John Calvin on the Deity of the Holy Spirit

This excerpt is taken whole from ‘The Institutes of the Christian Religion’ by John Calvin.

14. In asserting the divinity of the Spirit, the proof must be derived from the same sources [i.e. the Bible].  And it is by no means an obscure testimony which Moses bears in the history of the creation, when he says that the Spirit of God was expanded over the abyss or shapeless matter; for it shows not only that the beauty which the world displays is maintained by the invigorating power of the Spirit, but that even before this beauty existed the Spirit was at work cherishing the confused mass.  Again, no cavils can explain away the force of what Isaiah says, ‘And now the Lord God, and his Spirit, has sent me’ (Isa 48:16), thus ascribing a share in the sovereign power of sending the prophets to the Holy Spirit.  In this his divine majesty is clear.

But, as I observed, the best proof to us is our familiar experience.  For nothing can be more alien from a creature, than the office ascribed to him, and which the pious actually feel him discharging – his being diffused over all space, sustaining, invigorating, and quickening all things, both in heaven and on the earth.  The mere fact of his not being circumscribed by any limits raises him above the rank of creatures, while his transfusing vigor into all things, breathing into them being, life, and motion, is plainly divine.  Again, if regeneration to corruptible life is higher, and much more excellent than any present quickening, what must be thought of him by whose energy it is produced?  Now, many passages of Scripture show that he is the author of regeneration, not by a borrowed, but by an intrinsic energy; and not only so, but that he is also the author of future immortality.  In short, all the peculiar attributes of the Godhead are ascribed to him in the same way as to the Son.  He searches the deep things of God, and has no counsellor among the creatures; he bestows wisdom and the faculty of speech, though God declares to Moses (Exod 4:11) that this is his own peculiar province.  In like manner, by means of him we become partakers of the divine nature, so as in a manner to feel his quickening energy within us. Our justification is his work; from him is power, sanctification, truth, grace, and every good thought, since it is from the Spirit alone that all good gifts proceed.  Particular attention is due to Paul’s expression, that though there are diversities of gifts, ‘all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit’ (1 Cor 12:11), he being not only the beginning or origin, but also the author; as is even more clearly expressed immediately after in these words ‘dividing to every man severally as he will’.  For were he not something subsisting in God, will and arbitrary disposal would never be ascribed to him.  Most clearly therefore, does Paul ascribe divine power to the Spirit, and demonstrate that he dwells hypostatically in God.

15. Nor does the Scripture, in speaking of him, withhold the name of God.  Paul infers that we are the temple of God, from the fact that the Spirit of God dwelleth in us’ (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19; and 2 Cor 6:16).  Now it ought not to be slightly overlooked, that all the promises which God makes of choosing us to himself as a temple, receive their only fulfilment by his Spirit dwelling in us.  Surely, as it is admirably expressed by Augustine (Epist. 66 ad Maximum), ‘were we ordered to make a temple of wood and stone to the Spirit, inasmuch as such worship is due to God alone, it would be a clear proof of the Spirit’s divinity; how much clearer a proof of the Spirit’s divinity; how much clearer a proof that we are not to make a temple to him, but to be ourselves that temple’.  And the Apostle says at one time that we are the temple of God, and at another time, in the same sense, that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Peter, when he rebuked Ananias for having lied to the Holy Spirit, said, that he had not lied unto men but unto God.  And when Isaiah had introduced the Lord of Hosts as speaking, Paul says, it was the Holy Spirit that spoke (Acts 28:25, 26).  No, words uniformly said by the prophets to have been spoken by the Lord of Hosts, are by Christ and his apostles ascribed to the Holy Spirit.  Hence it follows that the Spirit is the true Jehovah who dictated the prophecies.  Again, when God complains that he was provoked to anger by the stubbornness of the people, in place of him, Isaiah says that his Holy Spirit was grieved (Isa 63:10).  Lastly, while blasphemy against the Spirit is not forgiven, either in this life or that which is to come, whereas he who has blasphemed against the Son may obtain pardon, that majesty must certainly be divine which it is an inexpiable crime to offend or impair.  I designedly omit several passages which the ancient fathers adduced.  They thought it plausible to quote from David, ‘By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the hosts of them by the breath (Spirit) of his mouth’ (Ps 33:6), in order to prove that the world was not less the work of the Holy Spirit than of the Son.  But seeing it is usual in the Psalms to repeat the same thing twice, and in Isaiah the ‘spirit’ (breath) of the mouth is equivalent to ‘word’, that proof was weak; and, accordingly, my wish has been to advert briefly to those proofs on which pious minds may securely rest.

Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2008, Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC, Peabody, Massachusetts