The Holy Spirit in II Corinthians

I am scheduled to teach this lesson tomorrow morning, March 7, 2021, at The Sanctuary UPC in Hazelwood, Missouri, where Mitchell Bland is pastor. The study guide below is taken from my newest book, The Holy Spirit: A Commentary. I plan to post the video of the lesson no later than March 8, 2021.

The Holy Spirit in II Corinthians

March 7, 2021

Daniel L. Segraves, Teacher

Twitter: @danielsegraves

[1] The first mention of the Spirit in this letter declares it is God who establishes believers in Christ, anoints them, seals them, and gives them the Spirit in their hearts as a guarantee (II Corinthians 1:21-22). This affirms the essentiality of the Spirit in the hearts of believers. Without it, there is no guarantee of the fulfillment of God’s promises in our lives. (See II Corinthians 1:20.) The word translated “guarantee” (arrabōn) is rendered in a variety of ways in attempts to catch its subtle nuances: “earnest” (KJV); “first installment” (NAB); “pledge” (NAS); “down payment” (NIV). In the economic world, it refers to “the first or initial payment of money or assets, as a guarantee for the completion of a transaction or pledge.”[1]  It is used in the New Testament in reference “to the Holy Spirit as the pledge or guarantee of the blessings promised by God.”[2] The word appears also in II Corinthians 5:5 and in Ephesians 1:13-14. In Ephesians, it can be translated “you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit which he promised and which is the first installment of what we shall receive.” [3]

[2] Each key word in II Corinthians 1:21-22 deals with a specific aspect of the salvation experience. To be established in Christ is foundational. Without this, there is no foundation upon which to build. As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 3:11, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

[3] To be anointed at the beginning of our spiritual journey is as essential for us as it was for Jesus, who, shortly after His return from His wilderness temptation in the power of the Spirit, said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me” (Luke 4:14, 18).

[4] To be sealed is necessary as a sign of authenticity and as a means of security. Paul used this term also in I Corinthians 9:2: “If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.”[4]  In his second letter to Timothy, Paul had a similar idea in mind: “Nevertheless, the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity’ ” (II Timothy 2:19).

[5] Then, there is no reason to think that to have the Spirit in our hearts comes by any means other than Spirit baptism. As Paul expressed it in this same letter, “Clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart” (II Corinthians 3:3). This resonates with the New Covenant promise of Ezekiel 36:26-27: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you.” (See also Ezekiel 11:19.)

[6] In II Corinthians 3:4-6, Paul prepared his readers for an extended comparison of the law of Moses with the New Covenant: “And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” The following description of the law of Moses, the old covenant, may shock with its negativity. It was a “ministry of death.” It was “passing away.” It was a “ministry of condemnation.” In comparison with the New Covenant, it had “no glory.” The eyes of those to whom it was given “were blinded.” For those who are not “in Christ,” there remains “until this day” a “veil . . . unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament.” (See II Corinthians 3:7-15.)

[7] But the good news is that “when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:16-18). The last phrase can be translated “just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” The context indicates that the Lord is none other than Christ.[5]

[8] In II Corinthians 6:4-10, Paul listed thirty-seven personal character qualities, events, life circumstances, and spiritual realities by which he commended himself as a minister of God. Fifteenth and sixteenth in this list are the Holy Spirit and sincere love. It was not unusual for Paul to link these two. (See Romans 5:5; 15:30; Galatians 5:22; Philippians 2:1-2.) Wherever love is found, the Spirit will be there.

[9] II Corinthians closes with a reference to the Holy Spirit: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen” (II Corinthians 13:14). Some see this as evidence of three persons in the Godhead, with grace being a characteristic of Jesus, love of God, and communion (or fellowship) of the Holy Spirit. We would not have to look far, however, the see these qualities associated differently.[6]  To suggest that a quality is more typical of the Lord Jesus Christ than of God or the Holy Spirit divides, separates, and fragments God.


  1. The Spirit is our seal of salvation and guarantee that God will keep every promise He has made to us.
  2. The law of Moses was a passing ministry of condemnation and death.
  3. The Lord is the Spirit.

Louw-Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 57.170.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] See also II Corinthians 12:12.

[5] See the discussion in David K. Bernard, The Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ: Deification of Jesus in Early Christian Discourse, Journal of Pentecostal Theology Supplement Series, vol. 45, gen. ed. John Christopher Thomas (Blandford Forum, Dorset, UK: Deo Publishing, 2016), 172.

[6] See, e.g., the association of God with grace (II Corinthians 1:12), Jesus with both love and fellowship (Ephesians 6:23; I Corinthians 1:19), and the Spirit with love (Galatians 5:22).


Daily Wisdom 275: Proverbs 12:28

Proverbs 12:28 (NKJV) — 28 In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.

No death on the righteous path. Righteousness is a way of life. It is a matter of choosing right and doing right. This tends to life, for it keeps us out of situations and places that tend to death. Ultimately righteous people will inherit eternal life and be forever triumphant over death.


Daily Wisdom 274: Proverbs 12:27

Proverbs 12:27 (NKJV) — 27 The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, but diligence is man’s precious possession.

Wastefulness and diligence. This verse uses persons who do not roast animals killed in hunting as examples of laziness. Lazy people typically waste valuable resources and start projects without finishing them. A sign of diligence is the careful preservation of resources. Diligence produces quality items that last; laziness produces shoddy items soon discarded.


Daily Wisdom 273: Proverbs 12:26

Proverbs 12:26 (NKJV) — 26 The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.

The influence of friends. This proverb shows the importance of choosing the right friends. A righteous person sets an example for others that encourages them to raise their standards. But wicked people seduce others by their negative influence. They tempt and deceive others into lowering their standards as they observe their godless lifestyle.


Daily Wisdom 272: Proverbs 12:25

Proverbs 12:25 (NKJV) Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.

The role of words in emotional health. This verse is a companion to Proverbs 15:13 and 17:22. Depression or despondency has a negative effect on mental and even physical health. But a good word, a good report, has a positive effect upon the emotions and thereby even on physical health.

One of the greatest factors that contribute to overall health is attitude. For this reason, it is wise not to become preoccupied with evil reports but to focus on what is cheerful, positive, pleasant, helpful, and encouraging. We are to think about things that are of “good report” (Philippians 4:8). This teaching does not mean we should ignore the reality of problems, suffering, and human needs. But rather than allowing these things to conquer our minds, we should become actively and positively involved in overcoming problems and in helping the hurting through their sorrows.


Daily Wisdom 271: Proverbs 12:24

Proverbs 12:24 (NKJV) — 24 The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy man will be put to forced labor.

The diligent rule; the lazy serve. In general, people rise to positions of authority through diligence; they sink into servanthood through laziness. Those who are lazy tend to explain away the manner in which people in authority rose to their positions. They attribute it to luck or favoritism. The lazy also tend to resent those who are over them and to detest having to answer to others.

To ancient Israel, Moses declared, “And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them” (Deuteronomy 28:13). Asaph asserted, “For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another” (Psalm 75:6-7).


Daily Wisdom 270: Proverbs 12:23

Proverbs 12:23 (NKJV) — 23 A prudent man conceals knowledge, But the heart of fools proclaims foolishness.

The prudent person and the fool. Prudent persons know more than they tell. Fools tell more than they know. In describing prudent persons as those who conceal knowledge, this verse does not speak of dishonesty or deceit, but of discretion and humility. Wise persons do not disclose information inappropriately or harmfully, nor do they try to flaunt or boast of their knowledge.


Daily Wisdom 269: Proverbs 12:22

Proverbs 12:22 (NKJV) — 22 Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, But those who deal truthfully are His delight.

The importance of honesty. God hates dishonesty and delights in honesty. In describing the person who deals truthfully, this verse speaks of a way of life, not just of words. If we want God to delight in us, we must be honest.


Daily Wisdom 268: Proverbs 12:21

Proverbs 12:21 (NKJV) — 21 No grave trouble will overtake the righteous, But the wicked shall be filled with evil.

No grave trouble for the righteous. Righteous persons can be assured that nothing will happen to them that God does not permit, and if God permits something, the end results will not be evil. Some situations may be painful or even tragic, but those who are righteous know that ultimately God will work all things together for their good (Romans 8:28). Those who are wicked, however, will experience one troublesome event after another with no assurance that good will ultimately prevail. Their lives are full of evil and calamity.

Those who are people of faith but who have suffered painful experiences may be interested in my book If God Loves Me, Why Am I Hurting? The book is available at,, and as an Apple Book.