The Holy Spirit is a person, and not a mere influence or operation. This may be proved by the following arguments:

1. When Christ promised his coming as another Comforter, the language clearly refers to him as a person: “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter that he may abide with you.”[2] “The Comforter whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you.”[3]

2. Things are, in the Holy Scriptures, attributed to the Holy Spirit, which can be true only of a person: “He divideth to every man severally as he will;”[4] “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them;”[5] “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost;”[6] “Grieve not the Holy Spirit.”[7]

3. The commission given to the apostles required them to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.[8] A mere influence or virtue, could not thus be associated with the Father and the Son; nor would it accord with the language of Scripture, to speak of the name of an influence; or with the analogy of faith, to administer baptism in the name of an influence. In the apostolical benediction, the Holy Spirit is connected, in a similar manner, with the Father and the Son: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.”[9] In 1 Cor. xii. 4–6, the Holy Spirit is introduced, together with God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, as a personal agent equally with them.

To these arguments, it may be opposed, that the Scriptures frequently use the words Spirit, Holy Spirit, to denote divine influence. But it is very common, in language, for an influence to be designated by the name of the source from which it emanates. We say: “This plant thrives in the shade; that, in the sun;” but by the word sun, we mean, not the body of the luminary, but the light and heat emanating from it. So, when it is said: “He will report that God is in you of a truth,”[10] the general omnipresence of God is not meant; for this is equally true of all persons and places. A peculiar presence, implying special divine influence, is intended. It would be improper to argue from this passage, that God is nothing but an influence; and it is, in the same manner improper to argue that the Holy Spirit is not a person, because the name is used in the Scriptures for the influence which he, as a personal agent, exerts.

The frequency with which the name is used to denote the influence exerted, may perhaps be accounted for, from the fact, that the name is given to the agent, because of his influence. It cannot denote anything peculiar in the nature of the agent; for the first and second persons in the Godhead, are, in their nature, spirit, and holy, as truly as the third. The name must, therefore, be regarded as distinguishing him with reference to his operation. He is called holy, because he is the immediate agent in the production of holiness; and he is called the Spirit, the Spirit of God, because he is the immediate agent in exerting the invisible, life-giving, divine influence which proceeds from God.

The Holy Spirit is distinct from the Father and the Son. The same passages which prove his personality prove this also. He could not be another Comforter, if he were not distinct from the Father. In the commission to baptise, and in the benediction, his personality is not more manifest than the distinction from the Father and the Son, with whom he is named.

[1] Isaiah xlviii. 16; Matt. iii. 16; John xiv. 16, 26; xvi. 7; Acts x. 19, 20; xiii. 2; xv. 28; xx. 28; Eph. iv. 30; Matt. xxviii. 19.

[2] John xiv. 16.

[3] John xiv. 26.

[4] 1 Cor. xii. 11.

[5] Acts xiii. 2.

[6] Acts v. 3.

[7] Eph. iv. 30.

[8] Matt. xxviii. 19.

[9] 2 Cor. xiii. 14.

[10] 1 Cor. xiv. 25.

Get Founders
in Your Inbox
A weekly brief of our new teaching resources.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Teaching BY TYPE
Teaching BY Author
Founders Podcasts