Who is the Holy Spirit?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 7, 2014 1 comments

by Katie Erickson
A couple years ago, we at Worldview Warriors wrote some about the Holy Spirit. But as I said in that post, the Spirit is relatively hard to define as a person of the Trinity. We can comprehend God the Father as the Creator of the world. We can comprehend God the Son as the person of Jesus who came to earth to save us. But the Spirit is much more difficult to comprehend for us humans.

So who is the Spirit? We can most easily definte the Spirit in the context of the Triune God, as I noted above. The Spirit is as much God as the Father and the Son are, so characteristics that apply to the Father and the Son also apply to the Spirit. The Spirit is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, and holy. The Spirit is not just a mysterious force, but we can know and be in relationship with the Spirit just like we can with the Father and the Son.

The Spirit is intimately connected to both the Father and the Son as they all make up the one true God. The Spirit was present with the Father and the Son in Creation (Genesis 1:3; John 1:1-3). God the Son, Jesus, is known as the Word (John 1:1), and the Spirit inspired the entire written Word of the Scriptures that we have today (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Son came to earth to die on the cross and be raised again, and faith in that brings salvation to all humankind. But how do we have that faith? Through the power of the Spirit. The Spirit uses the Word to give us knowledge about God and help us know Him in relationship, to lead us to salvation through grace and faith in Christ, sustain that faith, and many other things. A common phrase is that the persons of the triune God are referred to as the Creator (Father), Redeemer (Son), and Sustainer (Spirit).

The word for Spirit in Bibilical Hebrew is “ruach,” which can be translated as spirit, breath, or wind. Similarly, the word for Spirit in Biblical Greek is “pneuma,” which has those same definitions. One point of discussion that people often get hung up on is the apparent gender of the Spirit. Throughout the Bible, the Father and Son are referred to with masculine gender words and pronouns. We easily associate them with being male, since we as humans associate any person as either male or female. Contrary to English, in both Biblical Hebrew and Greek every word has a gender to it; Hebrew has masculine and feminine genders, and Greek has masculine, feminine, and neuter genders. “Ruach” in the Hebrew is feminine, and “pneuma” in Greek is neuter. So is the Spirit actually female? Not exactly. If we limit any person of God to a specific human gender, we are making God human, and not God. God is neither male nor female. This is a difficult concept for our human minds to grasp, but is important that we do not limit any person of God in this way.

One word that is used to describe the Spirit in John 14:6 is “parakletos” in the Greek. This is one of those words that appears to describe the Spirit well, but unfortunately it doesn’t have a simple English translation. “Parakletos” (or “paraclete”) means helper, advocate, comforter, one called or sent for to assist another; an advocate, one who pleads the cause of another, mediator, intercessor, etc. All the roles of the Spirit are wrapped up in this one Greek word of “parakletos.”

So who is the Spirit? The Spirit is an equal person of God along with the Father and the Son, and the Spirit is with us always to help us in a variety of ways, from coming to faith initially to living out that faith on a daily basis.


Charlie said...

Some additional comments to this. The job of the Holy Spirit is to point us not to himself, but to Christ. The Holy Spirit is our helper and our guide but his is to reveal Christ. If you have time listen to this excellent sermon about the Holy Spirit from Eric Ludy.