Christians can easily identify with God the Father (Jehovah or Yahweh) and his Son, Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit, however, without a body and a personal name, seems distant to many, yet he dwells inside every true believer and is a constant companion in the walk of faith.
Until a few decades ago, both Catholic and Protestant churches used the title Holy Ghost. The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, first published in 1611, uses the term Holy Ghost, but every modern translation, including the New King James Version, uses Holy Spirit. Some Pentecostal denominations which use the KJV still speak of the Holy Ghost.
As God, the Holy Spirit has existed through all eternity. In the Old Testament, he is also referred to as the Spirit, the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of the Lord. In the New Testament, he is sometimes called the Spirit of Christ.
The Holy Spirit first appears in the second verse of the Bible, in the account of creation:
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:2, NIV).
The Holy Spirit caused the virgin Mary to conceive (Matthew 1:20), and at the baptism of Jesus, he descended on Jesus like a dove. On the Day of Pentecost, he rested like tongues of fire on the apostles. In many religious paintings and church logos, he is often symbolized as a dove.
Since the Hebrew word for the Spirit in the Old Testament means "breath" or "wind," Jesus breathed on his apostles after his resurrection and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." (John 20:22, NIV). He also commanded his followers to baptize people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Accomplishments of the Holy Spirit:The divine works of the Holy Spirit, both in the open and in secret, advance God the Father's plan of salvation. He participated in creation with the Father and Son, filled the prophets with the Word of God, assisted Jesus and the apostles in their missions, inspired the men who wrote the Bible, guides the church, and sanctifies believers in their walk with Christ today.
He gives spiritual gifts for strengthening the body of Christ. Today he acts as Christ's presence on earth, counseling and encouraging Christians as they battle the temptations of the world and the forces of Satan.
Strengths of the Holy Spirit:The Holy Spirit's name describes his chief attribute: He is a perfectly holy and spotless God, free of any sin or darkness. He shares the strengths of God the Father and Jesus, such as omniscience, omnipotence, and eternality. Likewise, he is all-loving, forgiving, merciful and just.
Life Lessons:Throughout the Bible, we see the Holy Spirit pouring his power into followers of God. When we think of such towering figures as Joseph, Moses, David, Peter, and Paul, we may feel we have nothing in common with them, but the truth is that the Holy Spirit helped each of them change. He stands ready to help us change from the person we are today to the person we want to be, ever closer to the character of Christ.
Hometown:A member of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit had no beginning and has no end. With the Father and Son, he existed before creation. The Spirit dwells in heaven but also on Earth in the heart of every believer.
Referenced in the Bible:The Holy Spirit appears in nearly every book of the Bible.
Occupation:The Holy Spirit serves as teacher, counselor, comforter, strengthener, inspiration, revealer of the Scriptures, convincer of sin, caller of ministers, and intercessor in prayer.
Family Tree:First Person of the Trinity - God the Father
Second Person of the Trinity - Jesus Christ
Third Person of the Trinity - The Holy Spirit
Key Verses:John 16:7
"But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." (NIV)
1 Corinthians 6:19
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own ... (NIV)
Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian website for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack's Bio Page.