I was born and raised a Roman Catholic and was solely grounded on her catechism in my early childhood days. Because of that, I never really knew what a Bible was until I had a Christian conversion experience in my late teens.
I remember asking for a Bible from a local Protestant church pastor who was generous enough to provide me one. It was a King James Version which I soon discovered is fond of using words such as thee and thou. I could not at that time understand most of this translation.
So, I later purchased a modern language Bible and searched for and listened to Christian preachers on the radio so that I could learn how to find my way around this amazing book. Well, as I channel surfed from one radio station to another (and soon, one religious booklet after another), I was evidently drawn to one particular preacher broadcasting strongly about the Bible and how many of the doctrines Christians believe and follow are “incorrect and come from pagan practices.”
One of these doctrines he taught against was the Trinity. This preacher basically proclaimed that the Holy Spirit is not a person at all but a power, a force that emanates from God. He went through one Bible passage after another on how the Holy Spirit is not a spirit being. I was soon sold. I believed for several years thereafter that the Holy Spirit was not a person and that there is no Trinity.
I guess I was blindsided. I could not adequately defend myself against this non-Trinitarian doctrine. I soon became a member of that church organization and continually conformed to this new teaching (as well as its other unorthodox teachings) until that church, years later, admitted her errors to her congregations and to the whole, worldwide world. When that happened, it left me shocked and shaken as to how quickly the reconsideration and transformation of that organization occurred. Wow!
Anyway, with that in mind, I have been devoting this summer (finally) to meditating and getting to know this Holy Spirit. Is it a power or a person? Why? Why am I doing this? Three reasons:
First reason: I have never done this before. I have never taken a second, closer look at this doctrine – as I should have.
Second reason: If I am ever challenged again as to His existence, I want to be able to give an answer regarding this Holy Spirit.
Third reason: I want to leave a presence on the internet for those new or beginning to believe in Christianity who are being challenged or are seeking answers. Through the working of this Holy Spirit, I want to provide someone a chance to study this subject with a better, open-minded approach in order for him to counter and defend (apologetics) teachings against this Being.
Good Power or Evil Power?
As most of you know, the English language, as well as other languages, is a rich language. It has a very colorful vocabulary. One word in English can have several meanings or nuances relative to it that can be misinterpreted. The same is true with the original, major written languages of the Bible – Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.
For example, can the Hebrew word translated as power in the English language of and by itself be defined as “evil energy”? Answer: No.
Can the Hebrew word, power, in the English language of and by itself be morally good? Answer: No.
The word power does not have evil intentions or good intentions. It is just power, a force.
Please note that power translated from the Hebrew and Greek languages has more than one definition. For the purpose of this post, I have focused it down to two for the topic at hand – the Holy Spirit.
In the ancient Greek language of the New Testament Bible, the Greek word, pneuma found in Bible concordances and dictionaries has at least two meanings: 1) power and 2) a being.
By no means am I trying to be scholarly here, but what am I driving at? The word power found in the New Testament can both be translated as a force or a being depending if it has an adjective in front of it or not. Getting confused? Stay with me.
Nuclear power, for example, is not an evil force by itself. It is just tremendous energy released from atoms. How can power [pneuma] be evil? How can power [pneuma] be holy? If pneuma used in the Bible is either evil or good, it is no longer just a power but a being. How? Four examples:
1) Luke 11:24
When an impure [akathartos] spirit [pneuma] comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’
Jesus Christ was here talking about an evil spirit, a demon, a fallen angel, a separate entity with a consciousness of its own. This entity can not only travel, it seeks rest, it speaks and it can decide on its own to reside in people.
Please note that many Bible translations use the word “it” to refer to this being. Other Bibles use the word, he! Nevertheless, the Greek word pneuma can be understood here, in context, to denote a being, not a power or a force.
2) 1 Corinthians 2:11
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit [pneuma] of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit [pneuma] of God. (KJV)
Man has a pneuma. Question: Is this pneuma referring to man having a power or a being that has consciousness imparting knowledge? Answer: It is a spirit being – an essence that has awareness.
Summary Questions & Answers
Question: Can the word pneuma referring to God be understood as a power? Yes.
Question: Can it also be understood to be a being? Yes.
Question: How can it be both? What I will here say is that, because there is no adjective before the word spirit, this verse in 1 Corinthians should not be used to prove God’s Spirit is a being. Nor should it be used to prove it is a force.
3) Acts 5:3
But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit [hagios pneuma] and to keep back some of the price of the land?”
If Luke 11:24 in example one above with the Greek word, akathartos, meaning impure or evil, placed before pneuma is understood as an evil being or spirit, then the word “holy” (hagios) used here before the word “spirit” (pneuma) should result in this entity being a separate holy being.
Thus, there is strong, Biblical indication here that the Holy Spirit is indeed a person rather than a force.
4) Matthew 5:3
Blessed are the poor in spirit [pneuma],
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Is spirit used in this verse a power or a person? It appears to me that spirit here is about an attitude or mindset of humility, meekness and lowliness of mind. There is apparently a different definition for pneuma here.
1) Does the Holy spirit grieving in Isaiah 63:10 indicate a person or a force? How does this verse compare with Ephesians 4:30?
2) Jesus Christ revealed the Father for the first time in the New Testament. Was Jesus also the first to reveal the Holy Spirit for the first time as a being?
3) Referring to “holy ground” found, for example, in Exodus 3:5 in the Old Testament, if the ground (Hebrew, admth) is holy but still inanimate, does this automatically make the word for “spirit” that would follow the word “holy” always an inanimate, unconscious thing or force?
Whew! I am exhausted. I better stop here.
What If I Am Wrong?
You may ask, “Well, Peter Caro, what if you are wrong? What if, after Jesus Christ returns to this earth, you learn that there is no third person after all, but only God, the Father and Jesus, His Son?”
If that be the case, I will then afterwards personally take you to a great restaurant in town and treat you to a pizza. I will even be happy to pay the waitress a great tip. I can’t wait!