The Introvert Person of the Holy Spirit

The Introvert Person of the Holy Spirit

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance” (1Peter 1:1-2).

Even though Peter was the leader of the disciples of Jesus and the first pope of the Catholic Church, and wrote two letters of the NT, he still did not receive the same respect as Paul did. This may be because he was an uneducated fisherman, had hot temper, cutting an ear of a man who tried to arrest Jesus, and denied Jesus three times. Maybe, it was because Jesus once rebuked the devil out of Peter. Nevertheless, Peter had intimate relationship with Jesus, spending three years with him, eating with him, seeing the actual miracles with his own eyes, and being taught and loved by his Master. Once uncertain about Jesus and his prophetic teachings, Peter believed and knew Jesus as the Lord and Christ in deep, personal level.

Here, Peter opens the letter to the Christians around the world with his faith filled Trinitarian form of statement. What a transformation! Even though the early heresies connected the deity of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit was not the main concern of Peter when he was writing this epistle, this short introduction demonstrates Peter’s conviction in the triune God. On the one hand, Peter’s confession here is the propositional knowledge that he received from the Holy Spirit to pen the revelation on the scroll for his audience and for the future generation. At the same time, Peter’s articulation was based on his personal relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Epistle of Peter has many theological themes that demand our attention and reflection, especially about the way Christians should interpret suffering. Before I attempt to unlock the mystery of Christian suffering, in this post, I want to explore how Peter presents to us his belief and experience of God the Holy Spirit.

What I appreciate about Peter and the introduction greeting is his acknowledgement of the person of the Holy Spirit. No one doubted that Peter and Jesus had intimate relationship with each other, so that their narrative does not have to be explained here. The Greek audiences of the epistle who were comfortable with the idea of polytheism probably did not oppose Peter’s way of addressing the work of the Holy Spirit as God’s own work; however, some Jews could have felt some hesitation or even repulsiveness, because throughout the OT, the Scriptures taught that only God the Father does the work of sanctification. Here, the word, sanctify, in Geek is agiazw, which means “to dedicate to the service of and to loyalty to Deity.” (By the way, I cannot have my Greek font working in this post for some reason.) Human beings broken by sin lost the ability to please God and to reconcile the broken relationship with him. To those who believed that the Holy Spirit was simply a gift, Peter pronounced that the Holy Spirit is not a thing or object, but a person who has free will and consciousness. A thing cannot work; a god who is less than God cannot restore our association with God; only God can sanctify and make sinners holy. In this sense, Peter just confirmed the divine status of the Holy Spirit who does the work of the Father, the work of the sanctification.

Peter’s proclamation is not surprising when we consider how he experienced the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in his life. Peter, like his fellow Jews, probably thought that the Holy Spirit was a mysterious idea or thing that God gave to his chosen people to accomplish his will. But, Jesus’ teaching was contrary to the popular notion. Before the crucifixion, Jesus told them that he will send the Holy Spirit to his disciples (John 20) and after the resurrection, he commanded his disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4). When his disciples and followers were praying together, the Holy Spirit came upon them on the Pentecost. There, Peter experienced the power of the person of the Holy Spirit who came upon him and Jesus’ followers and enabled them to pray in different tongues (Acts 2:4). More than that, as Peter and others launched their kingdom missions, the same thing that they experienced when they were with Jesus began to happen. People were healed from sickness; the shackles of sins were being released through the name of Jesus Christ; people believed in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They were no longer the same after the amazing event that occurred on the Pentecost. The ones who were weak in faith and even fled after the death of Jesus fearlessly preached the gospel and were not scared of death and of suffering, but encouraged others participating in the suffering of Christ. Peter and others truly experienced their master Jesus through the presence and person of the Holy Spirit who resided in them.

The Holy Spirit empowers us to dedicate our lives to God, consecrate our hearts to the standard of his holiness and righteousness, and to be obedient to Jesus and his commands of loving others as he loved us and of making disciples of all nations. Peter and the followers of Christ dedicated to the new revelation of the triune God. The Holy Spirit who redeems us is God and always resides in us when we confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior. He wants to communicate with us and have fellowship with us. I identify the Holy Spirit as the introvert person of the Godhead. He is willing to commune with us when we ask and approach him. He is gentle and often hides in the background of the divine drama that he unfolds in our lives. He is so focused on us and on having a personal relationship with us. He desires to talk to us and reveal himself, but not in a big and loud crowd, but in a quite and lonely place. He whispers into our hearts, but clearly, through the words of God. The more we seek him, we can experience him; the more we ask of him, the more he will reveal of himself.

Sure, we human beings cannot fully comprehend the concept of the Trinity who exists in the fellowship of the persons of the Father, the Son and the Spirit. However, this is the way God revealed of himself so that we may worship him as the triune God. The good news is that even when we cannot understand him, we can experience him as Peter and Jesus followers did. His introvert is grounded in his infinite perfections that he is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, eternal, loving, holy, patient, and compassionate. He is God. He is always with us, even when we are going through any hardships, physical pain, spiritual crisis, or depression. Let’s seek him and experience him today. We welcome you Holy Spirit! Let the introvert of the Holy Spirit be manifested extrovertly in our lives!

ReflectionJ.D. Kim