Capitalization: The Small Detail with Big Influence
In reading that passage in the original Greek, the first thing I notice is that the modern Greek variants have capitalized the word πνεῦμα / "pneuma" (spirit) which is not capitalized in the majority text, e.g. Masoretic, Byzantine, etc. (I will refer to capitalization from here on as a means of distinguishing between upper/lower case; however, Koine Greek, in which the New Testament was written, was actually ALL capitalized, making no case distinction at all.)
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit
searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians
ἡμῖν δὲ ὁ θεὸς ἀπεκάλυψεν διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος αὐτοῦ τὸ γὰρ πνεῦμα πάντα
ἐρευνᾷ, καὶ τὰ βάθη τοῦ θεοῦ (1 Corinthians 2:10, TR)
As can be seen in comparing the texts above, the KJV also chose to capitalize the word in English, even though the Greek was not capitalized.
The next verse shows the distinction made in the KJV between the "spirit" of man and that of God.
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which
is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of
God. (1 Corinthians 2:11, KJV)
Again, both of these "pneuma" are in lowercase in my (digital) copy of the original Greek TR (it's ALL lowercase), but the KJV has converted one of them to uppercase. If we treat them both the same, however, we find the translation of this verse to be a little nuanced. If a man cannot know something apart from his spirit knowing it--what does this actually mean? Perhaps this is a big clue to what Paul understands and means by the use of these terms. No Biblical scholar would assert that the spirit of man is a separate entity or being within the man himself who knows things in the man's stead; nor should such an application be made for the spirit of God to which the spirit of man is likened.
Intriguingly, when the grammar presents the word in a slightly different contextual arrangement, the KJV leaves it as-is, without capitalization.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit
which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given
to us of God. (1 Corinthians 2:12, KJV)
Yet again, there is no capitalization for these "pneuma/spirit" words in the Greek (TR).
The KJV translation actually changes the word in the following verse:
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom
teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual
things with spiritual. (1 Corinthians 2:13, KJV)
ἃ καὶ λαλοῦμεν οὐκ ἐν διδακτοῖς ἀνθρωπίνης σοφίας λόγοις ἀλλ᾽ ἐν
διδακτοῖς πνεύματος ἁγίου, πνευματικοῖς πνευματικὰ συγκρίνοντες (1
Corinthians 2:13, TR)
The Greek word was still "pneuma" (in its genitive neuter singular form), but the KJV changed it from "spirit" to "Ghost." (Modern textual variants drop the Greek word for "holy" out of this verse.)
Capitalization makes a big difference. For example, we do not capitalize the word "hand" in texts like the following:
Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of
God hath touched me. (Job 19:21, KJV)
Why not? If God's hand is as divine as God Himself, why not capitalize it? In multiple Asian languages, for example, special royal terms must be used with any deity or royalty, and this would include any body part or action associated with that entity. One cannot simply say "the hand of God"; one must say something like "the royal manus of God" (with both the royal honorific and the royal vocabulary for that body part).
In English, to capitalize God's "Hand" is to give it the status of an entity to itself, as if it might exist separately from God. The same might be said for other expressions. Consider how the following text might appear with "eyes" or "horns" capitalized.
And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four
beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been
slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits
of God sent forth into all the earth. (Revelation 5:6, KJV)
Once again, the word "Spirits" here is not capitalized in my copy of the Greek TR. Why is this aspect of God selectively capitalized in the English? It seems it can only be because the translators' understanding had been shaped by the Trinitarian dogma.
Within the same book of First Corinthians we find clear evidence that Paul, who wrote this epistle, did not hold the spirit to be a separate being or entity, but rather an influence or ideology.
For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged
already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done
this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered
together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To
deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that
the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1 Corinthians
By the words "as though I were present," Paul indicates plainly that he is not to be present. Having just indicated that he will not be there, the next verse indicates that his spirit will be there.
- Is Paul a spirit? No.
- Will Paul be there? No.
- Will Paul's spirit be there? Yes.
- Do we capitalize "spirit" here? No.
- Should God's spirit be considered differently from Paul's spirit?
Before one answers that last question, it is important to understand that the Greek does not treat the spirit of God any differently, grammatically, from the spirit of Paul or anyone else. There is no textual support for thinking that God's spirit is a separate entity, worthy of calling "God the Spirit," while Paul's spirit is not, precluding all reference to "Paul the Spirit."
It follows, then, that the spirit of God should not be considered as separate from God Himself. The Father is God, and God has a spirit, just as Paul did and we do.
Paul's "spirit," his influence, was to be present in Corinth at that meeting. The people there were to "have" his spirit with them. Having the spirit of Paul did not make them become Paul. By the same token, we may have the spirit of God (God's influence working in us) without becoming or being God. Consider Paul's own usage again.
But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think
also that I have the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 7:40, KJV)
The "spirit" can be "had" or felt by persons other than its owner. If you catch my spirit, you take on the same state of feeling, attitude, or determination in which I am found. To have my spirit does not make you me. Nor is my spirit a being separate from me.
Understanding the Bible's use of the term "spirit" helps us answer the original question:
What can we learn about the relationship between "God" and "the Spirit of God" ontologically from 1 Corinthians 2:6-16?
God's spirit is the omnipresent influence of God through which He touches every heart and mind. God IS spirit (see John 4:24), a spiritual being, and, those who worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth. But God's spirit is not some extra-Father or extra-Son existence (being). It is not an entity that can be separated from the Father and the Son. Through God's spirit He is present with us. If the spirit were separate from God the Father or from our Lord Jesus Christ, Paul must not have known about it, for he wrote:
But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things,
and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and
we by him. (1 Corinthians 8:6, KJV)
Paul does not mention the spirit here. This is instructional to us in understanding the relationship of the spirit to God. The spirit is inseparable from God--for the spirit is of God.
And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. (1
Corinthians 14:32, KJV)
The spirit is subject to its owner. Ultimately, whether I am in good spirits or bad is a matter of choice; my "spirit" is but a reflection of my mind.
God has a spirit, and God IS spirit; but God's spirit is not a separate sentient entity from that of God Himself. Paul's writings show that he used the term "spirit" in a manner consistent with an influence, an ideology or philosophy, or a presence; yet Paul does not separate the spirit as an existence apart from its source, whether referencing the spirit of man or that of God.