THE SPIRIT OF THE HOLY ONE
By Juan Baixeras
The purpose of this paper is to try and understand what the Bible refers to as "the Holy Spirit." We will be looking at three different possibilities.
1.Is it the third person in a triune God who at the same time is a separate being called "God the Holy Spirit?"
2.Is it just God’s power, an energy that God uses for His purposes?
3.Or, is it God’s presence, which is of course inseparable from God’s power.
Let us first examine concept number one.
GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT
This idea comes out of belief in the Doctrine of the Trinity. In this paper we will not be concerned with all the arguments of why the trinity is not a biblical teaching of Jesus nor the Apostles. There are several papers listed at the end of this paper that will deal extensively with this topic. We will however address the major arguments of this idea in relation to the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is mentioned numerous times in the Old Testament, yet, the Hebrews never envisioned the Spirit of God as a separate being who is part of a triune God. They always (and still do) thought of the Spirit of God as the presence of God himself, his mind and power. The Old Testament never thought of the Holy Spirit as a person distinct from the Father. J.D. Michaelis who is an eminent professor of biblical languages states:
"It cannot be proved, out of the whole number of passages in the Old Testament in which the Holy Spirit is mentioned, that it is a distinct person in the Godhead."
Remember that the New Testament cannot contradict the Old Testament. There was no exchange of God’s. It is the same God throughout the Bible.
In many Bible translations people have tried to make the Holy Spirit a person by translating the "Paraclete" as "him" instead of "it," as in John 14:15-17. It should be "it". People have translated it as "him" for theological reasons. The Roman Catholic and very Trinitarian New American Bible among others, translates the Paraclete correctly as "it" and has an excellent footnote:
Note on John 14:17: The Greek word for "spirit" is neuter, and the Greek text and manuscript variants fluctuate between masculine and neuter pronouns."
This idea of the Holy Spirit being the third member of a triune God was the outcome of the Council of Constantinople in the year 381 AD. This is about three hundred and forty five years after the death of Christ. Before this council nobody ever thought of the Holy Spirit as the third member of a triune God called "God the Holy Spirit." If we use the Bible as our guide (which we always should) we will find that nobody in the Bible thought this way of the Holy Spirit either. Nobody in the Bible ever prays to it, nobody ever talks to it, none of the New Testament writers ever send greetings from the Holy Spirit. This is definitely different from some of today's Trinitarian preachers such as the well-known Benny Hinn, who tells us to pray and talk to the Holy Spirit. Are we to believe that Benny Hinn knows something that Jesus and the Apostles did not? When we as Christians stop using the Bible as our guide is when we run the risk of following false teachings. If there was one individual praying to the Holy Spirit, then you would see me doing the same. But there isnt. Theologians decided that Jesus was God in the year 325 AD at the Council of Nicaea. But even when they decided that Jesus was God in 325 AD they did not include the Holy Spirit in this formula until fifty-six years later in 381 AD. One must ask, why not? If this was a central concept of Christianity from the beginning (as Trinitarians claim), then why was the Holy Spirit not included in the formula until 381 AD? The reason is because it was not a teaching of Christianity from the beginning. It was an idea which was developed by men who were educated in Greek philosophies such as Origen and Tertullian to name a few, who tried to interpret the Old and New Testaments within the framework of their Greek philosophical beliefs. This idea came out of the great city of Alexandria and started to gain popularity around the year 250 AD. It came to the forefront in the year 325 AD at the council of Nicaea. But it was a developing idea, which is why the Holy Spirit was not include or considered in the Council of Nicaea.
Tertullian writing around the year 200 AD to a friend of his called Praxeas states:
Chap. III. vv. 1. "The majority of believers, are STARTLED at the Dispensation (of the Three in One)...
They are constantly throwing out against us that we are preachers of two gods and three gods...
While the Greeks actually REFUSE to understand the oikonomia, or Dispensation" (of the Three in One)."
This is an incredible statement. Tertullian himself states that the majority of believers are startled when he tells them of the dispensation of the three in one. Why are believers startled at this teaching if it is supposed to be the core of Christianity from the beginning? Because it was not! This is why they are startled. The Greeks (Greek Christians) refused to accept this idea at all and accused him of worshipping two and three gods. Why would they refuse to accept their own Christian Doctrine of the Trinity? Because it was not part of Christianity until the year 381 AD. It stands to reason that if the Doctrine of the Trinity had been the status quo from the beginning of Christianity, then the majority of believers (No, all the believers) should have been well aquatinted with this concept. But they were not. They accused Tertullian of worshipping two and three gods. This doctrine was something new, it was not the established belief of Christianity as you can see. It was starting to work itself out, but it was not in the majority, in fact, it was very much in the minority. The Bible provides us with an excellent example, it states in Acts 19:1-3:
"While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior of the country and came down to Ephesus where he found some disciples. He said to them, Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers? They answered him, We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. He said, How were you baptized? They replied, With the baptism of John."
These were disciples in Christ. People who already believed in Jesus as the Messiah and the future coming of his kingdom. Yet they had been baptized without even knowing about the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is actually "God the Holy Spirit," and the Doctrine of the Trinity is the core of Christianity, would it not be reasonable to conclude that in order to be considered a believer and be baptized, one would have to be familiar and have an understanding of this idea. Yet these disciples did not. Why not? Because there was no such thing as "God the Holy Spirit." This term does not appear once in the whole Bible. It is a product of men. Let us review two of the most often quoted verses which are used to try and defend this concept of "God the Holy Spirit."
Matthew 28: 19
Baptize them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
The New American Bible says:
"This is perhaps the clearest expression in the New Testament of Trinitarian belief."
In a few seconds you will see how preposterous this statement really is. This verse has absolutely nothing Trinitarian about it. It is about Jesus sending them out to proclaim the gospel to the nations. First, a few definitions according to Vines Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words:
Baptize - The phrase in Matthew 28: 19, "baptizing them into the name" would indicate that the baptized person was closely bound to, or became property of, the one into whose name he was "baptized."
Name - Represents the authority, character. Expressing attributes. In acknowledgment or confession of.
This verse has nothing to do with water baptizing. With these definitions we can safely paraphrase this verse as follows:
"Go out into the world and introduce or bring them into the knowledge of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit"
Which is exactly what they did. The Apostles went out into the Gentile world and brought them the knowledge of who the only God is, who the Messiah is, and about the gifts of the Holy Spirit which they were going to receive. But as you can see, this has nothing to do with the three being one. Human tradition has made this a Trinitarian verse.
There is also a very strong position held by many scholars that this verse was not part of the original text of Matthew’s Gospel, as Eusebius, a third century Christian apologist, quoted the text in a shorter form: "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in my name" rather than the form which now appears in the gospel. One commentator writes,
"There is much probability in the conjecture that it is the original text of the gospel, and that in the second century the longer clause supplanted the shorter baptizing them in my name. An insertion of this kind, derived from liturgical use, would have rapidly been adopted by copyist and translators" (The International Critical Commentary, by Willoughby C. Allen Volume 26, pp. 307-308).
This position has strong Biblical support by the fact that the Apostles at no recorded instance baptize using the formula of "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit" as Jesus supposedly commanded them to do. They always baptize "In the name of Jesus Christ." Also the parallel passage in Mark 16:15-18 does not mention in any way this trine formula, and the Gospel of Mark is believed to be written before Matthew.
2 Corinthians 13: 13 or 14 depending on the translation states:
"May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."
The New American Bible says of this verse,
"This final verse is one of the clearest Trinitarian passages in the New Testament."
If this is one of the clearest Trinitarian passages, imagine what the others must be like. Just because you mention God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in the same sentence does not make them the same being. In Luke 9: 28 it says:
"About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray."
If we hold to the same logic that is being applied to 2 Corinthians 13: 13, then Jesus, Peter, John, and James are the same being. This is the extent of this argument. I honestly look at this verse and I do not see anything that implies that they are three in one. Do you? What this verse means is exactly what it says, that the grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. The fellowship of the Holy Spirit is how God communicates and relates to us. Even if we say that they are three distinct persons, it still does not imply that they are the same being. Look at it objectively and not the way human tradition dictates it must be looked at. The other few verses that are used for the same purpose are identical in structure. All they do is mention God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the same paragraph. Puzzling? Yes. Biblical? No.
In the end, it really boils down to, who are we supposed to believe, Jesus and the Apostles, or the men of the Council of Nicaea and Constantinople? For me the choice is an easy one. The Bible is very clear about what it thinks of the doctrines of men.
"In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts, you disregard Gods commandment but cling to human tradition" (Mark 7:7-8).
THE POWER OF GOD
The second idea is that the Holy Spirit is just the power of God. An energy which God uses to do His will. These groups will compare it to the "Force" in Star Wars. I think that this idea is a result of seeing through the false teaching of the trinity and then going to the other extreme. I do not think that the Holy Spirit is just an energy because in the New Testament it makes decisions, tells people where to go and where not to go, and also teaches us. These are not things that just raw power can do. These things require a mind. The mind of God. Let us look at some verses which will show us that the Holy Spirit is much more than just the power of God.
Acts 5:3&5: "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart so that you lied to the Holy Spirit." You have lied not to human beings, but to God."
In this verse we can see that to lie to the Holy Spirit is to lie to God. It does not make sense to think that one can lie to an energy or raw power.
Acts 10:19-20: "As Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, There are three men here looking for you. So get up, go downstairs, and accompany them without hesitation, because I have sent them."
In this verse the Spirit is giving instructions to Peter. An energy cannot give instructions. It also states, "I have sent them." Who sent them? God.
Acts 15:28: "It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities."
This verse is about the decision that was made at the council of Jerusalem concerning the Gentiles. The Spirit was actually responsible for the decision. An energy cannot make decisions, God can.
Hebrews 3:7: "Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Oh that today you would hear his voice, harden not your hearts as at the rebellion in the day of testing in the desert, where your ancestors tested and tried me and saw my works for forty years. Because of this I was provoked with this generation and I said, They have always been of erring heart, and they do not know my ways."
As far as I know, energy cannot speak. In this verse you can see that it starts with the Holy Spirit speaking which is in actuality God speaking of the ancestors who rebelled against His ways in the desert.
Hebrews 10:15-17: "The Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying: This is the covenant I will establish with the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them upon their minds, he also says, Their sin and their evildoing I will remember no more."
Again, we see the Holy Spirit speaking which is in effect God. The covenant was established by God not an energy or raw power. It is God who will remember sin no more.
2 Peter 1:21: "For no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the Holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God."
This verse states plainly that if you speak under the influence of the Holy Spirit you are speaking under the influence of God. Energy or power cannot influence you to prophecy.
Acts 13:2: "While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
Energy cannot give instructions or set apart people. God can.
Acts 20:22-23: "What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me."
Raw power cannot warn individuals. It cannot foresee the future. God on the other hand can.
Acts 21:11: "Thus says the Holy Spirit: This is the way the Jews will bind the owner of this belt in Jerusalem."
Again, energy cannot foresee the future or speak. Only God can.
Romans 9:1: "I do not lie, my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart.
How can energy know that Paul has great anguish in his heart? Nor can power be a witness.
Luke 12:10-12: "Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemies against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When they take you before synagogue and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about what you are to say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say."
This is an excellent example. Why would it be an unforgivable sin to blasphemy against an energy or raw power, yet it is forgivable to blasphemy the Son of Man? Is energy above the Son of Man? Of course not. Who is the only one who is above Jesus the Messiah? God. Blasphemy against God has always been a sin.
By examining these verses we can see that the Holy Spirit is not just an energy or raw power, but the actual presence of God.
THE PRESENCE AND POWER OF GOD
If it is not the third member of a triune God, nor just the power of God, what is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is God, but it is not a separate entity, yet still an equal member of a triune God. It is simply the presence and power of God Himself. The Holy Spirit is how God extends His presence and power to His creation. Psalm 139: 7 states:
"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?"
God’s presence. comes to us as His Spirit. This is what it means to have fellowship with the Spirit of God. It means to have fellowship with God. So why not just say God in all instances instead of Holy Spirit? In order to answer that question we must first understand what "spirit" means.
Vines Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words defines the Hebrew word "spirit" as:
spirit : 1. breath of life. 2. mind set, of ones mind or thinking.
The Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as God’s Spirit or the Spirit of God. It is the Spirit (the mind) of the Holy One. When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, in actuality it is the mind (Spirit) of God coming upon us. This is why it can foresee the future and give instructions. 1 Corinthians 2:11 states:
"For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit (mind) within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God," (the mind of God).
The mind of God is the essence of God. It is God. Through God’s mind comes His thoughts which are expressed as His word which is His will. The power of God comes from God’s will, the reason is because whatever God wills happens. Let us look at creation for an example of this. In Genesis 1:2-3 it says:
"And the Spirit of God moving gently on the face of the waters. Then God said. Let there be light, and there was light."
God’s mind (Spirit) swept over the waters. God’s mind produced the thoughts of creation which God expressed as a word by saying, "Let there be light." At God’s word (His will) His power went into action and the heavens and earth were created.
2 Peter 3:5: "that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water."
Revelation 4:11: "for you created all things, by your will they came into being."
As you can see, word and will are interchangeable. God’s word represents his thoughts, which are His will. Sirach 37:16 (a book only in the Catholic Bible) provides us with an excellent example of this thought:
"A word is the source of every deed; a thought, of every act."
Your thoughts are the source of your actions, a word (your will) is your thoughts expressed.
This is the reason why the Bible states that the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit came to an individual instead of just saying God. In a sense it is almost identical. God’s thoughts are God, but it is not God physically. It is His mind. Let me use an analogy in order to explain this a little easier.
Let us imagine that I have the power of telepathy (of communicating my thoughts). I am in Miami and my friend is in New York. I could send my friend a thought for him to turn on the TV and watch the news. He could in effect say that the mind of Juan came to him and told him to turn on the TV, which in effect is me. But it would not be correct for him to say that Juan was here and told me to turn on the TV because I physically was not there. This is the reason for the difference in language.
The Holy Spirit is also considered to be the power of God. Through God’s will comes his power.
Luke 1:35: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most high will overshadow you."
This verse is sometimes used to imply that the Holy Spirit is just the power of God. But if we read this verse carefully we will see that the Holy Spirit wields the power, it is not itself the raw power. The Holy Spirit possesses the power. The power comes from the mind of the most high, God. Spirit of God = Mind of God. Let us look at some other verses to confirm this idea.
Romans 15:19: "By the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum I have finished preaching the gospel of Christ."
Romans 15:13: "So that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Acts 10:38: "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5: "And my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.
1 Thesalonians 1:5: "For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction."
These verses are very clear that the power comes from the Spirit (mind) of God.
When the Bible speaks of "The indwelling of the Holy Spirit," it is Gods Holy Spirit (mind) renewing your mind. This is why our way of thinking changes when we receive the Holy Spirit. Through God’s mind comes His power.
SUMMARY - In conclusion, the Holy Spirit is the mind of the Holy One, God. It is how He communicates with us. It is His presence that brings with it His power. It is not a separate being from God, yet God, any more than our minds are separate from us. It is the way in which God guides us and teaches us, through His mind. The mind (Spirit) of God is the greatest teacher of all. It taught our Lord Jesus the Christ. Through God's mind His plan for our salvation is revealed to us in His message of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus the Christ. God bless you, and see you at the resurrection!