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Definition: Holy Spirit from Philip's Encyclopedia

(Holy Ghost) Third Person of the Trinity in Christian theology. The Holy Spirit represents the spiritual agent through whom God's grace is given. The New Testament contains many references to the Holy Spirit, firstly as the agent by whom Mary conceived Jesus Christ and later as the divine power imparted to the church.


Summary Article: Holy Spirit
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Third person of the Christian Trinity, with God the Father and God the Son (Jesus); also known as the Holy Ghost or the Paraclete (Greek ‘comforter’), and usually depicted as a white dove.

In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is shown as the life-giving breath of God. In the New Testament, Christians believe that the work of Jesus made it possible for the birth of the Holy Spirit within human beings, and that the Holy Spirit is life-giving – God working in the world.

At Jesus' baptism, John the Baptist commented that while he baptized with water, Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. Christians believe that when this happens it brings believers into new life, and affirm their belief in the Holy Spirit when saying the Nicene Creed.

According to the Gospels, Jesus instructed his disciples to carry on his work before he left them. He promised that he would always be with them and would send God's Holy Spirit to inspire, comfort, and guide them. The disciples felt the Holy Spirit's presence at the Jewish Feast of Shavuot. From this time their lives changed. They felt the power of the Holy Spirit guiding them as they went about preaching, healing, and converting people to share their faith. Many became followers and thought that through baptism and the ‘laying on of hands’ the Holy Spirit was transmitted to them.

The Christian festival of Pentecost is regarded as the birthday of the Christian church and is celebrated six weeks after Easter on Whit Sunday. Pentecost celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit, the presence of God within, or the activity of God on earth. It is because of the long tradition of baptism at Pentecost that the day has also become known as Whit Sunday; those about to be baptized wore white, hence ‘White Sunday’.

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