Romans 8:26-27 (ESV):

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

This is one of the most commonly cited passages as evidence for the personhood of the Holy Spirit (e.g. as in this answer), probably because of the following reasons:

  • The Holy Spirit is said to be able to intercede (i.e. pray) for the saints.
  • And not just intercede, but intercede with groanings too deep for words (indicative of emotions?)
  • Moreover, the Holy Spirit is explicitly said to have a mind (the mind of the Spirit, v27).

In short, the passage appears to be saying that the Holy Spirit has (1) a mind, (2) emotions and (3) the ability to pray/intercede.

Question: How do deniers of the personhood of the Holy Spirit interpret Romans 8:26-27 and make sense of all this?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented May 21, 2021 at 14:16
  • This might be a better case against the personhood of holy ghost than most of the below (not my case and not my opinion. For now, I dont know, just sharing): hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/63501/43095 Ending with: In the Greek language and the Greek Koine the “holy spirit” is NEVER spoken of with a personal pronoun. It is a “which”, not a “who”. It is always an “it, not a “he” or” who” or whom.
    – Al Brown
    Commented Aug 8, 2021 at 3:03
  • I looked at John 16:13, eg in the link: “Some trinitarian scholars reject this.. the masculine pronoun, they argue, can legitimately refer to the masculine noun Helper, not Spirit, even though (esp in John 16:13,14) they aren’t in close proximity.” \ While it’s true about the proximity, we have essentially: “The Helper ..., new verse He, new verse He, new verse He, etc, with an entirely unbroken chain. So briefly saying “Spirit of Truth”, in yet another He verse keeps that, proximity aside. “He” would be used for Helper if that was an It, due to gender, but not for Spirit if that was an It
    – Al Brown
    Commented Aug 8, 2021 at 3:19

2 Answers 2


Plain bible teaching does not entertain strange ideas of a holy spirit person.

There is no need for us to use creative imagination to arrive at the fanciful ideas as those construed by men writing 100’s of years after Christ and his apostles taught a simple truth about the one God the Father and His human son, Jesus.

No bible verse teaches the ‘person’ of Holy Spirit. But many are developed with erroneous logic and interpretation to make up such a thing.

The OP has noted several items supposedly indicating this person’s activities. This is a good example of reading into the text that which is simply not there. While it may form part of traditional dogma, that is irrelevant.

Let’s rather read the chapter in context and note how this spirit is mentioned.

  • For in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life
  • controlled not by the flesh, but by the Spirit
  • if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ
  • if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit
  • Spirit of sonship
  • firstfruits of the Spirit
  • the Spirit helps us in our weakness
  • the mind of the Spirit

None of this requires us to think in ‘person’ terms. No Apostle did either or taught such a thing in the entire NT.

What is meant by ‘the mind of the spirit’? Simply that mind in each person, like Christ’s, which was in accord with God. It is not describing the mind of a spirit person, but of the kind of mind each human has that God is specifically involved with. The mind set on life, on peace, on truth- just as Jesus’ was.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ. Jesus Phil 2:5

Of course, our minds are still influenced by both good and evil, but when God’s spirit is involved, maturity and overcoming is the objective and fruit.

“He who searches the hearts” knows, recognises, this mind of God active in each believer or saint as v27 puts it -

according to the will of God.

Jesus had the mind of God working in him by the Holy Spirit in him. That he had his own independent and differing will, shows clearly that he also had to learn and choose the right way just as we all do - heeding that spirit of truth, wisdom and love that guides us toward the light.

What is the Holy Spirit? No more or less than the presence of God interacting within creation and His creatures. Joining with our carnal minds to change their course and purpose from a selfish, prideful pursuit, to a more Kingdom-centred focus.

The spirit of sonship, of truth, of Christ is all the same effect of having God close to us - not nearly quite as close as Jesus experienced, but the exact same influence anyway.

The spirit intercedes- When we respond to the guidance of God in us, His spirit adds to what we can accomplish. Granting another aspect to our person that we do not naturally have - the fruits of His spirit in us - Gal 5

There are many examples of the bible showing us what the Holy Spirit is and helpful in eliminating what it is not.

The disciples understood.

Most translators don’t as they insist on ‘he’ and ‘him’ everywhere, which is unwarranted and unnecessary from the Greek. This has caused much confusion and perpetuated the extra-biblical writings which have sought to supplant God’s word with an illogical and unholy construct.

We might continue to ask similar questions of every verse mentioning the Holy Spirit and diligently read in the same old extra bits that help uphold the traditional teaching. This is a fruitless endeavour as it requires ignoring the broad narrative of the NT and the complete silence of clear and definite passages that do reveal a Holy Spirit person.

When a dogma requires a ‘reading bits in’ approach, it should be discouraged.

More on the, ‘Not a Holy Spirit person’.

  • A deeper look at the word translated "mind" might be in order. It is a word that describes the process of translating the emotions developed through what the senses perceive into a verbal, rational, logical expression of those emotions. This is the "mind" of the Spirit. It is not God acknowledging and responding to whatever level of Himself He perceives in a person. The Spirit, in this passage, is perceiving and translating to God what is seen in a person. More like a person than a thing. Commented Jul 7, 2021 at 12:45
  • "creative imagination" is required to dodge the Biblical sayings, which clearly identify the Holy Ghost as an actual personage capable of providing companionship, comfort, teaching, revelation, remembrance, intercession, prayer, and many other attributes unique to personhood. That imagination was the effect of the creeds, not of the word of God.
    – pygosceles
    Commented Jul 26, 2021 at 1:49

The latest comments exchanged between myself, Miguel de Servet, and Nigel J, should already provide something more that a hint to an answer.

Anyway, the Spirit (pneuma/ruach), of which we read, in particular, at Romans 8:26-27, is neither a "person", nor a "personification": like the Word (logos/dabar) it (it ..) is an eternal, essential attribute of the One and only God, the Father Almighty.

  • 1
    What does it mean for an "attribute" of God to intercede with God on our behalf?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented May 21, 2021 at 14:18
  • @curious It means that God, since the Pentecost, has "planted" His Spirit in His faithful, as a source of inspiration, so that the Church responds to God's stimulation, ideally, mirroring God's mind and intentions. Commented May 21, 2021 at 14:39
  • Attribute as in; God is Love, God is Spirit, God is Immutable, etc? Commented Jul 7, 2021 at 12:29
  • 1
    No, more like powers, dynameis: God's Word/_logos_/_dabar_ and His Spirit/_pneuma_/_ruach_ are His two essential powers. Is this compatible with God's "simplicity"? I don't know, and I don't care. Anyway, advocates of a tri-une, tri-personal Godhead will have to convince me that the "trinity" is compatible with God's "simplicity". Commented Jul 7, 2021 at 13:31
  • @MigueldeServet devils are spirits. Unclean spirits are spirits. How are the agents of God to perform anything at all on His behalf if the Holy Spirit is not actually a spirit?
    – pygosceles
    Commented Jul 26, 2021 at 1:50

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