Q&A: The Works of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament

The Works of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament

What sorts of things did the Spirit of the Lord do in the Old Testament that suggest that the Spirit was God himself?

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Answer

What did the Holy Spirit do before Christ in Old Testament times that would indicate that he is God? We begin with Genesis chapter 1 verse 2 in which we find the Spirit of the Lord hovering over the face of the deep. So, as God creates the heavens and the earth and the earth was formless and void, a watery situation, the Spirit is hovering like a dove. The idea here, I think, is protecting and preparing this watery substance for God's future work, constructing a world which would be hospitable for you and me. And so, the Spirit is engaged in creation, which is obviously a divine work. Secondly, we see the Spirit work in specific leaders in the people of God and the people of Israel. The Spirit would stir up judges, would come upon kings, would speak through prophets, indicating that he is God who is going to liberate his people through judges who will rule his people, through kings who will speak to his people, through prophets. These are all divine activities, and the Spirit is engaged in them. Thirdly, we see the Holy Spirit in prophetic literature pointing out that he will be the one who anoints Messiah, who will become, not only a Savior to the people of Israel, but to the Gentile nations as well. So, the Spirit connected with the Messiah. The Spirit is going to accompany the Messiah in terms of his work of salvation. Salvation is also a divine work. So, we see the Spirit as creator, as the one who comes upon and leads and empowers judges and kings and prophets, and the one who will be associated when Messiah, who will bring salvation to the world.

Answer by Dr. Gregg R. Allison

Dr. Gregg R. Allison is professor of Christian theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.