Who or what is the Holy Spirit? Is it a force, is it supernatural energy, is it a person, or is it something else. Is it a thing or is it a being? Knowing who or what the The Holy Spirit is directly impacts who you know God to be. This article will evaluate what God makes known about The Holy Spirit.
What Does the Bible alone say?
It is important to notice that when the it is mentioned, it is a singular pronoun; this it is a “he” and not an “it”. In many places of the bible, THE Spirit is in the form of a masculine pronoun.
Matthew 28:19 names specific beings to baptize in the name of. The Father is a being, The Son, is a being, and The Holy Spirit…besides the fact it is a noun, it is also separated from The Father and The Son and given its own name. Jesus is of God, and in Ephesians 4:30, The Holy Spirit is of God as well. Acts 5:3 shows us that we can Sin against The Holy Spirit as well. He speaks to us and we can obey The Holy Spirit (Acts 10:19–21).
We see the uniqueness of The Holy Spirit as a being of his own but whom is also of God. Then, scripture, reveals even more about His personhood and unique involvement with God and his creation of the universe. He was involved in creation (Genesis 1:2). He empowers God’s people (Zechariah 4:6), guides (Romans 8:14), comforts and helps (John 14:26). He also gives authoritative commands (Acts 8:29).
You will start to notice similarities between The Holy Spirit and over all descriptions of God himself. This is important. His attributes are also revealed in scripture. He is life (Romans 8:2), has a unique will of His own like Jesus (1 Corinthians 12:11). He is omniscient (1 Corinthians 2:10–11), he is eternal (Hebrews 9:14), and is omnipresent (Psalm 139:7). Paul even explicitly states that He is God in 2 Corinthians 3:17–18.
Now, after noticing all His attributes, we see that he has the same attributes of God himself. A life giver, with the authoritative will, he is omniscient, omnipresent, and eternal. He spiritually empowers, guides, comforts, helps, and with absolute authority he commands. Therefore, given the totality of scripture we can know that The Holy Spirit is a being of and, at the same time, God himself. From here, we see the third person of The Trinity, the One Triune God of The Bible. The discussion of his unique will is addressed later.
Correct Interpretation of Scripture.
Much like correctly understanding adjectives verses pronouns, we must also correctly understand the words purposely recorded in scripture. Some will try and claim that The Holy Spirit is nothing more than a power force from God. They use Micah 3:8 and Luke 1:35 as proofs. BUT Micah 3:8 does not actually say that. “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord,” Notice Micah states that he is filled with power; yes, BUT who’s power? WITH The Spirit’s power, who “is of The Lord” This verse actually validates The Spirit having power, which, empowers people. The Hebrew word רוּחַ ruwachl is a pronoun meaning “by The Spirit”. The Septuagint text, in greek, renders this as a name of a person; ‘The Spirit’. Zechariah 4:6 make this clear distinction between ‘power’ and ‘the spirit’ “Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” Luke 1:35 continues this distinction “And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” The Holy Spirit here is a pronoun first. Second, The Holy Spirit has the power of the Most High (God). In light of all the verses stated above, we see that this being, has the power of God himself.
Human Description of The Holy Spirit moving/acting
Because, The Holy Spirit is just that, a spirit; how then do you describe his actions? By how the material world is moved around you. Much like wind or someones breath. You can’t see the wind but you feel and observe its effects. You can’t see someones breath but you smell its effects. When The Holy Spirit acts, all we see are the effects.
Wind is not, the moving of the trees. The movement of the trees is caused by something outside of the trees. In the same way, The Holy Spirit is not the effects or some sort of force or power, it is the cause and source of the force or power- God.
Exodus 15:8-10 is sometimes used to show that The Holy Spirit is nothing more than a descriptive word of a God like force. Again, they fail to see that the effects are not the being. They are quick to say that this is talking only about God The Father BUT God doesn’t have nostrils or breath either (also stated in the same verses). To say that this eliminates the possibility of The Holy Spirit being an actual being, is to also eliminate God himself because, it can not be talking about God either (with nostrils and breath). Therefore it is simply describing the act of God, of which, The Holy Spirit is also God (see verses above). There are other verses that describe God with human characteristics as well. When verses are used to attempt and discredit The Holy Spirit as a person they fail to see the flaw in their reasoning; since God The Father does not have human characteristics like breathing oxygen and nostrils, it is a self defeating argument and misinterpretation of scripture. This type of language is called personification.
Other times some will argue that the Bible does not give names of The Holy Spirit like it does God The Father and The Son. But that is blind ignorance. “The Helper” , “The Spirit”, “The Holy Spirit”, “The Holy Ghost” are all names, pronouns, of the being. Calling him The Holy Spirit, is giving Him a name. That is a invalid argument from its premise.
Acts 7:55 in the New World Translation is a poor and failed translation. Stephen was filled by The Holy Ghost and was empowered by The Holy Spirit to look into heaven. The source of the ability to see heaven came from The Holy Spirit. “being full of holy spirit” is not what The Septuagint and Textus Receptus states simply by attempting to remove “holy spirit” as a pronoun. The texts literally mean “THE Holy Spirit” in pronoun form according to the ancient greek texts. This is just proof that the New World Translation actually manipulates and changes its text to suit its desires instead of preserving what the texts actually say.
Neuter is no proof
The Holy Spirit IS gender-less in reality. The Holy Spirit is not male or female, in the same way God The Father is not actually male or female. To claim that because the Bible uses neuter pronouns in some instances when discussing The Holy Spirit is to also discredit the descriptions of God himself. The masculine use of God The Father and in the cases of The Holy Spirit is to express the leadership roles of it in cultural language forms. God is The Father because he is the head of his house (The Kingdom of God) and as creating head of the children of God much like a father is of his children. Neuter forms does not negate ‘being’ because both forms are still true in actuality and purpose. John 4:24 says “God is Spirit”. Which gender is that? The text uses a neuter noun for God. The neuter argument for denying The Holy Spirit is invalid.
It is comical that some people who claim to know God and proclaim Jesus as the Son of God, denounce the Holy Spirit with ‘evidences’ sourced from other sources outside of scripture. They will rely on their own new age religious institution or even Encyclopædia Britannica, for example, instead of researching and understanding what scripture alone states as a whole.
Some people claim to have been filled by the Holy Spirit, sing and dance like crazy in church, felt all warm and fuzzy on the inside for a while; then, returned to their daily routine of sins they enjoy. This is problematic for a number of reasons. First, John 16:8 makes it clear HE will convict the world of sin and cause righteousness in believers. Second, HE transforms us from children of wrath into children of God. He literally transforms our hearts and conforms our wills closer and closer to God’s Will. We produce spiritual fruit which are characteristics that reflect God himself. Third, when we are baptized into becoming children of God, he indwells in us, and never leaves us! HE does NOT just float into us, make us do and say a bunch of crazy things, then leaves us. Poor examples of immature believers or false converts are NOT proof of the nonexistence of the convicting and transforming power of The Holy Spirit. Absolute faith in Jesus Christ as Lord God and Savior and disgust for your sin is; because this is what The Holy Spirit teaches to those that know Him! The Gospel is what The Holy Spirit makes supernaturally known and declared in the hearts and minds of those who truly believe.
All The Biblical Texts Alone
The whole of the Bible describes as The Holy Spirit as a unique being and God at the same time. Thus, given the totality of what is stated when correctly interpreting The Septuagint, Masoritic Text, Textus Receptus, Alexandrian Texts, and Byzantine Texts, we clearly understand that The Holy Spirit is in fact a unique being and God at the same time; Thus, the importance of actually understanding The Triune God to fully and maximally know God himself.
Early Church History
It is interesting to point out about the understanding of The Holy Spirit as a being that distributes gifts of The Spirit and enabling believers to exorcises theses gifts in the Spirit through the Spirit. The Didache, a late 1st or early 2nd century writing describes The Holy Spirit distrusting gifts and how to determine if someone was actually filled by The Holy Spirit or another spirit when claiming to exorcises the spiritual gifts. Around c.155–160, Justin Martyr writes about the gifts of The Spirit. Right after him, Tertullian discuss the gifts of the Holy Spirit. 20 or so years after him, Irenaeus of Lyon does the same. All these early church writers are only, maybe, 70 years after the Apostles, who wrote scripture, with The Holy Spirit guiding them (the Apostles). This is not saying the later church writers were inspired by The Holy Spirit, they weren’t, or at least not like the Apostles were; but they are proof that the person, the being, The Holy Spirit was known in scripture, at the formation of the universe, the formation of the church, and known later. The idea that ‘The Holy Spirit as a being was later invented‘, just does not hold up in light of scripture and early church teaching of Him.
The Will of The Holy Spirit
With limited understanding of scripture or negative influences in interpreting or cherry picking scripture; some find it hard to see how The Holy Spirit has his own will, a part from the will of God The Father. It does seem like a difficult issue.
John 16:13-15 illustrates the will of The Holy Spirit. “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you.” Wow. He will not speak on his own but will speak whatever he hears. He will declare that which glorifies Christ Jesus. But the absolute key here is the uniformity of wills. Though, The Holy Spirit has his own will, Jesus has his own will, and God The Father wills; all are perfectly on the same page with each other. What I mean by that is they are all in perfect agreement. They are perfectly unified with each other. The Holy Spirit’s will is exactly what Jesus and God The Father wills. Though having His own will, The Holy Spirit will never contradict or be in conflict with Christ Jesus or God The Father. The Triune God will have His will done in perfect unison and harmony.
The Holy Spirit helps, counsels, teaches, guides, gives spiritual life and baptizes, spiritual gift giver, enabler, empowerment giver, intercedes for believers, and literally indwells in believers; all to glorify Jesus Christ, all for God’s will to be done. The only people to know HIM, as a being, are those whom have been made spiritually alive, baptized, and indwelt; by Him. The only way to know Jesus as Lord God is by the work of The Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:11, 3:16; John 14:26, 16:13; Romans 8:14, 26). We can’t reason and debate our way into discovering Him.
Given the total amount of truth revealed in scripture alone, we can see that The Holy Spirit is a unique being AND God. Thus, the only way to truly understand this is through The Trinity. The claim that The Holy Spirit is nothing more than a force or power comes from cherry picking scripture, misinterpretation of scripture, and using outside sources to influence misunderstanding of scripture.
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