The Holy Spirit as Gift



… how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him (Luke 11:13)


In Matthew 7:11, one finds the parallel “… how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him”. In both Luke and Matthew, the passage appears in a comparison between the Father in heaven and earthly fathers. If these know how to give to their children what is needed, how much more the Father in heaven. What appears as “good things” in Matthew is rendered as “the Holy Spirit” in Luke.

In Matthew and Luke, the passage appears combined with the saying on asking, seeking, knocking with the confidence of one who knows that he will receive, find and get the door opened for him. But in Luke there is the added illustration given in the parable of the friend who comes asking for bread at midnight. In Luke, impertinence — that impertinence that derives from confidence and trust — is recommended as a characteristic of prayer that is persevering.


So why does Luke state “Holy Spirit” in the place of Matthew’s “good things”. Matthew writes in Palestine where Christians are familiar with the psalmist’s declaration that God is one’s good, and therefore the source of all good things. Luke probably has the original Q statement. Elsewhere I have written that

Verse 13b would look like a more specific rendering of Matt. 7:11’s “good things.” But wouldn’t it be more correct to say that Luke has in 13b has understood the Holy Spirit as the summation of the “good things” that the disciple should ask for? Some people would argue that Matt. 7:11’s “good things” covers all that a human being would need to live, even the physical goods that one needs to keep on going in this life while Lk 11:13b is too spiritual, or one can even say, too “churchy (since what Luke seems to be looking at here is the prayer of the Church, not of the individual).” But if one takes into consideration “life” as it is conceived of biblically (especially under the force of Isaiah’s (see 32: 15-20) concept of it: biological vitality, psycho-emotional stability, social security, plus the care and attention of God) then one must admit that the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of all other lesser goods in the hierarchy of goods. In other words, if one seeks the Holy Spirit, then all the rest will follow. See article in “The Bible Journal”


Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people and enkindle in them the fire of your love. Visit us with your seven-fold gift and be our Comfort in time of need and affliction.


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