The Holy Spirit

1) Is called God and Lord in a religious context.  

2 Is identified as YHWH.

3) Possesses the divine attributes.

4) Accomplishes divine works.

5) Was worshiped as God; that is, in the same way as that of the Father (and Son).

6) Possesses personal attributes and characteristics affirming His personhood.

7) Is a distinct person from the Father and the Son.

 

Biblical Data

 1) Just as the Son is, the Holy Spirit is referred to as God and Lord in a religious context.

The biblical authors were strict monotheists (i.e., believing in one God), they present the Holy Spirit as truly God distinct from God the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is called Theos (“God”). In Acts 5:3-4, the personhood of the Holy Spirit is unquestionably seen by the fact that only a self-aware “person” can be lied to—one cannot lie to a rock or electricity.

In verse 4, the person of the Holy Spirit, to whom Ananias lied, is called Theos (“God”). After Peter harshly asked Ananias, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?” Peter then explained in the next verse, “You [Ananias] have not lied to men but to God.” Also, in the narrative (5:9), the Holy Spirit is called, “the Spirit of the Lord.” The OT, the phrase, “the Spirit of the Lord [YHWH]” occurs two-dozen times. “The Spirit of YHWH” was indeed God. The Holy Spirit is called Kurios (“Lord”) in a religious context (2 Thess. 3:5). As mentioned above, the NT authors cited OT passages referring to YHWH and applied them to the Holy Spirit. The person of the Holy Spirit is referred to as both God and Lord in a religious context, thus, ontologically (in essence).

 

2) The Holy Spirit is identified as YHWH.

In the OT, the Spirit of God was in fact God.  David rhetorically asks YHWH, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” (Ps. 139:7). The Hebrew parallelism here indicates that David sees YHWH’s Spirit as the very presence of YHWH. Further, throughout the OT, the “Spirit” (or “Spirit of YHWH/God”) shares the same attributes as YHWH. For example, He is presented as the Creator (Gen. 1:2; Job 33:4; Ps. 104:30); He abides with believers (Ps. 51:11; Isa. 63:10-11); He gives wisdom, understanding, and knowledge to men (Exod. 31:3).

Also, as with the Son, the NT authors cite OT passages referring to YHWH and apply them to the Holy Spirit (Acts 28:25-27, Heb. 3:7; 10:15; also cf. Acts 5:9 with Deut. 6:16).

3) The Holy Spirit possesses divine attributes.

As God, the Holy Spirit possesses the specific attributes that only God has. The author of Hebrews indicates that the Holy Spirit is eternal: “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14). The author of Hebrews refers to the Spirit as pneumatos aiōniou, lit., “Spirit eternal.” The same adjective (aiōniou, “eternal”) is used of God in Rom. 16:26: Theou aiōniou, “God eternal.” Thus, the person of the Holy Spirit is the eternal God—for only God is eternal.

4) The Holy Spirit accomplishes divine works.

For example, Holy Spirit is the agent of Mary’s pregnancy (Matt. 1:18); He regenerates a spiritually dead man (John 3:5; Titus 3:5); He dwells in/with the believer (1 Cor. 3:16); distributes spiritual gifts according to His own will (1 Cor. 12:11); seals believers for redemption (Eph. 1:13); and sanctifies believers and works in their life (Thess. 2:13). Only because the Holy Spirit is God, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent is He able to complete these acts. Moreover, Paul says in 1 Cor. 2:10 that the Holy Spirit “searches all things even the depths of God.” The Greek term translated “searches” is erauna (from ereunaō). This verb carries the idea of “logical investigation” (BDAG). The tense indicates that the “searching” is continuous and active—He is always searching, knowing all things at all times. In verse 11, the Holy Spirit is said to know the thoughts of God. Only God can know the thoughts of God.

5) The Holy Spirit was worshiped as God.

In Matt. 28:19, Jesus commands all new converts to be baptized into the name (i.e., “power, authority”) of the triune God. Water baptism signifies the unification or identification with whom the participant is being baptized—the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Another kind of religious worship is direct prayer. In Matt. 9:38, Jesus instructs His disciples to “beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” First, the fact that Jesus refers to “Lord of the harvest” in the third person (“His”, not “My” harvest) indicates that the “Lord of the harvest” is not Himself. Second, as seen, the Holy Spirit is called “Lord” several times in the NT in a religious context. Third, there is no contextual reason to believe that the “Lord of the harvest” is the Father. And finally, in Acts 13:1-4, the Holy Spirit sends out the laborers (“Barnabas and Saul”) to the missionary (harvest) field. As God, the Holy Spirit was worshiped and honored in the same sense as that of the Father and Christ.

                   

6) The Holy Spirit possesses personal attributes and characteristics affirming His personhood.

As seen, groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) reject the personhood of the Holy Spirit equating Him to an impersonal force like electricity. However, the personhood of the Holy Spirit is biblically demonstrated and defined by the Holy Spirit’s use of personal pronouns and first person verbs of Himself and the personal attributes that the Holy Spirit possesses. The same biblical data that supports the personhood of God the Father is applied to the Holy Spirit.

– Personal pronouns and first person verbs. In the NT, personal pronouns are applied to the Holy Spirit. In Acts 10:19-20, for example, the Holy Spirit identifies Himself, not merely as “God’s activity,” but rather as egō (“I”), that is, a self-aware person:

19 “While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I [egō] have sent them Myself.”

Note Acts 13:2, “While they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set Barnabas and Saul apart for Me for the work to which I have called them.’” Here the Holy Spirit not only issues personal commands, but refers to Himself as moi (“Me,” from egō) and uses the first person verb proskeklēmai (“I have called them”)—in the NT, this verb is only used of persons. not forces, nor modes, nor manifestations.

– Personal attributes and characteristics. It would be a fallacy of equivocation to equate person with people, as many anti-trinitarians do. Those who do so misunderstand the meaning of both terms. For example, angels fall under the category of “person,” but they are not “people.” Likewise, the Holy Spirit can be called and ontologically categorized as “person,” though He is not in the ontological class of “people” (same with the Father). So, all people are persons, but not all persons are people. Hence, God the Father, Satan, demons, angels, and the Holy Spirit are persons, but they are not people.

The Holy Spirit possesses many personal characteristics (as with the Father and Son) denoting that the Holy Spirit is a self-aware subject or Ego (i.e., person) cognizant of His own existence, which is clearly demonstrated by the specific personal characteristics or attributes He possesses:

He can be blasphemed (Mark 3:29, 30).

He can be lied to (Acts 5:3).

He intercedes or prays on the behalf of the believer (Rom. 8:26).

He issues commands (Acts 13:2, 4; 16:6).

He is intelligent in that He investigates and searches (1 Cor. 2:10-11; Rom. 8:27).

He has a will (1 Cor. 12:9-11).

He could be grieved (Isa. 63:10; Eph. 4:30).

He testifies (Neh. 9:30; John 15:26; Heb. 10:15) and teaches (John 14:26).

 

Only cognizant persons can exercise and engage in intelligent communication (Acts 10:19-20; 13:2, 4). Scripture presents many clear examples of the Holy Spirit intelligently communicating to others (as shown above). Even the anti-trinitarian JWs, in the Watchtower’s Awake magazine, distinguish a personification from a person as they rightfully define a person: “Is the Devil a personification or a person….? Can an unintelligent person carry on a conversation with a person? … only an intelligent person can.”[1]

The Apostle Paul, in his Trinitarian benediction, comforts the saints in Corinth with these words: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor. 13:14). Only self-aware persons can experience true koinōnia (“fellowship”). This same koinōnia, believers have with the Father and the Son (1 John 1:3). Moreover, as a distinct person, the Holy Spirit gives love: “Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me” (Rom. 15:30).

Love is something that the Holy Spirit possesses and gives. As with true personal fellowship, only persons can possess, give, and experience love. Hence, abstract things such as natures, modes, manifestations, electricity, etc. have not the ontological capability to accomplish these things—only persons do. Thus, He is a person, not a mere influence.

7) The Holy Spirit is a distinct person from God the Father and the Son.

As with the Son, the Holy Spirit is frequently juxtaposed with the Father and the Son (Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 2:18). The Son personally relates to the Father and to the person of the Holy Spirit, and the reverse is altogether true of the Father and the Holy Spirit relating to each other. In John 14:16, Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another [allon] Helper [better trans., “Advocate”] that He may be with you forever.”

Scripture presents that the Holy Spirit is a self-aware person or self. He possesses personal attributes and personal pronouns are applied to Him. The same evidence that confirms the personhood of the Father confirms the personhood of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, Scripture clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit is God in the fullest and truest sense. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit should be worshiped as God. He is distinct from the Father and the Son. He is the eternal almighty God, who regenerates sinners and glorifies the Father and the Son—He is the Third Person of the Holy Trinity.

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NOTES

[1] Awake!, 8 December 1973, 27.

2 thoughts on “God the Holy Spirit

  1. Greetings Dr. Dalcour in Jesus’ precious name. I was giving a response before this and it seems I might have accidentally sent it off in the middle of it. If you see that response, kindly ignore it and remove it and focus on this one. Many thanks.

    In relation to the term “Spirit of God” in Genesis 1:1, does it also mean “Spirit of the one God”? If in your view, it only means “Spirit of the Father” and/or “Spirit of the Father and the Son”, then how do you numerically define “God” in the term “Spirit of God”? Is “God” within “Spirit of God” in reference to one God or not?

    The Holy Spirit was sent by Jesus, which demands a sender and one who is sent. But does this necessarily demands two persons? The Spirit Jesus sent, is the same breath or divine life of his, which he breathed on the disciples when he said “Receive ye the Holy Spirit”. The first Adam was made a living soul. The last Adam was made a quickening Spirit. Did Jesus send the quickening or life giving Spirit to the believers in Acts 2?

    Do you accept that Jesus dwells in believers as Spirit? Col 1:27; 2Cor 13:5. Jesus as Spirit within the church, does he perform all the functions of the Holy Spirit?

    Thanks for reading my points. I await your response. Heaven bless you.

    • Edward Dalcour says:

      First, the “one God” (Deut 6:4; Jer. 10-11 et al.) is not revealed in neither the OT nor the NT as ‘one person,’ – rather ‘one God- viz., one Being.

      In both the OT and NT “the Spirit of God” is generally a description of the person of the Holy Spirit – in appropriate contexts. In the OT, the Spirit of God/YHWH is YHWH. Similar to the Word of God/YHWH, which many times the Word is presented as a distinct person from the YHWH. This is esp. seen in Memra (“Word”) theology of the Targums (perhaps the source of John Logos theology).

      The Memra was YHWH (same as angel of the LORD)- not a mere agent of sorts, but yet presented as unipersonal (distinct person). The Neofiti Targums for example, in Gen. 1:1: “From the beginning with wisdom the Memra [Word] of the Lord created and perfected the heavens and the earth. . . . . 2 and a spirit of mercy from before the Lord was blowing over the surface of the waters. 3 And the Memra of the Lord said: “Let there be light”…. and there was light according to the decree of his Memra. 4 . . . and the Memra of the Lord separated the light from the darkness. 5 And the Memra of the Lord called the light daytime and the darkness . . . . 6 And the Memra of the Lord said: “Let there be the firmament in the midst of the waters. . . . it was so according to his Memra. The other Targum editions (Onkelos, Pseudo Jonathan, Jerusalem) also see the Memra in this way (cf. Gen. 19:24).

      So in the same way, the Spirit of God denotes the distinct person of the Holy Spirit – as in the NT. It can also denote God’s activity or the nature or characteristics of one of the persons of the Trinity, e.g., in Zechariah’s case, the “spirit of mercy and compassion” is clearly coming from God—(12:10) also we read in Acts 2:17, 33 – that it was Christ that poured out this Spirit out- Note that here the Πνεύματος (“Spirit”) is in the genitive, a gen. of apposition in which the promise poured out involved the Spirit.

      In regards to Gen. 1:1- there are few in conservative scholarship who although embrace the Trinity, would not see the Spirit, who “hovers over the water” in Gen 1:1-2 as the person of the Holy Spirit – that is, a person of the Trinity. However, it seems the majority do (as do I); esp. in light of the plural verbs and plural prepositions in Gen. applied to the one God (as well as the countless plural verbs and plural adjectives used of the one God in other books in the OT.

      In term of the phrase Spirit of Christ, Spirit of the Father, Spirit of both,- in many places, with the genitive – “the Spirit of Jesus,” or “Spirit of the Father” simply denotes the Spirit as coming [sent] from Jesus or coming [sent] from the Father, or both as in John 15:26.

      The OT and OT clearly present the three distinct persons as personally interacting with each other- in an “I” “You” (subject object) relationship.

      I do accept that the triune God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) dwells in/with/through/along-side of believes (different prepositions are used to denote this fact). And of course, it is the Trinity, not the humanity (flesh) of the Son that dwells with believers. Contra the Roman Catholic Church, the flesh of Christ is not ubiquitous.

      Hope that helped.

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