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The Bible uses many names or titles to refer to God, to refer to the Son, and also to refer to the Holy Spirit. The names reveal the nature, actions and the character of God – in this case, the nature, actions and character of the Holy Spirit.

Most commonly in the Old Testament the Spirit is referred to as ‘the Spirit of the LORD’. This immediately associates the Holy Spirit with the name ‘I AM WHO I AM’ - the self-identifying name that God gave when Moses asked God ‘What is your name?’ (Exodus 3:13 – 15). This name speaks of the eternality and sufficiency of God. He is not a created being, he has neither beginning nor ending. He simply is. And he is not limited: he is able to be and to do whatever he wills. It is his Spirit we are speaking about when we remember that he is ‘the Spirit of the LORD.’

The second most common name used of the Spirit in the Old Testament is ‘the Spirit of God’. Here we remember that the Spirit is the Spirit of the God, the one, true, supreme God who created the universe, who is over and above all things.

These two names remind us that the Holy Spirit, like God, is incomparable. Just as God, the LORD, is not to be likened to other ‘gods’, so his Spirit is not to be thought of in terms of other ‘spirits’. Because he is God’s Spirit, identified many times by God as his Spirit, he speaks and acts with all the authority of God, and is worthy of the same respect as God. He, like God, is ‘holy’ – unique, one of a kind, set apart from all other beings that we might term ‘spirits’, and also just as distinct from us as God is. He is not someone that we can treat with disrespect or flippancy. He is not someone we can treat as ordinary. He is ‘holy’.

Most commonly, the New Testament refers to the Spirit simply as ‘the Spirit’ and ‘the Holy Spirit’.

But here and there in the New Testament we find other names/titles which help us to understand who the Spirit is and what he does:

He is the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of Christ - Romans 8:9, 14; Galatians 4:6; Philippians 1:19; 1Peter 1:11. This teaches us that that same knowledge of the Father, that same love and compassion – everything that Jesus is – the Holy Spirit also is.

He is the Spirit of our Father – Matthew 10:20. This tells us of his fatherly love and concern for those who believe in the Son. What God the Father is for us, the Holy Spirit is.

He is called the Counsellor – John 14:16, 26; 1`5:26; 16:7 - who teaches, instructs, advises, comforts. (The same word – parakletos – is used of Jesus in 1John 2:1.) And what an Advocate, what a Counsellor he is! He is the One who intercedes for us when our suffering is too deep for us, and even for him, to put into words (Romans 8:26, 27). He is the One who assures us we are children of God (Romans 8:14 – 16; Galatians 4:6). He is the One who guarantees that we are saved – that we belong to God, and will be kept safe for our eternal inheritance (2Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13, 14).

He is the Spirit of truth – John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13, who reminds us of and teaches us all that Jesus taught his disciples. He will never tell us anything that contradicts the truth he has already recorded and defined in the Scripture through men he both inspired and empowered (2Timothy 3;16; 2Peter 1:20, 21).

He is the eternal Spirit – Hebrews 9:14. He has always been there – before the universe existed, all through the Old Testament, in the conception, life, death and resurrection of the Son of God, and into the eternal kingdom. He is not a Johnny-come-lately New Testament innovation. He is the same Spirit who moved in creation, the same Spirit through whom the Old Testament prophets preached and wrote, the same Spirit who told in advance micro and macro truths about the Christ.

He is the Spirit of grace – Hebrews 10:29, who opens our minds to understand the good news of Jesus Christ, the gospel of grace. Without the enlightenment he brings no one would understand, and no one would be saved. If we reject the Spirit’s testimony, if we resist his moving in our hearts and minds, we are resisting and rejecting the love of God expressed in the death of Christ. Both Jesus and the writer to the Hebrews spoke sternly about such resistance to the gracious work of the Spirit – Mark 3:28, 29; Hebrews 10:28 – 31.

He is the Spirit of glory – 1Peter 4:14. He reveals to us the glory of Jesus Christ, and is gradually transforming us into that same glory as we gaze on Jesus – 2Corinthians 3:16 – 18. This Spirit of glory rests on us, and if that is so evident that we are insulted because of the name of Christ, then, Peter says, we ‘are blessed’, and will be overjoyed when Christ appears in all of his glory.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2024