In Galatians 4:6 it reads,

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out "Abba, Father." (NIV)

Is Paul saying the Son of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, indwells in the believer as a Spirit next to the Holy Spirit? Or, is Paul saying the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Son?

3 Answers 3


According to the new testament witness, the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ are one and the same Spirit (Romans 8:9).

The apostles tell us that this was true of the Spirit in the Old Testament also (1 Peter 1:11).

It is through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, that the Father and the Son are said to "make [their] home" in the believer (John 14:23).

So, yes, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Son but also the Spirit of the Father. The Holy Spirit is therefore said to proceed from both the Father and the Son (John 14:26; 15:26).

  • 1
    Where does Paul say anything about a trinity? Just one quotation maybe?
    – fdb
    Sep 8, 2016 at 19:14
  • 3
    The specific subject under discussion is whether or not the Spirit of Christ and the Holy Spirit one and the same Spirit, to which I have offered an answer. Are you wanting to widen this discussion by asking a broader question as to whether or not the concept of God as trinity is evident in Pauline theology - is this the case?
    – Richard
    Sep 9, 2016 at 5:17
  • Richard didn't mention a trinity in his answer. He is correct (biblically speaking) and has not diminished the truth by adding unnecessarily to the facts.+1
    – Steve
    Sep 2, 2020 at 0:23

Because you are sons" indicates that we have a Father.

"Again Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so also I am sending you.” When He had said this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit." (John 20:21-22)

The Holy Spirit is one and clearly proceeds (εκπορεύεται) from the Father, (John 14:26, John 15:26, John 14:16,17,26, Acts 1:4) through the Son (and us who are Baptised and Christened).


There is difference between the Spirit of God in you and the Holy Ghost upon you.

Notice two promises in the Old Testament concerning the Spirit of God.

Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. (Eze 36:24-27) And And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. (Joe 2:28-29)

Comparing these two verses notice both are “my spirit” but there are a few distinct differences:

  • The Prepositions: The Spirit spoken of in Ezekiel is “put WITHIN you” while the Spirit spoken of in Joel is poured “UPON all flesh”.

  • The Effect: The Effect of the “spirit within”, is to “cause you to WALK in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” while the effect of the “Spirit upon” is spiritual gifts: prophecy, dreams and visions.

The Spirit poured out

We know the Acts 2 is that which was spoken of by the Prophet Joel. Notice the consistency of the prepositions and the effect:

  • But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Act 1:8)
  • For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. (Act 1:5)
  • And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Act 2:4) (it appears that being baptised or filled is synonoous to have the Spirit come upon)

This is consistent all throughout Acts as the Spirit is “poured out upon all flesh”

  • Act 2:33-38) Peter explains that Christ has been exalted to the right hand of God and received the promise of the Holy Ghost and “shed this forth” and offers the “gift of the Holy Ghost” to those that will repent and be baptised.
  • Acts 4:8) Peter filled with the Holy Ghost preaches boldly Acts 4:31) All believers at a prayer gathering is filled with the Holy Ghost and preaches the Word with boldness
  • Acts 5:32) Peter says the Holy Ghost as a Witness is said to be given to those that obey Him.
  • Acts 7:55) Stephen filled with the Holy Ghost sees a vision of Jesus at the right hand of God.
  • Acts 8) The Samaritans have hands laid on them to receive the Holy Ghost in such a visible way that the sorcerer Simon offers the Apostles money to also have this gift. (passage uses terms like fallen upon / baptised only / received the Holy Ghost/ Holy Ghost was given).
  • Acts 9) Ananias lays hand on the Christian-persecuting Saul of Tarsus to be filled with the Holy Ghost, who receives miraculous healing and soon starts preaching Christ.
  • Acts 10-11) The Holy Ghost fell on uncircumcised Gentiles that heard the Gospel from Peter and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. The passage uses words like the Holy Ghost fell on all / on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. / have received the Holy Ghost/ baptized with the Holy Ghost
  • Acts 13:9-10) Paul is filled with the Holy Ghost and pronounces a Word of Knowledge and a curse on Elymas the sorcerer
  • Acts 13:52) After facing persecution the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost, to continue their witnessing.
  • Acts 19:1-7) Paul meets twelve disciples in Ephesus and questions them if they have received the Holy Ghost since they believed and lays hands on them to receive the Holy Ghost, and they start speaking in tongues and prophesying. The passage uses phrases like received the Holy Ghost / unto what baptized / Holy Ghost came on them.

The Ezekiel passage is not as expressly identified in the New Testament, but considering the effects of receiving the new heart and the Lord’s spirit within that “cause you to WALK in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them”, seems to be what Romans 8 and almost all of Galatians is teaching:

  • For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Rom 8:2-4)
  • For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Gal 5:13-16)

Notice now both Roman 8 and Galatians emphasises that the Spirit is WITHIN (never upon or filled):

  • But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Rom 8:9-11)
  • But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: (Gal 1:15-16)
  • And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. (Gal 4:6)

I therefore repeat, there is a difference between the Spirit of God within you and the Holy Ghost upon you.

Now, what is interesting also is that the Spirit of God within, is also identified as:

  • The Son in me (Gal 1:15)
  • The Spirit of the Son (Gal 4:6)
  • The Spirit of Adoption (Rom 8:15)
  • The Spirit of Life in Christ (Rom 8:2)
  • The Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9)

Notice even in the Old Testament: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. (1Pe 1:11)

  • Christ in me (Rom 8:10 & Gal 2:20)

  • Never the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost in KJV, whereas this is always the Name used about the Spirit that comes upon people through the laying on of hands, spoken of in Acts, manifesting in spiritual gifts rather than obedience.

It appears TO ME as if the early English Translators (not just KJV) knew of this difference and consistently translated Holy Ghost for the Spirit of God as the Third Member of the Trinity, distinct from Christ and external to the believer but poured out, using the word “ghost” seemingly is to mean “breathed OUT spirit” (see Gen 25:8 as an example of גוע (gava) - breathed out, and Mat 27:50 as an example of αφηκεν το πνευμα (send forth the spirit) are translated to "gave up the ghost").

Other differences include how and when the Spirit is received.

It has led me to also ask the following questions:

  1. Is the Spirit of Christ (or Spirit of the Son of God) in essence the Third Person of the Trinity?
  2. Is Christ in me God, the Holy Ghost?
  3. What was the Son, before he was incarnated? He was (and is) God… God is a Spirit. Is then the Spirit of Christ, distinct from the Holy Ghost? Both are the Spirit of God.

My answer, therefore, is that it does not appear to be as simple as some here have suggested, and I pose the questions above as evidence that your question is an excellent but leads to deeper questions that does challenge what most Christians hold as a simple fact. In John 14 where Jesus promises that He and the Father will indwell the obedient believer, and also promises the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, but the "oneness" and distinctions within the Trinity and with the "Comforter" (and the believers) are nothing short of mysterious!

Simplistic answers may leave contradictions and errors suggesting such things as your body being a temple of the Holy Ghost (the Bible does not say that) or (worse) that not unless you have been baptised with the Holy Ghost (evidenced by speaking in tongues), you are not saved.

What I know is:

  1. ...that which is conceived in her (Christ) is of the Holy Ghost. (Mat 1:20)
  2. ...that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (Joh 3:6)
  3. ...the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2Co 3:17) And ON TOP of that:
  4. ...that the Holy Ghost is the Gift of God (Acts 2:38; Acts 8:20; Acts 10:45; Acts 11:17) and if I, as a good father give good gifts to my sons how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?(Luke 11:13) And how can I ask Him for this Good Gift, if I am not a son through the Spirit of the Son?

I also know that the Mormon faith makes a similar distinction, but I have as yet not made an effort to understand their teaching on the matter.

  • 1. Could you susbstantiate that 'ghost' means (I assume you are referring to the English words only) 'breathed out spirit'. 2. You have somewhat complicated this answer by posing further questions. Can I suggest you edit out the latter questions and ask them in the form of a new question.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 31, 2020 at 1:27
  • @NigelJ: Thanks for the excellent advice Nigel... I added references to why it "appears to me" they used the word "ghost" to mean "beathed out spirit, and rephrased the sentence to make it clear it is my own conclusion. I found an early dictionary that had a similar definition but I will have to find it again. Aug 31, 2020 at 4:21
  • @NigelJ: Your other suggestion of editing out the latter questions: my answer is basically that the answer is not simple and leads to more questions so they are actually part of the answer. It might not be a good answer (for stackexchange standards) but its no less true. Do you think I can keep them here but post them in theform of a new question (referencing it here)? Aug 31, 2020 at 4:22
  • I suggest a 'bracket' (in words or actually) in this answer to clarify that the additional questions lead to something else, then refer back to here in your new question. I appreciate what you are saying. It just needs to be clear to users, that's all.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 31, 2020 at 4:25
  • I can see why you think 'ghost' is 'breathed out' if the KJV translators (and Wycliffe) used 'Holy Ghost' to refer to an independent reference to the Divine Person and 'Holy Spirit' when translating pneuma in relation to an indwelling Presence.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 31, 2020 at 4:29

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