If one reads John 14-16 and listens to Jesus’ description of the Spirit of God, he gets the sense that Jesus is describing someone he knows personally. He speaks of the Spirit like one would speak of someone he knew personally as a friend. For this reason, John 14-16 is unique in Scripture. The Spirit is described in personal terms not seen elsewhere in Scripture. Jesus reveals both names and activities of the Spirit.
The activities of the Spirit rather than names are the primary descriptors of the Spirit’s personality. As a matter of fact, some of the names given to the Spirit are in other contexts adjectives implying activity. These names are Helper, Holy Spirit, and Spirit of Truth. In these names are activities and/or traits that are so characteristic of the Spirit that Jesus substantized them. The Helper is known by helping for that is what He does. The Holy Spirit is known by His holy character. And the Spirit of Truth is known for His relationship to truth in all that He is and does. These names have adirect relationship between what the Spirit is and what He does. Notice I say “He” not “it”. For Jesus uses a 3rd person personal pronoun 19 times when speaking of the Spirit. To prove that the Spirit is a He and not an “it”, a person and not a force, Jesus reveals to us the Spirit’s activities.
These three chapters record 16 activities enacted by the Spirit and only a couple of them could be fulfilled by a mere force, while the remainder demand personality to fulfill the task required. The 16 activities are: teaching, producing, recall, abiding, discriminating, living, testifying, fellowshipping, convicting, guiding, strengthening, speaking, announcing, revealing, honoring, and glorifying. Only producing recall and strengthening could be produced by a mere force. And I would argue that when strengthening is understood in a personal-spiritual context then the possibility of a mere force qualifying for the job is eliminated. An impersonal force cannot strengthen a person. It can only strengthen the exertion of physical power not “personal” power. That leaves only producing recall as a function force could accomplish. As electronic stimulation touching certain portions of the brain in the hands of a scientist can produce memory in a person, so can the Spirit be a force in the hands of the Father. However, it could be pointed out even with this example that some personal involvement is needed on the part of the scientist to direct the force of electronic stimulation. If one reads John 14:26 carefully, no other person is given as the applier of the Spirit force, implying that the Spirit is His own applier. Thus, even this activity speaks of personhood.
The rest of the activities given in John 14-16 logically cannot be said to be anything other than activities of a person. Only a person can be a guide in teaching other persons knowledge. Only a non-force can be said to be living. Only a person can be said to discriminate spiritual good and evil. Only a person could testify to a cognitive being. Only a person can fellowship with another person. Only a person can cognitively and spiritually convict another person of wrongdoing. Only a person with rational abilities can communicate in spoken language. The same can be said of announcing and revealing. Lastly, only a valuing, rational, emotional, and volitional being can honor and glorify someone else. A force does not have these characteristics.
What does all this say about the Spirit? Can we make declarative statements about the Spirit? Yes. From these three chapters we see that the Spirit is humble, holy, a lover of truth, compassionate, strong, living, and eternal. And most importantly, intimately related to both the Father and the Son in a very special way.
One thing needs to be added in order to better understand the Spirit’s activity in the world. Evil spirits also exist. The primary one is Satan himself, the “god of this world.” They are also rational and volitional beings capable of teaching, guiding, speaking, revealing, honoring, glorifying (in a sense), and testifying. How does one discern the difference between the voice of an evil spirit and Spirit of God? Jesus tells us that the Spirit will witness concerning Jesus’ true identity and mission, teach consistent with the recorded word of God, promote holy activity consistent with His nature, produce wisdom in a believer’s life, and instigate fellowship based on forgiveness, love, and concern. Any spirit that does not speak according to these things is not the Spirit of God.