The Spirit

The Spirit is the essence of the Father, sent out from the Father by the Son.

The Nature of the Spirit's Relationship to the Father and the Son

The Spirit is known by a number of names, besides the Holy Spirit (which is the most common):

  • The Spirit

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.

Matthew 4:1

  • The Spirit of God

After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.

Matthew 3:16

  • The Spirit of the Father

For it is not you who will be speaking - it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Matthew 10:20

  • The Spirit of Jesus

Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there.

Acts 16:7

Since there is only one Spirit (he is always referred to as the Spirit), these are synonymous names. Furthermore, since 'God is spirit' (John 4:24), the Spirit is 'the Spirit of God who is spirit'! The Spirit is obviously intimately connected with the essence of God, and since Father and Son have the same essence, it is not surprising that the synonymous names listed above occur. This is also reflected in Paul's letters:

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18

However, there is some difference between the Spirit's relationship with the Father and his relationship with the Son. The Spirit goes out from and is given by the Father:

When the Counsellor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.

John 15:26

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.

Luke 11:13

and is sent at the request of the Son (see John 15:26 above). Like the Son, the ultimate source of the Spirit is the Father, though outside of time and so not in a causal or creative sense.

Hence the Spirit is the essence of the Father (and therefore the Son), sent out from the Father by the Son.

This is represented in the Nicene creed by saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.


The overall activity of the Spirit (at least as far as humanity is concerned) is to make us alive to God.

This can be seen in our creation:

The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit (ruwach, also meaning breath) of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

Genesis 1:2

Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath (neshamah, also meaning spirit) of life into the man's nostrils, and the man became a living person.

Genesis 2:7

and our regeneration

Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

John 3:6

The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

John 6:63

The Spirit was also intimately involved in the incarnation of the Son:

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 1:18

The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God."

Luke 1:35

Being alive to God means that the Spirit brings us God's:

  • wisdom

So Pharaoh asked his officials, "Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?" Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are."

Genesis 41:38-39

  • skill

and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts

Exodus 31:3

  • prophecy

When Balaam looked out and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God came upon him and he uttered his oracle

Numbers 24:2

When Saul and his servant arrived at Gibeah, they saw a group of prophets coming toward them. Then the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he, too, began to prophesy.

1 Samuel 10:10

  • guidance

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.

John 16:13

  • power

But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you.

Matthew 12:28

  • joy

At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit

Luke 10:21

  • teaching

But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 14:26

  • and testimony of the truth

When the Counsellor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.

John 15:26

Spiritual gifts are the work of the Spirit:

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

1 Corinthians 12:7-11

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