The Holy Spirit is a person. He grieves (Eph. 4:30); intercedes (Rom. 8:26–27); testifies (John 16:12–15); speaks (Mark 13:11); creates (Gen. 1:2; Luke 1:35); has a mind (Rom. 8:27); and can be blasphemed (Mark 3:28–29).2 (Of course, the Scriptures are also said to “testify” and “speak,” and no one thinks the Scriptures are human. Yet context shows in such cases that this is a personification of Scripture, signaling, in fact, that God speaks and testifies through the Scriptures.) In the Farewell Discourse (John 14–16), Jesus promises to send “another parakletos [variously rendered “helper,” “counselor,” “advocate”],” namely, the Holy Spirit, who is Jesus’ successor in earthly ministry and in some respects Jesus’ replacement, and an impersonal force or the like simply will not fit the descriptions of what Jesus’ bequeathed Spirit will do.
The Holy Spirit is not just a person; he is a divine person. Psalm 139:7 hints at his omnipresence. He is “the eternal Spirit” (Heb. 9:14). Lying to the Holy Spirit is the same as lying to God (Acts 5:3–4). Paul uses the phrase “God’s temple” interchangeably with “temple of the Holy Spirit,” thus equating the two (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19).
Distinct from the Father and Son
The Holy Spirit shares the same essence with the Father and the Son, and yet he is distinct from them.3 Simply put, the Holy Spirit is God, but the Holy Spirit is not the Father or the Son. He is his own divine person.
Though he is distinct from the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9). To say, “the Spirit of God lives in you,” or, “the Spirit of Christ is in you,” or, “Christ dwells in you,” are three ways of saying the same thing (Rom. 8:10).4 The Spirit is sent from the Father (John 14:26) and from the Son (16:7; 20:22).5 In fact, the identity of the Son and the Spirit so overlap that Paul can even say “the Lord is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:17–18).
This does not mean the Son and the Spirit are one in terms of their being, but rather that their mission is so united they are one in their shared redemptive activity. Jesus is the truth (John 14:6), and the Spirit will lead the disciples into all truth (16:13). Jesus came to bear witness to God the Father (1:14–18), and the Spirit comes to bear witness to Christ (15:26). The sinful world did not receive Christ (1:11; 5:43), and the sinful world will not receive the Spirit (14:17). The Holy Spirit is simply and gloriously another Helper (14:16), the very power and presence of the resurrected and ascended Christ on earth.
DeYoung, Kevin L. 2011. The Holy Spirit. Edited by D. A. Carson and Timothy J. Keller. The Gospel Coalition Booklets. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
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