This question is related to the issue of “single procession” or “double procession” of the Holy Spirit, which is hotly debated in orthodox Christianity. For instance, while the Roman Catholic or Latin Church believes and teaches that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, the (Greek) Orthodox Eastern Church believes and teaches that it only proceeds from the Father, but that it is given through the Son. As both Churches believe in the concept of the Trinity (one God in three Persons, erroneously believing that the Holy Spirit is a Person), their explanation of the procession of the Holy Spirit is, by necessity, flawed.
When Christ was here on earth as a human being, it was the Spirit of God the Father which dwelled in Him. Prior to His human conception, the Spirit of Christ (1 Peter 1:11)—as well as the Spirit of the Father—dwelled in God’s prophets and others in Old Testament times, and subsequent to Christ’s resurrection, both His Spirit and the Spirit of the Father dwell in converted Christians who are called to salvation.
Let us first see that it was the Holy Spirit of God the Father which dwelled in the human being, Jesus Christ, when He lived here on earth.
We read in Luke 4:18-19 that Jesus, when He quoted the prophet Isaiah in a synagogue in Nazareth, applied the following passage to Himself: “The Spirit of the LORD [in this case, the LORD refers to God the Father] is upon Me [Jesus Christ], Because He [the Father] has anointed Me [Jesus] to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To preach deliverance to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the LORD.” Referring to Himself, He told His audience: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (verse 21).
He healed the sick through the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 5:17; 6:19; 8:46), but it was not His power, but the power of the Father’s Spirit in Him. Christ said that of Himself, He could do nothing (John 5:19, 30; 14:10-11). It was the Spirit of God the Father, dwelling in Christ without measure or limitation, which gave Him the power to perform miracles. Acts 10:38 reads: “God [the Father] anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God [the Father] was with Him.” We also read that God the Father was in Christ [through the Holy Spirit] during His suffering (2 Corinthians 5:19), giving Him the strength to endure.
When He was here on earth as a human being, He had no Holy Spirit (of His own) to give to others, as He was not a glorified God being (compare John 7:38-39; see also our Q&A on John 7:39). At that time, only the Holy Spirit of the Father was in existence or available, and it was the Father’s Holy Spirit that dwelled in Christ.
After Christ’s resurrection and glorification, both He and the Father would be able to dwell in converted Christians, through the Holy Spirit emanating or proceeding from both of them. John 14:23 says: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and WE will come to him and make OUR HOME with him.” We read that the Father sends the Holy Spirit in Christ’s name (John 14:26); that Christ sends the Holy Spirit (John 16:7); and that Christ sends it from the Father (John 15:26; Acts 2:33). As we will see, the different wording can be explained in that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father AND of the Son.
When the New Testament speaks of God, it is foremost referring to God the Father, but it is true, of course, that Jesus Christ is also God and referred to as such on several occasions. In Romans 9:5, Christ is called “the eternally blessed God” “who is over all” human beings. In Titus 2:13, Jesus Christ is called our “great God and Savior.” In Hebrews 1:8-9, Christ, the Son of God, is also called “God,” and it is stated that His God—God the Father—anointed Him with the oil of gladness. John 1:18 states that Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son, is God and has made the Father known to us (compare International Version).
Still, in most cases, when speaking about God, the reference in the New Testament is to the Father (compare 1 Corinthians 3:23). And so we see repeatedly and consistently that the Holy Spirit of God the Father dwells in converted Christians. God the Father revealed His truth to us through HIS Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10). We have received the Spirit which is from God the Father “that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” the Father (verse 12).
We read that we are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God (the Father) dwells in us (1 Corinthians 3:16). This is repeated in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “… your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit [which] is in you, [which] you have from God, and you are not your own. For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
Again, we read in 1 Thessalonians 4:8 that God (the Father) has given us HIS Holy Spirit, and 1 John 4:12-13 adds that we know that we abide in God (the Father), and He in us, “because He has given us of HIS Spirit.”
This is clearly confirmed in Romans 8:11, 14:
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through HIS Spirit [which] dwells in you… For as many as are led by the Spirit of GOD, these are the SONS of God…”
And still, we ALSO read that the Spirit of Christ, the SON of GOD, dwells in converted Christians.
Romans 8:9 makes this very clear: “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of GOD dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of CHRIST, he is not His.”
Acts 16:7 says that the Spirit of Jesus did not permit Paul and his coworkers to go into Bithynia (compare New International Version and Revised Standard Version). Philippians 1:19 speaks of the “supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ”, and Galatians 4:6 states:
“And because you are sons, God [the Father] has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father.’”
We see, then, that it is the Spirit of God the Father AND the Spirit of Jesus Christ which dwell in us. For further information, please read our Q&A on the procession of the Holy Spirit.
We explain in that Q&A that the Holy Spirit is not a person, but the power of God emanating from both the Father and the Son. It is “one” Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:11,13), because the Father and the Son are “one” (John 10:30)—they are of one mind, totally unified (compare John 17:11). For an in-depth explanation, please read our free booklets, “Is God a Trinity?” and “God is a Family.”
Lead Writer: Norbert Link