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1 Corinthians 2:10-14 (ESV):

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

I've tried to look at this passage with a Biblical Unitarian lens but I'm having a hard time trying to make sense of it. I already asked a related question about how Biblical Unitarians deal in general with passages that give the impression that God and the Holy Spirit are different entities, but here I want to dig deeper into this particular passage that I find problematic.

If I understand correctly, Biblical Unitarians would apply the "God's nature" interpretation of the Holy Spirit to 1 Cor 2:10-14, which according to this source indicates a supernatural gift that God gives to His servants to empower them. However, I find issues with this view. First of all, I don't understand what they mean by "gift of God's nature". Do they mean like some sort of "unconscious spiritual substance" that empowers people somehow? Then how come that this unconscious substance searches everything, even the depths of God (verse 10) and comprehends the thoughts of God (verse 11)? Furthermore, verse 11 gives the impression that the Spirit of God is an intrinsic part of God, just like the spirit of a person is an intrinsic part of a person. In other words, the Spirit of God is a single Spirit that knows everything about God and is an intimate part of Him, not multiple unconscious fragmented parts of "God's nature" distributed among different individuals.

That said, I'm afraid that I'm probably misinterpreting the Biblical Unitarian view (or misinterpreting the passage, or both), so I would rather appreciate it if adherents of this doctrinal position would shed some light on how they make sense of this passage.

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  • thru a trinity lens, how/why would the Spirit (as a person, who IS God) search Himself? How ridiculous does that sound? It seems you are confusing the Holy Spirit (God) with the gift of His nature. If Jesus is God, why is he receiving the HS at baptism?
    – steveowen
    Mar 17 at 5:58
  • God is omnipresent and not “multiple unconscious fragmented parts”. This link might be helpful for you therealpresence.org/archives/God/God_031.htm. It is a discouragement to self interpret the bible because it is the word of God.
    – Kaylee A
    Mar 17 at 23:08
  • @spirit, did my answer your questions?
    – steveowen
    Mar 20 at 3:38
  • @user47952 - yes, it does. My excuses for the delay, I got distracted and completely forgot about the question. Mar 21 at 1:49
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When we read of the Spirit doing this or that, we should include all references to this 'feature' of God - is it a person, a force, a power, an influence or what?

We should begin with the bible and then use that revelation to compare other ideas against - not the other way around. (having an idea or tradition and looking for biblical support for it)

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

  • There is no reference to a person in this passage.
  • The analogy provided speaks of the 'spirit of man' and the 'Spirit of God' - neither push us in the direction of a separate 'person'. Is our spirit separate from who we are? Then by analogy of the text, neither is God's spirit separate from Him. (God is defined as the Father by Jesus himself)
  • We have several verses that speak of the spirit of truth or wisdom, spirit of Zerubbabel, spirit of Pul king of Assyria, spirit of glory, spirit of grace and supplication, spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire, spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood, spirit of despair - none of these are a separate 'person', but a means of expressing the quality God is imparting or inherent in the individual.

because I know that through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, my distress will turn out for my deliverance. Phil 1:19

We might ask what is the 'Spirit of Jesus Christ'? (Not who)

God is the great Provider. All good comes from Him. All truth, love, kindness, grace etc is His holy provision. Jesus, as the exalted son, has accomplished his mission by being subject to - a person? Or the power, influence, grace, love of God delivered via the spirit OF God into Jesus' heart and mind - into his emotions and intellect, his passion and logic.

It is this 'nature' that Jesus expressed consistently and perfectly (even against severe trial and temptation) that IS the 'Spirit of Jesus Christ'. Not a sperate person that told him what to do, but the presence and provision of God to enable his success.

The holy spirit is simply the expression of God that enables us to see with God's eyes and His mind the things of Godly life and relationship. Jesus also was given this spirit at baptism. Why? Was it just a token gesture for those watching? Was it just a confirmation for Jesus that his Father was with him? No, not such a trivial witness. Without this spirit OF the Father, he could not have succeeded in his mission of living without sin and heading to the cross in humble and gentle obedience to his Father's will, and suffer the humiliation of those (his own people) who hated and wanted him dead and those who killed him.

This same spirit of God that allowed him to submit his will to the Father's. Having his own will, which obviously differed from God's - brought about by trial and temptation, shows that another spirit was influencing him for pride and self-centred thinking leading to actions and/or potential sin. He resisted this by surrendering to the supplied influence for good. Jesus was not controlled by God, but willingly led by God.

This same 'Spirit of Jesus Christ' and Spirit of God that dwells in us as a gift in this life. (a deposit only - the full transformation will occur at our change to immortality)

who is a first instalment of our inheritance, in regard to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. Eph 1:14

who is from the Gr. ho meaning which, what or that - not who.

For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good purpose. Phil 2:13

Notice the influence to will and act - the thoughts and the works. This is exactly the same as the experience of Christ - God working in him to will and act for His glory.

The insistent translation of referring to the spirit as he, him, who etc is a bias forced by a traditional approach to the nature of God's spirit and not from the text. This has entrenched such a view of personhood that was never understood, expressed or taught by the apostles. It wasn't until the so-called 'church fathers' arrived that this teaching became commonplace and replaced the apostolic teaching that Jesus provided to them to begin the church with.

As the question correctly pondered, 'verse 11 gives the impression that the Spirit of God is an intrinsic part of God, just like the spirit of a person is an intrinsic part of a person'. There is no separate person the Holy Spirit (which has no name) but the very essence of God - who is invisible, spirit and needs to influence matter by His Holy nature - the spirit IS that expression and extension of God's being that may connect with created humanity and ALL His creation in ways yet to be comprehended.

With regard to the query about, 'searching the depths of God' etc. This can be readily understood as the believer is granted, through God's spirit dwelling in /with them, access to the innermost expression of who God is. His love, His grace etc, are not some mysterious secret, but are revealed into the believer so that they too may be an expression of God in their lives - as a son or daughter should be. Not that we have to somehow 'work out' what we are supposed to live like - this is placed within us by the presence of God in His spirit working with our spirit.

(To imagine that an omniscient 'God the Holy Spirit' person is searching out the depths of His omniscient Himself is rather absurd)

Without this holy spirit in us, God would make no sense at all to our default carnal nature full of deception and all the spirit of the 'world' which we (used to) live by. So His spirit 'searches out' God's ways and allows us to 'comprehend' a better way to live that is sacrificial and giving, rather than selfish and getting.

These considerations of the scriptures and the Holy Spirit are condensed from here - What is the HS and BU recognition of biblical revealed wisdom.

God has to counteract the negative, hateful, selfish, prideful spirit of the devil - not a sperate 'person' to the devil, but the way of evil which is not of God - for He alone is holy and those that are His are also made holy.

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  • If Jesus did not have the Spirit until his baptism (which as you say enabled him to live without sin), how then did he remain sinless up until that point? Mar 18 at 11:26
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    We do not know, apart from the fact that he was not of this world - his nature was of the Father from conception. (as John's was - filled with HS in the womb Luke 1:15) We know that he did nothing of himself but was given what to say and what to do. We know very little of Jesus early years. We do know that he was prepared to battle the devil with the Father's provision - not to guarantee victory - but to ensure it was possible. If Jesus was God, it would be a fait accompli and all rather pointless.
    – steveowen
    Mar 18 at 11:43
  • Did God the Father not know Jesus was going to succeed? Was victory not guaranteed? Were prophesies about Messiah's victory just guesses? Mar 19 at 12:24
  • Yes, He probably did. Jesus is the ‘word’ of God. God’s word doesn’t go out without accomplishing what it was sent to do. But Jesus still had choices and fervent prayers to accompany those choices. Why? Heb 5:7 because he needed to be saved from death- and he was!
    – steveowen
    Mar 19 at 20:23
  • That’s why Rom 6:9 explains he ‘was mastered by death’ while flesh, he was subject to the same penalties we are. How could he be subject if he could not sin? He could have, he didn’t. Big difference to, he was always God and victory was the end of a grand charade.
    – steveowen
    Mar 19 at 20:36

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