The following is from a Binitarian answer to a question on the nature of the Holy Spirit:

Instead, the term "holy spirit" could refer directly to the Father and Son, as they are each holy and are each spirits, but more commonly, it simply refers to the medium by which the Father and Son interact with humans and other parts of the physical world. At baptism, the human spirit (which distinguishes us from other animals by providing self awareness and free will (Job 32:8)) combines with some of God's holy spirit to create an embryonic spirit being that someday can be reborn as a full spirit being (John 3:7–8), a literal child of God.

It is sensible to talk of the spirit of a man because man is more than just spirit (a man has a spirit) but the Scripture plainly states that God is spirit:

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. - John 4:24

So when God says "I will pour out my spirit" in various places, Acts 2:17 for instance, or when He says things like:

Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. - Zechariah 4:6

what exactly is being said if the Holy Spirit is not distinct from the Lord?

According to Binitarians, is this just a roundabout and awkward way of God referring to Himself; as in "I will pour myself out on all flesh" or "Not by might, nor by power, but by myself"? If, most commonly, the Holy Spirit "simply refers to the medium by which the Father and Son interact with the physical world" why is this power sometimes referred to as Holy Spirit, other times as power (Ephesians 6:10), and why do both terms appear in Luke 1:35 making what appears to be a distinction between the two?

And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. - Luke 1:35


1 Answer 1


For trinitarians, references to "Holy Spirit", "The Spirit", "My Spirit", etc. all refer to a single entity, so when scripture mentions "spirit" it is easy to think of it as talking specifically about the person known as the Holy Spirit.
This can create confusion in some cases where that isn't the intended meaning.

For those that don't believe in a trinity, scripture is much easier to understand.
Everything exists in one of two forms: as physical matter or as supernatural spirit.

This difference is contrasted in Matthew 16:17, when Jesus says "flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven".
And in 1 Corinthians 15:50,52–53, when Paul says "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; … in the twinkling of an eye … the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.".

At baptism, it is not something physical, but spiritual, that is specially given by God to unite with human spirit to form the embryo of a new spirit being that can eventually be born as an immortal and immaterial child of God.
(John 3,7–8 "… Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.")

Angels, and God himself, are normally composed of pure spirit.
The force that animates physical life is composed of spirit.
The force that gives humans their self-awareness and free choice is composed of spirit.
(Job 32:8 "… there is a spirit in man …")

All these, and others, are examples of things that exist in spirit form.

The word "spirit" simply indicates that it is an immaterial supernatural substance, with no implication that everything that is composed of spirit is the same thing, no more than everything that is made of wood or steel is part of some greater whole.

So when we look at Luke 1:35's "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee", translated without the trinitarian bias, it says:

Holy spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee …

whose meaning is much clearer and simpler. God will, using the medium of holy spirit (supernatural immaterial substance), effect a change within you.

More profanely, compare with having a shower, where the water will appear and the power of the spray will clean you.
In fact this analogy might help in understanding other uses of "spirit", which, like water, is simply a medium through which things can be done. There is no need to think of a greater whole "Water", of which this instance is a part.

Similarly, in Zechariah 4:6's "… Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit …", the word translated as "might" can mean "army", "strength", "substance", etc., and the word translates as "power" can mean "animal strength", "human strength", "substance", etc.
These are all references to acting through physical force. as opposed to through an immaterial supernatural spirit.

Again, this is all so much easier to understand when one doesn't have the baggage of thinking that the word "spirit" refers to a specific supernatural being.
Catholics, for instance, know that the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity (as revealed through the traditions of the Church), and this belief hinders their ability to understand things from a non-trinitarian point of view.

  • 2
    The OP seemed to clearly show that trinitarians DO know the differences in scripture between 'the spirit of man' and the Holy Spirit when shown to be neither the Father, nor the Son, nor that 'spirit of man'. Surely the argument should have nothing to do with "how much easier" it is for non-trinitarians to just deal with physical matter, or supernatural spirit? What has ease of understanding got to do with plumbing the unfathomable depths of the Being of God? And is it not dangerous to say belief in the Holy Spirit as "a specific supernatural being is baggage"?
    – Anne
    Mar 29, 2023 at 15:01
  • @Anne, I tend to favour Occam's Razor, abductive reasoning, and exegesis over eisegesis. To me, the "truth" is whatever is simplest and requires the least amount of extra-Biblical information. So by "baggage" I meant it as mental baggage, something that makes it more difficult to see the simpler things. I didn't mean that in a religious sense. In the answer cited in the question, I acknowledge that "For trinitarians, the [Trinity] was revealed through the traditions of the Church". It is baggage for them only when they are trying to understand non-trinitarian thinking, as in this question. Mar 29, 2023 at 15:25
  • 2
    I’d been told that the trinity doctrine was a 4th century addition, due to tradition. I believed that be-cause I saw no need to check church history for myself, to discover the 1st century foundation and how the Bible reveals Christ as to who he really is. But for as long as I believed he was a created creature, I just couldn’t see his deity, nor that of what I disrespectfully called ‘holy spirit’ – an it, a commodity to obtain more of through effort. The Holy Spirit got rid of all that baggage I’d been lumbered with when I cried out to God to reveal just who Jesus is, in the Bible.
    – Anne
    Mar 29, 2023 at 15:54
  • But there is a greater, whole 'water' isn't there? Otherwise saying 'water' wouldn't mean anything and the spray that rinses me in the shower is a spray of 'water' under pressure. Just a spray, with no water, does exactly nothing. Mar 30, 2023 at 12:29
  • "form the embryo of a new spirit being that can eventually be born as an immortal and immaterial child of God." 1 Peter 1:23 says you have been born again not that you someday will be. When John 5:24 occurs for an individual they have not become a spiritual embryo. 1 John 3:2 says, "Beloved, now we are the sons of God." and now means presently ... now. What you are suggesting makes a believer's entire life on earth into a 'womb' from which we emerge into spiritual life. That's difficult to get from a 'simple' reading of scripture. Mar 30, 2023 at 12:42

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