3 The triune God

188 How did the chief priests behave after the resurrection of Jesus?


When the chief priests learned of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, they bribed the soldiers with money and said: “Tell them, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we slept’” (Matthew 28: 13).

189 What is the resurrection body of Christ?

The resurrection body is liberated from finiteness and mortality. It is no longer bound to space and time. The resurrection body of Christ is a body that never becomes sick, never ages, and never dies. It is a glorious body.

It was in this glorious body that the Lord appeared in the midst of His disciples. He walked through closed doors, broke bread with the disciples, showed them His wounds, and ate with them. Thereby He made it clear that He was not a “spirit” but rather that He was physically present with them as Jesus Christ.

“Resurrection” does not signify a return to earthly existence.


Resurrection: see Questions 535→559→

“Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut [...] Jesus came and stood in the midst.”  John 20: 19

“‘Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.’ When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.”  Luke 24: 39, 40

190 What happened at the ascension of Jesus Christ?


Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. There are eyewitnesses to this event. After He had spoken to His Apostles and blessed them, He was taken up into heaven, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. As they looked into heaven after Him, two angels stood beside them and said: “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1: 11).

“I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.”  John 16: 28

191 Where did Jesus Christ go when He ascended into heaven?


Jesus Christ returned to the Father and “sat down at the right hand of God” (Mark 16: 19).

192 What does it mean to say that “Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of God?”


Those who stood or sat at the right hand of a ruler in antiquity shared in the latter’s power and authority. The image that Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God therefore points to the fact that He shares in the fullness of the power and glory of God, the Father.


Jesus Christ desires to share this glory with His own in the future. It was for this reason that Jesus prayed as follows in the intercessory prayer: “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory” (John 17: 24). This plea will be fulfilled when Jesus takes His own unto Himself from among the dead and the living, after which they will be with Him forever.


Rapture: see Questions 559→ et seq.

“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”  1 Thessalonians 4: 15-17

193 Is Jesus Christ also present on the earth now that He has ascended?


Yes. Jesus Christ is also present on earth even after His ascension through the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, who is at work in the church in the present. Thereby Jesus Christ has fulfilled His promise: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 20).


Holy Spirit: see Questions 197→et seq.

194 What did Jesus mean when He said: “I will come again”?


Jesus told His disciples: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14: 3). Jesus Christ will come again—this time as the bridegroom.

When He returns as the bridegroom, He will take unto Himself those of the dead and the living who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit and have allowed themselves to be prepared for this event. The return of Christ is near.


Future hope: see Questions 549→ et seq.

195 How else is the return of Jesus Christ described?


The event of the return of Jesus Christ is also described as the “day of the Lord”, the “day of Christ”, the “future of our Lord”, the “revelation of Christ’s glory”, the “appearing” or “return of the Lord”, and the “return of Christ”.

This event is not the Last Judgement, but rather the moment when the bride of Christ will be caught up to heaven for the marriage of the Lamb.

“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”  Revelation 19: 7

196 What references to the return of Christ do we find in the New Testament?


The New Testament, and in particular the letters of the Apostles, reinforce the promise of the return of Christ. The Apostle concludes his first letter to the congregation in Corinth with the greeting: “O Lord, come!” (cf. 1 Corinthians 16: 22).

Apostle James calls for patience until the coming of the Lord, “for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5: 8). The letter to the Hebrews also admonishes patience: “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10: 37).

The second epistle of Peter (cf. 2 Peter 3: 9) is addressed to all who would deny that Jesus is coming again. This letter rules out even the possibility that the fulfilment of the promise of His return is being delayed.

197 Who is the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is true God. He is the third person of God, who is worshipped as Lord and God along with the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit emanates from God, the Father, and the Son. The Holy Spirit lives in eternal fellowship with them and, like them, is universally active.

‘Universal’: the persons of the Godhead not only work in one place and are not confined in any way, but rather work always and anywhere they wish, both here and in the beyond.

198 How does the Holy Spirit show Himself as a divine person?


The Holy Spirit shows Himself as a person of the trinity of God by sending human beings to spread the gospel, just as God, the Son. Acts 13: 4 relates: “So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.”

He stands by those who profess the Lord when they are in distress: “Do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12: 11, 12).

The Holy Spirit teaches the messengers of God: “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2: 10).


Trinity: see Questions 51→61→ et seq.

199 By what other names is the Holy Spirit also known?


The Holy Spirit is also known as the “Spirit of God”, the “Spirit of the Lord”, the “Spirit of truth”, the “Spirit of [Jesus] Christ”, the “Spirit of His Son”, and the “Spirit of glory”. Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as the Comforter and Helper.

200 What does it mean to say that “the Holy Spirit is a Comforter and Helper”?


Jesus Christ is the Comforter, Helper, and Advocate for His own. In the farewell discourses before His arrest and crucifixion, He promised to send the Holy Spirit as a further Comforter and Helper: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever” (John 14: 16). The Holy Spirit accompanies the believers. He stands by them in all situations of life.

201 What does it mean to say that “the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth”?


The Holy Spirit makes clear what is pleasing to God and that which opposes God’s will. As the Spirit of truth, it identifies truth and falsehood. The Holy Spirit sees to it that the message of the sacrificial death, resurrection, and return of Christ is preserved and spread throughout the ages.

“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”  John 15: 26

202 What does it mean to say that “the Holy Spirit is the power from on high”?


The designation “power from on high” indicates that the activity of the Holy Spirit incorporates the powerful intervention of God. As the “power from on high” (Luke 24: 49), the Holy Spirit moves and fills human beings, and strengthens them in the endeavour to live in accordance with the favour of God and prepare themselves for the return of Christ.

203 How can we recognise the activity of the Holy Spirit?


The activity of the Holy Spirit becomes clear in that God became human in Jesus Christ: the Holy Spirit came upon Mary (cf. Luke 1: 35), and she became pregnant.

We also recognise the activity of the Holy Spirit in that He grants human beings knowledge of divine truth (revelations and insights). Concerning this, Jesus said: “But the [...] Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14: 26). It is in this manner that we today experience the activity of the Holy Spirit in the sermon, especially in that He keeps alive Jesus Christ’s promised return.

The Apostles fulfil their tasks because they are filled with the Holy Spirit. “And when He [Jesus] had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20: 22).

204 What is the gift of the Holy Spirit?


A distinction must be made between the Holy Spirit as a person of the Godhead and the Holy Spirit as a gift of God. The Holy Spirit as a gift of God is a power that emanates from the triune God. The believer who receives this gift is at the same time filled with the love of God.

Baptised individuals who receive the gift of God, thereby also receive childhood in God.


Holy Spirit: see Questions 198→ et seq. Child of God: see explanation of Question 530→ Holy Sealing: see Questions 515→ et seq.

205 How does one receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?


The gift of the Holy Spirit is granted by God through the laying on of hands and prayer of an Apostle. This is shown, for example, in the events that transpired in Samaria.

“Now when the Apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”  Acts 8: 14-17

206 Is the Holy Spirit mentioned in the Old Testament?


Yes. Whenever we read of the “Spirit of God” in the Old Testament, this is a reference to the Holy Spirit. He is not yet portrayed there as a divine person.

207 Was the Holy Spirit also active in the time of the Old Testament?


Yes. Holy Scripture mentions the activity of the Holy Spirit on many occasions. The Holy Spirit inspired human beings so that they could act as instruments in accordance with the will of God. For example, He was active in the prophets of the Old Testament and spoke through them. Through the Holy Spirit, promises concerning the coming of the Messiah were brought forth.

208 Was the Holy Spirit also given as a gift in the time of the Old Testament?


No. The Holy Spirit only filled human beings temporarily in the time of the Old Testament. It only became possible for human beings to receive the Holy Spirit as a sacramental gift after the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.


The Holy Spirit as a sacramental gift: see Questions 428→440→523→ et seq.

209 When were the promises concerning the outpouring of the Holy Spirit fulfilled?


On the fiftieth day after Easter, namely on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out over the disciples of Jesus gathered in Jerusalem.

210 How did the outpouring of the Holy Spirit occur?


The Bible relates the following: “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2: 1-4).

The Holy Spirit filled the Apostles and all those who were with them as an enduring gift, as power from on high (cf. Luke 24: 49).

211 Was the Holy Spirit still active after the time of the early Apostles?


Yes, the Holy Spirit has been active right into our time. This is how we experience the presence of God.

The Lord Himself made reference to the future activity of the Holy Spirit: “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; [...] whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16: 13).

212 Where is the Holy Spirit active today?


The Holy Spirit is active wherever there are people who believe in Jesus Christ, profess Him as Lord, and conduct their lives in accordance with His will.

213 Is the Holy Spirit active in the sacraments?


in the sacraments. Therefore whenever the triune God is active, the Holy Spirit, as a person of the Godhead, is involved. The sacraments are dispensed in the name and power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thereby the sacraments have the power to impart salvation.


Sacraments: see Questions 472→ et seq.

214 What is the connection between the activity of the Holy Spirit and the Apostle ministry?


The Apostles have been sent by Jesus Christ. Through them He offers mankind redemption. They exercise their ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. This also has its effect in the dispensation of the sacraments, in the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins, and in the spread of the gospel, as well as in keeping alive the promise of Christ’s return. It is in this manner that the bride of Christ is prepared for the return of Jesus Christ.


Bride of Christ (bridal congregation): see Questions 387→555→561→ et seq.