3

John 14:26 (NRSV):

26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

My impression as I read this verse is that three distinct persons are identified, but I could very well be wrong. In the pursuit of having a well-rounded and unbiased view of this passage, I would like to get acquainted with the non-trinitarian perspective on it. Do non-trinitarians also identify three distinct persons being mentioned in John 14:26, and if so, how do they make sense of that?

14
  • 2
    Again, there are several forms of non-trinitarians. Modalists simply see the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as different "modes" of the one person. Arians interpret the Holy Spirit as the divine influence of either the Father or the Son, similar to Binitarians.
    – Dottard
    Feb 14 at 4:21
  • 2
    @user47952 The 'whom' refers to 'Advocate', clearly a person, since an advocate acts on behalf of another person, and must, therefore, be a person themselves in order to carry out the advocacy.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 14 at 11:12
  • 1
    @NigelJ Correct. The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus at Baptism and He became the Advocate, after His Redemptive mission was over, He commended it to return to the Father. And when Jesus ascended, His first act of mediation is to send it at the Upper Room. This time the Holy Spirit dwells perfectly, completely & mystically in Mary to become the "another Advocate". Feb 14 at 12:23
  • 2
    @jongricafort Can you demonstrate from Scripture that only Mary received the HS in the upper room? Feb 14 at 13:55
  • 1
    @jongricafort - if Catholics are non-trinitarians, then go ahead Feb 14 at 14:08
2

One thing to remember when translating is that the original Greek didn't use upper and lower case or punctuation, and that (like French and Spanish) nouns have gender, so the word for "it" is the same as the words for "she" and "he". (French has "il" and "elle" for "he" and "she", but no word for "it".)

So the first part of this verse could have been translated as "But the helper, the holy spirit, …".

Most translations are made by people that either believe in, or accept for translation purposes, the doctrine of the Trinity. So it is natural for them to treat the words as referring to a person and capitalize them.

If the verse instead said:

But the helper, the holy spirit, which the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

there is no reason (other than doctrinal eisegesis) to treat the sentence any differently than:

But the Bible, the Holy Book, which the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

Most Christians would accept that sentence as true, without ever thinking that "Bible" and "Holy Book" are meant to refer to a person. It's only when one is already aware of the Trinity doctrine that the other interpretation arises.

To those that have no reason to believe that "holy spirit" refers to a specific person, God's holy spirit is literally that: the spiritual power through which God works. It has no more individual personality than does air or water.

Christians receive some of this spirit at baptism, and combined with their own human spirit it provides them with intimate contact with God.

The Power of the Holy Spirit | United Church of God is an example of this doctrine.

16
  • @4castle, right. I totally failed to see that. Thanks. Feb 14 at 20:23
  • The example "But the Bible, the Holy Book" does not in anyway, can be compare to the Holy Spirit..Bible is a non living thing...one cannot blaspheme a bible, the bible cannot be grieve, it has no feelings. Feb 14 at 22:28
  • @jongricafort, I suspect you are a Trinitarian, and you are letting that belief influence your reasoning. Is the holy spirit alive? Feb 14 at 22:37
  • More than alive. The Holy Spirit is the giver of life itself. Genesis2:7 Feb 14 at 22:50
  • @jongricafort, Genesis 2:7 says "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.". Even if the holy spirit is the giver of life, it doesn't follow that it is itself alive. And unless one already believes in the Trinity, there is nothing there that even hints or implies that there is a "Holy Spirit" that is a member of the godhead, much less that this spirit is itself alive. ¶ On this site, only the textual evidence is supposed to be used, not additional knowledge based on doctrine. Feb 15 at 0:57
0

There are several forms of non-trinitarianism, I can only comment on LDS doctrine.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teaches a Godhead comprised of three distinct persons (or beings since persons is an overloaded term in trinitiarian doctrine) working together as one. So for LDS, this scripture is simply interpreted as that - the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father in Jesus name. Nothing mysterious going on, just emphasizing the unanimity/oneness of the Godhead. Sent by the Father, but acts on behalf of Jesus (just like Jesus acts on behalf of the Father).

5
  • 1
    What you just said sounds pretty much like trinitarianism. How is this a non-trinitarian perspective? Feb 14 at 14:27
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator good question
    – Kris
    Feb 14 at 19:01
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator It's non-trinitarian because the trinity is ONE being but three persons, whereas here they are explicitely distinct beings. No "three persons but actually just one essence" mumbojumbo. Father, Son and Holy Ghost, each an individual. Enough non-trinitarian that trinitarian don't see this as trinitiarian. If you want familiar terms, it is similar to, but not the same as, Arianism.
    – kutschkem
    Feb 15 at 7:11
  • The problem is with the use of the word "Trinitarian" in the question. My interpretation of the word is that the OP loosely uses it to mean the belief that the godhead contains a third person, usually known as the Holy Spirit. This answer's interpretation is that it means the specific Roman Catholic doctrine that not only are there 3 persons, but they also constitute a single being. Mar 17 at 15:50
  • @RayButterworth Ok I wasn't aware that non-trinitarian meant something different than "not the catholic trinity". If that is the case, then I agree my answer is off-topic.
    – kutschkem
    Mar 18 at 7:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.