How The Spirit Terms Is Used Improperly In The Gospels

Continued from Part 32

Paul writes that “The spirit intercedes for us” (Romans 8:26), but also identifies who this spirit is in the context of this passage:  “Christ Jesus . . . intercedes for us” (Romans 8:34).  

He also writes:  “But whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:16-17).  The veil is a reference to Exodus 34:34, “But when Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he took the veil off.”  Christian commentators are divided as to whether “the Lord” in verse 17 refers to God or Jesus although Exodus 34:34 refers to Y-H-V-H.  In any case, Paul’s words can be best understood as leaving no room for a separate entity called the “Holy Spirit.”

The term “spirit” is used in several different ways in the New Testament, but none of them supports the contention that it refers to a coeternal, coequal being within a triune structured deity.  It simply expresses a belief held by the author of the Gospel of John that by this “spirit,” this thought implant, Jesus would allegedly still be present:  “I will come to you” (14:18); “I am in you” (14:20); and “I will show myself” (14:21).  By this spirit his work with them would supposedly continue:  “It will teach you” (14:26);  “It will remind you of everything I have said” (14:26);  “It will testify about me” (15:26); “It will convict the world of guilt” (in preparation for his judgment—16:8); “It will guide you into all truth” (16:13); “It will give glory to me by taking what is mine and making it known to you” (16:14).  But, despite the use of the pronoun he when referring to spirit in Christian translations it is not a person!

The author of 1 John writes that “We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us.  By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6).  If the parakletos, the “spirit of the truth” (John 14:17) were a person, then “the spirit of the error” in 1 John 4:6 would also have to be a person, given that the two are directly contrasted.  The fact is that what is meant is that each “spirit” represents the mental influence under which a person acts, but neither is a person in itself.

In the New Testament, the Spirit of God is simply God’s dunamis (power) in action.  The “Holy Spirit” does not have an independent personality.  It is merely a way of speaking about God’s personally acting in history.  In the New Testament it is also used of the allegedly risen Jesus’ personally acting in the life of the Church.  The New Testament nowhere represents the spirit as having an independent personality.

© Gerald Sigal

Continued