The Holy Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is a complex concept for many believers. And even if you’re familiar with the relationship between the three, you may still be confused about their roles in our lives.
So, who is the Holy Spirit in the Bible? Is He as important as the Father or the Son? Let’s dive into Scripture and unpack everything we need to know about the Holy Spirit’s power, promise, and presence. By the end of this article, you’ll have an increased understanding of who He is and how to follow His guidance.
The Holy Spirit in the Bible
The Holy Spirit in the Bible is the primary guidance that all believers in Christ – past and present – have within them. In other words, the Holy Spirit is the driving force behind the Christian life.
“[You] will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
So, who exactly is the Holy Spirit in the Bible? Let’s break it down:
- The Holy Spirit is the third Person in the Holy Trinity, along with the Father and the Son. While each of them is distinct from one another, all three of them are fully God, have the same essence, and will exist forever. We often refer to them as “God in three Persons,” where one of three is the Holy Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit is there to help those who are weak. “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words” (Romans 8:26).
- The Holy Spirit helps Christians be a witness and blessing to others. His power enables Christians to be better people and more effective witnesses to Jesus.
- The Holy Spirit sanctifies His people, making them more Christ-like. Only when there is full dependence on the Spirit is there life transformation. “You were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11b).
- The Holy Spirit helps Christians know God’s will. God sends the Holy Spirit to live with us, teaching and reminding us of what Jesus taught during His ministry (John 14:26). It’s only within the Spirit that Christians can know, understand, and align themselves with God’s will.
Instead of becoming more self-reliant to overcome life’s challenges, Christians are to depend on the Holy Spirit for empowerment, supplication, and spiritual guidance. Before Jesus ascended, He said, “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven” (Luke 24:49).
The Nature of the Holy Spirit
We have to unpack the nature of the Holy Spirit to understand why He does what He does. Essentially, the Holy Spirit’s character can be explained by the following:
- He calls every person to salvation. Not one Christian would be saved by God if the Holy Spirit did not work in their hearts. In fact, “...no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). Every time someone says “Jesus is Lord,” it’s a demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power. “For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16).
- He is always right and will never contradict the Word of God. Christians might fall into the temptation of following their own ways or doubting whether what the Holy Spirit tells them to do is right. But the Holy Spirit is never wrong because He is part of the Holy Trinity with God the Father and God the Son. In fact, He inspired the writing that constitutes the Bible you’re reading today.
- He generously gives gifts for unity and good works. The Holy Spirit brings unity to His people by equipping them with unique abilities. When every gift comes from the Spirit, there isn’t room for pride. “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all… God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
- He allows us to produce fruits with the gifts. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are evidence of one’s deep relationship with Him. These “fruits” or products of one’s walk with God include “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Genesis 5:22-23).
Given the nature of the Holy Spirit, Christians should aim to have a relationship with Him rather than try to understand Him from a third-person perspective. Instead of thinking of the Holy Spirit as a “what,” think of Him as a “who”. Instead of referring to the Holy Spirit as an “it,” remember that He’s a “He” or a Person. Lastly, instead of relating to the Holy Spirit as a “force,” we should approach Him as a “friend”.
What is the “Holy Spirit is God” Bible Verse?
There are many Scriptures that demonstrate how the Holy Spirit is God. He is not a spiritual expression of Jesus or a less divine version of God but an equal part of the Trinity.
Here is some scripture on the Holy Spirit:
- He is God, and believers are baptized in His Name (Matthew 28:19-20).
- He has the power to protect believers so that nothing can steal their salvation (Ephesians 4:30).
- He dwells within believers and transforms them into the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
- He has the power to wash our sins away and make us new (Titus 3:5).
This is just a small selection of Bible verses that talk about how the Holy Spirit is God – there are plenty more that we can discover in our studies.
If we were to read the story about Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-4, we see that they put on a show of generosity only to be revealed that they lied to God about the money. Peter confronted them, and said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself… You weren’t lying to us but to God!”
If the Holy Spirit is not equal to God, Peter wouldn’t have accused the couple of lying to God. This is one of the many clear pieces of evidence that shows how the Holy Spirit is God.
This may seem confusing to the human mind and outside the limits of creation, but God is infinite, possible, and beyond our comprehension. To quote R.C. Sproul, “...the doctrine of the Trinity is not a contradiction but a mystery, for we cannot fully understand how God can exist in three Persons,” and yet He does.
The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament was called “Ruach” and named “Pneuma” in the New Testament. Both of these have a similar meaning, describing the Holy Spirit as this “wind” or breath of air, where nobody knows where it’ll go or understand where it comes from. Air, after all, is one of the rare things that are non-physical yet completely tangible – a perfect analogy to describe the Holy Spirit.
Where can we see the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament? The Old Testament doesn’t use the term “Holy Spirit” as often as the New Testament does, but uses other terms to describe the same Person. Here are a few examples of where you’ll see the Holy Spirit at work in the Old Testament:
- The Holy Spirit participated in the creation of the world. The Holy Spirit was “hovering over the waters” before the world was fully formed (Genesis 1:2).
- God gave Adam a “breath of life” during the creation of man. “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). If we are to go back to the original Hebrew Bible, “breath of life” uses the same word that’s translated elsewhere as “spirit.”
- The same Spirit also came upon prophets, judges, and warriors to give them extraordinary power, such as with all the prophets writing the Bible (2 Peter 1:21), Joshua (Numbers 27:18), Othniel (Judges 3:10), Gideon (6:34), and Saul (1 Samuel 10:9-10). It was also mentioned that the Holy Spirit eventually departed from Saul when he disobeyed (1 Samuel 16:14).
- The Holy Spirit played a primary role in the Old Testament prophecy. David said that “The Spirit of the Lord speaks through me; His words are upon my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2), and Ezekiel explained that “The Spirit came into me as He spoke, and He set me on my feet” (Ezekiel 2:2a).
- The Holy Spirit made believers holy (Psalms 143:10). Scripture promised that God will put His Spirit in His people to help them live according to His statutes and will (Ezekiel 36:27). In this message, God is paving the way for Jesus to eventually officially announce the Holy Spirit’s presence in the New Testament.
- The Holy Spirit helped His people anticipate the coming of the Messiah. In Isaiah 11:1-5, the Holy Spirit inspired Isaiah to prophesy about the arrival of a Messiah, which was eventually completed when Jesus arrived and announced the prophecy’s fulfillment in the New Testament (Luke 4:18-19).
Bible Characters Filled with the Holy Spirit
Christians can learn from several Bible characters who were filled with the Holy Spirit, all fueled and inspired to accomplish God’s work. Here are some:
- In Exodus 35:30-35, the Holy Spirit helped the men under Moses’ care. “Then Moses told the people of Israel, ‘The Lord has specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. The Lord has filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom…’”
- In Numbers 27:18, the Holy Spirit empowered Joshua to lead Israel. “The Lord replied, ‘Take Joshua son of Nun, who has the Spirit in him, and lay your hands on him.’”
- In Judges 6:34, the Holy Spirit came upon Gideon. “Then the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon with power. He blew a ram’s horn as a call to arms, and the men of the clan of Abiezer came to him.”
- In Judges 13:25, the Holy Spirit came upon Samson as well. “And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him while he lived in Mahaneh-dan, which is located between the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol.”
- In 1 Samuel 16:13, the Holy Spirit rushed upon David when He was anointed as king. “So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on.”
- In Ezekiel 2:2, the Holy Spirit enabled Ezekiel to prophesy. “The Spirit came into me as He spoke, and He set me on my feet. I listened carefully to His words.”
- In Matthew 1:20, the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus in Mary’s virgin womb. “As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ‘Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.’”
- In Matthew 3:16, the Holy Spirit was present at Jesus’ baptism, telling the people present that Jesus is God. “After His baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on Him.”
- In Luke 4, even Jesus Himself was filled by the Holy Spirit, enabling Him to go through the wilderness and resist the temptations the devil tested Him with for 40 days. “Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days.”
- In John 14:26, the Holy Spirit teaches the disciples and reminds them of what Jesus taught while He was on earth. “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative – that is, the Holy Spirit – He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”
- In Acts 4:8-10, the Holy Spirit enabled Peter to bravely question the rulers, elders, and teachers of the law. “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers and elders of our people, are we being questioned today because we’ve done a good deed for a crippled man? …Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ…’”
- In Acts 8:29, “The Holy Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over and walk along beside the carriage.’” Philip immediately ran over, heard someone reading from Isaiah, and began to share the gospel with him. By the end, the Ethiopian was fully committed to getting baptized – right there and then.
There are other people in the Bible who were filled by the Spirit, but these are evidence enough of how the Holy Spirit works in people. The Holy Spirit truly is God – one that convicts, empowers, and guides us.
Presence of the Holy Spirit in Scripture
The great news is that the Holy Spirit continues to dwell with Christians today, just as He did before.
How can we be filled today? One answer is by meditating on the promises of God. That’s how Paul kept his heart full of hope, joy, and love. He says, “Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled” (Romans 15:4).
Hope isn’t a vague emotion. it’s the confidence that the future promised to us is going to come true. One way to be filled by the Holy Spirit is to fill ourselves up with the Bible, studying Scripture so that we might know Him more.
How will you know when the presence of the Holy Spirit is in your heart and mind? Just like how you’ll know when a gust of wind is propelling your sailboat, you’ll know when the holy “wind” or spirit is moving in you.
Take a look at these passages: “On the day of Pentecost, all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit…” (Acts 2:1-4) .
The Holy Spirit came from above and filled everyone with His presence, including Peter, who was there to preach. He began to give his sermon to thousands of people, where his words “pierced their hearts” (Acts 2:37). This wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit working in their midst, opening their hearts and minds to Peter’s sermon that also came from the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Ghost In The Bible: Our Spiritual Guidance in Life
Once Christians receive the Holy Spirit, they are given the responsibility of denying themselves and allowing God’s presence to move within them. Only when Christians invite the Spirit’s presence into their lives will they experience true life transformation.
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
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