Original Research

Comparison between the respective views of John Calvin and classical Pentecostals on the role of the Holy Spirit in reading the Bible

Marius Nel
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6327 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6327 | © 2021 Marius Nel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 September 2020 | Published: 10 February 2021

About the author(s)

Marius Nel, Unit for Reformed Theology, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


The growth of the Pentecostal movement in the global south implies that its pneumatological emphases be noticed by other Christian traditions, including the hermeneutical processes followed to interpret the Bible, the Christians’ source of revelation about God. The aim of this article is to reflect on the role of the Spirit in the hermeneutical process, and it is done based on two traditions, the Reformed and Pentecostal movements, both of which play an important role within South African Christianity. Whilst the Reformed tradition, for the better part, concentrates on scientific and rational hermeneutics, in part neglecting the subjective influence of the Spirit in the processes of interpretation, John Calvin uses it as a hermeneutical principle. An attempt is made to compare and contrast Calvin’s and classical Pentecostals’ views by way of a comparative literature study. It is concluded that a pneumatological basis should serve as a condition for representative biblical hermeneutics. It implies that the church can benefit from revisiting its hermeneutics ecumenically with a definite consideration of the role of the Spirit in the processes of interpreting the Bible for contemporary people.

Contribution: In reading and interpreting the Bible, what role does the Holy Spirit play? The article asserts that a pneumatological basis should serve as a condition for representative biblical hermeneutics by comparing John Calvin’s and Pentecostals’ view of the subjective influence of the Spirit, concluding that an ecumenical revisiting of hermeneutics is necessary.


Hermeneutics; Holy Spirit; John Calvin; classical Pentecostals; reformed tradition; extra-biblical revelation; Sola Scripture; pneumatology


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