Is the Holy Spirit a Person?

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Is the Holy Spirit a Person?

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“ ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” - Zechariah 4:6 Zechariah 4:6Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts.
American King James Version×
.

In preceding chapters we saw that the teaching of the Trinity, asserting that the Holy Spirit is a divine person, was foreign to the writers of the Bible and originated several centuries after the New Testament was completed. How, then, does the Bible define the Holy Spirit if it is not a person?

The word “spirit” is translated from the Hebrew ruach and the Greek pneuma, both words also denoting breath or wind, an invisible force. (The English “ghost” at one time had this meaning, which is why it’s used in older Bible translations.) Scripture says that “God is Spirit” (John 4:24 John 4:24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
American King James Version×
). Yet we are also told that God has a Spirit—the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit.

So again, just what is the Holy Spirit?

“The power of the Highest”  

Rather than describing the Holy Spirit as a distinct person or entity, the Bible most often refers to it as and connects it with God’s divine power (Zechariah 4:6 Zechariah 4:6Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts.
American King James Version×
; Micah 3:8 Micah 3:8But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.
American King James Version×
). Jewish scholars, examining the references to it in the Old Testament Scriptures, have never defined the Holy Spirit as anything but the power of God.

In the New Testament, Paul referred to it as the spirit of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7 2 Timothy 1:7For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
American King James Version×
). Informing Mary that Jesus would be supernaturally conceived in her womb, an angel told her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,” and the divine messenger described this Spirit to her as “the power of the Highest [which] will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35 Luke 1:35And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Ghost shall come on you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.
American King James Version×
).

Jesus began His ministry “in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14 Luke 4:14And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
American King James Version×
). He told His followers, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8 Acts 1:8But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come on you: and you shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.
American King James Version×
).

Peter relates that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power” (Acts 10:38 Acts 10:38How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
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). This was the same power that enabled Christ to perform many mighty miracles during His ministry. Likewise, Jesus worked through the apostle Paul “in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God” (Romans 15:19 Romans 15:19Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about to Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
American King James Version×
).

Confronted with such scriptures, even the New Catholic Encyclopedia admits: “The OT [Old Testament] clearly does not envisage God’s spirit as a person .   .   .   God’s spirit is simply God’s power. If it is sometimes represented as being distinct from God, it is because the breath of Yahweh acts exteriorly . . . The majority of NT [New Testament] texts reveal God’s spirit as some thing , not some one ; this is especially seen in the parallelism between the spirit and the power of God” (1965, Vol. 13, “Spirit of God,” pp. 574-576).

The reference work A Catholic Dictionary similarly acknowledges, “On the whole the New Testament, like the Old, speaks of the spirit as a divine energy or power” (William Addis and Thomas Arnold, 2004, “Trinity, Holy,” p. 827).

God’s Word shows that the Holy Spirit is the very nature, presence and expression of God’s power actively working in His servants (2 Peter 1:4 2 Peter 1:4Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
American King James Version×
; Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
American King James Version×
). Indeed, it is through His Spirit that God is present everywhere at once throughout the universe and affects it at will (Psalms 139:7-10 Psalms 139:7-10 7 Where shall I go from your spirit? or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, you are there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall your hand lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
American King James Version×
).

Again and again the Scriptures depict the Holy Spirit as the power of God. Furthermore, it is also shown to be the mind of God and the very essence and life force through which the Father begets human beings as His spiritual children. The Holy Spirit is not God, but is rather a vital aspect of God—the agency through which the Father and Christ both work.

Divine inspiration and life through the Spirit

In its article about the Holy Spirit, The Anchor Bible Dictionary describes it as the “manifestation of divine presence and power perceptible especially in prophetic inspiration” (Vol. 3, 1992, p. 260).

Repeatedly the Scriptures reveal that God imparted divine inspiration to His prophets and servants through the Holy Spirit. Peter noted that “prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21 2 Peter 1:21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×
).

Paul wrote that God’s plan for humanity had been “revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 3:5 Ephesians 3:5Which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
American King James Version×
) and that his own teachings were inspired by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13 1 Corinthians 2:13Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
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). Paul further explains that it is through His Spirit that God has revealed to true Christians the things He has prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9-16 1 Corinthians 2:9-16 9 But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him. 10 But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
American King James Version×
). Working through the Spirit, God the Father is the revealer of truth to those who serve Him.

Jesus told His followers that the Holy Spirit, which the Father would send, “will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26 John 14:26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.
American King James Version×
). It is through God’s Spirit within us that we gain spiritual insight and understanding. Indeed, we come to receive the very “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16 1 Corinthians 2:16For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
American King James Version×
)—also referred to as the “mind of the Spirit” (Romans 8:27 Romans 8:27And he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
American King James Version×
).

Jesus had this spiritual comprehension in abundance. As the Messiah, He was prophesied to have “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2 Isaiah 11:2And the spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
American King James Version×
).

As the Son of Man on earth, Jesus portrayed in His personal conduct the divine attributes of Almighty God through completely living by His Father’s biblical standards through the power of the Holy Spirit (compare 1 Timothy 3:16 1 Timothy 3:16And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
American King James Version×
).

Now returned to the spirit realm, Jesus wields the omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit along with the Father. The Holy Spirit, we should understand, is not only the Spirit of God the Father, for the Bible also calls it the “Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9 Romans 8:9But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
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; Philippians 1:19 Philippians 1:19For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
American King James Version×
). By either designation, it is the same Spirit, as there is only one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13 1 Corinthians 12:13For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
American King James Version×
; Ephesians 4:4 Ephesians 4:4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling;
American King James Version×
).

The Father imparts the same Spirit to true Christians through Jesus Christ (John 14:26 John 14:26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.
American King James Version×
; John 15:26 John 15:26But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me:
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; Titus 3:5-6 Titus 3:5-6 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior;
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), leading and enabling them to be His children and “partakers of the divine nature” (Romans 8:14 Romans 8:14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
American King James Version×
; 2 Peter 1:4 2 Peter 1:4Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
American King James Version×
). God, who has eternal life in Himself, gives that life to others through the Spirit (John 5:26 John 5:26For as the Father has life in himself; so has he given to the Son to have life in himself;
American King James Version×
; John 6:63 John 6:63It is the spirit that vivifies; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.
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; Romans 8:11 Romans 8:11But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
American King James Version×
).

Impersonal attributes of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is spoken of in many ways that demonstrate that it is not a divine person. For example, it is referred to as a gift (Acts 10:45 Acts 10:45And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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; 1 Timothy 4:14 1 Timothy 4:14Neglect not the gift that is in you, which was given you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
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) that God gives without limit (John 3:34 John 3:34For he whom God has sent speaks the words of God: for God gives not the Spirit by measure to him.
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, NIV). We are told that the Holy Spirit can be quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19 1 Thessalonians 5:19Quench not the Spirit.
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), that it can be poured out on people (Acts 2:17-33 Acts 2:17-33 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour out of my Spirit on all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, that whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. 22 You men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the middle of you, as you yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be held of it. 25 For David speaks concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27 Because you will not leave my soul in hell, neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; you shall make me full of joy with your countenance. 29 Men and brothers, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us to this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he has shed forth this, which you now see and hear.
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), and that we are baptized with it (Matthew 3:11 Matthew 3:11I indeed baptize you with water to repentance. but he that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
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).

People can drink of it (John 7:37-39 John 7:37-39 37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink. 38 He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
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), partake of it (Hebrews 6:4 Hebrews 6:4For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
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) and be filled with it (Acts 2:4 Acts 2:4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
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; Ephesians 5:18 Ephesians 5:18And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
American King James Version×
). The Holy Spirit also renews us (Titus 3:5 Titus 3:5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
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) and must be stirred up within us (2 Timothy 1:6 2 Timothy 1:6Why I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands.
American King James Version×
). These impersonal characteristics are certainly not attributes of a person or personal being!

The Spirit is also described by other designations—”the Holy Spirit of promise,” “the guarantee of our inheritance” and “the spirit of wisdom and revelation” (Ephesians 1:13-17 Ephesians 1:13-17 13 In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory. 15 Why I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love to all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
American King James Version×
)—that show it is not a person.

In contrast to God the Father and Jesus Christ, who are consistently compared to human beings in Their form and shape, the Holy Spirit is consistently represented, by various symbols and manifestations, in a completely different manner—such as breath (John 20:22 John 20:22And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, Receive you the Holy Ghost:
American King James Version×
), wind (Acts 2:2 Acts 2:2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
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), fire (Acts 2:3 Acts 2:3And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them.
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), water (John 4:14 John 4:14But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
American King James Version×
; John 7:37-39 John 7:37-39 37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink. 38 He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
American King James Version×
), oil (Psalms 45:7 Psalms 45:7You love righteousness, and hate wickedness: therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows.
American King James Version×
; compare Acts 10:38 Acts 10:38How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
American King James Version×
; Matthew 25:1-10 Matthew 25:1-10 1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened to ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go you rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
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), a dove (Matthew 3:16 Matthew 3:16And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, see, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting on him:
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) and an “earnest,” or down payment, on eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22 2 Corinthians 1:22Who has also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
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; 2 Corinthians 5:5 2 Corinthians 5:5Now he that has worked us for the selfsame thing is God, who also has given to us the earnest of the Spirit.
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; Ephesians 1:13-14 Ephesians 1:13-14 13 In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory.
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, KJV).

To say the least, these depictions are difficult to understand if the Holy Spirit is a person!

In Matthew 1:20 Matthew 1:20But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, you son of David, fear not to take to you Mary your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
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we find further proof that the Holy Spirit is not a distinct entity, but God’s divine power. Here we read that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. However, Jesus continually prayed to and addressed God the Father as His Father and not the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:32-33 Matthew 10:32-33 32 Whoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
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; Matthew 11:25-27 Matthew 11:25-27 25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes. 26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in your sight. 27 All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
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; Matthew 12:50 Matthew 12:50For whoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
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). He never represented the Holy Spirit as His Father! Clearly, the Holy Spirit was the agency or power through which the Father begot Jesus as His Son—not a separate person or being altogether.

Paul’s example and teaching were in line with Christ’s

If God were a Trinity, surely Paul, who was taught directly by the resurrected Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11-12 Galatians 1:11-12 11 But I certify you, brothers, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
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) and who wrote much of the theological underpinnings of the early Church, would have comprehended and taught this concept. Yet we find no such teaching in His writings.

Moreover, Paul’s standard greeting in his letter to the churches, as well as individuals to whom he wrote, consistently mentions “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Yet in each of his greetings he never mentions the Holy Spirit! (The same can also be said of Peter in the salutations of both his epistles.)

The same greeting, with only minor variations, appears in every epistle that bears Paul’s name. Notice how consistent he is in not including the Holy Spirit in his greetings:

• “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7 Romans 1:7To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
).

• “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:3 1 Corinthians 1:3Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
).

• “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:2 2 Corinthians 1:2Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
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).

• “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:3 Galatians 1:3Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
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).

• “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:2 Ephesians 1:2Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
).

• “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:2 Philippians 1:2Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
).

• “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Colossians 1:2 Colossians 1:2 To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
).

• “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:1 1 Thessalonians 1:1Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, to the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
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).

• “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:1-2 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2 1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
).

• “Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Timothy 1:2 1 Timothy 1:2To Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×
).

• “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (2 Timothy 1:2 2 Timothy 1:2To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
American King James Version×
).

• “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 1:4 Titus 1:4To Titus, my own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.
American King James Version×
).

• “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philemon 1:3 Philemon 1:3Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
).

The Holy Spirit is always left out of these greetings—an unbelievable and inexplicable oversight if the Spirit were indeed a person or entity coequal with God the Father and Christ!

This is even more surprising when we consider that the congregations to which Paul wrote had many gentile members from polytheistic backgrounds who had formerly worshipped numerous gods. Paul’s epistles record no attempt on his part to explain the Trinity or Holy Spirit as a divine person equal with God the Father and Jesus Christ.

In all of Paul’s writings, only in 2 Corinthians 13:14 2 Corinthians 13:14The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.
American King James Version×
is the Holy Spirit mentioned along with the Father and Jesus Christ in such expressions, and there only in connection with the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit” (NIV) in which believers share—not in any sort of theological statement on the nature of God. The point Paul makes here is that God’s Spirit is the unifying agent that brings us together in godly, righteous fellowship, not only with one another but with the Father and Son.

Yet here, too, God’s Spirit is not spoken of as a person. Notice that Paul writes that our fellowship is of the Holy Spirit, not with the Holy Spirit. As 1 John 1:3 1 John 1:3That which we have seen and heard declare we to you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
tells us, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ”—the Holy Spirit is not mentioned.

(For other verses that supposedly support the existence of the Trinity, see “What About Passages that ‘Prove’ the Trinity? “)

Jesus likewise never spoke of the Holy Spirit as a divine third person. Instead, in numerous passages He spoke only of the relationship between God the Father and Himself (Matthew 26:39 Matthew 26:39And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.
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; Mark 13:32 Mark 13:32But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
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; Mark 15:34 Mark 15:34And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
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; John 5:18-22 John 5:18-22 18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. 19 Then answered Jesus and said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do: for what things soever he does, these also does the Son likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all things that himself does: and he will show him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises up the dead, and vivifies them; even so the Son vivifies whom he will. 22 For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son:
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; etc.). The Holy Spirit as a person is conspicuously absent from Christ’s teaching in general. Of particular interest in this regard are His many statements about Himself and the Father, especially when He never makes similar statements about Himself and the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is absent in visions of God’s throne

We should also consider that, in visions of God’s throne recorded in the Bible, although the Father and Christ are seen, the Holy Spirit as a third person is completely absent.

In Acts 7:55-56 Acts 7:55-56 55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
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, which describes the martyrdom of Stephen, we read that he “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’” He saw God the Father and Jesus the Son, but no Holy Spirit.

Daniel 7:9-14 Daniel 7:9-14 9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. 10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. 11 I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spoke: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. 12 As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. 13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
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similarly describes Daniel’s vision of heaven. There he saw “the Ancient of Days”—God the Father in this context—plus millions of angelic beings and “One like the Son of Man,” the preexistent Jesus Christ. Again, he saw no third person of a Holy Trinity.

And in Revelation 4-5 and Revelation 7:10 Revelation 7:10And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.
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we see that Jesus, the Lamb of God, is mentioned as being at the right hand of God the Father, but no one is mentioned as being at the Father’s left hand. Nowhere is the Holy Spirit mentioned as a being or person. Nowhere in any of these passages, or anywhere in Scripture, are three divine persons pictured together.

In the final book of the Bible (and the last to be written), the Holy Spirit as a divine person is completely absent from its pages. The book describes “a new heaven and new earth” (Revelation 21:1 Revelation 21:1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
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) wherein “the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them” (Revelation 21:3 Revelation 21:3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
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). Christ the Lamb is also present (Revelation 21:22 Revelation 21:22And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
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). The Holy Spirit as a distinct person, however, is again absent—another inexplicable oversight if this Spirit is the third person of a triune God.

This is why Paul states in 1 Corinthians 8:6 1 Corinthians 8:6But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
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that “there is one God, the Father . . . and one Lord Jesus Christ,” without mentioning the Holy Spirit as a divine person. He elsewhere refers to “the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ” (Colossians 2:2 Colossians 2:2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
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)—mentioning only the two as God, again not including the Holy Spirit.

We should also consider that nowhere do we find any prayer, psalm or hymn addressed to or dedicated to the Holy Spirit. Nowhere do we see the Holy Spirit worshipped. Again and again, the biblical record just doesn’t support the Trinity doctrine in places where it should be obvious if it were true!

This is why, as we saw in numerous quotes earlier in this booklet, so many historians and biblical researchers admit that the doctrine of the Trinity is not found in the Bible. We must not cling to long-held religious traditions if they contradict the Scriptures! Our beliefs must rest solidly on the teachings of the Holy Bible. Jesus said, “[God’s] word is truth” (John 17:17 John 17:17Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
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).

What about scriptures describing actions of the Holy Spirit?

Some scriptural passages seem to describe the Holy Spirit as apparently engaging in personal activity. Does this mean that the Holy Spirit is a distinct person?

While at first this might seem to indicate as much, it doesn’t really prove that at all. In the languages of Bible times, nonpersonal things were sometimes described in personal ways and as having personlike activities.

For example, in Genesis 4:10 Genesis 4:10And he said, What have you done? the voice of your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.
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God says to Cain: “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.” Here Abel’s shed blood is described as having a “voice” that “cries out” from the ground. Yet clearly this is figurative language, as blood has no voice and cannot speak.

Similarly, in the book of Proverbs, wisdom is personified as calling aloud and crying out (Proverbs 1:20-21 Proverbs 1:20-21 20 Wisdom cries without; she utters her voice in the streets: 21 She cries in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she utters her words, saying,
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). Proverbs 8 describes wisdom as crying out, standing on a high hill, calling to men, speaking, having lips and a mouth, loving and being loved, having children and having accompanied and rejoiced with God. Yet obviously wisdom is not a person and does none of these things in a literal sense!

Likewise, Psalms 65:13 Psalms 65:13The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing.
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describes valleys shouting for joy and singing. Psalms 96:11-12 Psalms 96:11-12 11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof. 12 Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice
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attributes emotions to the heavens, earth and fields. Psalms 98:8 Psalms 98:8Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together
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says the rivers clap their hands. Psalms 148:4-5 Psalms 148:4-5 4 Praise him, you heavens of heavens, and you waters that be above the heavens. 5 Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created.
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describes the skies and rain praising God.

Isaiah 3:26 Isaiah 3:26And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit on the ground.
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says the gates of the city of Jerusalem will lament and mourn. Isaiah 14:8 Isaiah 14:8Yes, the fir trees rejoice at you, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since you are laid down, no feller is come up against us.
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speaks of cypress trees rejoicing and cedar trees talking. Isaiah 35:1 Isaiah 35:1The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.
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ascribes emotions to the wilderness and says the desert will rejoice. Isaiah 44:23 Isaiah 44:23Sing, O you heavens; for the LORD has done it: shout, you lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.
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and Isaiah 49:13 Isaiah 49:13Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD has comforted his people, and will have mercy on his afflicted.
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describe mountains, forests, trees and the heavens singing.

Isaiah 55:12 Isaiah 55:12For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
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says that hills will break into singing and trees will clap their hands. In Habakkuk 2:11 Habakkuk 2:11For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.
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stones and timbers are described as talking to each other.

We find similar personifications of nonpersonal things in the New Testament as well. Matthew 11:19 Matthew 11:19The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a drunkard, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
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speaks of wisdom having children. Romans 6 says that sin enslaves and reigns over human beings (Romans 6:6 Romans 6:6Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin.
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; Romans 6:12 Romans 6:12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof.
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; Romans 6:16 Romans 6:16Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?
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). In Romans 10:6 Romans 10:6But the righteousness which is of faith speaks on this wise, Say not in your heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
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righteousness is described as speaking. In 1 John 5:8 1 John 5:8And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
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water and blood are said to testify and agree.

Yet clearly none of these things happen literally. At times the Bible similarly applies such figurative language to the Holy Spirit, ascribing activity to it as though it were a person. Yet, as noted earlier in this chapter, the Bible also describes the Holy Spirit in ways that clearly show it is not a person.

As even the New Catholic Encyclopedia, quoted from earlier,acknowledges: “The majority of New Testament texts reveal God’s spirit as something, not someone; this is especially seen in the parallelism between the spirit and the power of God. When a quasi-personal activity is ascribed to God’s spirit, e.g., speaking, hindering, desiring, dwelling (Acts 8:29 Acts 8:29Then the Spirit said to Philip, Go near, and join yourself to this chariot.
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; Acts 16:7 Acts 16:7After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.
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; Romans 8:9 Romans 8:9But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
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), one is not justified in concluding immediately that in these passages God’s spirit is regarded as a Person; the same expressions are used also in regard to rhetorically personified things or abstract ideas .   .   .

“In Acts, the use of the words ‘Holy Spirit,’ with or without an article, is rich and abundant. However, again, it is difficult to demonstrate personality from the texts” (2003, Vol. 13, “Spirit, Holy,” p. 428).

Thus we see that in some cases where the Holy Spirit is described in a personal activity, we should understand this as God using the Holy Spirit as the power or agency through which He acts.

Consider, for example, that if a man’s hand takes hold of a book and lifts it, we can say the man lifted the book. This does not make the hand a separate person. Nor does it mean that the hand is the man. The hand is merely part of, or an extension of, the man. And it is the agency through which the man is acting. Similarly, the Holy Spirit is the agency through which God—Father or Son or both—acts.

Of course, the Holy Spirit is far more than a hand. It is the very power, mind and life essence of God—pervading infinity so that by it God, as Psalms 139:7-10 Psalms 139:7-10 7 Where shall I go from your spirit? or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, you are there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall your hand lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
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and Jeremiah 23:23-24 Jeremiah 23:23-24 23 Am I a God at hand, said the LORD, and not a God afar off? 24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? said the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? said the LORD.
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show us, is omnipresent.

This is why Peter in Acts 5:1-10 Acts 5:1-10 1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 Whiles it remained, was it not your own? and after it was sold, was it not in your own power? why have you conceived this thing in your heart? you have not lied to men, but to God. 5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. 6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. 7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. 8 And Peter answered to her, Tell me whether you sold the land for so much? And she said, Yes, for so much. 9 Then Peter said to her, How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried your husband are at the door, and shall carry you out. 10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
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said that Ananias and Sapphira “lie[d] to the Holy Spirit” and also that they “lied . . . to God.” This passage doesn’t indicate that the Holy Spirit is God or one of the supposed three persons of God, as some read into this passage, but rather that the Holy Spirit, being the omnipresent agency through which God acts, is how God heard the lie.

Jesus Christ’s reference in John 16:7 John 16:7Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send him to you.
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to the Holy Spirit as a “Helper” (or “Counselor,” “Comforter” or “Advocate” as some versions translate it) is a personification that provides a good analogy of part of the Spirit’s function in the lives of true Christians. And as noted before, many passages show the Spirit as the power of God to help and assist us, not a distinct person as Trinitarians maintain.

But what does the Spirit do? What is its function and purpose? In the next chapter we’ll examine how the Holy Spirit works in the lives of Christians.

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