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Who is the Holy Spirit?


    1.   Our first assignment in studying the Holy Spirit is to learn who He is.

           a.  Some suggest He is a power or force used by God, but is not a person.

           b.  Others see Him as some mystical, indefinable substance that permeates the universe.

           c.  There are those who hold that He is merely the mind or disposition of God.

    2.   In a time when so many misunderstand the Spirit, we cannot afford to hold any views on the Spirit except those which are found in the Bible.

The Lesson:

I.        The Holy Spirit is called by many names in the scriptures.

           A.  Here is a listing of scriptures where some of the various terms used to describe the Holy Spirit are found. All of the references are from the New Testament. A similar list could be made from Old Testament scriptures.

                 1.  Mark 1:10               “The Spirit”

                 2.  Luke 11:13              “Holy Spirit”

                 3.  Matthew 1:18          “Holy Ghost” (KJV)

                 4.  John 14:16              “Helper” or “Comforter”

                 5.  Hebrews 9:14         “Eternal Spirit”

                 6.  Matthew 3:16          “Spirit of God”

                 7.  Matthew 10:20        “Spirit of your Father”

                 8.  Luke 4:18                “Spirit of the Lord”

                 9.  Ephesians 4:30       “Holy Spirit of God”

               10.  2 Corinthians 3:3     “Spirit of the living God”

               11.  Hebrews 10:29        “Spirit of grace”

               12.  John 14:17               “Spirit of truth”


           B.  Look carefully at the list. What special significance do you see in the various terms used to describe the Holy Spirit? Each term does what?



           C.  "Spirit" is a translation of the Greek word pneuma.

                 1.  In the KJV, the translators translate pneuma by both "spirit" and "ghost." As examples, see John 7:39 and 1 Corinthians 2:13-14. Generally, when the word "holy" (Greek: hagios) precedes pneuma, the KJV translators render pneuma as "ghost." When pneuma is used alone, it is generally translated "spirit." This is unfortunate, for it has led to many misunderstandings.

                 2.  Furthermore, the use of "ghost" has itself created problems. This is an archaic and now obsolete use of the word. It conjures up the idea of something mystical, which it is not. In 1611, when the KJV was made, it meant the soul as the seat of life or intelligence.

                 3.  Pneuma is used of many things in the New Testament. It can refer to such things as wind, breath, demons, angels, the human spirit, man's character and disposition.

                 4.  The use of capital "S" in spirit passages is a choice made by the translators to distinguish the Holy Spirit from other uses of spirit. The translators are not always consistent in this as it involves principles of interpretation and judgment. Look at the passages below from the book of Romans. This will illustrate that “spirit” can be used in different ways.

                      a.  Romans 1:9      Paul’s spirit.

                      b.  Romans 2:29    Attitude or disposition.

                      c.  Romans 8:15   Disposition (both times).

                      d.  Romans 8:16   The Holy Spirit.

              II.      The Holy Spirit is a member of the Godhead.

           A.  The term "Godhead" or "Godhood" refers to the divine nature. It is a term describing Deity or Divinity.

                 1.  When one possesses Godhood, it means he possesses the qualities of being God. Just like when one possesses manhood, it means he possesses the qualities of being man.

                 2.  "Godhead" is found three times in our New Testaments, Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9. In some translations, Acts 17:29 is found as "Divine Nature."

           B.  There is a plurality of persons in the Godhead.

                 1.  The three persons of Deity are the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

                      a.  All three were present in the beginning, Genesis 1:1-2, 26; John 1:1-3.

                      b.  Baptism is administered into the name of all three, Matthew 28:19.

                 2.  All three are "one" in the sense of agreement, purpose and action.

                      a.  They are one just as all believers should be one, John 17:20-21.

                      b.  They are one, yet not "one person," just as husband and wife are one, yet not one person, Ephesians 5:31.

           C.  The three persons of the Godhead are Deity and constitute the only Deity.

                 1.  The Bible speaks of one God, Isaiah 43:10; 45:5; 1 Corinthians 8:5-6.

                 2.  Though the word "Trinity" is not found in the Bible, it does describe a Bible concept; it is the idea of "three in one." There are three persons in the one Godhead. There are not three gods.

              III.    The Holy Spirit is a Divine Person.

           A.  The individuality of the Holy Spirit shows He is distinct from the Father and Son both by His actions and locality.

                 1.  The Holy Spirit is called God, Acts 5:3-4.

                 2.  Some of the qualities of Deity are found in the following passages regarding the Holy Spirit.

                      a.  Genesis 1:2.  He has creative power and presence.

                      b.  Hebrews 9:14. He is eternal in nature.

                      c.  Psalm 139:7-11. As with the Father, He is omnipresent.

                      d.  1 Corinthians 2:10. He has knowledge; He searches.

                 3.  Although the Holy Spirit possesses the qualities of Deity, He is to be distinguished from the Father and from the Son as a separate and individual personality.

Text Box:                        a.  At the baptism of Jesus, Matthew 3:16-17, the Spirit came in the form of a dove, while the Father spoke from heaven.  Jesus came up from the water; the Holy Spirit was upon Jesus; the Father was in heaven.  Each was in a different location. This implies individuality and distinction.

                  b.  The Spirit is sent by the Father, John 14:26; He testifies of the Son, John 15:26; He does not speak of Himself, John 16:13. These truths indicate He is separate from the Father and Son.

                       c.  Take note of the chart. Though each of the three persons is called God, each maintain a separate identity from the other two. Again, we hasten to point out that this is a case of three persons in the Godhead; it is not a case of three gods.


         B.  Attributes which can only belong to a person are ascribed to the Holy Spirit.

                 1.  The Holy Spirit has knowledge, 1 Corinthians 2:9-11.

                 2.  He has a will, 1 Corinthians 12:11.

                 3.  He possesses judgment, Acts 15:28.

                4.  Webster's defines person as:  "A being characterized by conscious apprehension, rationality, and a moral sense." This definition fits the Holy Spirit.

           C.  Actions are attributed to the Holy Spirit which can only be fulfilled by a person. Identify the actions of the Holy Spirit found in these verses.

                 1.  John 16:13-15  
                 2.  1 Timothy 4:1  
                 3.  John 15:26  
                 4.  Ephesians 4:30  
                 5.  Hebrews 10:29  
                 6.  2 Peter 1:20-21  
                 7.  Acts 13:2  
                 8.  Acts 16:6  


           D.  In light of these truths, it is clear that the Holy Spirit is a person with all that term implies. He is not some mystical substance; He is not the mind of either God or Christ; He is a not mere influence or impersonal force.


              IV.    The Holy Spirit cooperates in the work of Deity.

           A.  He was active in the physical creation.

                 1.  The Father planned it, Jeremiah 51:15-16.

                 2.  The Son was involved in executing it, John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:1-2.

                 3.  The Holy Spirit assisted in it, Genesis 1:1-2; Job 26:13.

           B.  He was active in the spiritual creation.

                 1.  The Father planned it, Ephesians 1:3-11; 3:9-11.

                 2.  The Son executed it, John 4:34; Matthew 16:18; 1 Peter 1:18-21.

                 3.  The Holy Spirit assisted by revealing it, John 16:13; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 2:9-10; Ephesians 3:1-5.


    1.  The Holy Spirit is a distinct person working with the Father and Son in the administration of God's plan.

           a.  Understanding that He is a person has bearing on such issues as the baptism of the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, and the indwelling of the Spirit. Some hold to views on these things that would demand that the Spirit be divided into parts and parceled out in bits among thousands of persons.

           b.  If we attempt to divide Him into parts and distribute Him personally to thousands of believers, then we have destroyed the very concept of personal identity. Could a human be divided up into parts and be scattered over the earth and still be the human person?



    2.  Whatever explanations we give for the Spirit's work in gifts, conversion and sanctification, we can accept no explanations which call for a destruction of His being as a person. Unless we see the difference between the person of the Spirit and the gifts and powers he bestows, we will end up in total confusion. The present religious world bears witness to that!


Glory to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Franklin Church of Christ