“I believe in the Holy Spirit.”Ω
By Stephen W. Hiemstra
The Holy Spirit, sometimes called the Holy Ghost, is the third person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit goes by a number of names and descriptions in scripture including: Spirit of the Lord (Judg 3:10), Spirit of God (Matt 3:16), the Helper or Comforter (John 14:16), Spirit of Truth (John 14:17), Spirit of Life (Rom 8:2), God of Endurance and Encouragement (Rom 15:5), Spirit of the Living God (2 Cor 3:3), Spirit of Wisdom (Eph 1:17), Spirit of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:19), Eternal Spirit (Heb 9:14), Spirit of Glory (1 Pet 4:14), and Spirit of Prophecy (Rev 19:10).
The wide range of titles suggests that the Holy Spirit plays a wide range of roles and suggests a God of power who is anxious to confer many different spiritual gifts. The Apostle Paul writes:
no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. (1 Cor 12:3-6)
By empowering spiritual gifts, the Holy Spirit makes Christian unity possible because these gifts make the Christian life, community, and mission service possible.
The Holy Spirit sometimes makes avian (or bird like) appearances. In creation, for example, we witness that: “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Gen 1:2) The word for hovering here in the Hebrew later describes an eagle (Deut 32:11). In all four Gospels, the Holy Spirit descends in baptism on Jesus like a dove—a fitting symbol of God’s peace (Matt 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22, and John 1:32). For this reason, the Holy Spirit is often associated with the sacrament of baptism.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus describes the Holy Spirit saying: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26) The Greek word for helper here transliterates as the Paraclete, which also means advocate, intercessor, and mediator (BDAG, 5591). The verbal form of Paraclete also means to comfort, to encourage, to console, and to exhort (BDAG, 5590). John 14:26 equates the Paraclete to the Holy Spirit. Although we frequently think of the Holy Spirit in highly personal terms, the supreme act of the Holy Spirit began at Pentecost in the founding of the church. We read:
And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:2-4)
The word for Holy Spirit in both Hebrew and Greek means both spirit and wind. The church’s evangelism and service illustrate the Holy Spirit’s continuing provision for reaching the world.
Bauer, Walter (BDAG). 2000. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. Ed. Frederick W. Danker. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. <BibleWorks. v.9.>.
The Holy Spirit
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