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The Personhood of the Holy Spirit in John and Acts: A Narrative Approach

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The Personhood of the Holy Spirit in John and Acts: A Narrative Approach

Robert M. Bowman Jr.

OVERVIEW: The New Testament reveals that the Holy Spirit is a divine person, distinct from the Father and the Son. This truth, not revealed explicitly in the Old Testament, is introduced for the first time explicitly by Jesus the night before his crucifixion in his Upper Room discourse to the apostles, in which he explained that the Holy Spirit would continue his work after his return to the Father in heaven (John 14-16). The Book of Acts then gives a historical narrative of the Holy Spirit doing just what Jesus promised he would—speaking to the apostles, giving them boldness to bear testimony to Jesus as the crucified and risen Lord, confirming the blessing of the gospel to Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles, and guiding and directing the church in its mission. The presentation of the Holy Spirit as a person functioning in the historical events of the church’s early years confirms that the references in John and Acts to the Holy Spirit cannot be explained away as personification.

The article is presented here in six parts (click on each title below to go directly to that page). It is recommended to read through the whole article in sequence, as the parts present an ordered argument that builds from one step to the next.

Part One: The Holy Spirit in John and Acts: A Narrative Approach
Part Two: The Holy Spirit as the Promised Successor in Jesus’ Farewell Address in John
Part Three: The Holy Spirit as the Paraclete in John
Part Four: The Holy Spirit and Jesus the Son in John
Part Five: The Holy Spirit as an Active Character in the Book of Acts
Part Six: The Holy Spirit in John and Acts—Person or Personification?