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It is easy to think and speak of the Holy Spirit as an ‘it’ rather than a ‘he’ – as if the Spirit is a force, a non-personal power.

While most Christians understand clearly that the Father and the Son are persons, that is, personal beings with the characteristics of personhood such as verbal communication, thought, emotions and will, it does not seem to be so clear cut or easy to accept that the Holy Spirit is actually a divine person, not just a divine influence, power or force.

That the Holy Spirit is indeed a person, with the characteristics of personhood, is evident in the way the Scripture speaks of him.

Scattered through the Scripture we find verses that clearly portray the Holy Spirit doing things that persons do:

2Samuel 23:2, 3 – ‘The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue. The God of Israel spoke, the Rock of Israel said to me ...’ Here the phrase ‘The Spirit of the LORD spoke’ is paralleled by the phrase ‘The God of Israel spoke’. Both phrases are saying the same thing using different words. ‘God’ speaking and ‘the Spirit’ speaking, are one and the same thing, confirming both the deity and the personhood of the Spirit.

Psalm 139:7 – ‘Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?’ In verses 5 – 12 David is talking to God about the fact that no matter where he might go, God is there, God is pursuing him, guiding him, holding him. Here in verse seven, David, instead of saying ‘you’, says ‘your Spirit’. It is the Spirit of God who pursues him, guides him, holds him – personal actions, not the actions of a non-personal power or force.

Psalm 43:10 – ‘Teach me to do your will ... may your good Spirit lead me ...’ David, praying to the Lord to teach him, repeats his request by praying that God’s Spirit will lead him. Leading, like teaching, is the action of a person.

Isaiah 63:10 – ‘they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit.’ Grief is a personal emotion.

Ezekiel 2:2; 3:24; 11:5 (and others) – in which Ezekiel reports that the Spirit of the LORD came upon him and spoke to him. Speaking is done by a person, not a non-personal force or power.

Micah 2:7 – where the question is asked ‘Is the Spirit of the LORD angry?’ attributing a personal emotion to the Spirit.

In the New Testament we find the same witness to the personhood of the Spirit. For example:

John 6:63 – The Spirit gives life.

John 14 – 16 – In multiple verses in these chapters Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit: ‘Counsellor’, ‘he lives with you’, ‘he will teach you ... and remind you’, ‘he will testify’, ‘he will convict’, ‘he will guide you’, ‘he will speak’, ‘he will tell you’, ‘he will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you’. All of these are personal actions.

Acts 8:29 – ‘The Spirit spoke to Philip.’

Romans 8:9, 11 – The Holy Spirit lives in those who believe in Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:14 – The Spirit leads.

Romans 8:16 – The Spirit testifies to our spirit that we are God’s children.

Romans 8:27 – The Spirit intercedes.

1Corinthians 2:10 – The Spirit reveals to us the truth about Christ and salvation.

1Corinthians 2:11 – The Spirit of God knows the thoughts of God.

1Corinthians 6:11 – The Spirit is the active agent in our salvation.

Ephesians 4:30 – The Holy Spirit is grieved when we sin.

We find from these and other texts that the Holy Spirit is just as much a personal being as God the Father and God the Son. As we look at the Holy Spirit in this series of meditations, we will see this truth evident and expressed in all that the Scripture says of him. It can be no other way, for he, the Holy Spirit, is God.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2024