What Is the Holy Spirit?

Submitted June 6, 2012

What is the Holy Spirit?
Source: Photos.com

The Day of Pentecost was remembered two weeks ago in many churches around the world. Did you ever wonder why this Holy Day—mentioned in the book of Acts and other books of the Bible—was observed by the Church that Jesus began?

As you may now have come to understand, the Day of Pentecost became well known as the time when God's Church received the Holy Spirit . This dramatic event was accompanied by what looked like tongues of fire descending upon the church members (Acts:2:3).

Since the Day of Pentecost was observed so recently by many Christians, let's confirm what the Holy Spirit is and see how it affects our lives as Christians.

The Power of the Highest

To begin with, the word "spirit" is translated from the Hebrew ruach and the Greek pneuma. Both words denote breath or wind—an invisible force. Scripture says that "God is a Spirit" (John:4:24).

So, just what is the Holy Spirit? One of the simplest descriptions is this: It is the " power of the Highest. "

Rather than the Holy Spirit being a distinct person or entity, the Bible most often refers to it as and connects it with God's divine power.

The prophet Micah was inspired to write: "But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord" (Micah:3:8, emphasis mine throughout).

Jewish scholars, examining the references to it in the Old Testament Scriptures, have never defined the Holy Spirit as anything but the power of God. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul referred to it as the "spirit of power, love and a sound mind" (2 Timothy:1:7.)

Informing Mary that Jesus would be supernaturally conceived in her womb, an angel told her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you," and the divine messenger described this Spirit to her as "the power of the Highest [which] will overshadow you" (Luke:1:35).

Then, in a noteworthy Pentecost-related statement, Jesus told His followers, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" (Acts:1:8).

God's Word shows that the Holy Spirit is the very nature, presence and expression of God's power actively working in His servants. Indeed, it is through His Spirit that God is present everywhere at once throughout the universe and affects it at will. He is omnipresent.

Confronted with such scriptures, even the New Catholic Encyclopedia admits:

"The OT [Old Testament] clearly does not envisage God's spirit as a person…God's spirit is simply God's power. If it is sometimes represented as being distinct from God, it is because the breath of Yahweh acts exteriorly…The majority of NT [New Testament] texts reveal God's spirit as some thing , not some one ; this is especially seen in the parallelism between the spirit and the power of God" (1965, Vol. 13, "Spirit of God," pp. 574-576).

The reference work A Catholic Dictionary similarly acknowledges,

"On the whole the New Testament, like the Old, speaks of the spirit as a divine energy or power" (William Addis and Thomas Arnold, 2004, "Trinity, Holy," p. 827).

Describing the Holy Spirit

In contrast to God the Father and Jesus Christ, who are consistently compared to human beings in Their form and shape, the Holy Spirit is consistently represented by various symbols and manifestations in a completely different manner—such as breath, wind, fire, water, oil [remember the parable of the ten virgins trimming their oil lamps?], a dove and a down payment on eternal life.

And so, as we remember the Day of Pentecost and the many Christians who observed this particular Holy Day of God this year, let's be reminded that it is the "power of the Highest."

For more information on the subject of the Holy Spirit, be sure to go online and read or request your own copy of Is God a Trinity? It's good to be well informed on this important topic and the meaning of the Day of Pentecost.

Blog posts do not undergo review by the doctrinal review team of the United Church of God. This post represents the personal opinion of the author and should not be considered the official stance of the United Church of God. If you have any questions or concerns please direct them to webmaster@ucg.org.


dust_i_am's picture

Page 53 of your trinity booklet also quotes Acts 10:38: "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power."

If the Holy Spirit IS the power of God, why would this verse (along with others such as I Thessalonians 1:5) indicate they're two separate things?


timusathanase's picture

I believe that the Holy Spirit Is a Messenger Of Yahweh.I believe also that the Holy Spirit Comprise the unity Of The angels in their
surrender to the will of Yahweh God.This is their baptism.Yashua In Mark:8:38,called the angels holy.The Writer In Hebrews1:14called them ministering spirits.But the unity makes them one as Yashua said I AND THE FATHER ARE ONE.Rev:5:11-12,('Voices of many angels...Saying In A lOUD VOICE)...oN The Day Of Pentecost.Cloven tongues of Fire that Separated.Picture witnessing or a baptism.Or a firery Speaker having the congregation totally interested in the word.But in this case worshippers given or enabling with Yahweh's power to do his work. The cloven tongue as in Job:29:21-25.Amp.Men listened to me and waited and kept silence for my counsel.After I spoke they did not speak again...my speech dropped like a refreshing shower...-25 I chose their way for them and sat as their chief. Like one who comforts mourners. The aspostles were in mourning at the time.But It was Yahweh God speaking through Job to devout men.

Sabrina Peabody

Sabrina Peabody's picture

Hi dust_i_am,

NIV puts it this way: "because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction..." The Holy Spirit is synonymous with God's power. The way it is written is just describing the Holy Spirit.

It is like saying, "The Gatekeeper rollercoaster is powerful, with force and speed..." All those things are describing the rollercoaster. I find it interesting that it also says powerful conviction is an attribute of the Holy Spirit in John:16:8.


Tholp1's picture

Simplisticly, the Holy Spirit is with you when a person can look at pages of the Bible that they have never read before and can understand it. Me...I sat down on my couch knowing that Jesus Christ will return in a cloud and I truly wondered how. I opened the Bible to Ezekiel, one Sabbath, to the first chapter and got my answer. I looked at a lot of the prophecies about nations today and was like WOW. This is actually going to happen. WOW!!!! That's the Holy Spirit for me. It goes deeper to when I was a kid. The Holy Spirit has been with me for a long time as with many of us. Christ will return on his throne with the four living creatures informing what's going on in a loud loud voice. I thank the God in heaven for his Holy Spirit, because he lifted the vail over my eyes long time ago, when I was a kid and continues to lift it every day I live. I am more than grateful. This WOW that I went through was the Holy Spirit within me.


SongsofLove's picture

The Holy Spirit; for some reason I refer to The Holy Spirit as a separate person within God (3 United). It's always been confusing to explain to others about the Trinity and how it functions. I just found something to be a little off about the idea of 3 separate persons within one God.

I can see now that God is the Father, the Word of God is Jesus the Son, the Holy Spirit is merely the Spirit of the Father living in us after we accept Him.

I am just wondering, will we ever see Jesus in heaven? Or will we only see God? Or both, God and Jesus?

Songs of Love, Santoria


Skip's picture

Hello Songs of Love, Santoria!
(My favorite book in the Bible is the Song of Songs!)

I have really good news for you.

We will see Jesus (& the Father later) but Jesus anticipated our concern. Jesus will soon return & everyone alive at that time will see Him. (Revelation 1: 7) And Jesus said He looked just like the Father (John 14: 7--11) so that should satisfy us for awhile but (please do not be too disappointed), we are not going to heaven; Jesus is coming back to the earth.

He will really & truly reign as King of Kings & Lord of Lords!
That is the real, satisfying future that converted Christians want.
For 1000 years things will go right. Shortly after that, after a bit of bad stuff has been removed, the Father will join us all.

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