There is some confusion today among students of the Bible concerning the identity of the Holy Spirit. Some heretical groups such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Unitarians say the Holy Spirit is merely an impersonal force. Mormons recognize the personhood of the Holy Spirit, but regard Him as a lesser deity, being conceived as the offspring of God the Father.
Biblical Christianity recognizes the Holy Spirit as God, as one of the three Persons of the Trinity. Within the Trinity, there is God the Father (Gal. 1:1; Eph. 6:23; Phil. 2:11), God the Son (John 1:1, 14, 18; 8:58; 20:28; Col. 2:9; Heb. 1:8), and God the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Cor. 2:11-12; Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14). All three Persons of the Trinity share the same essence and are co-equal, co-infinite, co-eternal, and worthy of all praise and service (Gen. 1:26; Isa. 6:8; Deut. 6:4; Matt. 3:16-17; 28:19; John 10:30; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:2).
The Bible reveals that the Holy Spirit is God and that He displays the volitional and emotional qualities of personhood. When referring to the Holy Spirit (John 16:13-14), Jesus used the demonstrative masculine pronoun “He” (ἐκεῖνος), and this indicates personhood. Scripture also reveals the Holy Spirit can be lied to. In the book of Acts, the apostle Peter accused Ananias of lying “to the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:3). In the very next verse Peter said, “You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:4). You cannot lie to a force (such as electricity), but only to a person. In addition, the Holy Spirit can be grieved (Eph. 4:30), quenched (1 Thess. 5:19), resisted (Acts 7:51), and blasphemed (Matt. 12:31). These are all activities that can only be done to a Person. Here are some further Scriptural truths about the Holy Spirit:
- He was involved in the creation ( 1:2).
- He brought about the birth of Jesus (Luke 1:35).
- He guided the writers of Scripture (2 Sam. 23:2; 2 Pet. 1:21).
- He convicts unbelievers of the sin of unbelief (John 16:8-11).
- He regenerates unbelievers (John 3:6; 6:63).
- He baptizes us into union with Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).
- He indwells us (John 14:16-17; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19).
- He seals us (Eph. 1:13; 4:30).
- He gives us spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:7-11).
- He glorifies Jesus in our life (John 16:13-15).
- He fills us (i.e. empowers) (Eph. 5:18).
- He sustains our spiritual walk (Gal. 5:16-18, 25).
- He loves us (Rom. 15:30).
- He prays for us (Rom. 8:26-27).
- He comforts us (John 14:26).
- He teaches and guides us (John 14:26; 16:13-15).
- He makes Scripture understandable (1 Cor. 2:11-13).
When the above Scriptures are read in their biblical context, paying attention to the linguistic, grammatical and historical context of each verse, it reveals that the Holy Spirit is God and that He displays the volitional and emotional qualities of a Person. I pray the Lord gives you understanding.
Steven R. Cook, D.Min.