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The Holy Spirit Ain't an "It" (Continued...) (Bonus Section)

SERIES INFO: This series of blog articles will include topics (and bonus sections) I couldn't fit into my book Reintroducing Jesus: Uncovering Jesus of Nazareth in the Misinformation Age.

Reintroducing Jesus is a book about Jesus of Nazareth specifically, but let’s take a little time to get to know the Holy Spirit—the neglected person of the Trinity.

According to Christian doctrine, the Holy Spirit is just as much God as the Father and the Son. This doctrine is confirmed by Jesus’ own teachings. For instance, Jesus commanded his disciples to baptize new Christ-followers in the name of the Holy Spirit along with the Father and the Son, putting the Holy Spirit on equal ground with them both (Matthew 28:19). This is significant because if I told you to baptize in the name of “God and Steve DiSebastian,” that would be some serious blasphemy.

Likewise, Jesus recognizes the Holy Spirit as a being with personhood, referring to the Holy Spirit as “he,” not as an “it”:

...When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:12–14)

Notice how Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit: “He will glorify me”; “he will guide you”; “he will speak”; “he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” Earlier, Jesus said, “he will convict the world” and “he will teach you” (John 16:8, 14:26). I think you get the idea: Jesus didn’t teach that the Holy Spirit is a mindless “it.”

In Acts, after Jesus ascends to heaven, we read that his promises about the Holy Spirit are fulfilled. The Holy Spirit arrives, filling and empowering Jesus’ people (Acts 1:6–11, 2:1–41). Later, the Holy Spirit speaks, giving specific instructions, even using the pronoun “I”:

And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” (Acts 10:19–20)

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2)

So, the Holy Spirit sends people and calls them to ministry. These aren’t the acts of a mindless thing. The Holy Spirit has a mind of his own Jesus says,

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit [1]. (John 3:5–8)

To boot, in the Book of Acts, we also find this:

But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” (Acts 5:3–4)

Notice, Peter first says Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit; then, moments later, he says Ananias lied—to who?—to God! To Peter, “God” and “the Holy Spirit” are interchangeable.

Elsewhere in Acts, we see the oneness of the Son and the Holy Spirit when the Holy Spirit is referred to as “the Spirit of Jesus” (Acts 16:6–7; also Romans 8:9).

We see this same pattern throughout the New Testament if we ask, Whose spirit dwells within the followers of Jesus? Jesus promises his followers the Holy Spirit will be in them (John 14:16–17). In addition, the apostle Paul tells us the answer is the Holy Spirit a.k.a. “the Spirit of God,” which is also “the Spirit of Christ.” He goes on to say, “Christ is in you” and speaks of “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead [dwells] in you” (1 Corinthians 6:19; Romans 8:9–11). Paul even writes, “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts” (Galatians 4:6). The Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Father, the Spirit of the Son (or “of Jesus” or “of Christ”), and the Holy Spirit are one and the same. In fact, Paul tells us straight up, “the Lord is the Spirit” [2]. He also confirms there’s only one Holy Spirit:

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13)


Much, much more could be said about the Holy Spirit, the most neglected person of the Trinity, but let’s wrap this up by returning to Jesus’ words, since Reintroducing Jesus is about him:

If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ [3] (John 7:37–38)

John, the author (and one of Jesus’ disciples), helps us out by giving us more insight:

Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:39)

John tells us the Holy Spirit hadn’t yet come to Jesus’ followers because Jesus hadn’t yet been “glorified.” By “glorified,” John is referring to Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension to the Father. Jesus spoke of leaving his disciples and then sending the Holy Spirit to dwell in them, a teaching of Jesus’ that John focuses on in his gospel (John 14:17, 16:7).

Yet, Luke gives us important insight too. Jesus’ last words in Luke’s gospel are instructions to his disciples to proclaim his resurrection and the forgiveness of sins, and he says, “I am sending the promise of my Father upon you,” yet another reference to the coming of the Holy Spirit. Shortly after, Jesus “was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:49, 51).

Then, in the sequel to Luke’s gospel, the Book of Acts, Luke rewinds a bit, starting with the same event and giving more details. The resurrected Jesus stands before his followers and tells them they’ll be “baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” and “will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come” and they will be Jesus’ witnesses “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Afterwards, Jesus ascends into the sky, disappearing from sight in the clouds.

Afterwards, we see this all play out in the rest of Acts. The promised Holy Spirit fills Jesus’ followers at Pentecost. This divine event is marked by a miracle: Jesus’ followers begin speaking in languages “from every nation” they didn’t previously know (Acts 2:4–12) [4]. From there, the followers of Jesus spread the good news of the Kingdom of God throughout the ancient world while empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit.

Though the full title of Acts is the Acts of the Apostles, many believe a more fitting title would be the Acts of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus understood the Holy Spirit as not only a divine person of the Trinity, but also as the one who fills and empowers his people.

[1] Take note that both “wind” and “spirit” are the same word in Greek: pneuma.

[2] Compare Matthew 10:19–20 and Luke 12:12; See 2 Corinthians 3:17. Read 2:16–18 for the full context. Paul also ends this passage by referring to the Lord, “who is the Spirit.”

[3] Possibly a reference to Isaiah 12:3, 32:15, 44:3; Ezekiel 39:29; Joel 2:28–32. Interestingly, elsewhere in Jeremiah 17:13, God is called “the fountain of living water.”

[4] God promised Abraham to bless “all the families of the earth” through his bloodline and the resurrected Jesus’ command his disciples to go make disciples of “all nations.” Genesis 12:1-3; Matthew 28:19.


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