Skip to main content

Isaiah, Cyril and the Gifts of the Spirit

Cyril of Alexandria, just in case I somehow haven’t mentioned it before, is one of my favourite theologians of all time. So, anyway, as I was preaching a few weeks ago on the outpouring of the Holy Spirit from Isaiah 44, I thought I’d have a look at what Cyril had to say about it in his commentary on Isaiah, and when I did, I got a bit of a surprise. You see, Cyril was convinced that when Isaiah prophesied:
For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring (Isa. 44:3)
he wasn’t just talking about the Spirit being poured out, but the gifts of the Spirit as well, specifically the ones mentioned in 1 Cor. 12:8-10.

I’ve always taken the promise of ‘My Spirit’ and ‘My blessings’ as an example of Hebrew parallelism, with both halves referring to the same thing, the Holy Spirit. But Cyril notices something: it doesn’t say ‘My blessing’, but ‘My blessings’, and so it’s talking about something plural that’s poured out when the Holy Spirit is poured out. And for Cyril, that’s the gifts of the Spirit. Not only does Cyril insist that these gifts are supplied by God to the saints, but he also wants to emphasise that these gifts are not only for the ministers (which he has talked about earlier in the chapter), but for all God’s people. And so Cyril stresses that ‘each of us has a particular gift from God.’

For Cyril of Alexandria, God pours out the gifts of the Spirit as He pours out the Spirit Himself, and these gifts are of great value to the church, especially as she encounters ‘suffering for the sake of piety’ and when she is ‘depressed for a time,’ for through these gifts we receive ‘spiritual streams from God’, ‘consolation in spirit’, and are ‘restored to vigour.’

So, there you go, for the great church father, Cyril of Alexandria, the gifts of the Spirit were an important part of the promise of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but not as things to be fascinated with in themselves, but because they point us to ‘faith in Christ’ and help us to ‘boast of being God’s inheritance and the portion of Jesus Christ, Saviour of us all.’

Popular posts from this blog

These are the Bones of Elisha (Declaring the Word of the Lord)

One of the most curious events in all of Scripture is found in a single verse in 2 Kings 13. That chapter records the death of the prophet Elisha, and yet, there’s still one more story of Elisha here some time after his death. 2 Kings 13:21 tells us:
So it was, as they were burying a man, that suddenly they spied a band of raiders; and they put the man in the tomb of Elisha; and when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet. Elisha was dead. And yet when a corpse was thrown into his tomb hastily in an attempt to hide from marauding bands of Moabites, the man came back to life simply by his corpse touching Elisha’s bones. Even as miracles go, that one’s quite impressive.

On the Church and On Sin: With a (former) Tory MP and a Catholic Priest

What with the Extraordinary Synod going on in Rome this week, the Roman Catholic Church has been in the news a bit of late. And as a result of all this pre-synod hype in the media, two Roman Catholics wrote two of the best articles I read last week. One was an article in the Catholic Herald by a priest. The other was an article in the Spectator by a former MP. You should read both of them. (But if you're not going to read both, then please at least read the second one!)

Now, maybe that seems a bit odd. I am, after all, both a Pentecostal pastor and an Ulster Protestant. And as such, I'm convinced that very significant aspects of Roman Catholic theology are seriously wrong. I still believe that justification by faith alone is the article on which the church stands or falls. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't read, and even learn from, Roman Catholics. Although we are justified by faith alone, it is by faith in Christ alone, not faith in the right formulation of the doc…

Money, Money, Money (Must Be Funny, in a Rich Man’s World!)

‘Not the Pentecostals! Watch out – they’ll be trying to get all your money.’
     – The reaction when a new Christian told her Muslim uncle that she’d got saved and           started attending a Pentecostal church. ‘Hello, I’m calling from [“Christian” TV channel]. We have some great deals on advertising during our broadcasts and wondered if the church would be interested.’
     – A phone call yesterday. ‘$11,150’
     – the amount one American church is appealing to raise to produce a worship album $750 plus expenses
     – an American amount recommended as a gift for visiting preachers ‘US pastors paid up to $300,000 - are Church of England vicars getting a raw deal?’
     – recent Headline in Christian Today

£5.75 million
     – the amount of money an evangelical church down south is trying to raise for               building improvements.$25,000
     – the amount two American pastors are raising to produce a six minute teaching video Money has been on my mind a bit of late. Not my …