The Holy Spirit: Who & Where He Is

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”
John 16:13-14

Who Is The Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is called the “Comforter” in some English translations of the Bible. For instance, the American King James Version translates John 14:26 as, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.” Similarly, the American Standard Version, King James Version, and English Revised Version all translate the Greek word paraclete as “Comforter.”

Paraclete, like many Greek words, is hard to translate into English because there is no perfect English equivalent. Basically, a paraclete is “one who is called alongside”; the implication is that a paraclete gives support or help of some kind. Used only by the apostle John in his gospel and first epistle, the word paraclete refers to the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; and 16:7) and, in one instance, for Jesus (1 John 2:1). In each case, the word can be translated as “Helper,” “Counselor,” “Comforter,” or “Advocate.” Translating the word as “Helper,” as the ESV and NKJV do in the gospel passages, provides a more encompassing term for the different aspects of the Holy Spirit’s ministries. He does more than comfort, after all; He also guides, seals, baptizes, regenerates, sanctifies, and convicts.

Jesus stated He would send “another” paraclete (John 14:16), meaning that He Himself had served as a paraclete during His earthly ministry. He had been the One guiding the disciples, but now He would send the Holy Spirit as their Guide and Counselor and Comforter. In context, Jesus is comforting the eleven faithful disciples during the Last Supper, telling them not to be afraid and promising that their sorrow would turn to joy (John 14:1; 16:21). He would be leaving them, but another Helper or Comforter would be on the way—God would send the Holy Spirit (cf. Luke 24:49). When the word paraclete is used of Jesus in 1 John 2:1, translations are nearly unanimous in using the word advocate. Jesus is our intercessor before the Father.

God comforts His children. He is the “God of all comfort,” and we can know His peace even in the midst of trials: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:3–5).

God comforts us in many ways: through the wonderful promises of His Word, through fellow believers, and of course through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. The Spirit is our Comforter, and He is so much more: our Counselor, Encourager, and Helper. He is always present to bring comfort to the children of God (Psalm 34:18; 139:7–8).

Where Is The Holy Spirit?

Scripture tells us that the Father is in heaven and the Son is at His right hand (Matthew 6:9; 23:9; Romans 8:34). But where is the Holy Spirit? Can we assign Him a location?

As God, the Holy Spirit is omnipresent. At the same time, He is present in a special way in God’s people. According to 1 Corinthians 6:19–20, the Holy Spirit dwells within every believer in Jesus Christ. The bodies of Christians are His temple (1 Corinthians 3:16).

We know that the Holy Spirit was sent by the Father. Jesus comforted His followers before He was crucified by saying, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26); and, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever” (John 14:16). Jesus’ promise was fulfilled in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit indwelled and empowered the disciples in Jerusalem.

The Holy Spirit did not always indwell God’s people. The Holy Spirit appeared only sporadically in the Old Testament. Rather than dwell within the hearts of people as He would do after the ministry of Christ, the Holy Spirit temporarily came upon certain men in the Old Testament to enable them to carry out God’s plan. He came upon Moses and then upon the seventy leaders Moses chose to help him (Numbers 11:16–17, 25). He came upon King Saul (1 Samuel 10:6; 19:23). He came upon David when Samuel anointed him as the next king (1 Samuel 16:13). He came upon Balaam to give him a prophecy (Numbers 24:2).

In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit would come and go. After God’s work had been accomplished on a specific occasion, or when people began to disobey the Lord, the Spirit would depart. He departed from Saul (1 Samuel 16:14). He departed from Samson (Judges 16:20). His filling, empowering presence was not permanent in any individual at that time; rather, the Spirit “rested on” or “came upon” individuals who had a divine task to accomplish. God worked differently with humanity before the coming of His Son, Jesus (John 3:16–18). When God had an earthly temple, that was the place where His Spirit dwelt among His people (Exodus 25:8; 2 Chronicles 7:16). But when Jesus died, the veil in the temple was torn in two (Mark 15:38). God ushered in a new “temple” for His Spirit—the body and soul of every believer who receives Jesus as Lord and Savior (John 1:12; Romans 10:9–10).

Because He dwells in us, the Holy Spirit helps us pray (Romans 8:26). He comforts us (Psalm 34:18; 2 Corinthians 1:4). And He gives us words to say when we speak on His behalf (Luke 12:12). The Holy Spirit is everywhere that believers go. That’s one reason Christians must remain aware of their actions and attitudes. Because He lives in us, we are warned not to grieve or quench Him (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19). We take Him with us wherever we go, and He is a part of everything we are doing. We develop a healthy fear of the Lord when we live with the continual awareness that the Holy Spirit is watching and evaluating everything we think, say, and do (Job 28:28; Proverbs 9:10; 16:6).

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