Is the Holy Spirit a Person?

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Is the Holy Spirit a Person?

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For example, the Holy Spirit 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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). We are told that it can be quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19 1 Thessalonians 5:19Quench not the Spirit.
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), that it can be poured out (Acts 2:17 Acts 2:17And 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:
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; 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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), 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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). It 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.
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), and it 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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). These are certainly not attributes of a person.

This Spirit is also called “the holy Spirit of promise . . . the guarantee of our inheritance . . . the spirit of wisdom and revelation” (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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; Ephesians 1:17 Ephesians 1:17That 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:
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).

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 just as consistently represented in a completely different manner. It is described as appearing as 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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; Mark 1:10 Mark 1:10And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending on him:
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; Luke 3:22 Luke 3:22And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove on him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased.
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; John 1:32 John 1:32And John bore record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it stayed on him.
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) and as “tongues of 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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). Jesus compared it with “living water” (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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).

The Gospels record further evidence that the Holy Spirit is not 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 read that Jesus was begotten by the Holy Spirit (Moffatt translation). Yet Christ continually prayed to and addressed the Father, not the Holy Spirit, as His father (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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; Matthew 15:13 Matthew 15:13But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up.
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; Matthew 16:17 Matthew 16:17And Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father which is in heaven.
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; Matthew 16:27 Matthew 16:27For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
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; Matthew 18:10 Matthew 18:10Take heed that you despise not one of these little ones; for I say to you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
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; Matthew 18:35 Matthew 18:35So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also to you, if you from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
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). Never did He represent the Holy Spirit as His father.

Nor did Jesus speak of the Holy Spirit as a third divine person; instead He only spoke 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 John 5:18Therefore 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.
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John 5:22 John 5:22For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son:
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; John 8:16 John 8:16And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
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John 8:18 John 8:18I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me bears witness of me.
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; John 10:30 John 10:30I and my Father are one.
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; John 13:3 John 13:3Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
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; John 17:11 John 17:11And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father, keep through your own name those whom you have given me, that they may be one, as we are.
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).

If the godhead were a Trinity, surely the apostle Paul would have understood and emphasized this in his teaching. Yet we find no such concept in his writings. Paul’s standard greeting in his letters to churches, as well as individuals to whom he wrote, is, “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” There is no mention of the Holy Spirit.

This same greeting, with only minor variations, appears in every epistle that bears Paul’s name: 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.
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; 1 Corinthians 1:3 1 Corinthians 1:3Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
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; 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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; 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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; Ephesians 1:2 Ephesians 1:2Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
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; Philippians 1:2 Philippians 1:2Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
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; 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.
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; 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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; 2 Thessalonians 1:2 2 Thessalonians 1:2Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
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; 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.
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; 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.
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; 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.
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; and Philemon 1:3 Philemon 1:3Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
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. The Holy Spirit is always left out of these greetings—an unbelievable oversight if the Holy Spirit were indeed a person coequal with God and Jesus.

This is even more surprising when we consider that the churches 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.

The apostle Paul states clearly that “there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things . . . and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things” (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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). He makes no mention of the Holy Spirit as a divine person.

The final book of the Bible (and the last to be written) describes “a new heaven and a 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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). Jesus Christ, “the Lamb,” is also there (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, however, is again not explicitly mentioned—another inconceivable oversight if this Spirit is the third person of a Trinity.

“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.
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)—that is, He consists of it. And it also flows out from Him. The Spirit emanating from God, the Holy Spirit, is described by an angel as “the power of the Highest” (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.
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). It is the same power we can receive directly from God.

Many other scriptures also show the connection between the Holy Spirit and God’s power. For example, Paul reminded Timothy that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of 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.
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; see also 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.
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; 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.
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).

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.
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records that Jesus Christ began His ministry “in the power of the Spirit.” Speaking of the Holy Spirit, which would be given to His followers after His death, Jesus told them, “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.
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).

Peter relates that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, [and Jesus] went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (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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). The Holy Spirit is here associated with the power by which God was with Him—the power through which Jesus Christ performed mighty miracles during His earthly, physical ministry. The Holy Spirit is the very presence of God’s power actively working in His servants (Psalms 51:11 Psalms 51:11Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your holy spirit from me.
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; Psalms 139:7 Psalms 139:7Where shall I go from your spirit? or where shall I flee from your presence?
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).

Paul expresses his desire that church members would “abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” in the same way that Jesus had worked through him “in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God” (Romans 15:13 Romans 15:13Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
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, 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.
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).

This Spirit empowers Christians to live a life of growing and overcoming, of transforming their lives to become like Jesus Christ.

When the Holy Spirit is referred to by personal pronouns such as “he” or “himself” in the Scriptures, this does not prove the Holy Spirit is a person. The translators of the King James Version, influenced by their belief in the Holy Spirit as a third person in the Trinity, generally translated pronouns referring to the Holy Spirit as personal and masculine rather than neuter.

Translators of later English versions of the Bible, also operating from the premise of the Trinity, have gone a step further and most often translated all references to the Holy Spirit as masculine. Thus God’s Spirit is almost always incorrectly referred to with such personal pronouns as “he” or “him” in English Bible translations.

For more on this topic, be sure to read our free Bible study aid booklet Is God a Trinity?

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