THE GOD OF JESUS: PART TWENTY-FIVE
The Holy Spirit
Inclusion of the Holy Spirit in the Trinitarian concept of God did not materialize until the Council of Constantinople in AD 381. The tenets of the Constantinople Creed pertaining to our discussion are as follows:
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds (aeons), Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified.
The Holy Ghost (Spirit) is described as the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified. Since this Creed identifies the Spirit as a “who,” it is apparent the Spirit is viewed as a person as is the Father and the Son. It is interesting that the Spirit is seen as proceeding from the Father. Trinitarianism sees the Spirit as indwelling the Father and Son and the Father and Son indwelling the Spirit. How then can it be said the Spirit proceeds only from the Father? Would not the Spirit also proceed from the Son if it mutually indwells the Father and the Son? If the Spirit is God as God is God, isn’t the Creed virtually saying God proceeds from God? Since there is no causation seen between the three distinctions of the Trinitarian Godhead, how could the Spirit proceed from the Father without the Father being the source or cause of the Spirit?
Athanasius taught the Son and the Spirit are both of the Being of the Father and not of the Person of the Father in the Trinitarian Godhead. How can it be said the Son and Spirit are of the Being of the Father within the Trinitarian formulation? There is no Being of the Father according to the Trinitarian construct. There is only the Being of Father, Son and Spirit.
I agree with Athanasius that the Son and Spirit are of the Being of the Father, but not as distinctions of a Trinitarian Godhead as was formulated under Athanasius’ influence in the fourth century. The Being of the Father is the one and only Most High, Supreme Being called God. The Spirit is of this Being and proceeds from this Being. The Son is also of this Being and was begotten by this one and only Supreme Being as the man Jesus some 2000 years ago. The Son receives Spirit from the Father and we receive Spirit from the Father through the Son.
The primary argument offered by Trinitarians for the Holy Spirit being God is the Spirit's close association with God and Christ as seen throughout the Scriptures. The Spirit is seen as exerting influence in a great number of ways and always doing so in association with the Father and/or the Son. The Spirit is seen as active in creation, in the affairs of Israel, in the Prophets, in Jesus Christ, the Apostles and the New Testament Church. The Holy Spirit is seen in association with the manifestation of power, wisdom, understanding, judgement, love and truth.
The words Spirit and Holy Spirit appear hundreds of times in the Scriptures. In Hebrew the word for spirit is ruah and in Greek the word for spirit is pneuma. These words have the same basic meaning. They mean air. More specifically these words denote the movement of air as in breath or wind. Scripture speaks of the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the spirit of life, the spirit in man and the spirit in a variety of other ways. The Scriptures often show the Spirit as speaking, teaching, helping, interceding, guiding and doing many other such things. Therefore, Trinitarians view the Spirit as a person and believe only a person could be said to do what the Spirit is said to do. For example the Spirit teaches, convicts, is truth, guides, speaks, hears, restrains, sanctifies and even appears to think. The following Scriptures provide some examples of what the Spirit does.
John 14:26: But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 16:8: When he (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:
John 16:13: But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
Acts: 16:6: Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.
1 Peter 1:2: Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit
1 Corinthians 2:10: but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
Such activity of the Spirit has led many to conclude the Spirit has personality and must be a distinct person like the Father and the Son. Others believe the recorded activity of the Spirit reflects the mind and power of God at work in His creation. References to the Spirit teaching, convicting, guiding, speaking, hearing, restraining, sanctifying, and so forth, are seen as personifications of the Spirit. To personify something is to give that something a figurative life (personhood) of its own. One dictionary definition of personify is to be “the perfect example of something.” Another definition is “to perfectly represent something.”
In Scripture, we find attributes such as wisdom and understanding represented as having a life of their own. In the Proverbs, wisdom is personified as a woman and is said to speak, cry out, raise her voice, reprove, laugh and so forth. Wisdom is seen as being loved, having a mouth, having a house and offering bread and wine (See Proverbs chapters one, four, eight and nine). Yet we all know that wisdom is not a person but an attribute of mind. The Spirit of God is seen as doing many things. Upon close examination, the Spirit of God is seen as the mind and power of God expressing all that God is. It is His knowledge, understanding and wisdom. It is his power and authority. It is His love, mercy, righteousness and justice. It is the outward manifestation of all that God is. The Scriptures actually identify God as Spirit.
John 4:24: God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.
The human spirit is the manifestation of all that humans are. The body without the spirit has no expression of thought or will. The body without the spirit is dead. Spirit is the life of the living physical body. In Genesis 2:7 it is recorded God breathed (Hebrew ruah) into man and man became a living soul. Spirit gives life. God is Spirit and is inherent life. Because God is life He is the source of all other life including the life of Jesus as Jesus plainly said (John 5:26). Our human life comes from God and is subject to death. God’s will is that we be reborn to eternal life. Eternal life comes from the Father through Jesus who was the first to be reborn to eternal life (Colossians 1:18, Revelation 1:5, 1 Corinthians 15:20).
God is manifested in the world and in us through His Spirit. It is called Holy Spirit because it is from God who is holy. Sinning against the Spirit is the same as sinning against God and vice versa. When Ananias and his wife lied about the money, they are seen as lying to the Holy Spirit and this is seen as lying to God.
Acts 5:3-4: Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God."
Trinitarians believe that in their lying to the Holy Spirit, Ananias and his wife lied to a distinction of the one God called the Holy Spirit and that is how it can be said they lied to God. The Holy Spirit, however, is seen in Scripture as proceeding from the Father as even the Constantinople Creed states. If the Holy Spirit is God as the Father is God, to say the Holy Spirit proceeds from God the Father is to say God proceeds from God which makes no sense at all. Apostle Paul shows God gives of His Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 4:8: Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
Scripture repeatedly speaks in terms of the Spirit of God, not the Spirit as God. It is the Spirit of God which is seen as working in us to facilitate eternal life and behavior in line with the will of God the Father.
Romans 8:11: And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22: Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Ephesians 2:21-22: In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Ephesians 3:16: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.
1 John 4:12-14: No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
The last quote above is especially revealing in that it clearly shows it is the Father’s Spirit given to us that results in God the Father living in us and we living in God the Father. John states no one has ever seen God. We know it is the Father John is speaking of because John makes this same statement in his Gospel where by context it can be seen he is referring to the Father (John 1:18). Trinitarianism teaches God is a mutual indwelling of Father, Son and Spirit. If this is the case, when John speaks of God dwelling in us he must be saying Father, Son and Spirit dwell in us. John, however, is not saying this. He is saying it is the Father who dwells in us through indwelling of the Father’s Spirit. While it is true the Scripture also speaks of Christ dwelling in us and the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us, Scripture also clearly shows the Spirit proceeds from the Father through Christ and into us. The Father and only the Father is the unoriginate source of the Spirit.
It is instructive that the salutations found at the beginning of fourteen of the letters found in the NT documents all speak of grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. These greetings never include the Spirit. If the Spirit is a distinction or person of a Trinitarian Godhead, it seems rather strange the Spirit is not included in these salutations (See Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians 1:2 Colossians 1:2-3, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:2, 1 Timothy 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:2, Titus 1:4, Philemon 1:3, 2 Peter 1:2). Furthermore, we see James seeing himself as a servant of God and the Lord Jesus. John sees us having fellowship with the Father and with His Son. The Spirit is not mentioned.
James 1:1: James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.
1 John 1:3: We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
If God is an indwelling of co-eternal, co-equal and con-substantial distinctions of Father, Son and Spirit, it appears rather odd that these men fail to include the Spirit when writing of their associations with the Father and the Son.
Let’s now look at what Paul said about the spirit in man compared to the Spirit of God.
1 Corinthians 2:11: For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
Just as the thoughts of man's spirit are not separated or distinct from man, neither are the thoughts of God’s Spirit separate or distinct from God. Just as the spirit in man is the very manifestation of man's thoughts and actions, so the Spirit of God is the very manifestation of what God thinks, does and virtually is. Just as man has spirit which is not a separate or distinct person from himself, so the Father, as the one and only God, has Spirit which is not a separate or distinct person from Himself. The Spirit of God is intrinsic to the very Being of God and is not a distinction within the Being of God having its own characteristics. Scripture plainly shows the Spirit of God interacts with our human spirits which are intrinsic to our humanity.
Romans 8:16: The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God (KJV).
The Scriptures show God is able to distribute His Spirit throughout the universe. It is by His Spirit the universe is sustained. This can be analogized to the sun distributing its light and heat through millions of miles. The light and heat are not the sun but are a manifestation of what the sun is. God’s Spirit is a manifestation of what God is and it is distributed throughout the universe and is expressed in thousands of ways including the various personifications found in Scripture. It is through God’s Spirit Mary became impregnated with Jesus. Let’s look at what the angel told Mary as recorded by Luke.
Luke 1:35: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
Is the angel distinguishing between a person called the Holy Spirit and the power of the Most High? Scripture clearly identifies the Most High as the Father. So we know it is through the power of the Father Mary became impregnated. The word “The” before Spirit is not in the Greek of Luke 1:35. In the Greek Scriptures, “Holy Spirit” often appears without the article “the.” The angel is telling Mary Holy Spirit will come upon her. Trinitarians believe the Father used the distinction of God called the Holy Spirit to incarnate Jesus. It is sometimes said that if the Holy Spirit is a person, then the Holy Spirit was the Father of Jesus and not God the Father. The very language of this passage should tell us that Holy Spirit and the power of the Most High are one and the same. Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father as power and word and not as a person distinct from the Father. Therefore, God the Father is the Father of Jesus, not through the action of a person called the Holy Spirit, but through the action of His power and word which is Holy Spirit.
Jesus told the disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they were clothed with power from on High. Here again the Spirit is seen to be associated with the power of God the Father and not some third person of a Triune God.
Luke 24:49: I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.
David sees God’s Spirit defused throughout the universe and equates God’s Spirit with God’s presence. There is nothing here to suggest the Spirit of God is a person of a Triune Godhead. The Spirit of God is seen as the ubiquitous presence of God.
Psalm 139:7: Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me.
Spirit is regularly seen in Scripture to signify power, mind and presence. In Luke 1:17, John the Baptist is seen as coming in the spirit and power of Elijah. No one would conclude the spirit of Elijah was a person. Paul wrote to Timothy that God has given us a spirit of power, love and sound mindedness (2 Timothy 1:7). These are all attributes of God’s Spirit with no hint of them coming from and through a third person of a Trinity. Paul said this to the Romans:
Romans 8:9: You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
Here it is indicated our behavior can be controlled by the Spirit of God rather than the sinful nature. Is God’s Spirit a person of a Triune God living in us and controlling our behavior or is it the Father’s power providing us with the ability to avoid sin? The Spirit of God is equated with having the Spirit of Christ. As covered in a previous Chapter, the Father gave Jesus a full measure of His Spirit so Jesus could exercise complete control over temptation to sin. We have access to the Spirit of the Father just as Christ did. Christ made such access available through His death, resurrection and ascension to the Father from whom He sent the Spirit beginning with the Day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts chapter two.
As discussed above, the Apostles greetings to the Churches are always sent from two persons, the Father and the Son. Never is the Holy Spirit included in such greetings. If God is a Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit, why is the Spirit never included in these greetings? Worship is seen as directed to both the Father and the Son in Scripture but never to the Spirit. Trinitarians will say Scripture does direct worship to the Spirit because God is Father, Son and Spirit so when you worship God you worship the Spirit. This approach assumes the Trinity to be valid and is a case of assuming the thing to be proved, which is a dangerous way to argue anything.
Paul’s benediction at the end of his second letter to the Corinthians is often seen as supporting the Trinitarian concept of God. Here Jesus, God (The Father) and the Holy Spirit are simultaneously mentioned. It is questioned how there can be fellowship of the Holy Spirit if the Holy Spirit is not a person.
2 Corinthians 13:14: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Trinitarians believe this passage identifies God as being the three distinctions of Father, Son and Spirit. Paul’s use of the word God is seen as Paul referring to the Father. Paul does use the word God to mean the Father throughout his writings as context will clearly reveal. Paul frequently uses the phrase “God the Father” in contrast to Jesus as Lord. Nowhere, however, does Paul, or any other NT author, use the phrase God the Son or God the Spirit. Paul’s frequent use of “God the Father” and total lack of using the phrase God the Son or God the Spirit should tell us who it was Paul believed God to be. In view of what Scripture says about the Father as the source of the Spirit, it should be evident when Paul writes of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit being with us, he is not speaking of the Spirit as a person of a Trinitarian Godhead but as the very power and mind of God the Father dwelling in us.
The Greek word translated “fellowship” in the NIV rendition of 2 Corinthians 13:14 (communion in some translations) is koinonia and has the overall meaning of associating, sharing or participating in something. We know from the Scriptures that both the Father and the Son are identified as Beings we can have fellowship (association) with (1 John 1:3). The Scriptures do not identify the Spirit as having Being or being a person of a Triune Being called God. We have fellowship with the Being of the Father and the Being of the Son through the power of the Spirit which proceeds from the Father through the Son and into and through us.
When Paul speaks of the Corinthians sharing or participating in the Holy Spirit, he is not speaking of them fellowshipping with a person called the Holy Spirit. Paul is telling the Corinthians the same thing he told Timothy. To have fellowship or communion with the Holy Spirit is to experience the power, love and sound mindedness that characterize the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and participates with our human Spirit to provide a way of thinking and behaving reflective of the Spirit of God.
As previously discussed, the Scriptures often speak of the Spirit of God or the Spirit of Christ. If the Spirit is a distinction in a presumed Godhead of three co-eternal, co-equal and con-substantial persons, how can the Spirit be of God and of Christ? Trinitarians will argue that all three persons of the “Godhead” dwell in each other thus allowing for the Spirit to be of the Father and of the Son. While the Son is seen to dwell in the Father and the Father in the Son, there is no Scriptural hint of the Father and Son dwelling in the Spirit which would have to be the case if there is a mutual indwelling of Father, Son and Spirit. While the Son and Spirit are seen as of the Father, nowhere is the Father or Son seen as being of the Spirit. Scripture clearly shows the Spirit proceeds from the Father who shares it with the Son who in turn shares it with us.
Scripture records that when the disciples would have to appear before government officials, Jesus told them they would be given the words to say. A comparison of the three accounts of what Jesus said gives evidence to the Spirit proceeding from the Father through the Son and into the disciples.
Matthew 10:20: For it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Luke 21:15: For I (Christ) will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.
Mark 13:11c: Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
The very language of Scripture shows the Spirit acting in ways not coherent with seeing the Spirit as a distinct identity in a Trinitarian union of Father, Son and Spirit. Scripture shows the Spirit to be God’s influence upon our lives and yet an influence that can be mitigated by our human ability to exercise free choice. The Spirit can be quenched and fanned into flame. Paul shows the Spirit to be dynamics of power, love and self-discipline. Scripture consistently shows the Spirit of God to be dynamics of mind and power.
1 Thessalonians 5:19: Do not quench the Spirit (RSV).
2 Timothy 1:6-7: For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
The Spirit of God is the power and mind of God in action. In Isaiah 40:13 the prophet says, “Who hath directed the spirit (Hebrew: ruah) of the LORD (YHWH), or being his counselor hath taught him” (KJV)? Apostle Paul quotes this passage when he says, “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" (Romans 11:34). In the Septuagint, the Greek word nous is used to translate the Hebrew ruah. This word in the Greek means the faculty of intellect, perceiving, understanding, feeling, judging, determining and so forth. Paul is apparently quoting the Septuagint translation of Isaiah 40:13 where nous is used to define the Hebrew ruah. Nous is appropriately translated into English as “mind.” It is apparent the Septuagint translators understood the Spirit to be the mind of God and rendered ruah as nous which is defined as dynamics of cognitive function.
Spirit is power and cognitive function. In the case of God it is supreme power and cognitive function. To the extent we embrace the dynamics of God’s Spirit is the extent to which we represent the will and purpose of God in our lives. Jesus was the perfect representation of the dynamics that characterize the Spirit of God. The Father gave Jesus a full measure of His Spirit. This enabled Jesus to be in perfect harmony with the will and purpose of the Father. In His glorified state, Jesus is in such perfect unity with the Father who is Spirit that Paul spoke of Jesus as being Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:17: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Some believe Paul is here referring to the Spirit as Lord and in so doing identifies the Spirit as a distinction of the Trinitarian Godhead. The context of 2 Corinthians, shows the Lord Paul is talking about is Jesus. Paul says “the Lord, who is the Spirit.” In Trinitarian theology, the Son is not the Spirit and the Spirit is not the Son. They are seen as separate distinctions of the Triune Godhead. Therefore, Trinitarian theology would not allow for the Lord to be the Spirit. When Paul speaks of the Lord (Christ) as Spirit, he cannot be identifying the Spirit as a distinction of a Trinitarian Godhead. It is more reasonable to conclude Paul is seeing Jesus as the perfect reflection of the Spirit of the Father. Christians can also reflect the Spirit of the Father by embracing and exercising the dynamics of the Spirit of God as Jesus did. This is what it means to be transformed by the Spirit.
Greek Nouns and Pronouns:
Readers of the NT often see the pronouns “he” and “his” used in association with the Spirit as indicating the Spirit is a person. As pointed out previously, in the Greek language nouns have what is called gender where some nouns are considered masculine, some feminine and some neuter. For example, the Greek for the word sword is in the feminine gender. The Greek for wall is masculine, for door feminine, and for floor neuter. In Greek, male and female gender designations are applied to persons, places and things. The neuter gender is generally applied to things such as objects, forces, abstractions and so forth but can be found in association with persons and places. Neuter nouns can also be given personification.
The Greek language also has three kinds of pronouns associated with these genders. When a pronoun appears with a noun having a masculine, feminine or neuter gender, the pronoun must match the gender designation of the noun. For example, a masculine noun takes a masculine pronoun such as “he,” “who,” “whom,” or “his.” A neuter noun takes a neuter pronoun such as “it,” “itself,” or “which.” The Greek pneuma, translated Spirit in the NT, is neuter and takes the pronoun “it” or “which.” Translators of the NT Greek to English often use a masculine pronoun to identify the Spirit (pneuma) and thus abandon the grammatical requirements of the Greek language. A good example of this is found in the book of Acts.
Acts 5:32: We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom (Greek “o”) God has given to those who obey him.
In this passage the word “Spirit” is neuter. The Greek pronoun “o” is translated “whom” but should be translated “which” in order to be consistent with Greek grammar requirements. If you look at Acts 5.32 in a Greek interlinear translation where Greek words are translated into their equivalent English words you will find “o” translated as “which.” In interlinear translations the translator must adhere to the grammar requirements of the language. Use of masculine pronouns in association with the grammatically neuter “Spirit” is misleading and unwarranted. It gives the false impression the Greek language is showing the Spirit to be a person which the language is not doing.
The use of gender in the Greek language does not establish the meaning of a noun. Meaning of a noun must be established by other knowledge associated with the noun. This being said, it is instructive that the neuter gender in Greek generally applies only to things such as objects, forces, abstractions and so forth. It is not generally used in association with persons. This alone places into serious question the concept of the Spirit being a person.
As already discussed, the Spirit is defined as power and cognitive function which proceeds from God the Father. This is how the Spirit is identified in both the Old and New Testaments. Scripture clearly shows all things are created and sustained by and through the Spirit of God. As already discussed, God and Spirit are so closely associated that God is actually called Spirit. Because Jesus had a full measure of the Father’s Spirit, He also is described as Spirit in Scripture.
Scriptural passages in John, chapters fourteen and fifteen are often offered as evidence the Holy Spirit is a person and not just the manifestation of the mind and power of God. In these passages Jesus tells the disciples that He would send them another Counselor (Greek parakletos) who is identified as the Holy Spirit. Since the Counselor, as the Holy Spirit, is referred to as he, him and whom, it is believed the Holy Spirit is a person.
John 14:16-17: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor (Comforter in KJV, Helper in NKJV) to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you (NIV).
John 14:26: But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 15:26: "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.
John 16:7-8: But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.
John 16:13-15: But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
The Greek parakletos is of masculine gender and, therefore, requires a masculine pronoun. It is grammatically necessary to use the pronouns him, he, his and whom in these passages. However, just as the neuter gendered Greek pneuma does not establish the personhood or non-personhood of Spirit, neither does the masculine gendered parakletos establish the personhood or non-personhood of Counselor. As stated above, the Greek masculine gender is associated with persons, places and things. When this gender is associated with a noun, it doesn’t by itself tell you what the noun means. That must be determined by other information.
In the passages cited above, the Counselor is identified as the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Truth. It is the masculine gendered parakletos that is being discussed and so using the personal pronouns of he, him and whom in association with the Spirit is perfectly legitimate as Spirit relates to parakletos. Even in John 16:13-15, were Jesus speaks of the Spirit of truth, He is still talking about the parakletos and therefore identifying the Spirit as a “he” (Greek pronoun ekeinos) is appropriate. Some insist that since the word Spirit is being modified by the pronoun ekeinos in this passage, it shows personhood for the Spirit. This is simply not the case. While ekeinos is a masculine pronoun and is used in association with the Spirit (Greek pneuma) in John 16, it no more establishes pneuma as a person than it establishes parakletos as a person. Greek genders and their associated pronouns do not by themselves establish the meaning of a word.
In view of the dynamics associated with gender in the Greek language and the fact that gender does not establish the meaning of a noun, a personhood for the Holy Spirit cannot be established on the basis of grammar. This is acknowledged by Greek scholars. It is further pointed out that in John 15:26, the Counselor is seen as going out from the Father (proceeding from the Father in the KJV). According to Trinitarian theology, the Holy Spirit is distinct from the Father in the Trinitarian Godhead. If this is the case, why is it seen as proceeding from the Father? The answer is that the Father is the one and only Supreme God who alone has intrinsic Spirit of mind and power and this Spirit flows from the Father to all of His creation.
Throughout the Scriptures the Son is spoken of as of God, the Spirit is spoken of as of God but nowhere is the Father spoken of as of God. The Father is never spoken of as of God because the Father is God and the Son and Spirit are not this God but of this God. The Son is seen as of the Father in being directly begotten by the Father and the Spirit is seen as of the Father as the Father's power, thought, emotion, creativity and all other personal attributes manifested by the Father’s Spirit. The Spirit of God is virtually what God is, just as the spirit in man is virtually what man is. In neither case does spirit exist as its own person in distinction from the Being with whom it is associated.