Is the Holy Spirit a Person in John’s Gospel?

Is the Holy Spirit a Person in John’s Gospel?

Trinitarians focus on a few scriptures in which the holy spirit is personified, which when taken literally, make it appear to be an actual spirit person. Let’s examine the uses in John of the word spirit, wherever it means the holy spirit.

holy spirit person
Is the holy spirit a person in the Gospel of John?

“Then John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.'” (Jn 1:32 NIV)

The holy spirit is not personified, but “as a dove,” the figure of speech called simile, being used here, involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind. There is no indication of personhood being applied to the holy spirit.

“I did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize in water had told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is to baptize in Holy Spirit.'” (Jn 1:33 REB)

The Spirit comes down and “rests” on Jesus. It is obviously not a person. Not only that, Jesus is said to be the one “who is to baptize in Holy Spirit.” The original Greek text has no definite article before “Holy Spirit.” To baptize “in Holy Spirit” is a clear indication the holy spirit is not, and cannot be, a person.

“Jesus replied: ‘I solemnly assure you, no one can enter God’s kingdom without being begotten of water and Spirit.'” (Jn 3:5 NAB)

Jesus says one must be baptized in both water and holy spirit to enter God’s kingdom. Holy spirit cannot be a person, since one is baptized in it.

“Flesh begets flesh, Spirit begets spirit.” (Jn 3:6 NAB)

Having a spiritual rebirth via holy spirit indicates the holy spirit is not a person.

“The wind blows where it wills; you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So is everyone who is born from the Spirit.” (Jn 3:8 REB)

Being “born from the Spirit” precludes the holy spirit being a person.

“For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.” (Jn 3:34 NIV)

The description “God gives the Spirit without limit” clearly indicates holy spirit cannot be a person.

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (Jn 4:23-24 ESV)

Worshippers of God must worship him in the holy spirit, which is obviously not a person.

“It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words I spoke to you are spirit and life.” (Jn 6:63 NAB)

The language used here “the spirit that gives life” and “the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” indicate the holy spirit cannot be a person.

“‘Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” (Jn 7:38-39 NIV)

The holy spirit here is likened to water flowing from within a person. Obviously, it cannot be a person.

“I will ask the Father and he will give you another Paraclete – to be with you always: the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, since it neither sees him nor recognizes him; but you can recognize him because he remains with you and will be within you.” (Jn 14:16-17 NAB)

Christians are to be empowered by the Advocate, which verse 26 says is the holy spirit, after Jesus returns to heaven. It is also called the “Helper” (verse 16 NASB) in that it enables Christians as a whole to do “greater works than these” (verse 12 NASB).

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (Jn 14:26 NIV)

The holy spirit is sent by the Father to teach and remind Christians of all that Jesus said. Being ‘sent by the Father,’ the holy spirit cannot be the Father, not be equal to him.

When examined further, the scriptures Trinitarians try to use to prove the holy spirit is a person turn out to be saying just the opposite.

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