“the Spirit of God descending like a dove”

Matthew 3: 16

Reading: Matthew 3: 13-17; John 14: 26; Romans 8: 26, 27

Just because we use the term ‘spirit’, which to us in an intangible and unknowable, we should not think of the Holy Spirit as some kind of chi or prana, merely the power or life force of God.  Like the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is a distinct person within the eternal Trinity. This is the implication of verses that speak of the Holy Spirit as distinct from the Father and the Son (such as Matt. 28:19).

It is seen quite clearly in our passage for today, that records the baptism of Jesus. Here all 3 persons were present. God the Father spoke from heaven and said, “This is my beloved Son” (Matt. 3:17), God the Son, who had become man, was the one being baptized (v. 16), and the Holy Spirit descended from heaven on him, for Jesus “saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him” (v. 16). Each person of the Trinity was doing something different at exactly the same time. Always separate. Always inseparable.  

In addition, the Bible ascribes many personal activities to the Holy Spirit. He teaches (John 14:26), bears witness to people (John 15:26; Rom. 8:16), prays to the Father on our behalf (Rom. 8:26-27), knows the thoughts of God (1 Cor. 2:11), and makes personal decisions about which spiritual gifts to distribute to which people (1 Cor. 12:11). The Holy Spirit personally guides Christians (Rom 8:14; Gal. 5:18; cf. Acts 16:6-7). Something can seem good to the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28), and the Holy Spirit can be “grieved” by our sin (Eph. 5:30). These are all activities of persons, not mere impersonal forces or energies.


Holy Spirit, I worship you today as my Lord, my Creator, my Paraclete.

For the family


Explain today’s devotional in terms they will understand.


Focus on just one aspect of what the Holy Spirit does – for example, pray to the Father on our behalf. Thank Him together for this activity in your lives.