HOW IS THE HOLY SPIRIT DIFFERENT FROM THE FATHER AND THE SON? by Andrew Menkis for Core Christianity
Each person of the Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is fully and truly divine. God is one essence, not a jumble of parts or pieces put together. The persons of the Trinity are not the building blocks that combine to form God, they are each God. Yet God has revealed to us the great mystery of the Trinity: there is a plurality within God’s oneness. Within the godhead there are persons, or self-distinctions. Each person is distinct from the others in the way they eternally relate amongst themselves and in the roles they take on in God’s works. While the relationship between the Father and Son as well as the roles they play is something many Christians are knowledgeable about, the Holy Spirit is frequently perceived as mysterious, hard to understand, and mystical. The truth is, while the Holy Spirit is quite different from the Father and the Son, the Bible tells us a lot about the Spirit’s relationship to the other persons of the Trinity as well as his role in God’s works.
The Spirit’s Unique Relationship With the Father and the Son
If you were to describe the Spirit’s relationship with the Father and Son in a single word it would be “procession.” While the Father is uncreated and the Son is eternally begotten of the Father, the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son. Jesus explained this to his disciples at the Last Supper, “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” (John 15:26). Here Jesus says he sends the Helper, that is, the Holy Spirit from the Father. The Spirit comes to us at the behest of the Father and the Son. A little later Jesus again 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). Jesus tells his disciples and us that the ascension was necessary because it provides a period of time for the Holy Spirit to come and gather Christ’s sheep into his fold. After Christ ascends to the right hand of the Father, the Spirit proceeds to earth in power.