Hidden treasure

Paul described the power of the Holy Spirit as being somewhat like hidden treasure in the hearts of believers. Paul stated, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). The Greek word translated power, dunamis refers specifically to miraculous power and usually by implication a miracle itself. “Dunamis almost always points to new and higher forces that have entered and are working in this lower world of ours” (G1411). One of the mechanisms Paul used to illustrate the hidden treasure inside the believer’s heart was to contrast his suffering with the supernatural ability he had been given to deal with it. Paul said, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down but not destroyed: always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).

Paul talked about a process of renewal that he compared to the renovation of a house. He said “but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). The Greek word translated renewed, anakainoo (an-ak-ahee-no’-o) has to do with the renewal of spiritual power (G341). Paul talked more about this renewal process in his letter to the Colossians. He said, “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Colossians 3:9-10). The Greek word translated knowledge is epignosis (ip-ig’-no-sis). Epignosis is about the Holy Spirit having a more powerful influence on the mind of the believer (G1922). When we submit ourselves to God’s will, the Holy Spirit is better able to lead us in the direction God wants us to go.

The argument Paul made for enduring suffering in this life was centered around the idea that development of the unseen power of the Holy Spirit would result in eternal glory or a never ending state of blessedness in the afterlife (G1391). Paul said, “The little troubles we suffer now for a short time are making us ready for the great things God is going to give us forever. We do not look at the things that can be seen. We look at the things that cannot be seen. The things that can be seen will come to an end. But the things that cannot be seen will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, NLV). Paul’s suggestion that the persecution Christians experience in this life are like little troubles compared to the great things we will receive in heaven was based on his understanding of eternity. According to Paul, eternal things do not wear out, grow old, or loose their attraction. Eternal things get better, stronger, and more satisfying as time goes on (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Suffering

Paul opened his second letter to the Corinthians with an explanation of why he hadn’t returned to visit them. Rather than sharing the details of what had happened to him , Paul talked about believers suffering. Paul told the Corinthians that God was their primary resource during difficult times and stated, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). The Greek word translated mercies, oiktirmos means pity (G3628). Oiktirmos has to do with the emotions of the heart and typically signifies compassion, a feeling of distress about the unfortunate circumstances of others.

Paul went on to explain that God comforts us in our suffering so that we can comfort others. The two Greek words Paul used that are translated comfort in 2 Corinthians 1:4 are parkaleo and paraklesis. These words mean, “to call to ones side” (G3870) or “a calling to one’s side (G3874). The idea Paul was conveying was togetherness. Paul wanted the Corinthians to know that God was by their sides when they went through difficult circumstances and he also stated that God comforts us “so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (1 Corinthians 1:4, ESV).

Paul didn’t state it specifically, but he somewhat implied by his use of the word comfort that he was talking about the Holy Spirit when he said “the God of all comfort” (1 Corinthians 1:3). Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as the “Comforter” (John 15:26). The Greek word translated Comforter, “parakletos is the one summoned, called to one’s side, especially called to one’s aid and is used of Christ in his exaltation at God’s right hand” (G3875). The Holy Spirit gives us divine strength so that we are able to undergo trials and persecutions on behalf of God’s kingdom.

One of the goals of a Christian’s life is to maintain peace and harmony (G4991). As we go through our daily routines, things can happen that interfere with our peaceful existence. Paul identified three kinds of suffering that Christians have to deal with in his explanation of why he hadn’t made it back to Corinth. First, Paul talked about tribulation (2 Corinthians 1:4) which can be anything that burdens our spirit (G2347). Paul also referred to this as trouble and said, “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8).

Paul also talked about the sufferings of Christ (2 Corinthians 1:5). At the heart Christ’s suffering were emotions that were caused by external influences on his mind (G3804). Most likely Paul was referring to spiritual warfare, but this kind of suffering can also be caused by people who are abusing us, those who try to manipulate us into doing things we don’t want to do. Another scenario Paul mentioned was being afflicted (2 Corinthians 1:6). Affliction is the pressure of circumstances (G2346). According to Paul, affliction is what bonds us with other believers. Out of affliction comes the notion that we are in this together. Paul was essentially trying to tell the Corinthians, I feel your pain and I wish I could be there with you.

Even though he was unable to visit them in person, Paul wanted the Corinthians to know they were very important to him. Paul took his ministry responsibility seriously and didn’t intend to just leave the Corinthians hanging. In order to assure them of his commitment to return, Paul reminded the Corinthians that God had called him to minister to them and said, “I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth” (2 Corinthians 1:23). Paul had intended to encourage the Corinthians when he returned for a second visit, but because of his own suffering, Paul decided to write to them rather than talk to the Corinthians face to face.

The power of God

During Paul’s two-year stay in Ephesus (Acts 19:10), a man named Apollos ministered to the Jews in Corinth. It says in Acts 19:27-28 that Apollos “helped them much which had believed through grace: for he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.” Apparently, Apollos’ method of teaching was different than Paul’s. Paul was opposed by the Jews in Corinth and it was there that he “shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go to the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6). Apollos on the other hand was born at Alexandria and was described as “an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures” (Acts 18:24), meaning Apollos was a great speaker that was probably able to captivate his audience with his relevant application of God’s word and understanding of Christian living.

The stark difference between Paul and Apollos’ styles of preaching caused the believers at Corinth to prefer one them over the other and to form subgroups or cliques that divided the congregation. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul addressed this problem in a very direct manner. He stated:

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1:10-12, ESV)

Paul’s argument against the divisions that were occurring in Corinth was that no man could claim credit for the salvation of others. Paul stated, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness: but unto us which are saved it is the power of God…For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:18, 21).

Paul’s reference to the foolishness of preaching in 1 Corinthians 1:21 was meant to stress the absurdity of the idea that a person could be saved by someone explaining the scriptures to him. Paul pointed out that a person had to be “called” or invited into God’s kingdom and that it was the power of God that made it possible for people to accept Christ and be born again (1 Corinthians 1:24). Therefore, Paul concluded, “that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:5). Paul went on to say that true wisdom was a gift from God and explained that the power of God was conveyed through his Holy Spirit. According to Paul, God can only reveal things to us through his Spirit and he stated, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10-11).

Baptism

When Paul returned to Ephesus during his third and final missionary journey, the topic of baptism came up. Paul’s conversation with the Ephesian believers is recorded in Acts 19:2-6 where it says:

He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

Paul’s differentiation between John’s baptism of repentance and the baptism of the Holy Spirit emphasized the fact that repentance was only one aspect of salvation and that it was insufficient for conversion or being born again. Paul’s interaction with the believers at Ephesus was probably a result of his awareness that there had been no change in their behavior in spite of their profession of faith. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul discussed the new life with Christ and talked about walking according to the course of this world (Ephesians 2:2). Paul told the Ephesians they “were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:2-4).

The Greek word Paul used that is translated quickened, suzoopoieo (sood-zo-op-oy-eh’o) means to reanimate conjointly with (G4806). Suzoopoieo is a contraction of the words sun (soon) and zoopoieo (dzo-op-oy-eh’o). These two words together convey the idea of a connection that facilitates co-life, somewhat like how Siamese twins sharing vital organs cannot be separated after birth. The Greek word zoopoieo refers specifically to resurrection life which involves the changing or fashioning anew of the bodies of the living. In this context, quicken means to be enabled to respond to the voice of God. “Once born again and indwelt by the Holy Ghost, one does not have to wait to be able to respond. Response comes fully and instantaneously” (G2227). Paul’s understanding of the baptism of the Holy Spirit seemed to include an aspect of shared power. Just like blood flowing through our physical veins, Paul seemed to see the Holy Spirit as a lifeforce that flows in and through the believer’s spiritual heart. According to Paul, without the baptism of the Holy Spirit, a believer was for all intents and purposes, still spiritually dead. In their conversation about being born again, Jesus told Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Spiritual fruit

After he identified the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21) and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), Paul went on to say that all Christians are personally responsible for the outcome of their spiritual lives (Galatians 6:4-5). Paul stated, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Paul intended that the principle of sowing and reaping would link spiritual activity with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. When he said, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance,” Paul meant that these characteristics would be produced by the Holy Spirit and become more and more visible over time in a Christian’s behavior if he or she remained in fellowship with God.

An important aspect of the principle of sowing and reaping was the idea that a particular type of seed produced a specific kind of fruit (e.g. you can’t grow an apple tree from an orange seed). Whatever kind of seed you started with was the only thing you were able to produce. Jesus’ parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-8) indicated that the seed that needed to be sown in order to reap the fruit of the Spirit was the word of God. In his explanation of this parable, Jesus said:

“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Matthew 13:19-23, ESV)

The Greek word translated understands in Matthew 13:23, suniemi (soon-ee’-ay-mee) is derived from the word sun (soon) which denotes union; “with or together, i.e. by association, companionship, process, resemblance, possession, instrumentality, addition, etc.” (G4862). Another way of describing the Greek word sun would be assimilation, the process of taking in and fully understanding information or ideas. Assimilation also refers to the absorption and digestion of food or nutrients by the body or any biological system (Oxford Dictionary).

The process of assimilating the word of God can take years, sometimes decades, or even an entire lifetime. What is important to note is that it is an intentional process, one that does not happen automatically. Otherwise, there would be no such thing as a carnal Christian, a person that is saved, but does not produce any spiritual fruit (1 Corinthians 3:3). Paul encouraged believers to stick with the process of spiritual growth, even if it seemed like nothing was happening. He said, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). In other words, your appointed time to be blessed by God may come when you least expect it, when you are past the point of giving up.

Paul’s calling

The first church that formed outside of Jerusalem was in Antioch. It became a hub of missionary activity and was probably known for its strong leadership and collaborative approach to preaching the gospel. Among those listed as prophets and teachers in Antioch was Barnabas and Saul, whom Luke identified as the first missionaries (Acts 13:4). He said, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them” (Acts 13:2). The Greek word translated separate, aphorizo (af-or-id’-zo) meant that Barnabas and Saul were being ordained to preach the gospel in a new capacity (G575/G3724). They were not going to stay at Antioch, but would be traveling to locations specified by the Holy Spirit. The Greek word translated called, proskaleomai (pros-kal-eh’-om-ahee) means “to call toward oneself that is summon invite” (G4341). You could say that Barnabas and Saul’s calling was an opportunity for them to work with the Holy Spirit in a similar way to what the twelve apostles did with Jesus while he was on Earth.

Barnabas and Saul’s departure from Antioch was an act of obedience as well as an act of faith. The first missionary journey, which took place A.D. 46-48, covered a distance of almost 1,000 miles, but it started out as just a sea voyage to the island of Cyprus where Barnabas was originally from. Luke recorded, “So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister” (Acts 13:4-5). John, who was surnamed Mark, the author of the Gospel of Mark, was Barnabas’ cousin (note on Acts 13:5). He may have joined Barnabas and Saul as an assistant of some type, perhaps because of his writing ability and knowledge of the Greek language. Even though he was not called to preach the gospel, John Mark may have been filled with the Holy Spirit and utilized as a record keeper of the divine messages Saul (Paul) received from the Lord.

During this first missionary journey, Luke noted the transition from using the name Saul to Paul in his encounter with a sorcerer named Elymas. Luke stated, “But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, and said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:9-10). Paul’s bold confrontation of Elymas may have been a result of his confidence in having been called to the mission field or the filling of the Holy Spirit. The ordering of names in the Bible usually denotes rank or seniority of the individuals. After this incident, “the order in which they are mentioned now changes from ‘Barnabas and Saul” to “Paul and Barnabas'” (note on Acts 13:9). This could have been due to the fact that at this point Paul began taking the lead in preaching the gospel and was the primary person the Holy Spirit was communicating with.

The first miracle

Not only did Peter, the apostle that denied he knew Jesus three times (Matthew 26:69-75) get the privilege of preaching the first sermon after Jesus was resurrected, but Peter also got to perform the first miracle of healing. As Peter and John were entering the temple in Jerusalem, a man that Luke described as “lame from his mother’s womb” (Acts 3:2) begged the two apostles to give him some money. Then, Luke said, “And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lift him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength, and he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God” (Acts 3:4-8).

His confidence in grabbing the lame man by the hand and lifting him to his feet suggests that Peter was operating under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Although he seemed to be acting impulsively, Peter may have been directed by God to seek out the lame man and to perform this miracle of healing ahead of time. His remark, “such as I have give I thee” was an indicator that Peter knew God wanted him to heal the lame man even though the lame man had not asked him to. The astonishing thing about this miracle of healing was that the lame man’s belief in God didn’t seem to be a factor. Luke said when Peter took the man by the right hand and lifted him up, “immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength” (Acts 3:7). Apparently, the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit was all that was needed to make it possible for the lame man to do something he never had before, walk on his own two feet.

Peter used the healing of the lame man as a springboard to launch his second sermon to the people of Jerusalem. In his follow-up message, Peter emphasized Jesus’ deity by referring to him as the “Holy One” and the “Prince of life” (Acts 3:14-15). Peter also pointed out that it was faith in the name of Jesus that caused the lame man to be able to walk. He said, “And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all” (Acts 3:16). Peter’s identification of the source of his miraculous power as the name of Jesus makes it seem as if the mere mention of Jesus’ name made it possible for the lame man to be converted. It’s possible, the lame man put his trust in Jesus at the moment Peter said, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6).

An amazing turnaround

The night that Jesus was betrayed in the garden of Gethsemane Matthew reported, “Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled” (Matthew 26:56). The Greek word translated forsook, aphiemi (af-ee´-ay-mee) is used in 1 Corinthians 7:11-13 of a husband divorcing his wife and in Matthew 4:22 of James and his brother John leaving their ship and father behind to follow Jesus (G863). Therefore it seems likely, when Jesus’ disciples abandoned him in the garden of Gethsemane, they didn’t expect to ever see him again; but after several days of consecutive appearances, the disciples became convinced that Jesus was alive again, and that their mission to take his gospel to the whole world was once more their number one priority.

As the book of Acts opens, Luke describes the scene in Jerusalem as being completely turned around from the previous weeks when Jesus was arrested and crucified. After the apostles saw Jesus taken up to heaven, Luke said, “Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren” (Luke 1:12-14).

The phrase Luke used “continued with one accord” (Acts 1:14) means that everyone was in agreement about what they were going to do next. Today we might say, everyone was on the same page. Luke’s use of the Greek word homothumadon suggests there was an emotional element that connected the group of believers that were gathered together in the upper room. One of the components of the word homothumadon, thumos (thoo-mos´) denotes passion and can be translated as wrath. Thumos is described as “incipient displeasure fermenting in the mind” (G2372). It’s possible this group had banded together to formulate a plan of civil disobedience in order to turn the tide against the Jewish authorities that had plotted to kill Jesus.

One of the factors that changed the circumstances of Jesus’ followers was the arrival of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his disciples, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8). Jesus used two different words to describe the power of his Father and the power that his disciples would receive through the Holy Spirit. The Father’s power, exousia means ability or the authority to do something (G1849). The power that would come upon the believers was dunamis which means force or more specifically, “miraculous power (usually by implication a miracle itself)” (G1411).

The connection between exousia power and dunamis power can be found in the root word dunamai (doo´-nam-ahee) which means “to be able or possible” (G1410). Jesus used the word dunamai when he asked two blind men that wanted him to show them mercy, “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28). After they responded yes, Matthew reported, “Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29). On another occasion, Jesus told the father of a demon possessed boy, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23). Jesus’ instruction to his disciples to wait for the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5) meant that they had not yet received the power that was going to be available to them. As they sat huddled in their upper room, thinking about what they were going to do next, Jesus’ apostles probably had no idea that the Holy Spirit was about to turn their world upside down.

We are one

Jesus’ final prayer for his disciples included a petition for his Father to keep them intimately connected to each other. He said, “And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:11). Jesus’ spiritual connection with his Father while he was on Earth made it possible for them to operate as if they were a single person. There was essentially no differentiation between the thoughts of the Father and the thoughts of the Son. Jesus’ request that his followers be one just as he and his Father were one meant that the totality of Christian believers would be acting as if they were a single entity, what is sometimes referred to today as the “body of Christ” or “the church.”

The primary reason Jesus wanted his disciples to experience the same kind of unity he had with his Father may have been so that they would work together to build God’s kingdom rather than through individual efforts. In order to understand the oneness that Jesus was praying for his disciples to receive, you would have to look at the result of the Holy Spirit’s coming on the day of Pentecost. It says in Acts 2:1-8:

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord and in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

The supernatural filling of the Holy Spirit resulted in a type of communication that was much more effective than what is possible today through language translation. In essence, what was happening was that the words were being spoken and heard without any translation being necessary. The meaning was understood perfectly as if there was no language barrier, even though the people came from different countries and spoke different languages.

Jesus explained that the reason he was asking his Father for the unification of all believers was so that they would be a testimony to everyone that he had indeed been sent by God to save the world (John 17:21). Jesus went on to say that unity would lead to the completion of his ministry and be a sign of God’s love for all who have accepted him as their savior (John 17:23). Jesus concluded his prayer with a petition for his disciples to be with him in heaven. He said, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). This particular request was probably motivated by Jesus’ close connection with his apostles. Rather than making them wait until he returned to Earth, Jesus wanted his disciples to be reunited with him as soon as they were deceased. The apostle Paul suggested this would be the case when he said, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).

Trading places

Jesus’ departure from Earth must have caused his disciples to wonder how they could continue their work without him. Jesus talked about a person that would take his place whom he referred to as the “Helper” or “Comforter” (John 15:26, 16:7). He told his disciples, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27, ESV). Jesus went on to explain that it was necessary for him to leave in order for the Helper to take his place. He said, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7, ESV).

Jesus’ declaration that the Holy Spirit would come from the Father in his name (John 14:26) was meant to explain why there was a need for a third person to be involved in the execution of God’s plan of salvation. Even though Jesus substitutionary death on the cross was sufficient enough to pay the penalty for every person’s sins that would accept him as their savior, there was still a need for individual repentance and personal acceptance of God’s free gift of salvation. Therefore, Jesus told his disciples that the Helper a.k.a. Holy Spirit would “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8) and went on to say, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13, ESV).

Jesus indicated the Holy Spirit would be with believers forever and said, “You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:17, ESV). The intimacy Jesus shared with his followers was expected to be enhanced by the indwelling capability of the Spirit that would come into the world after his departure. Jesus said, “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, ESV). In other words, the Holy Spirit would act somewhat like a memory bank of the words Jesus spoke while he was on Earth. Whenever there was a question about Jesus’ directions concerning the work that needed to be done, the Holy Spirit would remind his disciples of the instructions they had received from him. In the same way that Jesus had lived among and communicated with his disciples, so the Holy Spirit would be directly involved in the work that they were doing.

Jesus’ description of the process whereby the Holy Spirit would enter into the world that he was departing was that of a woman giving birth to a child. He said, “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for the joy that a human being has been born into the world” (John 16:21, ESV). From that standpoint, Jesus made it sound like the Holy Spirit was his Son, in the same or similar way that he was the Son of God. Although the Bible makes it clear that all three persons of God were present at the creation of the world, we know that Jesus was not in the form of a physical man when Earth came into existence. Therefore, it seems likely that the Holy Spirit was also in a different form in the beginning. The Holy Spirit had to enter into the world just as Jesus did through some type of material process, but instead of a human birth, Jesus indicated the Holy Spirit would be born through his human death.