Questions About the Holy Spirit: The 60 Most Frequently Asked Questions About the Holy Spirit –
Have Questions, Find Answers on Otakada.org – Who the Holy Spirit is – Daily, people turn to the Internet to find answers to their questions about spiritual matters. Topics related to spirituality are the second-most searched subjects online. Sadly, websites that present false teachings far outnumber those that proclaim the truth of God’s Word. We will provide answers as the Holy Spirit leads us from a biblical perspective. You will also need to pray to secure answers to any question you may have because one of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to lead us into all truth – John 16:13. Today, we look at Top Questions About Who the Holy Spirit is and questions that relate to this with biblical answers.. Enjoy
Also, you can gain access to our introduction to the series for 2020 otakada.org content guide and my book titles
Click here to find titles to my books on amazon
Or at Otakada shop
QUESTIONS ABOUT WHO THE HOLY SPIRIT IS
Who is the Holy Spirit?
Is the Holy Spirit a person?
Is the Holy Spirit a “He,” “She,” or “It” (male, female, or neuter)? What are the names and titles of the Holy Spirit?
What is the difference between the Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost? Should we worship the Holy Spirit?
Why is the dove often used as a symbol for the Holy Spirit?
How is the Holy Spirit like a fire?
Question: Who is the Holy Spirit?
Answer: There are many misconceptions about the identity of the Holy Spirit. Some view the Holy Spirit as a mystical force. Others believe that the Holy Spirit is the impersonal power that God makes available to followers of Christ. But what does the Bible say about the identity of the Holy Spirit? Simply put, the Bible declares that the Holy Spirit is God. He is the third person of the Trinity. Being a divine person, the Holy Spirit has a mind, emotions, and a will.
Many Scriptures clearly show that the Holy Spirit is God, such as Acts 5:3-4. In these verses, Peter confronts Ananias as to why he lied to the Holy Spirit and tells him that he had “not lied to men but to God.” It is a clear declaration that lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God. We can also know that the Holy Spirit is God because He possesses the characteristics of God. For example, His omnipresence is seen in Psalm 139:7-8: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Then in 1 Corinthians 2:1-11, we see the characteristic of omniscience in the Holy Spirit. “But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (verses 10-11).
We can know that the Holy Spirit is indeed a divine person because He possesses a mind, emotions, and a will. The Holy Spirit thinks and knows (1 Corinthians 2:10). The Holy Spirit can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26-27). He makes decisions according to His will (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).
The Holy Spirit was involved in the creation of the world (Genesis 1:2). He was active in the Old Testament as He empowered God’s servants to do the work of God (e.g., Judges 11:29; 1 Samuel 10:10; 2 Chronicles 24:20). In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit was at work in the ministry of Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:16; 12:28). He is involved in the lives of unbelievers, convicting them of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8); and in the lives of believers, regenerating them (Titus 3:5), indwelling them (Galatians 3:2), sealing them (Ephesians 4:30), and filling them (Ephesians 5:18). Jesus called the Holy
Spirit the “Spirit of truth” and the “Advocate” (John 14:17, 26) who helps believers.
Question: Is the Holy Spirit a person?
Answer: Many people find the Holy Spirit confusing. Is the Holy Spirit a force, a person, or something else? What does the Bible teach?
The Bible provides many ways to help us understand that the Holy Spirit is truly a person. First, every pronoun used in reference to the Spirit is “he” not “it.” The original Greek language of the New Testament is explicit in confirming the person of the Holy Spirit. The word for “spirit” (pneuma) is neuter and would naturally take neuter pronouns to have grammatical agreement. Yet, in many cases, masculine pronouns are found (e.g., John 15:26; 16:13-14). Grammatically, there is no other way to understand the pronouns of the New Testament related to the Holy Spirit—He is referred to as a “He,” as a person.
Matthew 28:19 teaches us to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is a collective reference to one triune God. Also, we are not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). The Spirit can be sinned against (Isaiah 63:10) and lied to (Acts 5:3). We are to obey Him (Acts 10:19-21) and honor Him
The personhood of the Holy Spirit is also affirmed by His many works. He was personally involved in creation (Genesis 1:2), empowers God’s people (Zechariah 4:6), guides (Romans 8:14), comforts (John 14:26), convicts (John 16:8), teaches (John 16:13), restrains sin (Isaiah 59:19), and gives commands (Acts 8:29). Each of these works requires the involvement of a person rather than a mere force, thing, or idea.
The Holy Spirit’s attributes also point to His personality. The Holy Spirit has life (Romans 8:2), has a will (1 Corinthians 12:11), is omniscient (1 Corinthians 2:10-11), is eternal (Hebrews 9:14), and is omnipresent (Psalm 139:7). A mere force could not possess all of these attributes, but the Holy Spirit does.
And the personhood of the Holy Spirit is affirmed by His role as the third person of the Godhead. Only a Being who is equal to God (Matthew 28:19) and possesses the attributes of omniscience, omnipresence, and eternality could be defined as God.
In Acts 5:3-4, Peter referred to the Holy Spirit as God, stating, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” Paul likewise referred to the Holy Spirit as God in 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, stating, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit is a person, as Scripture makes clear. As such, He is to be revered as God and serves in perfect unity with Father and Son to lead us in our spiritual lives.
Question: Is the Holy Spirit a “He,” “She,” or “It” (male, female, or neuter)?
Answer: A common mistake made with regard to the Holy Spirit is referring to the Spirit as “it,” something the Bible never does. The Holy Spirit is a person. He has the attributes of personhood, performs the actions of persons, and has personal relationships. He has insight (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). He knows things, which requires an intellect (Romans 8:27). He has a will (1 Corinthians 12:11). He convicts of sin (John 16:8). He performs miracles (Acts 8:39). He guides (John 16:13). He intercedes for us (Romans 8:26). He is to be obeyed (Acts 10:19-20). He can be lied to (Acts 5:3), resisted (Acts 7:51), grieved (Ephesians 4:30), blasphemed (Matthew 12:31), and even insulted (Hebrews 10:29). He related to the apostles (Acts 15:28) and relates to each member of the Trinity (John 16:14; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). The personhood of the Holy Spirit is presented without question in the Bible. But what about gender?
Linguistically, masculine theistic terminology dominates the Scriptures. Throughout both Testaments, references to God use masculine pronouns. Specific names for God (e.g., Yahweh, Elohim, Adonai, Kurios, Theos, etc.) are all in the masculine gender. God is never given a feminine name or referred to using feminine pronouns. The Holy Spirit is referred to in the masculine throughout the New Testament, although the word for “spirit” by itself (pneuma) is gender-neutral, and the Hebrew word for “spirit” (ruach) is feminine in Genesis 1:2. But the grammatical gender of a word in Greek or Hebrew has nothing to do with actual gender identity.
Since the Holy Spirit is God, we can infer some truths about Him from more general statements about God. God is spirit, as opposed to physical or material; He is incorporeal (John 4:24; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17). This is one reason why God forbade material representations of Himself (Exodus 20:4). If gender is an attribute of the body, then a spirit does not have gender. God, in His essence, has no gender.
In some places, the Bible uses feminine examples to illustrate a divine trait. God is said to give birth in the book of Job, and He likens Himself to a mother in Isaiah. Jesus compares the Father to a woman in search of a lost coin in Luke 15 and Himself to a “mother hen” in Matthew 23:37. Each of these word pictures is meant to illustrate a particular quality of God; for example, the woman’s search for the coin illustrates God’s zeal in seeking the lost. Analogies should not be stretched too far. Saying someone is “as busy as a bee” does not mean that person is insect-like in all areas; neither does saying God is “as tender as a mother” mean that God is a woman.
In Genesis 1:26-27 God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness,” and then “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Thus, the image of God was reflected in both male and female—not simply one or the other. The image of God is the same in every person, regardless of physical gender.
Whatever our theological explanation, the fact is that God used exclusively masculine terms to refer to Himself. Even in metaphor, He used masculine terminology almost exclusively. Through the Bible He taught us how to speak of Him, and it was in masculine relational terms. The Holy Spirit is neither male nor female in His essence; He transcends gender. But He is properly referred to in masculine terms by virtue of biblical revelation. There is absolutely no biblical basis for viewing the Holy Spirit as the “female” member of the Trinity.
Question: What are the names and titles of the Holy Spirit?
Answer: The Holy Spirit is known by many names and titles, most of which denote some function or aspect of His ministry. Below are some of the names and descriptions the Bible uses for the Holy Spirit:
Author of Scripture: (2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16)—The Bible is inspired, literally “God-breathed,” by the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. The Spirit moved the authors of all 66 books to record exactly what He breathed into their hearts and minds. As a ship is moved through the water by wind in its sails, so the biblical writers were borne along by the Spirit’s impulse.
Comforter/Counselor/Advocate: (Isaiah 11:2; John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7)—All three words are translations of the Greek parakletos, from which we get “Paraclete,” another name for the Holy Spirit. When Jesus announced His departure to heaven, His disciples were greatly distressed because they would lose His comforting presence. But He promised to send the Spirit to comfort, console, and guide those who belong to Christ. The Spirit also “bears witness” with our spirits that we belong to Him and thereby assures us of salvation.
Convicter of Sin: (John 16:7-11)—The Holy Spirit applies God’s truth in such a way that men are convinced of their sin. He does this through the conviction in our hearts that we are not worthy to stand before a holy God, that we need His righteousness, and that judgment is certain and will come to all men one day. Those who deny these truths rebel against the conviction of the Spirit.
Deposit/Seal/Earnest: (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14)—The Holy Spirit is God’s seal on His people, His claim on us as His very own. The gift of the Spirit to believers is a down payment on our heavenly inheritance, which Christ has promised us and secured for us at the cross. It is because the Spirit has sealed us that we are assured of our salvation. No one can break the seal of God.
Guide: (John 16:13)—Just as the Spirit guided the writers of Scripture to record truth, so He promises to guide believers to know and understand that truth. God’s truth is “foolishness” to the world, because it is “spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Those who belong to Christ have the indwelling Spirit who guides us into all we need to know in regard to spiritual matters. Those who do not belong to Christ have no “interpreter” to guide them to know and understand God’s Word.
Indweller of Believers: (Romans 8:9-11; Ephesians 2:21-22; 1 Corinthians 6:19)—The Holy Spirit resides in the hearts of God’s people, and that indwelling is the distinguishing characteristic of the regenerated person. From within believers, He directs, guides, and comforts us, as well as produces in us the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). He provides the intimate connection between God and His children. All true believers in Christ have the Spirit residing in their hearts.
Intercessor: (Romans 8:26)—One of the most encouraging and comforting aspects of the Holy Spirit is His ministry of intercession on behalf of those He inhabits. Because we often don’t know what or how to pray when we approach God, the Spirit intercedes and prays for us. He interprets our yearnings and articulates them for us, so that when we are oppressed and overwhelmed by trials and the cares of life, He comes alongside to lend assistance as He sustains us before the throne of grace.
Revealer/Spirit of Truth: (John 14:16-17; 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:12-16)— Jesus promised that, after His ascension, the Holy Spirit would come to “guide
you into all truth.” Because of the Spirit in our hearts, we are able to understand truth, especially in spiritual matters, in a way that non-Christians cannot. In fact, the truth the Spirit reveals to us is “foolishness” to them. But we have the mind of Christ in the person of His Spirit within us.
Spirit of God/of the Lord/of Christ: (Matthew 3:16; 2 Corinthians 3:17; 1 Peter 1:10-11)—These names remind us that the Spirit of God is indeed part of the triune Godhead and that He is just as much God as the Father and the Son. He is first revealed to us in the creation account, which says He was “hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:2). The Spirit was active in creation, along with Jesus, through whom “all things were made” (John 1:1-3). We see this same triune God again at Jesus’ baptism, when the Spirit descends on Jesus and the Father speaks audibly.
Spirit of Life: (Romans 8:2)—The phrase “Spirit of life” means the Holy Spirit is the one who produces or gives life. He does not initiate salvation, but rather imparts newness of life. When we receive eternal life through Christ, the Spirit provides the spiritual food that sustains spiritual life. Here again, we see the triune God at work. The Father saves us through the work of the Son, and the Holy Spirit sustains that salvation.
Teacher: (John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 2:13)—Jesus promised that the Spirit would teach His disciples “all things” and bring to their remembrance the things He said while He was with them. The writers of the New Testament were moved by the Spirit to remember and understand the instructions Jesus gave for the building and organizing of the church, the doctrines regarding Himself, the directives for holy living, and the revelation of things to come.
Witness: (Romans 8:16; Hebrews 2:4; 10:15)—The Spirit is called “Witness” because He verifies and testifies that we are children of God, that Jesus and the apostles who performed miracles were sent by God, and that the books of the Bible are divinely inspired. Further, by giving the gifts of the Spirit to believers, He gives witness to us and the rest of the world that we belong to God.
Question: What is the difference between the Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost?
Answer: Of the popular English translations of the Bible, it is only the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible that uses the term “Holy Ghost,” where it occurs 90 times. The term “Holy Spirit” occurs seven times in the KJV. There is no clear reason why the KJV translators used “Ghost” in most places and then “Spirit” in a few. The same Greek and Hebrew words are translated “ghost” and
“spirit” in the KJV in different occurrences of the words. By “ghost,” the KJV translators did not intend to communicate the idea of the spirit of a deceased person. In 1611, when the KJV was originally translated, the word “ghost” primarily referred to an immaterial being.
With recent Scripture translations, “Spirit” has replaced “Ghost” in most instances. Some of this came about because words don’t always hold their meanings. In the days of Shakespeare or King James, “ghost” meant “the living essence of a person.” Looking back, we see that “breath” or “soul” was often used as a synonym for “ghost.” In the 17th century, “spirit” normally referred to the essence of a departed person or a demonic or paranormal apparition. As language evolved, people started saying “ghost” when speaking of the vision of a dead person, while “spirit” or “soul” became the standard term for “life” or “living essence.” With slight exceptions, “ghost” and “spirit” changed places over some 300 years.
The real issue is that both “Holy Ghost” and “Holy Spirit” refer to the third person of the Trinity, coequal and consubstantial with the Father and the Son (Matthew 28:19; Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6). He is the gift of the Father to His people on earth to build up the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). He is also the agency by which the world is convicted of sin, the Lord Jesus is glorified, and believers are transformed into the image of Christ (John 16:7-9, 13-14; Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:22). Whichever term we use, we remember that this Holy Ghost is God’s active breath, blowing where He wishes, creating faith through water and Word (John 3:5-8).
Question: Should we worship the Holy Spirit?
Answer: We know that only God should be worshipped. Only God deserves worship. The question of whether we should worship the Holy Spirit is answered simply by determining whether the Spirit is God. Contrary to the ideas of some cults, the Holy Spirit is not merely a “force”; He is a person. He is referred to in personal terms (John 15:26; 16:7-8, 13-14). He acts as a Being with personality would act—He speaks (1 Timothy 4:1), He loves (Romans 15:30), He teaches (John 14:26), He intercedes (Romans 8:26), and so on.
The Holy Spirit possesses the nature of deity; He shares the attributes of God. He is neither angelic nor human in essence. He is eternal (Hebrews 9:14). He is present everywhere (Psalm 139:7-10). The Spirit is omniscient, i.e., He knows “all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). He taught the apostles “all things” (John 14:26). He was involved in the creation process
(Genesis 1:2). The Holy Spirit is spoken of in intimate association with both the Father and the Son (Matthew 28:19; John 14:16). As a person, He can be lied to (Acts 5:3-4) and grieved (Ephesians 4:30). Furthermore, some passages in the Old Testament that feature God are applied to the Spirit in the New Testament (see Isaiah 6:9-10 with Acts 28:25-27, and Exodus 16:6-7 with Hebrews 3:7- 9).
A divine person is worthy of worship. God is “worthy of praise” (Psalm 18:3; 48:1). We are commanded to worship God (Matthew 4:10; Revelation 19:10; 22:9). If, then, the Spirit is deity, the third person of our triune God, He is worthy of worship. Philippians 3:3 tells us that true believers, those whose hearts have been circumcised, worship God by the Spirit and rejoice in Christ. This is a beautiful picture of worship of all three members of the Godhead.
How do we worship the Holy Spirit? We worship Him in the same way we worship the Father and the Son. Christian worship is spiritual, flowing from the inward workings of the Holy Spirit to which we respond by offering our lives to Him (Romans 12:1). We worship the Spirit by obedience to His commands. Referring to Christ, the apostle John explains that “those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us” (1 John 3:24). Here we see the link between obeying Christ and the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, convicting us of all things—especially of our need to worship through obedience—and empowering us to worship.
Worship is itself a product of the Spirit. Jesus says that we “worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Those who are spiritual are those who are indwelt by the Spirit, who testifies that we belong to Him (Romans 8:16). His presence in our hearts enables us to return worship to God in the Spirit. We are in Him as He is in us, just as Christ is in the Father and the Father is in us through the Spirit (John 14:20; 17:21).
Question: Why is the dove often used as a symbol for the Holy Spirit?
Answer: All four Gospel accounts refer to the baptism of Jesus by John at the Jordan River (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:29-32). Luke’s account says, “And the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove” (Luke 3:22). Because the Holy Spirit is just that—spirit—He is not visible to us. On this occasion, however, the Spirit took on a visible appearance and the people likely saw Him. The dove is an emblem of purity and harmlessness (Matthew 10:16), and the form of the dove signifies that the Spirit
by which Jesus was empowered would be one of purity and innocence.
Another symbol involving the dove comes from the account of the flood in Genesis 6—8. When the earth had been covered with water for some time, Noah wanted to check to see if there was dry land anywhere, so he sent out a dove that came back with an olive branch in its beak (Genesis 8:11). The olive branch itself is a symbol of peace. Symbolically, the story of the dove tells us that God had declared peace with mankind after the flood purged the earth of its wickedness. The dove could be seen as representing God’s Spirit bringing the good news of reconciliation with God. Of course, this peace was only temporal because spiritual reconciliation only comes through Jesus Christ. But it is significant that the Holy Spirit was pictured as a dove at Jesus’ baptism—a
symbol of peace alighting on the Prince of Peace.
When the Holy Spirit assumes a visible form, He indicates the nature of His
ministry. At Pentecost, He assumed the form of “tongues of fire” (Acts 2:3) to signify the miraculous powers of language that the apostles were given as well as the intensity of their message. In the same way, the Spirit’s appearance as a dove symbolizes the gentle Savior bringing peace to mankind through His sacrifice.
Question: How is the Holy Spirit like a fire?
Answer: The Bible describes God as “a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29), so it is not surprising that fire often appears as a symbol of God’s presence. Examples include the burning bush (Exodus 3:2), the Shekinah glory (Exodus 13:20-22; Numbers 9:15), and Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 1:4). Fire has many times been an instrument of God’s judgment (Numbers 11:1, 3; 2 Kings 1:10, 12) and a sign of His power (Judges 13:20; 1 Kings 18:38).
For obvious reasons, fire was important for the Old Testament sacrifices. The fire on the altar of burnt offering was a divine gift, having been lit originally by God Himself (Leviticus 9:24). God charged the priests with keeping His fire lit (Leviticus 6:13) and made it clear that fire from any other source was unacceptable (Leviticus 10:1-2).
In the New Testament, the altar can serve as a picture of our commitment to the Lord. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are called upon to offer our bodies as “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1), engulfed by the divine gift: the inextinguishable fire of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is associated with fire even at the very beginning of the New Testament. John the Baptist predicted that Jesus would be the One to “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire”
(Matthew 3:11). When the Holy Spirit began His ministry of indwelling the early church, He chose to appear as “tongues of fire” resting on each of the believers (Acts 2:3). At that moment, “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (verse 4).
Fire is a wonderful picture of the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is like a fire in at least three ways: He brings God’s presence, God’s passion, and God’s purity. The Holy Spirit is the presence of God as He indwells the heart of the believer (Romans 8:9). In the Old Testament, God showed His presence to the Israelites by overspreading the tabernacle with fire (Numbers 9:15). This fiery presence provided light and guidance (Numbers 9:17-23). In the New Testament, God guides and comforts His children with the Holy Spirit dwelling in our bodies—the “earthly tent” and the “temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 5:1; 6:16).
The Holy Spirit creates the passion of God in our hearts. After the two traveling disciples spoke with the resurrected Jesus, they described their hearts as “burning within us” (Luke 24:32). After the apostles received the Spirit at Pentecost, they had a passion that lasted a lifetime and impelled them to speak “the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31).
The Holy Spirit produces the purity of God in our lives. God’s purpose is to purify us (Titus 2:14), and the Spirit is the agent of our sanctification (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2). As the silversmith uses fire to purge the dross from the precious metal, so God uses the Spirit to remove our sin from us (Psalm 66:10; Proverbs 17:3). His fire cleanses and refines.
Top links with question and answers on the Holy Spirit as follows:
Top Questions about Who The Holy Spirit is With Biblical Answers
Top Questions about Ministry of the Holy Spirit With Biblical Answers
Top Questions About The Fruit of Holy Spirit Is With Biblical Answers
Top Miscellaneous Questions about the Holy Spirit With Biblical Answers
Top Questions about Gifts of the Holy Spirit With Biblical Answers