What is the Biblical basis for saying the holy spirit is a person? From my observation of the text, I see no basis for this belief. The holy spirit is continuously presented in the Bible as God's dynamic power and presence instead of a distinct person. If it is sometimes represented as being distinct from God, it's simply because the spirit of God acts exteriorly. This is why Peter in Acts 5:1-10 said that Ananias and Sapphira “lied to the holy spirit” and also that they “lied . . . to God.” This passage doesn’t indicate that the holy spirit is God or one of the supposed three persons of God, as some read into this passage, but it seems rather clear that the holy spirit, being the omnipresent agency through which God acts, is how God heard the lie. And I've heard some people try to use John 14:26 or John 16:13 about how the spirit is sent but it's obviously as idiom. We find a similar statement in Isaiah 55:11 which states: "So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: It shall not return unto Me void, Except it accomplish that which I please, And make the thing whereto I sent it prosper." Obviously the word that comes out of God's mouth isn't a distinct person.

Another clear indication that the holy spirit is not a person is how Jesus in Mark 13:32 says that only the Father knows the hour but trinitarians say that the reason Jesus doesn't know the hour is because when he became flesh he gave up some of his divine attributes. Yet that just begs the question of why "god the holy spirit" apparently doesn't know the hour either since as far as I'm concerned the holy spirit didn't become flesh in trinitarian theology. So this statement by Jesus just presumes that there is no such thing as a fully divine "god the holy spirit" person.

Furthermore, I've heard it said that when the holy spirit is supposedly called "he" that the Greek text can be ambiguously translated since in the Greek language there is grammatical gender. For instance, "book" in French is masculine yet you wouldn't translate it into English as "let me read him." Similarly, when the holy spirit is called a "comforter" which happens to be masculine in Greek the same rule should apply. But anyway, I'm looking for some trinitarian insight on this topic.

closed as off-topic by EJoshuaS, Mac's Musings, Der Übermensch, Nigel J, Ruminator Dec 16 '18 at 9:53

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about systematic theology rather than about a specific text, and because this isn't a real question, just a rant in disguise ("the Holy Spirit isn't a person, am I right?" See also: Real Questions Have Answers. – EJoshuaS Dec 15 '18 at 22:34
  • @ethos This seems more like a rant / "discussion topic" than an actual question that we can answer. See: Real Questions Have Answers. – EJoshuaS Dec 15 '18 at 22:36
  • @EJoshuaS It's not. I simply provided evidence against the trinitarian notion and I'm asking for trinitarians to answer with reasonable Biblical support. – David the Prince Dec 15 '18 at 22:38
  • @EJoshuaS The you do not agree with this - hermeneutics (ˌhɜːmɪˈnjuːtɪks) n (functioning as singular) 1. (Bible) the science of interpretation, esp of Scripture 2. (Theology) the branch of theology that deals with the principles and methodology of exegesis – user26950 Dec 15 '18 at 22:39
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    @ethos Stack Exchange sites are Q&A sites, not discussion forums. Big difference. – EJoshuaS Dec 15 '18 at 22:52

The usual doctrine of the trinity states that there is one God (Deut 4:3, 6:4, Isa 44:6, 45:5, 6, 1 Cor 8:4, 1 Tim 1:17) but in three persons who are co-equal and co-eternal, composing the “Godhead” (Col 2:9, Rom 1:29, Acts 17:29). While this doctrine is not Biblically explicit, it is the only way to harmonise all the Biblical data. However, the closest explicit expression for the Trinitarian teaching is found in the baptismal formula of Matt 28:19, where the singular “name” (singular) is used for the all three, viz, “… in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. (Some suggest that 2 Cor 13:14, 1 Peter 1:2 are “almost explicit.”)

Numerous other passages list the three persons: Matt 3:16, 17, 28:19, Mark 1:10,11, Luke 3:21, 22, John 1:32, 15:26-16:14, Acts 10:38, Rom 1:2-4, 1 Cor 6:11, 12:2, 3, 2 Cor 13:14, Gal 3:11-14, Heb 9:14, 10:29, 1 Peter 1:2, 3, 4:14.

The first use of the word “trinity” was Theophilus of Antioch in about 170 AD (Greek Trias) and later by the Latin theologian, Tertullian, in about 200 AD.

Of the numerous topics surrounding the Godhead, the divinity of the Holy Spirit and His personhood are the most delicate. The matter must be decided on the basis of three aspects of the Bible text: (a) implicit statements involving Hebrew parallelisms, (b) Repeated statements about three persons, and (c) the personhood of the Holy Spirit.

Implicit Statements

  • Acts 5:3, 4 equates lying to God and lying to the Holy Spirit
  • Acts 10:38 equates the Holy Spirit with the presence of God
  • Comparing Rom 1:2-6 and 16:26 we find that The Holy Spirit has the authority of God
  • 1 Cor 12:4-6 equates the Holy Spirit with the one Lord and God
  • Job 33:4, Eze 37:14, Rom 8:2, 10, attributes the source of life to the Holy Spirit
  • Titus 3:4-6, 1 Peter 1:2 attributes the Holy Spirit as the source of spiritual life
  • Psalm 104:30 and Gen 1:2 both declare the Holy Spirit as the creator
  • Heb 9:14 also declares the Holy Spirit an essential part of Salvation.
  • 2 Cor 3:17 calls the Holy Spirit “Lord”.
  • Comparing Isa 63:10 with Num 14:11 shows that grieving the Holy Spirit is equivalent to grieving God.

Three Persons

Matt 3:16, 17, 28:19, Mark 1:10,11, Luke 3:21, 22, John 1:32, 15:26-16:14, Acts 10:38, Rom 1:2-4, 1 Cor 6:11, 12:2, 3, 2 Cor 13:14, Gal 3:11-14, Heb 9:14, 10:29, 1 Peter 1:2, 3, 4:14. Note that these passages refer to the Holy Spirit as a separate person distinct from the Father and Son.


The passages in John 15:26 – 16:14 repeatedly use a masculine pronoun (“ekeinos”) to refer to the Holy Spirit despite the Greek word for spirit being neuter! Further, these passages repeatedly talk about the Holy Spirit as a separate person from either the Father or Jesus.

1 Cor 2:10, 11 (see also Isa 40:13, 14) also identifies the Holy Spirit as a separate person because of His teaching and instructing function. See also Rom 15:19 and Ps 104:30.

In Matt 12:31, 32, Mark 3:28, 29, and Luke 12:8-10 the unforgivable sin is defined as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This is an expansion of Isa 63:10-14 where people grieved the Holy Spirit. Such a sin would not be even possible if the Holy Spirit were not both a person and divine. Note further, that these passages make a clear distinction between sinning against the Son or Father as opposed to the Holy Spirit, again, shown that the Holy Spirit is distinct.

In 1 Cor 12:11 it is the Holy Spirit who decides about spiritual gifts and their distribution. This passage attributes volition and sentience to the person of the Holy Spirit.

Further Teachings about the Holy Spirit

  • He is called “holy”. Rom 1:4. Thus He makes Christians, those He inhabits, holy. Rom 8:11, 1 Cor 3:16, 17, 6:19, 2 Thess 1:14. Thus, the Holy Spirit is the seal of ownership over Christians. Eph 1:13, 4:30; for without the Holy Spirit, we cannot be Christian. Rom 8:9


The Bible assumes that the Holy Spirit is divine in many instances.

  • Compare Isa 63:10 with Num 14:11 & Deut 32:12 – The Holy Spirit spurned/grieved is equivalent to God being grieved
  • 2 Sam 23:2, 3 makes clear that the Holy Spirit speaking is the voice of God
  • 1 Cor 3:16, 17, 6:19, 20 – the indwelling Holy Spirit is a divine presence
  • 1 Cor 12:11, 28 – the Holy Spirit distributing gifts is equivalent to the will of God
  • The Holy Spirit is essential to the plan of salvation through washing/rebirth (Tit 3:4-6, 1 Peter 1:2), giving spiritual life (Rom 8:2, 9, 11)
  • The Holy Spirit is the agent of Scriptural inspiration (Acts 28:25-27, 2 Peter 1:21, 2 Tim 3:16, 17)

We should also note that the Bible affirms all the usual attributes of divinity to the Holy Spirit of being omniscient (1 Cor 2:10, 11), omnipresent (Ps 139:7), eternal (Heb 9:14, cf 1 Tim 6:16), omnipotent (Luke 1:35, Rom 15:19, Zech 4:6), etc.

  • Thank you for your response. I would like to suggest that you have a few misconceptions. To begin, in Matthew 28:19 the literal translation would be "into the name..." not "in the name" insinuating that these are three persons with each having authority. And as Biblical commentators have pointed out, the Greek word "onoma" (name) can mean attributes or character as shown in John 17:6. So the fact that believers are baptized into the "onoma" of the Father, son, and holy spirit does not indicate that these are three co-equal, co-eternal persons. – David the Prince Dec 15 '18 at 23:29
  • I believe all the rest of your points are answered within my post. – David the Prince Dec 15 '18 at 23:33
  • First, the Greek "eis" can equally mean "in" or "into" and I do not mind which you choose. Second, you have not specified my "misconceptions". Lastly, I did not say that Matt 28:19 makes Father Son and Holy Spirit coequal coeternal beings, only that there are three persons. Please do not put words in my mouth. – Mac's Musings Dec 16 '18 at 11:03
  • Your misconceptions are your assumption that Matthew 28:19 denotes three persons and that the rest of the verses you referenced support the notion that the holy spirit is a person. All the verses you referenced are ambiguous and therefore it would be nonsensical to make a central doctrine based on ambiguous verses. I would like your to answer verses such as Mark 13:32 which is unambiguous and which assumes that there is no such thing a holy spirit person. – David the Prince Dec 16 '18 at 15:02
  • This is not the place for debate and the discussion is ended. Find another site for debate. – Mac's Musings Dec 16 '18 at 20:37

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