(In the final installment of this series, we take a closer look at the “engagement ring” the Church has been given in the person of the Holy Spirit.)
It is important to keep in mind that until the time of Christ, the Jews had only known the Holy Spirit as an impersonal, invading force. He was seen as the mysterious power of God who, at times would come upon an individual in order to equip them for a specific purpose during a limited amount of time. The Jews looked upon the Holy Spirit as the mysterious ruach, the breath and wind of God. He was, to Jew, the active power of the Lord God. The Jews knew that there would come a day in which the Lord God would “sprinkle them with clean water, and put his Spirit within them” (Ezekiel 36), but they had no conception as to the intimacy this indwelling Spirit would represent. But now, Messiah had come, the spirit-man had been revealed as the unique dispenser of the very Spirit of God; and, the Holy Spirit would no longer be seen as the raw, naked power of God, he would be forever clothed with the personality and character of Jesus.
Paul had now come, having received the revelation that this Holy Spirit was the “other” Comforter and Teacher that Messiah had promised, and he is given to those who believe, Jew and Gentile alike, as an arrabon, assuring them that God would indeed be faithful to bring about a complete consummation of all he had promised. Because of this arrabon the very love of God had now been “shed abroad” in their hearts; they had received the Spirit of adoption which created within them a desire to cry out, “Abba.” This same Spirit would bear witness within their own hearts that they were indeed children of God. The Spirit, who had been given to them as an arrabon, would comfort them and teach them, his presence within them providing assurance as to the complete redemption “of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.”
The Spirit has been given as a pledge or deposit guaranteeing the full realization of God’s redemptive purposes. One could say, in light of what has been discussed in the writing at hand, that the church has been given a wonderful engagement ring by her Lord. For our purposes let us imagine that this ringis a magnificent four carat arrabon and that each carat represents four different aspects of the arrabon in relation to the believer.
The first carat represents the adoptive aspect of the arrabon. Although it was uncommon for Jews to practice such adoption, it was nevertheless common for the emperors of that period to adopt from outside their immediate family and acquire a successor in this way. Our arrabon accomplishes and provides to the believer sonship and all the advantages that go along with it.
The second carat is complete assurance that the believer does indeed belong to Christ. This carat speaks of belonging and provides evidence to the believer and those on the outside that he is the property of God; and as the arrabon proves the reality of the relationship of the recipient to the giver of the arrabon at the present, it proves that the relationship will be consummated in the future.
The third is an aspect of “first fruits”. Christ has risen from the dead and the believer has promise that he himself will share in this glorious resurrection in which mortality is swallowed up by immortality.
Finally, the arrabon is assurance itself. The Holy Spirit is in the believer and he speaks of Christ with absolute assurance and conviction. This assurance is beyond mere intellectual affirmation; instead, the arrabon is an absolute convincing experience, alive within the believer.
The New Testament refers to the church as the bride of Christ; and, her beloved has provided her with the most glorious arrabon ever to be received. As she waits for her husband to return and receive her unto himself, as the wedding day is delayed and times become dark and discouraging, she has only to look upon the arrabon to be assured of his love and faithfulness; and, the cry of her heart becomes, “The Spirit and the bride say come.”
1. Michael Green, I Believe in the Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004), 20-36.
2. Ibid., 50.