1-5 Is the Holy Spirit a Person?
Study 1-4 gave ample evidence
that God’s spirit refers to His power, which reflects His “mind” in a
very broad way. Because the way God’s spirit acts is such an accurate
reflector of the essence and personality of God, some have argued that
God’s spirit is a person who is also God. A careful re-reading of the
previous sections will show that God’s spirit is His mind and power.
Electricity is an unseen power that can produce results for the person
controlling it, but it cannot be a person. Love is a part of someone’s
character, but it cannot be a person. God’s spirit includes His love,
as part of His character, and also refers to His power, but in no way
can it refer to a person who is separate from Him.
is a tragedy to me that this mistaken view (of the spirit being a
person) is believed by the majority of Christians, seeing that they
believe in the doctrine of the ‘trinity’. This effectively states that
there are three gods who are somehow also the same - God the Father,
the Holy Spirit and Jesus.
is good reason to believe that the ‘trinity’ was fundamentally a pagan
idea imported into Christianity - hence the word does not occur in the
Bible. If we accept this idea that God is a trinity, we are then driven
to reach the conclusion that somehow God’s power/spirit is a person,
who is also God, although not God the Father. When confronted with the
illogicality of their position, the most popular escape route is for
such people to claim that God is a mystery, and that we should accept
such things in faith without requiring a logical explanation.
pointedly overlooks the references in the New Testament to the mystery
of God being revealed through the word and work of Christ.
- “I would not, brothers, that you should be ignorant of this mystery” (Rom. 11:25).
- “The preaching of Jesus...the revelation of the mystery” (Rom. 16:25).
- “I shew (explain to) you a mystery...” (1 Cor. 15:51).
- “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will” (Eph. 1:9; 3:3).
- Paul’s preaching was “to make known the mystery of the Gospel” (Eph. 6:19; Col. 4:3).
- “The mystery...now is made manifest to his saints” (Col. 1:26,27).
all this emphasis - and it is that - on there not now being any mystery
attached to fundamental doctrines, it will only be someone still in
darkness who will claim that there is. And does such a person not worry
that the Bible’s name for “Babylon”, the system of false religion
described in Revelation, is “Mystery” (Rev. 17:5)? The obvious
implication is that this system proclaims that its beliefs are a
mystery; but the true believers understand the mystery of that woman
hazy reasoning arises from having an understanding of God which is
based upon subjective things like human experience, or the sense we
have of church traditions. If we are expected to be truly humble to the
teaching of God’s Word, it follows that we are also required to use
basic powers of reasoning and deduction in order to discover its
did any preacher of the Gospel recorded in the Bible resort to saying,
‘This is a complete mystery, you cannot begin to understand it’.
Instead, we read of them appealing to people through reason and drawing
logical conclusions from Scripture.
his preaching of the type of Gospel fundamentals which we are
considering in these Studies, Paul “reasoned with them out of the
Scriptures, … that Christ needed to have suffered, and risen again”
(Acts 17:2,3). Here was systematic, logical Bible reasoning par
excellence; and the record prefaces this sentence with, “Paul, as his
manner was...reasoned...”. This was, therefore, his usual style (see
also Acts 18:19). In keeping with this, during the great campaign at
Corinth, Paul “reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and
persuaded the Jews...(but) when they opposed themselves...” (Acts
18:4-6). Those who were converted went through a process of persuasion
by Paul’s Bible-based reasoning.
too, that the inspired record makes an appeal to logic and rationality,
by pointing out that they “opposed themselves”. Likewise at Antioch,
Paul and Barnabas “speaking (the word) to them, persuaded them...”
(Acts 13:43). Their next stop was Iconium, where they “so spake, that a
great multitude...believed” (Acts 14:1).
he stood trial for his life a while later, the same glorious logic
continued to inspire Paul’s sure hope for the future: “He reasoned
of righteousness, temperance and judgment to come” with such
penetrating clarity that even his cynical, laid-back judge “trembled”
our conversion should be based on such a process of reasoning, we
should be able to give a logical Biblical account of our hope and
“Be ready always to give an answer to every man who asks you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15).
talk in a sober voice about one’s personal experiences, valid testimony
as this can be, is not the same as the Gospel. We must be ever giving a
reason of the Gospel hope. Such personal anecdotes must not be allowed
to conflict with the words of Paul: “We preach not ourselves, but
Christ” (2 Cor. 4:5) - and that from a man who ‘had a personal
relationship with Jesus’ more than most.
logical, Biblically reasonable manner of our conversion should set the
pattern for our wider relationship with God through the rest of our
days. Our examples, as always, are the first Christians who used
“reason” to figure out the solutions to their problems of
administration (Acts 6:2). The New Testament letters also assume their
readers’ acceptance of using Biblical logic. Thus “by reason of” what
the High Priests were like under the Law of Moses, we can understand
details about the work of Christ (Heb. 5:3). Having spoken of the
surpassing love of God in Christ, Paul urges that it is “your
reasonable (Greek ‘logikos’ - i.e. logical) service” to totally
dedicate ourselves to Him in response (Rom. 12:1). The word ‘‘logikos’
is derived from the Greek ‘logos’, which is the word normally
translated “the word” with reference to God’s Word. Our “logical”
response in Biblical terms is therefore one which is derived from God’s
cannot draw logical conclusions from the Scriptures, then all Bible
study is vain, and there is no need for the Bible, which can be treated
just as sweet platitudes or a piece of fascinating literature. This is
all it seems to be on many bookshelves.
to their credit, there are many earnest Christians who believe that the
spirit of God is a person, and they do try to give Biblical reasons.
The verses quoted are those which speak of God’s spirit in personal
language, e.g. as “the comforter” in Jn. 14:16, or reference to the
spirit being “grieved”.
We demonstrated earlier that a man’s
“spirit” can be stirred up (Acts 17:16), made troubled (Gen. 41:8) or
happy (Lk. 10:21). His “spirit”, i.e. his very essence, his mind and purpose,
which gives rise to his actions, is therefore spoken of as a separate
person, but, of course, this is not literally so. God’s spirit, too, can
be spoken of in the same way.
It must also be understood that the
Bible often uses the language of personification when talking about abstract
things, e.g. wisdom is referred to as a woman in Prov. 9:1. This is to
demonstrate to us what a person who has wisdom would be like in practice;
‘wisdom’ cannot exist except in someone’s mind, and so this device of
personification is used. For more on this, see the study on “The Principle
Paul’s letters contain opening salutations
which refer to God and Jesus, but not to the Holy Spirit (Rom. 1:7; 1
Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; Phil. 1:2; Col. 1:2; 1 Thes.
1:1; 2 Thes. 1:2; 1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2; Tit. 1:4; Philemon 3). This
is strange if he considered the Holy Spirit to be part of a godhead, as
the ‘trinity’ doctrine wrongly supposes. Some of the Holy Spirit
was poured out on men (Acts 2:17,18; the same Greek construction is found
in Mk. 12:2; Lk. 6:13; Jn. 21:10 and Acts 5:2). How can we receive part
of a person? We are given “of His [God’s] spirit” (1 Jn. 4:13). This is
nonsense if the Holy Spirit is a person. Another serious nail in the coffin
of the proposition that the Holy Spirit is a person is the fact that the
Holy Spirit is described in the Greek text with a neuter gender (as reflected
in the AV of 1 Jn. 2:27, where it is called “it”). This means that when
we read passages which speak of the Holy Spirit as “he”, we are definitely
seeing a personification of a power, not a reference to an actual person.
Throughout Revelation- which was given after the ascension of
Christ- we have visions of the throne room in Heaven. We see the Father
with the Son at His right hand. Not only does that indicate the relationship
of the Father to the Son even now; but it's highly significant that the
Holy Spirit is absent in those visions. There's no third person or being
present as surely would be required if the Trinity is a reality.