What is Holy Spirit: Who is He? - II

Who is the Holy Spirit? Firstly, Christians know the Holy Spirit is in terms of his relations, his name and his nature. But we also know the Spirit by his personal properties. God's Spirit, for example, is "the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD" (Isaiah 11:2).

Although there are as many properties of the Spirit as there are of God himself, there are a few that are in particular ascribed to him distinctly. John Owen in The Holy Spirit outlines three, summarised here:

1. The Spirit of Truth

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding (Isaiah 11:2). The Spirit searches all things, the Spirit knows all things, the Spirit understands all things: including the depths of the wisdom and knowledge and understanding of God (1 Corinthians 2:11). It is also the Spirit who is the author and giver of wisdom, knowledge and understanding in others (1 Corinthians 12:11).

And so we are given the Spirit as Christians in order that we may be given understanding of what God has given us (1 Corinthians 2:12). He is the one who fulfills that great promise, "they will all be taught by God" (John 6:45). Accordingly, teaching is the great work of Holy Spirit; he alone is the great teacher of the Church. The many other teachers in the church cannot in fact teach at all without him to any real spiritual benefit in others. But the Holy Spirit teaches his Church with or without teachers (Jeremiah 31:34; 1 John 2:27).

In one direct continued discourse, Jesus to his disciples purposely instructed them in the nature and work of the Spirit, designed to inform them who the Comforter or Counselor was and what he would do for them (John 14-16). He is the Spirit of Truth, and here we find that the Father sent the Spirit to teach. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ himself, and would be with Christians in Christ's absence, taking not only his place but also his role as their teacher, reminding them of everything that he himself had taught them. 

2. The Spirit of Sovereignty
As the wind itself is not under our direction or at our disposal, so the Spirit is sovereign in his giving of salvation (John 3:8) and in his giving of all things from God, including gifts (1 Corinthians 12:11). The Spirit is the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord, having the freedom of choice only possessed by the God who is Lord over all. We are given God's Spirit as Christians so that he might sovereignly work through us what he determines to be for the common good of his body (1 Corinthians 12:7).
3. The Spirit of Power

The Spirit of God alone has the power that enables him to act according to the guidance of his understanding and the determination of his sovereign will. He is the Spirit of Power (Isaiah 11:2). We are given the Spirit as Christians so that we will have God's power at work in us: God himself enabling us to believe God's word (1Thessalonians 1:5), enabling us to have faith in Christ (Ephesians 3:16-17), enabling us to have love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).


Owen, John. The Holy Spirit--His Gifts and Power. Christian Focus Publications 2004, p. 69-72.

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