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Ephesians 4:30 (NRSV) says that the Holy Spirit can be grieved:

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption

which is paralleled in the OT by Isaiah 63:10 (NRSV):

But they rebelled and grieved his holy spirit; therefore he became their enemy; he himself fought against them.

Does this mean that the Holy Spirit can feel emotions?

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    In its present form this question and the current answers are about a specific doctrine, not about textual analysis, making it far more appropriate for Christianity.SE. Feb 15 at 16:43
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And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: [1 Thessalonians 1:6 KJV]

The joy with which the followers received the word was joy 'of the Holy Spirit'. Therefore the Holy Spirit himself knows joy.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. [Romans 8:26 KJV]

In assisting the infirmity of those who pray, the Spirit makes intercessions with 'groanings', στεναγμός, Strong 4726 Thayer : 'groan' 'sigh'.

Groaning or sighing is surely a sign of deep feeling being expressed.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

[John 14:16,17 KJV]

It is evident from John's report of Jesus' words that the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, is not received by the world or known by the world. But he is known by them to whom Jesus speaks these words.

And he is, first, with them. Then he, later, is in them.

And it is evident that the exhortations made by Paul to the Thessalonian saints and to the Roman Christians indicate that what the Spirit feels is felt in conjunction with the Lord's people.

For he is in them.

Therefore, we can say of a certainty that the Spirit has deep and profound feelings, since we in whom He dwells feel those same things within us, due to His Presence within us.

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  • That which makes green grass green is not green; the scores through which an orchestra makes an audible music are just visible symbols, not audible; a ratio of substances' distillation through which a pleasant fragrance is created is a number, it does not smell; how much less the Holy Spirit who rouses emotions in human souls is roused by the same emotion Himself! That is to say He is not emotional at all at least in any humanly understood sense. Feb 15 at 21:25
  • @LevanGigineishvili I disagree, sir. I do see a point about the difference between fleshly emotion and spiritual feeling. But I have not been writing (above) about fleshly emotions. I am referring to the sensations of the spirit.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 15 at 21:37
  • It is your right to disagree. Nevertheless, if I weep for my sinful action, this is a spiritual weep inspired by Holy Spirit, but to say that Holy Spirit weeps, will be cheesy and melodramatic, but not correct. If a hero soldier laughs with a good spiritual laughter for defeat of Nazis, this joy and laughter can surely be inspired by Holy Spirit, but will we say that Holy Spirit laughs? Yes but only metaphorically, apophatically, causally. Beauty of Helen of Troy roused emotion of love in Paris, but was this divine Beauty of Helen or she herself roused or affected by Paris' desire and emotion? Feb 15 at 22:22
  • To sum up and crystalize my objection: even when we have sentiments and emotions inspired by Holy Spirit it does not mean that the Inspirer has them in the same way or at all; when you receive a suntan on a beach the cause of the suntan is the sun, yet would you say that the sun has tan? The same here but in a far more transcendent way than with the sun and the suntan. When we have a nostalgy and sorrow towards God (2 Cor. 7:9) it is from Holy Spirit, but Holy Spirit Himself does not have this sorrow and nostalgy, in a far transcendent way than the sun does not have the suntan itself. Feb 16 at 7:37
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Since I have written a couple of comments and objections on one of the posts of this thread, I decided also to put them together in as a separate post. In short, my answer is that divine, infinite, spiritual, simple, uncreated, impassible Nature cannot have emotions of us, the passible, created beings. When we speak about emotions in God, like "wrath of God" or similar, it is only metonyms that we are using and not any real sense, unless we speak about the Incarnate God Jesus Christ, who, of course, has also human emotions, just like any other man, but the Father and the Holy Spirit cannot have human emotions in principle. To repeat, “human emotion” means emotion pertaining to human nature, and if we say that the Father and the H. Spirit have human emotions, will amount to an absurdity of assertion that not only the Logos/Son but also the Father and the H. Spirit assumed human nature.

So here come my comments:

First, the term “emotion” should be defined: in real, direct sense it can apply only to a created essence, while impossible to be applied to uncreated, eternal, spiritual essence, thus neither to Holy Spirit. Yet, metaphorically and divinely, in a transcendent symbolic and metonymic sense it can be applied to God also.

That which makes green grass green is not green; the scores through which an orchestra makes an audible music are just visible symbols, not audible; a ratio of substances' distillation through which a pleasant fragrance is created is a number, it does not smell; how much less the Holy Spirit who rouses emotions in human souls is roused by the same emotion Himself! That is to say He is not emotional at all at least in any humanly understood sense.

If I weep for my sinful action, this is a spiritual weep inspired by Holy Spirit, but to say that Holy Spirit weeps, will be cheesy and melodramatic, but not correct. If a hero soldier laughs with a good spiritual laughter for defeat of Nazis, this joy and laughter can surely be inspired by Holy Spirit, but will we say that Holy Spirit laughs? Yes but only metaphorically, apophatically, causally. Beauty of Helen of Troy roused emotion of love in Paris, but was this divine Beauty of Helen or she herself roused or affected by Paris' desire and emotion?

To sum up and crystalize my objection: even when we have sentiments and emotions inspired by Holy Spirit it does not mean that the Inspirer has them in the same way or at all; when you receive a suntan on a beach the cause of the suntan is the sun, yet would you say that the sun has tan? The same here but in a far more transcendent way than with the sun and the suntan. When we have a nostalgy and sorrow towards God (2 Cor. 7:9) it is from Holy Spirit, but Holy Spirit Himself does not have this sorrow and nostalgy, in a far transcendent way than the sun does not have the suntan itself.

When Elisabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, is filled with Holy Spirit and says "My sou is gladdened that mother of my Lord came to my house", it is not that Jesus, the Incarnate Logos is Holy Spirit's Lord, for Holy Spirit Himself is Lord, but that through Holy Spirit Elisabeth realized that the one in Mary's womb was her, Elisabeth's, and all mankind's for that matter, Lord.

However, when we speak about possibility of divine emotions, which I admit, should be there, (for the Biblical God is Person, not impersonal Platonic reality of Absolute Good to which neither prayer is possible and which does not, or rather, cannot care for other beings which It has not even created), it should be established that these are absolutely of a different dimension than emotions of human beings, to the extent that they even cannot be called the same names in a proper sense, but those names take completely different semantics with reference to God and humans. Like, when we say "Wimbledon champ soars!" and "eagle soars", the "soar" verb in two cases are totally different realities (namely, a plain physical fact in the second instance and a state of elation and joyful infatuation in the first), bearing totally different semantics, but still related metonymically and symbolically. The same with divine emotion (as, for instance, in expression "you have provoked God's wrath" /Deut.9:8/) and human emotion, albeit in even a more infinite and otherdimensional way.

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    "the Father and the Holy Spirit cannot have human emotions in principle" - what about divine emotions? Do the Father and the Holy Spirit have qualia? How do you interpret phrases like "But they rebelled and grieved his holy spirit"? Feb 16 at 15:04
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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator First of all, when we speak about possibility of divine emotions, it should be established that these are absolutely of a different dimension than emotions of human beings, to the extent that they even cannot be called the same names; like, when we say "Wimbledon champ soars!" and "eagle soars", the "soar" verb in two cases are totally different realities, related metonymically and symbolically; the same with divine emotion and human emotion, albeit in even a more infinite and otherdimensional way. Feb 16 at 20:34

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