Names and Titles of the Holy Spirit

WHAT’S IN A NAME? “Everything,” we might say when it comes to God’s revelation of Himself and identifying the Divine Being of the Holy Spirit The Third Person of the Godhead, Triunity or Trinity is commonly known as “the Spirit,” “Holy Spirit,” or “the Spirit of God.” Some still use the archaic name “Holy Ghost.” The variety of names and titles of the Spirit refer to His person, nature and essence, or His activities, operations and undertakings.

The Deity of the Spirit

THE HOLY SPIRIT. With the first occurrence of “the Holy Spirit” in the NT, we encounter the unfathomable, the Spirit’s role in the incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18).

Matthew and Luke, which give the earthly genealogy of Jesus, are each careful to mention His miraculous conception through the Holy Spirit:

The angel replied to her: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35)

All NT writers recognize Jesus as at once both human and divine, but what about the Holy Spirit. Immediately, we learn two things about the Holy Spirit. First, the Spirit possess the power of the Most High. Secondly, the Spirit is distinct from the Son. And from the last occurrence of the Holy Spirit in Matthew, we learn the Spirit is distinct from the Father.

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19)

The singular use of “name” infers that all three Persons of the Trinity are equally related to one another. This threefold distinction within the Trinity is apparent in Paul’s benediction to the church at Corinth.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you (2 Corinthians 13:13).

The Holy Spirit is identified as God by the Apostle Peter.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the proceeds from the field? Wasn’t it yours while you possessed it? And after it was sold, wasn’t it at your disposal? Why is it that you planned this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God!” (Acts 5:3-4).

Paul identified the Holy Spirit as “the voice of the Lord” (Yahweh in the context of Isaiah 6:1-13). Paul said, “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to our forefather when he said through Isaiah the prophet” and then quoted Isaiah 6:9-10 (Acts 28:25-27).

What the Psalmist puts in the mouth of Yahweh in Psalm 95:7-11, the writer of Hebrews puts in the mouth of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 3:7-9).

THE SPIRIT OF GOD. In the NT, this name indicates that the Spirit is of God, yet not the Father or the Son as seen in the baptism of Jesus when all three persons are present.

After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him! (Matthew 3:17).

It appears that the Person of the Holy Spirit did not indwell Jesus but was epi (epi “on” or “upon”) Him, as with OT saints. Matthew used the same Greek preposition when he quoted Isaiah, attributing Christ’s healing of the sick and His preaching to the work of the Holy Spirit.

Here is My Servant whom I have chosen, My beloved in whom My soul delights; I will put My Spirit on Him, and He will proclaim justice to the nations (Matthew 12:18).

During His earthly ministry, Jesus attributed His miracles to the Spirit of God.

If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you (Matthew 12:28).

The Spirit of God has an exact and thorough knowledge of the things of God, and only God knows Himself.

For who among men knows the concerns of a man except the spirit of the man that is in him? In the same way, no one knows the concerns of God except the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:11).

A profound and intimate knowledge of God by the Spirit, that he must be equal with him; and such an intimate union, that he can be called “the Spirit of God,” and be one with God, as the human soul can be called “the spirit of the man,” and be one with him (Barnes).

Paul identified the church and saints at Corinth as the Temple of God, citing Leviticus 26:11-12, which predicted Yahweh’s dwelling among His people.

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16 NIV).

And how does Yahweh live with and walk among His people?

You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him (Romans 8:9).

In his first letter to the saints at Corinth, Paul identified the church or believers as the temple of God.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NIV; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19 for individuals as God’s temple).

The indwelling of the Spirit of God is proof that one is a Christian and that the Spirit of God is Yahweh.

THE ETERNAL SPIRIT. This title is one of the more difficult in Scripture. It is used in conjunction with Christ’s sacrifice.

How much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14).

There are five possible understandings conjectured for the words “the Eternal Spirit.”

1. It refers to the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity.
2. It refers to the divine nature of Christ.
3. It refers to endless or immortal life.
4. It refers to the glorified Savior.
5. It refers to divine influence.

If the Holy Spirit is meant here, “the Eternal Spirit” speaks of His deity for only God has existed eternally. Thus, Christ made His great sacrifice under the extraordinary influences of that Eternal Spirit. He was led to sacrifice as He was impelled by the Spirit to go into the desert to be tempted by Satan (Mark 1:12; cf. Isaiah 53:7).

THE SPIRIT OF THE LIVING GOD. The New Covenant necessitates that the living God, through His Spirit, produce every grace in the heart of the believer.

Since it is plain that you are Christ’s letter, produced by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God; not on stone tablets but on tablets that are hearts of flesh (2 Corinthians 3:3).

To be “the Spirit of the living God” one must be God.

THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST. Twice the Spirit of God is identified as “the Spirit of Christ.”

They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified in advance to the messianic sufferings and the glories that would follow (1 Peter 1:11).

Christ existed, as He did before there were any prophets, and even from everlasting, being the eternal God; and the Spirit is from Him.

You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him (Romans 8:9).

THE SPIRIT OF JESUS CHRIST. Paul needed the same measure of the Spirit, which Jesus Christ had, to enable him to bear his trials with patience, and to impart to him the consolations that he required.

Because I know this will lead to my deliverance through your prayers and help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:19).

He is called the Spirit of Jesus Christ, because through the Spirit Christ communicates Himself to His people. The Spirit is identified with Christ, and therefore deity.

THE SPIRIT OF YOUR FATHER. Jesus identified the Spirit with God the Father, when He promised that the Spirit would help His disciples in the time of persecution.

Because you are not speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you (Matthew 10:20).

THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD GOD. Jesus began His ministry in His hometown of Nazareth by declaring that He fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy (Luke 4:16-19). He read from the Greek Septuagint, which begins, “The Spirit of Lord is upon me.” The Hebrew reads:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to the prisoners (Isaiah 61:1).

Both the Septuagint and the Hebrew text identify the Spirit as deity.

THE PARACLETE. One of the strongest proofs of the Holy Spirit’s deity is found in Jesus’ teaching of “another paraclete.”

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever (John 14:16).

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you (John 14:26).

When the Counselor comes, the One I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father—He will testify about Me. (John 15:26).

Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you (John 16:7).

A.T. Robertson, the Greek expert, interpreted “Another Counselor” as follows:
Another of like kind (allon, not eteron), besides Jesus who becomes our Paraclete, Helper, Advocate, with the Father (1 John 2:1, cf. Romans 8:26). This old word (Demosthenes), from parakalew, was used for legal assistant, pleader, advocate, one who pleads another’s cause (Josephus, Philo, in illiterate papyrus), in NT only in John’s writings, though the idea of it is in Romans 8:26-34. Cf. Deissmann, Light, etc., p. 336. So the Christian has Christ as his Paraclete with the Father, the Holy Spirit as the Father’s Paraclete with us (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7; 1 John 2:1) (RWP).

Jesus had been to them a counselor, a guide, a friend, while He was with the disciples. He had instructed and consoled them. Although, Jesus was about to leave them in the world, He would not leave them alone; He would send Another Counselor just like Himself to them. Since Christ is divine, the Holy Spirit is also for He is allon (allon “of like kind”).

The KJV translates “another paraclete” as “another Comforter.” Surely, this is a rich word for the Holy Spirit, who brings comfort where it is needed. As the Comforter, He comes alongside to help; He consoles, soothes, reassures, calms, relieves, and strengthens our troubled hearts.

In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:27).

GOD’S GOOD SPIRIT. “You sent Your good Spirit to instruct them” (Nehemiah 9:20).

God sent His good Spirit to Moses, and then unto the seventy elders (Numbers 11:17, 25-26), to enable them to direct and govern His people wisely, and in the fear of the LORD.

THE SEVENFOLD SPIRIT. In the book of Revelation, the Holy Spirit is referred to as “the seven spirits of God” or “the sevenfold spirit of God.”

Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits {Or the sevenfold Spirit} of God sent out into all the earth (Revelation 5:6 NIV; cf. 1:4; 3:1; 4:5)

This particular symbolism in Revelation seems to point to Isaiah’s prediction of the sevenfold Spirit that would rest on the coming “Branch,” the Messiah. The Spirit would anoint, fill, rest on or upon, but most likely not indwell the promised Messiah.

Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. (1) The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him—a Spirit of (2) wisdom and (3) understanding, a Spirit of (4) counsel and (5) strength, a Spirit of (6) knowledge and of (7) the fear of the LORD. His delight will be in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what He sees with His eyes, He will not execute justice by what He hears with His ears (Isaiah 11:1-3; numbers added).

THE SPIRIT OF WISDOM AND REVELATION.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit {Or a spirit} of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better (Ephesians 1:17 NIV).

Translators and commentators disagree as to whether the Holy Spirit is meant here, but it is open to question if it is possible to obtain this wisdom and revelation apart from the Holy Spirit.

I pray that God may give you his Holy Spirit, by whom his will is revealed to men, that he may teach and make you wise unto salvation, that you may continue to acknowledge him, Christ Jesus, as your only Lord and Savior (Clarke).

Clarke’s explanation is erroneous since Paul is writing to the saints and faithful in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:1). Saints do not need to be given the Holy Spirit; they already have Him. It seems best to interpret Paul’s prayer as a petition for the Spirit to bestow on the saints wisdom and revelation so that they may know the Lord better.

THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH.

He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you (John 14:17)

Jesus told His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Since the Holy Spirit is “another paraclete,” we would expect the Spirit to be identified with Truth. This identification is additional proof of the Spirit’s deity.

THE LORD, THE SPIRIT.

We all, with unveiled faces, are reflecting the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The last phrase (kayaper apo kuriou pneumatov) can be translated “as from the Lord the Spirit” or “as from the Spirit of the Lord.” In the believer, the Spirit is recovering the likeness of the image of God, lost in the fall, and now recovered and restored by Jesus Christ. For the Spirit to accomplish this transformation, He must be divine. Therefore, He is identified as “the Lord.”

THE SPIRIT OF GRACE.

How much worse punishment, do you think one will deserve who has trampled on the Son of God, regarded as profane the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and insulted the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29).

The Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of grace,” because he confers grace upon people, which is apparent in the next title if it applies to the Spirit.

THE SPIRIT OF GRACE AND SUPPLICATION.

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit {Or the Spirit} of grace and supplication. They will look on {Or to} me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son” (Zechariah 12:10 NIV).

Since the Spirit bestows grace (Titus 3:4-7) and He assists in prayer (Romans 8:26, it would appear that He will be the primary Agent in the salvation of all Israel (Romans 11:26). “From the beginning” (ap archv ap arches) or “as firstfruits” (aprachn aprachen) it was God’s plan and purpose to save individuals or Thessalonians through the work of the Spirit.

But we must always thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning [as firstfruits] God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13; best manuscripts equally divided on readings).

Therefore, the next title is appropriate for the Spirit.

THE SPIRIT OF ADOPTION.

For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8:15).

“Adoption” refers to taking a sinner and making him or her a child of God. It is the role of the Spirit not only to make us a part of God’s family, but also to make our adoption a reality as He helps us to cry out, “Abba, Father!” If the Spirit is not divine, He cannot take us into God’s family.

THE SPIRIT OF GLORY AND OF GOD.

If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you (1 Peter 4:14).

The same Spirit as rested on Christ (Luke 4:18) rests on the believer. “The Spirit of glory and of God” is the Spirit of Christ, for He is the “Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8; James 2:1).

THE SPIRIT OF LIFE.

Because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death (Romans 8:2).

The word law here means that rule, command, or influence which “the Spirit of life” produces. It is “the Spirit of life,” who pours a fountain of spiritual life into believers. Since only God can impart life, the Spirit is divine.

THE SPIRIT OF HOLINESS.

Concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was a descendant of David according to the flesh and was established as the powerful Son of God by the resurrection from the dead according to the Spirit of holiness (Romans 1:4).

“According to the Spirit of holiness” may refer to the Third Person of the Trinity raising Christ from the dead (Romans 8:11), to the divine nature of Christ, as it is holy, or to the OT predictions of the Spirit, relating to the Gospel.

For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

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