The Personhood Of The Holy Spirit Vs The Power Of God: By Steven Blake
Updated: Nov 21, 2022
THE HOLY SPIRIT - “THE POWER OF GOD” pg 118-20
Parallelism is a literary device, used frequently in the Bible, in which an idea is presented in two or more different ways in order to emphasize its meaning.
The verse cited above is an example of parallelism. It parallels the phrases “the Holy Spirit” and “the power of the Highest”, showing them to be one and the same thing.
Regarding the Bible’s use of parallelism in talking about the Holy Spirit, the trinitarian New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967, Vol.13, P.575) tells us:
---- “The majority of New Testament texts reveal God's spirit as SOMETHING, not SOMEONE . . . this is especially seen in the PARALLELISM between the Spirit and the power of God.”
- “The Spirit Of God” Means “The Power Of God”
In Mt 12:28, Jesus speaks of casting out devils by the Spirit of God. Many commentaries agree that he is speaking of the power of God:
---- “The Spirit of God here, means the ‘POWER’ of God” - Barne’s Notes on the NT
---- “A figurative way of representing the POWER of God” - J.F.&B. Comm.
---- “Casting out devils by a divine POWER” - Poole’s Comm.
- Throughout The Bible
Among theologians and commentators (as opposed to Trinity apologists) it is widely recognized that nowhere in the Bible is the Holy Spirit presented as a person - but always as the power of God manifested in the material universe.
- OLD TESTAMENT
- “In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit means a divine POWER” - The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1976, p.269
- “In the Old Testament… the Spirit of Yahweh… is NOT conceived of as A PERSON, but as a substantial source of force and activity… a divine dynamic entity by which Yahweh accomplishes His ends” - The Dictionary Of The Bible, John L.McKenzie
- “The Old Testament clearly does not envisage God’s spirit as a person… God’s spirit is simply God’s POWER… [and] the majority of New Testament texts reveal God’s spirit as SOMETHING, NOT SOMEONE… [as]seen in the parallelism between the spirit and the power of God.” - The New Catholic Encyclopedia - 1965, Vol.13, P.574-576
- “At its heart… a mysterious, awesome POWER… divine energy” - The New Bible Dictionary, Tyndale Hs. Pubs., 1984, p1136,7
- “The writers of The Old Testament NEVER conceived or presented God’s Spirit as A DISTINCT PERSON” - The Triune God, Trinitarian Catholic Edmund Fortman
- “The Spirit of Jehovah is the active divine principle” - The Encyclopedia Americana, 1957 ed., Vol.14, P326
- “There was NO explicit belief in a SEPARATE divine PERSON in Judaism” - The Encyclopedia Britannica Micropaedia, 1985, V.6, p.22
- NEW TESTAMENT
- “Conceived as AN IMPERSONAL POWER by which God effects His will” - An Encyclopedia Of Religion, Virgilius Ferm, 1944, p.344
- ”The NT… speaks of the spirit as a divine energy or POWER” - A Catholic Dictionary, W. Addis & T.Arnold, p822-30
- “The Holy Spirit was viewed NOT as A PERSON-al figure BUT rather as A POWER” - The New Encyclopedia Britannica
- “The Spirit is NOT explicitly conceived as A distinct divine PERSON-al being in Paul’s writings [in the New Testament]“ - Dictionary Of The Bible - Jesuit J.L.McKenzie
- “(In the New Testament) The Holy Spirit is a POWER” - Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, P 522
- “For the first Christians, the Spirit was thought of in terms of divine POWER” - The New Bible Dictionary, 1984, Tyndale Hs. Pubs, P1139
- “The Holy Spirit is usually presented in (the first five books of The New Testament) as a divine force or POWER” - The Triune God, Trinitarian Scholar Justin Fortman
- “For Paul, the Spirit is a divine POWER… discernible by its effects” - The Spirit In The Pauline Letters, Vol.3, p.700
- “For the first Christians, the Spirit was most characteristically a divine POWER.. for Paul too the Spirit is a divine power” - The Dictionary Of NT Theology, Vol 3, pp. 689-701
- “The same POWER that had inspired David and the Prophets” - The Christ & The Spirit, Vol.2, J.Dunn, Lightfoot Professor of Divinity, University of Durham, Eerdmans Pubs., Grand Rapids, Mich / Cambridge U.K., P11
- “A divine POWER… a force” - New International Dictionary Of N.T. Theology, Vol.3, P 701,2
- REASONS THE H.S. IS NOT A PERSON
- - - The Holy Spirit Does Not Have A Name
Persons have names.
God is a person; His name in Scripture is “Jehovah” (Ps 83:18 KJV). The Son of God is a person; his name in Scripture is “Jesus”. The Devil is a person; his name in Scripture is “Lucifer” (Isa 14:12).
The Holy Spirit has no name in Scripture. Why? Because, unlike the others mentioned, the Holy Spirit is not a person.
Again, other than in the widely questioned Baptismal Formula at Mt.28:19, neither the idea of the Spirit of God having a name, nor the phrase “the name of the Holy Spirit” is to be found anywhere in the Bible.
God’s spirit has no name because it is not a person, but the power of God.
- - - We Cannot Be “Sealed” With A Person
Eph 1:13,14 says that we are "sealed with" the holy spirit. While we can be sealed by a person, we cannot be sealed with one - nor is such an idea found in any of the 59 occurrences of the word “sealed” in the Bible.
The seal of God’s spirit upon us is not a person but His holy disposition within us, which establishes that we are His and that we have communion with Him.
- - - The Holy Spirit Is Not Prayed To
“Speak the speech, I pray thee… trippingly on the tongue” - Hamlet, Shakespeare
The word “pray”, from the Latin “precare” - meaning: “to ask earnestly, beg or entreat” - simply means “to beseech, to make an earnest entreaty” (Harper’s Online Etymology Dictionary, 2010), as, for example, with Shakespeare’s words above.
There is nothing inherent in the definition of the word “prayer” which limits it to a supplication made to God.
In most English translations of the Bible, the word “pray” is used to describe entreaties made both to God and to men.
Often the same original-language word is used for both kinds of communication. For example:
- In Mt 9:38, Jesus uses the Greek word “deomai” (Strong’s Gk. Dict. #1189) - translated “pray” - about supplication made by his followers to God.
- In 2Co 8:4, Paul uses the same Greek word (deomai) about supplication made by the members of the Churches of Macedonia to the apostles.
- In Lu 14:19, Jesus tells a parable of a man invited to a wedding who seeks to avoid attending it. In describing the man’s entreaty to his host, Jesus tells us that he said: “I pray (Gk.’erato’- Strong’s Gk. Dict. #2065) thee have me excused”.
- In Joh 14:16, Jesus promises his followers that he will “pray (erato) the Father” to send them a comforter.
- Ac 10:48 describes people beseeching the Apostle Paul to stay with them, saying they “prayed (erato) him to tarry certain days”.
- In Mt 26:53, Jesus says “I can… now pray (Gk.‘parakaleo’- Strong’s Gk. Dict. #3870) to my father”.
- In Ac 24:4, a devout Jewish man seeking an audience with the Roman governor says to him: “I pray (parakaleo) thee that thou wouldst hear”.
Throughout the Bible, prayer is addressed to the persons of both God and men, and yet Vine's Dictionary Of New Testament Words, p.882, tells us that:
“In no instance is prayer in the N T addressed to the Holy Spirit”.
Prayer is not addressed to the Holy Spirit in the Bible because the Holy Spirit is not a person, but a manifestation of the power of God.
- - - The Holy Spirit Is Not Worshipped
“Bowed down their heads, and worshipped the LORD, and the King”. - 1Ch 29:20
- “They are bowing head and prostrating selves to Yahweh and to king” - Scripture 4 All Online Greek Interlinear Bible
- “The Lord, and also the king” - Good News Translation
In this verse, the Jewish congregation offers worship to God and to David - to Jehovah as God, and to David as God’s anointed King.
This is a single act of worship rendered to both God and man simultaneously.
Just as Trinitarianism incorrectly teaches that the word “prayer” applies only to supplication made of God, so it incorrectly teaches that the word “worship” applies only to reverence made to God. But the truth is that interaction between man and God is only one application of the meaning of these words, as used in the Bible.
- - - The Holy Spirit Does Not Have A Throne
“He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on His throne." - Jesus, Re 3:21
In the Bible, persons have thrones:
- The Father has a throne. (Re 3:21)
- The Son has a throne. (Lu 1:32)
- Kings have thrones. (1Ki 1:46)
- The disciples have thrones. (Lu 22:29, 30; Re 20:4).
The Holy Spirit does not have a throne. Why? Because persons have thrones, but powers do not.
- - - We Do Not Have “Fellowship With” The Holy Spirit
“Our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son” - 1Joh 1:3.
If the Holy Spirit were one of three co-equal persons of a Triune God, why wouldn’t we be said to have fellowship with him as well as the Father and Son?
Trinitarianism will counter that the verse: “The fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2Co 13:14 - RSV, NIV, AMP, etc) means that we do have such fellowship.
Are you able to spot which shell the pea got slipped under this time?
The verse doesn’t speak of our fellowship as being “with” the holy Spirit, but as being “of” the holy Spirit.
Let me explain the difference.
In the classic movie series “Lord of the Rings”, one of the episodes is titled “The Fellowship of the Ring” (circa 2001). The title is a reference to a company whose fellowship is based on shared interest in a ring.
The word “of” in the title does not indicate fellowship with the ring, but fellowship founded upon it.
This is also the significance of the word “of” in 2Co 13:14. It does not speak of fellowship with the Holy Spirit, but fellowship founded upon it. Such fellowship is facilitated by God’s Spirit as it manifests in the lives of believers. Other translations clarify this. For example:
- “The fellowship that is ours in the Holy Spirit” - Phllip’s Translation,
- “The sharing of life brought about by the Holy Spirit” - NIRV,
- “May you be joined together by the Holy Spirit” - NLV,
- “Communion that we share in the Holy Spirit” - TPT etc.
While 1Joh 1:3 speaks of our fellowship with the Father and the Son, no such fellowship with the holy Spirit is articulated in the Bible. 2Co 13:14 does not speak of fellowship “with” the holy Spirit, but of fellowship “in” the holy Spirit.
- - - A Person Cannot Be Quenched
1Th 5:19 warns us of the danger of "quenching" the spirit of God.
- To quench a fire is to extinguish its power.
- To quench our thirst is to extinguish its power.
- To quench God’s spirit is to extinguish its power in our lives.
It would be meaningless to speak of quenching God. Persons are not quenched, powers are.
- - - A Person Cannot Be Poured Out
- “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh” - Joe 2:28.
- “Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high” - Isa 32:15.
- “On the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost” - Ac 10:45.
In both the Old and New Testaments, we are told that God pours out His spirit, and thereby man prophesies and acts in other ways as empowered by Him.
For those taught to believe that the Holy Spirit is a member of a Trinity, it is difficult not to view this as speaking about one of three persons of God. But think. Does it make any sense to say that a person can be poured out?
The Greek word is “ekxeo”. Some other uses of ekxeo in the New Testament are:
- Wine being poured out - Mt 9:17
- Coins being poured out - Joh 2:15
- The contents of a bowl being poured out - Re 16:1-4 etc.
None of these are persons. Powers can be poured out, not persons.
- “The Spirit Of Deep Sleep”
The Old Testament offers another example of spirit being poured out: “For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep” - Isa 29:10. The spirit of deep sleep is not a person, but rather a force from God causing sleep.
In the same way, God imparts His spirit to Israel: “I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel” - Eze 39:29 (also Pr 1:23).
It is not a person who is said to be poured out here, but God’s disposition and energy.
- A Portion Or Share Of A Person ?
“I will pour out a portion of my spirit upon all flesh” - Ac 2:17, NAB.(Revised), REV, NEB, etc.
- “A share of my spirit” - William Barclay’s New Testament Translation, 1969
- “A share… of POWER” - New Testament in Modern Speech, Weymouth, Ac 2:17 Ftnt.
- “Some of my Spirit” - The Anchor Bible, J. A. Fitzmyer
It is ludicrous to speak of pouring out a share or portion of God. You can pour out a portion of a power, but not a portion of a person.
A different Old Testament verse gives us a sense of what is really being said here:
“The LORD… took some of the Spirit that was on Moses and placed the Spirit on the 70 elders” - Nu 11:25 (as rendered in over 20 translations, incl AMP, HCSB, RSV, NIV, WYC, etc).
This speaks of the Spirit of God not as a person, but as God’s animating and empowering force - given by measure to the elders.
In his comment on Joh 3:31-36, renowned Trinitarian scholar William Barclay states: “The prophets received from God a certain measure of the Spirit” - The Gospel Of John, Wm. Barclay, Vol 1, p144.
The pouring out of God’s Spirit does not refer to a person - it refers to God’s power, given by measure unto those who are consecrated to His service.