The Bible’s Viewpoint
What Is God’s Holy Spirit?
“Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized and, as he was praying, the heaven was opened up and the holy spirit in bodily shape like a dove came down upon him, and a voice came out of heaven: ‘You are my Son, the beloved; I have approved you.’”—Luke 3:21, 22.
IN A speech to a group of philosophers in ancient Greece, the apostle Paul called God the “Lord of heaven and earth.” It is this God, Paul stated, who “made the world and all the things in it” and who “gives to all persons life and breath and all things.” (Acts 17:24-28) How does God accomplish all of this? It is by means of his holy spirit, or active force.
The Bible also explains that God has an “abundance of dynamic energy, he also being vigorous in power.” (Isaiah 40:26) Yes, God created the entire universe, which manifests his dynamic energy and power.
Power in Action
It would not be quite accurate to say that the holy spirit is God’s power. This is because power can be latent, or inactively resident, in someone or something, such as power stored in a charged but unused battery. The Scriptures, however, present God’s spirit in the context of being in motion, somewhat like the electric current that flows from a battery in use. (Genesis 1:2) Hence, God’s holy spirit is his projected energy, his active force.
The Bible sometimes speaks of the holy spirit as accomplishing a certain task or of its being in a different location from God. (Matthew 28:19, 20; Luke 3:21, 22; Acts 8:39; 13:4; 15:28, 29) Some who have read such passages assume that the holy spirit has its own identity apart from God. Why is this language used in the Scriptures? Is the holy spirit an entity separate from God?
Almighty God exists on a plane completely beyond that of his material creation. He is a spirit, invisible to our limited senses. (John 4:24) The Bible says that Jehovah God dwells in the heavens and that from there he gazes on mankind. (Psalm 33:13, 14) This is understandable. The Creator must be greater than the elements he is working with. He masters them, manipulates them, forms them, and controls them.—Genesis 1:1.
From his invisible dwelling place, God can cause things to happen anytime and anywhere. Hence, he does not need to be at the location at which his active force operates. He can send his spirit to accomplish a task. (Psalm 104:30) This may be easily understood by people in modern times who operate household appliances by means of wireless remote control. Today we recognize the power of invisible forces such as electricity or infrared waves. Likewise, with his invisible holy force, or spirit, God can accomplish whatever he sets out to do, without transferring himself from one place to another.—Isaiah 55:11.
In Bible times this concept may have been difficult to grasp. Speaking of the holy spirit as a separate force undoubtedly helped readers to comprehend how God exercises his power even though he does not personally place himself at the location of its operation. When the Bible refers to the holy spirit as having done this or that, it is in effect saying that God himself has projected or exerted his power on persons or things to accomplish his will.
The Various Operations of the Holy Spirit
Jehovah made use of holy spirit in the creation of all animate and inanimate things. (Psalm 33:6) God also used it to destroy a violent and unrepentant generation of people by means of a deluge. (Genesis 6:1-22) It was this same active force that God used to transfer the precious life of his Son to the womb of the Jewish virgin Mary.—Luke 1:35.
At times, the spirit energized men to speak the truth boldly and courageously before enemies, often at the risk of their lives. (Micah 3:8) And there are many instances in the Bible, especially involving prophecy, when men and women were given special insight or understanding by means of this force. Since no human can foretell with accuracy what the future holds, this is an outstanding operation of the spirit.—2 Peter 1:20, 21.
The spirit can also give individuals miraculous powers. For example, by means of this force, Jesus could control the forces of nature, heal sicknesses, and even raise the dead. (Luke 4:18-21; 8:22-26, 49-56; 9:11) The spirit was instrumental in organizing and energizing the early Christians to serve as God’s witnesses to all the earth.—Acts 1:8; 2:1-47; Romans 15:18, 19; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.
God’s Power Exerted in Our Behalf
Is it possible for God’s human servants today to tap this unlimited source of energy? Yes! God grants a measure of holy spirit to his people to help them understand and accomplish his will. He grants his spirit to those who make a sincere, prayerful request, who have the right heart motivation, and who conform to his requirements. (1 Corinthians 2:10-16) That spirit can equip imperfect humans with “power beyond what is normal,” enabling them to serve God faithfully despite obstacles. Certainly, then, it is the desire of all God-fearing people to receive and retain God’s spirit.—2 Corinthians 4:7; Luke 11:13; Acts 15:8; Ephesians 4:30.
Soon God will use this dynamic force to stop the injustice and suffering in this wicked world, thereby sanctifying his great and holy name. Holy spirit will affect the whole world for good, and its fruitage will be evident for all to see, giving glory to its Originator.—Galatians 5:22, 23; Revelation 21:3, 4.