Holy Spirit: It, Force, or Person?

Below are a collection of select verses from the New Testament (NT) which refer to the Holy Spirit with personal pronouns. The fact that he is referred to as a “he” and not an “it” points to an understanding that the Holy Spirit is in fact a person. If someone were to refer to their own spirit, they would use the word “it,” as in ‘my spirit grew faint, it is dismayed.’ One would not say, ‘my spirit grew faint, he is dismayed.’ Thus, when in the NT the Spirit is referred to always with personal pronouns and never with an “it,” the reader understands that the Spirit is a person and not something else. 

The Spirit does not have a physical body. Typically, when the mind thinks of something as a ‘person’ it thinks of a physical person. This is not so with God (except in the incarnation of Jesus). God does have some kind of manifestation, but it is beyond human comprehension to know what that might look like.

The challenge is in the language. The goal in assigning the term ‘person’ is an attempt to help others realize that the three parts that make up the trinity each have unique duties and responsibilities, yet they are still one and the same–God. Thus, the Spirit is actively doing things, having a ‘personality,’ and working within the authority of the Godhead. The same is true of Jesus and the Father. Each have unique characteristics and responsibilities, yet are still one God. They are three ‘persons.’

Here is a graphic that has been used to describe the relationship between the persons of the Trinity:

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The Spirit is equal with the Father and the Son as a representative of the Godhead. Notice below that he is not only and extension of the Father and Son but that the Spirit is in fact sent by them, a totally separate, yet equal, part of God. Thus, person verbiage should be the rule when referring to the Holy Spirit.

I have placed in BOLD, the critical material in each verse. Notice how active HE is.

  • Luke 4: 18-19 The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
  • John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
  • John 15:26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.
  • Jn 16:15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
  • Acts 11:15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning.
  • Acts 28:25 They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet:
  • Romans 8:11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
  • 1 Corinthians 12:11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
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