The Divine and Mystical Realm, by Witness Lee


A. The Spirit That Gives Life Being Not Yet before the Glorification (Resurrection) of Christ

The Spirit that gives life was not yet before the glorification (resurrection) of Christ (John 7:39b). John 7:37-39 says, “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes into Me, as the Scripture said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water. But this He said concerning the Spirit, whom those who believed into Him were about to receive; for the Spirit was not yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.” The historical background of the Lord’s word was related to the Feast of Tabernacles, the last and greatest of the Jewish annual feasts. The Feast of Tabernacles was a very pleasant feast. It was held at the time when the children of Israel came together to enjoy what they had harvested. They were happy together for a period of seven days. The last day was the great day of the feast. On that day, to the surprise of those attending the feast, the Lord Jesus stood up and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” This word is rich in meaning, for it indicates that those who were keeping the Feast of Tabernacles were still thirsty, having nothing to quench their thirst.

Both in the past and in the present, many great men, after becoming successful in their career or enterprise or after becoming renowned, felt that their life was still a vanity. Like King Solomon they could say, “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.…I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (Eccl. 1:2, 14). To have such a feeling is to be thirsty and unsatisfied. Realizing that the people had not been satisfied and their thirst had not been quenched, the Lord Jesus stood up and cried out on the great day of the feast, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” What a great word this is! Only the Lord Jesus is qualified to speak such a word. Only He, a man a little over thirty years of age, could say, “He who believes into Me…out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.”

In verse 39 the apostle John, the writer of the Gospel of John, gave the explanation, saying, “This He said concerning the Spirit, whom those who believed into Him were about to receive.” Here John speaks not of the Spirit of God, nor of the Spirit of Jehovah, nor of the Holy Spirit, but simply of the Spirit, telling us that “the Spirit was not yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.” His word indicates an expectation—the expectation that, although the Spirit was “not yet,” the time was coming when the Spirit would be there. This time was the time of Jesus’ glorification, that is, the time of Jesus’ resurrection (Luke 24:26). The Lord Jesus was the very God full of glory. However, He became flesh, and His divine glory was concealed within the shell of His flesh, the shell of His humanity. When He died this shell was broken, and when He resurrected the glory concealed within Him was released. From this we see that His resurrection was His glorification. Therefore, the expectation in John 7:39 was that when the Lord Jesus was glorified through resurrection, the Spirit who was “not yet” would become the Spirit who now is.

B. The Last Adam (Christ in the Flesh) Becoming a Life-giving Spirit

The second critical point concerning the Spirit of God not adequately stressed in today’s theologies is that, as revealed in 1 Corinthians 15:45b, in resurrection the last Adam (Christ in the flesh) became a life-giving Spirit (fulfilling John 7:39). Hence, 2 Corinthians 3:17 says that “the Lord is the Spirit,” and the following verse uses “the Lord Spirit” as a compound divine title. The word in 1 Corinthians 15:45b about the last Adam becoming a life-giving Spirit is a strong fulfillment of the prophecy in John 7:39 concerning the Spirit being not yet because Christ was not yet glorified, resurrected. In resurrection Christ became the life-giving Spirit.

Many pastors, missionaries, theologians, and professors oppose us for teaching that, according to 1 Corinthians 15:45, Christ as the last Adam in the flesh became the life-giving Spirit in resurrection. Even two co-workers have opposed us in this matter. One of these co-workers, who eventually became an opponent, said that he did not believe that Christ the Son could become the life-giving Spirit. On one occasion this person told me that he believed that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit were three Gods. When I heard him say this, I told him that he was teaching the heresy of tritheism. I went on to point out that the Bible tells us that God is uniquely one. The other co-worker was troubled by three hymns I had written on Christ as the Spirit (Hymns, #493, 539, and 745). He admitted that the Bible does say that Christ became the life-giving Spirit, but then he warned me that if we preach this, Christianity will reject us. I said, “Brother, I came to this country with the burden to preach and teach this. Since you agree that it is according to the Bible to say that Christ became the life-giving Spirit, please give me the liberty to teach this truth.”

The New Testament speaks of Christ’s two becomings. John 1:14 says that, as the Word, God became flesh, and 1 Corinthians 15:45 says that Christ, as the last Adam in the flesh, became a life-giving Spirit. We should believe and teach both that God became the flesh and that the last Adam became the life-giving Spirit.

(The Divine and Mystical Realm, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)