Someone already asked a question seeking the biblical basis for the personhood of the Holy Spirit, but it seems that no one has asked a question yet seeking the opposite. Thus, in order to fill this gap, I ask:

What is the biblical basis against the personhood of the Holy Spirit?

  • Are there particular denominations that believe this? I think this is an interesting question, but could be stronger if it cited a particular set of Christians that hold this view.
    – Korosia
    Commented Apr 16, 2021 at 14:54
  • @Korosia - Biblical Unitarians and Jehovah's Witnesses embrace this position as far as I'm aware. See the pneumatology subheading in this detailed answer: christianity.stackexchange.com/a/82573/50422
    – user50422
    Commented Apr 16, 2021 at 14:56
  • This would be one of the Jw sources for answering.
    – 007
    Commented Apr 17, 2021 at 12:36

3 Answers 3


Although the word 'spirit' is used in the bible to refer to beings with personhood, it is not always used to identify a separate personhood, and often refers to the 'spirit' that belongs to some one. For example: Genesis 1:2 mentions the 'Spirit of God'. Genesis 45:27 mentions the 'Spirit of Jakob'.

But in the case of the term 'the holy Spirit' or 'the holy Spirit of God' (Ephesians 4:30) its not always so clear. Although the holy spirit is personified as ‘bearing witness’ (Acts 20:23), also water and blood do (1 John 5:7). The holy spirit is also referred to as a 'helper', 'teaching' (John 14:16,17, 25), and even 'speaking' (John 16:13), but personification does not proof personhood. For example wisdom (Proverbs 1:20,21, Luke 7:35), sin and death (Romans 5:14-21) are also personified in the bible.

Acts 6:3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them (NIV)

If the bible writers believed the holy spirit to be a personhood it would be a bit strange that they mention it between other qualities such as kindness, love and knowledge.

2 Corintihans 6:6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned (KJV).

There are also examples where the context and use of the term holy spirit seem inconsistent with the idea of the holy spirit being a person or personhood. For example:

Acts 10:45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. (NIV)

Luke 1:41 …Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit (NIV)

Would it be reasonable that people would be filled with another personhood?

Also consider these parallel scriptures

Matthew 12:28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.(NIV)

Luke 11:20 But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Where ‘the Spirit of God’, is used synonymously/exchangably with ‘the finger of God’.


I've always been perplexed by the verse that says that "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee... born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). Here it is prophesied that Mary would become pregnant by "The Holy Ghost"; so, if the Father and the Holy Spirit are two separate, co-equal entities, then the Father is not the father of Jesus.

Possibly He is the Father of something else, such as the created physical universe; or Adam (Luke 3:38). But it wouldn't make sense in a a monotheistic faith to say that Jesus has a Father (with a capital F), Adam has a Father, the Israelites have a Father, and so on, and the Father to not be the same person.

I lean heavily towards Unitarianism.

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    – Lesley
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 9:24

The case against a Holy Spirit person or entity that IS NOT the Father is clearly outlined in scripture. IOW, the HS IS the Spirit of the Father according to the scriptures and not a separate entity of a 3 part God.

Basically, according to Jesus and the Apostles, he hardly even exists if all the verses speaking of the Father and His relationship with Jesus and us is concerned.

No one gives greetings or sends messages, or prays to the HS.

No instruction is given about 'him'.

No mandate for his place within the so-called 'Godhead'.

To understand otherwise is to read into the text that which is not plainly provided.

In Luke, Jesus rules out everyone - humans, spirits, devils from his statement - 'only the Father knows'. If there was a Holy Spirit entity he would have to be included in this intimate knowing.

All things have been handed over to me by m y Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Luke 10:22

Furthermore, the disciples have left us with their wisdom on this matter which shows us what the holy spirit is.

the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say Luke 12:12

For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaks in you. Matt 10:20

Notice it is not speaking of the ‘spirit of God’, but of the Father. This rules out a trinitarian focus, which the ‘spirit of God’ might have provided.

We have many examples of 'the spirit of...' Christ, truth, grace, wisdom, Zerubbabel, Father, etc. None of these is a 'separate' entity. God gives a name to everything and everyone - even changing names to suit new circumstances or roles. The HS has no name. Just as the 'spirit of Christ' or 'wisdom' has no special name either as it is the essence of who or what they are and how they operate - Jesus lives 'wisely' because he has a spirit of wisdom.

The phrase, “the spirit of. . .”, refers to the core essence of what is occurring. The ‘spirit of truth’ is not a ‘person’, but the essence of what is evident. God is truth, so it is of God. The ‘spirit of deception’ is not of God but the evil one.

Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. That is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deception. 1John 4:6

Let's not be misled by the 'him' and 'he' liberally applied by our interpretive translators, where 'which' and 'it' could/should have been applied.

If there is a Holy Spirit entity, Jesus or the apostles never taught this. It wasn’t included in the creeds until centuries after the church started, further confirming that it wasn’t a teaching of the apostles.

While we can certainly read this theological aspect of God into a few select verses, it is not a truth God has clearly and explicitly provided for Jesus’ followers?


Lots of times Isaiah 63 gets quoted, 'and they grieved His Holy Spirit'

Perfect example of proof-texting! We could equally say, based on what the apostles have told us, (the Holy Spirit IS the spirit of the Father) He was grieved in His heart! How one justifies a 'person' from this verse is astounding!

Read on same verse.

Therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them.

Who is HE? Not the HS, but God - He fought, He became their enemy. His Spirit was grieved.

The biblical basis against the 'person' of HS is abundant. Anything suggesting otherwise is based on very poor exegesis like the Isaiah 63 proof-texting approach, ignoring context and drawing faulty presumptions.

In short, the biblical basis against a Holy Spirit 'person' is

  • to read what is provided.
  • to not draw poor conclusions from a text in isolation.
  • to not add to the text that which it does not naturally supply.

Excerpt from Why Doesn't the Holy Spirit know who Jesus is?

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    I am a firm believer that I should not downvote a question asked from a particular perspective just because I do not agree with that perspective. However in this case there are simply errors of fact. For example "No instruction is given about 'him'." is contradicted by Isiah 63:10 and Ephesians 4:10. And the point of Luke 12:12 and Matt 10:20 is not which pronoun is applied, but that the Holy Spirit does things (teach, speak) that only persons do. As for Luke 10:22, Jesus is leaving Himself out of the "people who know". If that's an argument that the HS isn't a person, then nor is Jesus. Commented Apr 16, 2021 at 13:55
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    If only people teach/speak, then nature is a person according to 1 Cor. 11:14. All kinds of inanimate objects can teach or speak to us without being "real" persons.
    – agarza
    Commented Apr 16, 2021 at 14:26
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    @agarza If that is the case then the answer needs to say that. Also, when the answer talks about "our interpretive translators" he is including the translators of the KJV and pretty much every English translator before or since. And every translator in every other language. Commented Apr 16, 2021 at 16:38
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    @DJClayworth, just because most translations do it the sam doesn't mean it is right. 1 Samuel 16:14 has almost every translation with "Spirit" as a personal noun. This translation is almost certainly based on the Trinity doctrine. A few translations (e.g. Good News, King James 2000, and English Revised Version) do translate it without the capitalization though. And most significantly, the Jewish Publication Society's Tanakh doesn't captialize "spirit". Without the Trinity doctrine, there is no reason for the capitalization, any more than there is for using "he" rather than "it". Commented Apr 17, 2021 at 23:09
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    That is interesting: to let the cat out of the bag becomes "expanding the comments outside the scope of the answer" ... Commented May 23, 2021 at 20:10

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