Xenos Christian Fellowship
Christian Principles Unit 2
Pneumatology: The Study of The Holy Spirit

Revised 8/20/03




The identity and role of the Holy Spirit needs clarification for many Christians. Most denominations have seriously neglected instruction on the Holy Spirit, so that many Christians have virtually no understanding of him. This ignorance has in turn made many vulnerable to unbalanced or unbiblical ideas about the Holy Spirit. There are two dangers that we want to avoid:

Neglect: Without adequate focus on the Spirit, churches become moralistic and deistic. In the late 1800's, there was a near absence of teaching on the Holy Spirit. For example, in Robert Dapney's 900 page work, Lectures in Theology, published in 1878, only 4 pages are devoted to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Overemphasis: With excessive focus on the Spirit, churches become subjective, sensual, and narcissistic. In 1902 the Azuza street revival and the Pentecostal movement that followed brought a needed correction to the lack of teaching on the Holy Spirit but in some areas went too far (e.g. tongues must be spoken to evidence true regeneration).

IE. If you are uncomfortable asking God to experience all the Spirit provides OR if you're irritated when your experiences are challenged with scripture, you may be out of step with God.

This lesson surveys the biblical content concerning the identity and role of the Holy Spirit and seeks a balanced approach.

Identity of the Holy Spirit

  1. The Holy Spirit is a person, not a force or a part of God.

Many people view the Holy Spirit as a force/power source that can be tapped into. Against this, the Bible emphasizes the personhood of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is a person, not a force or a part of God.

He has the elements of personality:

  • Intelligence

(1 Cor. 2:l0,11) For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. (11) For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.

  • Emotion

(Eph. 4:30) And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

  • Will

(1 Cor. l2:11) But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

He is grouped with other known persons

(Matt. 28:19) "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

(Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:2; Acts 2:33,38; Gal. 4:6; 2 Cor. 1:21,22).

The use of the personal pronoun "he" (as opposed to "it") indicates personhood (Jn. l6:l3,l4).

(John 16:13,14) "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. (14) He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you."

  1. The Holy Spirit is fully God.

He possesses divine attributes

  • omniscience

(1 Cor. 2:11,l2) For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. (12) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God.

  • omnipresence

(Ps. l39:7) Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence?

He is equated with God

(2 Cor. 3:l7)  Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

(Acts 5:3,4)  But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back some of the price of the land? (4) "While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God."

Contrasting the Holy Spirit's Work in Old and New Covenant

Generally speaking, the Holy Spirit was not as active among God's people in the Old Covenant as he is in the New Covenant.

New Amer. Standard Bible - number of pages 1334 396
References to the Holy Spirit 78* 235
  5.8% 59.3%

* many Old Testament passages mention the Spirit in reference to His work in the future in the New Covenant.

There are three major areas of contrast between the Old Covenant and New Covenant work of the Holy Spirit:

  1. The Holy Spirit was with rather than in God's people.

Evidently, God's presence in the Holy of Holies foreshadowed his purpose to indwell the hearts of his people. This was made possible by the death of Christ. He did not indwell God's people in the same sense that he does in the New Covenant (Ezek. 36:27). Note also the contrast between "is with you" and "will be in you" in Jn. l4:l7. Instead, he "came upon" them, or empowered them to carry out God's strategic purposes.

(Ezek. 36:27) And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

(John 14:17)  . . . that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you. . . . 

The Holy Spirit "came upon" or "filled" judges and kings to give them charismatic leadership (Judges l4:6; 1 Sam. 16:l3), upon prophets to enable them to communicate God's Word (2 Pet. l:2l; Micah 3:8), and upon those who built the Tabernacle (Ex. 3l:3) to construct it accurately.

  1. His involvement was selective, not universal.

Evidently, not all Old Covenant believers received the empowering of the Holy Spirit. Rather, this was reserved for those in leadership positions (see second paragraph under point 1 above). In the New Covenant, all believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and receive his other ministries (1 Cor. l2:l3*; Rom. 8:9).

(Joel 2:28) 'And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.

(1 Cor. 12:13*) For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

(Rom. 8:9) However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

  1. His involvement was temporary, not permanent.

Unlike the New Covenant, in which believers are permanently indwelt (Jn. l4:l6), Old Covenant figures could (and did) lose the presence of the Holy Spirit (Ps. 5l:ll; Judges l6:14; l6:20; 1 Sam. l6:l4).

(1 Sam. 16:14) Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him.

(Psa. 51:11) Do not cast me away from Thy presence, And do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me.

(John 14:16) "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;

In Summary:









The redemptive work of Christ made it possible for the Holy Spirit to become more actively involved among God's people (Jn. 7:37-39).

(John 7:37-39) Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. (38) He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'" (39) But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Jesus' glorification included his death (See John 12:23), resurrection, and ascension (the Spirit was not given until Jesus ascended).
See also Phil. 2:8-11.

The tabernacle is an excellent illustration. But now God's people are the literal dwelling place of God as the Holy Spirit lives in each believer. (Eph. 2:21,22; 1 Peter 2:4,5; 1 Cor. 3:16; 1 Cor. 6:19)

The Holy Spirit's Work in Christ

Jesus normally ministered by the power of the Holy Spirit rather than by exercising his own divine attributes (Luke 4:18; Acts10:38).

He was also enabled by the Holy Spirit to live a sinless life, which qualified him to be our sacrificial substitute (Heb. 9:l4).

Note: The Holy Spirit "came upon" Jesus (Mt. 3:l6) to identify him as God's Messiah (Jn. l:33).

See section on Christology.

The Holy Spirit's Work in the New Covenant

The Holy Spirit is Christ's gift to the church (Jn. l4-l6), and the distinctive mark of the New Covenant (Ezek. 36:27; 2 Cor. 3:8). According to Jesus, the gift of the Spirit makes possible a life of greater spiritual vitality than was available to Old Covenant believers (Jn. 14:12), including the disciples when they were in the physical presence of Christ (Jn. 16:7).

In general, the Father initiates and oversees his plan of redemption, the Son accomplishes it, and the Holy Spirit applies the benefits of Christ's redemptive work to believers (Eph. 1:14; 2 Cor. 5:5). That is, the Holy Spirit provides the present tangible evidence of the believers' future full salvation when they are glorified. The Holy Spirit personally communicates the presence of Christ to believers and through them to the church and the world.

(John 14:12) "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father.

(John 16:7)  "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.

(2 Cor. 5:5)   Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.

The New Covenant ministries of the Holy Spirit are usually considered to be the following: (DRAW THE CLASS OUT ON HOW THEY HAVE EXPERIENCED THESE THEMSELVES & IN MINISTRY)

Prior to conversion, the Holy Spirit

  1. Convicts non-Christians of their need for Christ. Therefore we don't view all negative responses to our witness as bad and we count on God's convicting influence.

(John 16:8-11) "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; (9) concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; (10) and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me; (11) and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

(1 Thess. 1:5) ... for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

At the moment of conversion, the Holy Spirit permanently:

  1. Regenerates. God imparts spiritual life and a new nature to us.

(Titus 3:5) He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

  1. Indwells

(Rom. 8:9) However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

Remember 1 Cor. 12:13 and the ministry of the Holy Spirit? Regeneration and indwelling emphasize the idea of "Christ in you."

The ministries of the Holy Spirit below emphasize you being put in Christ.

3. Baptizes

(1 Cor. 12:13*) For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

(Gal. 3:27) For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

4. Seals

(Eph. 1:13,14*) In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, (14) who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.

The grammar of this passage indicates that the Holy Spirit is given at the moment of belief in the gospel (contra Pentecostal teaching that baptism of the Holy Spirit as a second work of grace)

(Eph. 4:30) And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

This passage, as well as Eph. 1:13,14* & 2 Cor. 5:5, communicate that the Spirit locks us into a permanent relationship with God, guaranteeing our "delivery" to eternal life in the kingdom of God (Unit 1 covers this more thoroughly).

5. Gives us a spiritual gift

(1 Cor. 12:6-11) And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

God gifts every Christian in a unique way in order to serve God and build up the Body of Christ (Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. l2:4-11; Eph. 4:7-12,l6; 1 Pet. 4:l0,11).

(1 Cor. 1:5-7)  . . . that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, (6) even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, (7) so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . 

This implies that we receive our spiritual gifts at conversion. WE WILL GO INTO THIS IN GREATER DETAIL IN UNIT #4.

Subsequent to conversion, the Holy Spirit continues to:

These categories outline different ways the Holy Spirit ministers to Christians. Keep in mind that they are interrelated (e.g. receiving illumination is a way we are assured).

  1. The Holy Spirit assures us of our salvation by enabling us to relate to God personally.

(Rom. 8:15,16) For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" (16) The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God . . . 

(Gal. 4:6) And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"

(John 14:23) Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him."

This is often subtle enough that it requires sensitivity to recognize this in your own life. You also need to be able to point it out in the lives of younger Christians.

  1. The Holy Spirit illuminates us, or enable us to understand meaning and significance of God's Word, and how it personally applies to their lives. Most of us have had the experience of thinking that a teaching was directed specifically to us.

(1 Cor. 2:12) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God . . . 

(Eph. 1:17-19) (I pray) that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. (18) I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, (19) and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might . . . 

(Eph. 3:16-19) (I pray) that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; (17) so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, (19) and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God.

  1. He leads us by personally guiding us into God's will for our lives. This leadership consists primarily of personal guidance in the areas of character transformation and ministry purpose. Contrast this to an impersonal list of rules that dictate a desired behavior or when we mindlessly imitate other Christians.

(Rom. 8:12-15) So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh--(13) for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (14) For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (15) For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"

(Gal 5:16-18) But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. (17) For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

(Acts 8:28-38) And he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. (29) And the Spirit said to Philip, "Go up and join this chariot." (30) And when Philip had run up, he heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?" (31) And he said, "Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?" And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. (32) Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: "HE WAS LED AS A SHEEP TO SLAUGHTER; AND AS A LAMB BEFORE ITS SHEARER IS SILENT, SO HE DOES NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH. (33) "IN HUMILIATION HIS JUDGMENT WAS TAKEN AWAY; WHO SHALL RELATE HIS GENERATION? FOR HIS LIFE IS REMOVED FROM THE EARTH." (34) And the eunuch answered Philip and said, "Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself, or of someone else?" (35) And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. (36) And as they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, "Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?" (37) And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." (38) And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch; and he baptized him.

(Acts 16:6-10) And they passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; (7) and when they had come to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; (8) and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. (9) And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a certain man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." (10) And when he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.


  1. The Holy Spirit empowers us to please God by transforming our character and making our ministry fruitful. E.g. many have experienced empowering when sharing our faith after an initial feeling of fear.

Note also that gradual character transformation is just as miraculous!

(Rom 8:4,11)  . . . in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit . . . (11) But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you..

(Gal. 5:22,23) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

(1 Cor. 2:3-5) And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. (4) And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, (5) that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

(2 Cor. 3:5,6) Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, (6) who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

(Col. 1:28,29) And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ. (29) And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

(Acts 1:8)  . . . but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

(2 Cor. 12:9,10) And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (10) Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

  1. He comforts us and imparts hope to us in the midst of our sufferings by providing purpose and strength to endure.

(Acts 9:31) So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and, going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.

(Acts 13:50-52) But the Jews aroused the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district . . . (52) And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

(Rom. 5:3-5) And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; (4) and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; (5) and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

(Rom. 15:13) Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

(2 Cor. 1:3-6) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; (4) who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (5) For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. (6) But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer;

  1. The Holy Spirit enables Christians to be effective in prayer.

(Rom 8:26,27) And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

He intercedes for us according to God's will. He leads us in what to pray for. E.g. in Luke 22:31,32 Jesus prays for Peter and does not pray that he will avoid suffering, but be changed by the experience.

Note: These ministries of the Holy Spirit are always available to Christians, but they are contingent on our willingness to walk by, or be filled with, the Spirit. That is what we will be covering next week.

Memory Verses

1 Cor. 12:13* - All Christians have been baptized into Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit

Eph. 1:13,14* - Christians normally are united with Christ at the moment they believe the gospel


Read "Crisis and Process". Write a one paragraph summary and one paragraph on what was most helpful to you.

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