TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

II. God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit

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Chapter 4  Part II

God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit

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The NT speaks of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit as three identities, but also shows them as being related to each other in a unique unity. This is in part due to divine attributes and roles being attributed to each of them. Since the 4th century the church has viewed their relationship in terms of the Doctrine of the Trinity – the concept of them being three “persons” but one substance.

This close-knit relationship between God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is still one of the most intriguing and debated aspects of the Bible. The following provides some basic “building blocks” for coming to terms with it.

Mutual Association

God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are very closely associated

Matt 28:19  [Jesus, to his disciples:] Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit …  NET

The phrase “the name of” denotes a single name. Here it is applied to all three of the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. As such it points to a very close relationship between the three.

2Cor 13:14  [Paul, to believers:] The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  NCV™

The close association of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is pointed to by the attributing of these complementary blessings to the three of them at the one time.

The Holy Spirit is identified with God . . .

Acts 5:3, 4b  But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back for yourself part of the proceeds from the sale of the land? 4… You have not lied to people but to God!”  NET

Peter indicates that to lie to the Holy Spirit (v. 3) is to lie to God (v. 4). As such Peter identifies the Holy Spirit with God.

. . . and the Holy Spirit is also identified with Jesus Christ

2Cor 3:17-18  [Paul, to believers:] Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom. 18And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  NET

There are a number of interpretations of “the Lord is the Spirit” (v. 17) and “the Lord, who is the Spirit” (v. 18). The ones that are arguably the most plausible are compatible with a literal reading, demonstrating the very close association between the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is described as both the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Jesus Christ

Rom 8:9  [Paul, to believers:] You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him.  NET

This not only closely correlates the Holy Spirit with God and with Jesus Christ, it also associates Jesus Christ with God, with the one Spirit being said to be of them both.

God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit work together in unity of purpose . . .

John 20:21-22  So Jesus said to them [the disciples] again, “Peace be with you. Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.” 22And after he said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  NET

The Father sent Jesus Christ to carry out his purposes and Jesus Christ sends his people empowered with the Holy Spirit to continue his work.

. . . Most prominently, they work together in saving people

Acts 5:31-32  [Peter and the other apostles:] God exalted him to his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32And we are witnesses of these events, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.  NET

Verse 32 points to the Holy Spirit’s role in the salvation of people, witnessing to them. This work of the Holy Spirit is in conjunction with God’s will, and with what God has done through Jesus Christ (v. 31) to save people.

 Questions for Section A

Mutual Divine Attributes

The listings here and in the following section of mutual divine attributes and roles are not comprehensive. Note that the subsections generally are composed of six verses – of which the first pair refers to God, the second pair to Jesus Christ and the third pair to the Holy Spirit.

Omnipresence – God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are everywhere

Jer 23:24b  “Do you not know that I am everywhere?” the Lord asks.  NET

Eph 4:10b  Christ did that to fill everything with his presence.  NCV™

Ps 139:7  [David, to God:] Where can I go to get away from your Spirit? Where can I run from you?  NCV™

Omnipotence – they each have infinite, sovereign power

Job 42:2  I know, Lord, that you are all-powerful; that you can do everything you want.  GNT

Phil 3:20b-21  Our Lord Jesus Christ 21has power over everything, and he will make these poor bodies of ours like his own glorious body.  CEV

1Jn 4:4  [John, to believers:] You are from God, little children, and have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.  NET

As noted earlier, “the one who is in you” – who is greater than Satan – is most likely referring to the Holy Spirit. As such this is illustrative of the Holy Spirit’s supreme power.

Omniscience – they each have complete knowledge

1Jn 3:20  If our conscience condemns us, we know that God is greater than our conscience and that he knows everything.  GNT

John 16:30a  [Jesus’ disciples, to Jesus:] Now we know that you know everything and do not need anyone to ask you anything.  NET

1Cor 2:10b  For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  NET

The Holy Spirit searches out or finds out all things (cf. CEV, NCV, NLT).

Divine glory

Num 14:21  [God:] But truly, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord.  NET

Matt 25:31  When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  NET

1Pet 4:14  [Peter, to believers:] If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you.  NET

Eternal existence

Ps 93:2  [A psalmist, to God:] Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.  ESV

Rev 22:13  [Jesus Christ:] I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end!  NET

Alpha and Omega are the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet, used together to depict Jesus Christ spanning all time – as do the subsequent pairings in the verse.

Heb 9:14a  How much more is done by the blood of Christ. He offered himself through the eternal Spirit as a perfect sacrifice to God.  NCV™

Holiness

Rev 4:8b  “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God, the All–Powerful, Who was and who is, and who is still to come!”  NET

John 6:69  [The disciples, to Jesus:] We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God!  NET

Heb 10:15a  The Holy Spirit also tells us about this.  NCV™

 Questions for Section B

Mutual Divine Roles

Common divine roles reflect the fact that God works through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. This is also reflected in some of the above cross references. Note that the latter roles are not exclusively divine in every sense, with believers also having roles akin to them.

God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are each ascribed a primary role in creation

1Cor 8:6  But for us, “There is only one God, the Father. Everything came from him, and we live for him. There is only one Lord, Jesus Christ. Everything came into being through him, and we live because of him.”  GW

Job 33:4  [Elihu:] The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.  NET

They each give spiritual or eternal life

1Jn 5:11b  God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  NET

John 5:21  For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes.  NET

John 6:63a  The Spirit is the one who gives life; human nature is of no help!  NET

They each make God’s people holy

Lev 20:8  Obey my laws, because I am the Lord and I make you holy.  GNT

Eph 5:25-27  Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her 26to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, 27so that he may present the church to himself as glorious – not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless.  NET

Rom 15:16b  [Paul:] I do this in order that I might bring the nations to God as an acceptable offering, made holy by the Holy Spirit.  GW

They each are constantly with God’s people

Deut 31:8  [Moses, to the Israelites:] The Lord will lead you into the land. He will always be with you and help you, so don’t ever be afraid of your enemies.  CEV

Matt 28:20b  [Jesus, to his disciples:] And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.  NET

John 14:17b  [Jesus, to his disciples:] But you know the Spirit, who is with you and will keep on living in you.  CEV

They each strengthen God’s people

Isa 41:10b  I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will support you with my victorious right hand.  GW

Phil 4:13  I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.  GW

Acts 1:8  [Jesus, to his disciples:] But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.  NET

They each teach God’s people

Isa 48:17b  [God, to Israel:] I am the Lord your God. I teach you what is best for you. I lead you where you should go.  GW

2Tim 2:7  [Paul, to Timothy:] Think about what I am saying and the Lord will give you understanding of all this.  NET

John 14:26  [Jesus, to his disciples:] But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you.  NET

They each give God’s people joy and peace

Rom 15:13  [Paul, to believers:] Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  NET

John 15:11  [Jesus, to his disciples:] I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.  NET

John 14:27  [Jesus, to his disciples:] Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage.  NET

Gal 5:22-23  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, and self–control. Against such things there is no law.  NET

 Questions for Section C

Pray for persecuted Christians