Who or What is the holy spirit? Continued

Previously we saw from a review of the Hebrew scriptures relating to the spirit of Yahweh, or the holy spirit, that rather than being another person distinct from Yahweh it describes the creative, dynamic, active presence and influence of the glorious Yahweh God in and upon and with His chosen people.

We will now continue our study by looking at how the holy spirit is presented in the new testament scriptures.

The first mention of the holy spirit in the New Testament scriptures is in Luke 1 when Zechariah is informed about the coming birth of his son John (the Baptist) to Elizabeth his wife.

Notice that John was to be filled with the holy spirit from birth. Is this associated with ‘the spirit and power of Elijah’, the Old Testament prophet?

Luke 1:13-17 RSV
But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechari’ah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; 15 for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Eli’jah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

Will John turn many of the people of Israel back to Yahweh their God? Verse 16 above.

The second mention of the holy spirit is to Mary concerning the conception of Jesus in her womb.

When she asks ‘how can this be?’, is she told that Yahweh (the Most High) will be Jesus’ father?

Is ‘the power of the Most High’ also called ‘the holy spirit’, and also referred to as God (Yahweh), hence the reason that he (Jesus) will be ‘called holy, the son of God’?

Luke 1:31-35 RSV
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” 35 And the angel said to 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.

Matthew1:18-20 RSV
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; 19 and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit;

Are we seeing here the spirit of Yahweh, the holy spirit, the very ‘presence of Yahweh’ identified as the creative, dynamic, active power and cause of the conception of Jesus – the glorious Yahweh God working in Mary to become the father of Jesus?

Is this the way that Mary would have understood what she was told? Review those verses above.

Did the Father ever give testimony as to who Jesus is, and by extension who Jesus’ father is?

When he was baptised by John:

Matthew 3:16-17 RSV
And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; 17 and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

At the transfiguration again, this time with an added instruction:

Mark 9:7 RSV
And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”

….’listen to him’.

Is the ‘spirit of God’ the power and presence of God in action, referred to as ‘the finger of God’?

Matthew 12:28 RSV
But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Luke 11:20 RSV
But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Exodus 8:19 WEB
Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God:” and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he didn’t listen to them; as Yahweh had spoken.

Are we seeing the same holy spirit, Yahweh’s presence in action, as in the Hebrew scriptures?

Does Peter refer to Yahweh’s stated intention given through Joel?

Acts 2:16-17 RSV
but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;

Does Paul refer to what Yahweh said by His spirit through Isaiah?

Acts 28:25-26 RSV
So, as they disagreed among themselves, they departed, after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: 26 ‘Go to this people, and say, You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive.

Does Peter say that Yahweh spoke through the prophets by His spirit?

2 Peter 1:20-21 RSV
First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Is it Yahweh God doing the inspiring?

2 Timothy 3:16 RSV
All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

Are we told that the same spirit of the Father will be present and speaking through us?

Matthew 10:19-20 RSV
When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Is God the Father Himself spirit, is this His essential nature?

John 4:23-24 RSV
But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Does Paul, referring back to Moses in Yahweh’s presence in Exodus state that the Lord God (Yahweh) is the spirit?

Exodus 34:34-35 WEB
But when Moses went in before Yahweh to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out; and he came out, and spoke to the children of Israel that which he was commanded. 35 The children of Israel saw Moses’ face, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

2 Corinthians 3:7-8 RSV
Now if the dispensation of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such splendor that the Israelites could not look at Moses’ face because of its brightness, fading as this was,8 will not the dispensation of the Spirit be attended with greater splendor?

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 RSV
but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Are we able to turn to God and have this veil taken away only through Christ?

2 Corinthians 3:14 RSV
But their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.

Was it through this same spirit presence of God that Christ was able to offer himself without blemish?

Hebrews 9:14 RSV
how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Is there one God and Father who is in all?

Ephesians 4:6 RSV
one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Can the spirit of Yahweh God, who raised Jesus from the dead, dwell in us also?

Romans 8:11 RSV
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you.

Is receiving the indwelling spirit of God referred to as being ‘born again’?

John 3:5-6 RSV
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Are we told that this will be a ‘baptizing’?

Acts 1:4-5 RSV
And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me, 5 for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Will this bear witness that we are also Yahweh God’s children?

Romans 8:15-16 KJV
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Are we told to be filled with the spirit?

Ephesians 5:18 RSV
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit,

Is the Father’s spirit presence in the inner man described as ‘being filled with all the fullness of God’?

Ephesians 3:14-19 RSV
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God.

Does God the Father actually dwell in us?

1 John 4:12-16 RSV
No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

Does this produce regeneration and renewal in us in hope of eternal life?

Titus 3:4-7 RSV
but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, 6 which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.

Did Jesus say that the Father was in him? As evidenced by the works being done?

John 14:11 RSV
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves.

Did Jesus also describe the indwelling of the holy spirit as being like ‘rivers of living water’, which those who believed were to receive?

John 7:37-39 RSV
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. 38 He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

This is a direct reference back to Isaiah and the spirit in the Hebrew scriptures.

Isaiah 44:3 RSV
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your descendants, and my blessing on your offspring.

Isaiah 58:11 WEB
and Yahweh will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in dry places, and make strong your bones; and you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters don’t fail.

Does it produce continual guidance – v11 above?

Is the spirit presence also called ‘a counsellor’?

John 15:26 RSV
But when the Counsellor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me;

The Greek word for ‘counsellor’ is ‘parakletos’, Strong’s number 3875 and means ‘an advocate intercessor, comforter, helper, who is along side or close beside’.

Does Jesus send this holy spirit presence (also called ‘the spirit of truth’) from the Father? Same verse.

Were they to wait in Jerusalem? Is it the gift and power of the Father?

Acts 1:4 RSV
And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me,

Luke 24:49 RSV
And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Again was this told beforehand through Isaiah, and that it is Yahweh doing the comforting?

Isaiah 66:13 RSV
As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

It should be noted that Paul consistently sends greetings in his letters ‘from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ’, typical is 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 1:3 RSV
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:2 RSV
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philemon 3 RSV
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The holy spirit is not included as a third person, did Paul consistently forget ‘him’?


We have seen from the New Testament scriptures the holy spirit presented as the Father’s presence in power and action indwelling Jesus and believers as His children, evidenced in works and prophecies. New Testament writers often refer to prophecies in the Hebrew scriptures, given under the inspiration of the same ‘spirit of God’. So we see the same spirit presence of God in the NT as we saw in the OT, however we see something new and different. We also see this indwelling providing comfort and counselling, as well as guidance and even words when necessary, and as we shall see next time, a deeper more intimate personal relationship with both the Father and Jesus the Messiah.