When Jesus died on the cross he said :

'In your hands I commend my spirit.'(Luke 23:46).

In John 16:13 (and others) Jesus says that He will send the Spirit which comes from the Father, the Spirit of Truth (identified in v. 7 as the Paracletos):

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. (John 16:13)

Both words are originally translated from the greek word 'pneuma'.

In the problem of the Filioque, it is in both views said that'the Holy Spirit, (the Lord, the giver of life,) proceeds from the Father (and the Son as added by Pope Benedictus VIII in 1014).

But in Luke 23:46 the spirit is from Jesus, sent to His Father. So is there a difference in meaning of "spirit" in Luke compared to John?

  • Hi Marijn, I changed the verse reference in John to one using pneuma; feel free to adjust if that's not what you meant. Also, I'm not sure that the Filioque part is needed here -- we don't focus on the creedal aspect on this site -- but it seems to be a reasonable jumping off point for the word study, so I left it for now.
    – Susan
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 11:09

3 Answers 3


The Greek word πνεῦμα (pneuma) means in general spirit, but it does not necessarily always refer to the Holy Spirit. In the case of Luke 23:46 it refers to the human spirit and not the Holy Spirit.

Each of us is composed of a body, a soul, and a spirit, as attested to by Paul:

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (RSV)

May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit [πνεῦμα] and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Spirit as a component of man is also referred to in Hebrews:

Hebrews 4:12 (RSV)

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit [πνεῦμα], of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Russian monk and theologian Theophan the Recluse (1815-1894) elaborated on the nature of the human spirit:

Just what is the spirit? It is that force which God breathed into man when He created him [Genesis 2:7] ... The human soul, although it resembles the animal soul in its lowest part, is incomparably superior to it in its highest part. That it is this way in man is because of its bonding with the soul. The spirit, breathed by God, combined with it and raised it far above every non human soul.

The spirit as a force proceeding from God, knows God, seeks after God and only in Him finds its rest. By means of some kind of hidden spiritual sensitivity, the spirit is convinced of its origin in God. The spirit feels its total dependency on Him and acknowledges that it is obliged to please God in every way and live in Him and for Him.

The Spiritual Life and How to Be Attuned to It (St. Paisius Serbian Orthodox Monastery, 2003), p. 46-47

Orthodox writer Tauschev Averky (1906-1976) wrote on the confusion today between what is "soul" and what is "spirit":

A person’s spirit is completely ignored by our contemporaries. They combine the spirit and the soul into one. Moreover, in contemporary psychology, the manifestations of the spirit are perceived to be part of the life of the soul— religious feeling, moral feeling, and the conscience are considered part of the soul’s functions. Materialists reject the soul completely and consider its functions as part of the brain and nervous system. Consequently, they deem spiritual life to be materialistic manifestations, examining them as brain functions, the nervous system, etc. Here, we have the crudest and most primitive profanation of what we understand to be spiritual life. Modern man frequently does not differentiate between the actions of the body, the soul, and the spiritual life, thus mixing them up, creating total confusion. It comes as no surprise now when we hear the expression “spiritual life,” which can mean absolutely anything except that which is authentic spiritual life. Science, and all types of discoveries and inventions— cinema, theater, ballet, and even the circus— are lumped together into the area of spirituality. In other words, what is emotional or natural is assumed to be spiritual and that which relates exclusively to the secular is misunderstood to be “spiritual life.”

The Struggle for Virtue: Asceticism in a Modern Secular Society (Holy Trinity Monastery, 2011), p. 26

  • Actually Hebrews 4:12 distinguishes the breath/pneuma from the "living being" (which is what a "soul" is). Please read it again.
    – user10231
    Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 20:52

Manfred Oeming says, in Contemporary Hermeneutics, page 32, the goal of the dominant historical-critical method of exegesis is the recovery of the original meaning each text had at the time it was written [my emphasis]. The importance of this statement is that in using historical-critical hermeneutics we must put aside notions of theology that were not known to the author at the time of writing. This means we not only do not think in terms of the filioque clause, but we do not even think in terms of the Holy Trinity. This does not have to mean that the Holy Trinity is not real, or that the filioque clause does not help explain that reality, but it does mean that they can not be used in any explanation of the text. In this way, the text can be understood by Trinitarian Christians and non-Trinitarian Christians, as well as by Orthodox Christians.

Keith F. Nickle (Preaching the Gospel of Luke, page 15) points out that for Luke Jesus was the Son of God from his conception. John's Gospel is regarded as the first gospel that clearly sees Jesus as fully divine and pre-existing. We will therefore see a subtle but important difference in the understanding each evangelist has in regard to the spirit of Jesus.

The notion of each human having a spirit or soul (sometimes even both) is quite ancient, so when Jesus says (Luke 23:46), "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit", he is talking of that personal spirit.

For John, Jesus is divine and pre-existing, so Jesus does not commend a personal spirit to the Father, in the way he could in Luke's Gospel. Having always known and understood his mission, which has now come to an end, his last words in this gospel are "It is finished":

John 19:30: When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

There is a difference in meaning of "spirit" when used here in John 16:13-14. Both Luke and John understand the existence and purpose of the Holy Spirit. Although Jesus is fully divine, John 16:13-14 sees the Holy Spirit as quite separate from Jesus, not as two of the three persons in one God that later Christianity recognises. So, Jesus will return and then send the Holy Spirit to continue his mission and guide the disciples in all truth.


The Truth about Communication

By understanding John 16:26 'pneuma' will be understood. To understand all of Jesus teachings and parables we must look at them from the perspective of communication.

When two people are gathered These are the states that occur

  • Neither of the people talking (both remaining in breath)(communication preparation).
  • Person A speaks (word birthing from the person) and Person B listens (in the breath).
  • Person B speaks (word birthing from the person) and Person A listens (in the breath).
  • Both Person A and B speak at the same time (communication failure).

Review of John 13-16

Here Jesus washes the feet of peter to show with a physically expressed metaphor how the cleansing of communication can make a person clean. Even though the disciples did not understand.

The expressing the thought that's in the mind
Jesus expresses how what a person says is so not greater then the real message that the person wants to communicate. That we should understand what the person actually wants to say. Yet many fail to receive the spoken words.

When another begins to speak while the message is so getting spoken (speaking over a person). The message of the original speaker has difficulty getting revealed. Once the person who begins to speak over the other stops doing that then understanding has a chance to grow.

While the person speaks we should seek to listen, and when the person stops speaking we no longer have access to the thought.

Having space to hold the thought
The mind has the room to hold many words. And when the listener begins to speak about the same topic The original speaker will give space to what's said and will bring the listeners words into memory.

The revealing of the thought
No one knows the persons' thoughts except through the word. The words are in the thoughts and it's the thought that decides to speak the words. The received words become logical and the truth is so known through the simplicity of breathing and listening.

  • The show of love is so that we remember what was told to us.
  • The show of hate is so that we do not remember the speakers words.

It's the Lord that helps the person remember. Since Jesus was talking the Son of Man was with them, and that while we are spoken to that we should remain listening for the duration.

The greatest expression of Love
When we lay down what we want to think about or talk about and listen, and remember those that focus on listening and remembering will listen to you.

Not expressing Love
Those that listen but do not hear sin. Who hates what is so said to them hates the thought also. So we should continue to listen and not ignore what's said to us.

The wonderful thing about listening
When the speaker stops talking, the listener in breath who retains what was told then, the mind with counsel and understanding comes! And when the understand comes then the judgement occurs.

Asking Is

When we question we Pray, like: "Is the meaning of the word 'spirit' in Luke 23:46 the same as in John 16:26?" Is then goes to the father (the thoughts in the answers head) and then the answer is so received.

The breath (pneuma) left Jesus on the cross.

In John However

He teaches of speaking to the person and in breath understanding comes. However breath is so breath - inhale : exhale

  • If someone wants to give me some suggestions on how to reduce the size of this answer I'll hear them. Thanks
    – Decrypted
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 0:45
  • I did not down-vote you, but here are my suggestions. Tell us what you understand, and communicate that to us in everyday language. Do not quote, quote, quote. Use academic sources and methods, but talk to us like we are sitting at the kitchen table talking. What you provided above was a litany of quotes.
    – Joseph
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 2:26
  • @Joseph Thanks for the suggestion, any other suggestions?
    – Decrypted
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 0:20
  • That is it. There are a million people with differing views of what-says-what in the Bible, but if you can help us to see what you are seeing in an understandable narrative with sources, then you are truly a teacher!
    – Joseph
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 0:22
  • 1
    The word has taught me and the word has taught you. Time to do a God dance ^^,
    – Decrypted
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 0:30

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