The Holy Spirit: The Introvert of the Trinity


Detail from Covenant-First Presbyterian East Window
Photo by Russell Smith

One of my congregation members told me that he doesn’t have a clear mental picture of the Holy Spirit.  He has no problem envisioning Jesus.  He thinks of all the stories of Jesus laughing, Jesus eating and drinking, Jesus doing miracles, and Jesus spending time with people.  But he doesn’t have much to go on with the Holy Spirit:  doves, rushing wind, tongues of fire, and that sort of thing that kind of thing.  Nothing that conveys a sense of personality.  

The Holy Spirit is the introvert of the Trinity, a master of redirection.  Sure, the Holy Spirit has pizzazz.  That Pentecost appearance with all the fire and the different languages – that was dramatic.  But as soon as he’s got everyone’s attention, the Spirit nudges Peter to give a sermon all about Jesus. That’s the Holy Spirit’s way: continually guiding our gaze to Jesus, rather than hoarding the attention.  

And that’s how it is in the Trinity.  The One God exists as a community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, constantly giving deference to each other.  The Trinity shows us that relationship is at the heart of God’s character.  Jesus teaches his disciples about the Holy Spirit.  He pulls back the curtain a wee bit, offering a glimpse of the Trinitarian love:

“When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”  (John 16:13-15, English Standard Version)

The Father gives everything to the Son; the Son declares truth to the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit declares the truth of the Son to humanity; the Son presents redeemed humanity back to the Father.  No demands for priority of place here.  Mutual deference.   Giving to one another.  That’s the Trinitarian community.  

This same Holy Spirit inspires the prophets, all of whom point us to Jesus, even if only in shadowy ways (see I Peter 1:10-12).  John the Baptist says, “He must increase, I must decrease.” (John 3:30).  Can’t you hear the influence of the Holy Spirit?  

Now here’s the encouraging news.  The Holy Spirit invites us to join in the community.  The Spirit declares the truths of Christ and kindles belief in our hearts.  The Spirit signs the adoption papers bringing us into the family.  We’re given a seat at the table and told we belong.  Christ’s work on the cross made all these things possible, and Christ work of sending the Spirit makes all these things effective.

Soli Deo Gloria


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9 thoughts on “The Holy Spirit: The Introvert of the Trinity

  1. ‘Love this, Russell! You deftly described the Trinity in ways I had not considered: 1) How the Holy Spirit created a dramatic scene on Pentecost, then nudged Peter to preach a sermon about Jesus. The Spirit never seeks attention for Himself. 2) How the trinity is about relationship, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit function in unity. 3) How deftly they support one another’s functions, deflecting attention to the other Persons. 4) How WE can be a part of the community. (Now how amazing is that?!) Thank you for this enlightening post!

  2. Short and sweet, I enjoyed it Russell, thank you. We must also keep in mind that our Lord is humble and seeks the same from all of us (Matthew 18:4; Matthew 23:8-12). Therefore what better way to ask humility from us than by demonstrating it Himself in all His persons. For the Father humbly gave all to his Son, and the Son gave all to us through his Holy Spirit. We ought to give all of ourselves back to the Son (our lifelong mission) with the help of the Holy Spirit, and the Son returns all to the Father. It is the ultimate family founded on divine love.

    • Great point. The humility evident in the Trinity is the humility that we’re called to. “Submit yourselves to one another out of reverence for Christ.”. Ephesians 5:21. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Jesus was a man of flesh, blood and bones who was born, tempted more than once, could sin but did not, could be seen by many who did not die when they saw him (in case he was God they would have fallen death), and Jesus really die, whilst God is an eternal Spirit, as such not having any flesh, blood or bones and no beginning nor end.

    It looks like you are considering Jesus as a part of a triune god, which would make of him and his Father liars. Because his Father called him His beloved son and Jesus said: ” (3) “And this is everlasting life, that they should know You, the only true Elohim, and יהושע {Jeshua} Messiah whom You have sent.” (John 17:3 The Scriptures 1998+)

    • Thanks for commenting. Proudly, I say you are right, I am indeed considering Jesus a part of the Triune God – a confession I share with a long line of saints going back to the very beginning of our faith. From the gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (1:1) and just a few verses later “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (1:14). Even later in the gospel of John, Jesus makes the bold statement “before Abraham was born, I am.” (John 8:58).

  4. Where do you get it from that John talks about a person and not about the word or the speaking of some one? Logos on the Greek text means “word” and not a person called “Word”. Hundreds of examples of this are to be found in the Old Testament which is 75% of our bible. Jews spoke of God His “word” as His self-expression, god in His wisdom carrying out His unique wise Plan for the world. all things came into being through “it”.

    How do you look at the versions than where God and Jesus do seem to tell not the truth, (in case Jesus is God and God is Jesus). Like god telling at the river Jordan that Jesus is His son. Jesus telling more than once that God is his Father and the only one we should pray to. Jesus telling he can not do certain things and does not know things though God can do anything and knows everything!

    Also the Bible, which we consider to be the Word of God, telling us nobody can see God or they would die, but many people could see Jesus. The Bible also telling us that God is an eternal spirit (having no flesh, no blood and no bones), whilst Jesus (who had flesh, blood and bones which were not broken) shows his wounds and tells them to see his wounds which proof he is not a spirit. How do you explain all that?

    • The passage of John 1:1-18, when read as a whole, is pretty clear. If you take it at face value, John’s talking about a divine figure who took on flesh and dwelt amongst people.

      I’m thankful for your posts – however, just to make it clear, this isn’t an apologetics blog, and my purposes here are more for encouragement than for getting into extended debate. If you’re looking for hearty debate, I suggest you check out or

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