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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Identity of the Holy Spirit

Don Stewart :: Should the Holy Spirit Be Singled Out for Worship?

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Should the Holy Spirit Be Singled Out for Worship?

The Identity of the Holy Spirit – Question 17

Since the Holy Spirit is God, should He be singled out for worship? What does the Bible have to say about this issue?

Option 1: Some Believe the Holy Spirit Should Be Singled Out for Worship

There are some believers who think that the Holy Spirit should indeed be singled out for worship. They argue that the historic church has practiced worship of the Holy Spirit. There are preserved prayers to the Holy Spirit from the fourth century until today. The Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and most mainline Protestant denominations, still use hymns and prayers to the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is argued, that we should single out the Holy Spirit for worship.

Does the Bible Command to Worship the Spirit?

Some have argued that the New Testament may command the worship of the Holy Spirit. They cite one possible translation of Philippians 3:3 which says that we do worship the Holy Spirit. It reads as follows.

For we are the circumcision, who worship the Spirit of God (Philippians 3:3 ESV).

If this is the correct understanding of this verse, then it would be a direct statement that believers do worship of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, worship of the Holy Spirit is something that believers should practice because the Bible allows for it.

Option 2: Believers Do Not Single Out the Holy Spirit for Worship

While some think the Holy Spirit should be singled out for worship, the Bible says that the Holy Spirit’s job is not glorifying Himself. Indeed, it is His responsibility to glorify Jesus Christ. Jesus made this clear when He said the following.

But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me (John 15:26 NKJV).

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit is to testify of Him.

Jesus repeated this same truth later. Again, He said.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not be presenting his own ideas; he will be telling you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by revealing to you whatever he receives from me (John 16:13, 14 NLT).

The Bible is clear. The Holy Spirit was sent by Jesus to speak of Jesus. We do not have a personal relationship with Him as we do with Jesus Christ. Therefore, worship of the Holy Spirit is not something that believers should practice.

In addition, the possible translation of Philippians 3:3, where the command is to worship the Spirit, is not found in any major translation of Scripture. Most translations render this verse as follows.

For we who worship God in the Spirit are the only ones who are truly circumcised. We put no confidence in human effort. Instead, we boast about what Christ Jesus has done for us. (Philippians 3:3 NLT)

The usual translation does not teach that we single out the Holy Spirit for worship. Instead it says that we worship God in the Spirit or by the Spirit. However, we do not single out the Holy Spirit for worship.

Does This Mean That We Do Not Worship the Holy Spirit?

Does this mean we should not worship the Holy Spirit at all? Though some would say we should not, the fact is that we do worship the Holy Spirit. While there may be no direct commandments to single out the Holy Spirit for worship, we do worship Him when we worship God because the Holy Spirit is God. To deny worship to the Holy Spirit is to deny His deity.

Therefore it is proper to say that we do worship the Holy Spirit when we worship God in Trinity. Yet it is also true that we should not single out the Holy Spirit for worship.

Summary – Question 17
Should the Holy Spirit Be Singled Out for Worship?

There is a question as to whether or not we should single out the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, for worship. Christians differ on this.

Some believe that the Holy Spirit, since He is God, should be singled out for worship. They believe there is nothing wrong with worshipping the Holy Spirit without mentioning God the Father or God the Son. In fact, one possible translation of Philippians 3:3 says that we do worship the Holy Spirit. Consequently, there is nothing improper about singling out the Holy Spirit for worship.

However, the Holy Spirit is not singled out for worship in the New Testament. His ministry is not to speak of Himself – His sole mission is to speak about Jesus Christ. Jesus made this clear. He said the responsibility of the Holy Spirit was to draw attention to Jesus, not to Himself. In fact, Jesus specifically said that the Holy Spirit would not speak of Himself. Thus, it is wrong to single Him out for worship.

In addition, there is no specific command to worship Him alone. The translation that some offer of Philippians 3:3, which they say acknowledged the Holy Spirit is singled out for worship, is not a legitimate alternative to the traditional understanding of the verse. Rather it says that we worship by means of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, the Spirit of God should not be the sole object of our worship. However, we do worship the Holy Spirit when we worship God since He is the Third Person of the Trinity. He is indeed worthy of our worship as part of the Godhead. Yet we should not single Him out for worship. Scripture is clear on this issue.

Why Is the Holy Spirit Called, "the Spirit of Jesus Christ" and, the "Spirit of Jesus?" ← Prior Section
Whom Does the Holy Spirit Proceed From? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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