The Deity of the Holy Spirit

“I believe in the Holy Spirit.” These are the words of the Apostles’ Creed which Christians have confessed throughout the ages. They are the words Charles Spurgeon spoke before entering the pulpit to preach the Word of God. But who is the Holy Spirit? I have written previously on the personal nature of the Spirit, but here I want to outline some of the biblical evidence for the deity of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God, sharing equally with the Father and the Son all of the attributes of God. He is the creator of all things and brings regeneration through the preaching of the gospel.

The Holy Spirit is described as Yahweh in the story of Samson: “But he did not know that the LORD had left him” (Judg 16:20). “The Lord” is parallel to “the Spirit” who comes upon Samson in the rest of the story and gives him strength (Judg 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14). The Holy Spirit is the presence and power of God. A parallel text is 1 Samuel 18:12: “Saul was afraid of David because the LORD was with him but had departed from Saul.” This statement echoes the previous verses which speak of the Spirit coming upon Saul (1 Sam 10:10; 11:6; 16:13-16; 19:23). 1 Samuel 16:14 is especially striking: “Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul.” That is directly parallel to 1 Samuel 18:12 which speaks of the Lord departing from Saul. Therefore, to say that the Spirit has left someone is to say that the Lord has left him and vice versa.

The deity of the Holy Spirit is evidenced by his work of creation. Only God can create as Isaiah 44:24 says, “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: ‘I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself.'” That means if the Spirit creates, then he must be God. Job declares in Job 33:4, “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” We also know that the Spirit is God because he shares the attributes of God. The Spirit is described as being omnipresent or everywhere: “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” (Psa 139:7). The Spirit and God’s presence are equated here just as the Lord and the Spirit are equated in the stories of Samson and Saul. The omniscience of the Spirit also demonstrates his deity since only God is all-knowing: “Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?” (Isa 40:13-14).

One of the clearest evidences of the deity of the Holy Spirit is Acts 5:3-4 where lying to the Holy Spirit is parallel to lying to God. To lie to one is to lie to the other. The Holy Spirit speaks as God in prophecy and through the authorship of Scripture which is the Word of God. In Acts 28:25-27, Paul quotes the words of God as coming from the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet” (Acts 28:25) followed by a quotation from Isaiah 6 where God speaks to Isaiah the prophet. In 1 Corinthians 2:11 we read this amazing statement: “So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” Only the Holy Spirit can comprehend God’s thoughts which is impossible for any creature (Isa 40:13). The Spirit must be God in order to comprehend the infinite thoughts of God. This expression is similar to Matthew 11:27 where we read, “And no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son.” Only God can know himself perfectly and the Son is so vast and infinite that only the Father can know him. The Son must therefore be God if only the Father can know him. Therefore, the Spirit must be God if only he can know the thoughts of God. The inclusion of the Spirit in the many triadic or threefold formulas of Scripture is strong indirect proof of his deity (Matt 28:19; 1 Cor 12:4-6; 2 Cor 13:14).

Paul identifies the Spirit as the Lord in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18: “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” Christians are described as being both temples of God and temples of the Holy Spirit: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16); “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you” (1 Cor 6:19); “What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God” (2 Cor 6:16). To be the temple of the Holy Spirit is the same as being the temple of God.

Another place where a quotation from God in the Old Testament is applied to the Holy Spirit is Hebrews 3:7-11 which quotes Psalm 95:7-11. Verse nine says, “Here your fathers put me to the test and saw my works” identifying the Spirit as the one whom the Israelites tested in the desert. Another example of this is Hebrews 10:15-17 where the Holy Spirit speaks God’s words out of Jeremiah 31. The Holy Spirit is described as eternal in Hebrews 9:14 and therefore must be God since only God is eternal. The last evidence that I will make reference to is 2 Peter 1:19-21 which describes the work of inspiration as coming from the Holy Spirit. And since we know that God is the author of Scripture (2 Tim 3:16), the Holy Spirit must be God. Other examples where the Spirit speaks Scripture are 2 Samuel 23:2; Matthew 22:43; Acts 1:16; and Acts 4:25.

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