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Spirit of God or Ghost of God?
by Wayne Blank
"And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
(King James Version)
"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
(Revised Standard Version)
Ghost and Spirit
Although most later translations of The Bible use the term Holy Spirit, many people are very well aware of, and use, the term Holy Ghost, as read in the classic (and excellent) King James Version. That's not to say that the King James writers (see The King James Preface) didn't frequently also use spirit when translating, but they selectively used, at their own discretion, either ghost or spirit for the very same original word. For example, for Acts 2:4 as shown above:
"And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost [original Greek word pnoo-mah], and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit [again, the original Greek word pnoo-mah] gave them utterance."
The King James translators tended (although not always) to use ghost for when there was a physical manifestation of some sort, and spirit when it was "spiritual." Their choice of words may well be the result of the custom of their own time when the definitions of ghost and spirit were more differentiated than they are today i.e.
Ghost (from Anglo-Saxon gast, from a root word seen in Icelandic geisa, to rage as fire, and Swedish gusa, to ferment): a visible spirit, a disembodied spirit, an apparition.
The Original Words Of The Bible
There are 3 words of the Bible, 2 Hebrew of the Old Testament and 1 Greek of the New Testament, that are translated into English as either spirit or ghost. Surprisingly, the literal meanings of all 3 of the original words of the Scriptures simply meant breath, or to breathe:
Hebrew (pronounced) gaw-vah, meaning to breathe out
Fact Finder: How will God resurrect the dead to physical life (see Resurrections) in the future?