(More Bible Studies Available @ www.marktabata.com)
It is written:
John 14:16-17-And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—. 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
The Holy Spirit is perhaps the most misunderstood Person in the entire Bible. In this series of lessons, we will notice some important lessons about the Holy Spirit and the Christian.
Here in John, Jesus assures His Apostles that the Holy Spirit will come to them.
Let’s notice three great truths from this passage of Scripture.
First, the Bible is clear here that the Holy Spirit is a Person. Many teach that the Spirit is some kind of impersonal force. Consider the Jehovah’s Witnesses as an example:
“Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the doctrine of the Trinity (more on this in the next chapter), so the Holy Spirit is obviously not the third person of the Trinity. In fact, Jehovah’s Witnesses deny both that the Holy Spirit is a person and that He is God. The Watchtower Society teaches that the Holy Spirit “is not a person but is a powerful force that God causes to emanate from himself to accomplish his holy will.” 1 This force “can be adapted to perform a great variety of operations.” 2 This force plays a critical role in Watchtower theology. For example, this powerful force of God came upon Jesus in the form of a dove at His baptism—a force that enabled Him to perform many miracles (Mark 1: 10). Jehovah’s Witnesses also claim that “Jehovah’s organization alone, in all the earth, is directed by God’s holy spirit or active force.” 3 We are told that “Jehovah’s active force or spirit is subject to his control and always accomplishes his purpose.” 4 Just as electricity can be used by a person to accomplish a variety of tasks, so Jehovah uses the force of the Holy Spirit to accomplish His various tasks.” (Ron Rhodes, Conversations with Jehovah’s Witnesses: A Friendly Approach to Sharing the Truth about God and the Bible, 159 (Kindle Edition): Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers)
In fact, the Holy Spirit actually possesses all the characteristics of a Person.
“In Acts 13: 2 the Holy Spirit says, “Set Barnabas and Saul apart for me for the work to which I have called them” 2 (emphases added). In this verse, this “impersonal active force” reveals himself to be a person, since only a person can refer to himself as “I.” Electricity, radio waves, or a radar beam cannot. 3 Scripture also states that the Holy Spirit can be lied to, 4 speak, 5 hear, 6 know the future, 7 know the “things of God,” 8 bear witness, 9 teach, 10 reprove, 11 pray and intercede, 12 love, 13 guide, 14 call, 15 be grieved, 16 consciously will, 17 feel hurt, 18 be outraged, 19 and be blasphemed. 20 Only a person has these attributes and abilities, and only God can be blasphemed.” (Jason Evert, Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1099-1107 (Kindle Edition): San Diego, CA: Catholic Answers Press)
Notice some of the Scriptures which corroborate this point:
The Holy Spirit Has Knowledge:
1 Corinthians 2:11-For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.
The Holy Spirit Speaks:
Acts 8:29-Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”
Acts 10:19-20-While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. 20 Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”
Acts 11:12-Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house.
Acts 13:2-As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
The Holy Spirit Can Be Grieved:
Ephesians 4:30-And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
The Holy Spirit Wills:
1 Corinthians 12:11-But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
The Holy Spirit Loves:
Romans 15:30-Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me,
People Can Try To Lie To The Holy Spirit:
Acts 5:3-4-But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
The Holy Spirit Can Be Resisted:
Acts 7:51-You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.
The Holy Spirit Groans:
Romans 8:26-Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
The Holy Spirit Testifies:
John 15:26-But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.
The Holy Spirit Guides:
John 16:13-However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
The Holy Spirit Leads And Forbids:
Acts 16:6-7-Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.
All of these passages show us clearly that the Holy Spirit is a Person.
However, some object that sometimes the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as “It.” Technically, this is true.
Romans 8:16 (KJV)-The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
Why would the Holy Spirit here be referred to with the pronouns “Itself?”
The KJV here is pointing out that the word “Spirit” in Greek is a neuter gender word. However, many neuter gender words are used in the Bible to describe persons (just like in English). Infants (Luke 1:41, 44; 2:16; 18:15), children (Mark 5:39-41), girls (Matthew 9:24-25; Mark 5:41-42), angels (Hebrews 1:14), and unclean spirits (Matthew 12:24, 27-28; Mark 7:26, 29-30) are all neuter gender words in the Greek: yet this does not mean that the persons thus identified as an “it.” While the gender of verbs in Greek and English often denote different things, sometimes they carry the same meaning. Words like “infants” and “children” are neuter gender nouns in English: yet this does not make infants and children non-persons!
Jimmy Jividen explains:
“The Holy Spirit must not be regarded as a neuter force in nature. The grammar of the Scriptures, as well as the theology that is reflected in them, demands that the Holy Spirit be understood as a personal God. Jesus used the masculine pronoun to refer to the Holy Spirit. The gender of a word does not mean the same in Greek and English. Words that are neuter in English might be masculine or feminine in Greek. The word for world, kosmos, is neuter in English but masculine in Greek. The word pneuma, which is translated “spirit,” is neuter; so it usually takes neuter pronouns. That is not always the case when Jesus spoke about the Holy Spirit. He used both the demonstrative pronoun, ekeinos (John 14: 26; 15: 26; 16: 8,13,14), and the personal pronoun, auton (John 16: 7), when promising the Holy Spirit to His disciples. Both are masculine. It is not the Holy Spirit, “It,” but the Holy Spirit, “He.” “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 said to you” (John 14: 26). 3 Popular Protestantism, reflecting a background of believing in a “direct operation of the Holy Spirit” in conversion, often still refers to the Holy Spirit as “It”—a double error. The Holy Spirit does not give ecstatic experiences in conversion. He is not to be regarded as an impersonal neuter force.” (Jimmy Jividen, Alive In The Spirit, 138-145 (Kindle Edition): Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate Company)
The Spirit is a Person.
Second, this passage teaches us that the Holy Spirit has different Names. One example here is that the Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of truth.” He is clearly identified and associated with the truth of God’s Word. The Spirit and His Word (i.e., the Bible) are connected in ways that are both evident and too profound for us to fully understand.
John 6:63-It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.
Hebrews 4:12-13-For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
James 1:18-Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
James 1:21-Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Furthermore, there are many other names in Scripture for the Holy Spirit.
Here is a partial list
Spirit (Breath) Of The Almighty (Job 33:4)
Counselor/Comforter (John 14:26; 15:26; Romans 8:26)
The Spirit of Judgment (Isaiah 4:4; 28:6);
Spirit Of Burning (Or Purifying, Isaiah 4:4)
Spirit Of The Lord (Isaiah 11:2)
Spirit Of Wisdom (Isaiah 11:2)
Spirit Of Understanding (Isaiah 11:2)
Spirit Of Counsel (Isaiah 11:2)
Spirit Of Might (Isaiah 11:2)
Spirit Of Knowledge (Isaiah 11:2)
Spirit Of The Fear Of The LORD (Isaiah 11:2)
Noble Spirit (Psalm 51:12)
Good Spirit (Nehemiah 9:20; Psalm 143:10)
Holy Spirit (Psalm 51:11; Luke 11:13; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 4:30)
Lord (2 Corinthians 3:16-17)
Spirit Of Adoption (Romans 8:15)
Spirit Of Christ (Romans 8:9; 1 Peter 1:11)
Eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9:14)
Spirit Of Glory (1 Peter 4:14)
Spirit Of God (Genesis 1:2; Job 33:4)
Spirit Of Yahweh (Or Jehovah, Isaiah 61:1)
Spirit Of Grace (Zechariah 12:10; Hebrews 10:29)
Spirit Of Life (Romans 8:2)
Spirit Of Prophecy (Revelation 19:10)
Spirit Of The Father (Matthew 10:20)
Spirit Of The Son (Galatians 4:6)
The Spirit (Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:1; John 3:6; 1 Timothy 4:1)
These are some of the names of the Holy Spirit. Reflecting upon His names will teach us a great deal about Who He is and the work that He does, as well as some of the ways that He accomplishes those works.
Finally, in this passage of Scripture, Jesus teaches us that the Holy Spirit is God, and yet is a separate Person from the God the Father and God the Son (i.e., Jesus). Notice that says that Jesus says He will send “another” Comforter/Helper to the Apostles. The Greek language had two different words translated as “another” in our English Bibles. One word (heteros) means “another of a different kind” (like our word heterosexual). The other word (allos) means “another of the same kind.” The word used here in John to describe the Holy Spirit tells us that the Spirit is of the same Nature as Jesus and the Father (i.e., God). Yet it also teaches us that the Spirit is a separate Person from God the Father and God the Son.
Cottrell tells us:
“On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus sought to comfort his disciples by assuring them that he was not going to abandon them, leaving them as “orphans” (John 14: 18). Though he himself was going to return to heaven, he promised to send to them the Holy Spirit to take his place: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14: 16). Jesus specifically identifies this “Helper” as the Holy Spirit (John 14: 26). The Greek expression for “another Helper” is allos parakletos. This very description underscores the personhood of the Spirit in two ways. First, the word parakletos in itself refers to someone who is a person. As applied to the Holy Spirit (the “Paraclete”), this word is translated in various ways: Helper, Counselor, Comforter, Advocate. The words “Counselor” and “Advocate” are appropriate because in the first century a parakletos was literally a “counselor for the defense,” an advocate in the sense of a defense lawyer. As such, parakletos was a personal concept, just as the term “lawyer” is today. The point is that Jesus would not have used this word for the Spirit if the Holy Spirit were not a personal being. Jesus was promising his disciples that the Spirit would come and stand by their sides and be with them and protect them in their future endeavors for his Kingdom. Second, the word allos (“ another”) in the expresson “another Helper” also points to the Spirit’s personhood. The Greek language has two words for “another”: allos and heteros. The latter means “another of a different kind”; allos means “another of the same kind.” It is significant that Jesus used allos instead of heteros. This means that he promised to send “another Helper” of the same kind as himself. Thus the Spirit must be a personal being, just as Jesus is. As one writer has noted, Jesus’ promise would have been of little comfort to the apostles if his promised replacement were something less than himself, something less than a person.” (Jack Cottrell, The Holy Spirit: A Biblical Study, 7-8 (Kindle Edition): Joplin, Missouri: College Press)
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.