The Holy Spirit: What the Gospels Teach Us About the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit was an essential part of Jesus’ ministry. Not only was Jesus enlivened by the Spirit, Jesus also taught his disciples that the Holy Spirit would be an essential part of their ministry.

1. When and how did the Holy Spirit begin the life of Jesus? Matthew 1:18, 20; Luke 1:35. What did the Holy Spirit do to Jesus at the beginning of his ministry? Luke 3:22; John 1:32-33.

Christ “made himself nothing” (Philippians 2:7), and the Holy Spirit caused Jesus to begin growing in Mary’s womb. Although the Spirit remained in Jesus from conception onward, a visible sign was given at his baptism that the Holy Spirit was empowering him.

However, Jesus was not the first person to be given God’s Spirit. The Old Testament describes a variety of people who were given power, wisdom and understanding by the Spirit. Jesus said that David — and presumably all other writers of Scripture — spoke by the Holy Spirit in the Psalms (Matthew 22:43).

But in the first century, the Jews had gone a long time without a Spirit-filled prophet. They were waiting for someone to come in the spirit and power of Elijah.

2. Before Jesus was born, was John the Baptist filled with the Holy Spirit? Luke 1:15. Even while Jesus was in Mary’s womb, who was filled with the Spirit? Verse 41. What was Elizabeth inspired to say? Verses 42-45. Several months later, what was her husband, Zechariah, inspired by the Spirit to prophesy? Verse 67. And shortly after Jesus was born, did the Holy Spirit move upon yet another person? Luke 2:25-27.

3. After Jesus was baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, what did the Spirit lead him to do? Luke 4:1. After his victory over the satanic temptations, was he drained of power? Verse 14. What did he tell the people that the Spirit was leading him to do? Verse 18. What emotion filled him because of the Holy Spirit? Luke 10:21.

4. John tells us that God gave Jesus the Holy Spirit without limit (John 3:34). Jesus was filled and led by the Spirit in all his work. One work in particular showed that he was empowered by the Spirit. What did that miracle prove? Matthew 12:28. In his ministry, how did Jesus fulfill a prophecy about God’s Spirit? Verses 15-18.

Articles about the four Gospels

For articles about specific chapters within the Gospels, see

Jesus’ comment about “blasphemy against the Spirit” (verse 31) refers to people who become enemies of God (Isaiah 63:10). The Pharisees became worse than unbelievers — they were actively resisting the power of God. By calling Jesus’ power satanic, they were fighting against God, making themselves enemies of the only agent able to lead them to salvation and forgiveness.

5. What did John the Baptist predict that Jesus would do with the Spirit? John 1:33. When was this done? John 7:39. Is it Jesus who sends the Spirit, or is it the Father? Luke 11:13; John 4:10; 7:37; 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7.

Jesus sent the disciples out to preach, heal and cast out demons, and they presumably did this with the same power Jesus had, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit was living with them, but was not yet in them (John 14:17). They would be filled with the Holy Spirit after Jesus had been glorified. Both the Father and the Son would send the Holy Spirit to live within the believers.

6. What does the Holy Spirit do in a person’s life? John 3:5; 6:63. What does the Spirit bring to our minds? John 14:26; 15:26. What is the focus of this spiritual work? John 15:26; 16:13-14.

The Spirit of God does not teach us truths about math, but about the Truth, Jesus himself, the way of salvation (John 14:6). The Spirit enabled the disciples to understand what Jesus had taught, and to understand what was “yet to come” — his death and resurrection. By causing the disciples to understand, the Spirit enabled them to preach the good news of life through Jesus Christ.

Jesus sent his disciples with a message, told them to receive the Holy Spirit (John 15:27; 20:21-23) and to wait until they received the “power from on high” that they needed (Luke 24:49). The gospel work of the church is done in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Through the Spirit-led disciples, the world hears the message of truth, the message of Jesus — but many people do not accept that message (John 14:17). In this way, the Holy Spirit convicts the world of guilt in regard to unbelief and judgment (John 16:8-11). The world may be hostile, but even in times of persecution, the Holy Spirit speaks through the disciples (Luke 12:11-12).

Disciples are baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). The Spirit is as much a part of our identity as the Father and the Son are.

Jesus said that he would go away, and yet live in his disciples (John 14:18; Matthew 28:20). He lives in us by means of the Holy Spirit, the Counselor who continues the teaching work of Jesus.

Author: Michael Morrison, 1999, 2014


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