The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
A Short Study of:
The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
Who is the Holy Spirit?
#1. The Holy Spirit Is a Person
The Holy Spirit is not an influence; the Holy Spirit is a person. By this we mean that He has characteristics that can be stated only of a personality. We are going to study the third person of the Godhead, God the Holy Spirit – in this short article.
How do we know that He is a person?
First of all, we have the evidence of His activities. The Holy Spirit gives commands. (See Acts 8:29; 13:2). He teaches and guides (John 14:26), hears and shows (John 16:13). All of these activities require a person to carry them out.
In addition to this, we have the attributes of personality applied to the Holy Spirit. He has a will (I Corinthians 12:11), and intellect (Romans 8:27) and sensibility (Romans 15:30; Ephesians 4:30) Only personalities possess a will to make decisions, have intellect to perceive facts and ideas, and have sensibility that reflects their emotional or sense response such as love, grief, etc. An “it” does not think, act and feel. The Holy Spirit does these things. This shows that He is a person.
A third line of evidence showing the Holy Spirit is a person rises from His capabilities. He may be lied to (Acts 5:3), tempted (Acts 5:9) resisted (Acts 7: 51), or slandered (Matthew 21:31). How can one lie to an influence or slander an “it.?”
A final interesting phenomenon about the personality of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament is the use of the masculine pronouns to refer to the neuter word “spirit.” This requires a little explanation about words and proper grammar. The rules of grammar includes a concept called “gender.” A word may be written in masculine gender, feminine gender or neuter gender.
Gender is much wider than merely sexual distinction. For example, the word “table” in the Greek language is written in feminine gender. It has a feminine spelling. Now this, obviously has nothing to do with the sex of the table as tables simply do not reproduce. Even so, the word is still written in feminine gender spelling.
Now the word translated “Spirit” = pneuma or πνευμα is in neuter gender. When we write a sentence, we make pronouns relate to their antecedent (the noun they replace) by agreeing in gender. So if, for example we should say:
“Jim started for town early, and when she arrived ti was not quite noon.”
Note here that the word “she” could not refer to “Jim” because they do not agree in gender. “Jim” is masculine and “she” is feminine. Neuter pronouns have neuter antecedents, feminine pronouns have feminine antecedents, and masculine pronouns have masculine antecedents.
The New Testament, however, will often refer to the Holy Spirit (neuter gender) as HE (masculine gender).
Question – WHY?
Because the author wishes to convey the truth that though the title given to the third person of the Godhead is neuter, He is not an “it” but a person.
In John 15:26 “whom” is a masculine pronoun referring to “spirit,” which is neuter.
John 16:13-14 uses the masculine He to refer to the spirit. Ephesians 1:14 refers to the Holy Spirit in the preceding verse with the masculine pronoun “who. These examples leave no doubt that Scripture reveals the Holy Spirit to be a person.
#2. The Holy Spirit is Deity
The Holy Spirit is deity in the same sense as God the Father and God the Son. The Spirit possesses all of the attributes of God and the entire essence of God. The characteristics applied to the Holy Spirit show this:
He is Omnipresent – Psalm 139:7
He is Omniscient -- I Corinthians 2:10-11
He is Eternal – Hebrews 9:14
Holiness, justice, and righteousness are all seen in His title of Holy Spirit.
There are passages that equate Him with God. When Israel tested God, at the same time she tested the Hol Spirit. See Exodus 17: 2-7 and Hebrews 3:7-9.
In Acts 5:1-4, Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit: the passage further states they lied to God. Why? Because, to lie to the Holy Spirit is to lie to God, for He is God.
The same idea can be found in comparing the following sets of verses:
Isaiah 6: 8-10
Hebrews 10: 15-17
Scripture never places the Holy Spirit on a plane of anything less than deity. He is, in every sense of the word, God the Holy Spirit.