In the bible study titled “What is the Holy Spirit?” we showed that “The Holy Spirit” refers to God himself because He is holy and He is spirit. And we know that “holy spirit” pneuma hagion in Greek, when not preceded by an article or pronoun is better translated as sacred wind or breath of God.
Therefore by the rules of language alone the bible does not teach that holy spirit is always a “who”; as in a person or being. In certain passages holy spirit is a “What”. In this bible study lesson on bible verses about the Holy Spirit we will go deeper into detail about what exactly the holy spirit is when not preceded by the article “the”.
Let’s be very careful that we DO NOT read more into scripture than what is really there. If the bible scripture says sacred wind then it means sacred wind. Not some mysterious un-named individual who is separate from God but also God himself. It does not say that. And besides, that makes no sense at all.
The bible is SUPPOSED to make sense. It’s our guide to life and godliness.
What good is it to us if it's a mystery that doesn't make sense?
When reading the bible we are faced with the need to properly interpret what it is saying. It’s very important to read what it says and truly understand what it means… not just what you WANT it to mean. We are not to look at it from our own perspective giving it our own private interpretation of what we think it means.
II Peter 1:20 states, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.”
“Private” means “one’s own”. We are not supposed to read it and try to figure out what we think it says, or ask around what other people think; or worse yet, try to twist it into what we want it to say. It means what the author (God) meant it to mean. He says what He means… and He means what He says!
Too many Christians come to the bible with a pre-conceived notion of what they believe and then they view scripture in the light of their own private beliefs. You know what? That’s just human nature. We all do that with everything to some extent. It’s the way we experience the world around us and form personal opinions.
But as workmen of God’s word we MUST get past that. We MUST approach the word as an impartial judge.
Just like attorneys will go head to head for hours arguing over their interpretation of the law but it is the job of a righteous and impartial magistrate to make the final call. As it is written in 1 Cor 6:3, “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” How then can you hope to someday answer that higher calling if you are not rightly dividing, rightly understanding the word of truth now?
So then logically the question arises, “How are we supposed to rightly interpret the bible if we can not use our own private opinionated interpretation based on our own knowledge and experience?”
Easy. Let the bible interpret itself – God already has it all figured out for us.
Since the bible is perfect in its communication, then it cannot be confusing or contradict itself. Any confusion or apparent contradictions are due to translational errors and/or lack of our own understanding in the ways the bible interprets itself.
The bible will interpret itself (bring out the meaning) in one or more of five ways:
- In the Verse.
- In its Context through Narrative Development; that which is written immediately before of after the verse. Context can also be the set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event or situation.
- Where it is Was Used Before. Verses must be in harmony with other verses on the same subject.
- The Time in Which it Was Written. This can also include figures of speech common during the time but either not in use now or misunderstood. Remember that the bible spans 7 different administrations covering over 6,000 years.
- To Whom it Was Written. (Closely related to the time it was written.)
Being workman of God’s Word, ever searching the scriptures, endeavoring at all time to completely, righteously and to the very best of our limited ability understand the Word of Truth, we dig deep into language, translations and culture to get at the root core of what scripture really says and what it really means.
VERSES WHERE THE HOLY SPIRIT “WHO” is GOD HIMSELF
Like we covered in the teaching “What is the Holy Spirit”, there are verses in the bible where the text reads THE Holy Spirit, this is referring to a “who”. That “who” is God himself, not another separate individual. Many of the following verses frequently confuse God with his gift of holy spirit and therefore people think holy spirit is another being separate from God.
VERSE: Acts 13:2. Certain misguided groups assert that The Holy Spirit is portrayed as a being with an identity different than both the Father and the Son because He is identified as "I"
Correct Interpretation: Acts 13:2. “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." (NIV)
Greek text reads, “to pneuma to ahion” directly translated as “the spirit the holy” meaning a very emphatic: The Holy Spirit; so it was God himself who said “to which I [God] have called them” This one is interpreted right there in the verse.
VERSE: Acts 5:3. Some say the Holy Spirit can be lied to, therefore it is a person. Because Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit?”
This one is interpreted in the verse. Once again the Greek text reads, “to pneuma to ahion” directly translated as “the spirit the holy” meaning The Holy Spirit; God himself. And it further interprets itself again in the context of the following verse, Verse 4 says “You have not lied unto men, but unto God”. This verse is clearly interpreted right there in the verse and further clarified in the very next verse.
VERSE: Acts 15:28. The Holy Spirit helped to settle questions during the Church Council at Jerusalem. Acts 15:28 says, “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;”
Correct Interpretation: the Greek text reads, “to pneuma to ahion” translated as “the spirit the holy” meaning The Holy Spirit; God himself. “For it seemed good to [God], and to us…”
Are you beginning to see a pattern here? There are dozens more just like these but I think you’re all getting the point that wherever “to pneuma to ahion” is read in the Greek there is no misunderstanding. Okay now so let’s move on-
VERSES WHERE HOLY SPIRIT is a “WHAT":
THE BREATH OF GOD, HIS ESSENCE, A GIFT
Remember that the Greek word “hagion” mean holy, sanctified, set apart for God (or of) God. “Pneuma” means wind, breath; it’s a current of air regardless of the source. Let’s not read more into scripture than what is really there.
VERE: Romans 8:26. Does the Holy Spirit have intelligence and a will because he helps our infirmities? The NIV reads, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us….”
The KJV reads, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us…”
Correct Interpretation: What’s in a word, right? Everything! Every word is important! This one simple translational error just like all the others makes really big waves. The Greek word “autos” is the word translated here as “himself” and “itself” respectively.
So which one is it?
The Definition of autos is: he, she, it, they, them, same. The usage of which depends on the context of the sentence. What is the subject that this word “autos” is referring to? Spirit, Pneuma. Pneuma means wind or breath of God. Remember let’s not read more into what is there. Wind is a “what” not a “who” so therefore the proper translation of “autos” in the context of this sentence is “itself”.
Another good translation would read “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the same Spirit maketh intercession for us…”
VERSE: 1 Corinthians 12:8-11. The Holy Spirit dispenses gifts to different individuals according as He wills because 1 Corinthians 12:8-11 says, “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom…” Only a person can do that, right?
Correct Interpretation: This verse is actually interpreted in the preceding verse, which many people who think holy spirit is always a “who” tend to ignore because they are either not researching bible scripture to its fullest extent or they have an arrogant heart only seeing what they want to see.
1 Corinthians 12:7 says, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” Then in verse 8 it goes on to say, “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;”
What is the subject of verse 7? The subject is the manifestation of the spirit. This further fits with scripture because “by the spirit” is a bit thin of a translation. “By the spirit” is better translated as “through the spirit” of “by way of the spirit” or even “because of the spirit”. Remember spirit is wind. Think wind in sails. You can’t see the wind, but you can see and feel the manifestation of the wind on your skin and when it fills a sail and when it moves a boat. It is therefore a “what” and not a “who”.
VERSE: Titus 3:5. The Holy Spirit is the source of regeneration and renewal for salvation acting under its own will. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he [God] saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (KJV)
Correct Interpretation: Greek words used are “pneumatos agion”. There is no word “of” and no article “to” the Greek word for an emphatic “the” preceding “pneumatos agion” As in to pneuma to hagion – the spirit the holy. It’s just spirit holy – what we translate as holy spirit; sacred wind.
To put it lightly into other words, like a breath of fresh air. To be more accurate it’s like a wind from God that blows away dust, dirt and debris, from the inside out thus thoroughly cleaning, refreshing and renewing something (or in this spiritually figurative case) someone.
All these verses, when read in the Greek show plainly and conclusively that pneuma hagion without the article “the” is a “what”. It is a sacred wind, the breath of God. When the Greek text reads “the spirit the holy” it is emphatically referring to God himself directly; a “who”.
Why do people have problems understanding holy spirit? Two probable reasons:
- Because they only read it in English and miss the fullness of the translation. Not fully researching scripture is incomplete workmanship. As it says in 2 Tim 2:15 we are encouraged to be proud workman of God’s word.
- Because the things of God are spiritually discerned. Maybe some people don’t get it simply because they are not born again – Or maybe they are born again but not “tuned in” to the spirit. They are caught up in their own head through ego and arrogance instead of listening to the spirit speaking softly to their heart.
As God figuratively lives and breathes, this life force and breathing is His holy spirit, pneuma hagion, literally the breath of God. Wind and breath are used by God as an analogy so we can understand a spiritual concept in the physical world.
As your breath carries life so does His. As your breath carries words, so does His. As your breath carries knowledge, likewise does God’s.
Holy Spirit is conceptual. Just like your essence can be translated and absorbed by another, your thoughts, your feelings, that which is you can be interpreted, felt and understood by another, so is the same for God. Holy spirit is God’s essence.
I’m going to leave you with this final question:
For those of you who think or once thought that Holy Spirit is a person, someone who is a very prominent and very important individual in the bible, maybe even the 3rd person of the trinity... Have you ever wondered why he does not have a name? Other important figures like God, Jesus and angels have names. Gabriel, Michael, and even Lucifer are named. Why does the Holy Spirit not have a name? For someone who thinks that holy spirit is a person (being or entity, or whatever you want to call it), this question is tough, if not entirely impossible to answer.
But it’s easy to answer when you understand that holy spirit is a “what” and THE Holy Spirit is referring to a “who”, meaning God himself. Now all scripture concerning the holy spirit fits neatly together and makes perfect sense, just as God intended. As diligent workman of the word we must pay attention to the details in the bible. We need to clearly understand what was written in the languages it is translated from using the earliest manuscripts available.
2 Peter 1:20 says, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” Therefore let the bible interpret itself:
- In the Verse.
- In the Context
- Where it is Was Used Before
- In the Time in Which it Was Written
- And To Whom it Was Written
We CAN NOT add to scripture or read more into what is written.
We CAN NOT twist it into what ever we want it to be, even if it conflicts with our personal opinions and our lifestyles.
We have to accept God’s Word at face value. It says what it means, and it means what it says! And that is good enough for me. I hope it is for you too. God bless you!
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About Minister Daniel Sweet:
Daniel Sweet is the President and founder of God's Word First Int'l . He is an ordained minister, biblical healing scholar, teacher of the holy spirit and an expert author on the subject of Leadership.
He and his wife, Debbra Sweet have overseen the growth and development of multiple in home fellowships and have been instrumental in helping many people come to the knowledge and truth of God’s Word.