The Holy Spirit is not a person distinct from the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is impersonal. It is not part of a trinity. It is the divine energy through which God performs His works.

1. The Spirit Is the Power of God. The Spirit is not a person distinct from the Father and the Son because it is the power of God. The Holy Spirit is the impersonal power of God. Every work that God does is performed through His power or Spirit.

Spirit is translated from the Hebrew words ruach and neshamah and from the Greek word pneuma. Pneuma is in Greek scriptures what ruach is in Hebrew. Spirit means air, breath, wind, power, animation, and the manifestation of one's power.

The Holy Spirit is the power of God. The terms power and spirit can be used interchangeably. God performs His mighty works through His power. Through His Spirit, God created the universe (Job 26:13) and gave life to mankind (Job 33:4). Through His Spirit, God gave strength to Samson (Judges 14:6; 15:14), wisdom to Solomon, and inspiration to writers of Scripture (2 Pet. 1:21). God's Spirit gave life to Jesus (Luke 1:35; Matt. 1:20) and enabled Him to perform miracles (Matt. 12:28; John 3:34). Through that power, God raised Jesus from the dead to immortality (Rom. 1:4; Eph. 1:19, 20). These divine works were different in purpose, but the one Spirit of God was the unchanging medium for performing these works.

2. The Word "Spirit" Is Neuter. The Spirit is not a personality because the Greek word pneuma, translated Spirit, is neuter in gender. Articles and pronouns referring to it also are neuter.

3. Impersonal Symbols. God's impersonal power, the Holy Spirit, is designated in the Bible by impersonal symbols. Some of these are wind (John 3:8; Acts 2:2), fire (Matt. 3:11), water (John 7:37-39), oil (Psalm 45:7; Isa. 61:1), seal (Eph. 1:13), dove (Matt. 3:16), lamps (Rev. 4:5), and breath.

4. Impersonal Characteristics. The impersonal characteristics of the Spirit reveal it as the power of God and not as a personality. The Spirit is mentioned as poured out (Isa. 32:15; 44:3; Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17; 10:45), shed (Titus 3:5, 6), breathed (John 20:22), and filling people (Acts 2:2, 4; Eph. 5:18). Jesus was anointed with this power (Acts 10:38). Men were baptized in it (Matt. 3:11; Acts 1:5; 1 Cor. 12:13) and drank of it (1 Cor. 12:13). It is compared to the blowing wind (John 3:8). The Holy Spirit is impersonal.

5. No Personal Name. The Spirit is shown to be impersonal in that it has no personal name. God is a person; His name is Jehovah. Our Saviour is a person; His name is Jesus. The Spirit is not a person; it has no personal name. If the Spirit is a person, why does it have no personal name? The word "name" in Matthew 28:19 does not refer to a personal name. The word "name" in this verse means authority or as a representative of. The Holy Spirit is not a personality.

6. Never Addressed in Prayer. "The Holy Spirit is not a person, because in all the Bible there is not one prayer or song or exclamation addressed to it; nor is there one precept in all the Bible authorizing such prayer or song." (Gifford. Op. cit., p. 172.) Miles Grant wrote:

Another important fact is worthy of notice, that nowhere in the Bible are we taught to love, honor, or worship the Holy Spirit, or to pray to it for assistance. Why not, if it is a person, like the Father and His Son? (Grant, Miles. Positive Theology. Boston: Advent Christian Publication Society, p. 287.)

The Spirit is not mentioned in the hymns of adoration in Revelation. (Rev. 5:13; 7:10.) If the Spirit is a third person of a trinity, why is reference to it omitted?

7. Not Included in Apostolic Salutations. The power of God, the Spirit, is not usually mentioned together with God and Jesus in the greetings and salutations in New Testament letters.

The Spirit is not mentioned in any of the salutations in Paul's epistles. (Rom. 1:7; I Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; Phil. 1:2; Col. 1:2; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:2; 1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 3.) God and Jesus are mentioned together repeatedly, but the Spirit is seldom mentioned with them.

Notice also the opening words of letters written by the other apostles. (James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:2; 1 John 1:3; 2 John 3; Jude 1.) These all mentioned God and Jesus but not the Spirit. The Spirit is mentioned in 1 Peter 1:2 but not as a person.

8. Not Mentioned As Enthroned or Reigning. The Bible pictures God the Father sitting upon His throne and Jesus sitting or standing at His right hand. The Father and the Son are associated together in judgment and redemption. The coming kingdom is the kingdom of God and His Christ. There is no mention of the Spirit's being a person or as one sitting upon a throne.

9. Not Related to Father as One Person to Another. The Spirit's relation to the Father is not that of one person to another person. The Spirit's relation to the Father is that of a power to a person. The Spirit is God's power. God's power is no more a person distinct from Himself any more than is His wisdom or love. The Father and the Son are persons but the Spirit is not a person.

The Father says "Thou" to the Son and the Son says "Thou" to the Father, but neither ever says "Thou" to the Spirit. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father, but neither is mentioned as loving the Spirit.

The Spirit is never denominated "the third" or "the third person" in any way. Moreover, the Father is never called "the first person" and the Son is never called "the second person."

10. Objections Considered. Trinitarians claim, on the basis of Acts 5:3, 4 and 2 Corinthians 3:17, that the Spirit is God. They insist that since the Spirit is directly identified with God, the Spirit must be God and a separate personality. There is nothing in these two verses to warrant such a claim. Merely because the Bible states "God is love" (1 John 4:8, 16) one is not authorized to say that love is a separate personality distinct from the Father and a member of a trinity.

The Spirit is God's power. The working of the Spirit is the working of God and His Son. When one is filled with the Spirit, he is filled with the invisible power of God and Christ. The fruit of the Spirit is the result of Christ's working in the believer's life through His power.

When the Bible describes the Spirit as speaking (Rev. 2:7), it refers to the work of God speaking through His power. When the Spirit is described as making intercession (Rom. 8:26, 27), it refers to the intercession that Christ our High Priest makes for us through His power (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25). Jesus is our only intercessor; He is our one mediator. When Ananias lied to the Holy Ghost, he lied to God who worked through that holy power. When men "grieve" (Eph. 4:30) the Holy Spirit of God, they grieve God Himself who works through His Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is described as eternal and holy because God is eternal and holy. When the Spirit, God's power, is pictured as having certain characteristics and performing certain works, reference is made to the one eternal God who has those characteristics and performs those works.

11. Masculine Pronouns in Greek no Proof of Personality. Our Lord promised His disciples that after He ascended to heaven He would send them God's power, the Holy Spirit. Through this power, Jesus would continue His work with and within His disciples.

This power was called the Comforter, Paraclete, Advocate, or Helper, because Jesus intended to work through that power in behalf of believers. Jesus is the one who would be the Paraclete or Advocate Himself. (1 John 2:1.) He is the one who promised to be with them always (Matt. 28:20) and be their source of comfort and help. Jesus said, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you" (John 14:18). The work of Christ's Spirit as Comforter, Advocate, and Helper was nothing other than the work of Christ Himself as Comforter, Advocate, and Helper through that divine power.

The Greek word for Comforter Parakletos is masculine in gender. (John 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26; 16:7, 8, 13-15.) Therefore, translators used masculine pronouns to refer to the power of God in this portion of John even though that power itself was neuter and impersonal. The impersonal power of God was indicated by a masculine word "Comforter" because it was going to be used by the person, Jesus Christ. Jesus is a person, but the power, the Holy Spirit, through which He worked as Comforter was impersonal. The use of masculine pronouns in the verses cited is no indication of personality.

Spirit in the Greek is a neuter noun and is always represented by neuter pronouns in that language. The Comforter in Greek is a masculine noun and it is therefore represented by masculine pronouns. But this proves nothing as to personality; for the use of masculine pronouns in Greek is no proof of personality. The Greek, unlike the English, uses masculine and feminine pronouns with reference to things and qualities as well as to persons.         

Wisdom in Proverbs is personified and referred to as she and her. This, however, does not indicate that wisdom is a woman or a person. It does not mean that she is part of a triune God. The fact that the Comforter is called he and him is no indication that it is a personality.

The Bible correctly teaches that there is but one God, the Father, who is one in essence and person. There is only one person who is God. It teaches that Jesus is not God but the Son of God. He is divine but not deity. Jesus is the most highly exalted person in the universe next to God. Christ eternally will be subject to His Father, the one supreme God. The Holy Spirit is the impersonal power of God through which He performs His works.


(Adapted from Systematic Theology, by Alva Huffer, published by Church of God General Conference, Oregon, Illinois 61061, U.S.A.)

© Church of God General Conference. This lesson may be reproduced without change for non-commercial purposes without prior permission.