The final section from an old study from Ambassador College, the
college that was founded by Herbert W. Armstrong. It's function
died off within a decade of Armstrong's death in 1986.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
A Simple Lesson in Grammar
Somebody is going to ask: "What about the fact that John
uses the personal pronoun 'he' when referring to the Holy Spirit
or Comforter in the 14th, 15th, and 18th chapters of his Gospel?"
In the Greek language, like the Romance languages (Spanish,
Italian, French, etc.), every noun has what is called gender;
that is, it is either masculine, feminine or neuter.
Even such an inanimate object as a glass - being utterly
devoid of any real life - has masculine gender in Spanish. El
vaso is the Spanish equivalent of the two words "the glass" in
English. The article "el" and the "o" ending to the word 'vaso'
give the word "glass" masculine gender in Spanish. Yet by no
stretch of the imagination could a glass be considered a male
person in the human sense. That would be ridiculous!
La mesa is the Spanish equivalent of the two English words
"the table." The article "la" and the "a" ending give the word
"table" (mesa) feminine gender in Spanish. Yet it would be
ludicrous to consider a table as a human female personality.
Likewise in the Greek language, the gender of a word has
nothing whatever to do with whether the thing designated is
REALLY masculine or feminine in the human sense at all. If it did
- what a contradiction in the Bible itself. For in the Old
Testament the Hebrew word for spirit - 'ruach' - is usually
feminine, and only rarely in a masculine form. Gender in language
is really nothing more than a convenient grammatical tool. In the
14th, 15th and 16th chapters of John, the English pronoun "he" is
definitely used in connection with the word "Comforter" - but not
for theological or spiritual reasons.
Grammatically, all pronouns in Greek must agree in gender
with the word they refer to - or in other words, with the term
that the pronoun replaces. The Greek word 'parakletos'
("comforter" in English) has masculine gender; hence the
translators' use of the personal pronoun "he" for the Greek
pronouns 'ekeinos' and 'autos.' "It" would have been a far better
rendering into the English language just as in John 1:32 and
6:63, and Romans 8:16 for example.
THE HOLY SPIRIT IN SYMBOLS
Various symbols designate God's Holy Spirit in the Bible.
Among them are 'breath' (Gen.2:7); 'oil' (Psa.45:7); 'fire'
(Matt.3;11); 'dove' (Matt.3:16); 'wind' (John 3:8); 'water' (John
4:14; 7:37,39); 'seal' (Eph.1:13); 'sword' (Eph.6:17) and 'lamps'
(Rev.4:5). The Holy Spirit's characteristics reveal it to be an
impersonal power emanating from God. The Holy Spirit is 'poured
out' (Isa.32:15; Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17); 'shed' (Titus 3:5, 6);
'breathed' (John 20:22); 'fills people' (Acts 2:4; Eph.5;18); and
'anoints some' (Acts 10:38).
If the Holy Spirit were a person, a member of a holy
trinity, it would be impossible to understand and adequately
explain the following scriptures:
1) "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the
host of them by the breath [or spirit] of his mouth" (Psa.33:6).
2) "It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and
have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the
Holy Ghost [Spirit)... it they shall fall away, to renew them
again unto repentance" (Heb.6:4-6).
3) "When he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto
them, Receive ye the Holy [Spirit]" (John 20:22).
4) "He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God
giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him" . (John 3:34).
There is not one prayer, song, or exclamation of praise made
to the Holy Spirit in God's Word! Men, however, compose and sing
many songs in Symbols and hymns to the Holy Spirit, as though it
ware a person.
In the seventeen New Testament Epistles that begin with a
greeting of grace and peace, there is only one greeting that
contains a reference to the Holy Spirit, and then only as the
means of sanctification (1 Pet.1:2), not as the source of grace.
These invocations are appeals in the name of God and His
Son, but not in that of the Holy Spirit. This is logical. All the
writers, inspired by the Holy Spirit, the power of God,
recognized that the Holy Spirit was not a person. It can be
further observed that there are no mentions of the Holy Spirit in
the eleven occurrences of thanksgiving or blessing which follow
some of these salutations. Is it not evident that the
God-breathed Word does not recognize the Holy spirit as a person?
When Stephen, being full of the Holy Spirit, was martyred,
he saw the heavens opened and the Son of man standing at the
right hand of God (Acts 7:55,55). No mention is made of the Holy
Spirit's presence in this eventful scene in heaven.
In the Book of Revelation, it is recorded that John beheld
God upon His throne, a group of elders, the Lamb of God, four
beasts, a strong angel, and many other angels around the throne,
singing a new song to the Son of God concerning the Lamb who was
slain and has redeemed us to God by His blood (5:9). If the Holy
Spirit were a person, and equal to God would he not be present,
and sitting on the throne? Other similar scenes are recorded in
which the Holy Spirit is not pictured, such as in Rev.7:10.
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE POWER OF GOD
The Holy Spirit is the impersonal power of God. A few of the
Scriptures on which we base this statement are Genesis 6:3; Job
33:4; Psalm 139:7; Isaiah 11:2; 42:1; 61:1; Ezekiel 36:27; 39:29;
Luke 1:15,35,67; 11:13; John 20:22; Acts 4;8,31; 13;9; 15:8;
Romans 8:11; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Peier l:2.
Every work of God is accomplished through this great power
(Matt.3:11; Luke 2:26; John 1:33; 14:26; 20:22; Acts 1:2,5,8,16;
2;33,38; 4:8; 10:38,44,45). God used His great power to
God create the heaven, the earth, men, and beasts (Gen.1:1; Jer.
Since God has given this same Holy Spirit without measure to
His only begotten Son, it is acknowledged that His works are done
through this greet power (Mat.28;18; John 3:34). Jesus told His
followers that the Comforter would proceed from God (John 15:28)
and instructed them to wait at Jerusalem for power. Christians
are kept by this power (I Pet.1:5).
PAUL DID NOT RECOGNIZE THE TRINITY
The Apostle Paul would probably be considered a blasphemer
by many Trinitarians today, because in his greetings to the
churches he neglected to mention the Holy Spirit. In his
introduction to the Romans, he represents himself as an apostle
of God the Father and Jesus Christ, but nothing is said about any
He also neglects to mention the Holy Spirit in the greetings
of the rest of his letters. His standard greeting is: "Grace be
unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus
Christ" (I Cor.1:3). The same greeting is repeated in
2 Corinthians 1:3, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians 1:2,
Colossians 1:2, I Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:2,
I Timothy 1:2, Titus 1:4, and Philemon 1:3.
All of these greetings are without variation: the Holy
Spirit is consistently left out, a great oversight, almost
blasphemy - provided the Trinity doctrine is correct - and
blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is called the unpardonable sin
Only in 2 Corinthians 13:14 is the Holy Spirit mentioned
with God and Jesus and there only in connection with communion or
fellowship. The Holy Spirit is not the third member of the
In Romans 8:17, Paul identified Christians as heirs of the
Father and heirs of Christ, but said nothing about us being heirs
of the Holy Spirit. In I Corinthians, Christians belong to Christ
as Christ belongs to God, but no one is said to belong to the
In I Corinthians 11:3, the man is the head (leader in
authority) of the woman, Christ is the head of the man, and God
the head of Christ. But nowhere does the Holy Spirit - as a
person - fit in!
Ephesians 5:5 mentions the kingdom of God along with the
kingdom of Christ, but never a kingdom of the Holy Spirit. Yet it
was this very omission, in the Middle Ages, coupled with the
prevailing belief in the Holy Spirit as a person of a Trinity,
that gave rise to a major heresy within the Catholic Church.
Falsely believing that the Church itself was the kingdom,
and since by then the Church had endured more than a thousand
years, many people fell for a sort of wildfire, "Spiritual"
religion proclaiming the eminent age or kingdom of the Holy
Spirit which idea would indeed logically follow if the Holy
Spirit were a person. In fairness to the Catholic Church it must
be said that this doctrine was quickly branded a heresy.
In Colossians 3:1, Paul wrote of Christ sitting at the right
hand of the Father. But why was the Holy Spirit, if a person, not
sitting there too?
But surely I Timothy 2:5 is a clincher: "For there is one
God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."
This means that not even the Holy Spirit - sent to earth
specifically to aid and dwell within human beings - is a
mediator. Why - if the Holy Spirit is a person?
All these scriptures and many more disprove the teaching
that the Holy Spirit is a person.
THE SPIRIT OF GOD THROUGHOUT THE BIBLE
The personality of Jesus Christ is thoroughly provable from
the Bible, but there is no such proof for a personality of the
"The OT [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 (Isa.48:18; 63:11; 32:15)."
So say the authors of the New Catholic Encyclopedia. Continuing:
"Very rarely do the OT writers attribute to God's spirit emotions
or intellectual activity (Isa.63:10; Wis.1:3.7). When such
expressions are used, they are more figures of speech that are
explained by the fact that the 'ruach' was regarded also as the
seat of intellectual acts and feeling (Gen.41:8). Neither is
there found in the OT or in rabbinical literature the notion that
God's spirit is an intermediary being between God and the world.
This activity is proper to the angels, although to them is
ascribed some of the activity that elsewhere is ascribed to the
spirit of God" (New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XIII, p.574).
In the Old Testament, God's Spirit is pictured as His power.
The power by which the One who became Jesus Christ, as Executive
for the Father, created the entirety of the universe. These
theologians also recognize that when the Spirit is spoken of as e
person or in a personal way, the Bible writer is merely
personifying the Spirit, as he would wisdom or any other
Now what about the New Testament? They say:
"Although the NT [New Testament] concepts of the Spirit of God
are largely a continuation of those of the OT, in the NT there is
a gradual revelation that the Spirit of God is a person."
But this would seem true only if you are armed with a
preconceived notion that God is a Trinity, and there are only a
few Scriptures that can even remotely be construed as presenting
the Spirit as a person, in each case only as the result of a
But again let's let the New Catholic Encyclopedia continue:
"The majority of NT texts reveal God's spirit as something, not
someone; this is especially seen in the parallelism between the
spirit and the power of God."
Though theologians would like the Bible to say that the
Spirit is a person, they must admit that the majority of the
Scriptures connected with it show that it is not someone, but
something. Even the personification of the Spirit is no proof of
"When a quasi-personal activity is ascribed to God's spirit,
e.g., speaking, hindering, desiring, dwelling (Acts 8:29; 18:7;
Rom. 8:9), one is not justified in concluding immediately that in
these passages God's spirit is regarded as a Person; the same
expressions are used in regard to rhetorically personified things
or abstract ideas (see Rom.5:8; 7:17). Thus the context of the
phrase 'blasphemy against the spirit' (Mt.12:31; cf. Mt.12:28;
Luke 11:20) shows that reference is being made to the power of
God" (Now Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol XIII, p.575).
THE INFLUENCE OF HELLENISTIC THOUGHT
The Hellenistic (Greek-culture) world, through the influence
of Judaism end philosophical criticism of the old state cults,
was turning away in disgust or disparagement from polytheism to
various forms of monotheism.
In such a world the Christian-professing Church of the first
four centuries seems to have felt under considerable strain to
avoid the charge of polytheism, especially in the light of its
Jewish heritage. Yet the New Testament texts forced the church to
recognize Jesus as fully divine and pre-existant as God: hence at
least two God-beings.
But were there three? A Trinity? In Hellenistic thought,
many abstract or impersonal concepts were personalized in
speaking or writing. Qualities, attributes and powers such as
Wisdom, Love, the Holy Spirit were spoken of as it they had
thought and volition of their own. And so, in the Greek New
Testament, we find the Holy Spirit so spoken of. This made it
truly difficult to the uninstructed and novices in the things of
God to understand. Not knowing what the Holy Spirit of God really
was and is, many came to wrongly assume it to be a third parson.
TO WHOM DID JESUS PRAY?
Can we apply a little plain old biblical "horse sense" to
this time-honored doctrine of a three-person God-head? Consider
this completely unshakable biblical fact: Jesus Christ of
Nazareth - your Savior - was conceived not by a human father as
all other human beings (excepting Adam and Eve) - but by the Holy
A great angelic being appeared to Joseph, Jesus' legal
father, in a dream and said: "... Fear not to take thee Mary thy
wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit"
(Matt.1:20; cf. versa 16). Perhaps the very same angel - in this
case the archangel Gabriel (Luke 1:26) - was sent with a similar
message to the virgin Mary.
Notice carefully the wording of their conversation. "And the
angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour
with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring
forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus" (verses 30-31).
Mary's reply, was just exactly what you would expect of a
woman in that situation. "Then said Mary unto the angel, How
shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered
and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the
power of the Highest (this is the real biblical definition of the
Holy Spirit; it is a force or power) shall overshadow thee:
therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall
be called the Son of God.... For with God nothing shall be
impossible" (verses 34-35,37).
So if we want to believe the Bible, we are forced to admit
that Jesus Christ was conceived through the agency of the Holy
Yet Jesus calls God His father, not the Holy Spirit. Jesus
Christ said to Mary Magdalene in the book of John: "...go to my
brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your
Father; and to my God, and your God" (John 20:17).
Can you begin to see how utterly illogical the concept of
the Trinity is? If the Holy Spirit were a person, "he" would be
Jesus' father - not God the Father, Yet Christ dogmatically
stated, as you have just read, that God is His Father.
Consider further. If the Holy Spirit were a parson, Jesus
Christ prayed to the wrong "father." Since Jesus was conceived of
the Holy spirit, if the Holy Spirit were a person, Jesus' Father
would be the Holy Spirit. But throughout the four Gospel
accounts, we find Christ praying directly to His Father - God
Almighty! Just one example: "These words spoke Jesus, and lifted
up His eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come;
glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.... And this
is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God
(still talking to the Father], and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast
sent" (John 17:1,3).
IS THE HOLY SPIRIT A PERSON?
Is the Holy Spirit a person, just like God the Father and
Jesus Christ, as the doctrine of the Trinity teaches? Let's
examine the plain, clear testimony of Scripture to see what God's
Holy Spirit is.
First, it is the power of God. "Not by might, nor by power
[of humans], but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts" (Zech.
4:6). "I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, and
judgment, and of might..." declared the prophet Micah (Micah
Second, it is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the
Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the
fear (deep reverence and respect - not terror) of the Lord (Isa.
Third, it is a gift. After baptism, you are to receive "the
gilt of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). It is poured out. "And it
shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out
of my Spirit upon all flesh" (Acts 2:17). "....On the Gentiles
also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 10:45).
Fourth, to be effective the Holy Spirit must be stirred up.
"Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift
of God," Paul reminded the young evangelist Timothy (2 Tim.1:6).
Fifth, the Spirit of God can be quenched (I Thee.5:19).
Sixth, it is the begetting power of God (Matt.1:18; Rom.
Seventh, it is God's guarantee to us that He will fulfill
His promise to us (Eph.1:14).
Eighth, it sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts (Rom.
Ninth, it must be renewed (2 Cor.4:16).
Notice that in all of these scriptures there is not one
characteristic even implying a "person."
Does a person do any of these things? Is a person "poured,"
"quenched," "renewed"? Does a person live in someone else or live
in people's hearts?
For further evidence proving that the Holy Spirit is not a
person, see Matthew 1:20. Here we read that Christ was conceived
by the Holy Spirit. Yet Christ calls God His Father, not the Holy
Spirit (John 14:16). If the Holy Spirit were a person, it would
be Christ's Father - proof positive that the Holy Spirit is not a
person but the power God the Father uses - much as a man uses
Consider Further: I
If the Holy Spirit were a person, Jesus Christ prayed to the
wrong individual. Throughout the four Gospels, we find Christ
speaking to God - not the Holy Spirit - as His Father.
Entered on this Website March 2008
Even with all this clear truth just presented, for most
Christians (and a good part of Christian leaders, but some do
know the truth) even the thought of investigating and questioning
the doctrine of the "Trinity" will seem like blasphemy, so
brainwashed have they been taught that the Godhead is a Trinity.
Now ask them to define what "their" Trinity is, and you may get
VARIOUS answers from various different Christian denomination. To
some it is a complete "mystery" which they cannot understand, so
the reply is no reply, for they cannot understand the Trinity.
Others, will reply that God is one person but can be any of the
THREE persons on the Godhead, at any given time. I'm not sure if
they believe this One God can be the THREE at the same time.
Still others will say their Trinity is that the Godhead is THREE
individual separate beings. I guess maybe to them Jesus is on God
the Father's right hand and the Holy Spirit is on God the
Father's left hand. Where else could the Holy Spirit person be?
Yet of course they have no Biblical proof the Holy Spirit is on
the left hand of God the Father, for not one single verse in the
Bible backs up such an idea.
Well, so it goes, such are the teachings of men. For all of the
reasons presented in this study, I can tell you that as a child
growing up in a "church" school and attending (with hardly a miss
from age 6 to 18) Sunday school, reading my Bible, reading the
Gospels over and over again, I NEVER in all my wildest dreams,
ever thought of the Holy Spirit as a seperate distinct person
from the Father and the Son. When I came to Canada at age 18 and
attended my Landlord's church and and was told the Holy Spirit
was another being seperate from the Father and Son, I laughed and
said, "You have be to joking, right!" No, to my further shock
they were not joking, they were quite serious!
You friends how now been told the "rest of the story" as Paul
Havey would say.