The Bible’s answer
In the Bible, the word “spirit” is translated from the Hebrew word ruʹach and the Greek word pneuʹma. Most often, those words refer to God’s active force, or holy spirit. (Genesis 1:2) However, the Bible also uses those words in other senses:
The vital, or animating, force in living creatures.
—Job 34:14, 15.
A person’s disposition or attitude.
These meanings all share the sense of something invisible to humans that produces visible effects. Similarly, the spirit of God, “like the wind, is invisible, immaterial and powerful.”
The Bible also refers to God’s holy spirit as his “hands” or “fingers.” (Psalm 8:3; 19:1; Luke 11:20; compare Matthew 12:28.) Just as a craftsman uses his hands and fingers to do his work, God has used his spirit to produce such results as the following:
—2 Peter 1: 20, 21.
The fine qualities displayed by people who obey him.
—Galatians 5: 22, 23.
The holy spirit is not a person
By referring to God’s spirit as his “hands,” “fingers,” or “breath,” the Bible shows that the holy spirit is not a person. (Exodus 15:
The Bible gives the names of Jehovah God and of his Son, Jesus Christ; yet, nowhere does it name the holy spirit. (Isaiah 42:8; Luke 1:
Misconceptions about the holy spirit
Fact: The King James version of the Bible includes at 1 John 5:
Misconception: The Bible personifies the holy spirit, and this proves that it is a person.
Fact: The Scriptures do at times personify the holy spirit, but this does not prove that the holy spirit is a person. The Bible also personifies wisdom, death, and sin. (Proverbs 1:
Similarly, when the apostle John quoted Jesus, he personified the holy spirit as a “helper” (paraclete) that would give evidence, guide, speak, hear, declare, glorify, and receive. He used masculine personal pronouns such as “he” or “him” when referring to that “helper.” (John 16:
Misconception: Baptism in the name of the holy spirit proves that it is a person.
Fact: The Bible sometimes uses “name” to stand for power or authority. (Deuteronomy 18:
Misconception: Jesus’ apostles and other early disciples believed that the holy spirit was a person.
Fact: The Bible does not say that, nor does history. The Encyclopædia Britannica states: “The definition that the Holy Spirit was a distinct divine Person . . . came at the Council of Constantinople in ad 381.” This was over 250 years after the last of the apostles had died.