1 Corinthians 2:6-16 (NRSV):

6 Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. 7 But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. 13 And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.

14 Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny.

16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”

But we have the mind of Christ.

My personal impression upon reading this passage is that the Spirit of God appears to possess cognitive capabilities and be an essential part of God, just like the human spirit is an essential part of a human (I get this from the analogy in verse 11). But what about a more "formal" ontological look on the matter? Is the Spirit of God part of God, in the sense that God consists of his Spirit plus possibly other things? Or are "God" and "the Spirit of God" just labels pointing to the exact same entity? Or are God and the Spirit of God ontologically independent entities? Are these questions answerable to any extent from this passage?

  • As asked, this question was prejudiced by the rendering of [πνεῦμα] as "spirit". I edited it to make it less prejudicial. The Greek has no prejudice toward the Catholic-invented term "spirit". It is impossible to discuss the matter objectively within such a compromised linguistically prejudiced discussion. – Ruminator Feb 14 at 23:47
  • @Ruminator I rolled back your edit because I don't think it helped anything, and because while you may want to phrase your own questions like that, you can't force other people to. Please ask the original authors before making big edits like that. – curiousdannii Feb 14 at 23:57
  • "spirit" is a word invented by the Catholics specifically to accommodate their dogma of Trinity and completely muddies the waters the question is supposedly designed to address. – Ruminator Feb 15 at 0:03
  • 1
    @Ruminator - I used "spirit" because that's the word that appears in the NRSV. It is also used in the NIV, KJV, ESV, etc. Is there a specific translation that you would use instead? If there is no Bible translation that makes you happy, you are more than welcome to share your own rendering and the implications thereof in an answer. – Spirit Realm Investigator Feb 15 at 0:09
  • @Ruminator - why don't you post an answer? I'm honestly curious about what you can bring to the discussion. – Spirit Realm Investigator Feb 15 at 0:33

I would say, No.

Your questions, in this place, cannot be answered from this particular passage.

Human spirit/human nature is different from Divine Spirit/Divine nature.

Comparison is drawn here, between the two, but in a limited way, explaining something which is true of Deity by comparing that same thing with one certain aspect of humanity. One aspect compared to that similar aspect, wherein Divine nature and human nature share something in common.

But it is a limited comparison, of only one aspect of nature, wherein humanity and Deity share a particular feature.

The differences, not covered here, require further passages to clarify the matter of Divine Person/Divine Nature/Divine Unity.

That cannot be done from here. No. There is insufficient information about Divine Person and Divine Unity.


The position or proposition put by the OP, that the Holy Spirit is simply the divine influence or the "mind" of God and NOT a separate person is the principle contention of Arians. This does not make it wrong, just important; that is, I record this to make clear that it on this precise matter that Arians (with Binitarians) and Trinitarians part company.

Therefore we must clarify two matters:

1. The Greek word πνεῦμα (pneuma = wind breath spirit) is used in an almost bewildering array of meanings in the NT as BDAG's long list shows. ONE of those shades of meaning is:

  • BDAG: "spiritual state of mind, disposition", eg, 1 Cor 4:21, Gal 6:1, Eph 4:23, 1 Peter 3:4, etc.
  • Thayer: "the efficient source of any power, affection, emotion, desire,"

This real issue here is - Can such a meaning be extrapolated to all instances in both man and God? Arians say "yes" and Trinitarians say "no".

Another way to pose the same question is - What is the evidence of the personhood of the Holy Spirit?

2. Personhood of the Holy Spirit

The usual evidence for the independent personhood of the Holy Spirit consists of the following:

  • The passages in John 15:26 – 16:14 repeatedly talk about the Holy Spirit as a separate person from either the Father or Jesus. Further, this same passage also repeated used the masculine first person demonstrative pronoun, ἐκεῖνος.
  • 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.
  • The Holy Spirit is called ἄλλον Παράκλητον, that is “another comforter” (or advocate or helper), John 14:16, 26, 15:26, 16:7 (compare 1 John 2:1). Note that Jesus uses the adjective ἄλλος (allos) meaning another one similar to Jesus; as distinct from ἕτερος (heteros) meaning another of a different kind. Thus, the Holy Spirit is called a “comforter” and was to be a divine being like Jesus (1 John 2:1).
  • 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.
  • Possibly the best verses to demonstrate the individuality, personhood of the Holy Spirit is found in Rom 8:26, 27, which says –

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Now, there are two features about the important passage in 1 Cor 2 about the Holy Spirit:

  • The Holy Spirit is called, "the Spirit of God" consistent with lots of other such passages, eg, Matt 3:16, 12:28, Rom 8:9, 14, 15:19, 1 Cor 3:16, 6:11, 7:40, 12:3, 2 Cor 3:3, Eph 4:30, Phil 3;3, 1 Peter 4:14, etc. The Holy Spirit is called the "the Spirit of Christ" in Rom 8:9, Phil 1:19, 1 Peter 1:11. This latter designation is consistent with the Holy Spirit's primary function to teach us about, and make us like Jesus Christ:

However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and He will declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me by taking from what is Mine and disclosing it to you.

  • The passage in 1 Cor 2 is parallel to Rom 8:26, 27 (quoted above) about the independent work of the Holy Spirit in revealing the thoughts and intention of God to humans in the various ways that He does this such as:
  1. To produce the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22 & 23, see especially v24-26) and so to sanctify (make distinct) the church members.
  2. The above changed life is to be a distinguishing sign or seal of God’s ownership of our lives and a guarantee of better things to come (Eph 1:13, 4:30).
  3. To provide specific guidance for the church (John 16:7-12, 14:17, 15:26 – see also Ecclesiology) namely (a) Convict of sin, (b) Instruct in Righteous (= right doing), (c) Convict of judgement to come
  4. To build up the church with spiritual (supernatural) gifts and abilities, 1 Cor 12:7, 14:12, and to influence/teach others John 7:37-39. See Rom 12:6-8, 1 Cor 12:8-10, 28-30, Eph 4:11, 1 Peter 4:10, 11, 1 Tim 4:14, Ex 35:30-33, etc.
  5. To strengthen the members in their daily walk to live the Christian ideals, Eph 3:16, 17, Heb 2:4, and maintain unity in the Christian community (Eph 4:3-6). The Christian must be born of the Spirit (John 3:5) by receiving the gift of the Spirit (Acts 2:38) and walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:25, John 6:63, Phil 3:3, John 4:24). In fact the whole life of Christian is to put aside the “psychical” mind and live by the Spirit (1 Cor 2:14, 1 Cor 15:44-46, Gal 5:17, Jude 19, John 6:63, 1 Peter 3:18). In short, the Holy Spirit is the only way we can know God, 1 Cor 2:10, 11, 14, John 16:13.
  6. To teach the church more of the character and work Jesus and thus, imitate Jesus, John 7:38, 39, 15:26, 16:12-15, Rom 8:4, 11, Eph 3:17, 18, 4:3-6, 1 Thess 1:6, 4:8, 1 Cor 2:14.
  7. The Holy Spirit inspired the prophets to write Scripture, and explains such spiritual truths to us. John 14:16, 17, 15:26, 1 Cor 2:6-16, Eph 1:17-19, 2 Peter 1:21, 2 Tim 3:15, 16, 1 Thess 1:5, Heb 9:8, 1 Peter 1:12, Ps 119:18.

In conclusion, all this shows the extremely close and mysterious relationship between the Holy Spirit, Jesus and the Father.

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