In Luke's gospel, he records what happened at the water baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ. "Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, 'You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.'" (Luk 3:21-22)
Here we learn that the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in bodily form. The Greek word for “form” is “eidos” meaning “1) the external or outward appearance, form figure, shape; 2) form, kind” (Thayer). The word "bodily" comes from the Greek word "somatikos" meaning "1) corporeal, bodily 1a) having a bodily form or nature 1b) pertaining to the body" (Thayer). The Spirit of God can appear or manifest Himself in a bodily form, figure, or outward appearance.
This bodily form was visible to Jesus and to certain others that were present. If He had not been visible, then it would not have been recorded, because nobody would have known about it. I know it is difficult for some people to understand how the invisible Spirit of God could become visible. Yet John testified saying, "I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, 'He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.'" (Joh 1:32-33). John testified that he had seen the Spirit.
So we know that the Holy Spirit appeared and made Himself visible, as He came descended from heaven upon Jesus Christ. But what was His bodily form like? Was it like a dove? Most people probably believe that the Holy Spirit's bodily form was like a dove, because the Scripture says, "the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove." (Lk 3:22a). This common belief is evidenced throughout the world among Christians, where the dove represents the Holy Spirit. I don't have any problem with the dove being a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
However, I believe the Holy Spirit does not look like a dove any more than Jesus looks like an actual lamb. I believe that when Scripture states it was "like a dove," this expression describes the manner of the descent, rather than the bodily form. So another way to phrase this would be "while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove. He was in bodily form."
Actually Matthew records it more like this in his gospel. He states: "After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." (Mat 3:16-17)
How does a dove descend? It descends different than other birds. Perhaps we could say it hovers, floats downward, rather than swooping down to kill its prey as a an eagle, or circling overhead like a vulture, or flitting about recklessly like a bat. I believe there was a smooth, steady, deliberate, innocent, pure, and harmless manner in which the Holy Spirit descended on our Lord that can only be compared to the beauty of a white dove descending. Matthew says, "descending as a dove and lighting on Him," indicating that the Holy Spirit came to rest and remain upon Him in the same manner as a bird would light upon Him or land on Him.
So if the use of the dove analogy in Scripture describes the descent, rather than the bodily form of the Holy Spirit, then what was His bodily form like? Where would we look in Scripture to find the answer?
The Bodily Form of God the Father, God has a bodily form in whose likeness we humans are made. He has a head, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, arms, hands, fingers, feet, sandals, and a robe. Of course we know that the Word of God became flesh and took on the likeness of men (Phil 2:7-8). And even now that He has ascended into heaven, the Lord still has His glorified body of flesh and bone. Therefore, it is quite reasonable to assume that the Holy Spirit has a bodily form resembling the heavenly Father and Jesus. That would mean He also has a head, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, arms, hands, fingers, feet, etc. I believe He came in a bodily shape like this at the baptism of Jesus, in order to reveal His Personal nature and substance.
If you have always believed the Holy Spirit descended in the bodily form of a dove with two eyes, wings, bird feet, and a beak, that’s fine. I believe He can appear in that form, if He wants to. But if you could believe that, why is it so difficult to believe He could have a bodily form in the likeness of the heavenly Father and of Jesus?
Personal Testimonies About the Holy Spirit
This may come as a surprise to you, so I would like to share the testimonies of three people who have seen the Holy Spirit.
The first person is a sister, named Prema Pelletier, who testified that the Holy Spirit visited her in her home. She described it this way:
"I was suddenly put into a very deep sleep, in a trance-like state. This is what I saw and experienced. I saw myself sitting on the couch in our living room. The couch was facing the door to the balcony. Coming from the direction of the balcony was the most awesome Person. The Person of God the Holy Spirit! Walking behind the Spirit of the Living God was an angel, not more than four feet tall. God the Holy Spirit came directly towards me. As He slowly walked to me, His head held high, His shoulders thrust out, all Majesty, Authority and Power, the thought was imparted to my spirit, 'This is God the Holy Ghost!' Because the Lord Jesus has appeared to me over twenty-one times, one of the first things I remember thinking was that the Holy Spirit looks so much like the Lord Jesus. He looks like His Twin! But, I seemed to also notice the difference between Them. In the visions granted to me of our Lord Jesus, His hair is down close to His shoulders. The Holy Spirit's hair was not down, but sticking out with power. Thinking about His hair afterwards, it reminded me of someone sticking his finger in a live electrical outlet."
"This Mighty Holy Spirit, this very beautiful Third Person of the Godhead, strode toward me and I stood up. The Spirit of God stood about fifteen inches in front of me. I looked into the very penetrating, deep, serious, serene and very holy eyes of God the Holy Ghost, and I felt I was looking into Eternity! At that moment, I found myself looking down on the carpet where I was standing. I trembled in the Presence of this Holy One with an awesome reverence. As this Holy Wonder of the Lord stood before me, I put out both my hands before Him, palms facing upwards, and I spoke these words, 'Would You please pray that Jesus would always keep me?' When I spoke these words, God's Holy Spirit placed both His Palms on my palms. I felt the sensation of electricity surging through my entire body."
"Next, with His eyes still staring into my very soul, the Spirit of God began to rub my palms with His Palms, one at a time. He slowly rubbed one palm after the other, in a striding type of way. By this time, my eyes were staring at both His Hands. I believe the Lord's Holy Spirit rubbed my palms about eight times. As He did so, I was amazed to see Oil gushing out of the middle of His Palms over mine! The Oil which flowed freely from the Holy Spirit's Palms was bearably hot, and as it overflowed my palms, it went to the back of my hands. As I stood there before the Lord, I found myself rubbing my hands with the Oil still overflowing and dripping on the carpet. I found myself saying these words, 'These hands shall be laid on the sick and they shall recover.' With that, God the Holy Spirit and the angel both turned and walked back the way they came."
So she actually saw the Holy Spirit in bodily form and she said He looks like Jesus! This confirms what we understand from the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit, Who is present everywhere in the temple of the Body of Christ on earth, does have a bodily form like the Father, not like a dove.
Another sister named Angelica Zambrano, is a young lady from Ecuador, who also saw the Holy Spirit. She states: "I also started to see the Holy Spirit; He is my best friend; He is Holy, He is omniscient; He is omnipresent! I could see Him, transparent and brilliant at the same time; with a brilliant countenance, I could see His smile and His loving gaze! I can hardly describe Him, because He is more beautiful than angels. The angels have their own beauty, but the Holy Spirit is far more beautiful than they are! I could hear His audible voice, a voice full of love, a passionate voice. I just can't explain His voice; a voice like lightening, yet at the same time He would say, 'I am with you.' so I would strive to continue walking with God, even as trials surrounded us. We were going through very difficult moments, but victorious ones at the same time. I said, 'Lord, let Your will be done.'"
The third testimony I would like to share from someone who saw the Holy Spirit comes from brother Danny Hahlbohm, the artist who painted the two pictures featured in this blog. When he read this blog, he commented, "I think it is very important, especially in these last days, that we the church and children of God know who the Holy Spirit is. Even myself, being a Christian for over forty years, only became fully aware that the Holy Spirit is not just a 'mist' or a ghost, but an actual person. I have seen Him too and He is glorious and beautiful."
So I asked him to tell me in more detail what he saw, and he replied: "Yes, one day while I was in my God Room the Lord gave me a vision (or perhaps peek) at the Holy Spirit. What I saw was the Holy Spirit descending down in slow motion, almost like I would envision took place when he descended upon Christ at His baptism. In the vision the Holy Spirit descended down from the right hand corner to the lower left hand corner. The robe he was wearing was the purest white, and was loose fitting, so it fluttered behind Him as He descended, giving the appearance of wings behind Him almost."
"I did see His face which also shone brightly, but could not make out any real definitive details, except He did have the appearance of a Man. I do not recall the length of his hair. I do not even recall seeing hair at all, which may have been because it was white like the robe itself, and that is why I don't remember seeing it."
"Personally, I think the reason why God may have shown me this vision was to point out why the Bible said the Holy spirit descended LIKE a dove on Jesus, and is NOT a dove. It was beautiful to watch. I tried to depict it as best I could in the painting you used in this message, but of course anything man-made, like paintings or statues could never come close to depicting the glory of God."
Now for the fourth testimony I would like to share. On May 12, 2017, I read the following testimony of my dear friend, sister Claire Andoun Atongo Solomon, regarding a vision she had of the Holy Spirit while praying recently, just a little over two weeks before she passed from this life and went to be with the Lord. She wrote on her Facebook page on April 22, 2017 at 9:48 AM:
"After my Husband and I have finished to pray around 3 AM, we all slept off. I was privileged to see how the Holy Spirit guides us and how the Lord's angels protect us.
I was with my family on air in the cloud surrounded by Mighty Angels going for evangelism in a dangerous country. We were giving by God an assignment to go and deliver the Christians prisoners held captives by terrorists.
In the air were surrounded by Mighty Angels, 1-By our both sides, 2 - another sets of Angels following us at the back. Wow!
I remembered my daughter Nana was sleeping. I wanted to wake her, but one of our angels replied, "No, no. Leave her to rest. She is tired." He was so gentle. What amazed me is how Nana was moving with us even at sleep. This means even God understand when we are tired but in the Spirit the battle continues.
We were all INVISIBLE to the camp of the enemy. We see them and they can't see us. We will get into these terrorist camps and free all the Christians held captives there. And suddenly these Christians will also join us to fight the enemy. We were more than conquerors. Nothing can touch us.
But there is Someone I want to describe to all of us. THE HOLY SPIRIT. Oooo, He is So beautiful! He will be the One to lead us. He will be in front a bit far [i.e., a little farther ahead of us] to check the area. Once its safe, we will follow His direction.
How He looked like? The Holy Spirit in this vision looked like a BIG and HUGE DOVE, pure white. His wings are so beautiful! He moves them like waves of waters. The HOLY SPIRIT. You can see Him, but you can't touch Him. I was privileged to see His beautiful face like a human being, [yet] at the same time like the dove -- Difficult to describe.
With Him we were all secured -- we and the angels. I was given a new Shoe while we were on [the] air flying. One of the Angels said, "Make sure these shoes remain on your legs, so that you will always be invisible before the enemy when going for battle."
When I woke up, all the pains in my body had disappeared. To GOD BE ALL THE GLORY!
Evangelist Claire Andoun Solomon"
One further Scripture I would like to add is from a psalm that speaks about God's Dove. In Psalm 68, the Lord makes an announcement, in which He says in part, "Even while you sleep among the campfires, the wings of My Dove are sheathed with silver, its feathers with shining gold.” (Ps 68:13).
This psalm is about how God protects us from death, and I believe this verse is about how the Holy Spirit, God's Dove, is always keeping watch over us to protect us. He shines brightly with the glorious splendor of silver and gold. Even while we sleep, He does not. "Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." (Ps 121:4).
His appearance is brilliant, even in the dark of night, as He constantly monitors all the events on earth. If He detects that the demons are mounting an attack on His chosen ones, He arises and dispatches His mighty angels with their tens of thousands, and thousands of thousands of chariots, which go forth with lightning speed to scatter our enemies (see Ps 68:1-2, 12, 14, 17).
Putting it All Together
As you can see, the Holy Spirit is a divine Person, Who can make Himself visible. He is not a bird. He is far more beautiful than any angel, transparent and brilliant. He is glorious and beautiful. He has a head, hair, a brightly shining face, eyes, a mouth that speaks with a passionate voice like lightning, shoulders, and hands. He has a robe of the purest white. He resembles Jesus Christ, the Son of God, because they are One God.
He has been sent to the Church to live in us and teach us. His presence is just as real to us as the presence of the Lord Jesus when He walked with His disciples on earth. He is God, so you should love Him and worship Him. If you are a disciple of Christ and have never received the Holy Spirit, then you should pray and ask for the gift of Him. It is called the baptism with the Holy Spirit, which you need to live a holy life for the Lord and be a powerful witness for Christ.
Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted. The "Holy Spirit" and "Baptism" paintings © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.
Author's note: Please prayerfully review Prema Pelletier's testimony and Angelica Zambrano Hell and Heaven in their entirety, and use the Testimony Review Process adopted by this blog, as you decide for yourself whether the Lord has spoken to her. Also see the following posts:
The Bodily Form of God the Father
The Bodily Form of the Lord Jesus Christ
The Person of the Holy Spirit
Baptized with the Spirit
The Holy Spirit Speaks
Holy Fire Baptism
Is Jesus God?
The Name of Jesus
You can access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus. Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15). He preached that we must repent and believe.
Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.