THE HOLY SPIRIT
Email us: [email protected]

 

 

According to the Watchtower Society's teaching, the Holy Spirit is not a "person" but is, instead, God's power; Jehovah's Witnesses frequently refer to it as His "active force":

There is a close connection between the holy spirit and the power of God. The holy spirit is the means by which Jehovah exerts his power. Put simply, the holy spirit is God’s applied power, or his active force. (The Watchtower, October 1, 2009, p.4-5).

No, the holy spirit is not a person and it is not part of a Trinity. The holy spirit is God’s active force that he uses to accomplish his will. It is not equal to God but is always at his disposition and subordinate to him. (Should You Believe in the Trinity?, 1989, p.23 )


The Jehovah's Witnesses aren't the only ones who teach that the Holy Spirit is not a "person", as this teaching is also found in other denominations such as: The Biblical Unitarians, the Iglesia Ni Cristo, United Church of God, Living Church of God, Christadelphians, Church of God Seventh Day, and the Assemblies of Yahweh, just to name a few.

 

WEIGHING BOTH SIDES

According to the Watchtower Society, the Holy Spirit cannot be a spiritual personage for the following reasons (underline ours):

...the Bible states that people can be filled with Holy Spirit, and then When God pours out his spirit upon his servants, they become “full of holy spirit,” or “filled with holy spirit.” Jesus, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, Barnabas, and the disciples who were gathered together on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E. are all described as being full of, or filled with, holy spirit.—Luke 1:15; 4:1; Acts 4:8; 9:17; 11:22, 24; 13:9.Consider this: Could a person be ‘poured out’ on many different individuals? Would you say that one person could ‘fill’ a whole group of people? That defies logic. The Bible does refer to people becoming filled with wisdom, understanding, or even accurate knowledge, but it never describes anyone as being filled with another person. (The Watchtower, October 1, 2009, p.5).

Further evidence against the idea of personality as regards the holy spirit is the way it is used in association with other impersonal things, such as water and fire (Mt 3:11; Mr 1:8); and Christians are spoken of as being baptized “in holy spirit.” (Ac 1:5; 11:16) Persons are urged to become “filled with spirit” instead of with wine. (Eph 5:18) So, too, persons are spoken of as being ‘filled’ with it along with such qualities as wisdom and faith (Ac 6:3, 5; 11:24) or joy (Ac 13:52); and holy spirit is inserted, or sandwiched in, with a number of such qualities at 2 Corinthians 6:6. It is most unlikely that such expressions would be made if the holy spirit were a divine person. (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol. 1, 1988, p.1020)

Far from teaching that the holy spirit is a person and a god equal to Jehovah, the Bible shows that it is simply the invisible active force of God. Jesus was to baptize “with holy spirit and fire,” just as John the Baptist was baptizing with water. (Luke 3:16) A person can baptize another with water or fire by submerging or immersing that one in water or flames, but how can an individual baptize someone with another person? Water and fire are not persons, and neither is the holy spirit. On Pentecost 33 C.E. the 120 disciples were “filled with holy spirit.” Obviously, they were not filled with a person. (Acts 1:5, 8; 2:4) In heaven Jesus had received holy spirit from Jehovah and he poured it out on his followers. The holy spirit was not a person being so treated, but was the active force of God. (The Watchtower, July 1, 1968, p.415)

In short, they are claiming that the Holy Spirit cannot be a "person" because a person cannot be poured out or fill people. In contrast, the Bible itself shows that this "pouring out" and "filling" is simply figurative language that can be used in connection with a person, as shown in the following Scriptures:

2 Timothy 4:6
[The apostle Paul is speaking] For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the due time for my releasing is imminent"

Psalms 22:14
[David is speaking] Like water I have been poured out..."

Ephesians 1:22-23
[Speaking of Jesus] (22) He also subjected all things under his feet, and made him head over all things to the congregation, (23) which is his body, the fullness of him who fills up all things in all.

And it goes even further than this. Even though the Watchtower Society denies the Holy Spirit is a person on the grounds that a person cannot fill another person, they simultaneously concur that Satan and his demons, who are viewed as spirit persons, can fill a person:

  • The Bible tells us that God is himself a spirit. In time he became the Creator of millions of other spirit beings, angelic sons... All the spirit persons that Jehovah created were righteous and in harmony with his will... But one of them developed a desire to grasp for himself the worship rightfully due the Creator. By rebelling against God, this angel made himself a satan (meaning “opposer”) and a devil (meaning “slanderer”)... other angels joined the rebellion against Jehovah’s sovereignty... Because of their disobedience, they were not allowed back into God’s family of righteous angels... they continued to exercise a ruinous influence in the affairs of humankind, under the authority of “the ruler of the demons,” Satan the Devil (The Watchtower, February 1, 1994, pp. 4-6)

    along with:

  • When Jesus was on earth, he proved that he was the Messiah, God’s Anointed One, by expelling the demons from possessed persons. This he did without special ritual or séance or any form of magic. He simply commanded the demons to come out, and they obeyed his voice. (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol. 2, p.1028) See also the following Scriptures: Matthew 8:28-32; Matthew 17:14-18; Luke 4:32-35; Luke 11:14; Act 16:16-18 . Note that these Scriptures state that the evil spirits were cast out, not cast off, indicating that these spirits do, indeed, enter into and fill people.

It is inconsistent to teach that the Holy Spirit's personage cannot fill someone while at the same time teaching the spirit personages of Satan and his demons can fill someone.

The Watchtower Society also claims that, since a person can be "baptized" in Holy Spirit (John 1:5), this further proves it to be a non-person because a person cannot be baptized in another person. The problem with this teaching is that the Scriptures actually do speak of true worshipers being figuratively baptized "in" other persons: Moses (1 Corinthians 10:1-2), and Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3, Galatians 3:27). If one can be "baptized" into Moses or Jesus Christ, then one can certainly be "baptized" in the Holy Spirit as well.

The Watchtower Society also teaches that, in Scripture, the Holy Spirit has only appeared in the form of a dove (Luke 3:21-22), and as fire (Acts 2:34), and never has appeared as a person:

Luke 3:21-22
(21) Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized and, as he was praying, the heaven was opened up (22) and the holy spirit in bodily shape like a dove came down upon him, and a voice came out of heaven...

Acts 2:34
(3) And tongues as if of fire became visible to them and were distributed about, and one sat upon each one of them, (4) and they all became filled with holy spirit and started to speak with different tongues, just as the spirit was granting them to make utterance.

Therefore, the Watchtower Society teaches that the Holy Spirit is not a spirit person, since it has only appeared in other forms. In contrast, the Bible shows that spirit persons do indeed appear in non-human forms, such as fire and winged creatures:

FIRE:

Exodus 3:2
Then Jehovah’s angel appeared to him in a flame of fire in the midst of a thornbush.

Exodus 13:21
And Jehovah was going ahead of them in the daytime in a pillar of cloud to lead them by the way, and in the nighttime in a pillar of fire to give them light to go in the daytime and nighttime.

Judges 13:20
So it came about that, as the flame ascended from off the altar heavenward, then Jehovah’s angel ascended in the flame of the altar while Manoah and his wife were looking on.

2 Kings 6:17
And Elisha began to pray and say: “O Jehovah, open his eyes, please, that he may see.” Immediately Jehovah opened the attendant’s eyes, so that he saw; and, look! the mountainous region was full of horses and war chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Hebrews 1:7
Also, with reference to the angels he says: “And he makes his angels spirits, and his public servants a flame of fire."

Revelation 10:1
And I saw another strong angel descending from heaven, arrayed with a cloud, and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as the sun, and his feet were as fiery pillars

WINGS:

Exodus 25:20
And the cherubs must be spreading out their two wings upward, screening over the cover with their wings, with their faces one toward the other. Toward the cover the faces of the cherubs should be.

2 Samuel 22:11
And he came riding upon a cherub and came flying; And he was visible upon the wings of a spirit.

1 Kings 6:27
Then he put the cherubs inside the inner house, so that they spread out the wings of the cherubs. Thus the wing of the one reached to the wall and the wing of the other cherub was reaching to the other wall; and their wings were toward the middle of the house, reaching wing to wing.

Psalms 18:10
And he came riding upon a cherub and came flying, And he came darting upon the wings of a spirit.

Isaiah 6:2
Seraphs were standing above him. Each one had six wings. With two he kept his face covered, and with two he kept his feet covered, and with two he would fly about

Ezekiel 1:6-24
And [each] one had four faces, and [each] one of them four wings... Their wings were joining one to the other... And their wings were spreading out upward... And over the heads of the living creatures there was the likeness of an expanse like the sparkle of awesome ice, stretched out over their heads up above. 23 And under the expanse their wings were straight, one to the other. Each one had two wings covering on this side and each one had two covering on that side their bodies. 24 And I got to hear the sound of their wings, a sound like that of vast waters, like the sound of the Almighty One, when they went, the sound of a tumult, like the sound of an encampment. When they stood still, they would let their wings down.

Ezekiel 10:5
And the very sound of the wings of the cherubs made itself heard to the outer courtyard, like the sound of God Almighty when he speaks.

The Watchtower Society also teaches that, unlike Jehovah, Jesus and the angels, the Holy Spirit doesn't have a personal name mentioned in Scripture, thus indicating it is a non-person. The problem with this reasoning is the fact that other spirit persons in the Scriptures likewise aren't mentioned by personal name. For example, who knows the name of the spirit who spoke to Jehovah at 1 Kings 22:21-22 ? Or the spirit who repeatedly bore Ezekiel along in a vision? (Ezekiel 3:12; 8:3; 11:1, 24; 43:5 ).Are these spirits to be reckoned as non-persons because they, too, are never named in Scripture?

Although the concept of the Holy Spirit can be a difficult thing to grasp, it is clear that the Watchtower Society's reasonings are flawed on all points.