Q: The introduction to the first quarter 2017 Sabbath school lesson, “The Holy Spirit and Spirituality,” quotes from Fundamental Belief Number 5, “God, the Holy Spirit.” In part, it reads, “God the eternal Spirit … is as much a person as are the Father and the Son.” Does this mean that the Holy Spirit has a physical body and is visible as Christ was on Earth? — Williams, from Denmark
A: Williams, I’m glad that you are studying the Sabbath School lessons on the Holy Spirit and Spirituality and hope that you are finding them to be a blessing!
Personhood — at least for God — doesn’t depend upon having a physical form, as it does for human beings. While the Bible speaks about both the Father and the Son having a physical form (Exodus 31:18; 33:20-23; Joshua 5:13-6:2), it refers to the third member of the Godhead as the Holy Spirit. The idea of Him being a “spirit” indicates that He is without physical form.
Nevertheless, He is very much a person. In fact, our Sabbath School lesson this week, “The Personality of the Holy Spirit,” is an excellent study on the Personhood of the Holy Spirit.
For those who may not have a copy of this quarter’s Adult Bible Study Guide, or who would like an electronic version, go to free online at www.absg.adventist.org. The Adult Bible Study Guide is also available free in many other languages at www.sabbathschoolpersonalministries.org/international.
In addition to this quarter’s Sabbath School lessons, you may find other helpful information in an excellent paper by Dr. Raul Dederen, titled, “Reflections on the Doctrine of the Trinity.”
Dr. Dederen writes, “A careful examination of the New Testament writings … leaves us little doubt that their authors thought of the Spirit as a fully personal ‘he’ and not ‘it.’ …
“He has intelligence (John 14:26; 15:26; Romans 8:16), a will (Acts 16:7; 1 Corinthians 12:11), and affections (Ephesians 4:30). Furthermore, He performs acts proper to personality. He is said to speak expressly (1 Timothy 4:1), to send (Acts 10:20), to prevent (Acts 16:7), to command (Acts 11:12), to forbid (Acts 16:6), to call ministers of the gospel (Acts 13:2), to appoint them to their spheres of duty (Acts 20:28), to make intercession (Romans 8:26, 27), to be grieved and tempted (Ephesians 4:30; Acts 5:19), as well as to dwell in Christians as His temple (1 Corinthians 31:16; 6:19), and to comfort them (John 14:16, 17).
“These qualities and actions are more commonly identified with human personality and cannot be attributed to some mere power or influence. And this person is God since lying unto the Spirit is lying unto God, as Peter declares to Ananias in Acts 5:3, 4.”
To access the full paper, visit the website of the Biblical Research Institute.