Is God a Trinity?
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Everyone in mainstream Christianity, it seems, “knows” that God is a Trinity—one God in three persons, namely “the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost or the Holy Spirit.” The majority of professing Christians wouldn’t even consider questioning this teaching. Many will tell you that, unless you believe this doctrine, you are not a true Christian.
But What About You?
Have you ever wondered whether this teaching is derived from God’s Word, the Bible? We have clear proof from Scripture that the Father and the Son are separate persons or divine beings, and that they are God. The Bible refers to the Father and to Jesus Christ as God in numerous passages—but it never refers to the Holy Spirit as God, or as a separate divine person.
Why? If the Trinity is such an important doctrine, why is it not even mentioned in the Bible?
Did you know that this “key teaching” of “orthodox Christianity” was totally unknown in the early New Testament times and did not become generally accepted until several hundred years after Christ established His Church on the day of Pentecost in 31 A.D.? And did you also know that the Trinity actually hides and obscures the fact of who and what God really is—and why God created you, and what your awesome potential is?
Let us briefly review what those who believe in, and teach the concept of the Trinity, tell us about it. This alone might be an eye-opener for you.
What Theologians Tell Us About the Trinity
The Swiss Protestant theologian Karl Barth wrote about the concept of the Trinity. Funk and Wagnall’s New Encyclopedia refers to Karl Barth as, “widely regarded as one of the most notable Christian thinkers of the 20th century.” He wrote in, “Doctrine of the Word of God,” p. 437: “The Bible lacks the express declaration that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are of equal essence and therefore in an equal sense God Himself. And the other express declaration is also lacking that God is God thus and only thus, i.e., as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. These two express declarations which go beyond the witness of the Bible are the twofold content of the church doctrine of the Trinity.” (Emphasis added).
In other words, Prof. Karl Barth admits that the Bible nowhere states that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all God.
Karl Barth was not the only one who pointed out that the Scriptures do not expressly teach the concept of the Trinity. Listen to this quote from Dr. William Newton Clarke, who wrote a book entitled, “An Outline of Christian Theology.” He states, for instance, on page 167, when discussing the first few verses of the first chapter of the book of John: “There is no Trinity in [John’s prologue]; but there is a distinction in the Godhead, a duality in God.”
He continues on page 168, after having established that the New Testament does teach the divinity of Jesus Christ: “The New Testament begins the work, but does not finish it; for it contains no similar teaching with regard to the Holy Spirit. The unique nature and mission of Christ are traced to a ground in the being of God; but similar ground for the divineness of the Spirit is nowhere shown. Thought in the New Testament is never directed to that end.” (Emphasis added).
In other words, William N. Clarke is pointing out here that the Bible nowhere states that the Holy Spirit is a divine being.
Here is a statement from the German theologian Karl Rahner, who is described in Funk and Wagnall’s New Encyclopedia as “the leading Roman Catholic theologian of the 20th century.” This is what he had to say in a book called, “The Trinity,” on page 22: “…in reality the Scriptures do not explicitly present a doctrine of the ‘imminent’ Trinity (even John’s prologue is no such doctrine).” (Emphasis added).
Remarkably, the New Catholic Encyclopedia supports Professor Rahner’s and Prof. Barth’s statements. In an article entitled, “Trinity,” it first points out, in Vol. XIII, on page 574, that “[t]he Trinity is … the truth that in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit… The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet these three are not three Gods, but one God…co-eternal and co-equal: all alike or uncreated and omnipotent.”
Then, after having made such a sweeping statement, it goes on to admit: “The [Old Testament] clearly does not envisage God’s spirit as a person, neither in the strictly philosophical sense, nor in the Semitic sense. 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 [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…” (Emphasis added).
But then we must ask why the Trinity seems to be universally taught and accepted in Christianity today, when the Bible does not expressly teach it. How did it become part of Christian dogma?
How the Trinity Became “Christian” Dogma
The New Catholic Encyclopedia explains in Vol. 14, on page 295, in the article, “Trinity”:
“…when one does speak of unqualified Trinitarianism, one has moved from the period of Christian origins to say, the last quadrant of the 4th century. It was only then that what might be called the definitive Trinitarian dogma, ‘one God in three persons,’ became thoroughly assimilated into Christian life and thought.”
How did this happen?
The truth, as so often is the case, is stranger than fiction. In her book, “A History of God,” former Catholic nun Karen Armstrong gives us some interesting insight as to what transpired. She writes on pages 117 and 118, when describing how the Trinity found its way from Greek Orthodoxy into the Western World: “… the Trinity only made sense as a mystical or spiritual experience… It was not a logical or intellectual formulation but an imaginative paradigm that confounded reason… For many Western Christians… the Trinity is simply baffling [in other words, a “mystery”]…
“Logically, of course, it made no sense at all… Gregory of Nazianzus had explained that the very incomprehensibility of the dogma of the Trinity brings us up against the absolute mystery of God; it reminds us that we must not hope to understand him… It was no good, for example, attempting to puzzle out how the three hypostases [Greek for “persons”] of the Godhead were at one and the same time identical and distinct. This lay beyond words, concepts and human powers of analysis.”
Karen Armstrong goes on to explain that in the Western World, the Catholic Church’s Father Augustine introduced a slightly different concept of the Trinity. Rather than speaking about “one God in three persons,” he coined the phrase, “one God in three manifestations.”
We are also told that it was the renowned Thomas of Aquinas who made the teachings of the Greeks, such as Plato and Aristotle, popular in the Western World. And in so doing, Western Christians learned that Aristotle, too, had taught a trinity—but he had called the three persons or manifestations ‑ “thinker, thought, and unmoved mover.”
During the Reformation, the dogma of the Trinity was rejected by some of the reformers, but not, for example, by Luther and Calvin. For them, according to Karen Armstrong, “these traditional doctrines of God were too deeply embedded in the Christian experience for either Luther or Calvin to question.” (page 277).
And because of this thoughtless obedience to humanly devised ideas, Calvin began to persecute those who would point out problems with the concept of the Trinity. We read on page 280: “In 1553, Calvin had the Spanish theologian Michael Servetus executed for his denial of the Trinity. Servetus had fled Catholic Spain and had taken refuge in Calvin’s Geneva, claiming that he was returning to the faith of the apostles and the earliest fathers of the church, who had never heard of this extraordinary doctrine… The doctrine of the Trinity was a human fabrication which had alienated the minds of men from the knowledge of the true Christ… His beliefs were shared by two Italian reformers—Giorgio Blandrata… and Faustus Socinus…” (Emphasis added).
Criticism toward the concept of the Trinity continued. In 1699, Gottfried Arnold wrote a book, arguing that the Trinity, although regarded as orthodox, could not be traced back to the original church. (page 306). Puritan poet John Milton was also “doubtful about such traditional doctrines as the Trinity.” (page 308).
Karen Armstrong continued: “Christianity…retained many pagan elements in its description of God… Christianity… had turned its back on its Jewish roots and reverted to the irrationality and superstitions of paganism (p. 369)… Origen and Clement of Alexandria had been Liberal Christians… when they had introduced Platonism into the Semitic religion of Yahweh.” (pp. 383-384). (Emphasis added).
So we learn that the concept of the Trinity, “one God in three persons,” is derived, then, not from the Bible, but from pagan Greeks, having found its way into Christianity early on.
The concept remains a confusing issue, such that many Christians today who say they believe in the Trinity don’t even understand it. On page 201 of Karen Armstrong’s book she writes, “To all intents and purposes, many Western Christians are not really Trinitarians. They complain that the doctrine of Three Persons in One God is incomprehensible, not realizing that for the Greeks that was the whole point.”
But God’s Truth is clear. It must not be incomprehensible to His followers. Paul warned that we must be careful, though, not to be corrupted “from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:3). If one cannot understand one of the major doctrines being presented, then chances are, something is wrong with what is being presented. We must be careful, then, to let the Bible be the proof of what we believe.
Paul’s Greetings to the Churches
One of the most compelling proofs in the Bible that the Holy Spirit is NOT a divine person or a God being, and, therefore, the concept of the Trinity is wrong, is the fact that none of the writers bring greetings from the Holy Spirit. For example, the apostle Paul brings greetings from God the Father and Jesus Christ. Never once does he include greetings from the Holy Spirit.
Notice how Paul greets the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 1:1-3. “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In virtually all of Paul’s writings, you will find the same introduction (cp. 2 Cor. 1:1-2; Gal. 1:1-3; Eph. 1:1-2; Phil. 1:1-2; Col. 1:1-2; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1-2; 1 Tim. 1:1-2; 2 Tim. 1:1-2; Titus 1:1-4; and Philemon 1-3). Nowhere is the Holy Spirit included in the greetings that Paul brings from God—the Father and Jesus Christ. This shows, clearly, that Paul was not inspired by God to reveal the personage of the Holy Spirit. What an oversight and insult this would be to the Holy Spirit IF the Holy Spirit were one of three persons—and a God being.
The Holy Spirit is Not God
Another Biblical proof against the Trinity is that the Holy Spirit is nowhere identified as God. No one is recorded in Scripture as having prayed to the Holy Spirit. Further, the Holy Spirit is never described as a separate being, either. Rather, the Holy Spirit emanates from God the Father and Jesus Christ. One could say, the Holy Spirit is part of God, as, for instance, the arm, the eye or the hand is a part of a human being, or of God, for that matter. But the arm is not a being by itself, nor is the arm a person—one could not say that the arm of the man is another man, or the arm of the Lord is another God being. Likewise, the Holy Spirit of God is not a separate God being or person within the Godhead.
Consider how God gave to Moses the Ten Commandments, written with His own finger on tablets of stone (cp. Ex. 31:18). God used His finger to give understanding to Moses, but this does not mean that God’s finger is a distinct person or a God being. God’s finger was part of God, but not separate from God. The same is true for the Holy Spirit. It’s part of God, emanating from God, but it is not God, nor is it a divine God being.
Who Begot Christ?
Jesus Himself prayed exclusively to the Father. Never once did He pray to the Holy Spirit. IF the Holy Spirit were a person, and a separate God being, then the human Jesus Christ would have prayed to the wrong person. How can we say this?
Consider that Jesus Christ was called the Son of God, not the Son of the Holy Spirit, even though He was conceived of the Holy Spirit. Notice in Matthew 1:18: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.”
God’s inspired Word tells us clearly that the Holy Spirit made Mary pregnant. Notice the words of an angel to Joseph, as recorded in Matt. 1:20: “‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived [or begotten, gennao in the Greek] in her is of the Holy Spirit.’”
Turn now to Luke 1:32 and 35, where we find more of the inspired words of the angel to Mary: “‘He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David… The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’” These Scriptures in Matthew and Luke tell us that, IF the Holy Spirit were a person and God, then Christ would have been the SON of the Holy Spirit, and NOT of the Father.
However, John 1:14 says that it was the Father who begot Christ: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Do we find, then, a contradiction here between the record of Luke, telling us that the Holy Spirit fathered Jesus, and the record of John, stating that it was God the Father? Not at all! Rather, we see that GOD the FATHER begot Christ through the power of His Spirit. This proves that the Holy Spirit cannot be a person—otherwise, we would have a contradiction here, with Christ having two fathers—the “Father” and the “Holy Spirit”—and with the “person” and third member of the “Trinity,” the Holy Spirit, being Christ’s “main” Father.
Remember, too, that the angel told Mary in the book of Luke that Christ would be called the Son of the Highest. If the Holy Spirit were a person, then the Holy Spirit by which Mary was impregnated would be the HIGHEST in the Godhead. This, of course, is absurd! No one who believes in the Trinity has EVER stated that the Holy Spirit is the highest! Quite to the contrary, they claim that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all EQUAL. That none is HIGHER than the other.
The fact that the Holy Spirit cannot be a divine person or God, becomes very clear when considering who in the Godhead is called the “highest.” The Bible shows us that it is the Father (and not the Holy Spirit) who is the highest in the Godhead. Notice Eph. 4:6: “…one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
This tells us that the FATHER is the highest, “above all.” The Father is higher than Christ (cp. John 10:29, “My Father…is greater than all.”) So, when Jesus Christ was called the Son of the Highest, He was called the Son of God the Father—not of the Holy Spirit. It was God the Father who, through His Holy Spirit, impregnated Mary. She was with child OF or THROUGH the Holy Spirit. God the Father, the highest within the Godhead, brought Mary’s pregnancy about through the power of His Holy Spirit. (Note that in Luke 1:35, the Holy Spirit is defined as the “power of the Highest.”)
The Father Created Everything Through Christ
It is also remarkable that the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in a passage like, 1 Cor. 8:6, where the Godhead is described. One would surely expect that the Holy Spirit would somehow be referred to here, if it were a person. But note what we read: “…yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.”
IF the Holy Spirit were a person, why is it not mentioned here? We read that there is only one God—the Father—and one Lord—Jesus Christ. And we read that all things are THROUGH Christ. So it was CHRIST who created everything. Or, one could say that God the Father created everything THROUGH Christ. That’s what Ephesians 3:9 tells us, “God…created all things through Jesus Christ.” Col. 1: 16 confirms this: “All things were created through Him.” (There are additional Scriptures revealing this truth, such as John 1:1-3; 1 Cor. 8:5-6; and Hebr. 1:1-2). And how did Christ do it? Through the power of His Holy Spirit. But it was still Christ. If the Holy Spirit were a person, then God would not have created everything through the person of Christ, but through the person of the Holy Spirit. This shows that the Holy Spirit cannot be a person.
Spirit Compared with Water
Let’s now notice a passage in Acts 2 that shows, too, that the Holy Spirit cannot be a person. Acts 2:17 reads: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out OF My Spirit on all flesh.” The Holy Spirit cannot be a person, since one cannot “pour out” a person and one cannot divide a person, by sending something OF that person into someone else.
Turn also to John 4:10, 14, where the Spirit is compared with water. Jesus tells the woman at the well: “‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water… whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’”
Later, the Bible makes it very clear that Christ was talking here about the Holy Spirit, comparing it with living water to be poured out. We read in John 7:37-39, in the Authorized Version: “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirsts, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive…”
Christ compares the Holy Spirit with living WATER. We read earlier that God pours out of His Holy Spirit—again the same analogy of water being poured out on or into people is being used. How can a person be compared with water to be poured out? Some say, this is just an analogy. For instance, God is compared with a consuming fire in Heb. 12:29, but He is not a fire.
However, God looks very much like a consuming fire when He reveals Himself to the eyes of man. Notice in Ex. 24:17. God is NOWHERE pictured, however, as water that is being poured out. Such a description just does not fit for a person, showingthat the Holy Spirit is not a person.
The Spirit of the Father and of the Son Dwells in Us
Acts 2: 33 states: “Therefore, being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He [Christ] poured out this which you now see and hear.”
Notice, it says here that Christ received the Holy Spirit from the Father, and that Christ then poured out the Spirit from the Father. This is confirmed, too, in John 15:26, where we read Christ’s words: “‘But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of me.’” Again, we are told here that Christ sends us the Holy Spirit from the Father (cp. also John 16:7).
Notice also Christ’s words in John 14:16-17: “‘And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth…for He dwells with you and will be in you.’” Here we see that it is the Father who will give us the Holy Spirit. He does so through Christ, as we read earlier.
[We will address later in the booklet why the Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to with “He,” as is the case in the two passages just quoted. We will show that this does not prove at all that the Holy Spirit is a person.]
Titus 3:5-6 confirms that the Father gives us the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ: “[God] saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom [better: “which,” cp. Authorized Version] He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
We also see, however, in John 14:26, that the Father Himself sends us His Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ. Christ said: “‘But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.’”
Notice that it is not only the Holy Spirit of the Father that dwells in us. We also see that it is the Spirit of Christ that dwells in us. Gal. 4:6 tells us: “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father.’” We see here that God the Father sent the Spirit of His Son, Jesus Christ, in our hearts, and because it is the Spirit of His Son, we can call God our Father. Notice it, too, in Phil. 1:19: “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Again, it is the Spirit of Christ that dwells in us—not a third person!
That the Spirit of the Father and of Christ dwells in us becomes very clear when reading Rom. 8:9: “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” Here we read that the Spirit of God dwells in us, and when we do not have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us, we are not even Christians.
So putting all those passages together, we can see that the Spirit of God the Father and of Christ dwells in us, and that both God the Father and Jesus Christ send us, or pour into us, the Holy Spirit. But how can that be? Isn’t there only ONE Spirit?
There is clearly only one Spirit, just as there is only one baptism, one faith, one hope and one body (cp. Eph. 4:4-5). But consider this: Although there is only one baptism, there are many individuals being baptized. And even though there is only one body, there are many members in that body (cp. 1 Cor. 12:14). And we know that the ONE God consists of the Father and the Son, that is, God is not just one person.
The same is true for the Holy Spirit. There is ONE Spirit, but both God the Father and Jesus Christ are Spirit beings, and the Holy Spirit emanates from both of them. That is why we read about the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of Christ. When we read that there is one Spirit, then the reference is to the oneness or harmony between God the Father and Jesus Christ. It is exactly the same when Christ said, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30). Christ did not mean, the Father and He were “one” being—but that they were “one” in purpose and goal and mindset and character. When Christ spoke these words, He was clearly a separate person from God the Father. Christ said in John 17:11, that we all should be one, as the Father and Christ are one in spirit—not in the sense that we all would become one being, but rather, that we all be of the same spirit. God the Father and Christ are one in spirit, and so are we to become one in spirit.
Notice Christ’s words in John 14:23: “‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.’” Both the Father and Jesus Christ live in us. John 14:16-18 confirms too that not only the Father, but also Jesus Christ live in us, through the Holy Spirit, when Christ told His disciples, “‘I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper…, the Spirit of truth…[that] will be in you. I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you.’” God the Father and Jesus Christ have both come to us, and they both have made their home with us. They do this through the Holy Spirit that flows from both of them into us. This proves, as we will see in a moment, that the Holy Spirit cannot be a person.
First, though, let’s turn back for a moment to John 7:37-39. This Scripture is directly related to the passage in John 14:23 and proves, too, that the Holy Spirit is not a person. It reads: “On the last day, that great day of the Feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom [better: “which,” cp. AV] those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
Note that the word “given” is in italics—this means, it is not in the original Greek; it was added by the translator. Other translators present this passage quite differently:
But how could this be? How is it possible to say that the Holy Spirit did not exist yet, or was not there yet, since Christ was not yet glorified?
The answer becomes clear when we consider that only a glorified God being can give His Holy Spirit to others. When Christ spoke those words, the Holy Spirit of the Father was clearly there and dwelling in Him — but Christ was referring here to Himself. He said, “Let him who thirsts come to ME.” And Christ was a man when He said that, and as a man, having given up His glory, He could not give the Holy Spirit, emanating from Him as a glorified God being, to others. Remember, it was the Holy Spirit of the FATHER (as distinguished from the Holy Spirit of Christ) that dwelled in Christ, and through which Christ did the marvelous works (cp. Acts 10:38-39).
For Christ to bestow His Holy Spirit on others, He needed to be glorified first. Christ made this clear, when He said in John 16:7: “…‘if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.’” This proves, then, several things: It proves that when Jesus Christ was here on earth, He was a man, FULLY flesh. He was NOT human and divine at the same time. He was not fully man and fully God. This passage proves that the Holy Spirit is not a person. Rather, the Holy Spirit emanates from glorified God beings. As long as Christ was not glorified, He had no Holy Spirit of His own to bestow on others. That’s why the Holy Spirit of the glorified Christ was not there yet—ONLY the Holy Spirit of the Father was there.
But then, after Christ’s resurrection and glorification, both the Father and the Son dwell in us through their Spirit—the Holy Spirit—which emanates or proceeds from both the Father and the Son.
The passages in John 14:23 and John 7:37-39 (discussed above) show us then why the Holy Spirit cannot be a separate or distinct person or being within the Godhead: Since the Spirit of the Father and of the Son lives in us, two persons would live in us, and the Godhead would not consist of only three persons, but of four—God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit of the Father, and God the Holy Spirit of the Son. But no one teaches, to our knowledge, that God consists of four persons. And so we see, no matter how we look at it, the whole concept of the Holy Spirit being a separate person has no biblical basis!
Jesus is our Mediator, our only Mediator, between us and God the Father. Turn to 1 Tim. 2:5-6, and note: “For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and humanity, himself a human being, Jesus Christ.” (New Jerusalem Bible).
God the Father never became man, but Christ did. So, Christ is the only Mediator between God and man, as Christ can sympathize with our weaknesses, having been tempted in all points, when He was human, as we are today. Hebrews 4:15 tells us, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Let’s turn now to Rom. 8:26, where we are told what the Holy Spirit does for us: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Authorized Version).
Here we read that the Spirit makes intercession for us, in other words, that it is a “mediator” between God and man. So, IF the Holy Spirit were a person, we would have two mediators, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Let’s see, though, what is meant by the statement that the Spirit makes intercession for us. Continuing in verse 27 of Romans 8 we are told: “Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” And who exactly is it who searches the heart and who makes intercession?
The answer is in Rom. 8:34: “It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”
Notice it, too, in 2 Cor. 3: 17: “Now the Lord IS the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
So we see that it is Christ, through His Spirit, who makes intercession for us. (cp. Heb. 9:15; 7: 25; 1 John 2:1). Both the Father and the Son are Spirit beings. We are told by Christ in John 4:24 that GOD IS Spirit. We are also told in 1 Cor. 15:45 that Jesus Christ, after His resurrection, became “a life-giving Spirit.” Jesus Christ was God. He was a Spirit being before He became a man, and He became God, a life-giving Spirit being, at the time of His resurrection (cp. Titus 2:13).
Let’s briefly address here how Christ, through His Spirit, makes intercession for us. Although God the Father and Jesus Christ ARE Spirit, they have form and shape, a body, hands, arms, eyes, and so on, but they are composed of spirit, not matter. We see God the Father and Christ described as sitting on a throne. But Christ is not always in heaven. He appeared to man before His birth as a human being, and after His resurrection. He will return visibly, riding a white horse. So, in that sense, He is at a certain place at a certain time, but He IS omnipresent, that is, at all places at every time, through His Spirit. Spirit can be compared with the air that surrounds the globe. Air is everywhere. So is Christ, through His Spirit, and it is through His Spirit that Christ can intercede for us before the Father at any time, regardless of where He may be.
We have seen, then, that Christ intercedes for us through His Spirit. That shows that the Holy Spirit cannot be a person, because otherwise, Christ would not be the only Mediator between God and man—the Holy Spirit would be another or second mediator.
Proofs for the Trinity?
There are some Scriptures that might seem to “prove” the concept of the Trinity, but a closer study of those Scriptures reveals that such is not the case. Let’s take a closer look at these Scriptures.
Does 1 John 5:7-8 Prove the Trinity?
1 John 5:7-8 is probably the most frequently quoted text to “prove” that God is a Trinity. The New King James Bible translates it this way: “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.”
The way this passage is translated in the New King James Bible is considered a proof text by some that the Holy Spirit is a person. But this is not true at all. With that rationale given to verse 7 (“there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one”), it would follow from verse 8 (“there are three that bear witness on earth, the Spirit, the water and the blood, and these three agree as one”), that “water” and “blood” would also have to be persons. But nobody claims that.
In addition, most scholars agree that the words in verse 7, “in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one,” were later added by the Catholic Church to “prove” the Trinity, and that these words were not in the original writings. Many Bible translations and commentaries state that this particular phrase, referred to as the “Comma Joanneum,” is “not contained in the best authorities and constitutes a late addition in the Latin Text.” [Pattloch Bible, Appendix, page 85].
The Zürcher Bible comments in a footnote that “this passage was added in the fourth century in the Latin Text, and only in the 15th century in some Greek Texts.” The NIV adds in a footnote that this particular phrase is only contained “in the late manuscripts of the Latin Bible and that it is not found in any Greek manuscripts before the 16th century.” Other commentaries point out that these words are clearly a falsification and that they have therefore been correctly omitted, even as a footnote, in many modern translations. So this passage is clearly not proof at all that the Holy Spirit is a separate divine person.
Does Matt. 28:19 Prove the Trinity?
If there is any Scripture, besides the one in 1 John 5:7-8, which has been quoted more frequently than any other, in order to “prove” the existence of the Trinity, it would be Matthew 28:19. Let’s read this passage, in context, beginning with verse 18:
“(18) And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (19) Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.’”
These words by Jesus do not prove a Trinity. As the role of Christ in the baptismal ceremony is mighty important (cp. Rom. 6:1-4; Gal. 3:27), so also is the role of the Father. It was God the Father who gave His only begotten Son as a sacrifice for us, so that we could have eternal life. Once we repent and believe we are then to be baptized as an outward sign of inner repentance, to “bury our old self.” Once we come out of the watery grave, we are to walk in newness of life. And, this can only be done with the help of God’s Holy Spirit.
We are to make disciples by baptizing them, and by teaching them to observe all things that Christ commanded. And, we baptize a person “in” or “into” [the Greek word eis can mean “in” or “into”] the “name” or “possession” [the Greek word onoma can mean “name” or “possession”] of the Father and of the Son who both are present through the Holy Spirit. The entire clause, “baptize in the name of,” in Greek, “eis (to) onoma tinos,” also conveys the meaning of coming under the “control” or “authority” of the Father and of the Son (cp. Strong’s, #3836; and William Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, p. 575). And as we will see in the next section, it is the Holy Spirit, emanating from the Father and from the Son, by which we have fellowship with the Father and Jesus Christ.
When we are baptized in, or into, the name or possession of Jesus, we recognize that we are baptized into His death (Rom. 6:3). When we come out of the watery grave, and one of God’s ministers places his hands on our heads and asks God the Father for the Holy Spirit, emanating from both the Father and the Son, we recognize that it is the Holy Spirit of God flowing into us that enables us to walk in newness of life. We also recognize that we are entering, at that very time, the Family of God as begotten, but not yet born, children of God the Father and brothers and sisters of our elder brother Jesus Christ. In that sense, we become the possession or the “property” of the God Family. And all of this is made possible, then, through God’s Holy Spirit, dwelling in us. So rather than teaching the personage of the Holy Spirit, Matt. 28:19 teaches how God makes it possible, through His Spirit in us, to become a part of the Family of God.
Does 2 Cor. 13:14 Prove the Trinity?
2 Cor. 13:14 reads: “The grace of the Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.” Understand, now, that we obtain communion or fellowship through the Holy Spirit, but let’s note with whom we have communion or fellowship. 1 Cor. 1:9 tells us: “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Notice, too, Phil. 2:1, pointing out that “consolation in Christ” is the same as “comfort of love” and “fellowship of the Spirit.”).And 1 John 1: 3 adds, “[T]hat which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
Our fellowship with the Father and Jesus Christ is accomplished through the Holy Spirit, flowing from God and joining us with God and our fellow brethren. The passage in 2 Cor. 13:14 does not teach us that the Holy Spirit is a divine being.
Does Acts 5 Prove the Trinity?
Some would use Acts 5:1-9 as proof that the Holy Spirit is God and the third member of the Trinity. By way of background, Ananias and his wife Sapphira decided to sell a possession and to give part of the proceeds to the disciples, falsely claiming, however, that it was all that they had received. Peter responded, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit…You have not lied to men but to God” (vv. 3-4). Later, he told Sapphira, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord?”
Some say that Peter equated in this passage the Holy Spirit with God. But Peter didn’t do that. Rather, he was telling Ananias and Sapphira that God’s Spirit—“the Spirit of the Lord”—was dwelling in him and the other disciples, and that God was present through His Spirit. Ananias and Sapphira had not just lied to human beings, but to the Holy Spirit of God, dwelling in those human beings, and since God the Father and Jesus Christ dwell in us through the Holy Spirit, they had actually lied directly to God the Father and God the Son. Peter did not say that the Holy Spirit is God, but that through the Holy Spirit, God is present.
Remember—God is omnipresent through His Spirit. In Psalm 139:7, David makes it clear, too, that God is everywhere through His Spirit. He asks, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?” The Holy Spirit is not a distinct or separate God being, but it emanates from God, so that God, having form and shape, is omnipresent.
We hope by now that you can see how Scriptures can be twisted to provide so-called proof of something that is not true at all, and that the Bible itself provides the answers if one is willing to search and find those revealed answers—the real proofs.
Does Personification Prove the Trinity?
What about personifying or lending human attributes to something that is not a person? Is that proof of the Trinity? Some want to prove the Trinity, and especially the idea that the Holy Spirit is a conscious divine Person, by turning to Scriptures which seem to imply that the Holy Spirit does something, or that it thinks and speaks. Let’s take a closer look at some of these examples of personification.
The Holy Spirit vs. the Spirit in Man
One such example is found in 1 Cor. 2:10. The context here is that something that is not physical dwells in every human being. The Bible calls this non-physical component in every person the “spirit in man” or the “spirit of man.” This human spirit distinguishes man from animals in intelligence, mind set and abilities. Paul goes on to point out that every converted person also has within him or her the Holy Spirit, which distinguishes the converted mind from the natural, unconverted mind in spiritual understanding, comprehension, and ability to live by spiritual principles. Verse 10 reads: “But God has revealed them [the spiritual things] to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.”
This sounds as if the Spirit of God is a conscious, active, distinct being. But let us ask the question—is the “spirit in man” a conscious, active, distinct being? We know that it is not, because when man dies, the “spirit of the man” goes back to God, but neither that “spirit” of the dead man, nor the dead man, have any consciousness [For proof, ask for our free booklet, Evolution—A Fairy Tale for Adults?].
Let’s consider Psalm 77:6: “I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart, And my spirit makes diligent search.” While both the Holy Spirit within us, as well as the “spirit in man” within us, makes diligent search, the “spirit in man” is not a distinct being. Neither does the passage in 1 Cor. 2:10 show, then, that the Holy Spirit is a distinct being.
Let’s continue in 1 Cor. 2:11, the last sentence: “…no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” This sounds again like a distinct, conscious being. But let’s read the first part of that sentence: “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man that is in him.”
So again, both the Spirit of God and the “spirit of man” “know” something. This terminology does not justify the conclusion that the Holy Spirit is a God being—otherwise, the “spirit in man” would have to be a being too, which it is not.
Note, too, this passage in Romans 8:16: “The [Holy] Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” [Authorized Version].
If the Holy Spirit is a person because it bears witness, then is the “spirit in man” a person, too, because it also bears witness? No, “the spirit in man” is not a person in addition to the man where it resides; i.e., there is not a person living in every person. Every human being has a “spirit in man,” regardless of whether the person is converted or not. But once converted, the person has in addition living in him or her God’s Holy Spirit. The result is described in 1 Cor. 6:17: “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.” In other words, they have become, or are becoming, one in mind and purpose. And that is why we read that both the Holy Spirit and our spirit bear witness to the fact that we are God’s children. This does not make either the Holy Spirit or our spirit to be persons. Rather, it’s a figurative way of saying that because of the Holy Spirit living in us, working on and guiding our human spirit, God calls us His children.
Human Wisdom and the Mind of Christ
Let’s continue reading in 1 Cor. 2, verse 13, to see how the Bible describes certain concepts to make them clearer for those who are called by God while others stumble at the Word. We read: “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” Both the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of man are described here as “teaching” something. But, just as man’s wisdom is not a distinct person, so, the Holy Spirit is not a distinct person, either. Consider verse 16: “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him [i.e., the Lord]? But we have themind of Christ.”
The Holy Spirit in us that teaches us and searches out spiritual things for us is the mind of Christ, since Christ lives in us through His Spirit. We now have a different mind set. We don’t have any longer the carnal, natural mind of man. And to make this point very clear, Paul personifies the Holy Spirit in us—as he personified both the human spirit and human wisdom. He wanted to show what a great influence these have for us spiritually, but, he did not mean to convey that all of these are, in fact, persons.
Paul’s Use of the Word “Spirit”
Notice how Paul, in his writings, uses the word “spirit.”
Turn to 1 Cor. 5:4, where we read: “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan…”
Let’s ask again—Was the spirit of Paul, that was with the members in Corinth, while Paul dwelled somewhere else, a person that had left Paul? Of course not—otherwise Paul could not have written the letter, if the spirit had left him. We read in other places that once the spirit in man leaves the man, the man is dead (cp. James 2:26). So, what Paul is telling us here, is that his mind was with the Corinthians. Likewise, the Spirit of God is not a person either, but the mind of God that God wants to share with us.
We must be careful, when we read certain passages that seem to imply that the Holy Spirit acts or does things, not to conclude that those passages teach the personhood of the Spirit. In most cases, the truth becomes clear in the passage, if we read it in context, and if we don’t only quote from the passage selectively.
Let’s review another example, this time in 1 Cor. 14:14: “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.” Is the spirit of Paul that prays a person? If not, why do some conclude, in referring to Romans 8:26, that the Holy Spirit must be a person as it is stated there that the Spirit “prays” (Note from our earlier discussion that, in any event, it is actually Jesus Christ who prays)? Further, let’s read 1 Cor. 14:15: “What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.”
So, if Paul’s spirit is a person, is then Paul’s understanding also a person? After all, Paul prays with the spirit, and with the understanding. But, the answer is, the mind and the understanding of the man are being personified here, and the same is true when the Bible talks about the Holy Spirit of God.
Notice 1 Cor. 16:18: “For they refreshed my spirit and yours.” This does not mean, of course, that the spirit of Paul and the spirit of all of the Corinthians were persons. Rather, their minds and whole entire beings were refreshed or comforted.
The Letter That Kills
Notice another example, dealing directly with God’s Spirit, in 2 Cor. 3:4-6. Let’s also see from the context, that this has to be a personification: “And we have such trust through Christ toward God… [O]ur sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Some say, here is proof that the Holy Spirit is a person because it says that the Holy Spirit gives life. But if that is so, is then the letter a person, too, because it also says, that the letter kills? It should be rather obvious that both terms are being used in a personified way.
The Flesh Bestows on Us Death
A similar example can be found in Gal. 6:8: “For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” Those who say that this proves that the Holy Spirit is a person, since it bestows on us everlasting life, must answer whether this then proves that the flesh is a person, too, as the flesh bestows on us death. Again, both terms are used in a personified way, to make a certain concept clear—if we follow our own fleshly desires, we will die, but if we follow God who teaches us through His Spirit in us, we will live.
But notice what this all means. Since all these abstract concepts, that are clearly NOT persons, such as the letter that kills and the flesh that kills, are personified, and they are being compared with the Holy Spirit at the same time, then this indicates strongly that the Holy Spirit is not a person either, but that it is likewise personified to get a certain thought across in the most powerful way.
We have seen, of course, from other passages, that the Holy Spirit is not a person. But those who use passages in which the Holy Spirit is personified to show that the Holy Spirit is a person don’t realize that their arguments go against them and that the very passages that they quote indicate the opposite.
The Holy Spirit Speaks to Us
Consider this passage in Hebrews 3: 7-11: “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, “They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.” So I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest.’”
The way this is worded, it is the Holy Spirit that speaks and says that the fathers have rebelled against Him, that He was angry, and that they would not enter His rest. But who actually said those words? Who was the one who became angry about the transgressions and rebellion of the fathers?
Note in Numbers 14:20-23: “Then the Lord said: ‘I have pardoned, according to your word, but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord—because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it.’”
It was the Lord (Yahweh) who said it. As we know from other passages, the Lord of the Old Testament who spoke directly with Moses and others was Jesus Christ, not the Father. Christ pointed out that no one has ever seen God the Father (John 1:18). But Moses, for example, did see “the form of the Lord.” (Numbers 12:8). Moses, then, saw the second God being in the God Family—the One who would become known as Jesus Christ. And so, Christ was with the people of ancient Israel, through His Spirit.
Note this in 1 Cor. 10:4,9: “…For they [the Israelites under Moses] drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ… Nor let us tempt Christ as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents…”
Also, note 1 Peter 1:10-11: “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them, was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.”
Therefore, the Holy Spirit that “speaks” in the passage in the book of Hebrews, or that testifies of Christ’s sufferings and glory, is the Spirit of Christ. The Holy Spirit is not a person, but the person of Christ was present amongst the Israelites through His Spirit, and Christ spoke to them through His Spirit. That the Holy Spirit, emanating from both the Father and the Son, cannot be a person, becomes clear when considering that Christ’s Holy Spirit (as distinguished from the Father’s Holy Spirit) was not present when Christ lived here on earth as a human being, as we already saw. It was Christ’s Holy Spirit that dwelled in the prophets of old, but Christ’s Holy Spirit did not exist, when Christ gave up His glory to become a man. Therefore, theHoly Spirit of Christ the Son cannot be a person.
The Holy Spirit Witnesses to Us
Note this in Heb. 10: 15-16: “But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us, for after He had said before, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,’ then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’”
We are told here first, that the Holy Spirit says something, but then, that the Lord says it, and then again, that the Holy Spirit says it. So the Scriptures use here the terms “the Lord” and “Holy Spirit” interchangeably. Obviously, it is the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ that witnesses—in other words, Christ speaks through His Spirit.But that does not make the Holy Spirit a person.
Some have pointed out that the Holy Spirit speaks to the different churches in the book of Revelation, and concluded that this must mean, then, that the Holy Spirit is a person. Consider first, though, the fact that the book of Revelation speaks consistently about the Father and the Lamb, Jesus Christ, but the Holy Spirit is never mentioned once as a person or a being. Both the Father and the Lamb will live in the New Jerusalem—but no mention of the Holy Spirit.
When we read that the “Spirit” speaks to the churches, we must realize that the revelation comes from God the Father who gave it to Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:1). So, the Spirit that speaks to the churches is again the Spirit of Christ—it is Christ, through His Holy Spirit, who reveals and passes on the message that He had received from the Father.
The same can be seen from the book of Acts. In Acts 16:6 and 7, we read that the “Holy Spirit” forbade the disciples to preach in Asia, and to even go to a certain place. In Acts 20: 22-23, we read that the Holy Spirit testified to Paul in every city that chains and tribulation awaited him. But how did the Holy Spirit do that?
Acts 21:4, 11 give us a clue. We read: “And finding disciples, we stayed there seven days. They told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem… When he [a certain prophet] had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, ‘Thus says the Holy Spirit, “So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’””
We see that people spoke, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Let’s turn now to Acts 23:11, to find out who actually gave these prophecies through the mouths of those prophets: “But the following night the Lord stood by me and said, ‘Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.’”
It was Jesus Christ who, through His Spirit, inspired people to talk. These passages that we have read do not tell us that the Holy Spirit is a person.
The Holy Spirit Teaches Us
Some claim that the Holy Spirit must be a person because the Bible says that the Spirit teaches us. But this argumentation is not convincing. Let’s note 1 John 2:27, which some have quoted to support their claim that the Holy Spirit must be a person. It reads, “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.”
We understand that the anointing spoken of here is a reference to the Holy Spirit. But note, again, who actually teaches us. Turn to 1 Thess. 4:9: “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.”
When used without clarification, the reference to the person of “God” in the New Testament is usually a reference to the Father. (However, the word “God” can refer to Jesus Christ as well. Cp. Titus 2:13). Note in 1 Cor. 3:23 and in John 6:45: “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore, everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”
It is God the Father who teaches us. And since God the Father and Jesus Christ are one, and God beings, and since Christ only teaches us what He has heard from the Father (cp. John 8:28), it is also correct, then, that Christ is teaching us (1 John 5:20). Both do it through the Holy Spirit emanating from them. So they teach us through the Holy Spirit—but that does not make the Holy Spirit a divine God being.
The Holy Spirit a—”He”?
Some claim that the Holy Spirit must be a person and a God being, because it is referred to in the Bible in numerous places as “He.” However, as we will see, this argument is really one of the most uneducated ones. First of all, we should notice that several Bible translations have deliberately chosen to render certain passages in such a way as to imply that the Holy Spirit is a person, while other translations are, in general, much more accurate and true to the original text. For instance, if you read Rom. 8:16 in the New King James Bible, or in many other modern translations, you find the following rendering: “The Spirit Himself bears witness…” This could give the impression that the Holy Spirit is a person. The Authorized Version translates, however, “The Spirit itself beareth witness…” This translation is accurate as in accordance with the Greek and English grammar.
In many languages, every noun has a gender that is masculine, feminine, or neuter. It’s strictly a matter of grammar. For instance, in the German language, the word for “horse,” “Pferd,” is neuter, whereas the word for “dog” “Hund,” is masculine, and the word for “cat,” “Katze,” is feminine. In addition, the word for “tree,” “Baum,” is masculine, as is the word for “car,” “Wagen,” whereas the word for “fir-tree,” “Tanne,” is feminine, and the word for “pig,” “Schwein, “is neuter. More confusing, perhaps, the German words for “breath,” “wind,” and “spirit,” i.e., “Atem,” “Wind,” and “Geist,” are all masculine. We can clearly see, then, that the gender of the noun does not tell us anything about the nature of the noun—whether it’s a person, an animal, a plant, an object, or a thing.
The same applies to the Greek. The Greek word for “spirit,” “pneuma,” is neuter. Therefore, all pronouns referring to “pneuma” should be accurately translated as “it” in the English language. Those who have arbitrarily decided to translate the pronouns as “he,” or even “He,” rather than as “it,” when referring to the Holy Spirit, have only done so in order to convey their false beliefs in the personhood of the Holy Spirit. In addition, if the translators would be consistent, they would have to translate many pronouns of Hebrew words referring to the Spirit as “she,” as in the majority of cases, nouns with a feminine gender describing the Spirit are used in the Old Testament.
There is one particular noun that refers to the Holy Spirit and that is masculine in the Greek. This noun is “parakletos” and has been translated into English as “Helper” or “Comforter.” (cp. for example, John 14: 16-17). Since the noun is masculine in the Greek, the pronouns referring to it are also masculine in the Greek. But this is strictly a matter of grammar, not of meaning. To translate those pronouns as masculine into English, however, gives a totally wrong impression.
Questions of grammar and gender of nouns in a particular language do not determine whether the nouns are persons, plants, things, or objects. Wrong or misleading translations must not be used for doctrinal conclusions.
Personifications of Dead Objects
We saw already that the Bible sometimes personifies the Holy Spirit. This should not come as a surprise. We should all realize that the Bible often personifies dead objects, or concepts, or speechless animals—attributing to them speech, feelings, action or other conscious conduct. It should, therefore, not come as a surprise that the Holy Spirit of God is sometimes described this way. But, as we have seen, this does not prove that it is a distinct person, or a God being within a Trinity.
Let us take note of some of those Biblical examples of personification.
Godly Wisdom—a Person?
In Proverbs 1, “godly wisdom” is described. Wisdom, of course, is not a person, but let’s see what we read about it, beginning in verse 20: “Wisdom calls aloud outside. She raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses… She speaks her words.” And then, beginning in verse 22, we actually read what “wisdom” is saying to us in direct quotes. So, we see that God’s wisdom is personified here, but it’s clearly not a person.
We see the same repeated in Proverbs 8. Beginning in verse 1, we read, “Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice? … (3) She cries out by the gates…” And, again, verse 4, we find what exactly wisdom is saying. It is given in quotes with wisdom speaking for herself, exclaiming, “‘(30) The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way… (27) When He prepared the heavens, I was there… (30) I was beside Him as a master craftsman… (32) Now therefore, listen to me, my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways.’”
And, again, Proverbs 9:1-6 personifies wisdom and lets it speak to us, as if it were a separate being. But, it is not. Wisdom is one of the characteristics of God. And it is God who must give us His wisdom, if we want to live by God’s standards. Let’s notice this in Proverbs 2:6: “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Can we see how parallel the relationship between God and wisdom is with the relationship between God and His Holy Spirit? After all, we receive Godly wisdom through God’s Spirit. Both wisdom and the Holy Spirit are personalized, but, neither one of them is, in fact, a person.
The Love of God—a Person?
Since we are talking about some of God’s attributes or characteristics that the Bible sometimes personifies to make clear to us the importance of the same, let’s note another example in 1 Cor. 13: 4-7. In this passage, the love of God is described in such a way as if it were a person, but it is, of course, not a person:
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Only a person or a being can refuse to envy, behave in a certain way, think, rejoice or believe. Here, love is described as doing that, as if love was a person. It’s not a person, of course, but the one and foremost characteristic of God, that is given to us, through God’s Spirit living in us. And, so, as love is not a person, but personalized, so is God’s Holy Spirit not a person, either.
The Faith of God—a Person?
Notice now an additional example. We find another one of God’s characteristics described as a person in 2 Timothy 1:5: “I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”
The faith of God is described here as dwelling in a person. Other translators even say that the faith is living in them. Only a person, not an abstract concept or an attribute of someone else, can dwell or live. So, here, God’s faith is personified, but the faith of God is clearly not a separate person or being within the Godhead.Neither is the Holy Spirit a separate person, although we read many times that the Holy Spirit dwells or lives in us.
However, not only the attributes of God are sometimes portrayed in a personified way. Likewise, wrong concepts, which we must overcome, are also personified. Notice this in Romans 6:12, 14: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies, that you should obey it in its lusts… For sin shall not have dominion over you…”
Sin is portrayed as a ruler, an enemy that must not conquer us. Rather, we are to conquer it, as if it were a person. We are reminded of a similar admonition that God gave to Cain in Genesis 4:7: “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”
The Blood—a Person?
We also find an interesting mixture of conscious beings and unconscious concepts, attributes, or ideas in Hebrews 12: 22-24. And while some of those things mentioned herein are clearly not persons, they are all described as if they were: “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.”
For instance, the blood of sprinkling does not speak per se; neither does the blood of Abel. But the Bible pictures it that way, as if the blood were a conscious being. And God had introduced that thought early on, in Genesis 4:10: “And He said: What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.” Again, the blood is personified here, as having an actual voice, to show the enormity and seriousness of what Cain had done.
The Heavens, Earth, Rivers, Hills—All Persons?
There is quite a number of places where the Bible gives attributes, personality and consciousness to things which don’t possess them—but they are personified, as if they would act or conduct themselves as human beings would.
Note Romans 8:22: “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” Creation is portrayed here as a woman in labor. It’s personified, personalized. But it’s only a picture.
Notice it also in Isa. 49:13: “Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out into singing, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted.” Again, we see how feelings and emotions and personal conduct are ascribed to God’s creation.
Note, too, Isa. 55:12: “…The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” This is clearly a picture, of course. Trees don’t clap their hands, and hills don’t sing. Everybody understands that this is a picture. But when we read that God’s Holy Spirit speaks, then suddenly people assume that this must mean that the Holy Spirit is a person.
The book of Psalms is filled with personified descriptions. Let’s just look at a few:
Psalm 96:11-13: “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad… Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord. For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth.”
Psalm 148:2-4, 7-11: “Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light! Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, And you waters above the heavens… Praise the Lord from the earth, You great sea creatures and all the depths; Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word; Mountains and all hills; Fruitful trees and all cedars; Beasts and all cattle; Creeping things and flying fowl; Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth…”
In this passage, angels, men, animals and plants, as well as lifeless or unconscious objects such as water, planets and stars, are all asked to praise the Lord, as if they all were persons. Yet, nobody would assume that water, for example, is a person with feelings, emotions, or ability to reason. It is understood that this passage in Psalms pictures the greatness of the Creator God.
The God Family is Destined to Grow
The false concept of the Trinity does not only convey a totally wrong picture of God—it also hides the purpose of man’s existence. Most don’t understand and believe that it is man’s destiny to become God.
God is a Family—presently consisting of the Father and the Son. Through the power of His Holy Spirit, we can become a part of God’s Family. Rather than being a closed Trinity for all eternity, God is enlarging His Family by reproducing Himself in us. True Christians are already called God’s begotten children if His Spirit dwells in them. We are not yet glorified or born again, and it has not yet appeared or become manifest what we will be—namely, born again children of God. We do know that when Jesus Christ appears, we will become born again children of God—we will then be like Him and see Him as He is—the firstborn among many brethren (cp. 1 John 3:1-2; Romans 8:29).
The concept of the Trinity that teaches that God is—and that He has always been—Father, Son and Holy Spirit, hides and obscures the fact that God is a Family. In the beginning, there were two God beings—one being referred to as the Word or the Spokesman, as well as another being, referred to as God (John 1:1). But the Word was God, too, as “God” is a family name. The Word became flesh—He became known as Jesus Christ (John 1:14), while the other God being, the “highest” in the Godhead, became known as the “Father.” Christ became born again as the Son of God in the resurrection (Romans 1:1-4). Before New Testament times, God was not known yet as the “Father,” and the Word was not known yet as the “Son.” But Christ is now the Son of God—and, He is also the firstborn amongst many brethren. You, too, can become a begotten and, at the time of the resurrection, born again “son of God.” The false concept of a closed Trinity totally hides this awesome truth. If you want to know more about your ultimate potential, please write for our free booklet,“The Gospel of the Kingdom of God.”
We have seen in this booklet that God is not a closed Trinity. Rather, God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son are a loving Family. The Father gave His only-begotten Son for us so that you and I can join His Family and have eternal life. God wants us to worship Him in “spirit and in truth (John 4:24).” Let’s make sure that we do.