How is the ministry of the Holy Spirit different in the Old and New Testaments?
In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was given selectively and temporarily to indwell certainly individuals for special ministries. It was not universal nor was it permanent. David’s words in Psalm 51:11 make sense in light of 1 Samuel 10:5-13, where the Spirit came mightily upon Saul, enabling him to serve as King of Israel. We know from 1 Samuel 16:14 and 18:10 that the Holy Spirit departed from Saul, and was replaced by an “evil spirit” sent by God. God was taking away Saul’s kingdom, and so too the Spirit that empowered him as king. The Spirit then came upon David (1 Samuel 16:13). We can see, then, why David would be concerned about the Spirit leaving him, as the Spirit departed from Saul. God did not take the kingdom from David, nor His Spirit.
Christ explained the difference in the ministry of the Holy Spirit in John 14:17 when He told the disciples, “but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” The change in prepositions (“with” and “in”) and tense (present versus future) suggests a difference in the ministry of the Spirit in Old Testament times (Pentecost had not yet occurred and the church had not yet begun when the Lord spoke these words) and New Testament times when the Spirit came to indwell all believers permanently.
John 14 – Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
16 I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, that he may be with you forever,— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world can’t receive; for it doesn’t see him, neither knows him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you.
18 I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more; but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 One who has my commandments [the greatest two], and keeps them, that person is one who loves me. One who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will reveal myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, what has happened that you are about to reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him. 24 He who doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words. The word which you hear isn’t mine, but the Father’s who sent me.
25 I have said these things to you, while still living with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you.
John 16 – The Holy Spirit Promised
5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have told you these things, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I don’t go away, the Counselor won’t come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he has come, he will convict the world about sin, about righteousness, and about judgment;9 about sin, because they don’t believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to my Father, and you won’t see me any more; 11 about judgment, because the prince of this world has been judged.
12 “I have yet many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now. 13 However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take from what is mine, and will declare it to you. 15 All things whatever the Father has are mine; therefore I said that he takes of mine, and will declare it to you.
16 A little while, and you will not see me. Again a little while, and you will see me.”
1 John 2
27 As for you, the anointing which you received from him remains in you, and you don’t need for anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is no lie, and even as it taught you, you will remain in him.
28 Now, little children, remain in him, that when he appears, we may have boldness, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.
A Call to Intimacy: The Holy Spirit in John’s Gospel & Epistles — A paper I wrote for D. A. Carson’s Johannine Theology class at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1993
The Gospels are New Covenant and Apply To Us Today — Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to lead the disciples into all truth and to REMIND them of what He taught them to do. Then they did it and we can too — unstoppable!