Who or What is the Holy Spirit? Part 3

In the first part we explored the holy spirit/spirit of God/spirit of Yahweh as presented in the Hebrew scriptures, and found it to be describing the dynamic, creative, active power and presence of God working in His creation, with and through the people He chose.

In the second part we looked at the New Testament scriptures and found them also reflecting this same spirit and activity, indeed we observed many of the NT writers quoting OT scriptures when referring to the activity of the spirit currently occurring in their time.

However, we also see something that appears to be new and different about the spirits activity in the NT, an ‘indwelling presence’, and this is what we will be looking at now.

In John’s gospel we see Jesus telling his disciples that the spirit, ‘paraklete’ (comforter/counsellor) will come teaching, helping, guiding them:

John 14:16 RSV
And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever,

John 14:26 RSV
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

John 15:26 RSV
But when the Counselor 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;

Why would it be advantageous if Jesus went away?

John 16:7 RSV
Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

John 16:13 RSV
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

We also see in this section of scripture Jesus telling his disciples that he himself will come to them:

John 14:3 RSV
And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

John 14:17-18 RSV
even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you.

John 14:21 RSV
He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

John 14:23 RSV
Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

John 14:28 RSV
You heard me say to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.

John 16:17 RSV
Some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?”

So the holy spirit is coming and Jesus is coming! What is Jesus really telling them here?

Is Jesus describing an indwelling of both the Father and himself in his followers just like the indwelling of the Father in him?

John 14:17 RSV
even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.

John 14:20 RSV
In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

Was Jesus the one who would baptise with the holy spirit?

Mark 1:8 RSV
I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Did this begin at Pentecost in Jerusalem, as identified by Peter?

Acts 2:32-33 RSV
This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear.

In Paul’s writings he describes this indwelling interchangeably as ‘the spirit/spirit of God dwells in’, ‘the spirit of Christ dwells in’ and ‘Christ dwells in’, as can be seen in the scriptures following:

Romans 8:9-11 RSV
But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. 11 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.

1 Corinthians 3:16 RSV
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

Ephesians 2:22 RSV
in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Galatians 4:6 RSV
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Philippians 1:19 RSV
Yes, and I shall rejoice. For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance,

2 Corinthians 13:5 RSV
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are holding to your faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? –unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Galatians 2:20 RSV
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Colossians 1:27 RSV
To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

So it is like we are filled with Christ, who himself is filled with the Father, so by extension are we, by their very living presence and indwelling in spirit. This means that Jesus is now present to the believer only in and through the spirit, and that the mark of the spirit is both the recognition of Jesus’ present status and the reproduction of the character of his sonship and resurrection life in the believer.

In this way is Christ with us always?

Matthew 28:20 RSV
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

We have seen that it is now possible to have this new deep intimate personal relationship with the Father and Jesus, inside of us by this ‘indwelling’, such that we can say with Paul that ‘Christ is our life’ (Colossians 3:4), and that we are the children of the Father, witnessed to us by this indwelling presence.

The Father and Christ are not dealing with us ‘at arms length’ or through some third party, but are right here in us, with us, through us, for us, as us – we couldn’t be ‘yoked together’ more closely.

For those who would like to study the holy spirit in more depth and detail we would strongly recommend you start by reviewing Sean Finnegan’s excellent study article and free PDF Download

There is also a link to it on our ‘Articles’ tab, along with other available materials.