The Holy Spirit: The Power of God

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The Holy Spirit

The Power of God

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The Anchor Bible Dictionary, in its article on the Holy Spirit, describes it as “The manifestation of divine presence and power perceptible especially in prophetic inspiration” (Vol. 3, Doubleday, New York, 1992, p. 260).

Many scriptures refer to the Holy Spirit as the power of God (Zechariah 4:6 Zechariah 4:6Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts.
American King James Version×
; Micah 3:8 Micah 3:8But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.
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). Paul told Timothy that it is the “ spirit of…power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 2 Timothy 1:7For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
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, emphasis added throughout).

Luke 4:14 Luke 4:14And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
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records that Jesus Christ began His ministry “in the power of the Spirit.” Luke 1:35 Luke 1:35And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Ghost shall come on you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.
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identifies the Holy Spirit with “the power of the Highest.” Speaking of the Holy Spirit, which would be given to His followers after His death, Jesus told them, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8 Acts 1:8But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come on you: and you shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.
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).

Peter relates how “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, [and Jesus] went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38 Acts 10:38How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
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). The Holy Spirit is here associated with the power by which God was with Him— the power through which Jesus Christ performed mighty miracles during His earthly, physical ministry. The Holy Spirit is the very presence of God’s power actively working in His servants.

The apostle Paul’s desire was that the members of the Church in Rome would “abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” in the same way that Jesus Christ had worked through him “in mighty signs and wonders , by the power of the Spirit of God” (Romans 15:13 Romans 15:13Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
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, Romans 15:19 Romans 15:19Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about to Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
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).

Divine inspiration by the Spirit

The Bible also shows that God inspires and guides His prophets and servants through the power of the Holy Spirit. Peter noted that “prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21 2 Peter 1:21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
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).

Paul stated that God’s plan had been “revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 3:5 Ephesians 3:5Which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
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), and that his own teachings were inspired by the spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13 1 Corinthians 2:13Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
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). Paul, in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 9 But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him. 10 But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
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, explains that God through His Spirit has revealed to us the things which He has prepared for those who love Him. God the Father is the Revealer, working through His Spirit in those who serve Him.

Jesus Christ told His followers that the Holy Spirit, which the Father would send to them, “will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26 John 14:26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.
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).

It’s through God’s Spirit within us that we can gain spiritual understanding and insight. “For what man knows the things of a man except [by] the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except [by] the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11-12 1 Corinthians 2:11-12 11 For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
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).

Jesus Christ had this spiritual understanding in abundance. As the Messiah, He was prophesied to have “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2 Isaiah 11:2And the spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
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).

What the Holy Spirit isn’t

The traditional Christian view of the Holy Spirit presents it not only as the power of God, but also a third person with the Father and Son in a Trinity. But when the Bible is taken at face value it’s clear that it’s never presented as a separate person. It’s always presented as an attribute or power of God. There are many scriptures that demonstrate it’s not a divine person. For example, the Holy Spirit is referred to as a gift (Acts 10:45 Acts 10:45And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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; 1 Timothy 4:14 1 Timothy 4:14Neglect not the gift that is in you, which was given you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
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). We are told that it can be quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19 1 Thessalonians 5:19Quench not the Spirit.
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), that it can be poured out (Acts 2:17 Acts 2:17And it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour out of my Spirit on all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
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; Acts 10:45 Acts 10:45And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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), and that we are baptized with it (Matthew 3:11 Matthew 3:11I indeed baptize you with water to repentance. but he that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
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). It must be stirred up within us (2 Timothy 1:6 2 Timothy 1:6Why I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands.
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), and it also renews us (Titus 3:5 Titus 3:5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
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). These are certainly not attributes of a person. They certainly are attributes of God’s character and power.

This Spirit is also called “the Holy Spirit of promise…the guarantee of our inheritance…the spirit of wisdom and revelation…” (Ephesians 1:13-17 Ephesians 1:13-17 13 In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory. 15 Why I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love to all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
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).

This Spirit is not only the Spirit of God the Father; it’s also “the Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9 Romans 8:9But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
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; Philippians 1:19 Philippians 1:19For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
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; 1 Peter 1:11 1 Peter 1:11Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
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). It dwells within Christians, leading and enabling us to be children of God (Romans 8:14 Romans 8:14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
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).

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 just as consistently represented in a completely different manner. It is described as appearing as a dove (Matthew 3:16 Matthew 3:16And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, see, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting on him:
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; Mark 1:10 Mark 1:10And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending on him:
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; Luke 3:22 Luke 3:22And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove on him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased.
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; John 1:32 John 1:32And John bore record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it stayed on him.
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) and as “tongues of fire” (Acts 2:3 Acts 2:3And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them.
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). Jesus Christ compared it with “living water” (John 7:37-39 John 7:37-39 37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink. 38 He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
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).

There is further evidence that the Holy Spirit is not a person, but is the divine power of God. In Matthew 1:20 Matthew 1:20But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, you son of David, fear not to take to you Mary your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
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, we read that Jesus was begotten by the Holy Spirit (Moffatt translation). Yet Jesus Christ continually prayed to and addressed the Father, not the Holy Spirit, as His father (Matthew 10:32-33 Matthew 10:32-33 32 Whoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
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; Matthew 11:25-27 Matthew 11:25-27 25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes. 26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in your sight. 27 All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
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; Matthew 12:50 Matthew 12:50For whoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
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; Matthew 15:13 Matthew 15:13But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up.
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; Matthew 16:17 Matthew 16:17And Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father which is in heaven.
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, Matthew 16:27 Matthew 16:27For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
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; Matthew 18:10 Matthew 18:10Take heed that you despise not one of these little ones; for I say to you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
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, Matthew 18:35 Matthew 18:35So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also to you, if you from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
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). He never represented the Holy Spirit as His Father.

(There’s so much more evidence that the Holy Spirit is God’s power, mind, and life essence through which He begets us as His children, and that it is not a divine person. Read all about it in our free Bible study aid Is God a Trinity? )