Filled with the Holy Spirit

“Filled with the Holy Spirit”

In a recent article we looked at John the Baptist, how he appears in the prologue of the gospel of John. We observed that the Greek word that speaks of the creation of the world through the Logos is the same as the one that speaks of John’s appearance: egeneto – there came into being all things, and there came into being also John. Since the beginning there is a deep connection between the becoming of the world and the becoming of John. All development, from the very beginning and through all past epochs, is present in John: He is the culmination of mankind. Thus, we have seen him carrying the past within him. But we can see him also in the opposite way, and this view is just as true. The first chapter of the gospel of Luke tells us about John’s father, Zechariah, who, as the priest of the year, brings the incense offering in the temple. In the rising smoke appears to him the angel of the Lord who announces to Zechariah the birth of his son and says that he, the son, “will be great before the Lord.” (Verse 15) The gospel seems to imply the nature of this greatness, that in John the dimension of the divine and the dimension of the human are united: “Even from his mother’s womb, will he be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Verse 15)

When we attempt to contemplate something of the essence of the Trinity we can describe the following aspects: The Father-God is the power which is the foundation of all existence, since the very beginning he is the Ground that bears all being. – Of Christ the Creed speaks that “he is the Son born in eternity.” He goes forth from the Father at all times, he is always young, as the light radiating from the sun is always young. – Thus, we can view the Father-God as working from out of the past and the Son-God as coming to us into the present. – And the Holy Spirit? The Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov spoke of the Holy Spirit as “the idea of humanity”. This idea is not an abstract theory, but a living, a spiritual being, Solovyov identified the idea of humanity with the Holy Spirit who goes forth from the weaving between the Father and the Son. And this “idea of humanity” – don’t we long for it to become reality in the world? Do we even know what humanity is? We know what it means to be “human-all-too-human”. But humanity? One thing can become clear to us: All creatures of nature – stone, plant, animal – have developed to their perfection. It would be absurd to expect a crystal or a butterfly or a rose to become more perfect than they are. And this is what sets the human being apart from other earthly beings: that the human being has not reached the state of perfection, that, unlike the beings of nature, he can become more human, more “he himself”. The realization of the “idea of humanity” is our future. And how can this realization happen? Through “history”! We go through all historical epochs, with their ordeals and challenges, failures and achievements, so that we become what we are meant to be. “For the sake of the far exalted goal, the human being goes through history.” (Rudolf Frieling). History is the path toward the realization of the idea of humanity. The one who, at the turning point of time, appears as John the Baptist “will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb”. He is the bearer of the “idea of humanity”. Working out of the power of the Holy Spirit he is the enlightening genius on the way to the exalted goal.


Rev.  Erk Ludwig



       The first verses of the prologue of the gospel of John speak about the creation of the world through the Word: The world and all things in it came into being through the Logos, “and of all things that came into being not even one came into being without him.” Then, in the sixth verse, there appears Ioannes (as John is called in the gospel): “There was a man…” This is a rather poor translation. For in the Greek text it is striking that the word that speaks of the coming into being of all things and the word that speaks of the appearance of Ioannes is exactly the same, egeneto: contained in it is “genesis”.

“There came into being a human being (anthropos)” There began the becoming of a human being who is able to lift up his gaze to the world above, “anthropos” suggests this meaning. His name is Ioannes. What does a name express, a “name that is written in the heavens”? (Luke 10:20) Doesn’t it proclaim the mission, the mandate of the one who bears it? “Ioannes” has a great content: it is something like “the divine I pours out his grace.”

This name directs our gaze to John the Baptist. The prologue speaks about him, and at the same time it goes beyond the historical personality who appears at the turning point of time. He is the son of the priest Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, his mission is to prepare the way for Christ’s incarnation. But the prologue sees him in a greater context: his origin is in God who sent him, the being of Ioannes-John is connected with the very beginning of the world’s and mankind’s becoming. Indeed, Rudolf Steiner speaks of the first human being, of Adam, as the same who at the turning point of time appears as John the Baptist.

His call for a change of mind comes from the depth of his consciousness of mankind’s distance from God. He has this deep consciousness because he himself went through the fall as Adam. (According to Christ, John was Elijah in a previous incarnation (Mt 11:11-15). Why then does John deny that he is Elijah? Could it be that he had to focus exclusively on his present incarnation in order to be the preparer of Christ’s way?)

John bears in himself all becoming of mankind since the beginning until his time. He is the culmination of humanity. After the baptism of Jesus, John “stands” as he sees Jesus “walking”. (Jn 1:35-36) The climax of human becoming has been reached; with Christ’s coming a new movement begins. Because the entire past is present in John, he is able to direct his gaze to that which comes, graciously, toward mankind from the future.

The faculty to place oneself, while fully conscious of the past, into the service of the new impulse – we can call this historical conscience.

Rev. Erk Ludwig