HS - Holy Spirit
1 The evidence used by some trinitarians to "prove" that the Holy Spirit is not only a person (rather than an impersonal force from God) but a person who is equally God with the Father in heaven usually consists of 4 main parts:
(A.) Paragraphs 9-20 of this study will address the so-called 'proof' that - "The Holy Spirit is referred to as a Person in the masculine gender throughout the New Testament." - p. 70, KOTC, 1985, W. Martin.
(B.) Paragraphs 21-25 of this study will address the so-called 'proof' that - "Only a person can be directly quoted and can call himself 'I', first person singular [as the Holy Spirit does].... When the Bible personifies things it does not directly quote them."
(C.) Paragraphs 26-32 of this study will address the so-called 'proof' that - "Not only does Jesus show the Holy Spirit, the Father, and the Son to be God at Matthew 28:19, but he also shows that there is only one personal name (singular) for all 3 of them!"
(D.) Paragraph 33 of this study will address the so-called 'proof' that - "When Ananias lied to the Apostles in Acts 5, he also was lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3). And since Acts 5:4 says Ananias 'lied not to men, but to God,' our only possible conclusion must be that the Holy Spirit is God!"
2 Before examining these points, a sincere Bible student should be aware of the alternate view held throughout recorded history by the Hebrews and by the first Christians (for the first two hundred years, at least - see the HIST and CREEDS studies) and by Jehovah's Witnesses today.
They believe that the Father alone is the Most High, only true God (John 17:1, 3) and he alone is named Jehovah (Ps. 83:18 KJV). The first Christians (and Jehovah's Witnesses today) further said that Jesus was the very first creation by Jehovah (and the only one directly by God) and was, and is, the second most important individual in existence and the highest of all created things.
They further say that ALL things thereafter were created BY the Father (Who, alone, is Jehovah) through Jesus who, following Jehovah's will and spoken commands, used Jehovah's special active force (the impersonal invisible force called Holy Spirit) to bring all other things (angels included) into existence. This Holy Spirit can be used to create, to motivate, to observe, communicate, etc. Although far from a perfect analogy, we might compare the many things electricity and radiant energy can do.
Electricity is used to communicate, create, destroy, operate (as in remote control devices), and motivate (as used by man in heart pacemakers, artificial hands, and as found naturally in man's and animal's nervous systems, etc.). Lasers (which use a form of radiant energy) can also perform similarly varied tasks. Holy Spirit, of course, is infinitely greater than these two puny examples familiar to humans.
3 In the Old Testament (OT) it is clear that the inspired Bible writers intended holy spirit to be understood as an invisible, powerful force from God. Even many trinitarian scholars will admit that.
(We can even see the same understanding when the word "spirit" is used for the activating power or force used by other creatures. For example, Ezekiel 1:19, 20, speaking about the angels or cherubim who control the movement of God's chariot, says literally, "and when the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose .... for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels." - RSV. It is clear that this means the controlling power of the cherubim moved the wheels. In fact the very trinitarian Good News Bible (GNB) paraphrases this to read: "the wheels did exactly what the creatures did, because the creatures controlled them.")
For example, p. 269, The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1976, admits: "In the OT the Holy Spirit means a divine power ..."
And the New Bible Dictionary, Tyndale House Publishers, 1984, pp. 1136, 1137, says:
"Spirit, Holy Spirit. OT, Heb. ruah 378 times...; NT, Gk. pneuma 379 times." And "Divine power, where ruah is used to describe...a supernatural force...."
And, "At its [the Old Testament's concept of God's spirit] heart is the experience of a mysterious, awesome power - the mighty invisible force of the wind, the mystery of vitality, the otherly power that transforms - all ruah, all manifestations of divine energy." And "at this early stage [pre-Christian] of understanding, God's ruah was thought of simply as a supernatural power (under God's authority) exerting force in some direction."
The Encyclopedia Americana tells us:
"The doctrine of the Holy Spirit [as a person who is God] is a distinctly Christian one.... the Spirit of Jehovah [in the OT] is the active divine principle in nature. .... But it is in the New Testament [NT] that we find the bases of the doctrine of the Spirit's personality."
And, "Yet the early Church did not forthwith attain to a complete doctrine; nor was it, in fact, until after the essential divinity of Jesus had received full ecclesiastical sanction [in 325 A.D. at the Council of Nicaea] that the personality of the Spirit was explicitly recognized, and the doctrine of the Trinity formulated." Also, "It is better to regard the Spirit as the agency which, proceeding from the Father and the Son, dwells in the church as the witness and power of the life therein." - v. 14, p. 326, 1957.
And Britannica agrees:
"The Hebrew word ruah (usually translated 'spirit') is often found in texts referring to the free and unhindered activity of God, .... There was, however, no explicit belief in a separate divine person in Biblical Judaism; in fact, the New Testament itself is not entirely clear in this regard...."The definition that the Holy Spirit was a distinct divine Person equal in substance to the Father and the Son and not subordinate to them came at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381...." - Encyclopedia Britannica Micropaedia, 1985, v. 6, p. 22.
4 Yes, not only did God's people, as described in the OT, believe the holy spirit was an active force and not a person, but that same belief prevailed from the time of the NT writers up until at least 325 A. D. when the Roman Church officially accepted and began promoting its new doctrine. To bolster this NEW doctrine they went to the NT to find "proof." That vague, ambiguous "proof" is what we will investigate in this study.
Many historians and Bible scholars (many of them trinitarians) freely admit the above truth. For example:
"On the whole, the New Testament, like the Old, speaks of the Spirit as a divine energy or power." - A Catholic Dictionary.
"The majority of NT texts reveal God's spirit as something, not someone" - New Catholic Encyclopedia, p. 575, Vol. 13, 1967.
"It is important to realize that for the first Christians the Spirit was thought of in terms of divine power." - New Bible Dictionary, p. 1139, Tyndale House Publishers, 1984.
"The emergence of Trinitarian speculations in early church theology led to great difficulties in the article about the Holy Spirit. For the being-as-person of the Holy Spirit, which is evident in the New Testament as divine power...could not be clearly grasped.... The Holy Spirit was viewed not as a personal figure but rather as a power" - The New Encyclopedia Britannica.
"The true divinity of the third person [the holy spirit] was asserted...finally by the Council of Constantinople of 381 A. D." - A Catholic Dictionary.
5 Yes, the Council of Constantinople (381 A. D.) first officially decreed "the personality of the Holy Spirit". - Cairns, pp. 142, 145; also see Encyclopedia Britannica, v. 6, p. 22, 1985 ed.
Famed trinitarian Church historian Neander notes in History of Christian Dogma:
"Though Basil of Caesarea [famed late 4th century trinitarian bishop - one of the 'Three Cappadocians' who were instrumental in further developing the trinity doctrine to the final form adopted at the council of Constantinople in 381 A. D. - An Encyclopedia of Religion, p. 794; and p. 237, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 1990 printing] wished to teach the divinity [deity] of the holy spirit in his church, he only ventured to introduce it gradually."
6 There was a very good reason for the reluctance of the early Christians to accept this new doctrine of the Spirit:
"In the N[ew] T[estament] there is no direct suggestion of a doctrine of the Trinity. The spirit is conceived as an IMPERSONAL POWER by which God effects his will through Christ." - An Encyclopedia of Religion, Ferm (ed.), 1945, p. 344.
In fact, Gregory of Nazianzus (another of the 'Three Cappadocians' whom trinitarian historian Lohse praises as being essential to the final defeat of the Arians at the Council of Constantinople),
"declared that it was the destiny of his time [381 A. D.] to bring to full clarity the mystery which in the New Testament was only dimly intimated." - p. 64, A Short History of Christian Doctrine, Bernard Lohse, Fortress Press, 1985.
Trinitarian Gregory also admitted,
"But of the wise men amongst ourselves [Christians], some have conceived of him as an Activity, some as a Creature, some as God; and some have been uncertain which to call Him, out of reverence for Scripture, they say, as though it did not make the matter clear either way. And therefore they neither worship Him nor treat Him with dishonor, but take up a neutral position, or rather a very miserable one, with respect to Him. And of those who consider Him to be God, some are orthodox in mind only, while others venture to be so with the lips also." - "The Fifth Theological Oration," section 5 (page 616, Vol. 7, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, second series, The Master Christian Library, Version 5 (software).
7 Noted Bible scholar Joseph H. Thayer gives these 5 meanings for the NT Greek word Pneuma ("spirit"):
"1. a movement of air, (gentle) blast.".... "2. The spirit, i.e. the vital principal by which the body is animated.".... "3. a spirit [person], i.e., a simple essence, devoid of all grosser matter, and possessed of the power of knowing, desiring, deciding, and acting...." [This definition includes] "c. a spirit[person] higher than man but lower than God, i.e. an angel." "4. The Scriptures also ascribe a [pneuma] to GOD, i.e. God's power and agency, - distinguishable in thought...from God's essence [included in definition #3 above] in itself considered, - manifest in the course of affairs, and by its influence upon souls productive in the theocratic body (the church) of all the higher spiritual gifts and blessings." [And] "5. Univ. the disposition or influence which fills and governs the soul of ANY ONE; the efficient source of any power, affection, emotion, desire, etc." - pp. 520-523.
Obviously, Holy Spirit is placed by Thayer under definition #4 above: "God's power" not "God's essence"! On p. 522, Thayer further defines this Spirit:
"The Holy Spirit is a dunamis [Gr. - 'power'], and is expressly so called in Lk. xxiv. 49, and ... Lk. I. 35."
Thayer also explains the occasional personification of this POWER from God:
"In some pass[ages] the Holy Spirit is rhetorically ['used without regard to some actual condition or negating the literal significance of the statement' - p. 1946, Webster's 3rd New International Dictionary, 1962 ed.] represented as a Person...Jn. xiv. 16 sq. 26; xv. 26; xvi. 13-15 (in which pass[age] fr[om] Jn. the personification was suggested by the fact that the Holy Spirit was about to assume with the apostles the place of a person, namely of Christ)" [In other words the HS was personified in these passages because it was taking the place of a person in some respects.] - p. 522, Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Baker Book House, 1977 (10th printing, August 1984).
8 The following two trinitarian (Protestant) publications present the process that led to acceptance by the Church of a doctrine that finally included the holy spirit as a person equal to God:
"Trinity, a word not found in Scripture but used to express the doctrine of the unity of God as subsisting in 3 distinct persons. Not only is the word 'Trinity' not in scripture, but there is no isolated exposition on this attribute of God in either testament. It is an inferred doctrine, gathered eclectically from the entire Canon." - p. 630, Today's Dictionary of the Bible, Bethany House Publishers, 1982.
"The word Trinity is not found in the Bible.... It did not find a place formally in the theology of the church till the 4th century .... Although scripture does not give us a formulated doctrine of the Trinity, it contains all the elements out of which theology constructed the doctrine." - The Illustrated Bible Dictionary. (For a detailed account about the period when the church eclectically chose elements of the scriptures and "constructed the doctrine" in the 4th century A. D., see the HIST study.)
(A.) Is the Holy Spirit Really a Person in the Masculine Gender?
9 Now let's look at some of the eclectic gatherings "from the entire Canon" that were used as a basis for the "inferred doctrine" of the trinitarian Holy Spirit.
(A.) Is the Holy Spirit really "referred to as a person in the masculine gender throughout the New Testament" as Walter Martin insists? - KOTC, 1985.
It is true that the word for God (theos) in the New Testament is masculine, and masculine pronouns ("he," "him," "himself") are always used with it. The word "Father" is also in the masculine gender in the original Greek of the NT, and masculine pronouns are always used with it. The word "Son" is also in the masculine gender in the NT Greek, and masculine pronouns are always used with it. Certainly this is not surprising since God (Jehovah, the Father alone) has always been represented to his people as a living, conscious being, and Christ (Jesus, the Son) is always represented as a living, conscious person. It would be very strange, indeed, if they were not so described!
But "Holy Spirit" in the original Greek is neuter and therefore the neuter pronouns "it," "itself" are used with it in the original NT Greek! Any strictly literal Bible translation would have to use "it" for the holy spirit (since it is really not a person, but God's active force, a literal translation would be helpful in this case).
As the trinitarian New American Bible (Catholic), 1970 ed. admits:
"The Greek word for 'spirit' is neuter, and while we [trinitarians] use personal pronouns in English ('he,' 'his,' 'him'), most Greek manuscripts employ 'it.'" - New American Bible, St. Joseph ed., (footnote for John 14:17).
And the revised NAB of 1991 has actually changed "he/him" back to the literal "it"!
Also see An American Translation by trinitarians Smith and Goodspeed which uses "itself" and "it" for the holy spirit at Romans 8:16, 26, 27.
10 Here are the rules of Greek grammar that govern this situation. Professor Machen, writing in his New Testament Greek For Beginners, tells us:
"(II.) The noun for which a pronoun stands is called its antecedent. Thus in the sentence, 'I see the disciple and teach him', the antecedent of 'him' is 'disciple.'
(III.) A pronoun agrees with its antecedent in GENDER and number.
"Examples: (a) Bleto ton matheten kai didasko auton, [is translated] 'I see the disciple and teach him.' Here matheten ['disciple'] is the antecedent of auton ['him'], and since matheten is of masculine gender and singular number, auton is also masculine singular."(b) Meno en to oiko kai ginosko auton [is rendered in English as] 'I remain in the house and know it.' Here oiko ['house'] is the antecedent of auton ['him' in the original NT Greek] and since oiko is of masculine gender and singular number auton also is masculine singular [in the NT Greek]. In English the neuter pronoun 'it' is used, because the noun 'house' like all nouns denoting inanimate objects, is neuter in English. But in Greek the word for house is masculine, and therefore the masculine pronoun is used in referring to it. Hence the translations, 'he,' 'she,' etc...for the masculine and feminine of the Greek pronoun of the third person are correct only when the antecedents are denoting persons. In other cases, the pronouns will be neuter in English even when they are masculine or feminine in Greek." - pp. 47-48.
In other words, even if the Greek words for 'holy spirit' were in the masculine gender (and, therefore, the Greek masculine pronouns would be used with it), it still would not indicate that the holy spirit must be a person! Just as in many other languages things are often given feminine and masculine genders in Bible Greek.
However, since its literal title ("holy spirit") is really neuter in the NT Greek and really uses the neuter pronoun ("it") and takes the neuter definite article (Gr. to), there is the extremely high probability, from grammar alone, that it is not a person.
11 If we search through a concordance that shows the gender of Biblical Greek words, we will see that, in the vast majority of cases, words that are used mainly to literally describe persons use the appropriate gender for that person [similar to Spanish and other languages]:
"husband" (masculine), "wife" (feminine), "daughter" (feminine), "son" (masculine), etc.
Often the same basic Greek word is used for both sexes, but it will be given a feminine ending when applied to female persons and a masculine ending when applied to male persons: For example, "god" (theos - masculine) and "goddess" (thea - feminine), "prophet" (prophetes - masculine) and "prophetess" (prophetis - feminine), "king/queen," etc.
And even when, on occasion, we find a word that is applied equally to men or women, the gender of that individual is still shown by the gender of the article or pronoun used with it: For example, "doorkeeper" (thuroros) can be used for both men and women, but, when it is used in the NT for a male, the masculine article (ho) comes before it: ho thuroros (John 10:3), and when it is used in the NT for a female, the feminine article (h - looks like an elongated n in the Greek and pronounced 'hay.' ) comes before it: h thuroros (John 18:17). - Compare Mark 13:34 and John 18:16.
So, you see, in the vast majority (if not all) of cases a person's gender is shown by the gender of the Greek words and titles that literally describe that person and/or by the gender of the article and pronouns that go with that Greek word.
12 But not only is the literal "Holy Spirit" neuter in the original Greek, but so are the article (to - p. 34, Machen) and the pronouns (auto ['it'] and o [with two small breathing marks above it meaning 'which']- pp. 19, 68, Marshall) which go with it! - See John 14:17 and 1 Cor. 12:4, 11 in any interlinear Bible or Greek text, for example. Cf. Ro. 8:16 in KJV, AT, and The Interlinear Bible, Jay P. Green, Baker Book House, 1982.
The only exception to this that I have found deals with very young, immature persons and animals. Young children sometimes are called paidion ("young child" - Matt. 2:8) and brephos ("infant" - Luke 1:41). These two Greek words are neuter and so are the article and pronouns that usually accompany them! Why these words are exceptions, I'm not certain. Perhaps one was not considered fully a person (at least as far as gender is concerned) until he reached maturity. (At any rate, the Holy Spirit would certainly be considered mature if it were really a person!)
It is quite clear, though, (from going through a New Testament Bible concordance that shows gender and examining an interlinear text) that it is extremely rare, if ever, that a mature person is not distinguished by a noun (or its article and pronouns) which shows the appropriate gender. And, although the word for an impersonal thing is often given a neuter ending, it is also very common for an impersonal thing to be given a masculine or feminine gender in all those areas!
Most trinitarian Bibles, then, go against the bulk of the literal grammatical evidence when they use "he," "him," etc. in translating the original Greek neuter pronouns with "holy spirit" as their antecedent. There are a very few places, however, where the Greek appears to use the masculine article and pronouns with "holy spirit."
If, when you examine the Greek text (as found in interlinear Greek-English New Testament Bibles), you occasionally find a masculine pronoun seeming to refer to the holy spirit, you will find that the actual antecedent is not "holy spirit" but some other noun (which, although representing a thing, does have the masculine gender assigned to it in NT Greek).
Even modern English is similar. If, for example, we have been speaking about death (an impersonal thing) and suddenly begin using the common personified figure for death, "the Grim Reaper," even in modern English we properly change pronouns from "it" to "he." E.g., "Death was fast approaching Mary. She could feel it coming. But when the Grim Reaper actually placed his hand on her and said, 'it's time, Mary,' she drew on her inner strength, pushed him back, and said, 'not yet!' She wasn't ready to accept it [death]."
13 The Greek word paraclete, parakleto", (rendered "comforter" in KJV; "helper" in some other translations) is in the masculine gender. So when paraclete is the actual antecedent (even though we understand that it may figuratively represent the holy spirit), its pronoun in the Greek must also be masculine.
We know that the masculine paraclete may be figuratively applied to an impersonal (neuter) thing as is so frequently done by the Jews in the languages used in the Bible. (See p. 37, Barclay's Letters of John and Jude, "The Daily Study Bible Series," The Westminster Press, Revised Edition, 1976.)
See John 14:16, 26; and 16:7 for all the uses of "comforter" (paraclete - masculine) applied to holy spirit. You can see that the masculine pronoun (auton) does follow "comforter" after the word was introduced as the antecedent in John 16:7 (remember, the Greek pronoun, as well as the article, must agree with its antecedent in gender in NT Greek).
Sometimes it is not easy to determine what the actual antecedent is, as it may have been introduced sentences earlier. If we look at John 14:16, for example, we see that paraclete is introduced. This means that, in spite of the introduction of "the spirit" (neuter) in John 14:17, the pronouns in that verse could have referred back to paraclete in verse 16 as their antecedent, and, in that case they would have to be masculine in the Greek! Instead, they obviously refer to the neuter "spirit" in verse 17 and, therefore, must be the neuter auto ('it'). - see AT, Ro, Byington, and The Zondervan Parallel New Testament in Greek and English (literal translation).
Just the opposite may be occurring at John 16:7, 13. Although paraclete is introduced in verse 7 and “spirit” is introduced in verse 13 itself, the masculine demonstrative pronoun ekeinos in verse 13 refers back to paraclete in verse 7 as its antecedent. Therefore, “he” is grammatically accurate in verse 13.
In any case, there is no real reason to regard the holy spirit as a person because of the figurative use in a very few places of the masculine paraclete. (It's too bad paraclete wasn't feminine in the Greek, as it could just as well have been. The feminine verbs and pronouns that would have resulted in the Greek would not have been literally translated then!) The much more frequent use of the neuter "holy spirit" and its neuter article and pronouns more strongly indicates just the opposite! (This is similar to the figurative use of the neuter "Lamb" in Rev. 5:6; 5:12; and 6:1 for Jesus. The masculine "Jesus" and "Christ," etc. of his literal name and descriptions show that he is a male person in spite of the neuter articles and pronouns that must be used in the NT Greek to agree with the neuter "Lamb.")
When we combine the gender use for the holy spirit in the New Testament Greek with the gender use for the holy spirit in the Old Testament Hebrew, we have a doubly significant statement.
14 The inspired Hebrew writers of the Old Testament also used masculine and feminine gender for impersonal nouns. "In Hebrew only masculine and feminine gender are distinguished. There is normally no neuter." - Handbook of Biblical Hebrew, LaSor, p. 75, v. 2, 1979.
"a 1. The Hebrew, like all Semitic languages, recognizes only two genders in the noun, a masculine and a feminine. Inanimate objects and abstract ideas, which other languages sometimes indicate by the neuter, are regarded in Hebrew as masculine or feminine, more often the latter [feminine]"! - Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, p. 222, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1910. (Emphasis added.)
Therefore, if the inspired Hebrew writers had understood the "third person of the 'trinity'" to be equally God (masculine-Hebrew) with the Father (masculine-Hebrew) and the Son (masculine-Hebrew) or Messiah (masculine-Hebrew), they would have given the spirit a personal name, and literal titles and descriptions in the masculine gender!
Do we see a masculine designation and relationship for the holy spirit (as typified by "Father" and "Son" for the other "persons of the 'trinity'")? No, the holy spirit in the original Hebrew of the Old Testament is feminine! - Gesenius, Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, pp. 571, 760. (Cf. W. E. Vine, p. 1077.)
This can be clearly seen merely by looking at the literal translations found in The NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament (Zondervan Publ., 1985). For example, Nu. 11:26 is literally translated by this respected trinitarian reference work as: "And she [the Spirit] rested on them." (Cf. Judges 3:10; 6:34; 1 Sam. 10:6; 11:6; Is. 11:2; 63:14; etc.)
So, we can either take the feminine gender "spirit" in Hebrew to mean neuter (a thing), or we can take it literally to mean that "the trinity" has as its third "person" a Mother Goddess!
But how can we take the neuter holy spirit of the inspired Greek of the New Testament manuscripts and the feminine holy spirit of the inspired Hebrew of the Old Testament and insist that it is a person and that it should be interpreted as a person in the masculine gender?
15 Just as most trinitarian Bible translators don't literally render the Greek as written by the inspired New Testament Bible writers as "it" for the holy spirit but instead render it "he," they also don't literally render the Hebrew as written by the inspired Old Testament Bible writers as "she." Instead, many of them use the only other proper alternative: "it"!
At Numbers 11:17 we see: "I will take [some - NRSV, NJB] of the Spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them" - ASV (compare KJV, RSV, NRSV, AT, LB, NEB, REB, NAB, JB, NJB, Beck). The same usage is found at Numbers 11:25 in those trinitarian Bibles: "IT." (Compare the Septuagint.) This is God's Holy Spirit - Numbers 11:29. (Notice how the NKJV has avoided this truth.)
At Is. 34:16 the King James Version and the ASV render it: "my mouth, it hath commanded, and his Spirit, it hath gathered them."
So, you see, even many trinitarian translations prefer the use of "it" in the OT to the only other honest pronoun alternative: "she"/"her." Some trinitarian translations, however, care no more for the proper translation of the pronouns for the Spirit in the Old Testament than they do for it in the New Testament. So, some trinitarian translations such as the NASB and the MLB actually use "he"/"him" at those places in the Old Testament!
16 But there is something that is even more certain than the use of the gender with pronouns, articles, etc. associated with the holy spirit. That is the question of its/his personal name.
There is absolutely no doubt as to the extreme importance of a personal name in both the New and Old Testaments. A personal name took on an importance to the individual who bore it that we don't totally comprehend today. If one were to die and his name be forgotten, this was considered much more horrible than the mere death itself! One's personal name must be honorable, and it must be known and remembered!
We are urged over and over in the OT to know and respectfully use God's personal name. Likewise, as important as the spirit is (whether it is God or not), if it is a person, it must have a personal name and we must know it! How could we even begin to know God - John 17:3 - and not even know his personal name(s)?
The literal title "High Priest" may be used as an excellent example. The title itself is masculine in the NT Greek to match the gender of the person holding that title. MASCULINE pronouns and articles always accompany that literal title. Being a title only it is often clarified by a personal name, especially if the person himself is considered to be of any importance. For example, the high priest is a nobody when compared with God Himself, and the term "high priest" is not used nearly as frequently in the Bible as "Holy Spirit." And yet the "High Priest" is frequently further identified by his personal name: 2 Ki. 22:4; 2 Chron. 26:20; Ezra 7:5; Neh. 3:1; Jer. 52:24; Zech. 3:8; Matt. 26:57; Acts 24:1.
Surely, if the holy spirit were a person (especially a person who is God) he would be properly identified in at least one of the hundreds of scriptures which speak of the holy spirit! (We might also compare the title "God" [masculine form], which simply means "Mighty One." This person is further identified nearly 7000 times, more than any other name, by the personal name "Jehovah" [masculine form] in the Holy Scriptures. We can also compare the title "Christ" and its further identification hundreds of times by "Jesus".)
17 But, although we search both Testaments microscopically, we find no personal name for the neuter holy spirit. The personal name of God ("Jehovah" - the Father alone) is the most used personal name (by far) in the entire Bible! There can be no doubt about the extreme importance of the Messiah's (or the Son's) personal name ("Jesus") and the frequency of its use by the inspired writers of the New Testament. But not once is the neuter holy spirit given a personal name! If those three are truly God, then the holy spirit has been grossly ignored and insulted by the inspired Bible writers!
But, some trinitarians insist, that is his personal name: "The Holy Spirit." However, if we examine all the personal names in the New Testament, we will see that this is an impossible interpretation unless it is a "personal" name of an impersonal thing. (Some things are given proper names, for example: The Titanic, The Superchief, The Holy Grail.)
All actual personal names (compare the genders of hundreds of personal names listed in A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament, published by the United Bible Societies, 1971) are given a gender that agrees with the gender of the person bearing that personal name as found in the New Testament scriptures - see Moulton, Vol. II, p. 152.
18 So the name "Jesus," for example, is in the masculine form in the New Testament Greek, and "Mary" is in the feminine form. God Himself is a spirit person in heaven whose literal descriptive title ("God") is masculine and whose name ("Jehovah") is masculine. The spirit persons who serve him in heaven have the literal descriptive title ("angels") which is masculine, and all those angels whose names have been revealed to us have masculine personal names. (E.g. the Archangel [literal title - masculine form in NT Greek] has the personal name "Michael" [masculine form].) This is certainly not intended to indicate that they are masculine in a fleshly sense, but that they are truly individual persons of importance.
But "holy spirit," as we have already seen, is in the neuter form. Therefore, if "holy spirit" is a "personal" name, that "person" has to be a neuter thing (or, in other words, "holy spirit" cannot be a personal name, but it could be a proper name for a special thing.)
There is no way around it. Either the holy spirit has no personal name (in which case it cannot be an extremely important person in Bible usage, and certainly not God Himself) or its proper name shows it to be a neuter thing. And, although 'holy spirit' is obviously a literal description, nevertheless, even if someone should insist that the neuter "holy spirit" is merely a figurative description of a person (such as Jesus being figuratively called "the Lamb" - Rev. 14:1 or "the Light" - Jn 8:12 - which are neuter), then, again, the holy spirit is never given a personal name and cannot be God whose personal name must be known, remembered, and respectfully used!
19 Let's also examine Acts 2:17, 18 where God pours out [ekxeo] from [apo] his Spirit upon all people. This should be clear enough that the Holy Spirit is not a person. However, let's look at all other uses of ekxeo used in the NT as listed in Young's Exhaustive Concordance.
Mt. 9:17, the wineskins burst and wine pours ['runneth,' KJV] out [ekxeo]. (Mark 2:22 does not use ekxeo in the best manuscripts.) John 2:15, "poured out [ekxeo] the coins of the money changers." Acts 2:17, 18, God "pours out [ekxeo] from [apo] His Spirit upon all people." Acts 2:33, "he has poured out [ekxeo] this (thing) [touto, neut.] which you see." Acts 22:20, the blood of Stephen was poured out [ekxeo]. Ro. 3:15, Feet swift to shed ("pour out" - ekxeo) blood. Titus 3:6, "Holy Spirit which he [God] poured out [ekxeo] upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior" (RSV).
[This is also translated by noted trinitarian Beck as "He poured a rich measure of this Spirit on us through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Beck NT)]. Rev. 16:1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 10, 12, 17, pour out [ekxeo] (the contents of) the bowls of the wrath of God. In other words "wrath" was being poured out. Rev. 16:6, they poured out [ekxeo] the blood of saints and prophets.
Certainly in all other cases ekxeo ("poured out") refers to things. It would be unreasonable to insist that this is not the case in Acts 2 (and Titus 3:6) also. We can see that if we pour out something from something, it can mean one of two things. If we said we poured out from our bowl, for instance, we actually mean we poured from a container which contained some substance (thing). We may have poured some of it or all of it. But if we said we poured out from our wine onto your roast beef, it can only mean that we poured a portion of our wine (out of some container, of course) onto the meat. We would not say we poured from our wine if we had poured it all out.
20 What was it that God poured out from his Spirit? Well, what did the people receive when God poured out from his Spirit? Acts 2:4, 33 tells us they received Holy Spirit! If, then, God poured Holy Spirit from his Holy Spirit as described in Acts 2:17, 18, it means he poured out a portion of his Holy Spirit, as rendered in the very trinitarian translations of the New American Bible (1970 and 1991 editions), the New English Bible, and the Revised English Bible. (It is similar to our pouring out some wine from our wine.) So God poured out some of his spirit here, some of it there, but certainly he still kept an infinite supply.
Also see Numbers 11:17, 25.
"[Jehovah] came down in the cloud and spoke to [Moses], and took some of the spirit that was upon him and put it upon the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied." - Nu. 11:25, RSV.
The literal "from the Spirit" here in the inspired Hebrew Bible language (see the trinitarian The NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament, Zondervan Publ.) also means "a portion" of God's Spirit was taken from one person and given to others, making them prophets in this case. See these trinitarian translations of Num. 11:17, 25: RSV, NEB, GNB, AT, NAB, JB, NRSV, REB, NJB, Mo, and Byington.
World-renowned trinitarian scholar, writer, minister, and Bible translator, Dr.William Barclay, discusses John 3:31-36 on pp. 144-146 of his book, The Gospel of John, Vol. 1, revised edition. He comments on Jn 3:34
("[Jesus] speaks the words of God, for [God] does not partially measure [metron] out the Spirit upon him." - p. 144):
"John goes on: we can believe what Jesus says, because on him God poured out the Spirit in full measure, keeping nothing back. Even the Jews themselves said that the prophets received from God a certain measure of the Spirit. The full measure of the Spirit was reserved for God's own chosen one." - From the popular The Daily Study Bible Series, The Westminster Press, 1975.
This is the proper interpretation of John 3:34, and even many other trinitarians will admit it. Some, however, realizing the importance of the meaning of metron here, attempt other renderings. But even the highly respected trinitarian authority, the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Zondervan, 1986, admits that Dr. Barclay's translation "best fits the context." - p. 403, vol. 3.
Yes, metron here means "A measure (of length or capacity)" - Young's Analytical Concordance, p. 650, Eerdmans Publ., 1978 printing. And Strong's Exhaustive Concordance tells us about metron: "a measure ('metre'), lit. or fig.; by implication a limited portion (degree)"- #3358, Abingdon Press, 1974 printing.
Spirit, then, is a thing that may be poured out, measured out, or given out in portions - you simply do not pour out a person in measured portions upon other persons!
"Mind of the Spirit" - Ro. 8:27
Compare Ro. 8:5-9 (esp. note 8:6 and 8:27 in the interlinear) and …. Also see NASB 8:5-9, and f.n for 8:5-6 in NIVSB. 8:6 in KJV is 'spiritually minded' and 'fleshly minded' and NASB has "the mind set on the flesh" and "the mind set on the spirit."(cf. RSV and NRSV.) "the spiritual outlook" (REB) "have their minds on spiritual things" - NJB. Also see Robertson's Word Pictures, vol. 4, p. 373 (verse 6). Also see Insight-2, p. 405.
* * * * * * * *
(B.) Is the Holy Spirit a person because it is personified and "directly quoted"?
21 (B.) A second bit of eclectic "evidence" selected by some trinitarians to "prove" the holy spirit is a person goes like this:
"Only a person can be directly quoted and can call himself 'I' as the Holy Spirit does in the New Testament. When the Bible personifies things it does not directly quote them."
This is manifestly untrue! The Bible quotes personified things many times. For example, at Psalm 35:10 bones say, "O LORD, who is like thee...?" - RSV, NASB, NEB, Jerusalem Bible, and other modern translations which use quotation marks. (The KJV, for example, doesn't use quotation marks anywhere.)
God says he can send out lightnings which can say to you, "Here we are." - Job 38:35, RSV, NASB, JB, etc.
At Ezekiel 26:2, the city of Tyre speaks, "Aha, the gate of the peoples is broken, it has swung open to me; I shall...." - RSV, etc.
At Proverbs 8:1, 3-4, "Does not wisdom call,....She cries aloud: 'To you, o men, I call,...'" - RSV, etc.
Again wisdom speaks at Proverbs 9:5, "come eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed." - RSV, etc.
For another excellent comparison with the personified holy spirit see: Prov. 1:23, 25, 26; and 8:4, 6, 13, 17, 20 for many personal attributes of wisdom!
22 Even the trinitarian A Catholic Dictionary admits that the personification of the holy spirit in the New Testament certainly does not mean that it is a PERSON:
"Most of these places furnish no cogent proof of personality....We must not forget that the NT personifies mere attributes such as love (1 Cor. xiii. 4), and sin (Rom. vii. 11), nay even abstract and lifeless things, such as the law (Rom iii.19), the water and the blood (1 John v.8)."
And Young's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible tells us that
"Abstract and inanimate things are frequently personified" and then gives a long list of such things found in the Bible, including "a will [attributed to] the flesh and mind .... knowing, rejoicing [attributed] to the sun..." - "Hints and Helps to Bible Interpretation," #2. (Also see Jn 3:8 where "the pneuma ['wind' or 'spirit'] blows where it wills.")
Noted trinitarian scholar (and Anglican clergyman) E. W. Bullinger also makes it very clear in his Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, Baker Book House, 1992 printing, where I found the following examples: Is. 24:4, 7 literally says that the earth and wine are mourning! (cf. NASB; RSV; KJV; JB; NJB; NAB, 1970 ed.; and MLB.) Is. 24:23 also literally says that the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed. (NIV, RSV, NASB, KJV, MLB.) There are many more, of course. With a little effort you can find many others on your own - such as trees rejoicing at Is. 14:8 and "all of creation" ['everything made' - ETRV; 'the created universe' - NEB] waiting "with eager longing .... [and groaning] with pain" - Ro. 8:19, 22, GNB - and Is. 55:12 where "the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands." - NASB.
23 So, it is certainly no surprise to find that holy spirit can be "grieved" in New Testament figurative language: "do not be grieving God's Holy Spirit." Eph. 4:30. Certainly anything you do to (or against) God's direct active force you are also doing to (or against) God himself.
There are many similar examples of "feelings" being ascribed to things that are intimately connected with a person (or a certain group of persons).
We read, for example, of a person's heart being sad (or "grieved") at 1 Samuel 1:8 and Proverbs 15:13. The heart is glad at Judges 18:20 and Acts 2:26 (the tongue rejoices also). The heavens are capable of rejoicing - Ps. 96:11. The mountains saw God and trembled ["were afraid"-ASV] and the deep [water] "uttered his voice and lifted up his hands" - Habakkuk 3:10, KJV. The sun “knows” when to set - Psalm 104:19. The sun “knows” when to set - Psalm 104:19. And Zion can be glad - Ps. 97:8 and can be comforted - Is. 51:3. "Zion spreads forth her hands, but there is no one to comfort her" - Lament. 1:17.
This understanding was not confined only to scriptural usage but was in common use. Included with the early Christian letter, "The Epistle to Diognetus," is a 2nd or 3rd century Christian's statement written in the same Greek language as used in the NT manuscripts. It states:
"the grace [charis] of the prophets is recognized.... If thou grieve [lupeo] not this grace [charis] thou shalt understand." - "Epistle to Diognetus," The Apostolic Fathers, Lightfoot and Harmer, Baker Book House, 1984 ed., pp. 499 (text) and 510 (translation). Also see p. 183, Early Christian Writings, Staniforth, Dorset Press, 1986 ed.
24 So, when Paul tells us at Acts 28:25 that the holy spirit "spoke" to people through Isaiah, it is certainly not proof that it is a person. We could point to the fact that the Bible "speaks" to us through our ministers if we wanted an easy parallel. That doesn't make the Bible either a person or God!
Yes, scripture speaks to us: Romans 4:3 (cf. 9:17). It also can foresee and preach (Gal. 3:8, ASV). In fact, the word of God (scripture) is "living" and "quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart" - Hebrews 4:12, ASV.
Since Jehovah's (the Father's) holy spirit is actually his active force, it can do anything God wants done. It was the force used during creation. It is the force God uses to motivate. It is the force God uses to be all-seeing and all-knowing. God in heaven knows what everyone and everything in his creation are doing through his holy spirit. What we say is relayed to him through this creative/motivating/communicating force. In turn, if God wishes to communicate with us, he may "speak" to us through this invisible force.
An imperfect example might be a person listening to a two-way radio. He can only see the radio and hear the message from the radio, but there really is a person somewhere far away whose thoughts are conveyed to him through invisible electrical energy and through the radio. That person is not electrical energy nor the radio which is actually 'speaking.'
Yes, God speaks to us through holy spirit. That spirit may motivate (or "tell") an inspired Bible prophet to write or speak a message originating from God. So God speaks that message to us, and the holy spirit speaks that message to us, and the inspired prophet speaks that message to us, but they are certainly not all the same person, nor are they all the same God! - Prov. 1:23; 2 Pet. 1:21; 2 Tim. 3:16.
25 Notice what the trinitarian Bible study aid The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 3, pp. 698, 699, tells us:
"5. The Spirit in the earliest Christian Communities and in Acts. 'Holy Spirit' denotes supernatural power, altering, working through, directing the believer (there is no significant difference between the phrase ['Holy Spirit'] with the definite article and without). This is nowhere more clearly evident than in Acts where the Spirit is presented as an almost tangible force, visible if not in itself, certainly in its effects. This power of the Spirit manifests itself in three main areas in Luke's account of the early church.
"(a.) The Spirit as a transforming power in conversion....
"(b.) The Spirit of prophecy. For the first Christians, the Spirit was most characteristically a divine power manifesting itself in inspired utterance. The same power that had inspired David and the prophets in the old age (Acts 1:16; 3:18; 4:25; 28:25) was now poured out...." - (Emphasis added.) - Zondervan Publ., 1986.
Yes, God speaks to us through his active force the holy spirit which actually motivates his prophets to speak and write: Acts 4:24-26 (referred to in the quote above) tells us that God spoke Psalm 2:1, 2 through [dia - Greek] holy spirit by the mouth of David. - The Amplified Bible (cf. The Jerusalem Bible and TEV). This clearly shows that God (who initiated the word to be spoken) is different from the spirit which also "speaks" that same word of God to the prophet.
God can even speak through us if he so wishes:
"what you are to say will be given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the spirit of your Father speaking through you." - Matt. 10:19, 20. - RSV.
The personification of this holy force of God's should not be considered proof that it is a person. Certainly it is not evidence that it is God!
* * * * * * *
(C.) The Holy Spirit, Matt. 28:19, and "Name"
26 (C.) A third bit of eclectic "evidence" that the holy spirit is not only a person, but also God goes like this:
"Not only does Jesus relate the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son as True God at Matt. 28:19, but he shows there is only one personal name (singular) for all three persons!"
Or as trinitarian author Robert Reymond was quoted as saying in his book Jesus the Divine Messiah,
"what [Jesus] does say is this ... 'into the name [singular] of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,' first asserting the unity of the three by combining them all within the bounds of the single Name, and then throwing into emphasis the distinctness of each by introducing them in turn with the repeated article [the word 'the']."
Sure enough, when we read Matt. 28:19, we find,
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name [singular in the Greek] of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." - RSV.
27 (The fact that Matt. 28:19 is considered to be spurious by many scholars - because of both good external and internal evidence - is not the issue here.)
It is true that "name" (onoma in NT Greek) can mean "authority," "power," etc., but it is "in general of the name by which a person or thing is called" - p. 771, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W. E. Vine.
New Testament language experts tell us that "name" (onoma) usually refers to a personal name (or proper noun for a thing). So why do even some very trinitarian NT language experts (who certainly want it to mean a single personal name for three "persons"!) say that it really isn't being used that way in Matt. 28:19?
Because that same NT language expert who is so highly respected by trinitarians tells us that Bible phrases beginning "in the name of..." indicate that the secondary meaning of "authority" or "power" was intended by the Bible writer. - p. 772, Vine. Therefore, Matt. 28:19 actually means: "baptizing them in recognition of the power [or the authority] of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy spirit."
That W. E. Vine specifically includes Matt. 28:19 in this category can be further shown by his statement on p. 772 of his reference work. When discussing the secondary meaning of "name" ("authority," "power") he says that it is used
"in recognition of the authority of (sometimes combined with the thought of relying on or resting on), Matt. 18:20; cp. 28:19; Acts 8:16...."
Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. 1, p. 245, makes the same admission when discussing Matt. 28:19:
"The use of name (onoma) here is a common one in the Septuagint and the papyri for power or authority."
Noted trinitarian scholars McClintock and Strong say in their Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature concerning Matthew 28:18-20:
"This text, however, taken by itself, would not prove decisively either the personality of the three subjects mentioned, or their equality or divinity." (1981 reprint, Vol. X, p. 552)
And trinitarian scholar Kittel in his Theological Dictionary of the New Testament:
"The N[ew] T[estament] does not actually speak of triunity. We seek this in vain in the triadic formulae [including Matthew 28:19] of the NT."
28 It shouldn't be surprising, then, if the holy spirit is not a person, to find this single instance of the word "name" being used with "the holy spirit" where it is used in the phrase beginning with "in the name of..." which is specifically linked to the minority meaning of "authority," "power," etc.
What should be surprising (beyond all credibility, in fact) would be that the holy spirit is a person, equally God, who never has the word onoma ("name") used for "Him" in its most-used sense of "personal name" (as do the Father and the Son-hundreds of times).
Yes, as we have already seen, the holy spirit is never called by a personal name, and Matt. 28:19 is the only instance of onoma being applied to the holy spirit at all!
29 Let's look at a couple of verses that obviously do use the word onoma with its primary meaning (that of personal names) for the Father and Son together: Rev. 3:12 and 14:1.
These scriptures speak of names (onoma) figuratively written on the foreheads of a number of Christians. What is the meaning of this figurative expression?
"Among non-Israelites...slaves were branded with a mark as an indication of ownership. ...such property marks were placed on a conspicuous part of the body, such as the forehead. Worshipers...at times identified themselves as such by having the mark of their deity on their foreheads." - Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 2, p. 320, 1988.
The worshipers of the Babylonian god Tammuz, for example, marked a Tau ("T" or "X"), which represented the first letter of Tammuz' personal name on their foreheads so all could see who was their lord and master -- Two Babylons, Hislop, pp. 197-198.
So it is clear what is being represented by the writing on the foreheads of those Christians who stand with Christ at Rev. 14:1 "who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads." - NIV. As a mark of identification, the Lamb's personal name ("Jesus") and the Father's personal name ("Jehovah") were figuratively written upon the foreheads of these Christians.
In other words, they have left absolutely no doubt whatsoever about whose slaves they are. Everyone knows the personal names they proclaim as belonging to their masters. They proclaim the Father's personal name as Almighty God and the Christ's personal name as their king and savior who does everything for the glory of his God and Father.
30 To further corroborate this understanding, carefully examine Rev. 3:12. Jesus himself, speaking of these Christians, says: "I will write on him the name of my God ... and I will also write on him my new name." - NIV. Again we see that these Christians will be known as servants of the Father who is Jehovah God and servants of their King and Savior who is Jesus and who does everything in behalf of his God (the only true God - John 17:1, 3), the Father, Jehovah! (Notice how well this corresponds to the knowledge necessary to eternal life - John 17:3.)
It is highly significant that Jehovah's Witnesses alone have both the personal name of the Father (their only true God and Jesus' only true God: Jehovah - Jn 17:1, 3; Jer. 10:10 ASV) and the personal name of the Lamb (their king and savior: Jesus) figuratively written on their foreheads where it is so obvious to the entire world!
It is also important to note that the personal name of the Father (Rev. 14:1) is clearly assigned to God (Rev. 3:12) whereas the personal name of Christ is not! And the Father is the God of the Son!
But even more significant (for the topic of this paper) in these scriptures which show the importance of the personal name of God and the personal name of Christ (two distinctly separate names) is the fact that no mention whatsoever is made of the personal name of the holy spirit!
This would be an unforgivable slighting of the True God if the holy spirit were truly a person who is God (or 1/3 God, or anything else trinitarians want it to be), but it would be exactly what would be expected if the only true God were the Father alone (Jehovah alone), and if the Christ and savior were Jesus alone, and if the holy spirit were not a person but God's active force and therefore had no personal name to be written on a Christian's forehead!
The fact that "name" is singular at Matt. 28:19 is only further proof that "authority" or "power" was meant and not a personal name. If more than one person is involved, then the plural "names" would be used (compare Rev. 21:12). Even trinitarians admit that their God is composed of 3 separate persons. And each one of those "persons" has his own personal name (except, as we have seen, the holy spirit really does not)! Therefore, if personal names were intended here for these three different "persons," the plural "names" would have been used in this scripture.
Since it clearly means "in recognition of the power, or authority of," it is perfectly correct to use "name" in the singular. In fact, it must be used that way. We even recognize this in our own language today. We say, for example, "I did it in the name [singular] of love, humanity, and justice."
There is a famous statement in United States history that perfectly illustrates this use of the singular "name" when it is being used to mean "in recognition of power or authority." Ethan Allen, writing about his capture of Fort Ticonderoga in 1775, quoted the words he spoke when the British commander of that fort asked him by what authority Allen had captured it.
Ethan Allen replied:
"In the name [singular] of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress." - p. 100, A Book About American History, Stimpson, Fawcett Publ., 1962 printing. (Also see Rebels and Redcoats, p. 54, Scheer and Rankin, Mentor Books, 1959 printing; and p. 167, Vol. 1, Universal Standard Encyclopedia, the 1955 abridgment of the New Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia.)
How ludicrous it would be to conclude that Allen really meant that Jehovah and the Continental Congress had the same personal name and were both equally God!
To paraphrase the quote credited to trinitarian writer Reymond at the beginning of this section above:
"What Ethan Allen does say is this ... 'in the name [singular] of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress,' first asserting the unity of the two by combining them within the bounds of the single Name, and then throwing into emphasis the distinctness of each by introducing them in turn with the repeated article ['the']."
According to this desperate attempt by trinitarians to make trinitarian evidence from Matt. 28:19, then, the same kind of statement by Ethan Allen is evidence (because of the singular "Name" and the repeated article) that The Continental Congress is equally God! (We might also consider a British expression: "in the name of God, king and country.")
Also notice how Luke 9:26 (which actually says, "when [Jesus] comes in the glory [singular] of him [Jesus] and of the Father and of the holy angels") is "first asserting the unity of the three by combining them all within the bounds of the single [glory], and then throwing into emphasis the distinctness of each by introducing them in turn with the repeated article." But, here, of course, the angels, too, make up the "trinity." We have, then, God the Father, God the Son, and God the holy angels!
If Jesus were really saying that Jehovah, Jesus, and the holy spirit had personal names and these names must be used during baptism, he would have used the plural word "names" at Matt. 28:19. And we would see the Father's personal name ("Jehovah" - Is. 63:16; 64:8 - Ps. 83:18 and Luke 1:32 - Exodus 3:15 and Acts 3:13) and the Son's personal name ("Jesus" - Luke 1:31, 32) and the holy spirit's personal name ("?") all being used in Christian baptism ceremonies for the past 1900 years.
Honestly now, how many religions actually use the personal names "Jehovah," "Jesus," and "(??)" when baptizing? - ("We baptize you in the names of 'Jehovah,' 'Jesus,' and '???'.") Or, since a few anti-Watchtower trinitarians even claim that the singular "name" at Matt. 28:19 is really "Jehovah," how many religions really use the personal name "Jehovah" (or "Yahweh") when baptizing? ("We baptize you in Jehovah's name.") Any church that does not do so, must be admitting, in effect, that "name" in this scripture does not mean personal name!
In spite of the extreme weakness of the trinitarian "evidence" for Matt. 28:19, it is nearly always cited by trinitarians because, incredibly poor as it is, it is one of their very best trinitarian "proofs"! And it is generally hailed by trinitarians as the best evidence for the deity of the holy spirit! This certainly shows how extremely weak the scriptural evidence is for a trinity!
31 Many times another scripture is used by trinitarians along with Matt. 28:19 which is also supposed to show the Father, Son, and holy spirit all being mentioned in the same breath. Somehow this is intended to prove that they are all equally God. That scripture is 2 Cor. 13:14:
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all." - ASV.
Does that verse really say the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit are three persons who constitute the one Most High God? Doesn't it say, instead, that the Lord Jesus Christ is one individual, the holy spirit is another individual (whether a person or a thing), and that God is another different individual?
Does it say Jesus is God? Does it say the holy spirit is God? No, it treats God as someone entirely separate from those two! So, either the inspired Bible writer is completely ignoring the person of the Father: "the grace of...Christ [an individual person]...the love of [a composite] God...and the communion of the spirit [an individual person or thing], or, since the Father alone really is the only true God (Jn 17:1, 3; 1 Cor. 8:6), Paul is including the person of the Father in this verse and properly identifying him alone as God (as all his readers at that time well knew - see the CREEDS and ISRAEL studies)!
The actual wording of the "trinitarian" 2 Cor. 13:14, when examined, proves it to be evidence against a trinity concept. (Analyze Luke 9:26 and 1 Tim. 5:21 in this "three mentioned together so they must be equal" manner of trinitarian "evidence.")
32 We might also look at the "three-in-one" aspects of 1 John 5:8. It would be best to use most modern Bible translations here since the King James Version has been proven to have spurious material added at 1 John 5:7 (even trinitarian scholars freely admit this).
If Matt. 28:19 adds up to three things being equally one God, then 1 John 5:8, which includes the Spirit, is a much more certain proof of a three-in-one God! There's only one slight problem: the two other "persons" who are equally one with the Spirit have unexpected "names"! - "And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is the truth." - 1 John 5:7 ASV. The Spirit is God, trinitarians say, and, being a person He can bear witness here. But let's read on:
"For there are three who bear witness [this is the only place in the entire Bible we find a 'trinitarian' formula that even mentions the word 'three'!], The Spirit [which is God according to trinitarians], and the water, and the blood: and the three [are] in one." - ASV.
This is by far the clearest "trinitarian" statement in the entire Bible!! It is the only one that even mentions "three" (although we could work in other numbers like "seven" at Rev. 4:5 or "four" at Rev. 4:6 which has 4 living creatures "in the midst of" God's throne, we can't find any use of three). And to top it all off it says "the three are in one." (The ASV renders "agree in one," but the word "agree" is not really found in the Bible manuscripts here. It literally says "the three are in one." - Compare the MLB: "the three are one.")
And who are these three equal "persons" (who bear witness) who are equally the holy spirit (since the three are all "in one"), who, according to trinitarians, is God? Why these three "persons" who are equally God are the Spirit, the water, and the blood! (Notice how verse 9 also shows that these three are "really" God: the witness of these three is really the witness of God!)
Of course an honest, clear statement of a trinity would be:
"For there are three persons who compose the only true God: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And these three persons are the One God."
(You see, it isn't a difficult statement for anyone to write, let alone an inspired Bible writer. Even "God is three (treis, masculine)" would be honest, clear evidence, but you will never see even that in the inspired scriptures. In fact, "three" is NEVER used in any description concerning God. And the number "three," in strong contrast to such numbers as "one," "seven," "twelve," and "forty" has little or no importance in the religious content of the Bible!- pp. 565, 566, Vol. 3, A Dictionary of the Bible, Hastings, ed., Hendrickson Publ. - - see the IMAGE study, f.n. #5) But 1 John 5:8 is, by far, the closest the Bible ever comes to such a statement!
Therefore, this clearest of trinitarian "proofs" (1 John 5:8) shows "conclusively" that if the Holy Spirit is God, His two equal partners are not Jesus and Jehovah, but the "persons" of "the Holy Water" and "the Holy Blood"! (Compare how the earliest church creeds "prove" that "the resurrection" and "the church" must be equally God with the Spirit according to the above trinitarian-type "evidence": see the CREEDS study, pp. 1-4.)
Certainly such "evidence" is absolutely ridiculous! However, it is an excellent example of how the very best trinitarian "proofs" are tragically worthless (Jer. 16:19 - KJV, ASV, RSV, NASB, JPS.)
(D.) Acts 5:3, 4
33 (D.) The final bit of eclectic "evidence" some trinitarians resort to for the "personality" and "Godhood" of the spirit is found at Acts 5:3, 4. Here we find a baptized Christian, one who has, therefore, received holy spirit, selling his property and giving some of the money from that sale to the Apostles. Now this man was under no obligation to sell his land or give any of that money to the Apostles. That he did so would have been a fine thing. But this man, Ananias, wanted honor more than he wanted to give charity. So he gave only part of the money from his property to the Apostles. This, too, would have been a fine thing. but he lied to the Apostles, because he wanted even more recognition, and told them he had given them all the money from the sale of his property!
So Peter said,
"Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to [or 'cheat' - Mo (or 'to deceive' or 'to play false' - Thayer, #5574; cf. #5574, Strong's and Thayer, in Heb. 6:18 as rendered in RSV, NEB, CBW, and The Amplified Bible)] the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? .... How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to ['played false to' ('defrauded' - Mo)] men but to God." - RSV.
The "evidence" here is supposed to be that Peter first says that Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit. Then he turns around and says that Ananias lied to God. The supposition being, evidently, that the one lie [or deception] could only be directed to one person. Therefore the Holy Spirit "must" be God!
This type of reasoning is painfully ridiculous at best! Ananias actually lied directly to the Apostles! So this type of "reasoning" applies even more strongly to the Apostles than it does to the Holy Spirit! By using this "evidence" we could say with equal credibility that Peter is saying the Apostles are God when he says "you have not lied to men but to God"!
We can see a similar idea at Mark 9:37 -
"Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me [so trinitarian-type 'evidence' proves this child is Jesus!]; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me." - RSV.
So receiving the child is actually receiving the Son and the Father! The child, then, "must" be God Himself (by trinitarian standards of evidence)!
I'm sure the truth of this matter must be apparent to all objective persons. But, for good measure, you might examine such scriptures as Matt. 25:40 and Luke 10:16 and compare them with Acts 5:4. We can also see a similar usage in the rest of Acts 5:3, 4. In 5:3 we see that Satan filled Ananias' heart to lie. But in 5:4 we find that Ananias himself conceived this thing in his heart. So this trinitarian-type evidence "reveals" another essential "mystery": Satan is Ananias! Also analyze 1 Thess. 4:2, 6, 8; 1 Cor. 8:12; and James 4:11.
One of Christendom's favorite trinitarians (and one of the humblest men found in history), St. Francis of Assisi, made an interesting statement that should be compared with Peter's statement at Acts 5:3, 4. St. Francis said after receiving some clothing from a friend:
"Nothing could be better for me than these. I take them thankfully as your alms. You have given them to God." - p. 66, Richest of the Poor - The Life of St. Francis of Assisi, Theodore Maynard, 1949.
Isn't it obvious that, by willfully rebelling against the holy spirit (the motivating force sent by God) by lying to the Apostles, Ananias was also lying to God?
(Another similar statement of this concept is admitted even in the footnote for Acts 5:3 in a highly trinitarian publication of the RSV, the ecumenical study Bible, The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 1977, Oxford University Press: "The apostles, or perhaps the church, represent the Holy Spirit."
Obviously, the Apostles receive their authority to represent God on earth through the power of the holy spirit ("in the name of the holy spirit"), so they "represent" not only that authorizing power but also God Himself. Therefore, the attempted deception of the Apostles by Ananias also equals an attempted deception of the Holy Spirit and an attempted deception of God.)
So, since the holy spirit (this impersonal power/force/direction) comes directly (and perfectly) from God himself, then, no matter what one does against that holy spirit, it is always equivalent to doing that very thing against God himself. For example, if I spit in disgust on the letter (the impersonal thing providing direction to me) from the king, it will always be understood as equivalent to my spitting on the king himself. If, on the other hand, I spit on a messenger from the king, it might not be considered such a serious offense if I were merely expressing a dislike for the person of the messenger himself, not his message from the king.
34 That is why Matthew 12:32 is so important to our understanding of God, Jesus, and the holy spirit. There Jesus says to his disciples, "Anyone who says something against the Son of Man [the heavenly, glorified Jesus] can be forgiven; but whoever says something against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven - now or ever." - Good News Bible (and TEV), cf. Living Bible; also see Luke 12:10.
Now if the Son of Man were actually a person who is God himself, this scripture would make no sense. In fact, the highly-esteemed trinitarian reference work The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology admits: "The saying about blasphemy and the Son of man (Matt. 12:31 f.; Lk 12:10) is particularly difficult to understand." - p. 628, Vol. 3, Zondervan Publ., 1986. This is a powerful understatement!
Anything we spoke against the person of the Son of Man (if he were truly God as trinitarians insist) would have to be against the person of God himself and would have to be equivalent (at least) to speaking against the holy spirit! But if Jesus were not God himself but a different person, someone might speak against him (for something he said or did or the way he looks, etc.) as a person subordinate to God and not be speaking against God.
Therefore, this scripture (and Luke 12:10) shows Jesus is not equal to God and explains that the Father alone (who produces or sends the non-personal force/communication/motivation: holy spirit) is the God we dare not blaspheme. If this were not the proper interpretation, not only would the statement about blasphemies against Christ (equally "God") being forgiven be nonsensical but the Most High and Only True God, the Father, would be completely ignored and the worst blasphemy would be only that against "God, the Holy Spirit"! This would be completely inconsistent with Jesus' continual glorification of the Father alone!
35 One thing we agree with Trinitarians about: The Father is not the Son. The Son is not the Father. They are different persons. Now if the Holy Spirit is a person, as they say, then the HS is not the Father, and the HS is not the Son!
Nevertheless, occasionally we find 2 Cor. 3:17 used as evidence that the Holy Spirit is a person who is God: "The Lord is the Spirit."
Now it is provable that the Lord Jehovah is the Father, and it is provable that the Lord Jesus is the Son. Therefore, IF the HS is a person, "he" cannot be either Jehovah or Jesus! That is why the noted trinitarian scholar E. F. Scott (in his The Spirit in the N.T.) can understand
"Kurios ["Lord"] here [in 2 Cor. 3:17] to be Christ and interpret Paul as denying the personality of the Holy Spirit." - Word Pictures in the New Testament, A. T. Robertson, Vol. IV, p. 223.
Also the trinitarian The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Zondervan Publishing, 1986, tells us:
"It is important to realize that for Paul too the Spirit is a divine power whose impact upon or entrance into a life is discernible by its effects." and, "It is important for Paul that the Spirit is a shared gift; it is a centripedal force [not a person!] drawing believers together into the one body of Christ. .... They are constituted the one body of Christ by their common participation in the one Spirit." - Vol. 3, pp. 701, 702.
Therefore to be 'one' with the Spirit results in being one with the Lord (whether it refers to Jehovah here, as I believe, or to Jesus as in most trinitarian interpretations. Having the active force of God, the Spirit, figuratively means having the Lord. Or as CBW, AT, and Moffatt translate 2 Cor. 3:17 "The Lord means the Spirit." Or, as the extremely trinitarian The New American Bible, St. Joseph ed. tells us in a footnote for 2 Cor. 3:13-18 -
"The apostle knows that his work is to result in the permanent presence of Christ among men through the power of the Holy Spirit."
And Thayer, also tells us:
"But in the truest and highest sense it is said ['the Lord is the spirit'], he in whom the entire fulness of the Spirit dwells, and from whom that fulness is diffused through the body of Christian believers, 2 Co. iii. 17.... to be filled with the same spirit as Christ and by the bond of that spirit to be intimately united to Christ, 1 Co. vi. 17...." - pp. 522, 523, Baker Book House, 1984 printing.
So we can see that even many trinitarians believe this particular scripture is saying that Jesus is figuratively the Spirit because union with that Spirit means union with Jesus.
Another possibility is shown by this trinitarian translation:
"the Lord [whether Jehovah or Jesus] no doubt is a spirit .... but we ... are changed unto the same similitude, from glory to glory, even of the spirit of the Lord [or 'just as the spirit comes from the Lord' - Lamsa]." - 2 Cor. 3:17, 18, Tyndale's New Testament, 1989, Yale University Press.
Not only do we never find anything approaching a clear statement of the trinity in the entire Bible, but in all the dreams, visions, etc. where we "see" God we never see a three-in-one God represented in any manner, nor do we ever see the "person" of the holy spirit (even though we often see the real spirit persons, the angels and Jesus, in association with that one true God). We nearly always "see" the heavenly spirit persons (God, Christ, angels) represented in human-like form. (E.g., Ezek. 1:5, 26; Acts 7:55.)
"The name ['angel'] does not denote their nature, but their office as messengers" - p. 38. "As to their nature, they are spirits.... whenever angels appeared to man it was always in a human form." - p. 39. And, "In...2 Cor. 3:17; 1 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet. 3:18, it ['spirit'] designates the divine nature." - p. 593, Today's Dictionary of the Bible, 1982, Bethany House Publ., written by mainstream trinitarian scholars.
So we see God (who is a spirit person) always represented in human form and always as a single person, e.g., Ezek. 1:26 (Ezekiel could have easily represented him as three persons or even one person with three faces-compare Ezek. 1:10 -- but no Bible writer ever does such a thing! (Compare Dan. 7:9, 13) We nearly always see the spirit person of the resurrected Jesus in human form and always as a single person. We always see the individual spirit persons who are messengers (angels) of God as individual persons (and, incidentally, always with masculine, not neuter or feminine, personal names). But we never see the holy spirit as a person (and it is frequently represented as something that can be dealt out in multiple portions) - Acts 2:3, 4.
It is more than just odd that we "see" God (the Father only, Jehovah), we see Christ (the Son only, Jesus) with God, sent from God praying to God, etc., but we never see the neuter "person" of the nameless holy spirit in heaven with God or with the Son!
This could not be if the trinity doctrine were true. The inspired Bible writers simply could not so completely ignore as they have in the Holy Scriptures a person who is God!
There is no proper evidence (let alone proof) for the concept of the holy spirit being a person who is God!
This certainly should come as no surprise when we understand that the Bible writers all considered the Holy Spirit as an impersonal force sent by God - (see pp. 1-4). When a person rejects that force which God himself has produced and sent, then, of course, he is also rejecting the Most High God. This is why Jesus can equate the Holy Spirit with God and, at the same time (since Jesus is not God), show the superiority of God to himself:
"whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven" - Matt. 12:32, RSV.