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What Holy Spirit Really Is

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What is the Holy Spirit? This question is on the minds and lips of many good people. There are a lot of contradicting answers out there too. Everyone seems to have their own opinion as to who or what the holy spirit is. Is it a being, is it God himself or is it a thing, like a force?

This bible study article is an in-depth bible study to answer this tough question once and for all. This is a long article (parts 1 and 2) but please read both all the way through. You’ll be blessed with the info, I promise!

What Exactly is Holy Spirit?

God is great. He blessed me really big with this teaching. I have to admit, I have a deep interest in the subject of holy spirit. Through reading, study and research I’ve come to know what holy spirit does, but not exactly what holy spirit is. Up until recently I only knew that God is a spirit and that He is holy.

I knew that holy spirit is also a gift from God; it allows you the opportunity to dispense supernatural powers as God wills and directs. Holy spirit bears fruit in your life as you use it, and God placed holy spirit on people in the OT and in people in the NT.

I searched English translations of the bible for proof text but nothing was coming clearly into view on what exactly holy spirit is.

However the answer was right there in front of me the whole time! The problem is that there is a breakdown in understanding due to translational errors. And there are a lot of them.

Another problem is that sometimes words lose their full meaning and impact in a translation into another language, even when they are translated correctly. Sometimes one word in Greek might mean a whole sentence in English but is only translated as one or two words.

Let’s roll up our sleeves and get into it

I want to be very clear on these two points:

1) That there two holy spirits referenced in the bible. There is God. He is spirit and He is holy therefore He is a holy spirit. Not just A holy spirit, but THE Holy Spirit. There are times where The Holy Spirit is mentioned and it is referring to an individual, to God Himself. Like in Matthew 12:31 “And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”

2) When the bible speaks of holy spirit, without an article; meaning the word “the”, as in “holy spirit shall come upon you”, then it is not referring to God or to a specific separate individual, but to something else. And I say something else, not someone else, because this holy spirit is a what, not a who. And we’ll be looking at some of those verses in a few minutes.

So to be clear:

There is a Holy Spirit “Who”, it’s God himself, not someone else. Not the 3rd person in a mythical "trinity". It's just God himself.

And there is a holy spirit “What”. This holy sprit “what” in point #2 is precisely what we will be discussing in greater detail today.

God’s holy spirit (what), and the fruit thereof, is a most amazing and valuable gift to us and it behooves us as God’s children to properly understand it. Bible students who are not familiar with the original languages can only do this when the Greek and Hebrew texts are properly translated into their own language.

If the translation is not accurate, then we do not have the Word of God, we have something close to it that is open to error and misunderstanding. Translating scripture is one of the most important of all spiritual responsibilities, because millions of people who do not read the original languages trust the translators to accurately represent the original.

When it comes to the subject of God’s gift of holy spirit, BILLIONS of Christians have been confused and misled by the improper use of articles such as “the” and pronouns “he”, “who” or “whom”. In many places in the Greek text there are no articles or pronouns preceding the words “holy spirit”. Those were added later by well meaning however confused or misguided translators.

These added words must be omitted in order to maintain the integrity of God’s word and to properly interpret what the bible is saying. When the pronouns associated with the Greek word “pneuma”, meaning spirit are translated correctly, it is much easier to see that the gift of holy spirit is just that; a wonderful gift, a thing and certainly not a separate individual, person or being.

Greek Words for Holy Spirit: Pneuma Hagion

Let’s take a look at the translations of holy spirit from the Greek “pneuma hagion”.

The Greek word pneuma comes from the root verb form pneo. Pneo means I blow, to blow, breathe or blowing wind. Basically it denotes some type of air movement regardless of its source. Its usage is commonly a current of air, a breath or a breeze.


Pneuma is a noun that means wind, breath or spirit. It can be used in a sentence literally, figuratively, by analogy or metaphorically.

Metaphorically is the way in which pneuma is used in scripture in order to convey a physical representation of a spiritual concept. The definition of Metaphorical is a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance, as in “A mighty fortress is our god.”


Hagion is the word translated as “holy”. Hagion is an adjective. It literally means set apart by (or for) God, holy, sacred. The fundamental core meaning of hágion is "different" – thus a temple in the 1st century was hagios ("holy") because it was different from other buildings as it was set apart for God.

Get it? One word in Greek, long meaning in English. Since pneuma is “breath” and holy means “of God” then pneuma hagion (holy spirit) can literally be translated “The breath of God”.
Holy Spirit Verses

Holy spirit, this breath of God, also known in the bible as the spirit of God, is mentioned all though out the bible. When we group them together we clearly see that holy spirit is something from God and it fills men.

Bible Verses where Holy Spirit is a "What, not a "Who"

Exodus 31:3 "And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship."

Psalm 51:11 "Cast me not away from thy face; and take not thy holy spirit from me."

Isaiah 63:11 “Where is He (God) who put His Holy Spirit within them"

Daniel 4:18 "but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you."

Joel 2:28 "It shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh"

Matthew 10:19 "But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, BUT THE SPIRIT OF YOUR FATHER who speaks in you."

Luke 4:1 "And Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led the by the spirit into the desert"

John 4:24 "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

Romans 8:11 "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you."

1 Corinthians 3:16 "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"

Those verses we just read are fairly straight forward about holy spirit being a what.

God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, and it is the Spirit of God the Father that is inside believers. There is no need to complicate things beyond what the bible says.

However there are some other scriptures that aren’t as clear. They tend to be frequently misunderstood by large groups of people. Because of poor translations these people are erroneously led to believe that holy spirit is a “who”, not a “what”.

Oddly, those that believe holy spirit is a who tend to focus only on the poorly translated verses that seem in English to support their claim while completely ignoring all the other clear verses that prove otherwise. That’s a big No-No.

We are to be workmen of God’s word and diligently search out answers to apparent contradictions. Not ignore or even throw out verses we don’t think fit into our personal theology. The word says what it means and means what it says!

Continue Reading Part 2: Tough Bible Verses on What Holy Spirit Is

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