The Trinity (IVa)

The NT Witness: The Personality of the Holy Spirit


Introduction

In this section, I intend to examine the NT data relative to the Holy Spirit-- traditionally considered to be an agent within the Trinity. I will focus on several specific issues:

  1. His Individual personality
  2. His distinction from God the Father

    One of the major challenges will be the relative paucity of the data (relative to Jesus) concerning this Person. This is somewhat predictable from the descriptions of the operations of the Spirit:

    But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. (John 16.13ff)

    Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. (I Peter 1.10ff)
    Notice that the Holy Spirit has/had a very Christo-centric ministry. (Interestingly, Christ had a 'Patri-centric' ministry--cf. LPJG:102.) If one of his main functions was to 'reveal the things of Christ,' then we would EXPECT much more biblical data on Jesus than we would on the Holy Spirit. (There is certainly enough data to put together an adequate view of the Spirit, for there are several key beliefs in the Judeo-Christian system that depend CRITICALLY on the attributes and operations of the Spirit.)

    In the case of the Holy Spirit, we have a different 'problem' than we had with the Son of God. Whereas in the case of Jesus, whose DISTINCTION from the Father was obvious, the OPPOSITE will be the case with the Spirit--He will be perhaps difficult to distinguish from the Father.

    Also, in the case of Jesus, His personality was not really under question; but, in the case of the Holy Spirit, we will perhaps have to be sure to cover the 'Personal agent vs. Impersonal Force of God' question in more detail.

    The "good news" is that, due to the close association of the Father and the Spirit, we won't have to put too much attention to the DEITY of the Spirit--the battles in pneumatology are fought elsewhere.

    The Personality/Consciousness/Agency of the Holy Spirit

    The first point we need to make here is a methodological one: what method and criteria are we to use to 'decide' if the "Holy Spirit" textual phenomena in the NT more accurately describe a personal agent OR an impersonal force?

    Bickersteth says it this way (BTT:124):

    Now if, altogether apart from this investigation, you had been asked to name those qualities which evidence personal existence, you would have been quite content to answer: Show me that which has mind, and affection, and will, which can act, and speak, and direct; and that sentient, loving, determining agent, speaker and ruler, must possess personality, or personality cannot exist.

    But it MAY be a bit more complex than that--in my opinion. To invoke 'Christian Skepticism' we are going to have to find possible alternate understandings of these passages perhaps.

    It just won't be as simple as finding a text or two in which personal traits are ascribed to the Spirit(!), for two reasons:

    So, how can we proceed?

    Well, it seems a little obvious that we have to AT LEAST make sure personal characteristics are ascribed to the Spirit (a la Bickersteth), and to see how extensive these are. So, let's start by listing some of the data points ascribing personal/agency attributes to the Spirit.

    1. Passages that demonstrate the nurturing, teaching, and intellectual actions of the Spirit:

      • He speaks--
        • Mark 13.11: Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
        • Acts 1.16: and said, "Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus
        • Acts 13.2: While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
        • Heb 3.7: So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice,
        • Acts 8.29: The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."
        • Acts 10.19: While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Simon, three men are looking for you.
        • Acts 11.12: The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them.
        • I Tim 4.1: The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits
        • Rev 2-3: "Let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (6x)
        • Rev 14:13: Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them."
        • Rev 22.17: The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!"

      • He warns--Acts 20.23: I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.

      • He reveals/predicts--
        • Luke 2.26: It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
        • Heb 9.8: The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing.
        • John 16.15: That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
        • I Pet 1.11: trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

      • He teaches/reminds--
        • Luke 12.12: for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say."
        • John 14.26: But the Counselor, 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.
        • I Cor 2.13: This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit,
        • John 14.26: But the Counselor, 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.

      • He enables/helps--
        • Acts 2.4: began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
        • Phil 1.19: for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.
        • Rom 8.26: In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

      • He witnesses/testifies--
        • Acts 5.32: We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."
        • Heb 10.15: The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
        • John 15.26: "When the Counselor 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.
        • Romans 8.16: The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
        • I Tim 3.16: Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit,
        • I John 5.6: And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.

      • He encourages--Acts 9.31: Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.

      • He counsels--John 14-17 (4x): e.g. John 14.16: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever

      • He knows--I Cor 2.11: In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

      • He prays for us--Rom 8.26,27: In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.

      • He has a mind(!)--Rom 8.27: And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit

      • He is ALIVE--
        • John 14.17: 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.
        • Romans 8.9:You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
        • Romans 8.11:And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
        • I Cor 3.16: Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?
        • Eph 2.22:And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
        • 2 Tim 1.14: Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you -- guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
        • 1 John 3.24: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.


    2. Passages that describe the Spirit as a volitional agent with decision-making authority.

      • He leads--
        • Luke 4.1: Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert,
        • Rom 8.14: because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
        • Luke 2.27: Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.

      • He selects Christian workers for specific actions and positions--
        • Acts 13.2: While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
        • Acts 20.28: Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.

      • He dispatches Christian workers--Acts 13.4: The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit,

      • He evaluations/makes decisions--
        • Acts 15.28: It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us
        • I Cor 12.11: All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

      • He directs--
        • Acts 16.6: Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.
        • Acts 16.7: When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.
        • Acts 8.39: When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away,
        • Acts 8.29: The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."


    3. Our actions to Him and His responses to us indicate a personal agent.

      • He can be lied to--Acts 5:3: Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit

      • He can be resisted--Acts 7.51: "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!

      • He can be tested--Acts 5.9: Peter said to her, "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord?

      • He can be grieved--Eph 4.30: And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

      • He can be blasphemed--Mark 3.29: But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven;

      • He can be fellowshipped with--
        • 2 Cor 13:14:May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
        • Phil 2.1:If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit,

    4. Passages that use personal pronouns in referring to the Spirit

      This issue concerns the Greek term for 'Spirit'--pneuma. Strictly speaking, as a neuter noun it SHOULD be referred to by NEUTER pronouns (e.g. 'it' instead of 'he' or 'she'). But there are a number of passages in which the masculine pronouns (sometimes EMPHATICALLY masculine pronouns--cf. Jn 14.26) are used in referring to the Spirit, giving more support to a "Personal Agency" understanding of Him, than to an "Impersonal Force" understanding.

      Let's just note a few of these:

      • John 14.26: But the Counselor, 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 15.26: But the Counselor, 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 16.7: But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
      • John 16.8: When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:
      • John 16.13: But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
      • John 16.14: He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.
      • Eph 1.13,14: And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance

    5. The Spirit is compared to Christ

      The point of this is that the Spirit is said to be a 'replacement' of some 'equality' to the departed Christ--indicating some type of personal intimacy with His followers:

      • John 14.16: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever -- the Spirit of truth. [Commentators point out that the word 'another' is the Greek word 'allos'--meaning 'another of the SAME kind', as opposed to 'heteros'--meaning 'another of a DIFFERENT kind']

      • John 16.7: But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. [This would be a SMALL consolation to the grieving disciples if the Spirit were an impersonal power--no matter HOW powerful.]

    6. The Spirit appears in co-ordinate statements with other DIVINE Personal Agents

      This evidence supports the contention that the Spirit was understood to be a personal agent--He is referred to with OTHER personal agents in co-ordinate statements. There is NOTHING in these passages to suggest that the Spirit, unlike the Father and the Son in the statements, is NOT to be considered a personal Agent as they.

      • Matt 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
      • 2 Cor 13.14: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
      • John 14.16: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever -- 17 the Spirit of truth.
      • I Peter 1.2: who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:
      • I Cor 12.4-6: There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

      SUMMARY: The term "Holy Spirit" and "Spirit of God" (and parallel terms) appears in a wide variety of statements in the NT. In many of these statements and contexts, this term APPEARS to be denoting a fully conscious/fully personal/fully alive agent. This Agent is said to speak, warn, reveal, predict, teach, remind, enable, help, witness, testify, encourage, counsel, know, and pray. This Agent is apparently invested with active authority over the mission of God--leading, selecting workers for tasks, selecting workers for positions of authority, dispatching workers, evaluating situations, making decisions about distribution of spiritual gifts, 'steering' and directing. Even though the grammar would predict otherwise, this Agent is referred to by non-neuter personal pronouns in several situations (i.e. 'he'). Human interactions with this agent are best categorized as "inter-personal"--we can lie to the Spirit, resist Him, test Him, grieve Him (notice the inner emotional capacity of the Spirit), blaspheme Him. Christ seems to view the Spirit as a 'suitable', non-localized replacement for His earthly, localized presence among the disciples. Finally, the Spirit is used in co-ordinate statements with the other Divine Personal Agents (i.e. Father, Son) in such a way as to suggest the possession of Personality/Consciousness.

      It should be noted at this point (prior to really analyzing the probability that the Spirit is simply a personification of an influence/operation of the Father) that the above data points are surprisingly extensive, varied, and consistent. Most personifications are not this robust nor are maintained so pervasively throughout the breadth of literature (e.g. 'love' in I Cor 13--it is rarely used in such a personified way elsewhere). This will create a strong presumption in favor of the impersonal passages being derivative upon the personal--AND NOT VICE VERSA. In other words, it is beginning to look like it makes more sense to understand passages like "poured out the Spirit" as referring to the operations of the Personal Agent the Spirit, than it is to take "grieve not the Holy Spirit" as a personification of God's power...but more on this later.
      ..................................................................................................................

      The Distinction from God the Father

      This is the area that we need to be the most diligent in thinking carefully. We will find many, many passages in which God the Father acts THROUGH the agency of the Spirit (e.g. Acts 4.25: "You (the Father) spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant David..."), and these passages may suggest to us that the Spirit is nothing more than a 'localized extension' of God (mystically speaking), much like the 'hand of the Lord' (Acts 11.21: The Lord's hand was with them,).

      Now, let me hasten to add that cases of INSTRUMENTAL AGENCY (i.e. the Father doing something through the Spirit as His instrument) do not necessarily constitute evidence for the 'identity' of the Father and Spirit, since PERSONAL AGENCY (i.e. the Father having the Person the Spirit do something under His direction) would be expressed in the same linguistic form.

      What this means for our study is that we will need to find passages in which we CANNOT replace the "Sprit"-term with the "God the Father" term, and the passage STILL retain its meaning and force.

      Let's look at several types of data in this regard.

      1. The 'Dispatching' passages. These passages highlight the fact that the Spirit can be 'moved' from 'with the Father' to other 'locations' (however complex we find that concept!). If the Father stays stationary and yet sends the Spirit from Him to Us (for example), this would indicate SOME KIND of distinction between the Father and the Spirit.

        There are, of course, many such passages--a few of which I will cite below.

        • Lk 11.13: If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
        • Acts 10.45: The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.
        • Acts 15.8: God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.
        • I Cor 6.19: Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?
        • I Thess 4.8: Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
        • 2 Cor 1.22: set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
        • Gal 3.5: Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
        • Gal 4.6: Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father."
        • I John 4.13: We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
        • John 14.16: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever

        Notice that this ONLY shows a distinction between the Sender and the "Sendee"--it makes no claims about the personality of the Sendee (e.g. God sent His voice and sent His word--but THEY are not Personal Agents--but they ARE DISTINCT from the Father) NOR about the deity of the "Sendee" (e.g. God sent angels to do His bidding, but they, although personal, are NOT deity). We have given strong evidence in the section above for the PERSONALITY of the Spirit; we will produce data for the DEITY of the Spirit later. All we have to do in this section is show that the Spirit is DISTINCT "enough" from the Father to be appropriately called an 'Agent'.

      2. The various names of 'Spirit of God' do NOT appear to be simple metonymy (a literary device in which one thing is referred to by the name of something typically associated with it--e.g. 'throne' for authority--cf. LIB:136f) for the 'power of God' or 'love of God' or some other 'influence*.* of God'.

        If the Spirit WERE not a Person, but rather a simple alternate designation for some influence of God, we WOULD NOT expect to find the following kinds of passages, in which BOTH the Spirit AND the possible influences are co-ordinately named:

        • [not identical with power of God]--Rom 15.13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. [would it make sense to say 'the power of the power'?!]
        • [not identical with power of God]--Acts 1.8: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; ["you will receive power when the power comes on you"?]
        • [not identical with love of God]--2 Cor 13.14: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. ["the love of God and the fellowship of the love of God"?!]
        • [not identical with power of God]--Acts 10.38: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, ["God anointed Jesus with power and with power..."?!]
        • [not identical with love of God]--Rom 5.5: because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. ["God poured his love into our hearts by his love..."?!]
        • [not identical with power of God]--Luke 4.14: Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, ["Jesus returned in the power of the power..."?]
        • [not identical with power of God]--Rom 15.19: by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. ["by the power..., through the power..."?]
        • [not identical with power of God]--Gal 4.29: At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. [ "by the power of the power..."]

        We must conclude on the basis of the data, that the term 'Spirit of God' is NOT a metonymy for the 'Power of God' or the 'love of God'.

      3. That the Spirit of God is DISTINCT from God the Father can also be seen by trying to 'substitute' the term 'God the Father' in all the passages in which the Holy Spirit is present. While this would not be a problem in ALL verses, in certain passages it makes no sense at all--indeed, it makes "anti-sense" of the passage.

        Note especially that the "Father sends/gives/pours out/etc. the Spirit" passages (above) make absolutely NO practical sense--"the Father sends/gives/pours out/etc. the Father"?! The terms are simply NOT EVEN CLOSE to being identical in referent. In addition to the 'dispatching' verses above, compare:

        • Rom 15.16: so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. ["acceptable to God, sanctified by God"?]
        • 2 Cor 13.14: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. ["the grace of Jesus, the love of God, and the fellowship of God"?!
        • 2 Pet 1.21: For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. ["men spoke from God as they were carried along by God..."]
        • I Cor 2.11: 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. ["no one knows the thoughts of God except God"...sorta destroys the whole passage!]
        • Eph 2.18: For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. ["Access to the Father by one Father.."?!]

        In addition to the above, we might add the passages in which God calls the Spirit 'his Spirit'. Certainly, the word 'God' or 'Father' cannot be substituted in these texts either!

        • Rom 8.11: And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
        • I Cor 2.10: but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. [God searches the deep things of God?]
        • 2 Cor 1.22: and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, [He put HIMSELF in our hearts as a deposit?]
        • Gal 3.5: Does God give you his Spirit
        • Eph 2.22: And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. ["in which God lives by Himself..."?!
        • Eph 3.16: he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit ["He may strengthen you with power through Himself..."?]

        The point is this: the literary and linguistic usage of the terms for the Spirit of God demonstrate that they are neither uses of metonymy nor circumlocutions for God. Somehow, those terms (e.g. Spirit of God, Holy Spirit) refer to "something" DISTINCT from God the Father (in some meaningful sense).

      4. The 'Spirit of Christ' passages also support the idea that the Holy Spirit is/was distinct from the Father.

        The evidence here we have to deal with concerns the implications of those passages that refer to the Holy Spirit as being the "Spirit of Jesus", the "Spirit of Christ", or "Spirit of the Son". Although these passages are probably good supports for the deity of Christ, our intent is to recognize that this differentiation between the "Spirit of Christ" and "the Spirit of God" indicates some kind of distinction between the Spirit and the Father. In other words, if the Spirit is said to be 'of Christ'--who was OBVIOUSLY distinct from the Father--then we have good grounds for understanding that the Spirit which is BOTH 'of Christ' AND 'of God' is DISTINCT FROM BOTH OF THEM!

        • Acts 16.7: When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.
        • Romans 8.9: You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
        • Gal 4.6: Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father."
        • Phil 1.19: for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.
        • I Pet 1.11: trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

        Although these passages seem 'odd' to us (and will be examined more closely when we look at relations between the multiple Agents in the Godhead), they certainly lend weight to the thesis that the Spirit is distinct from the Father.

      5. The existence of multiple terms of referring to the Spirit--other than 'My Spirit' and 'His Spirit'--which were used consistently throughout the NT, indicates that God's Spirit was generally considered as 'distinct' from God the Father in heaven. (This is even apart from the highly personal term 'Comforter' or 'Counselor' in John 14-16!)

        I find it especially suggestive that the phrases "THE Holy Spirit" and "THE Spirit" became the standard designators for the Spirit of God. Jesus and the early church consistently refer to this Agent under these names, INSTEAD of names that might have indicated a literary device (e.g. synecdoche--part for the whole). Compare the approximate frequencies:

        • "The Holy Spirit" (87 times!)
        • "The Spirit" (8 times)
        • "The Spirit of God" (10 times)
        • "The Spirit of Jesus/Christ/his Son" (5 times)
        • "The Spirit of the Lord" (4 times)

        • "his Spirit" (7 times)
        • "my Spirit"(3 times--all quoting the OT!)

        [Note: this data is consistent with OT data as well. In the OT we have approximately 82 texts which use the "The" terms, and only 17 that use the "my/his" terms.]

        It is difficult to account for this pervasive and stylized usage WITHOUT assuming that those inside redemptive history experienced this Agent as a distinct personal entity--separate from God the Father.

      6. There are a few passages that portray (often rather vividly) personal interactions between the Father and the Spirit. As such, these passages constitute VERY STRONG data for a personal DISTINCTION between the two.

        • John 16.13-15:
          But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
          NOTICE: The Spirit 'hears' things from the Father--this is clearly personal interaction (just like Christ in John 12.49; 3.32; 7.16ff; 8.38).


        • Romans 8.26-27:
          In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
          NOTICE: The Spirit PRAYS TO THE FATHER!--You cannot get more personal interaction than that! And, the Father knows the 'mind of the Spirit'--there is a strong statement of personal relationship and distinction--one Mind knowing another Mind!


        • I Cor 2.10-12:
          but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 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. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
          NOTICE: The Spirit searches the 'deep things of God'--sorta the reciprocal personal relation we saw in Romans 8! The Spirit knows the thoughts of God--again, a strong cognitive-aspect relationship between two Knowers.


        • Gal 4.6:
          Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father."
          NOTICE: The Spirit PRAYS TO the Father--"calling out, 'Father.'" Prayer is intensely interpersonal.


        • Eph 2.18:
          For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
          NOTICE: Access to the Father is NOT access TO the Spirit, but THROUGH the Spirit. The two are highly distinct. Other passages that talk about 'through the Spirit' are generally referring to an action of God TOWARD US--in other words, God does 'something' THROUGH the Spirit. In such passages, one could argue that the Spirit was simply an instrumental agency of God (not necessarily a distinct agent). But in THIS PASSAGE, the direction is from US to God--and there is NO WAY the Holy Spirit can be considered an 'extension' of us! Hence, it provides evidence for a distinction between the Father (the 'Accessed') and the Spirit ('the means of accessing').


        • Heb 9.14:
          How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
          [NOTICE: This passage is similar to the above, in that the direction is TOWARDS the Father. It might be argued that this is another of the 'Spirit of Christ' passages (so that the Spirit COULD be seen as an 'extension' of Christ, perhaps), but the OT practice of 'washing/cleansing' the sacrifices (used in NT 'spiritual' cases--cf. Romans 15.16) is probably the backdrop here. This would mean that the Spirit in this passage was a MEANS of 'reaching' the Father, and therefore DISTINCT from the Father.


        SUMMARY: We have examined the linguistic data about the Spirit of God and conclude that the textual references to the Spirit are NOT cases of metonymy, synecdoche, or personification--that they DO indicate an Agent that is distinct from God the Father. This can be seen in the active distinctions portrayed in the passages in which the Father sends or gives the Spirit, and attempted substitutions of God/Father terms for Spirit terms render most passages silly, useless, or senseless. The link between the Spirit and Jesus Christ also indicates a structural distinction between the Father and the Spirit. Linguistic patterns of referring to the Spirit under the individualistic terms like 'the Spirit' or 'the Holy Spirit'--as opposed to possible synecdochal terms like "my Spirit" or "His Spirit" seems to indicate an awareness on the part of the Biblical writers of a 'real' distinction between the Father and the Spirit.

        Indeed, this distinction is seen most clearly in those passages which illustrate the Spirit in personal interaction with the Father--obviously far beyond the possibilities of metonymy and personification. He prays to the Father, knows the Father, listens to the Father, calls out to the Father, brings us to the Father, and lifted up the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to the Father.


        Overall, the data is abundant, varied, consistent, and occurs in a wide range of literature and genre. And the conclusion is strong: this Counselor/Comforter/Helper that Jesus promised us is indeed a Personal Agent--sent by the Father, distinct from the Father--to bring life, truth, sweetness, healing, direction, and the many benefits of the grace of God to us.
        The Christian ThinkTank...[http://www.christian-thinktank.com] (Reference Abbreviations)