The Greek text of 1 Cor. 12:11 according to the Textus Receptus states,

ΙΑʹ πάντα δὲ ταῦτα ἐνεργεῖ τὸ ἓν καὶ τὸ αὐτὸ πνεῦμα διαιροῦν ἰδίᾳ ἑκάστῳ καθὼς βούλεται TR, 1550

which I translate into English as,

11 But the one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each individually as he wills.

It is advised that you read the preceding verses, so please click here. I’m not posting them all in this one thread, but you may read them at your leisure.

My question is simply whether the subject of the verb «βούλεται» (“he/it wills”) is referring to the Holy Spirit, or to God (the Father)?1


1 cp. 1 Cor. 12:6

  • 1
    It seems that "God" and "Lord" in 1 Cor 12 are both referring to the Third Person of the Trinity, who is an actual person ("He" and not an "It"). Please see Hebrews 2:4 where Holy Spirit = God, whose "gifts" are given according to his own will.
    – Joseph
    Feb 24, 2013 at 0:04

4 Answers 4


In verse six of the same chapter it is ‘God’ that ‘operates’ or empowers (Θεος ο ενεργων).

and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. (1 Cor 12:4, ESV)

In verse 13, it is the ‘Spirit’ that ‘operates’ ενεργει. The Spirit here appears as a creative power. In extension of the Spirit's role, as distinct from the Father, it is also ‘he’ the Spirit (πνευμα) who apportions to each one individually as he wills (πνευμα διαιρουν ιδια εκαστω καθως βουλεται). It would require additional identification of the Father with an additional word, in order to transition from the Spirit (πνευμα) to God (Θεος), otherwise, there is a sudden break in thought without any reasonable trigger. It is more natural to continue in the verse with 'he' being the Spirit.

Charles Hodge makes a clear argument in favor of assuming ‘he’ is the Spirit:

But all these. &c, i. e. notwithstanding the diversity of these gifts they have a common origin. They are wrought by the same Spirit. What therefore in v. 6 is referred to the efficiency of God, is here referred to the efficiency of the Spirit. This is in accordance with constant scriptural usage. The same effect is sometimes attributed to one, and sometimes to another of the persons of the Holy Trinity. This supposes that, being the same in substance (or essence) in which divines power inheres, they cooperate in the production of these effects. Whatever the Father does, he does through the Spirit. The Holy Ghost not only produces these gifts in the minds of men, but he distributes them severally (ἰδίᾳ) to every man as he will, i. e. not according to the merits or wishes of men, but according to his own will. This passage clearly proves that the Holy Spirit is a person. Will is here attributed to him, which is one of the distinctive attributes of a person. Both the divinity and personality of the Holy Ghost are therefore involved in the nature of the work here ascribed to him. (AN EXPOSITION OF THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS BY CHARLES HODGE)

  • 1
    I like Gill but disagree with his comments, but he also sees verse 12 as the Spirit. He admits in v6 that he is departing from most commentators; so let him depart. The ‘same Spirit’ and ‘same Lord’ and ‘same God’ I do think refer to the Trinity. The Spirit is the immediate author of gifts. It is the Lord Jesus whose authority and redemptive work opened the way for they’re being given. It is God the Father, who having exalted the Lord Jesus as the head of the church, sent the Holy Ghost, working all these blessings according to his originating predetermined will and eternal purposes.
    – Mike
    Feb 23, 2013 at 8:48

Jesus said that the holy spirit would not act or even speak independently but would only act in fulfillment of the his instructions:

John 16:13  Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

A search in the KJV for the term "will of God" in Paul's writings turns up quite a few entries. Apparently Paul was very concerned with the will of God:

Mar_3:35  For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother. Act_13:36  For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: Rom_1:10  Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. Rom_8:27  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Rom_12:2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Rom_15:32  That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. 1Co_1:1  Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2Co_1:1  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia: 2Co_8:5  And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. Gal_1:4  Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: Eph_1:1  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Eph_6:6  Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; Col_1:1  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, Col_4:12  Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. 1Th_4:3  For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 1Th_5:18  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 2Ti_1:1  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, Heb_10:36  For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 1Pe_2:15  For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 1Pe_3:17  For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 1Pe_4:2  That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 1Pe_4:19  Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. 1Jn_2:17  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

However a search for "will of the holy spirit" and "will of the spirit" does not turn up any entries. Apparently Paul was not interested in the will of the spirit except for the fact that the spirit always does the will of God and furthers the will of God in the believers:

Rom_8:27  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

The will of Christ likewise is of little interest in the scriptures except that Christ also "accords" with the will of God:

Mat_26:39  And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. Luk_22:42  Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. Joh_5:30  I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

The deep yearning in the heart of every Trinitarian is to find verses in the scripture that place the "Holy Ghost" as a separate but equal partner in a pantheon of Gods that they refer to as "the Godhead". But the scriptures never speak of such a pantheon but instead have one almighty God and every other entity in the universe and beyond is his servant:

Joh_4:34, Joh_6:38, Joh_8:50, Joh_17:4, Joh_18:11; Psa_40:7-8; Mat_26:39; Rom_15:3; Hos_10:7-10

The father alone is the true and living God, the Most High and the Almighty. However he operates through his Christ and the holy breath:

1Co_8:6  But to us there is but one God, the Father, of [that is "from"] whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by [that is, "through"] whom are all things, and we by him.

God operates through:

  • his messiah (who is also his son)
  • his breath (which is an intelligent organ)

Any notion that the spirit of God or the son of God operates on their own is ignorant, blasphemous and creed-driven, not scriptural. Everything that the messiah and the "holy spirit" do is done in obedience to God and for the glory of God.

KJV unless otherwise noted.


πάντα δὲ ταῦτα ἐνεργεῖ τὸ ἓν καὶ τὸ αὐτὸ πνεῦμα, διαιροῦν ἰδίᾳ ἑκάστῳ καθὼς βούλεται.

Greek word bouletai can by associated not only with ,,pneuma"= spirit, but also to previous word ,,hekastó"= to everyone

So the meaning can be: Everything of this is caused by one and the same spirit, deciding own to everyone acording to his/their intends.

One explanation is , that spirit distribute grace-efects(=charismata) as Spirit intends.

Second explanation is, that spirit distribute grace-efectsto everyone as the person intends.

The las word ,,βούλεται." is deponent werb, not active word like for example ,,θελει (Strong's G2309) = thelei = will, choose, determine" .So it may indicate, that autor didn´t want to say, that the Spirit determine this.

  • Welcome to the Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange. We are glad you are here! Please take a moment to take the site tour and review some of our guidelines for participants.. We seek to provide answers of an certain academic quality, but this answer doesn't use complete sentences or "show any work" (reference other sources). Mar 24, 2017 at 3:17
  1. Spirit is not a third entity. Spirit means character to the hebrew.

  2. He wills is not referring to god, but rather the individual person. The single person is given all of these gifts, but he chooses (wills) when to use them.

  • Welcome to the Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange. We are glad you are here! Please take a moment to take the site tour and review some of our guidelines for participants. We seek to provide answers of a certain academic quality, but this answer "show any work" (reference other sources).
    – Ruminator
    Jul 2, 2018 at 12:42
  • Please provide support for your conclusions. For example, nearby passages where Spirit means character and not a third entity. For another example, why can the "he" only refer to the individual person?
    – Frank H.
    Jul 5, 2018 at 13:35

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