The Trinity (IVa2)
The NT Witness: The Deity of the Holy Spirit
In this section, I intend to examine the NT data relative to the deity of Holy Spirit-- accepting the conclusion from the previous piece on the Personality of the Spirit that the Spirit is a personal Agent, distinct from the Father and the Son.
The approach I will take here is to note the NT data that ONLY makes sense if the Holy Spirit were indeed 'fully God'.
Fortunately (at least for the length of this document, that is!), the DIFFICULTY we had in distinguishing the Spirit from the Father will constitute an EASE here. That is, if the Spirit is SO CLOSELY united with the Father, that it is sometimes difficult to perceive their respective individuality, then that SAME CLOSENESS will be a formidable argument for the deity of the Spirit. In other words, "Where the Holy Spirit is, there God is." (We will deal with the issue of "mediation vs manifestation" in the Pushbacks piece subsequently.)
Nevertheless, there is ample data in the NT to support the ascription of deity to the gracious Individual we know as the Holy Spirit.
Let's look at the data/arguments.
SUMMARY: Although there is much less data about the Spirit than about Christ, and although the deity of the Spirit was a virtual 'given' in the NT period (due to the close association of the Father and the Spirit), there are nonetheless strong evidences and arguments that illustrate the pervasive belief in the deity of the Spirit. Without the slightest indication of defensiveness, the NT writers call the Spirit "God", ascribe acts/words of the OT YHWH to Him, describe the intimate relationship of the two (with cognitive aspects), and live their church praxis in liturgical statements and creedal statements that put the Father, Son, and Spirit on a par. The awesome consequences of sins against this One were demonstrated in the 'greater blasphemy' passage of Jesus and in the sudden judgment on the couple who lied against God the Holy Spirit (Acts 5). And, when it came time to pass on the written records of the gracious and salvific acts of the Godhead, the Spirit was abbreviated in the documents--along with the other Divine Agents of the redemptive drama.
- He is explicitly called God.
- His extremely intimate link with the inner life of God the Father CAN ONLY be explained by His being a member of the Godhead.
- Romans 5.5: And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.--NOTICE: The Holy Spirit is the "transport" of the very inner love of the Father!
- I Cor 2.10-11: but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.--NOTICE: the incredibly close link between the Spirit and God the Father--"deep things", the inner thoughts.
- Roman 8.27: And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.--NOTICE: the intimacy of the Father's knowledge of the mind of the Spirit.
- Eph 2.22: And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.--NOTICE: God will actually 'live' in the Person of the Holy Spirit! This is a unity of life that we know almost nothing about on earth!
- Blasphemy against the Spirit was a greater crime than blasphemy against the Son of God!
Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matt 12.32)
- The Holy Spirit is identified as the YHWH of the OT.
- Exodus 17.7 ( And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?") WITH Heb 3.7-9 ( So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert,
9 where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did.) and Is 63.10 ( Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.)
- 2 Sam 23.1ff (These are the last words of David: "The oracle of David son of Jesse, the oracle of the man exalted by the Most High, the man anointed by the God of Jacob, Israel's singer of songs:
2 "The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue.
3 The God of Israel spoke, the Rock of Israel said to me: `When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God,) with Is 6.9 ( He said, "Go and tell this people: "`Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.') and Acts 28.25 ( They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: "The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet:
26 "`Go to this people and say, "You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.").
- Gen 18.10,14 ( Then the LORD said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son."..... Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.") with Gen 21.1 ( Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised.) with Romans 4.20-21 ( Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.) and THEN Gal 4.29 ( 29 At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit).
- The Spirit occurs in the nomina sacra of the early church manuscripts.
This refers to the scribal practice of abbreviating divine names/titles (generally considered to be after the model of the tetragrammaton "YHWH") cf. MTNT3:261; COMFORT:47-48; TRKW:13-14. Metzger defined them as "divine names written in contracted form with a supralinear line". Although the practice is common in the earliest of NT fragments, it only occasionally occurs in pre-NT times. In the LXX for example, its usage is sporadic--sometimes "kurios" (Gr. for "YHWH") is NOT abbreviated, sometimes it is replaced by a old-style Hebrew "YHWH", sometimes the "YHWH" is vocalized with Greek vowels! (as in 4QLxxLev-b).
The only words in the early documents that are abbreviated are DIVINE names and titles:
[In later documents, the other titles of Christ were added--e.g., David, Savior.]
The premier study of this phenomena was by Colin Roberts (Manuscript, Society and Belief in Early Christian Egypt, London: 1979), who held that this system probably originated in Jerusalem before 70 AD. (due the high "Name" theological orientation of that church).
The significance of this to our study should be obvious--the use of nomina sacra tips us off to which names were taken to refer to DEITY! And "Spirit" was one of those names (as was Christ). This indicates an early and systematic 'high view' of the Holy Spirit--specifically, that He was worthy of divine status.
It is also important to note that ONLY references to the HOLY SPIRIT were so abbreviated; refs to our spirits or angelic spirits were NOT.
- The Spirit occurs in important early church texts-with FULL EQUALITY of status with the Father and the Son.
- Matt 28.19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
- 2 Cor 13.14: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
- I Cor 12.4: There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
- I Pet 1.2: who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:
Indeed, the NT witness to the Spirit is one of highest honor--'true God of true God'.
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