Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Q&A: [Recently] you were talking about Jesus' appearances to the apostles and you said he breathed the Holy Spirit in to them. But haven't we learned that the Holy Spirit is a person based on the language used in Scripture?
Absolutely!! The Holy Spirit is, indeed, a Person and equal to God the Father and God the Son. Several passages in the New Testament use a personal pronoun like "he" or "him" when speaking of the Holy Spirit. (Personal pronouns are only used for persons.) When we speak of impersonal forces, such as wind or gravity, we would correctly employ a non-personal pronoun like "it." Additionally we see in the Scriptures that personal traits are ascribed to the Holy Spirit (i.e. He can be lied to and grieved).
I'm assuming from your question that you are troubled by the language of Jesus breathing on the disciples as if it somehow makes the Spirit appear more like a force than a person. Let's look at the passage in question:
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit." John 20:21-22 (ESV)
First of all, there is absolutely nothing about this passage that suggests in any way that the Holy Spirit is less than a Person. The fact that Jesus breathed on them is incredibly important and full of meaning.
Do you recall how the first man became a living being? The Bible tells us God formed him from the dust of the earth and then breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. (Genesis 2:7). But sin entered into God's otherwise perfect creation, and now, according to Jesus, man needs to be REBORN. (John 3:3) How was that rebirth accomplished? Once again God breathed into mankind the breath of Life. But this time, it was the Spirit of Life Himself—the One who imparts eternal life to all who place their faith in Jesus.
So the fact of Jesus breathing on the disciples is hugely important. It not only points us back to the original creation of man, but it also shows us how God accomplished the re-creation of the man or woman of faith, and how they are now infused with the Holy Spirit and made children of God.