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The Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of the Trinity, and is the Spirit of God. Throughout the Bible, He is active and mentioned often. Like the Word of God (Jesus), He was with God in the beginning and participated in the Creation. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would come to empower the Christians with miraculous power, being their Advocate who will be with them forever. Jesus' promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when a group of 120 followers of Jesus were baptized with the Holy Spirit.
He is mentioned throughout Scripture, commonly referred to in the Old Testament as the Spirit of God or the Spirit of Yahweh and in the New Testament as the Holy Spirit; although He is referred to as the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament a few times and as the Spirit of God or the Spirit of the Lord in the New Testament a few times. Jesus called Him the Spirit of Truth a few times as well, as recorded in the Gospel of John.
Place in the Trinity
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, with the other two being God the Father and God the Son. While the Holy Spirit is subordinate to the Father and the Son, He is equal in deity with them, and is one with them. The Holy Spirit doesn't speak on His own, but speaks only what He hears from Jesus, whom He glorifies. What belongs to the Father also belongs to Jesus, so anything that comes from Jesus is from the Father as well. In this way, all three are united in their will. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians that no one but the Holy Spirit knows the thoughts of God, just as no one but the spirit of a person knows that person's thoughts.
This concept of the Trinity is found in the Hebrew word used to refer to God, אֱלֹהִים (el-o-heem) - Elohim. It is the plural noun form of another word for God, אֱלֹהַּ (el-o'-ah). In the Hebrew language, there are two types of plural suffixes: one that means two and another that means three or more. The plural suffix on Elohim that makes it a plural word is the one that means three or more. The Law says that Yahweh is Elohim, yet Yahweh is one. Being that the plural used requires a minimum of three, and yet is used to refer to one God, this seems to be a reference to the Trinity.
When Jesus instructed His apostles to make disciples of all nations, He told them to baptize these new disciples in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and to teach them everything He commanded them. This would also include the command to make disciples and to baptize them.
After Jesus ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit was sent by the Father at the request of Jesus to be a Comforter. He indwells within believers. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would give believers His truth. The Holy Spirit would be sent into the world in order to convict the souls of people of their sins. The Holy Spirit would empower believers to be global witnesses for Christ. The Holy Spirit was responsible for supplying the defense for persecuted Christians before government officials.
Promise of the Baptism
Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus promised His disciples that He would ask the Father to send them a Comforter, who He said is the Spirit of Truth. After His resurrection, He instructed them to remain in Jerusalem until they were baptized with the Holy Spirit. He said that they would receive supernatural aide when the Holy Spirit came upon them to be His witnesses throughout the world, first in Jerusalem, then in all of Judea and Samaria, and then to all of the world.
Day of Pentecost
Fifty days after the Passover feast is a Jewish holiday called the feast of Weeks or the day of Pentecost. It was on this day that about 120 followers of Jesus were all together in one place. They had spent the past week joined together constantly in prayer in the upper room of the place they were staying at. At the third hour of the day (about 9 in the morning), they heard a noise from heaven that sounded like the blowing of a violent wind, and it filled the whole house they were in. They saw what looked like tongues of fire distributing themselves and resting on each of them. They were filled with the Holy Spirit, and started speaking with other tongues as the Holy Spirit enabled them.
God-fearing Jews from every nation were in Jerusalem at the time, who likely came for the Passover and stayed for Pentecost. When the sound occurred, and a crowd came together, bewildered to hear these Spirit-filled Galileans speaking in their own languages fluently, speaking of God's mighty deeds, they were perplexed by this, and asked what it meant. Some were mocking and saying that they were just really drunk.
Simon Peter stood up with the eleven other apostles (Judas Iscariot had been replaced by Matthias), raised his voice and declared to the crowd the Gospel message, explaining how they had killed God's promised Messiah. They were pierced to the heart and asked what they needed to do, to which Peter said that they were to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sin. He then told them that they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is for them and their children and those who are far off, all who God calls. With these and many other words he solemnly testified and implored them to be saved from the perverse generation they were in. That day 3000 people were saved.
Other Major Events
Being filled with the Holy Spirit, the Apostles performed many miraculous works for the glory of God, which filled everyone with awe. Daily the Lord added to their numbers people who were being saved. The doctor Luke recorded in the Book of Acts numerous miracles that the Holy Spirit enabled the believers to do. As promised by Jesus, whenever the believers were before rulers and authorities, the Holy Spirit gave them the words to say.
Peter and John Arrested
One such moment included the time when Peter and John were arrested by the priests for healing a crippled man and giving glory to Jesus. Afterwards when Peter and John were released, they went back to their own people and reported everything that the chief priests and elders had told them. They gathered together and raised their voices in prayer. When they had finished praying, the place where they were meeting at was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Ananias and Saphira
Now the believers were one in heart and mind, and no one claimed that anything they had was their own but shared everything they had. The Apostles continued to testify with miraculous power to the resurrection of Jesus, and much grace was upon all of them. No one among them was in need, for occasionally those who owned land or houses sold them and gave the money to the apostles. This money was distributed to anyone as they needed. For example, a man named Joseph, who was a Levite from Cyprus and called Barnabas by the Apostles, sold a field he owned and brought the money to the Apostles.
One couple, named Ananias and Saphira, also sold some property but kept some of the money for themselves and gave the rest to the Apostles. Both of them knew they kept some of the money, but acted as if they had given all of it. Ananias was the one who went to the Apostles and gave it to them, but Peter (having received knowledge from the Holy Spirit) saw right through their lie. Peter rebuked Ananias and said that he had not lied to men but to the Holy Spirit. As soon as Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. He was wrapped up and buried by some young men. About three hours later his wife Saphira came around, not knowing what had happened. Peter questioned her, asking if the money they gave was all of it. She, too, lied and said it was all of it. Peter also rebuked her and she died. The same young men came in and buried her beside her husband. Because of this event, great fear seized the whole church and all who heard of it.
Accepted as the official name of the second person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit (רוּחַ קָדְשְׁ "ruach qedosh") is only found three times in the Old Testament. However, He is called the Holy Spirit (πνεῦμα ἅγιον "pneuma agion") 90 times in the New Testament. The name incorporates the unique nature of deity as fully separate from the created universe. This separateness makes it impossible for creatures to grasp His spiritual nature. The spiritual form can only be understood by using the word for "wind" and "breath" metaphorically.
Spirit of God
On the other hand, the Holy Spirit is referred to in the Old Testament and in the New Testament as the Spirit of God, 12 times in each testament. The name in the Hebrew language is rendered רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים "ruach Elohim") using the most common "name" of the Creator.
Spirit of Yahweh
The Holy Spirit is also often referred to in the Old Testament as the Spirit of Yahweh, or the Spirit of the LORD in most Bibles. This name uses the covenant name of the one true God in place of the common name. It is especially used of the Judges in time of specific tasks.
Before Jesus was arrested, He spoke with His disciples about many things, one of which was a promise that He would ask the Father and the Father would give them another παρακλητον (parakliton), an advocate or a comforter, to be with them forever. A parakliton is a legal advocate, like a lawyer. The Greek word parakliton, is used of the Holy Spirit, to explain how he defends Christians before rulers and authorities, like a lawyer would do. Some translations say Comforter. An example of the Holy Spirit acting as a parakliton for Christians can be seen when Peter and John were arrested for giving glory to Jesus for the healing of a crippled man.
Spirit of Truth
When Jesus had promised to send His disciples another advocate, He called this advocate the Spirit of Truth.
Spirit of the Lord
Verses about the Holy Spirit and the Trinity:
- Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 John 5:7