23. The Spirit of God

As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

1 John 2:27

The Holy Spirit

In the Bible, there are two Holy Spirits. The Spirit of Christ was the “Holy Spirit” in the prophets.

The Spirit of God is the Holy Spirit that was first put on Christ, and then poured out on the Day of Pentecost.

And as we mentioned in Chapter 8, the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of God are both called the Holy Spirit for DIFFERENT reasons. The Spirit of Christ was called the Holy Spirit, because the Spirit of Christ was sanctified “set apart” by God, as Jesus explained in John 10:36. The Spirit of God is called the Holy Spirit, because the Spirit of God sanctifies, sets apart, the Sons of God, the first of whom was Christ! This is explained in the Greek text of Acts 1:5, “you by the Spirit will be baptized Holy.” Without a doubt, God Himself is holy, but the work of the Holy Spirit throughout the New Testament is to sanctify the believers (John 17:17;  1 Thessalonians 5:13;  1 Corinthians 6:11). It is never Christ who sanctifies, but God.

After the Day of Pentecost, the phrase “Holy Spirit” referred only to the Spirit of God, except in Acts 28:25,  where Paul described the Spirit of Christ who spoke to Isaiah, in Isaiah 6:8.

Before the Day of Pentecost, the Spirit of God that descended on Christ was called the Holy Spirit, because He was the first of many Sons of God.

There are 90 uses of the phrase “Holy Spirit” in the New Testament, as we describe in detail in the Appendix. After the Day of Pentecost, the phrase “Holy Spirit” only described the Spirit of God, as we can see from 30 verses. The Spirit of Christ was only called “the Spirit,” 47 times, as we also demonstrate in the Appendix.

The Spirit of God is the Spirit of grace and truth

For the Law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 1:17

The Spirit of Christ, in the Old Testament, brought the Law. We read this in Zechariah:

Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts.

Zechariah 7:12

But Zechariah prophesied the Spirit of grace would be poured out on Jerusalem:

And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication, then they will look upon Me whom they pierced.

 Zechariah 12:10

Here, Christ, the Word, prophesied that He would pour out the Spirit of God on the Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2:35.

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of Father. This was the promise given by God, in the book of Joel: “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh” (Joel 2:28).

Peter quoted this verse on the Day of Pentecost, saying that it had been fulfilled.

We can also find the promise of the Holy Spirit in Isaiah 32:15, 44:3, and Ezekiel 37:14 and many other passages.

The first person to receive the Spirit of God was Jesus Christ Himself. This is recorded in Matthew 3:16, and was prophesied in Isaiah 42:1. From the Targum of Jonathan Ben Uzziel, we read, “Behold, my servant, the Messiah, whom I bring, my chosen in whom one delights, my Word, I will put my Holy Spirit upon Him.”

Here, Jonathan contrasted the Spirit of Christ as the Word, with the Spirit of God. The Word was the Spirit of Christ, who was in the prophets (1 Peter 1:11).

Today, the Spirit of God Himself is received by the Church, and so we say “now is the tabernacle of God with men” (Revelation 21:3). The Church is the New Jerusalem prophesied by Ezekiel.

Jesus said the Spirit of truth “will abide with you forever” (John 14:16).  For the Spirit of truth is not just a “prophetic Spirit” as imagined by some. It is the Spirit of God Himself.

In the Book of Hosea, God told us He would be the promised Comforter:

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Will bring her into the wilderness
And speak comfort to her.
“And it shall be in that Day,” says the LORD,
“That you will call Me ‘My Husband’
And no longer call Me ‘My Master.’

Hosea 2:14-16

When God said, “you will no longer call Me “My Master,” He meant that we would no longer call Him our Lord.

God is no longer our Lord, but our Comforter, who Paul called “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).

The Spirit of God is not another “Person”

The Beginning of the Belief in a Third Person

In Chapter 8, we described the confusion of the early Church regarding the concept of manifest in the flesh. Many could not understand how the Holy Spirit in John the baptist could also be the Spirit of Christ, who was manifest in the Son of man. They began to believe that the Holy Spirit poured out on the Day of Pentecost was the Holy Spirit in the prophets. Finally, they interpreted Jesus’ instruction to baptise “in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19) as the identification of a third person, called the Holy Spirit.  

By 150 AD, Justin Martyr wrote to the Roman Senate, calling the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: first, second and third place,

“we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third, we will prove.”1

Justin Martyr’s “proof” did not come from the Bible, but from the writings of Plato, which he explained in Chapter 60 of his First Apology.

The Spirit of God proceeds from the Father

“the Spirit of truth who proceeds (ἐκπορεύεται.) from the Father”

John 15:26

Jesus told us that the Spirit of God proceeds from the Father, using the Greek word ἐκπορεύεται.

The word ἐκπορεύεται appears eight times in the New Testament, and there are three uses of this word in the Book of Revelation that really help us understand its meaning:

  • Out of their mouths proceed fire (Rev 9:17)
  • fire flows out of their mouth (Rev 11:5)
  • From His mouth comes a sharp sword (Rev 19:15)

The most striking picture of the Spirit of God proceeding from the Father is found in in Daniel 7:10, where we see “a river of fire flowing and coming out before” the Ancient of Days. From here, the Spirit of God was described as a “river” and as “fire” throughout the New Testament. Daniel 7:10–13 is probably the only Old Testament passage that shows us the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, after the Day of Pentecost.

This Spirit of God is not a “birthed” Spirit, it is not another being. And it does not appear in the form of Angels like the Spirit of Christ.

All Christians recognized that the Spirit of God was not a “birthed” Spirit when the Trinity doctrine was established. This was not disputed by either the Eastern or Western Churches.

However, the East and West had a very different view on whether the Spirit of God was “another person.” The Eastern Churches believed that the Spirit of God was simply the Spirit of God, and not “another person.”

The Greek Grammar was misunderstood by Western Churches

We have avoided the word “He” in describing the Spirit of truth. The personal pronouns that appear in John 14–16 are deceiving. They are only a function of the Greek language. Greek, like French and the Latin languages, require all pronouns to have a gender, and “He” appears only because the Greek word for comforter is masculine. If you read these same verses in the Concordant Literal Version of 1926, you will find that all of these verses use the pronoun “it” when referring to the Spirit of God.

There are a few cases, such as Romans 8:16, and Romans 8:26, where the Greek calls for “the Spirit itself,” as appeared in the original King James, but modern translators have substituted “the Spirit Himself.” The irony is that these verses  are speaking of the Spirit of Christ and not the Spirit of God. Yet, even when the Apostles themselves referred to the Spirit of Christ, they did not use masculine pronouns, because the Spirit of Christ is “a person,” but has no gender.

However, it is admitted by Trinitarian theologians today, that the Greek grammar in the New Testament does not support the idea that the Holy Spirit is a person.2

This confusion of the Greek grammar began when the Bible was translated into Latin and read by the Western Churches.

The Greek grammar was clearly understood by the Greek Church. The Chalcedonian Definition of the Greek Church in 451 A.D. only defines “two persons” of the “Godhead.” The Council at Ephesus attended by 250 Bishops in 431 A.D. actually condemned the Nicene Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 A.D., calling it “a different faith.”

The Anointing that “teaches you” all things

Of course, we know that no one has ever heard the voice of God. Men only hear the word of God through revelation. Jesus said “you have neither heard His voice, nor seen His form at any time,” (John 5:37).  Here, Christ was identifying Himself as “the Word” of the Old Testament, the true speaker for the invisible God.

The Spirit of God,the anointing of God, also to us speaks through revelation, as we can see in 1 Corinthians 14:30, “if anything is revealed to another who sits by.”

In Acts 13:2  we read, “and the Holy Spirit said…,” but we can only presume the Holy Spirit spoke by revelation through a person. We see a clear example of this in Acts 15:28, where the Apostles attribute the revelation of James in verses 13 to 21, as the speaking of the Holy Spirit. This is explained in Matthew 10:20,

For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

In the English text, the personification of the Spirit of God seems to begin in John 14:26, “He will teach,” and John 15:26, “He will testify.” However, the masculine pronoun “He” is necessary for the Greek word “Helper” that immediately preceded. It is a masculine noun. Like French, and other languages, all nouns are either masculine or feminine, or even neutral, and the pronouns that refer to these nouns must also be masculine or feminine, or neutral.

But it is still very difficult for English readers to understand how John 16:13-14 does not “speak of” a person,

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.

Even though we are told that the pronoun “He,” goes back to the word “Helper” in verse 7, it appears to us in every aspect, that the Holy Spirit is acting as “a person.”

How do we understand this?

The answer is in 1 John 2:27.

As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

Here, the teacher and speaker is called “the anointing.”

The Concordant Literal Version is a non-denomination version that was published in 1926 is very useful in understanding many Greek passages, including John 1:1, and John 1:18. 3  It ignored the Greek masculine pronouns for “counsellor,” and John 16:13-14 reads,

Yet whenever that may be coming — the spirit of truth –it will be guiding you into all the truth, for it will not be speaking from itself, but whatsoever it should be hearing will it be speaking, and of what is coming will it be informing you.

The anointing of the Spirit of God was actually described with feminine pronouns in Isaiah 11:2.

The Spirit of the Lord she-shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

The Hebrew feminine pronouns in Isaiah tell us that the Holy Spirit on Christ was not a “person” but an “anointing.” When referring to the Spirit of YHVH as God Himself, as in Isaiah 40:13, masculine pronouns are used.

Paul compared the Spirit of God to the Spirit of a Person

Many believe that because the Spirit of God has a will, it is another person. But in fact, the spirit of a person represents their will, as Jesus said; “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).

Our spirit, like the Spirit of God, has a will and a desire, but that does not make our spirit “another person.”

A person’s spirit can also be grieved (Ephesians 4:30), or insulted as the writer of Hebrews explains in Hebrews 10:29. Many versions translate Hebrews 10:29 as, “and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace.”

The Apostle Paul explained that the Spirit of God is like the spirit of a man in 1 Corinthians 2:10 –12:

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

Paul concluded by saying, “For ‘who has known the mind (νοῦν) of the LORD that he may instruct Him’ [Isaiah 40:13]? But we have ‘the mind (νοῦν) of Christ’” (Philippians 2:5).

The verse Paul quoted from Isaiah reads, “who has directed the Spirit of God (Holy Spirit4)?”

This clearly proves that the mind of the Spirit of God and God are the same, since Paul has substituted “LORD” for “Spirit of the LORD.” We can also see this in Acts 5:3–4.

In Greek mythology, there is a dog called “Cerberus” who guards the gates of Hades. Hercules tried to subdue Cerberus at the gates (his twelfth labor). Cerberus is a three-headed dog, with three brains and three distinct states of consciousness.

God is not like this. God has only “one mind,” one center of consciousness.

 

The Spirit of truth was sent by Christ

“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (John 15:26).

The Spirit of God proceeded from God and was poured out by Christ (Acts 2:17, 33). It was the Lord who added to the Church (Acts 2:47), by baptizing the believers with the Spirit of God. As John the Baptist said, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11).

 The Spirit of God speaks the words of Christ

The Spirit of God is very active in the work of salvation. But, like the Spirit of Christ in the Old Testament, the Spirit only speaks what it hears:

Yet whenever that may be coming — the spirit of truth –it will be guiding you into all the truth, for it will not be speaking from itself, but whatsoever it should be hearing will it be speaking, and of what is coming will it be informing you.

(John 16:13). Concordant Literal Version

In the Old Testament, the Spirit of Christ was the one we saw and heard. Today, the Spirit of truth is the Spirit of God we “feel” and “hear” speaking the words of Christ.

Let us prove this with an example in the New Testament.

In Acts 13:2, we know the Spirit of God is speaking for Christ, the Spirit of Christ: “As they (certain prophets and teachers) ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’”

The Spirit of God speaks only “whatever it hears.” The Holy Spirit speaks Christ’s reply to His disciples, just as the Spirit of Christ spoke the words of God in the Old Testament.

Old Testament

God was the LORD

New Testament

Christ is the Lord

   

 

The above diagram shows the relationship of Christ and God in the Old Testament and New Testament.

The word “Kurios” for Lord is only used for Christ after His resurrection, and before the LORD’s Day.

In the LORD’s Day, the relationship of Christ and God will be as it was in the Old Testament.

God distributes Spiritual Gifts through the Holy Spirit

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul explained that God distributes spiritual gifts to the members of the Body of Christ. In verses 18 to 30, he emphasized that God distributes these gifts. This is especially clear in 1 Corinthians 13:28,

God has appointed in the Church…gifts of healings, helps, administration, various kinds of tongues.

In 1 Corinthians 12:11, the subject of the phrase “distributing (gifts) to each one as He/it wills” may be “God” from verse 6; or “the Spirit of God” in verse 11. And as we mentioned earlier, a person’s spirit represents their will, so either interpretation would be logical.

The third person singular of the Greek allows either interpretation, allowing either the masculine or neutral gender to be used. However, the grammar and the meaning of 1 Corinthians 12:11 is identical to Hebrews 2:4:

“God also testifying . . . by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”

Literally, this reads “καὶ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου μερισμοῖς κατὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ θέλησιν,” – “And Holy Spirit distributions according to His will.”

God distributes spiritual gifts through His Spirit, as Paul explains from verses 8 -11,

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He/it wills.

1 Corinthians 12:11

Who can receive the Spirit of truth and what is the evidence of it?

  • The Spirit of truth is normally given by the laying on of hands, by someone who has the Holy Spirit, and the power to bestow it on others, see Acts 8:17-18, 9:17, 19:6, and Hebrews 6:1-2. The initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Jews in Acts 2, and the Gentiles in Acts 10, was the Bible’s only exception to this.
  • The Holy Spirit is only received by those who keep God’s commandments, see Acts 5:32, Revelation 12:17, 14:12.
  • When Jesus returns, He will say to those who did not do God’s will, “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:21-23). These can neither receive the Spirit of God, nor the Spirit of Christ.
  • The Apostle John said, “test the spirits . . . ; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). He tells us how to test the spirits to see if they are of God. “He who knows God hears us (follows the Apostles’ teachings); he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (v. 6).
  • Jesus said, “if anyone loves Me, He will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make our home with him” (John 14:23). The condition of being baptized by the Spirit of truth, and receiving the Spirit of Christ, is obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Only those who obey the Gospel of Christ receive the Spirit of truth. The Apostle Paul wrote, “if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” (2 Corinthians 11:4;  1 John 4:1-6)
  • This was the Spirit of which Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).
  • Jesus described the evidence of the receiving the Spirit of God: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). This statement has a figurative and literal meaning of course, because after the Apostolic age, the evidence of the Spirit of Christ was not accompanied by the sound that was emitted from the tongue when the Spirit of God was received.
  • The evidence of receiving the Spirit of truth can be both “seen and heard” (Acts 2:33) for there is a comforting movement of the Spirit in one’s body.
  • Receiving the Spirit of truth is evidenced by the tongue emitting sound, laleo glossa (Acts 10:46).  The expression “laleo glossa” literally means “tongue emit sound.” This expression is only in the Bible, and does not appear in Greek literature. It does not mean “other languages.” The experience of “laleo glossa” should not be confused with the spiritual gift of “other tongues” (heteros glossa), described in 1 Corinthians 12:10,28-29. In the Book of Acts, gifts of other tongues, and prophecy were imparted by the Spirit of God when believers received the Holy Spirit. However, we should note that these gifts are imparted by the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God was taken from the Church in 193 AD. From this time, a false experience of speaking in tongues, called Montanism, began. We discuss this further in Chapter 27, “the Spirit of the Antichrist.” Therefore, in describing the Spirit of the Antichrist, John wrote,

These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

1 John 2:26-27, NASB

  • As late as 180 AD, Irenaeus, in “against Heresies,” wrote that spiritual tongues were the evidence of receiving the Spirit of God. We discuss this in Chapter 27.

How do we know the Spirit of truth was not given until the Day of Pentecost?

In Chapter 8, we discussed the Spirit of Christ in the Old Testament. The Jews understand that the Holy Spirit in the prophets was “the Word,” who we call “the Spirit of Christ.”  However, some have rightly pointed out that the Spirit of God as the Spirit of the breath of life, is in all creatures, and was breathed over the waters in Genesis 1:2. Therefore, Paul tells us that God is “over all and in all and through all” (Ephesians 4:6).

The Spirit of truth is an “anointing” from God that was given on the Day of Pentecost. It sanctifies the Church of God, meaning it separates the Sons of God from the Sons of this world.

  • In John 7:39, we read that “the Spirit 5 was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
  • John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit of Christ, like the prophets of old, but he did not receive the Spirit of God, whom Jesus said would abide with us forever. For this reason, the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John (Matthew 11:11).
  • Jesus said, “it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you” (John 16:7).
  • Before Jesus ascended, He breathed into them, saying, “receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). But was this the Spirit of truth, or His Own Spirit? It could not have been the Spirit of truth. After this He told them to wait for the “Promise of the Father which you have heard from Me” (Acts 1:4-5).
  • The Spirit of truth was the Spirit Jesus promised to His disciples in John 14:16: “I will pray to the Father and He will give you another Helper that may abide with you forever.”
  • The disciples were not “baptized” into the body of Christ by “the Spirit of truth,” until the Day of Pentecost, as Jesus said, “but you with the Spirit shall be baptized Holy not many days from now.” 6
  • In Acts 2:33, we read, “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.” In other words, Jesus did not receive the promised Spirit of truth to pour out until the Day of Pentecost. This was not the Spirit Jesus breathed into them when He said, “receive the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit Jesus breathed into them earlier was His Own Spirit.

The historical deviation from the truth

Confusion over the Greek Grammar, and Justin Martyr’s explanation to the Roman Senate, had a profound impact on the Western Churches. They were the first to embrace the doctrine that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were three persons, in 381 AD.

The Churches of Asia were not convinced. The Chalcedonian Definition of 451 AD read, “co-essential with the Father according to the Godhead . . . before the ages begotten of the Father as to the Godhead . . . not as though He were parted or divided into Two Persons.”

As time went on, the West would pressure the Eastern Churches to accept a Creed that said the Holy Spirit was another person who “proceeds from the Father and the Son.” But this was strongly resisted by the Eastern Churches who saw this as “a different faith.” The Eastern Churches understood that the Holy Spirit was the Spirit of God, the Father.

A Comparison of Theologies

With the understanding of Christ and the Spirit of God, we are now able to compare the main theologies of Christ.

Essentially, there are four or five main theologies, and each of them differs on how they see the relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Apostolic Theology

The Spirit of ELOHIM in the Old Testament was Christ’s Spirit, the firstborn of creation, sent out of the Father in the beginning of creation. He was, and is, the image of the invisible God, who was manifest in the flesh. As “the Word,” He spoke the words of the Father, and was sent by the Father. The Spirit of truth that proceeded from the Father on the Day of Pentecost is the Spirit of God. It speaks the words of Christ, bringing comfort to the believers and distributing spiritual gifts as He wills.

Modalism

Because the Spirit of ELOHIM in the Old Testament and the Spirit of Truth are both called “the Spirit of God,” then these two Spirits are the same.

The Trinity

Both Christ and the Spirit of truth existed eternally with the Father and are equal to the Father. At times, they choose to submit to the Father because they play different roles in salvation. This is called the “economy” of the Trinity.

So-called “Unitarian” and So-called “Binitarian”

Unitarians believe Christ was a man chosen by God to carry out His mission. He did not pre-exist. Any Spirit of God mentioned in the Bible is only a “force” or “power” of God.

Many so-called “Binatarians” believe that Christ pre-existed but the Holy Spirit is only a power or the Spirit of God. However, some, who are labelled as “Binitarians” by Trinitarians, do not actually believe in the idea of one God in two distinct persons. Rather, they believe in the plurality of God in the Old Testament that is evidenced by the word “ELOHIM” and they believe Christ was only the speaker for the invisible God, who is the one true God.


  1. First Apology, Chapter 13
  2. See Wallace, “Greek Grammar the Personality of the Holy Spirit;” and “Prooftexting the personality of the Holy Spirit: an analysis of the masculine demonstrative pronouns in John 14:26, 15:26 and 16:13–14 by Andrew David Naselli and Philip R. Gons.
  3. It is very useful for the Greek, but less useful for the Hebrew. The New King James is likely a better version for the Old Testament.
  4. The Targum of Jonathan Ben Uzziel calls the Spirit of YHVH here “the Holy Spirit.”
  5. The oldest manuscripts omit the word “Holy.”
  6. Ibid. We’ve changed the word order to agree with the Greek.