St Gregory the Theologian – 31st Oration – “On the Holy Spirit”

St Gregory the Theologian was one of the pre-eminent defenders of the Orthodox dogma of the Holy Spirit at a time when various heretical groups were attacking the Church. One group were called Pneumatomachoi i.e. fighters against the Holy Spirit.

In this oration, St Gregory forcefully insists on the divinity of the Holy Trinity: “As to the Spirit, listen well; we profess the Spirit as God. I repeat: You are my God. And, for the third time, I shout: the Spirit is God”.

One of the main heretical arguments was that, in the whole Bible, the Holy Spirit is not explicitly called “God”. St Gregory invalidates this view: “Look at the facts: Christ is born, the Spirit is his forerunner (Luke 1:31); Christ is baptised, the Spirit bears him witness (Matt. 3: 13-17); Christ is tempted, the Spirit leads him up (Luke 4:2); Christ performs miracles, the Spirit accompanies him (Matt. 12:22); Christ ascends, the Spirit fills his place (Acts 1:9). Is there any significant function belonging to God, which the Spirit does not perform?”

Furthermore, St Gregory establishes the clear link between the Divinity of the Holy Spirit and the Mysteries of our Church. If the Holy Spirit is not God, then how can the Mysteries save us? As the Holy Father says, “Were the Spirit not to be worshipped, how could he deify me through baptism? If he is to be worshipped, why not adored? And if to be adored, how can he fail to be God? One links with the other, a truly golden chain of salvation”.

As Father Boris Bobrinskoy summarises: “For St Gregory, the time of the Church is the time of the Holy Spirit. In the Fifth Theological Oration on the Holy Spirit, St Gregory develops an entire Christian philosophy of history and of the progressive stages of the trinitarian Revelation. This Revelation did not close with the New Testament”.


[1] The Mystery of the Trinity, pg. 246 , Boris Bobrinskoy, STVS, Crestwood, 1999.


Source: June-July 2014 Lychnos Edition