Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The deity of the Spirit

There are some neglected arguments for the deity of the Holy Spirit. One line of evidence is the role of the Spirt in the inspiration of Scripture. The agency of the Spirit is what makes the words of a prophet the word of God. He speaks the word of God because God speaks to him or through him in the person of the Spirit. The prophet has an instrumental role whereas the Spirit has a constitutive role. 

Another line of evidence is Paul's temple theology:

16 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple (1 Cor 3:16-17). 
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (1 Cor 6:19-20).
Certain OT passages lie in the background:

11 I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people (Lev 26:11-12). 
34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle (Exod 40:34-35). 
10 And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord (1 Kgs 8:10-11). 
3 Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the house, when the man went in, and a cloud filled the inner court. 4 And the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub to the threshold of the house, and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the Lord…18 Then the glory of the Lord went out from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim (Ezk 10:3-4,18). 
2 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. 3 And the vision I saw was just like the vision that I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and just like the vision that I had seen by the Chebar canal. And I fell on my face. 4 As the glory of the Lord entered the temple by the gate facing east, 5 the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple (Ezk 43:2,4-5).
This is an argument from analogy or a fortiori argument. The Shekinah is to the Spirit as the body is to the tabernacle or temple. The Shekinah was a theophany. A visible manifestation of God's presence. The Shekinah is what made the tabernacle or temple God's dwelling-place as well as the meeting place between God and Israel.

By analogy, the Spirit takes the place of the Shekiniah in the church. As the Shekinah indwelt the tabernacle or temple, the Spirit indwells the church (i.e. Christians individually or collectively). 

What is more, this is an argument from the lesser to the greater. The Shekinah was an empirical symbol of God's presence. An emblem of God dwelling among his people. 

By contrast, the Spirit's presence is invisible. That's because the Spirit doesn't merely represent God. Rather, the Spirit is God. The Shekinah was discernible. A sensory object. The Spirit is indiscernible, for God is indiscernible. Yet the indiscernible God can produce discernible effects (e.g. sanctification). 


  1. A similar argument for Christ deity can be made using Matt. 12:6 (cf. John 1:14 where "dwelt" can be translated "tabernacled"; Rev. 21:3; Matt. 1:23d).

    I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.- Matt. 12:6.

    To claim to be "greater than the temple" is tantamount to claiming to be God since the temple is where it was believed the God of Israel dwelt on earth in a special way over and above His general omnipresence.

    It's also interesting that the Gospel of John teaches that all three person of the Trinity can indwell believers.

    Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.- John 14:23

    In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.- John 14:20

    even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.- John 14:17

    These passages are consistent with the doctrine of perichoresis or circumincession and explains why having the the Spirit of Christ is to have the Holy Spirit.

    You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.- Rom. 8:9

    16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.- 2 Cor. 3:16-18

    And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"- Gal. 4:6

    inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.- 1 Pet. 1:11

    Similarly, the omnipresence of Father, Son, and Spirit are also taught in Scripture. For example:

    23 "Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away?24 Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.- Jer. 23:23-24

    Of Christ:
    which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.- Eph. 1:23

    Of the Holy Spirit:
    7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!- Ps. 139:7-8

    Compare with the unity in power, will and activity of Spirit, Son, and Father in 1 Cor. 12:4

    4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord;6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.

  2. I've often been fond of using Hebrews 10:15-17 to demonstrate the deity of the Holy Spirit. In it, the author quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34 and attributes it to the Holy Spirit. When we look at Jeremiah 31, we see that it 1) quotes from "The Lord," 2) Indicates that He brought them out of Egypt, 3) Indicates that He made a covenant with them, 4) shows that He writes His law on their minds and 5) forgives their sins - not to mention the whole "I will be their God and they will be my people" part of it.

    I suppose an anti-trinitarian could just say that the author of Hebrews meant that the Spirit merely "inspired" the Jeremiah account, but he attributes the quotes directly to the Spirit.