, Adam.
“And Yahweh formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living-soul” – (Genesis 2:7).
Here, “breathed” translates the Hebrew term naphach – (Strong’s – H5301), from a root verb with the sense “puff, to blow.” “Living-soul” represents the noun nephesh, literally, a “breathing creature” – (Strong’s – H5315). Here, the stress is on breath, the act of breathing, without which no animal can survive. As Job wrote, “the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life,” connecting the “Spirit of God” to His “breath of life” – (Job 33:4),
The passage from Genesis was cited by Paul to the Corinthians when explaining the resurrection body:
- (1 Corinthians 15:42-45) – “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, The first man Adam became a living soul; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.”
Paul contrasted the body of Adam, the “first man,” with resurrected bodies. The first man’s body was corruptible, weak, and natural. The resurrected body does not decay or die, is “raised in power,” and is a “spiritual body.”
Jesus is the “last Adam” and the forerunner of all future resurrected saints. However, he differs in one key regard. Because of his resurrection, he also is a “life-giving spirit”; that is, he has the power to impart life through the Spirit. As Paul clarified, the future resurrection of the righteous is based on the past resurrection of Christ.
In the Bible, from start to finish, the Spirit of God is the source of all life. This is not to say that His Spirit is simply an impersonal force operating in the universe. His Spirit was “brooding” before the creation process even began, so whatever it or he is, is something greater than the entire universe.
In Scripture, the “Spirit” speaks of God as the creative source of all things, especially of His power in action to create, sustain, renew, and, when necessary, restore life. Without His Spirit, there is no life, either now or in the future.