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Who is the Holy Spirit?

 

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that:

  • The holy spirit is God’s active force, and is not a person [1]

What does mainstream Christianity believe?

Q1. Does the Holy Spirit have (1) personality, including (2) mind, (3) emotions, (4) will and ability to (5) communicate, that would identify a person?

Ask a JW, What do you believe the Devil is? They will readily say that he is a spirit person that rebelled against God. Ask: how do you know for sure that the devil is a person, not just a “force for evil? Whatever ways they use to identify that the Devil is a real spirit person – use their reasoning to show the Holy Spirit is also a person!

(1 Cor 2:10-11; 12:11; Acts 13:2; 15:28-29; Rom 15:30)

1. Personality: Is Holy Spirit a ‘he’ according to the NT?

Answer: Yes, read through John 14 to John 16

 John 14:16-17,26 “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” … “he will teach you all things.”

[“another” (allos) means ‘another of the same kind’; same kind of Helper as person of Christ. “He … him” masculine pronouns are used of the Holy Spirit despite the fact that “Spirit” (Greek–pneuma) is neuter]

John 16:8 “And when he [Greek – ekeinos, that one] comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”

1 Tim 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons

[There are at least 73 times in the NT where the definite article is used with reference to the Holy Spirit. In Greek the gender of a noun or pronoun is a matter of grammar; it has nothing to do with personhood or actual gender. For example, the word translated “girl” in Mark 5:41-42 is neuter Greek word korasion. Likewise, the fact that the Greek word for “spirit” is neuter does not make a “spirit” an “it”. The WT agrees, for example, that demonic spirits are persons, and the Bible even says that “God is a Spirit” – John 4:24]

(Also, John 15:26; 16:13-15)

2.  Mind: Can the Holy Spirit think, evaluate and choose?

Answer: Yes, Rom 8:27 mentions the ‘mind of the spirit’

Matt 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Acts 16:16 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.

Rom 8:27 He [the Father] who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

1 Cor 2:11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

(Also, John 16:13; Acts 8:39; 13:1-4; 15:28; 20:28)

3.  Emotions: Does the Holy Spirit have feelings?

Answer: Yes, at times he is made to groan and grieve

Acts 5:3 “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?

Rom 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Rom 15:30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf.

Eph 4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption

Heb 10:29 How much worse punishment … will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God … and has outraged the Spirit of grace? [Matt 12:31-32]

4.  Will: Can the Holy Spirit make choices and actions? 

Answer: Yes, see 1 Cor 12:11 below

 1 Cor 2:10 For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God

1 Cor 12:11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

(Also, Gal 6:8; 1 Cor 12:13; Rev 22:17)

5.  Communicates: Does the Holy Spirit speak and bear witness?

Answer: Yes he is speaks, teaches, bears witness

John 14:26 “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 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.”

Acts 10:19-20 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.” [11:12]

Acts 13:2 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.”

Rom 8:14,16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God

Heb 10:15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying

Rev 22:17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”

(Also, Matt 10:20; Luke 2:26; 12:12; John 16:13-15; Acts 2:4; 4:25; 20:23; 1 Cor 2:13; 1 Tim 4:1; Heb 3:7; 9:8; 1 Pet 1:11)

Q2. Is the Holy Spirit described with attributes of God?

Answer: Yes, because He is God! See Who is God? Q4

Ps 139:7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? [Omnipresent like the Father]

Matt 11:28 “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons” … [cf. Luke 11:20 “But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons”]

Acts 5:3-4 “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit … you have not lied to man but to God.”

1 Cor 2:10-11 For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. … So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. [Omniscient like the Father]

2 Cor 3:17-18 Now the Lord [Jehovah NWT] is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. … For this comes from the Lord [Jehovah] who is the Spirit.

Heb 9:14 Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God [Eternal like the Father]

Q3. Can a Christian have fellowship with the Holy Spirit?

The WT response: More than that, for one to receive holy spirit he must also be in touch with God’s channel of communication. Just as in the days of Jesus and the apostles receiving of holy spirit was dependent upon contact with God’s channel of communication, his earthly representatives, so also today. The facts show that that channel is found with the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses. Acts 19:1-7. – W 1962 Apr 1 p.215

Answer: Yes, as a distinct person, the Holy Spirit has lived in a loving relationship with the Father and Son from all eternity. God created us to participate in that love relationship. God wants us to enjoy fellowship with Him

Additional info

John 14:16-17 “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

Rom 8:9-11 Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. … If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you

Rom 15:30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf

1 Cor 3:16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? [6:19]

2 Cor 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

(Also, Rom 8:14,26; 2 Tim 1:14)

Additional Info

20 Summary statements regarding the Holy Spirit 

  1. The Holy Spirit is a Person, called “He” and “him” by Jesus (John 14:16,17,26; 15:26; 16:7,8,13-15)
  2. He is God with the Father and Son; one name (Matt 28:19; Acts 5:3-4)
  3. He has a mind (Rom 8:27)
  4. He has emotions (Rom 8:26)
  5. He has a will (1 Cor 12:11)
  6. He communicates (Acts 13:2; 20:23)
  7. He was involved in creating (Gen 1:1-2; Ps 104:30)
  8. He inspired writing of God’s Word (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20-21)
  9. He was sent to witness about Jesus; glorify him (John 15:26; 16:14).
  10. He is our helper, comforter (John 16:7; Acts 9:31).
  11. He bears witness with our spirit that we are sons of God (Rom 8:16)
  12. He intercedes in prayer for Christians (Rom 8:26)
  13. He teaches us all things; reminds and guides us (John 14:26; 16:13)
  14. He appoints and assigns (Acts 10:19-20; 20:28)
  15. He distributes gifts and empowers Christians (1 Cor 12:11)
  16. He speaks in Christians for their defense (Matt 11:20)
  17. He is one with whom to have fellowship (2 Cor 13:14)
  18. He will abide with us forever (John 14:16-17)
  19. He convicts the world of sin (John 16:8)
  20. He with the bride says, “Come!” (Rev 22:17)

Additional Info

Endnotes:

  1. Watchtower 2013 Nov 1st p 5
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