For starters, the Holy Spirit is co-equal with God the Father and God the Son and of the same essence. He is an equal part of the Holy Trinity. Yet the Holy Spirit is also distinct from the Father and Son.
But who exactly is He? Is He a He? Or an it? Let’s look at some common questions on the Holy Spirit and spend some time talking about His role in our lives.
Is the Holy Spirit a Person?
Yes, the Holy Spirit is a person. All throughout the scriptures, He’s described in personal terms – never as an impersonal force. He teaches, guides, comforts, and intercedes just like a person might (John 14:26, Romans 8:14, Romans 8:26). He can be sinned against and lied to (Acts 5:3-4). He plays many roles in our lives, which we’ll cover below.
He has emotions much like people do, including feeling grief and being joyous.
Is the Holy Spirit God?
Yes, the Holy Spirit is God. He is co-equal with the Father and Son, and an equal member of the Trinity. He is spoken of as God in the scriptures, and identified with the same title, “Jehovah.” He possesses many of the same attributes as God: He’s self existent and eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. He does the same works as God.
The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
It’s clear in the scriptures that the Holy Spirit is present in the Old Testament prior to Pentecost, but the role He played was a bit different than what we see of Him in the New Testament. Not every “believer” or Israelite in the Old Testament had the Spirit of God dwelling in them. But He was certainly present. We believe the Holy Spirit’s main roles in the OT were the creation of all things and the work of restraining sin on the earth (Genesis 1:2; Isaiah 40:12).
The Coming of the Holy Spirit
We see the Holy Spirit really arrive on the scene in Acts, after the death of Jesus. The story of the Holy Spirit coming into believers is recorded in Acts 2:
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”Acts 2:1-13
Following the disciples being filled with the Holy Spirit for the first time, Peter delivers an authoritative and powerful sermon to the crowd surrounding them. Many came to faith.
So we see the Holy Spirit come in power, and from this moment on, He fills every believer who professes faith in Jesus.
The Roles of the Holy Spirit in Our Lives
He fills us and seals our salvation, but what exactly does He do for us?
- He Teaches and Reminds. In John 14:26, Jesus told his disciples, “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.”
- He Convicts of Sin. The Spirit proves and highlights the sin and judgement of the world and the individual, “But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:7-8, ESV)
- He Grants Wisdom and Power. He gives wisdom, power, and confidence to believers (1 Corinthians 2:10-11, Acts 1:8)
- He Gives Spiritual Gifts. The gifts are administered by the Holy Spirit in our lives (1 Corinthians 12)
- He Seals Us. He acts as a deposit, “guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are in God’s possession.” (Ephesians 1:13)
- He Intercedes for Us. We will often feel weak, confused, and have no clue what to do or pray. But He will intercede for us and help us pray and seek God as we ought (Romans 8:26-27).