Theology of the Holy Spirit



A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and power, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” (Isaiah 11:2)

Opening discussion: what do we know about Jesus’ relationship with the Holy Spirit?

The “Spirit of Christ” was active throughout His earthly life, as the following show. As Jesus needed the guidance and anointing (“Messiah/Christ” = “anointed”), of the Holy Spirit to carry out the Father’s mission we need the same Holy Spirit to fulfil God’s plan for our lives.

1. Conceived by the Holy Spirit

Matthew 1:20 tells us that Jesus life on earth commenced when He was conceived in Mary’s womb by the Holy Spirit. The virgin birth was an act of creation as God bypassed one of the key links in the normal physiological chain of birth. No explanation is given – it is a miracle. Jesus ability to be both God and man simultaneously was the work of the Holy Spirit, not possible through the natural laws of procreation, cf Hebrews 10:5.

Jesus was filled with the Spirit from that moment on (without limit, cf John 3:34).

  1. Identified by Holy Spirit-Filled Prophets

Prophesied in the Old Testament – Isaiah 11:1-2; 42:1; 61:1. Jesus often referred the OT to Himself.

Simeon knew from the Spirit that he would see the Messiah – Luke 2:26, 27. Guided to the temple courts, with Prophetess Anna, when Joseph & Mary came to present the baby Jesus.

John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from before his birth – Luke

The Gospels record John’s prophecy that the coming One would baptize with the Holy Spirit – Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33 (Matthew and Luke add “and with fire”)

  1. Descended on by the Holy Spirit, Like A Dove

Jesus’ baptism in water was the means by which:

All four Gospels record the Holy Spirit descending on Him like a dove – Matthew 3:16, 17; Mark 1:10, 11; Luke 3:21, 22; John 1:32-34. Occurred when he prayed after leaving the water. Jesus’ baptism was distinct from the Spirit coming on Him.

(The coming of the dove may have pointed out in a symbolic way that Christ came to be our sin offering – John 1:36 cf Leviticus 5:7.)

This caused John the Baptist to have confidence that Jesus (his cousin) was indeed the Christ – John 1:32-34 and publicly recognize and endorse Him.

4. Led by the Spirit into the Wilderness

The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness – Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:1. Mark uses ”drove” (lit. cast Him out, drove him out).

He was so full of the Spirit he did not feel hungry till after 40 days – Matthew 4:2. The Holy Spirit filled Jesus to prepare Him to do all God’s work.

Being full of the Holy Spirit does not prevent temptations. But the strongest temptation cannot rob us of God’s anointing either. Some people fear the temptations and trials they go through are signs of their being removed from God’s will and anointing. This was not true of Jesus, and it will not be true of us if we ”live in the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” – Galatians 5:16. The Holy Spirit will be with us in our times of temptation.

Jesus defeated the temptations of the Devil (facing temptation was part of His ministry – Hebrews 2:17-18) by using the power of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and an attitude of obedience - available to us today (cf 1 John 5:4).

  1. Returning in Power

After this Jesus returned in the power (δύναμις) of the Spirit to Galilee (Luke 4:14). His life and ministry were characterised by the power of God in action.

Jesus’ repeatedly affirmed His works (healing, delivering, binding/loosing, authority, preaching) were not something He did by himself, but as a man empowered by God, anointed by the Holy Spirit – John 5:19, 30. He is our example.

  1. Anointed by the Spirit for Ministry

Jesus’ entire work on earth shows a close cooperation with the Holy Spirit, who anointed Him for ministry (Acts 10:38 - χρίω = anoint, consecrate, endue with the Holy Spirit).

First manifest in His teaching – Luke 4:18, 21. Jesus spoke with authority – Mark 1:22. The Holy Spirit gave life to His words – John 6:63; 7:15, 16. Jesus was showing that He was influenced and taught by the Holy Spirit in all He said and did. It was the Holy Spirit who gave His words power and life in the hearts of His listeners. He also had supernatural insight into peoples’ loives and prior knowledge of the cross, through the Holy Spirit’s enabling.

Jesus’ knowledge did not come simply from human learning and understanding (even though he was well versed in the Scriptures) but from the Holy Spirit’s revelation. Without revelation we cannot understand the things of God.

According to Matthew 12:15-21 the healing ministry of Jesus was a fulfilment of the prophecy of the Holy Spirit in God’s Servant - Isaiah 42:1-4.

  1. Motivated by the Holy Spirit

Jesus drew His joy from the Holy Spirit, eg when He saw how God worked through the ministry of the 70 He sent out – Luke 10:21. The joy Jesus had from the Holy Spirit was with Him at all times. But he rejoiced in a special way when He saw how God used ordinary people to do great miracles and how God gave them power over demons.

We, too, can have the joy of the Holy Spirit when we are walking in obedience to the Lord and being used by Him.

  1. Holy Spirit’s Power Challenged

The Pharisees claimed Jesus cast out demons by the power of Beelzebub (notice that they did not deny these power encounters had taken place). According to Jesus, this constituted blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, an unpardonable sin. He showed it was unreasonable to believe Satan would cast out Satan. What is described here is a “power encounter” – the Holy Spirit overcoming demonic oppression/possession.

Jesus made it clear He was casting out demons “by the Spirit of God” – Matthew 12:22-32; Mark 3:22-30; Luke 11:15-20; 12:10. Indicated this manifestation of the Spirit showed the Kingdom of God was in operation among them and for their benefit – Matthew 12:28.

This does not necessarily mean most people who judge speaking in tongues or claim that the gifts of the Spirit are not for today (the position of some Christian churches) are not going to be pardoned (as some suggest); it simply means they have been taught incorrectly. The Pharisees, on the other hand, were rejecting God’s salvation in Jesus and in so doing placing themselves beyond redemption.

  1. Present During the Crucifixion

The Holy Spirit was with Jesus as He died on the cross, enabling Him to submit Himself as our ultimate sacrifice. He was also with Him when He presented His blood “without spot to God” – Hebrews 9:14. That sacrifice on our behalf was accepted by God as being sufficient to cover and forgive our sin, once and for all.

  1. The Resurrection of Jesus

The Holy Spirit was involved in the resurrection of Jesus – Romans 1:4; 8:11; 1 Peter 3:18. He makes us alive spiritually (and will resurrect us at the coming of Jesus).

  1. The Post-Resurrection Ministry of Jesus

Between His resurrection and ascension Jesus gave instructions to His Disciples, through the Holy Spirit – Acts 1:2 (consistent with His ministry prior to the crucifixion, eg John 14:10, 14).

In the heavenly realm He fulfilled His promise to send the Holy Spirit upon the waiting disciples – Acts 2:33, as He continues to do today.

Discussion – Jesus’ relationship with the Holy Spirit is an example for us to follow; what does all this mean for our lives as Christians?


Jesus taught His disciples about the Holy Spirit (little of this was to the crowds).

The life and ministry of Jesus Christ show what the Holy Spirit can do in a yielded life. As we learn to live in the Spirit, He will reveal Himself to us in all His fullness, and His power will work through us in our lives

  1. The Inspirer of the Word of God

Jesus taught the Scriptures were “inspired” (lit. “breathed”) by the Holy Spirit, eg Matthew 22:43, 44; Mark 12:36. Same ruach/breath that gives us life.

  1. The Father’s Good Gift

The climax of Jesus teaching on prayer was a promise that the Father would give the Holy Spirit (a gift, not earned) – Luke 11:9-13 (implied in Matthew 7:7-11). Refer also Acts 2:32-33.

  1. Present to Help in Time of Persecution

Jesus sent the disciples out with the promise the Holy Spirit would be with them to provide help in time of persecution – Matthew 10:16-20; Mark 13:9-11; Luke 12:11, 12; 21:12-15. They were to rely on Him, not human wisdom. The promise applies (and works) in the persecuted church today (cf John 15:16; 16:2; Matthew 28:20). “Witness” in Acts 1:8 comes from “martys”.

  1. Active in The New Birth

Jesus described the new birth (conversion, becoming a Christian) as the work of the Holy Spirit. “Born of the Spirit” - John 3:5, 6, 8.

  1. Like Springs of Living Water

Jesus described the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as “springs of living water” – John 7:37-39. Fulfilled when the Holy Spirit came on the church at Pentecost.

(The Holy Spirit had been with the disciples, but not yet in them, cf John 14:17.)

  1. Enabling Worshippers in the Spirit

Solomon knew God could not be limited to a temple in Jerusalem – 2 Chronicles 6:18.

Jesus taught that true worshippers worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth – John 4:23-24. Worship is not fundamentally about physical spaces, rituals, but is spiritual by nature.

We are the temple of the Holy Spirit (Jesus even indicated this about Himself – John 2:19). When He is in us He helps us become genuine worshippers.

  1. The Comforter

Para” = “to the side of” + “kletos” = “to call or summon”, ie one called to help, aid, advise, counsel.

The Spirit of Truth, to teach us, guide us into all truth – John 14:16; 16:12, 13. He would bring everything to the memory of the Disciples, so that their witness to the Gospel would be true. He gives us illumination, not just intellectual understanding.

John calls the Holy Spirit’s teaching work an anointing – 1 John 2:20, 27. What is the proof of this anointing? Jesus is glorified! As the comforter the Holy Spirit teaches us and convinces sinners of the truth.

Prerequisite: Jesus had to go away first.

  1. Convicting and Convincing the World

The purpose of convicting men is to bring them to repentance. John 16:8-11. Only He can convince human hearts; a supernatural encounter, not just an intellectual argument appealing to human logic.

  1. Breathed on the Disciples

Read John 20:19-23. Three interpretations:

Jesus treated the impartation as real when it occurred. The disciples were already in right relationship to God when this happened.

  1. Baptism in the Name of the Holy Spirit

Jesus commanded the disciples to include the Holy Spirit in the formula for baptism – Matthew 28:19.

  1. Power to be Witnesses

Disciples commanded to wait for the Holy Spirit’s power, to make them witnesses – Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8. When we go out we do so in Jesus’ authority.

Discussion –application in our lives. Drawing/remaining close to the Holy Spirit; a relationship characterised by asking/seeking/knocking, listening and obedience. Live as though all true.



Section OverviewArticle List