The Holy Spirit—one of the persons of the Trinity, referred to as “God” in Acts 5:3-4—has many other names and titles. Most of them indicate an aspect of His function in, or ministry through, the Christian’s life.
Here are a few that might be highlighted.
1. He is “the Spirit.”
“The Spirit” and “Holy Spirit” are the most commonly used names for the Spirit of God. People sometimes use the word “it” in reference to the Spirit; but those who do so neuter and depersonalize Him. The Spirit is not simply an influence or force. As a person, He can be resisted (Acts 7:51), quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19), and grieved (Ephesians 4:30).
One with the Father and the Son, the Spirit was present as an agent of creation (see Genesis 1:1-2). The word used in Genesis is ruach or “breath.” The Spirit’s power breathed out creation. A similar phrase is “the Breath of the Almighty” in Job 33:4. The Spirit also “breathed out” the record of the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21).
The Father and the Son sent the Spirit to mankind (John 14:16; 16:7) and He acted on their behalf. He continues to act as an agent of the new birth (John 3:5-6). Before His New Testament dwelling in believers’ hearts, His presence could depart (Psalm 51:11; 1 Samuel 16:13-14), but now believers are secure in the Spirit (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30).
2. He is the “Good Spirit.”
Believers receive wonderful gifts through the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11). Luke says, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” The Spirit distributes gifts “just as he determines” (1 Corinthians 12:11).
He not only gives good gifts, He is God’s good gift. Nehemiah says the “good Spirit” was given to instruct God’s people (9:20). David prayed, “Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths” (Psalm 25:4). The Holy Spirit can teach us the Father’s will and ways.
A wise prayer for Christians desiring spiritual stability is, “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (Psalm 143:10). Paul encouraged believers to “walk in the Spirit”—keeping in step with Him and applying Scripture in daily living (Galatians 5:25; Romans 8:14). The Spirit who is good and holy desires to lead us in God’s good and holy paths.
3. He is "the Eternal Spirit."
Some people believe the Spirit of God suddenly came into being after Jesus’ resurrection (John 14:16); but that ignores other scriptural teaching. The Spirit was always present in the Holy Trinity.
Hebrews 9:14 speaks of “the eternal Spirit.” He hovered over the face of the waters during creation (Genesis 1:1-2) and was present in man’s creation (Genesis 1:26). We are “sealed” in Him (Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; 2 Corinthians 1:22)—He’s the guarantee of our spiritual inheritance. When believers sin, they effectively shut down the Holy Spirit’s working in their lives so that they lose blessings and joy in the Spirit’s presence, but He will not withdraw His presence.
Jesus said the Spirit would be with us forever. Randy Alcorn, in His book Heaven, said, “We can surmise that the Holy Spirit will be involved in creating the new heavens and New and likely move in our hearts to glorify and worship the Father and Son.” (See: Isaiah 32:15; John 16:14; and Revelation 19:1-10.)
4. He is “the Lord.”
Christians call Jesus “Lord” and worship the “Lord God,” but the Holy Spirit is also called “Lord” in 2 Corinthians 3:17: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
The Nicene Creed states, “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. Who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified….” Also, 2 Samuel 23:2 refers to “the Spirit of the Lord.”
The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all rightly called “Lord”—there’s no competition in the Godhead. To say the Holy Spirit is “Lord” is to affirm His personhood and divinity in the Trinity. He is worthy of worship, just like the Father and Son (John 4:23-24).
We can withstand the Spirit’s Lordship by resisting His wooing, quenching His rule—His right to authority over our lives—and grieving Him through disobedience (Acts 7:51; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30). We must rather learn to walk in “the Power of the Highest” and obey His promptings.
5. He is the Paraclete.
The Greek word translated as “helper” in reference to the Spirit is parakletos. There are two main ways believers experience the parakletos.
The more formal or technical form of parakletos is a legal concept—the Spirit is our advocate or parakleton. An advocate pleads a case before a righteous judge. Scripture teaches Jesus is our advocate before the Father (1 John 2:1), because His sacrifice on the cross enables Him to plead our case. He understands our case, having been tempted—yet without sin—so He can represent us experientially.
But Jesus said the Holy Spirit is also our advocate (John 14:16, 26; 16:26; 16:7). Jesus called the Holy Spirit alongside to help us resist sin after we are declared “not guilty.” So in a wider context, the parakletos is the “Helper” Jesus promised.
- He intercedes for us and guides our prayers (Romans 8:26-27)
- Counsels us according to truth—just as Jesus, the “Wonderful Counselor” does (Isaiah 11:2; 9:6),
- Comforts us (John 14:26)
- Convicts of sin (John 16:8-11)
6. He is the “Spirit of ….”
Many of the Holy Spirit’s names or titles begin with the words, “Spirit of.” Some of these designations are forms of His personhood in the Trinity.
- The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord (Isaiah 61:1)
- The Spirit of the living God (2 Corinthians 3:3)
- The “Spirit of your Father” (Matthew 10:20)
He is also called:
- The Spirit of life (Romans 8:2)
- The Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29)
- The Spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10)
- The Spirit of truth (John 14:17; 15:26)
- The Spirit of holiness (Romans 1:4)
- The Spirit of wisdom and revelation (Ephesians 1:17)
- The Spirit of justice or judgment (Isaiah 28:6)
- The Spirit of fire or burning (Isaiah 4:4)
- The Spirit of glory (1 Peter 4:14)
Many of the “Spirit of” names come from Isaiah 11:2— the Spirit of counsel and of might… of the knowledge and fear of the LORD. This is sometimes referred to as the “seven spirits of God” (see also Revelation 1:4). Some scholars say these are symbolic names, because the number seven refers not to seven separate spirits, but rather the completeness and perfection of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit’s names and titles are useful in helping us understand His many manifestations—all that He does for us, and His magnificent role in the Trinity.
Dawn Wilson and her husband Bob live in Southern California. They have two married sons and three granddaughters. Dawn assists author and radio host Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth with research and works with various departments at Revive Our Hearts. She is the founder and director of Heart Choices Today, publishes Upgrade with Dawn, and writes for Crosswalk.com and Christianity.com. Dawn also travels with her husband in ministry with Pacesetter Global Outreach.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Mohamed Nohassi