The Ministries of the Holy Spirit (Part 1)

What are the ministries of the Holy Spirit in relation to Scripture and to the world? What work did the Holy Spirit perform during Old Testament times?

In relation to the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit is involved in revelation, inspiration as well as illumination. Revelation concerns the receiving and unveiling of truth from God. The source of this divine revelation is God the Holy Spirit (2 Samuel 23:2-3; Micah 3:8; John 16:12-15; 1 Corinthians 2:9-10). Inspiration concerns the recording of truth (2 Timothy 3:16). When men recorded what was revealed to them, they were enabled to record it totally free from error because of this ministry of the Holy Spirit. The third ministry of the Holy Spirit in relation to the Scriptures is the work of illumination, that is, to enable all believers to understand the Scriptures (cf. Nehemiah 9:20; 1 Corinthians 2:14-16; Ephesians 1:15-18). The Holy Spirit illuminates the believer’s mind during personal Bible study. Also, some believers are given the gift of teaching to help other believers understand the Word of God better.

The Holy Spirit’s ministry to the world of unbelievers is the work of conviction. The Spirit’s work of conviction means “to place the truth of the case in such clear light so that it is acknowledged as truth even if it not accepted” (Fruchtenbaum 2005:10). In relation to the gospel, conviction means to place the gospel in such a clear light that the unbeliever understands what the content of the gospel is and to acknowledge the gospel as true, regardless of whether or not the person accepts it.

John 16:7-11 explains this convicting-work of the Holy Spirit towards unbelievers. God the Holy Spirit convicts the unbelieving world of sin, specifically because they do not believe in Jesus Christ, the Saviour. The Holy Spirit also convicts in respect of righteousness, the righteousness of Christ vindicated by God the Father at Christ’s ascension. The Holy Spirit also convicts the world in respect of the final judgment, for if the prince of this world has been judged, so will his subjects be judged. Thus, the Holy Spirit’s work of conviction follows these logical steps:

• He will convict unbelievers of the sin of unbelief.

• Because of their unbelief, they fail to receive the imputed righteousness of Christ.

• Because they fail in this, they will share in Satan’s final judgment in the Lake of Fire.

During Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit performed works in Creation, in the work of restraining sin and in relation to man. The Holy Spirit was clearly involved in Creation (Genesis 1:2). Not only did He bring design in the universe (Isaiah 40:12-14), but He also adorned it (Job 26:13). He created life in man (Job 33:4) and is responsible to preserve it (Psalm 104:29-30). In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit also performed the work of striving with man during the 120 years before the Flood (Genesis 6:3).

Contrary to New Testament times, in the Old Testament not all believers were indwelt by the Holy Spirit (cf. Numbers 11:17, 25; 27:18). Only from Pentecost onward are all believers permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit (see John 7:37-39). Furthermore, those Old Testament saints who were indwelt by the Holy Spirit did not necessary have it permanently (1 Samuel 16:14; Psalm 51:11). Another work was that the Holy Spirit came upon some people, such as the judges of Israel to divinely enable them to perform a specific task (Judges 3:9-10; 6:34; 13:24-25). For example, the two men who oversaw the work on the Tabernacle (Exodus 31:1-11) were so enabled by the Holy Spirit. Another example is Daniel who received unique wisdom from God through this ministry of the Holy Spirit (Daniel 1:17; 5:11).


This post partially summarises an article written by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum of Ariel Ministries called The ministries of the Holy Spirit.

In the next (second) article of this three-part series, the focus will be on the ministries that the Holy Spirit performs during the Church age in the lives of believers at the moment of their salvation.

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