|THE HOLY SPIRIT, HE, IT OR WHAT?|
|The Holy Spirit, He, It or What?|
Revelation from God is progressive, what we find in the Old Testament is often amplified and clarified in the New Testament . Consider for example “The Word.” Genesis 1 simply says things like “He spoke and it was done.” Similarly, Psalm 33:6 says, “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made…” The New Testament clarifies revealing that the Word is a Person. John 1:1-3 says He was already there in the beginning with God, and was God also; in fact He was the Creator.
Comparable things could be said of references to the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament . The situation is entirely different however in the New Testament. Just as the Word is revealed to be a Person in the New , the same thing must be said of the Holy Spirit. Jesus made this clarification very very clear. I have in mind His references to the Holy Spirit in John chapter 14.
In verse 16 Jesus announced the thrilling news that another would take His place when He returned to heaven. Without any possibility of dispute, “another” in the English language means something, or someone, else. In the Greek of this verse the word used is even more explicit. There are two words in that language that Jesus could have used.
could have been used if Jesus meant someone somewhat similar to Himself. Jesus refrained from using this word and instead chose to use
means one the same. Jesus made it clear that another the same as Himself would take His place. This immediately causes us to think of another Divine Person for who but a Divine Person could duplicate Jesus? Please note the comments of W. E. Vine in his
Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
, Oliphants Ltd. London, 1956, page 60:
expresses a numerical difference and denotes another of the same sort;
expresses a qualitative difference and denotes another of a different sort. Christ promised to send “another Comforter” (allos, another like Himself, not heteros), John 14:16.
But that is far from all! Jesus said another Counselor ( paracletos in the Greek) would substitute for Him. If my memory serves me well, it was William Barclay who stated that this word paracletos can be translated in about thirty different ways. It means someone who comes to help you. Thus words such as Helper, Advocate, and Counselor are appropriate. An important thing for us to notice as well is that it refers to persons. The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal “it.”
In the Greek of the New Testament a word may be masculine, neuter, or feminine. The word spirit is a neuter and should normally be translated as “it.” It is vital for us to note that Jesus broke the rules of Greek grammar in order to emphasise that the Holy Spirit is a Person. Jesus referred to Him by using the word ekeinos right after His advice that the Holy Spirit was to take His place. He used it in John 14:26; 15:26, and 16:13,14 . Ekeinos is a masculine pronoun. Our own Seventh-day Adventist Scholar Woodrow Whidden, on page 71 of The Trinity, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Hagerstown, 2002, says:
we should observe that while the word “Spirit” (Greek pneuma) is in the neuter gender in Greek, the personal pronoun ekeinos (‘that one,’ or ‘He,’ clearly used to refer to the neuter Spirit) is in the masculine gender. It is this grammatical fact that has led the majority of translators to render the other personal pronouns called for in these passages as ‘He’ rather than ‘it’ or ‘that one’…
Other Scholars, not of our denomination, have made comments similar to those of Whidden. The intention of Jesus is so obvious. He was indicating that the Holy Spirit is a Person and this is in harmony with His advice that another Divine Person like Himself would take His place as paraclete.
Those viewing the situation without prejudice will find it difficult to believe that there are some who contend that Jesus is the Holy Spirit. What sort of a person would that make Jesus? We would have to brand Him as a sly deceiver for He clearly informed His followers that someone else would come to take His place. Jesus does not play games like that! He had no intention of sneaking back as the Holy Spirit.
It is as clear as can be that the Holy Spirit is not just some impersonal force. Neither is He Jesus. Amazingly, some contend that He is either the Father or Jesus. First of all let us pursue a little further the possibility of Him being Jesus.
Jesus is Not the Holy Spirit
This is by no means an exhaustive list making this fact clear. It is nevertheless quite adequate.
Matthew 1:20 Jesus’ birth was due to the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah 11:1, 2 The prophet Isaiah foretold that the Spirit would rest on Jesus. This happened most dramatically at His baptism. The Father spoke from heaven - the Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove - Jesus was in the waters of the Jordan River. The Holy Spirit was not the Father or Jesus.
John 1:32, 33 John the Baptist was told to recognize Jesus when the Spirit came upon Him.
Matthew 4:1 After His baptism the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for His encounter with the Devil. Did Jesus lead Jesus into the wilderness?
The Father is Not the Holy Spirit
Consider what the situation would be if we substitute the name “Father” or “God” for the Holy Spirit when the Spirit is mentioned in some places.
1 Corinthians 2:10 God has revealed it to us by God. God searches all things, even the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:11 No one knows the thoughts of God except God.
Galatians 3:5 Does God give you God and work miracles among you…?
Matthew 28:19, 20 Makes it crystal clear that there is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, just as the baptismal scene at the Jordan River does also. If the Holy Spirit were either the Father or the Son it would have been superfluous to mention Him again. There are clearly three Persons, the Holy Spirit being One of Them. Jesus was not confused but some of His readers are. They are confused themselves and sadly, they are confusing others. We should never come to the Word of God with conclusions already in place and be looking for support for those conclusions.
At John 15:26 and 16:7 Jesus said He would send the Holy Spirit. Was He going to send Himself? At John 16:14 Jesus said the Holy Spirit would glorify Him. Was Jesus intending to glorify Himself?
Similarly, at John 14:26 Jesus said the Father would send the Holy Spirit. We can ask again now, was the Father going to send Himself? In their endeavours to avoid the Bible teaching that God is a Trinity some make Holy Writ appear to be Wholly Rot!
Jesus commented that He and the Father would come to His followers. Evidently, this would occur through the visitation of the Holy Spirit. This is not necessarily so but is the probable meaning in this context. This does not make either Jesus or the Father the Holy Spirit however. Because God is a Trinity what One does has the quality of being done by the Others also. What One does is unavoidably the work of the others also. This is true even though each has His primary role to play. It is not difficult to understand once what the Bible teaches about God is understood.
The Attributes of The Holy Spirit
The Attributes of The Holy Spirit Indicate His Personality
The conclusions that Scripture has led us to, as described above, are correct and are certified by many other references in the New Testament . Some have tried to pass these off as personification; however, a study of the contexts reveals the inadequacy of such a manufactured explanation. All sorts of explanations are offered for all sorts of things that people contend for but we must let Scripture speak for itself. Personification is quite unacceptable as an excuse for not accepting the clear references to the personality of the Holy Spirit. This will be adequately seen as the following texts are examined. Yes, what Scripture offers on this matter is plain, clear and simple and should not be complicated by distortions imposed upon the texts. We will not offer an exhaustive list by any means but what we offer will be more than adequate to further prove that the Holy Spirit is a Person.
The following are qualities that evidence the personal existence of the Holy Spirit:
WILL – 1 Corinthians 12:11 , “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”
FOREKNOWLEDGE – John 15:13, “He will tell you what is yet to come.”
APPOINTS – Acts 20:28, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.”
GRIEVED – Ephesians 4:30, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.”
SPEAKS – Acts 13:2, “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’”
COMMANDS – Acts 8:29 , “The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’”
MIND – Romans 8:27, "And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”
The Holy Spirit is God
Acts 5:3, 4, “Then Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit, and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.’”
Isn’t it clear that lying to the Holy Spirit is the same as lying to God? The Holy Spirit is God.
I invite my readers to study 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17; 6:19; and 2 Corinthians 6:16. These texts show clearly that the Temple of God and the Temple of the Holy Spirit are the same. In other words, the Holy Spirit is God.
The Hoy Spirit is Yahweh
Isaiah 6:8-10 reports the voice of the LORD (Yahweh). Acts 28:25-28 reveals that it was the Holy Spirit who spoke. Clearly, the Holy Spirit is Yahweh.
2 Samuel 23:2 has the Spirit of the LORD (Yahweh) speaking but 2 Samuel 23:3 clarifies that it was the God of Israel who spoke. The Spirit is the God of Israel.
We could go on and on but what we have revealed above should be sufficient for those who are willing to be taught by God. The Holy Spirit is unquestionably a Person – He is not the Father or Jesus. He is a separate Person as is revealed clearly by Jesus at Matthew 28:19 - “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The Trio mentioned by Jesus are seen to be incorporated in the One Name. Scripture reveals them as all being God in the absolute sense. Yet the Bible teaches that there is but One True God by nature. The inevitable conclusion we are driven to is that God is a Tri-unity a Trinity. It is not the purpose of this paper to go into any detail about the Trinity. I recommend a study of my book “Understanding the Trinity,” available at Adventist Book Stores, for more information on that matter.
May God bless and guide you dear reader as you open your heart and mind to the truth of the Word of God and to the pleading of our sweet, sweet Holy Spirit friend.
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The Trinity Doctrine