Holy Spirit, a mere active force?

Note: Much of the quotations sited below are sourced from the following websites (4witness, JWonline, bible.ca). Please note that we may not agree completely with every view presented in these sites.

[Watchtower's Reasoning from the Scriptures page 380 says that "A comparison of Bible texts that refer to the holy spirit shows that it is spoken of as ‘filling' people; they can be ‘baptized' with it; and they can be anointed with it... None of these expressions would be appropriate if the holy spirit were a person." Therefore the Holy Spirit is nothing more than an impersonal, invisible, active force. In fact the spirit can be considered to be like electricity.]

It is true that the Holy Spirit is ‘invisible' and is a ‘force', but that does not prevent him from having intelligence, self awareness, will and other personal characteristics; things which no impersonal force such as electricity could possess. Angels are also invisible forces. Are they also impersonal?

["John the Baptizer said that Jesus would baptize with holy spirit, even as John had been baptizing with water. Hence, in the same way that water is not a person, holy spirit is not a person." ]

Galatians 3:27 "For all of YOU who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ."

Since people can be baptized into Christ and clothed with Christ, does this prove that Jesus must not be a person?

[But what about when it says that the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples? How could a person be poured out?]

Philippians 2:17 "Notwithstanding, even if I am being poured out like a drink offering..."

If the pouring out of the Holy Spirit was evidence against his personality, then Paul would not be a person either because he is said to be poured out.

[What about the filling of the Spirit? How could the Holy Spirit fill about 120 disciples if the Spirit is a person?]

Ephesians 1:23 “which is his body, the fullness of him who fills up all things in all."

Who is the "him" who fills up all things? That has to be Jehovah God. So it is Jehovah God who is the one who fills up all things. Is this "him" who fills all the disciples not a divine person? And isn't this divine person said to have personal characteristics?

[Often the Bible will personify a non-living thing. Just because something is personified doesn't mean that it is a person, and ‘wisdom' is given as an illustration. Holy spirit is personified but it is not a person.]

Doesn't the Society teach that wisdom personified is not an impersonal thing but is the person of Jesus? So how can wisdom personified be an impersonal thing elsewhere? Sounds like double talk to me.

[The Society says in the Awake! December 8, 1973 magazine, "Is the Devil a personification or a person?...these accounts relate to conversations between the Devil and God, and between the Devil and Jesus Christ. Both Jehovah God and Jesus Christ are persons. Can an unintelligent ‘force' carry on a conversation with a person? Also, the Bible calls Satan a manslayer, a liar, a father..and a ruler..only an intelligent person could fit all those descriptions."]

Acts 8:29 “the Spirit said to Philip.."

Using the Watchtower's reasoning, could an unintelligent ‘force' carry on a conversation with a person? The Holy Spirit even calls himself ‘me' in Acts 13:2. The Holy Spirit is also said to be a comforter, a helper, a teacher, a guide, one who speaks and hears, all of which clearly shows that he is an intelligent person. And he can be lied to. Have a look at Acts 5:3, 4. No impersonal force an be lied to and the holy spirit is also called God in this passage.

[But why would the Bible use a neuter term for Holy Spirit if the Holy Spirit is a person? If the Holy Spirit was in the masculine, you would have a point. But God deliberately chose to use a neuter gender word to show us the Holy Spirit is a thing not a person. ]

In the New Testament a neuter term is commonly used of children, unclean spirits and even angels. The neuter term does not repudiate their being persons. NWT even calls Jesus an "it". Does that mean that Jesus is not a person?

Infants (Lk 1:41,44; 2:16; 18:15) and children (Mk 5:39-41) are also neuter in the Greek in exactly the same way Holy Spirit is neuter gender. Girl is a neuter noun in Mt 9:24, 25; Mk 5:41, 42. Angels are neuter pneuma " IT " spirits in Heb 1:14; Demons are neuter pneuma " IT " spirits over 45 times in scripture. The word "Spirit" is feminine in Genesis 1:2: "the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters". A masculine pronoun ("He" Greek: ekeinos, literal "that One") is applied to the Holy Spirit throughout the New Testament despite the fact that "Spirit" (Greek: pneuma) is neuter. Is God trying to confuse us? Or is God taking special steps to make sure we understand the Holy Spirit is a person? The word spirit is frequently "neuter gender" when it refers to the Father in Jn 4:24, to Jesus in 1Cor 15:45, to baby Jesus, in Mt 2:8, 11, 13, 14, 19-21.

Matthew 2:13 "Jehovah's angel appeared in a dream to Joseph, saying: ‘Get up, take the young child and its mother and flee into Egypt, and stay there until I give you word; for Herod is about to search for the young child to destroy it."

The neuter term is used for child and the Watchtower translates that "it". Is Jesus an "it"? Is Jesus not a person?

[The Holy Spirit is directly called the power of God in Luke 1:35. Therefore he is not a person.]

1 Cor 1:24 “however, to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God”.

Christ is no more mere power in 1 Cor 1:24 than the Holy Spirit is mere power in Luke 1:35.

[Just before being stoned to death, the martyr Stephen "gazed into heaven and caught sight of God's glory and of Jesus standing at God's right hand." (Acts 7:55) Clearly, he saw two separate individuals—but no holy spirit. Therefore Holy Spirit is not a person and no Godhead?]

I am going to Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ home to study the Bible.” That would lead you to think that there were three people who lived there. Later I mention that I went to Lazarus’ home and I saw Lazarus and Mary. Does that mean that Martha do not exist? This is just a brief report of what happened. Spirit has been already identified as a person who “pleads with God” just like the person Jesus Christ (Rom 8:34 cf.27).

[“...regarding Samson, Judges 14:6 relates: ‘The spirit of Yahweh seized on him....’ …Did a divine person actually enter or seize Samson, manipulating his body to do what he did? No....Acts 2:1-4 relates that the disciples were assembled together at Pentecost when....‘they all became filled with holy spirit.…’ …People are urged to become filled with holy spirit instead of with wine. (Ephesians 5:18)…Such expressions would not be so common if the holy spirit were actually a person.”—Should You Believe in the Trinity?, pp. 21-22 ]

Is this a viable argument? The following passage says otherwise:

“But as he got out onto land a certain man from the city who had demons met him...28 At the sight of Jesus he cried aloud and fell down before him, and with a loud voice he said: “What have I to do with you, Jesus Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” 29 (For he had been ordering the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For over a long time it had held him fast, and he was repeatedly bound with chains and fetters under guard, but he would burst the bonds and be driven by the demon into the lonely places.) 30 Jesus asked him: “What is your name?” He said: “Legion,” because many demons had entered into him. .”—Luke 8:27-30

If being seized and being filled with the Spirit indicate no personality, the same will have to be applied to demons.

[“In the Scriptures it is not unusual for something to be personified. Wisdom is said to have children. (Luke 7:35) Sin and death are called kings. (Romans 5:14, 21)…But, of course, sin is not a spirit person; nor does personifying the holy spirit make it a spirit person. Similarly, at 1 John 5:6-8 (NE) not only the spirit but also ‘the water, and the blood’ are said to be ‘witnesses.’ But water and blood are obviously not persons, and neither is the holy spirit a person.…At Matthew 28:19 reference is made to ‘the name...of the holy spirit.’ But the word ‘name’ does not always mean a personal name.…Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament says: ‘The use of name (onoma) here is a common one in the Septuagint and the papyri for power or authority.’ ” —Should You Believe in the Trinity?, pp. 21-22 ]

Wisdom is personified only once in the entire New Testament. Also, sin is personified just five times, and death six times, on the other hand, the Holy Spirit is personified in excess of one hundred times. There is positively no valid parallel between the way in which the New Testament writers spoke of the Holy Spirit and their sporadic personification of utterly abstract things.

[Holy Spirit is not a person because he is associated with impersonal objects]

This is another argument that is not credible for Scripture also associates Jesus with impersonal objects such as the following:

DOOR (John 10:9) VINE (John 15:1) ROCK (1 Cor. 10:4) STONE (1 Peter 2:6-8)BREAD (John 6:41) TRUTH (John 14:6) LIGHT (John 8:12) WORD (John 1:1)

[JW state that ‘the word “name” does not always mean a personal name, either in Greek or in English,’ and the example is the expression ‘in the name of the law’ (p. 22). ]

The Greek word for ‘name’ (onoma) is used some 228 times in the New Testament, and except for four places-names (Mark 14:32; Luke 1:26; 24:13; Acts 28:7; see also Rev. 3:12) always refers to persons. Reading the modern idiom ‘in the name of the law’ back into Matthew 28:19 is simply anachronistic. Second, the booklet quotes A.T. Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament as saying that the word name is used ‘for power and authority.’ That is true, of course, but it stands for the power or authority of someone, never some impersonal force. An impersonal force cannot have authority; only a person can.

[“JESUS spoke of the holy spirit as a ‘helper,’ and he said it would teach, guide, and speak. (John 14:16, 26; 16:13)...On the other hand, when the neuter Greek word for spirit (pneu’ma) is used, the neuter pronoun ‘it’ is properly employed.”—Should You Believe in the Trinity?, p. 22]

In the very chapter to which the Watchtower article makes reference, namely John 16:13-14, there are three strikingly clear instances where the masculine personal pronoun is used in connection with the neuter word ‘Spirit.’”. In other words, the apostle John broke Greek grammar rules when he wrote John 16:13-14, because he used the personal pronoun “he” in reference to the neuter gender noun “Spirit.” How is that for indicating personality!

The primary reason the Jehovah’s Witnesses say the Holy Spirit is an ‘active force’ is that the Greek word for ‘Spirit’ (pneuma) is neuter. However, as noted above, this is faulty reasoning, since the gender of the word has to do with the grammatical form of the word and not actual physical gender. For example, one will find that in Scripture, neuter terms are used in reference to infants (Luke 1:41,44; 2:16; 18:15), children (Mark 5:39-41), girls (Matthew 9:24,25; Mark 5:41,42), unclean spirits (Matthew 12:24,27,28; Mark 7:26,29,30), and angels (Hebrews 1:14). Obviously, each of these beings have personality, even though a neuter term is used in reference to them. We can safely conclude, then, that the use of a neuter term does not indicate a lack of personality.