The Holy Spirit in the Gospels

Lesson ▪ 2000
Tags: Holy Spirit; Gospels; Jesus Christ; Power; Christian life
Excerpted from The Holy Spirit in the New Testament


What is your relationship to the Holy Spirit? What role has he played in your life this week? Do His place in the Trinity and his relation to the Christian life remain a mystery to you? Do you feel uncomfortable talking about Him?

We ought not to feel squeamish about the Holy Spirit. Orthodox Christianity has affirmed since the earliest days of church history that the Spirit is one with the Father and Son, a co-equal in the Godhead. We should therefore be no less comfortable speaking of the Spirit than of God the Father or Jesus Christ. 

The Creed of Nicea-Constantinople, which dates to 381 AD, proclaims, “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who in unity with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.”

The Holy Spirit in the Gospels: The Example of Christ

The life and ministry of Jesus were saturated with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Following are some of the ways the Spirit was involved in Jesus’s earthly work: 

  • Jesus’s dependence on the Holy Spirit was prophesied in the Old Testament (comp. Is 42:1; Mt 12:18; comp. Is. 61:1; Lk 4:18).
  • Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Mt 1:18-20; Lk 1:35).
  • The Holy Spirit participated in Jesus’s baptism (Mt 3:16; Mk 1:10; Lk 3:21-22; Jn 1:32).
  • Jesus’s forerunner, John the Baptist, was himself a Spirit-filled man (Lk 1:15).
  • John the Baptist announced that Jesus would baptize his followers with the Holy Spirit and fire (Mt 3:11; Mk 1:8; Lk 3:16; Jn 1:33).
  • Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Mt 4:1ff; Mk 1:12-13; Lk 4:1-2).
  • Jesus carried out his ministry in the Spirit (Lk 4:14; cf. Lk 4:18). He cast out demons by the power of the Spirit (Mt 12:28). He rejoiced in the Spirit (Lk 10:21).

The Holy Spirit in the Gospels: The Teachings of Christ

The bulk of Jesus’s teaching concerning the Holy Spirit can be found in John 14-16. Following are the key truths concerning the Spirit set forth in these chapters:

  • The Holy Spirit is a “Comforter,” otherwise translated as “Helper” or “Counselor” (14:16; 14:26; 15:26). The Holy Spirit is also the “Spirit of truth” (14:17; 15:26; 16:13).
  • The Father sends the Holy Spirit at the Son’s request (14:16). The Father sends the Spirit in Jesus’s name (14:26). Jesus sends the Spirit from the Father to provide spiritual help in His absence (15:26; 16:7). The Spirit proceeds from the Father (15:26).
  • The Holy Spirit is the believer’s permanent possession (14:16). The believer is intimately joined with the Spirit (14:17). Unbelievers, by contrast, cannot perceive the Spirit (14:17).
  • The Holy Spirit’s ministry includes several elements: guiding believers into the truth concerning all things (14:25-26; 16:12-13); bringing Jesus’s words to His disciples’ remembrance (14:25-26); testifying about Jesus (15:26); enabling believers to witness (15:27); speaking on behalf of Jesus, bringing glory to Him (16:13-15); convincing the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (16:8-11); and revealing things to come (16:13). 


By example and precept, Jesus taught us the important role that the Spirit plays in a successful Christian life. We should, therefore, earnestly seek to deepen our relationship with Him. We should not let others’ excesses distract us from the reality of our need of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Spirit of truth. We can begin our journey of knowing the Spirit by addressing Him in prayer, submitting to His work in our lives, and assimilating the Word through which He does His work.

Learning Objectives

  1. To reduce the discomfort that participants may feel in talking about the Holy Spirit.
  2. To survey the core of the Gospels’ teaching concerning the Holy Spirit.
  3. To persuade participants of the importance of developing an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit.
  4. To encourage participants to adopt habits that facilitate a Spirit-led life.