The Holy Spirit Has Spoken Through the Prophets

    You may get the impression from the section on the gift of the Holy Spirit, that the Holy Spirit did not exist or was not available before he came upon the apostles. This is not true. The Holy Spirit has been acting in the world since Old Testament times, even though it was not as transparent. The strongest difference is that the Old Testament does not explicitly assert the personhood of the Spirit, and his distinct personhood from God the Father. The additional revelation of the New Testament allowed the church fathers to look back on the Old Testament and realize what had been missed before. There is no reason to believe that the Holy Spirit, as a person, sprang into being around the time of Christ, just because his nature became apparent to us then. Specifically, we know that the Spirit fills us and leads us to the truth. This is the best description of what happened to the prophets in the Old Testament. They were filled with the Spirit of God, who compelled them to proclaim truth. Below are some passages that support this.

"You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it." [Stephen is speaking] (Acts 7:51-53)

    Here, by opposing the prophets, the ancestors have opposed the Holy Spirit, which indicates that the Holy Spirit was in the prophets.

"This is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

    'It will come to pass in the last days, God says,

        that I will pour out a portion of my spirit

        upon all flesh.

    Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

        your young men shall see visions,

        your old men shall dream dreams.

    Indeed, upon my servants and my handmaids

        I will pour out a portion of my spirit in those days,

            and they shall prophesy.' "

[From Peter's speech at Pentecost.] (Acts 2:16-18; from Joel 3:1-2)

    Joel is an Old Testament prophet. It is clear from the rest of Acts that when someone is spoken through, it is the Holy Spirit that is really the one doing the talking.

"My brothers, the scripture had to be fulfilled which the holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus." [Peter is speaking] (Acts 1:16; referring to Ps 41:10; Lk 22:47)

The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:

    a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,

A spirit of counsel and of strength,

    a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,

    and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.

(Is 11:2-3)

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,

    because the LORD has anointed me;

He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly,

    to heal the brokenhearted,

To proclaim liberty to the captives

    and release to the prisoners.

[The prophet Isaiah is speaking] (Is 61:1; quoted by Jesus in Lk 4:18)

But they rebelled, and grieved

    his holy spirit;

So he turned on them like an enemy

    and fought against them.

(Is 63:10)

Then the spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and he told me to say: Thus says the LORD: This is the way you talk, house of Israel, and what you are plotting I well know. [The prophet Ezekiel is speaking] (Ez 11:5)


This section describes on aspect of the nature of the Holy Spirit.

This page was last changed on 2011/08/28