An Introduction to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament: Study Guide

An Introduction to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament

July 7, 2019

[1] As we move into the New Testament, we must assess the approach we will take in our study of the Holy Spirit as it relates to what we have seen in our examination of the Old Testament. The first thing we notice is that there are many more references to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. Whereas there are but three times the term “Holy Spirit” is found in the Old Testament, there are nearly ninety in the New Testament. Even then, this is not the most common referent. The simple term “the Spirit” appears nearly 130 times in the New Testament. The phrase “the Spirit of God” is used eleven times and “the Spirit of the Lord” five times. “His Spirit” is used four times, “My Spirit” three, and “Spirit,” in reference to God, once. There are, therefore, about 240 times the New Testament refers to the Spirit. Since there are 260 chapters in the New Testament, the Spirit is referred to, on average, almost once per chapter.[1]

[2] In our study of the Old Testament, we saw there were no readily discernable differences in the identity or work of the Spirit, regardless of what descriptors were used. Since the same terms are used in the New Testament, we do not expect to find such differences here. There is, after all, “one Spirit.”

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling (Ephesians 4:4, NKJV).

The New Testament will not introduce a Spirit foreign to the Spirit presented in Genesis 1:2 and referred to in several ways throughout the Old Testament.[2]

[3] We are interested not only in every Old Testament text that mentions the Spirit and is quoted, paraphrased, or alluded to in the New Testament. The New Testament is not limited to these references in its concern with the Holy Spirit. Its interest includes the great phenomenon of Pentecost, where all who waited in an upper room, men and women, were baptized with the Holy Spirit and spoke in languages they had never learned. This was biblically unprecedented, although prophetically anticipated by Joel, John the Baptist and Jesus.

[4] The mysterious, miraculous work of the Spirit includes the Incarnation, wherein the Lord God Himself was manifest in full, authentic human existence by means of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the virgin Mary, causing her to conceive and give birth to Jesus, God with us.

But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us” (Matthew 1:20–23, NKJV).

31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. . . . 35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. . . . 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Luke 1:31–43 (NKJV)

While He was fully God, Jesus was also fully human, filled, empowered, and led by the Spirit (Luke 4:1, 14).

Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness . . . . Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region (Luke 4:1, 14).

To work out the ramifications of this requires considerable effort, time and space.

[5] A thorough study of New Testament insights on the Holy Spirit includes, but is not limited to, the role of the Spirit in regeneration (i.e., the new birth), the fruit of the Spirit, what it means for believers to be led by the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, the use of terms like “the Spirit of His Son,” “the Spirit of Christ,” “the Spirit of Jesus Christ,” and Jesus’ warning about blasphemy against the Spirit.


  1. The Spirit is much more visible in the New Testament than in the Old Testament.
  1. There is no difference in the identity and work of the Spirit, regardless of the descriptors used.
  1. The Incarnation was an unprecedented event, whereby God was manifested in human existence.
  1. The Incarnation necessarily introduced an interest in the work of the Spirit in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
  1. Pentecost was another unprecedented event, a turning point in the work of the Spirit in the lives of people.
  1. Aspects of the work of the Spirit in the New Testament include the new birth, the fruit of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, blasphemy, and descriptors not used in the Old Testament.

[1] This lesson and the next three are drawn from the upcoming book by Daniel L. Segraves, The Holy Spirit: An Apostolic Perspective on Pneumatology (Weldon Spring, MO: Word Aflame, 2019). The book will discuss in detail some of the issues alluded to but not fully worked out in these lessons.

[2] There are, of course, angelic spirits, human spirits and evil spirits, but that is not our concern in this work. We are interested in the Spirit of God.[archive]