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I am inquiring because I wanted to learn about the discourse of the filioque. When I looked at the Greek for John 15:26, I noticed a difference in terms between the production of the Holy Spirit and the sending of the Holy Spirit. I wanted to know whether or not the term for "sending" (Strong's G3992) specifically refers to a temporal sending and not a sending as in "causing to go forth", which I hear from some Catholics. I was wondering if any Greek speakers could clarify better on each term and if this has already been answered, I would love to understand the explanation!

John 15:26 KJV

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

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There is a specific, contextual dispensation of the Spirit affected by the Son alongside with the Father, like in John 20:22, when the Lord breathed in the disciples the Holy Spirit for a specific purpose of authorizing them to forgive sins, which is nothing but investing them with a divine faculty/authoirty, for only God can forgive.

This (John 20:22) was, thus, a specific contextual dispensation of the Spirit, an apportioned one; however a full, i.e. non-apportioned specific dispensation, that happened at the Pentecost, that enabled and authorized the apostles to preach fearlessly the Gospel, was also conducted through the Son "asking" Father (John 14:16), and was sent in the Name of the Son (John 14:26) at a specific date of history, the 50th day after the Resurrection of the Lord.

However, even before the world was created, the Holy Spirit issued from the Father, just like the Son was begotten. Here there is no agency of the Son in Father’ issuing from Himself the Spirit any more than there is an agency of the Spirit in Father's begetting from Himself the Son, which is clearly absurd. To say that even in the eternal realm, without any context related to the created order of things, the Father issues the Spirit through the Son or, even graver, the Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son, is a ruin of a correct understanding of the Trinity, in which the only Source is the Father, who eternally issues Spirit and eternally begets the Son. Latin theologians in the council of Florence 1431, 1449, did all sorts of linguistic-theological acrobatics, even constructing a monstrosity that in Trinity there is one Origin (Principium) - Father, and one Cause (Causa) - the Son, thus belittling the Holy Spirit within the Trinity, but what to do with a wrongheaded theology sallied by a political agendum?!

Exactly that's why the Son Jesus Christ distinguishes between the eternal procession of the Spirit "ἐκπορεύεται" (John 15:26) and the sending of the Spirit, which is contextual and related to human history and affected by both Father (the subject of "πέμψει" in John 14:26) and the Son (the subject of "πέμψω" in John 15:26). The very grammatical tenses are showing the difference, for "send" is in future in both cases, thus indicating a specificity of the occurrence, whereas the "proceeds" that denotes procession of Spirit from the Father alone, is in present, indicating the eternal "now", the changeless eternity unrelated to the created world.

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  • I think you best addressed and understood what I was trying to say, thank you for this! Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 22:52
  • @BalienAlexandrosMaximus Thanks! Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 19:09
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Different words are involved in John 15:26 -

  • ἐκπορεύομαι (ekporeuomai) = "I depart from; I am voided, cast out; I proceed from, am spoken; I burst forth, flow out, am spread abroad."
  • πέμπω (pempó) = "I send, transmit, permit to go, put forth"

That is, the first is an emanation like rays from the sun; the second is like an emissary or ambassador which is sent on a mission, usually with a message or errand.

In John 15:26, BOTH verbs are applied to the Holy Spirit who is both sent and emanates from the Father.

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  • And just a follow up, is there any scripture that says that the Holy Spirit emanates from the Son? Or has the Spirit only been "sent or put forth" by the Son? Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 0:58
  • @BalienAlexandrosMaximus - John 16:7 says that the Holy Spirit is sent by the Son
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 3:46
  • So in John 16:7 that same "sending" is also equal to an emanation, as in the Son does in a way "generate" the Spirit? Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 22:45
  • @BalienAlexandrosMaximus - "Generating the Spirit" is not a Biblical term but was developed about 300 years later.
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 2:59
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I'm a little confused about your initial question. Are you asking about...

  • The distinction between the two word as they are used in scripture?
  • How the words factored in long ago in the discussions between East and West dē the Filioque clause as it found its full expression in the council of Chalcedon?

If your question is the first question, then Dottard's answer is a beginning. But if your question is more the second issue, then, know that the answer would be a long and complicated one. As a beginning to the answer of the second issue, please allow the following from my Dogmatics notes from my schooling of long ago...


b)  Each Person has its own mode of subsistence,
    its personal characteristics (notae internae).
    1)  These are represented in Scripture as acts
        (actus personales, opera ad intra).
        -a) Regarding the Father we find two.
            -1) Generare.
                cf  Ps 2:7; Ac 13:33; He 1:5.
                cf  Quenstedt: Haec generatio Filii non fit derivatione aut transfusione, nec actione quae incipiat aut desinat, sed fit indesinente emanatione, cui simile nihil habetur in rerum natura. Deus Pater enim Filium suum ab aeterno genuit et semper gignit nec umquam desinet gignere. Si enim generatio Filii finem haberet, haberet etiam initium, et sic aeterna non esset. Nec tamen propterea generatio haec dici potest imperfecta aut successiva, actus namque generationis in Patre et Filio consideratur in opere perfectus, in operatione perpetuus.138
            -2) Spirare.
                cf  Jn 15:26 coll jn 20:22; Mt 10:20.
                cf  Hollaz: Intelligitur spiratio non externa, qualis erat insufflatio Christi ad discipulos, sed interna et immanens, cum fiat intra deitatis sinum; non transitoria et evanescens, qualis est hominum spirantium, sed aeterna et permanens, quia Spiritus Sanctus ab aeterno procedit … ; non spiratio accidentalis sed substantialis.139
                Note. The “sending” in Jn 14:16,26, does not indicate an “ opus ad intra ” but refers to an act of the Father in His dispensation of grace.
        -b) Regarding the Son we find one.
            Spirare.
            cf  Ro 8:9; Ga 4:6; Philip 1:19.
            cf  Lk 24:49; Jn 15:26; 16:7; Ac 2:33;—coll Jn 20:22.
            Note. This act is ascribed to the Son in conjunction with the Father: they are “ unum agens ”.
            cf  Nicaenum 7: “ Filioque ”.
        -c) Regarding the Spirit we find one.
            Procedere.
            cf  Jn 15:26.
            cf  genitive Mt 3:16; 12:28; Ro 8:11,14; 1 Cor 2:11,12; 3:16; etc.
            cf  Hollaz: Spiratio passiva seu processio Spiritus Sancti a Patre et Filio, i.e. aeterna Spiritus Sancti origo, qua ipse intra sinum deitatis a Patre et Filio, unius eiusdemque numero essentiae communicatione, ut commune utriusque spiraculum producitur.140

    2)  The “ actus personales ” may be expressed as attributes (participles).
        -a) The Father is
            -1) ἀγέννητος, non-genitus, non-generatur; non-spiratus.
            -2) Generans; spirans.
        -b) The Son is
            -1) γέννητος; spirans; μονογενγής, πρωτότοκος.
                cf  Jn 1:14,18; 3:16,18; 1 Jn 4:9;—Col 1:15.
            -2) Non-spiratus.
        -c) The Spirit is
            -1) Non-generans; non-generatus.
            -2) Spiratus, πνευστός; procedens.

    3)  The “ opera ad intra ” are also expressed as abstract nouns.
        -a) ἀγεννησία
            paternitas, generatio activa spiratio activa.
        -b) γεννησία, generatio passiva, filiatio.
            spiratio activa.
        -c) ἐκπόρευσις, processio, spiratio passiva, emissio.
            cf  Hollaz: Dicitur spiratio passiva non physice, quasi inferat potentiam passivam aut imperfectionem, sed grammatice, quia Spiritus Sanctus non spirare sed spirari dicitur. Neque spiratio activa et passiva sunt duae spirationes, sed est una eademque spiratio, quae ratione principii spirantis et producentis spiratio activa, ratione termini producti passiva vocatur. Ceteroqui purissima est emanatio Spiritus Sancti a Patre et Filio.141
        -d) DD Quid est nasci, quid processus, me nescire sum professus.142

c)  The peculiarity (character hypostaticus) of each Person appears in its particular relation to the world (notae externae, opera ad extra).
    1)  There is ascribed especially
        -a) To the Father the work of creation.
        -b) To the Son the work of redemption.
        -c) To the Spirit the work of sanctification.

    2)  There is to be observed a certain order of the Persons.
        -a) Though
            -1) Opera ad intra sunt divisa.
                cf  Quenstedt: Actiones divinae ad intra personales sunt, quae ad ipsum Deum ita terminantur, ut tamen pro principio agendi non agnoscant essentiam divinam, quatenus ea omnibus tribus personis communis est, sed prout certis characteribus et proprietatibus hypostaticis est determinata. Unde haec opera ad intra personalia sunt divisa, h.e, non sunt tribus personis divinis communia, sed uni tantum personae vel duabus personis propria.143
            -2) Opera ad extra sunt indivisa aut communia.144
                cf   Jn 1:3,10; Col.1:17; He 1:3;— Job 33:4; Ps 33:6;104:30.
                cf  Jn 17:17;—Eph.5:26; He 2:11
                cf  Gerhard: In operibus ad extra et respectu creaturarum, quando nominatur tantum una persona, vel duae, tota Trinitas intelligitur.145

We note some details:

  • The works that our Triune God carries out 'outside the Trinity' are shared and indivisible. As one pastor put it: 'the works our Triune God does for us are shared by all three persons of the Trinity (creation, resurrection, sanctification, preservation, etc.).
  • The works that our Triune God carries out 'within the Trinity' are not shared and are individualized. The lists of those in that category is fairly small. (and it's listed above)
  • Specifically, for our attention, we note that both the Father and the Son are involved in "breathing out" the Spirit (spirare). Jn 15:26 is a key passage (in context with the others on that line) in helping us to understand this.
  • And even more specifically, the Father and Son send the Spirit. But this is not as much an internal work as a specific "dispensation of Grace" from the Father (and yet shared with the Son)
  • Finally, the "proceeding" of the Spirit from the Father and the son (filioque) is shown from this very passage. But it's also shown in the passages where the Greek has a Genitive of separation referring to the Spirit (i.e. The Spirit is sent from the Father and Son—Mt 3:16; 12:28; Ro 8:11,14; 1 Cor 2:11,12; 3:16; etc.).

Summary

Sending and Proceeding are definitely related to each other, since the Father and Son send (and also 'breathe out') the Spirit, the Spirit then proceeds from them to go out and do his work. But they are related to each other in a theological cause and effect way, not a "this word is the same as the other" way.

But, at least, this will give you a start into the topic at hand.

Hermeneutical Considerations

The Trinitarian and Christological conversations (controversies) happened over hundreds of years. And entering into them is not for the faint of heart. Doing a word study is of some help in determining the definition of words. But it doesn't help us understand how these words were used in fleshing out the creedal formulas common in both the Niceno-constantinopolitan and Chalcedonian creeds. Dogmatics and Patristics is another tool in our hermeneutical toolbelt to make valid use of.

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