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.
[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, … Matthew 28:19 NET
[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. 2 Corinthians 13:14 NET
Ananias had attempted to deceive the church, and in effect had lied to the Holy Spirit. Peter indicates that to lie to the Holy Spirit (v. 3) is to lie to God (v. 4). As such he identifies the Holy Spirit with God.
[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. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 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.
[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. Romans 8:9 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.
[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. Acts 5:31-32 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.
The listings here and in the following section of mutual divine attributes and roles are not comprehensive. Note that the subsections usually have three verses – of which the first refers to God, the second to Jesus Christ and the third to the Holy Spirit.
“Do you not know that I am everywhere?” the Lord asks. Jeremiah 23:24b NET
Christ did that to fill everything with his presence. Ephesians 4:10b NCV™
[David, to God:] Where can I go to get away from your Spirit? Where can I run from you? Psalms 139:7 NCV™
I know, Lord, that you are all-powerful; that you can do everything you want. Job 42:2 GNT
Our Lord Jesus Christ 21has power over everything … Philippians 3:20b-21a CEV
[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. 1 John 4:4 NET
[John, to believers:] If our conscience condemns us, we know that God is greater than our conscience and that he knows everything. 1 John 3:20 GNT
[Jesus’ disciples, to Jesus:] Now we know that you know everything and do not need anyone to ask you anything. John 16:30a NET
For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:10b NET
The Holy Spirit searches out or finds out all things (cf. CEV, NCV, NLT).
Common divine roles reflect the fact that God works through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
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.” 1 Corinthians 8:6 GW
[Elihu:] The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4 NET
God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 1 John 5:11b NET
For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. John 5:21 NET
The Spirit is the one who gives life; human nature is of no help! John 6:63a NET
Obey my laws, because I am the Lord and I make you holy. Leviticus 20:8 GNT
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. Ephesians 5:25-27 NET
[Paul:] I do this in order that I might bring the nations to God as an acceptable offering, made holy by the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:16b GW