Summary: The doctrine that the Holy Spirit comes to abide inside or indwell the person who obeys the Gospel is not new. The Early Church Fathers believed and taught this doctrine. Herein, we look at a sampling of their words.
The belief that the Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit personally comes to abide within the Christian is not new. Writings from the first three centuries of the Church indicate that it was an accepted doctrine of the Early Church.
The writings indicate the belief that the Spirit was given to the believer immediately after baptism. The new Christian’s body became the temple, the dwelling place, of the Spirit of God. The Indwelling Spirit was the seal of God’s ownership and the ‘down payment’ of the blessings to be received in Heaven. The Indwelling Spirit is stated as providing the power to the child of God to walk in newness of life, obedience to the Word of God. Lastly, it is stated that the Indwelling Spirit will be the Person Who will raise-us at the general resurrection.
Ignatius (AD 110) - Ignatius to the Romans
But the Spirit proclaimed these words: Do nothing without the bishop; keep your bodies as the temples of God; love unity; avoid divisions; be the followers of Jesus Christ, even as He is of His Father.
Keep thyself pure as the habitation of God. Thou art the temple of Christ. Thou art the instrument of the Spirit. Thou knowest in what way I have brought thee up. Though I am the least of men, do thou seek to follow me, be thou an imitator of my conduct. I do not glory in the world, but in the Lord. I exhort Hero, my son; “but let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord.”
Barnabas (AD 130) - Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter 16
Moreover, I will also tell you concerning the temple, how the wretched Jews, wandering in error, trusted not in God Himself, but in the temple, as being the house of God….[after talking about the destruction of the Jewish Temple, Barnabas continues] I find, therefore, that a temple does exist. Learn, then, how it shall be built in the name of the Lord. Before we believed in God, the habitation of our heart was corrupt and weak, as being indeed like a temple made with hands. For it was full of idolatry, and was a habitation of demons, through our doing such things as were opposed to the will of God. But it shall be built, observe ye, in the name of the Lord, in order that the temple of the Lord may be built in glory. How? Learn as follows. Having received the forgiveness of sins, and placed our trust in the name of the Lord, we have become new creatures, formed again from the beginning. Wherefore in our habitation God truly dwells in us. How? His word of faith; His calling of promise; the wisdom of the statutes; the commands of the doctrine; He himself prophesying in us; He Himself dwelling in us; opening to us who were enslaved by death the doors of the temple, that is, the mouth; and by giving us repentance introduced us into the incorruptible temple. He then, who wishes to be saved, looks not to man, but to Him who dwelleth in him, and speaketh in him, amazed at never having either heard him utter such words with his mouth, nor himself having ever desired to hear them. This is the spiritual temple built for the Lord.
Irenaeus (AD 180) - The Proof of the Apostolic Preaching
Those who have believed, since in them continually abides the Holy Spirit, who was given by Him in baptism, and is retained by the receiver, if he walks in truth and holiness and righteousness and patient endurance. For this soul has a resurrection in them that believe, the body receiving the soul again, and along with it, by the power of the Holy Spirit, being raised up and entering into the kingdom of God.
Irenaeus - Against the Heresies, Chapter 6 [Commenting on 1 Thessalonians 5:23]
For this cause also he declares that those are “the perfect” who present unto the Lord the three component parts without offense. Those, then, are the perfect who have had the Spirit of God remaining in them, and have pre-served their souls and bodies blameless, holding fast the faith of God, that is, that faith which is directed towards God, and maintaining righteous dealings with respect to their neighbors.
2. Whence also he says, that this handiwork is “the temple of God,” thus declaring: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man, therefore, will defile the temple of God, him will God destroy: for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” Here he manifestly declares the body to be the temple in which the Spirit dwells. As also the Lord speaks in reference to Himself, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. He spake this, however,” it is said, “of the temple of His body.” And not only does he (the apostle) acknowledge our bodies to be a temple, but even the temple of Christ, saying thus to the Corinthians, “Know ye not that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot?” He speaks these things, not in reference to some other spiritual man; for a being of such a nature could have nothing to do with an harlot: but he declares “our body,” that is, the flesh which continues in sanctity and purity, to be “the members of Christ;” but that when it becomes one with an harlot, it becomes the members of an harlot. And for this reason he said, “If any man defile the temple of God, him will God destroy.” How then is it not the utmost blasphemy to allege, that the temple of God, in which the Spirit of the Father dwells, and the members of Christ, do not partake of salvation, but are reduced to perdition? Also, that our bodies are raised not from their own substance, but by the power of God, he says to the Corinthians, “Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. But God hath both raised up the Lord, and shall raise us up by His own power.”