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Holy Ghost Vs Holy Spirit

“I will pour water on the thirsty land

And streams on the dry ground;

I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring,

And My blessing on your descendants;

And they will spring up among the grass

Like poplars by streams of water.” (Isaiah 44:3-4)

This prophecy of Isaiah spoke of a glorious time to come – the very age in which we are now living! In Isaiah’s day, only a few people – like the prophets or some kings – had the infilling of the Holy Ghost. Today, it is the privilege of all believers!

Why do some folks say “Holy Ghost” and others “Holy Spirit?” Let’s explore what the Bible wants us to know about the Holy Spirit.

What is the Holy Ghost?

It’s better to ask “Who” is the Holy Ghost, as He is a Person. He is not an impersonal force. The Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit) is part of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All three are equal. They are not three beings but one, just as your own spirit and body are one person.

The Holy Spirit is the life-giver. He was the agent of creation at the beginning of time. He is the author of the Bible. He gave revelation to the prophets and apostles who wrote the Old and New Testaments.

  • “All Scripture is inspired by God [God-breathed] and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man or woman of God may be fully capable, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • “No prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:21)

As the Bible teacher R. C. Sproul once said:

“The Bible is the Holy Spirit’s book. He is involved not only in the inspiration of Scripture but is also a witness to Scripture’s truthfulness. This is what we call the ‘internal testimony’ of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Holy Spirit provides a testimony that takes place inside of us—He bears witness to our spirits that the Bible is the Word of God. Just as the Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16), He assures us of the sacred truth of His Word.” [i]

Throughout the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit worked through certain people, and today, He infills and works through all Christians.

The Holy Spirit is the agent that raised Jesus from the dead, and He will do the same for us!

  • “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)

One Lord, One Spirit, One Body

  • “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6)

All Christians – the Church – are part of one body – the body of Christ. Christ is the head of the body. We have one Spirit – the Holy Spirit – who applies Christ’s resurrection and brings us into the body of Christ. He baptizes us and infills us to serve the body.

  • “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27)

When was the Holy Ghost first mentioned in the Bible?

The Holy Ghost is mentioned in the first two verses of the Bible!

  • “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was a formless and desolate emptiness, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1-2)

The Holy Ghost was the agent of creation. He hovered over the waters. He brought life out of the desolate emptiness.

  • “When You send Your Spirit, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth.” (Psalm 104:30)
  • “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” (Job 33:4)

The Old Testament speaks of the Spirit of God 94 times! God’s Holy Spirit opened up the Red Sea and led Moses and the children of Israel through on dry ground!

  • “Then His people remembered the days of old, of Moses. Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit in the midst of them? Who caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses? Who divided the waters before them to make for Himself an everlasting name? Who led them through the depths?

Like the horse in the wilderness, they did not stumble. Like the cattle which go down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD gave them rest. So You led Your people, to make for Yourself a glorious name.” (Isaiah 63:11-14)

Throughout the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit empowered and guided leaders like Joshua, the judges, some of the kings, and, of course, His prophets.

Is there a difference between the Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost?

No, both mean the same thing. “Holy Ghost” was used in translations going back over 400 years. Since then, the English language has changed, and “Holy Spirit” is used in modern translations.

In the Old Testament Hebrew, the “Spirit of God” is ruach Elohim. Ruach means “breath, wind, or spirit.” Elohim means God. So, it’s the “breath of God” or the “Spirit of God.”

In the New Testament Greek, the Holy Spirit is Pneuma Hagios. Pneuma means “spirit” or “breath.” Hagios means Holy.

What are the translation differences?

Some older translations, like the King James Version and the Douay-Rheims Bible, use the word “Ghost” instead of “Spirit.”

But the Greek word for an actual ghost was phantasma. For instance, when the disciples saw Jesus walking on water on a stormy night, they thought He was a ghost and used the word phantasma. (Mark 6:49)

In the 1500s and 1600s, when the Douay-Rheims Bible and King James Version were translated, the meanings of many English words were different. Today, a “ghost” is the spirit of a dead person. Five hundred years ago, it meant “a being without a body.” Yet, the King James Version was inconsistent. Sometimes, it translated the Greek word pneuma as “spirit,” but most of the time, it translated it as “ghost.” That was probably because the English language was rapidly changing and not yet standardized. Different scholars translated different sections of the King James Version, so they probably translated pneuma according to their understanding of the English word “spirit.”

The newer versions, including the New King James Bible, have corrected “Holy Ghost” to “Holy Spirit.”

What is the baptism and indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Jesus promised His disciples He would send the Holy Spirit – the “gift” or “power from on high.”

  • “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you.” (John 14:26)
  • “And behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you, but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49)
  • “And while they were gathered together, He commanded them: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift the Father promised, which you have heard Me discuss.’” (Acts 1:4)

The word translated “Helper” in John 14:26 means “Advocate” or “Intercessor.” It literally means “called to one’s side.”

The Holy Spirit came after Jesus ascended to heaven:

  • “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a noise like a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And tongues that looked like fire appeared to them, distributing themselves, and a tongue rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with different tongues, as the Spirit was giving them the ability to speak out.” (Acts 2:2-4)

This baptism of the Holy Spirit is for all believers. Just after it happened to the disciples, Peter preached to the crowd that gathered. He told them:

Acts 2 marked the beginning of the new covenant when all believers are baptized and indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Indwelling means the Holy Spirit lives in us and gives us power and wisdom. He teaches us and reminds us of what Jesus taught.

  • “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)

The purpose is to empower and equip us for ministry. The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to each believer to do the work He has called them to do. (Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11)

What does it mean to quench the Holy Spirit?

  • “Do not quench the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19)

To quench the Holy Spirit means to subdue His work and power in our lives. It’s throwing water on the fire, so to speak. John Piper says, “Quenching the Spirit is to despise the supernatural work of the Spirit and treat it with contempt.”[ii]

How do we quench the Holy Spirit?

  1. Through disobedience to His Word
  2. Through unbelief in His promises
  3. Through neglecting to pray, be in fellowship with other believers, and read His Word
  4. Through relying on ourselves or other things rather than relying on God
  5. Through neglecting to put the spiritual gifts He has given us into action
  6. Through grieving the Spirit through unwholesome talk, bitterness, anger, and slander


If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit is living in you, giving you the power to live a godly life. He is empowering you for the specific ministry He has planned for you. The Holy Spirit is giving you spiritual discernment and transformed thinking.

“The result of the Spirit working with the Word of God to illumine and transform our thinking is the development of a godly instinct that operates in sometimes surprising ways. The revelation of Scripture becomes, in a well-taught, Spirit-illumined believer, so much a part of his or her mindset that the will of God frequently seems to become instinctively and even immediately clear—just as whether a piece of music is well or badly played is immediately obvious to a well-disciplined musician. It is this kind of spiritual exercise that creates discernment (see Heb. 5:11–14). [iii]

[i] R.C. Sproul, “The Spirit’s Internal Witness,” Tabletalk Magazine https://www.ligonier.org/guides/holy-spirit

[ii] https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/am-i-quenching-the-holy-spirit

[iii] Sinclair B. Ferguson, “Spirit of Light” https://www.ligonier.org/guides/holy-spirit

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