The Trinity is made up of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. All are God, and all are distinct. It is hard to get an exact figure for the number of times that the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the Bible. The Holy Spirit is described in different ways, sometimes as the Spirit of God and sometimes with pictures such as breath or wind. There are in the region of 500 mentions of ‘spirit’ in the Bible and of those, 104 specifically mention the ‘Holy Spirit’. From this, we understand that the Holy Spirit is an integral part of the Holy Trinity.
Back to the beginning
We know that the Spirit and God were together at the beginning of creation. Genesis 1:2 tells us that: “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” John 1 echoes this creation account and tells us that Jesus is the Word, and that “He was with God in the beginning.” So they are all there: Father, Son, and Spirit at the beginning of everything.
In the Old Testament, ‘Ruach’ is the Hebrew word for spirit, breath or wind. Job says; “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4). We can see the concept of the Holy Spirit being ‘with’ a person with the translation “Ruach Elohim” (Gen. 41:38), and “Ruach HaKodesh” is also used in the Old Testament, which is the concept of the Holy Spirit as a person (Psa. 51:11). See this blog for a fuller exploration of the translation of the Hebrew words for Spirit.
In the New Testament, there are myriad verses describing the Holy Spirit’s role in our life here on earth. The Spirit was there at the creation of the world, moving over the waters, and the Spirit gives gifts and helps us to live here on earth. In the Scriptures, we hear the Holy Spirit described as breath, comforter, advocate (1 John 2:1), a deposit of what is to come, and the helper. Read on for an explanation of some of these names.
The Spirit is our advocate:
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16). The meaning of advocate here is someone to speak on your behalf, and to represent you.
The Spirit guides:
In John 3:5-8, Jesus says; “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” He goes on to compare the Holy Spirit to the wind, saying, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” The comparison to the wind speaks of the freedom of the Spirit and can go wherever it pleases.
The Spirit breathes life into Scripture:
We are told in 2 Timothy 3:16 that, “All Scripture is God-breathed”. The Holy Spirit is God on earth today, but also God through time and the breath of God through the Scriptures.
The Spirit leads people to prophesy:
“For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:21 The Holy Spirit is concerned with the things of God, not the things of this world.
The Spirit searches out the truth:
“His Spirit searches out everything and shows us even God’s deep secrets.” 1 Corinthians 2:10 The Holy Spirit is a mystery, and yet reveals more and more of God’s character to us.
The Spirit is a deposit:
When we became Christians, God “sets His seal of ownership on us and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Corinthians 1:22
The Spirit is freedom:
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17
The Spirit is our helper:
The word helper derives from ‘parakletos’ in Greek, someone who comes alongside and helps us in our weakness. (Rom. 8:27)
The Spirit intercedes for us:
“We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit […] intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26
Do all of these verses help you to get a picture of the Holy Spirit? The Spirit is a helper who comes alongside us in whatever we are walking through in this life, who helps us when we are weak, who cannot be boxed in, but flies like a wild goose and goes wherever the wind carries it.
The Holy Spirit is still God
But like a person, the Holy Spirit can be resisted (Acts 7:51), quenched (1 Thess. 5:19), and grieved (Eph. 4:30).
We can find various visual symbols of the Holy Spirit in the Bible too.
Luke 3:22 describes the Holy Spirit as a dove, Acts 2 describes tongues of fire resting on the disciples, and Isaiah 59:19 describes the Holy Spirit as ‘a pent-up flood.’
These examples show how wildly wonderful and varied walking with the Holy Spirit can be.
The Bible gives us clues to the Spirit’s character but we also know it moves in ways we don’t understand: there is something unknowable about the Spirit. So, while there is more to understand and to try to grapple with, don’t be surprised if some things remain unknowable. That is all part of the mystery. And this is why it is so important and exciting to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). We don’t want to miss out on all that is going on.
“Holy Spirit, show me how You are at work in my life. Show me how You come alongside and comfort me. Show me Your work here on earth that I may keep my eyes open to all that You are doing around me, and that I may keep in step with You.
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