The “Person” of the Holy Spirit
Of the three “persons” to the concept of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is often shrouded in more mystery than the other two. While the person of God the “Father” as the creator and sustainer of creation is well established in the scripture and the history of Judaism and Christianity, and while the person of Jesus the “Son” as an actual person in the course of human history is well documented in history and scripture, the person of the Holy Spirit is a person whose characteristics are not well defined. While the responsibilities of the Holy Spirit are often documented throughout scripture, the question of how to address the Holy Spirit is sometimes vague.
...view middle of the document...
The Jews of the Old Testament period rarely denoted the Holy Spirit as, “holy,” except in times when it was meant to display the presence of God with a person or people. This is exampled when David fears that the presence of God will be taken from him, like Saul, after his sin with Bathsheba. It is because David knows that the Spirit is morally righteous that he fears the withdrawl.
The Old Testament Jews saw the function of the Spirit in several ways. They saw the Spirit as the actor in the creation, as evidenced by the verse from Genesis 1. Not just as an agent in creation, but also endowing supernatural powers was another function of the Spirit. It was clear that when God wanted something done, he would send His Spirit to empower someone to do the job. When the monarchy came to power, there was then the explicit function applied to the Spirit as the presence of God – blessing His people and watching over them.
Yet, as the New Testament time dawned and Christ came to Earth to set the plan of redemption in motion, the Holy Spirit was often lifted up as a co-equal branch of the Trinity. Christ often talked about the Holy Spirit, saying in two passages most explicitly the job and importance of the Holy Spirit. In John 14, Jesus says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” This mention of the counselor (translated as allon parakleton) is meant to be seen as someone who comes alongside to aid someone. John also displays this counselor to be, “another” in the sense that it would be someone who would be in the same manner as Jesus Himself.
At the end of His ministry, Jesus also commands His disciples to baptize believers, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This command gives the reader the impression that each of these person is equal, and thus, the Spirit is elevated in scripture to be the third part of the equality that until that point was only open demonstrated between the Father and the Son.
The Holy Spirit in the New Testament served the function of empowering each believer to testify to the teaching and resurrection of Christ. The Spirit also served the function of being a mediator between humanity and God. Paul, however, also connects the Spirit to Christ. He even see the presence of the Holy Spirit as the “Spirit of the Lord.” In this sense, the greatest function of the Holy Spirit is to be the presence of Christ in the life of each believer. There is also the sense that in the time after Christ the Spirit that was once in the Old Testament days a singular force within a singular person to accomplish a singular goal and leave is now the Spirit within each believer permanently. The power that was once temporary is now permanent.
Beyond function toward the question of, “personhood,” Grenz tries to...