Is the Holy Spirit a ghost? Is it a person? Is it one of three beings in a trinity?
Luke 1:35 defines it as “the power of the Highest.” The Holy Spirit is God’s power.
The Hebrew word for “spirit” in the Old Testament is ruwach and is defined in Strong’s Concordance as “wind; by resemblance breath, i.e. a sensible (or even violent) exhalation … air, anger, blast, breath.” When ruwach is not used in reference to God’s Spirit, it is used to mean breath, life, spirit in man, etc—all of which are powers, not distinct beings.
In the New Testament, the Greek word is pneuma. Strong’s defines it as “a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively a spirit.” Thayer’s Lexicon defines it as “a movement of air, (gentle) blast; the spirit, i.e. the vital principle by which the body is animated ….”
Although translators of the King James Version rendered these words as “ghost” in many scriptures, the Holy Spirit is not a ghost or a person, but an impersonal power.
Many people believe the Holy Spirit is part of a trinity. Much is made of the fact that in a number of places in modern translations the masculine pronoun he is used in connection with the Holy Spirit. But not always—sometimes the Holy Spirit is referred to as it in these very same translations. For example, the passage describing the first coming of the Holy Spirit for the founding of the Church of God on that memorable day of Pentecost uses “it.” At the same time, there is no biblical reference to the Holy Spirit as a third member of the Godhead. You can read more from the Bible regarding the trinity doctrine in our article “Is God a Trinity?”
It was by this power that God renewed the face of the Earth in Genesis 1:2-25 (Psalm 104:30). It was by this power that God made man (Genesis 1:26-31; Job 33:4).
Jesus Christ’s life was filled with this supernatural power. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, He performed mighty miracles (Acts 2:22). He healed the sick. He cast out demons, and He had discernment to know when a person was demon-possessed. He turned water into wine and stilled the storm. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus kept God’s laws—the Ten Commandments—perfectly! (1 Peter 2:21-22).
Jesus possessed tremendous power, but He said: “I can of mine own self do nothing”! (John 5:30). Few realize that His miracles and obedience were not done by any supernatural power of His own. They were done through the power of the Father! Jesus explained: “The father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works”! (John 14:10). The Father dwelled in Him through the Holy Spirit.
This Spirit resides in both the Father and the Son and makes it natural for them to live by the law of love.
Many scriptures clearly show that God makes this power available to you.
Jesus Christ came to herald the glorious coming of the Holy Spirit. He said: “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the spirit, which they that believe on him should receive” (John 7:38-39).
Acts 2 records the first Pentecost holy day that the disciples kept after Jesus Christ was resurrected and ascended to His Father. God gave the Holy Spirit to the disciples on that day, in an awesome display of power. A rushing mighty wind was heard, flames of fire became visible, and all that were gathered near heard the disciples speaking in their own language (Acts 2:2-12).
You were not born with the Holy Spirit. It is something you must receive from God (verse 38). It is by this power that individuals are baptized, in a true baptism (Matthew 3:11; John 1:33)—after which the Spirit actually dwells in that individual (Acts 2:38; Ezekiel 36:27; Acts 4:8, 31). God will give His Spirit to those who ask (Luke 11:13) and those who obey (Acts 5:32). God reveals His secrets to us through the Holy Spirit (Luke 2:26) and brings the truth to our remembrance through the power of His Spirit (John 14:26).
Anciently, when God gave His law to the nation of Israel, mankind received specific instruction on how to obey God; when He gave the Holy Spirit, true Christians received the awesome power necessary to obey as Jesus Christ did. The Holy Spirit is a miracle-working power that we must have within us.
God did not give His Spirit to replace His commands—far from it! The Holy Spirit enables us to keep the Ten Commandments, and not merely in the letter-of-the-law way that ancient Israel tried to do. Jesus Christ magnified these commands for us and then gave us the power—His power—to obey! We need the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit from the Father to fulfill His royal law.
Since man was made of matter and is mortal—having only a temporary physical life maintained by eating food, drinking water, breathing air, and the circulation of blood, wherein is the only “life” he possesses—God’s Holy Spirit alone can impart eternal life!
The Apostle Peter clearly defined the way to receive this spirit of power: “Repent, and be baptized … and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
To study more deeply into what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit, read Chapter 2 of our booklet God Is a Family, “The Holy Spirit Is the Power of God” (available to read or order at theTrumpet.com).