The word, Godhead, is a form of the term, Godhood. We use such terms as manhood, womanhood, childhood, etc. They refer to the quality or state of being a man, a woman, or a child. Manhood describes what makes a man, a man. Womanhood describes what makes a woman, a woman. The same is true for “childhood.”
Godhood refers to the “quality or state of being God.” That’s what makes God to be God. “Godhead” is found in the KJV in three places from three related words, Acts 17:29, Romans 1:20, Colossians 2:9.
Colossians 2:9 says of Christ that “in him dwelleth all the fulness of the godhead bodily.” That is, all the characteristics of being God were within that bodily form. This is in keeping with John 1:14 that says “the word was made flesh and dwelt among us,” or Hebrews 1:3 that says Jesus is “the very image of his (God’s) substance.” Or, see it in II Corinthians 4:4, “the image of God,” Colossians 1:15, “image of the invisible God.” Likewise, Jesus says in John 14:9, “if you have seen me, you have seen the father.” Since God is a spirit, seeing the physical Jesus was not “seeing” the Father. He was, otherwise, the exact image of the Father. John 5:17-18 says—
“But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh even until now, and I work. For this cause therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only brake the sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”
Jesus had the same rights as the Father. He specifically acknowledged the connection here, as He did in John 10:30-33. The Jews in both places readily understood what Jesus was claiming, in reality, that He was God, just as the Father was God. Not only did Jesus have the right to do whatever He wanted to do on the Sabbath, but He could forgive sins, Mark 2:7-10. The Jews understood that God alone could forgive sins and this showed in another way that Jesus was God. The Jews well understood the claims of Jesus to be God. They refused to believe Him.
But, what of the Holy Spirit? Is He a distinct person of the Godhead or just some impersonal power? Buzzard and Hunting, in their book, The Doctrine Of The Trinity, Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound, pages 227-228 claim the following—
“It is going beyond the evidence of Scripture to equate the Spirit of God with a person distinct from the One God, in the same sense as the Son is distinct from the Father. There are clear differences between what the Bible says about the Father and the Son and what it says about the Spirit. God and Christ are obviously separate individuals worthy of receiving worship, the father in His capacity as creator, the Son Jesus as instrument and agent in the salvation of mankind. Yet the Holy Spirit has no personal name. Why is it that in no text of Scripture is the Holy Spirit worshipped or prayed to? Not once does the Holy Spirit send greetings to the churches. When the Apostles write to their churches, greetings are always sent from two persons, the Father and the Son. It is quite extraordinary that Paul would constantly omit mention of the third person of the Trinity, if he believed him to exist. When he charges Timothy to keep the faith, he speaks in the invisible presence of ‘God and of Christ and of his chosen angels’ (I Tim. 5:21).”
These comments make one wonder if the authors have ever even read the New Testament. We will look at some of their assertions in this and succeeding chapters. But, to present yet another view of this issue, Gary T. Cage, in his book, Clothed with Power, says on page 124—
“I do not see why we should say that the Holy Spirit is a separate person from God the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit in the Bible is more of an aspect of the one God. ‘The Spirit of God’ or ‘the Holy Spirit’ is a term which the biblical writers used when they wanted to speak of God’s power, especially as it became immanent in the physical creation. It is significant to me that the idea of a binity (the notion of a two person Godhead) does not seem to come up with the reading of the OT. Instead, the Holy Spirit becomes a third person only after reading the NT back into the old, especially since Jesus during his earthly ministry clearly was a person distinct from his Father in heaven. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, then, represent three ways in which the one God has manifested Himself in the world: as the Father through the creation, as the Son through Jesus, and as the Holy Spirit through prophecy and miracles.”
It seems evident that Cage is contending, like the oneness Pentecostals, that there is only one person who composes the Godhead. God manifested Himself in three ways, like an actor merely changing masks. Thereby, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit only appeared to be distinctly separate persons. The Father is the Son as He is also the Holy Spirit.
Concluding that there are three personal beings that make up one Godhead is not just reading the New Testament back into the Old as Cage asserts. The Old Testament does reveal facts about the Godhead. However, the Old is but a shadow of the real substance, the New Testament, Hebrews 10:1. See this also stated in the following—
“...how that by revelation was made known unto me the mystery, as I wrote before in few words, 4 whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ; 5 which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit.” Ephesians 3:3-5
“Now to him that is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal, 26 but now is manifested, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, is made known unto all the nations unto obedience of faith.” Romans 16:25-26
Even the prophets of the Old Testament did not understand what they were writing, but they didn’t need to know, I Peter 1:10-12, Daniel 12:8-9. That is the nature of inspiration. But without the New Testament record, neither would we understand, because the New explains the Old. Looking back from full revelation in the New Testament, we can readily discern the nature of the Godhead. It is no wonder that the Jews through the ages did not understand this, because it took the gospel to reveal the full truth.
The Jews did not grasp just who Jesus was and why He was here. Neither did they understand their wn scriptures, especially the prophecies and promises written there. Indeed, this is exactly what Paul said to the Jews in Acts 13:27-46. Paul also said it a little differently in II Corinthians 3:12-16. Read it for yourself.
The Jewish mind was hardened; they did not and would not understand until they turned to Christ. Read the New Testament back into the Old? We must do that on many subjects; we are instructed from God to do that very thing; Jesus pressed others several times with, “Have ye not read?” Yet, even by making the accusation that “Trinitarians” are reading the New Testament back into the Old, Cage is admitting that there is a greater amount of information in the New Testament that reveals the nature of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, as well as the Father.
Something else Cage said that is misleading is in reference to “the Spirit of God.” We cannot say that the Holy Spirit is just an attribute of God simply because He is said to proceed or come forth from God or from Christ. Neither can we say that He is just a power of God. Acts 10:38 says that God anointed him with “the Holy Spirit and with power...” Was it that he was anointed with the holy power and with power?
No. Romans 15:13 says that “ye may abound in the power of the Holy Spirit.” Did they abound in the power of the holy power? That is a terrible redundancy. Romans 15:18 says “by the power of the Spirit of God.” Was it by the power of the power of God? No. I Corinthians 2:4 speaks of the “demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” Was it demonstration of the power and of power? No. The Bible is not guilty of such nonsense. It is true that in some passages power is highlighted when the Spirit of God is mentioned but that is due to the fact that the Spirit uses, as well as imparts, power.
Deuteronomy 6:4 says that “The Lord our God is one Lord.” This is a favorite passage of Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Oneness Pentecostals, as well as some other religious groups and authors. Their view is that this passage teaches that God is a single, solitary being. Let’s examine it to see if this is true.
First, the word “Lord” on either end of the sentence is a translation of the Hebrew word for Jehovah. So, it is literally, as in some translations, “Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.” As we will see a little later, there are passages where the word Jehovah applies to more than one individual being. That must be considered in an understanding of Deuteronomy 6:4.
Second, the word “God” in the passage is elohim. This is the same word as in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God....” In verse 26 of the same chapter, God says, “Let us make man in our own image after our likeness.” We will discuss elohim in detail in the section below. Suffice it to say at the moment that in many verses, it refers to the Godhead, three persons in one God.
Third, the word “one” means a united singular as it does in some other passages. For instance, Genesis 1:5 says, “the evening and the morning were the first day.” The word “first” is the same word for “one,” (echad), in Deuteronomy 6:4. Echad is found again in Genesis 2:26 that says a man is to cleave to his wife and “the two shall become one flesh.” It took the evening and the morning to make “one” day and the man and woman together to become “one” flesh. Or, consider Judges 20:8, “The people arose as one man,” and I Samuel 11:7, “They came out with one consent.” It may also be translated as together, Ezra 2:64, 3:9, 6:20 and Isaiah 65:25.
Oneness writers insist that the sole meaning of echad is an absolute singular and could not include more than one person or item. There is a singular involved, true enough, but, that singular is composed of more than one person or thing. So, Jehovah our God (plural) is a united Jehovah. We will proceed to expand on this by investigating both elohim and yaweh, Jehovah, to establish the truth of this.
The Hebrew word for God is el and the plural is elohim. Being plural, does it mean a plural denoting majesty (pluralis magestalis), as some contend, or does it refer to God and angels, or does it indicate more than one person in a Godhead? As a base for our investigation, let’s begin with Genesis 1:26-27—
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them”
It is easily seen in the translation that the pronouns used with the plural, elohim, are also plural. It is claimed by some oneness writers that there are no plural pronouns in any place that elohim is found.
Translators, they say, have made the pronouns plural without any evidence. That is not true. In Genesis 1:26, the Hebrew verb for “make” contains the pronoun in the verb construct itself. It is plural. The translation is correct.
Other oneness writers admit that the pronoun is plural, but insist that it shows God talking to angels. This position is taken by Buzzard and Hunting, op.cit., page 22—
“It is most likely that the plural pronoun ’us’ contains a reference to the one God’s attendant council of angels, who themselves had been created in the image of God and had been witnesses to the creation of the universe (Job 38:7). It is fanciful to imagine that this verse supports the idea that God was speaking to the Son and the Holy Spirit. Where in Scripture does God ever speak to His own Spirit? The text says nothing at all about an eternal Son of God, the second member of a coequal Trinity. Moreover, the ‘us’ of the text gives no indication of two other equal partners in the Godhead. If God is a single person, His use of the word ‘us’ means that He is addressing someone other than Himself, i.e., other than God.”
First, the authors are begging the question. Their claims are assumed, based on their own belief of only one personal being who is God.
Second, the reference to Job, along with the other verses in a footnote, have nothing to do with what they contend. Angels have certainly carried out instructions from God but angels are servants and messengers, not creators.
Third, no one knows how the persons in the Godhead communicate with one another, or how they express that communication except we know that they do communicate. The prayers of Jesus in the garden are one of several pieces of evidence. See also Hebrews 1:8. Further, seeing that the Holy Spirit was sent from the father to accomplish certain tasks, just as Jesus was sent from the father into the world, how could they be sent if there were no communication between them? The fact that the plural pronouns are used shows the unity of purpose of elohim.
Fourth, note in the Bible text that it says, “And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Man was created by God in His image and likeness.
God is the model. It does not say nor imply that man was created in the image of angels. See Genesis 1:7,22, Isaiah 40:13, 44:24.
Fifth, the Word, who became Jesus, was the agent of the Godhead as creator of all things, even the creator of angels. Look at it—
“....who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him; 17 and he is before all things, and in him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fulness dwell; 20 and through him to reconcile all things unto himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross; through him, I say, whether things upon the earth, or things in the heavens.” Colossians 1:15-20.
All things were created through Him and unto Him. He is before all things. In Him, all things hold together, consist. There are two persons and two wills discussed in these verses. How is it that all things were created “through” Him, unless there were truly two persons? This was the way the Godhead operated in creation.
It is true that elohim is found along with the singular form of asah, such as in Genesis 5:1, 9:6. This only highlights the fact that elohim can be viewed from the standpoint of more than one person, with plural pronouns to indicate individuality, but it can also refer to the three as one unit, a collective, with attendant singular pronouns. The word Jehovah is used similarly. We saw one part of this in Deuteronomy 6:4—Jehovah (singular) our God (plural) is one (united) Jehovah. Let’s explore that some more in the light of Colossians 1:15-20, John 1:1-3, Hebrews 1:8-12. Look at these passages—
“Thus saith Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, Jehovah of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God. And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I established the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and that shall come to ass, let them declare.” Isaiah 44:6-7.
This identifies the one who created all things, who is also the first and the last. He is the Jehovah who is speaking.
“For thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens, the God that formed the earth and made it, that established it and created it not a waste, that formed it to be inhabited: I am Jehovah; and there is none else. I have not spoken in secret, in a place of the land of darkness; I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I, Jehovah, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.” Isaiah 45:18-19.
“Thus saith Jehovah, thy Redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb: I am Jehovah, that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth.” Isaiah 44:24.
“Hearken unto me, O Jacob, and Israel my called: I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. 13 Yea, my hand hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spread out the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.” 14 Assemble yourselves, all ye, and hear; who among them hath declared these things? He whom Jehovah loveth shall perform his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans. 15 I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him; I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous. 16 Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; from the beginning I have not spoken in secret; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord Jehovah hath sent me, and his Spirit. 17 Thus saith Jehovah, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am Jehovah thy God, who teacheth thee to profit, who leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.” Isaiah 48:12-17.
The one who created the heavens and the earth is the Jehovah who is speaking. But, the Word, Jesus, is the one who did that, John 1:1ff.
“And I will strengthen them in Jehovah; and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith Jehovah.” Zechariah 10:12.
This shows one Jehovah speaking of another Jehovah but both answering to the same name. It doesn’t take much investigation to discover that the Word (Jesus) is Jehovah in some contexts. Here is more evidence—
“And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not; I am the first and the last, 18 and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” Revelation 1:17-18.
“ And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These things saith the first and the last, who was dead, and lived again.” Revelation 2:8.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end...16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright, the morning star.” Revelation 22:13, 16.
He is the first and the last, beginning and end. It is a statement of His eternal nature from both the Old and New Testaments. At the same time, He is one of three. The same names identify all three as individuals or as a Godhead. Jesus was as much identified by the name Jehovah as any other of the Godhead. But, here is another interesting passage—
“Come, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” Genesis 11:7.
This is Jehovah speaking, verses 1 and 8, along with a plural pronoun. Here is communication within the Godhead; as in Genesis 1:26, a joint action is proposed. Now, note the following indications of the nature of the Godhead—
“The voice of one that crieth, Prepare ye in the wilderness the way of Jehovah; make level in the desert highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3.
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom ye desire, behold, he cometh, saith Jehovah of hosts. Malachi 3:1.
“For this is he that was spoken of through Isaiah the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ye ready the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Matthew 3:3.
John testified that he, himself, was the fulfillment of this prophecy, John 1:19-24, and Jesus said the same in Matthew 11:10. The work of John was to prepare the way for an individual, a person. That person was Christ. John prepared the way for the coming of Jesus by his preaching and his witness to others about Jesus. However, notice in the prophecy that John was preparing the way for God. It identifies Jesus with the words “Jehovah” and “God.”
Numerous Old Testament passages, which we detail in other chapters, speak of the Holy Spirit performing various works. Note the following verses. In one passage, it is God under discussion and in the parallel, the Holy Spirit. First, Isaiah 6:8-9 connected with Acts 28:25-26—
“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.”
“And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Spirit through Isaiah the prophet unto your fathers, saying, Go thou unto this people, and say, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall in no wise understand; And seeing ye shall see, and shall in no wise perceive.”
Next, Jeremiah 31:33 with Hebrews 10:15-16—
“But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
“And the Holy Spirit also beareth witness to us; for after he hath said, This is the covenant that I will make with them After those days, saith the Lord: I will put my laws on their heart, And upon their mind also will I write them...”
There are numerous names applied to the three beings of the Godhead collectively. There are also names that apply to these three individually. In the New Testament, they are referred to as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, though the word “God” is used in places to refer to each of the three. The Son is called the Word in John 1:1. He is referred to as God in such places as John 1:1-3, 10:33, Hebrews 1:8. He is also said to be “equal” with God, John 5:18, Philippians 2:5-6. He is said to be the “fulness of the godhead, bodily,” Colossians 2:9 and “the image of the invisible God,” in Colossians 1:15 and the “very image of his substance,” with “his” referring to the Father in Hebrews 1:3. In the New Testament, the word “God” most freqently refers to the Father but not exclusively
Equality Of The Three
Aside from the various things the Holy Spirit accomplished in both Old and New Testament, we will ote His equality with both the Father and Jesus as revealed to us in the following verses.
First, The conception of Mary that produced Jesus of Nazareth was an event involving all three persons directly. In announcing to Mary the conception and birth of Jesus, the angel, Gabriel, said, Luke 1:35—
“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also the holy thing which is begotten shall be called the Son of God.”
Second, At the baptism of Jesus by John, all three again are mentioned together. Matthew 3:16-17—
“And Jesus when he was baptized, went up straightway from the water: and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him; and lo, a voice out of the heavens, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Third, The promise of Jesus to His disciples concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit involves all three in the work the Holy Spirit was to do, John 14:26—
“But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.”
Fourth, Baptism was “in the name of” all three persons. Matthew 28:19—
“Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Fifth, Paul mentions all three in his request to the Romans in Romans 15:30—
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.”
Sixth, In I Corinthians 12, Paul discusses the reality and use of spiritual gifts, given by the Holy Spirit. The three are mentioned together in I Corinthians 12:4-6—
“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are diversities of ministrations, and the same Lord. And there are diversities of workings, but the same God, who worketh all things in all.”
Seventh, The benediction of Paul in II Corinthians 13:14 included all three as well—
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion (fellowship) of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”
Eighth, In the well known section of Scripture that speaks of keeping the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, Paul said in Ephesians 4:4-6—
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all.”
In addition to these passages that speak of all three together in specific passages, numerous scriptures show two of the three with equal status. Some show the Father and the Holy Spirit and others Jesus and the Holy Spirit and others the Father and Jesus. Let’s look at some of those here.
In John 14:16, Jesus told His disciples that He would “send another comforter...the spirit of truth.” he word “another” is from allos in Greek. It means another numerically but can mean another of the same kind. Indeed, I John 2:1 says that Jesus is “an Advocate with the Father” for us. “Advocate” is translated from the same word, parakletos, as is “Comforter.” Jesus is our “Comforter” and He sent another “Comforter,” the Holy Spirit. That is, a Comforter just like Jesus but another person than Jesus. The Greek word, heteros, means another of a different kind and is often translated as “different.” In Galatians 1, Paul writes about “another gospel (heteros), which is not another (allos).” What the Galatians had turned to as another gospel in that it was a different one (heteros) from what Paul preached. It was not another gospel of the same kind (allos) as what Paul preached. Paul told Timothy, in I Timothy 1:3, that he was to remain in Ephesus to instruct certain ones not to teach a different, [hetero]didaskaleo, doctrine. That was a doctrine different from the one Paul had preached to them, just like in Galatia.
The Personhood of the Holy Spirit
A major contention of oneness advocates is that pneuma is neuter gender with neuter pronouns. Being neuter, it must mean the Holy Spirit is not a “he” but an “it,” a non-person, a power of God only. They argue, if the Holy Spirit were a personal being, the word would be masculine with masculine pronouns as it is with theos, God. Great emphasis is even placed on translations that turn the neuter pronouns associated with pneuma into masculine pronouns, which they have done. But, to translate the neuter pronouns with English neuter pronouns still would have no bearing on whether or not the Holy Spirit is a person. Note that the Hebrew word for spirit in the Old Testament has feminine pronouns but the Holy Spirit is as much masculine as the Father is masculine.
All Greek nouns, adjectives and pronouns have gender. Most modern languages do also, except for English. Originally, even English had gender nouns, but that practice was eventually dropped. However, in Greek, even objects or things have gender. For example, a “wall” is masculine and the “door” is feminine while the “floor” is neuter. The Greek view of gender was not the same as we associate it in English.
The original meaning of pneuma was “wind,” which is impersonal. Later, a Greek philosopher assigned gender to words as he considered they should be. Gender in Greek was a human invention, not divine. But time changed the meanings of words, just as has happened in English through the ages. Pneuma came to have many other meanings besides wind and breath. Jason David BeDuhn, in his book, Truth in Translation, page 144, rightly says—
“You cannot just choose one definition out of the dictionary and use it every single time to translate a term. Context shifts the possible meaning of a term, and must be carefully considered when making a translation.”
We have already seen the list of meanings attached to pneuma by the time of the first century while at the same time it retained the neuter grammatical form. But, does neuter gender prove an impersonal nature of the Holy Spirit? Hardly! Let’s examine the evidence.
First, as we have previously seen, John 4:24 says that “God is spirit.” Theos, God, is masculine but dentified by the neuter, pneuma. That makes the neuter gender “spirit” here refer to a person who is no less than the person who is God. Is God a neuter “it”? No.
Second, angels are spirits. The word, angelos, is masculine but they are spirits, pneuma, neuter gender, Hebrews 2:15.
Third, demons are called evil spirits. The word demon, daimonion, is neuter gender, yet demons had personality, Luke 8:27-30. The demons were called evil spirits. One mark of their personality is that Jesus had a conversation with them on one occasion. The demons had intelligence, emotions, wishes, names and could make requests. Sounds like intelligent beings does it not?
Fourth, humans have spirits; it is the inner man that lives on after the body decays. Personality is the nature of human spirits. That is what continues to exist after death.
Fifth, other terms that identify the Holy Spirit are masculine gender. For instance, in three passages, John 14:16, 26, 15:26, the Holy Spirit is called “Comforter.” It is a noun, masculine gender.
Sixth, pronouns that identify the Comforter are thus masculine. In John 14:26, Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, “he (ekeinos) shall teach you all things.” In John 15:26, Jesus said that “he (ekeinos) shall bear witness of me.” Ekeinos is a demonstrative pronoun, masculine gender. In John 16:7, Jesus said “I will send him (autos) unto you.” Autos is a masculine gender pronoun referring to the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.
And, we could as well show that there are other neuter nouns that indicate personality and are not just impersonal “things.”
It should be evident from just these points that pneuma may be neuter gender, grammatically, but that does not indicate any lack of personality. The neuter gender of pneuma is just a linguistic form that was decided by humans and not God. The fact that neuter pronouns are used with pneuma reflects only the nature of Greek grammatical form. Greek grammar dictates that pronouns agree with their antecedents in gender and number, and will agree sometimes in case as well.
Thus, because pneuma is neuter gender in the Greek language, the claim of oneness advocates is that the Holy Spirit is just a power, influence or temperament of God. From another source, here is a statement from a Church of God website that insists the Holy Spirit is just a power—
“In some cases where the Holy Spirit is described in a personal activity, we should understand this as God using the Holy Spirit as the power or agency through which He acts. Consider, for example, that a man’s hand takes hold of a book and lifts it, this does not make the hand a separate person. The hand is merely the agency through which the man is acting. Even so, the Holy Spirit is the agency through which God—Father or son or both—acts. Of course, the Holy Spirit is far more than a hand. It is the very power, mind and life essence of God—pervading the infinity so that by it God is omnipresent.”
Notice that they start with “in some cases” and end with “it is” as though it refers to all cases. The fact is, both Jesus and the Holy Spirit were sent by the Father to carry out plans that had been made. This is true in both Old and New Testaments. This does not mean that the Holy Spirit is not a person because that would also mean that Jesus was not a person because He was sent to perform certain acts.
Jehovah’s Witnesses insist that pneuma means only “wind” or the “breath” of man, the air that fills the lungs. Let’s see how this translates in some passages—
John 3:5—born of water and the wind?
John 4:24—God is wind?
Matthew 3:11—baptize with the Holy wind?
Acts 7:59—Lord Jesus receive my wind?
Acts 17:16—his wind was stirred within him?
I Corinthians 14:12—ye are zealous of windy gifts?
Nonsense! In none of these verses can the word wind translate from pneuma. But, does pneuma mean breath? Let’s see—
Matthew 10:1—power over unclean breath? (Halitosis?)
Luke 24:37—they had seen a breath? (Cold weather?)
John 13:21—troubled in breath? (Asthma?)
Acts 7:59—Jesus receive my breath? (Exhale on Him?)
I Corinthians 5:5—breath saved? (In a bottle?)
II Corinthians 7:13—breath refreshed? (Mouthwash?)
I Peter 3:4—meek and quiet breath? (Doesn’t snore?)
We could alternate wind and breath in any of the above passages and they still would be ridiculous.
Pneuma may refer to either of those terms in some passages where wind and breath may be under discussion and thus specified. But, in regard to the spirits of men, of God or the Holy Spirit, or of angels, the word refers to an intelligent, self-aware, personal being.
The particular definition of “person” from Webster that applies to our subject gives us the meaning of, “A being characterized by conscious apprehension, rationality, and moral sense.” The Holy Spirit not only has identifying marks of a personal being, but also those characteristics that identify Him as God. In this regard, we may speak of personhood, those qualities and characteristics that make someone a person.
The Holy Spirit has self-consciousness and self-determination, a will, intelligence, memory, ability to communicate, emotions, aesthetic sense and much more. These are all characteristics applying equally to all persons of the Godhead. Let’s look at the details.
First, The Holy Spirit gives instruction. Jesus said in John 14:26—
“But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.”
Second, In guiding and sending men in the first century work of reaching the lost, He spoke to them in a manner they could understand and follow—
“And as they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” Acts 13:2.
“So they, being sent forth by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.” Acts 13:4.
“But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.” I Timothy 4:1.
Third, He was the major revelator in both the Old and New Testaments—
“...knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation. For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit.” II Peter 1:20-21.
“But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.” John 14:26.
“And it had been revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” Luke 2:26.
Fourth, He has emotions, just as the other persons in the Godhead; He can be pleased and can make ecisions and judgments, Acts 15:28—
“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things.”
Fifth, He also can be grieved and be vexed, but only a person can have those emotions—
“And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30.
Sixth, He can be resisted and blasphemed just as the Father was in the Old Testament and can be now—
“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye.” Acts 7:51.
“Therefore I say unto you, Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come.” Matthew 12:31-32.
Seventh, He has, as so many passages say about God, the emotion of love, Romans 15:30—
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.”
These are but some of the characteristics of the Holy Spirit in the Bible. As we observe the Holy Spirit at work, His personality becomes clearer to us.