Is the Holy Spirit a Person?

By: Elias Ayala
(M.A.T & Mdiv)

It is common for many Christians to neglect the person of the Holy Spirit within the context of their own personal spiritual life. We can often place so much emphasis on the Father or the Son that we forget that the Scriptures also refer to the Holy Spirit as God. When we address God in worship, we must not forget both who He is and what He is. God is a being, but He is also comprised of three distinct persons. Such is the traditional teaching of the trinity. Christians worship only One God, yet this One God is of such a kind that He is comprised of three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

It is often the case that when referring to the Holy Spirit, people will refer to him in an impersonal way, such as calling God’s Spirit an “it”. The Spirit of God is not an “it”, but rather, a “He”. The Holy Spirit is revealed in scripture as having the necessary characteristics of what it means to be a person. However, let’s explore this idea of what it means to be a person before we move on. What do we mean by “person”? What is meant by stating that the Holy Spirit is a Person?
“Personality implies the existence of certain attributes: intellect, emotions or sensibility, and volition or will power” (Elmer Towns, Theology for Today, pg. 265).

The Holy Spirit exemplifies all of the above characteristics. Consider for example this passage of scripture: “And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, behold, three men are looking for you…” (Acts 10:19). Notice that in the passage, the Holy Spirit speaks. It is also expressed in another passage that the Holy Spirit was and can be lied to: “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit.'” (Acts 5:3). If the Holy Spirit was not a person, it would seem somewhat incoherent to lie to something rather than to someone. We are also told that in lying to the Holy Spirit, Ananias was lying to God himself: “You have not lied to men, but to God” (v. 4).

The Holy Spirit is also described as having emotions. For example, it is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). Thus, in many places, the Holy Spirit is described as having the necessary characteristics of personhood. Lastly, the Holy Spirit is clearly referred to as a person when the writers of the New Testament apply masculine pronouns to Him: “When the Spirit of truth comes, (He) will guide you into all truth, for (He) will not speak on (His) own authority, but whatever (He) hears (He) will speak, and (He) will declare to you the things to come.” (John 16:13).

So it is quite clear that the Holy Spirit is in fact a person, just like the Father is a person, and the Son is a person. God is One being in three persons and we should address Him as such within the context of our communication with Him. Thus, we pray to the Father, in the Name of Jesus, and through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. May the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be praised forever, Amen!

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