Blending God’s Spirit With God’s Handiwork 


And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” (Genesis 6: 3) 

And John bore witness, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34) 


The connection between the above two biblical passages has intrigued me for decades. I’ve posted several blogs on what I see as a significant connection between the two passages, among them: The Holy Spirit Remaining On Humans, Pentecost: The Fullness of the Feast of Feasts, Being and Becoming Human: An Excursus on the Holy Spirit, The Holy Spirit and Humanity: Loss and RestorationGod Questions His Creation: Genesis 6: 3, Prophets & Scriptures: The Continued Presence of God’s Spirit, Genesis 6:3 and John 1:32-34).  Below are three comments from St Irenaeus of Lyons on the topic: 

His forerunner, John the Baptist, preparing and readying the people for the reception of the Word of Life, made it known that He is the Christ, upon whom the spirit of God rested, blending with his flesh. (ON THE APOSTOLIC PREACHING, p 66) 


For thus do the faithful keep, having the Holy Spirit constantly dwelling (parameno) in them, who was given from Him [God] at baptism and kept by the recipient living in truth and holiness and righteousness and patience; for it is <also> by this Spirit that the resurrection comes to believers, the body receiving back again the soul and, together with it, is raised by the power of the Holy Spirit and is led into the Kingdom of God. (ON THE APOSTOLIC PREACHING, p 67) 


‘He appeared on earth and conversed with men,’ mixing and blending the Spirit of God the Father with the handiwork of God, that man might be according to the image and likeness of God.  This, beloved, is the preaching of the truth, and this is the character of our salvation, and this is the way of life, which the prophets announced and Christ confirmed and the apostles handed over (paradidomi) and the church, in the whole world, hands down (egxeirizo) to her children. (ON THE APOSTOLIC PREACHING, p 100) 


According to St Irenaeus it is by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us that we humans are remade in the image and likeness of God and that we participate in the resurrection and God’s kingdom. So it is not just Christ’s resurrection that gives eternal life to us but also our receiving the Holy Spirit. Thus, Pascha and Pentecost are both essential to our salvation as are Baptism and Chrismation, all because they reconnect our humanity to the Holy Spirit.