Did Jesus have the indwelling Holy Spirit?

Monday Musings for January 06, 2020

Good morning, Musers,

People who subscribe to body/soul dualism often say that we “have” a soul — and I can’t blame them. Our bodies are where we live... so it’s easy to see why people assume that they are the most important part of us. But that saying is simply not true. We are not bodies that have souls; we are souls that have bodies.

Why do I say that? Because our bodies will perish while our souls will not — and this is critical in understanding what happens to us when we die (Matthew 25:46).

Our individual physical bodies — which could well be taken back fully into the earth by the time Jesus comes again (Ecclesiastes 3:20) — are the very bodies Jesus will resurrect when he returns. Our eternal souls will rejoin our bodies on that day — and those bodies will be glorified... but even those bodies will not be our essential selves. Our souls will still hold that honor.

The Apostle Paul contemplated the condition of all the righteous dead who await the return of Jesus. They have no bodies... he mused... and he considered that a lesser condition than glorified embodiment. But even without our bodies, that intermediate state will be greater than our current state because our essential selves will be with Jesus’ essential self (Philippians 1:22-26).

But what of the Holy Spirit? It’s no secret that Jesus became one of us... I mean... that’s how he saved us! But there are limits to how “like us” he became. The early church wrestled with questions like these early on. How could it not?

So, thanks to them, we call Jesus’ dual nature — the one where he was truly God and truly man at the same time — the hypostatic union... and I freely admit that this concept stretches my mortal mind. But the Bible is clear that Jesus was truly both. He was born as a flesh-and-blood child who grew up normally, experienced the same emotions and the same spacetime limits that we do, and that he died a physical death. But it is also clear that he was God here on earth.

But what about his soul and spirit? Was he like us in those respects? Or was something else going on?

In that he experienced body/soul dualism like us, then he was like us. The difference comes with the nature of his soul. Ours are the souls of individual people who are unique and precious to God. But, although our souls will persist into eternity, they had a beginning. Jesus’ did not.

There’s another difference: Jesus’ soul — which like ours, represents his essential self and will persist in eternity — is not just any personal identity. It is the eternal Logos that we read about in John chapter 1. This is who Jesus was here on earth... and this is who Jesus is in the Trinity.

What this means is Jesus always “had” the Holy Spirit while he was human. But if the Holy Spirit were to indwell Jesus as he indwells us, that would have been a lesser and a redundant relationship.

If I die before Jesus returns, the essential part of me will be communing with the other righteous people who have died — and with the eternal Logos! — and I’m good with all that! But will the Holy Spirit still be dwelling within me? That’s also a good question.

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