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This is the fourth and final part of the series "Yeshua: The Right Hand." If you have not read part 1, part 2, and part 3, please go back and read those first. This final article will examine the relationship of the Holy Spirit (Ruach Ha'Qodesh) and serve to sum up what we have looked at in the three previous parts.
To begin, let's establish just what the Holy Spirit IS. Is it a person? A he? Perhaps as some suggest, a "she"? Let's look at the first instance this word is ever used in Scripture, and see how it is defined all throughout Scripture.
This word first appears in Bereshiyt / Genesis 1:2.
2 The earth became formless and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Ruach of Elohim fluttered over the face of the waters. – Bereshiyt / Genesis 1:2 (SQV)
Most translations will state that the "Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters." If you're familiar with the SQV (which you can check out by clicking here), you'll know why we have rendered it as "Ruach of Elohim." Regardless, however, if you're not familiar, it is simply the transliteration. That is, in Hebrew, the word translated as "spirit" is "Ruach." Let's define that word.
Strong's #H7307 רוח (roo-ach): Ruach. Breath, wind, spirit. Lit. "violent exhale."
So Ruach is literally a "violent exhale" which is why it is, by extension, "breath" and "wind." It is also the word for spirit because it has the same characteristics.
Can you "see" spirits? No. Can you "see" wind? No. So how do you know they're real? Well, you cannot see wind, but you can see its effect on things. For example, on a windy day, you can watch the trees bend and bounce, and the leaves flutter around. What is causing that to happen? The wind. Even though you cannot "see" wind, you can see its effects. The same is the way with the Spirit. You cannot "see" the Spirit, but you CAN see the effects it has in our lives. The way to do this is by looking at the fruit of the Spirit. If the spirit is at work in a Believer's life, you will see the fruit of the Spirit.
So spirit is "breath" and it is a little more than just that, in the case of the Holy Spirit. It is the "breath" and expression of our Father. Of course, this is the Hebraic usage of the term for "spirit" but what about Greek? Or Aramaic? Well Aramaic has the same usage, using the word רוח, though it is pronounced rucha. Otherwise, it is the same. Though let's look at the Greek, then we'll see what Yeshua said about the Ruach.
Strong's #G4151 πνευμα (pn-yu-ma): Pneuma. Wind, breath, spirit. From pneo, meaning "current of air." We find that this is the exact same as the Hebrew and Aramaic terms. So now that we have defined our terminology, let's see what Yeshua says.
8 The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Ruach. – Yochanan / John 3:8 (SQV).
Notice this verse illustrates my overall point: the spirit is like wind. We also find here a parallelism (also sometimes called a "doublet") which is common in Hebrew. Here, Yeshua parallels "wind" with "spirit."
But what is perhaps of more importance is the word used itself: pneuma. The Greek word for "spirit" is used in the above verse for both "wind" and for "breath."
Now, we as humans are souls, we are not spirits (see article Life After Death: What Happens When We Die? For more on this). However, we do HAVE spirits. We are "souls" (or "beings") and we possess spirits. Again, I strongly suggest reading the article mentioned above for further proof of this.
So, our Father HAS a spirit. The difference is, He IS a spirit as well.
24"Elohim is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." – Yochanan / John 4:24 (SQV)
But don't worry, you and I have spirits also. It is the spirit in us that gives us life. And when we die, that spirit returns to Elohim who gave it to us. Note, however, that in no way means that we ARE spirits. As shown in the article mentioned, we are "souls" but POSSESS spirits.
Why is this crucial to understand? Because Elohim likewise HAS a spirit. He sends out His breath/wind/spirit, but that spirit is not a "person."
This is the major point of contention among believers today in the identity of Yeshua, and regarding His divinity. By far, the most prevalent theory is the Christian doctrine of "trinity" which is the belief that one "God" exists in three "persons": Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
There is one major flaw in particular with this, however: the Spirit is never referred to as a person. Also, a problem with this theory is that it says the Son is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, who is co-equal and co-eternal with the spirit, and so on. Yet never, not even once, did Yeshua ever claim to be equal to His Father. Rather, Yeshua continually says He only does the will of the Father, and not His own. That His Father is above Him, and that He submits to His Father. I know we looked at that in a previous article, but I want to stress the importance of understanding this.
It is also worth noting that NEVER are we told the Holy Spirit is "equal" to the Father, OR to the Son. Rather, the Holy Spirit is just that: a spirit, breathed out by the Father. The spirit of Yeshua is the same as the spirit of the Father, which Yeshua "breathed" on the disciples in John 20:22. Why do you think He "breathed" on them, when He said, "receive the set-apart Ruach"?
Also remember that the work of the Spirit in a believer's life is dependent upon that believer. For instance, it is possible to deny the spirit the opportunity to work in your life.
19 Do not quench the Ruach. – Thessalonikeon Alpha / 1 Thessalonians 5:19 (SQV)
The word in Greek for "quench" is sbennumi, which literally means "to suppress, quench, extinguish." In Aramaic, this is תדעכון (t'dakun) which means the same as its Greek counterpart. Simply put, the work of the spirit in your life can be quenched (suppressed). That is why Paul warns us NOT to do it.
Again, the spirit is not a "person" but rather is simply a spirit. It is the breath, exhale, EXPRESSION of the Father that come forth from Him. It is His power.
But you may be reading this thinking, "My Bible refers to the Spirit as a "he" so "he" MUST be a person!"
Well, normally, when trying to "prove" that the Spirit is a "person," Trinitarians will point to four primary sources of Scripture, so let's read those now.
26"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." – John 14:26 (NASB)
26"When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me," – John 15:26 (NASB)
7"But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment." – John 16:7,8 (NASB)
4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all [persons]. 7But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another [various] kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. – 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (NASB)
First off, let's address the verses in John, as they all three revolve around the same issue. When you are communicating – either writing or speaking – how do you know which pronoun to use? That is, if you're speaking about Grandma Ethel, do you say, "he makes the best cookies in town"? Or do you say, "it makes the best cookies in town"? No, not at all! You would say, "SHE makes the best cookies in town." Why? Because the pronoun "she" is being applied to a woman. Now what if you're talking about a cat, of which you are not sure the gender? You would – in most cases – refer to it in the gender neutral sense, and you'd say "it."
Well in Hebrew, it should be noted, there is no gender neutral case. All nouns are masculine or feminine. In fact, next time you're reading in the Torah about the construction of the Menorah, let me just to tell you right now: your Bible version translated it wrong. You see, the Hebrew word "Menorah" is feminine, so all other nouns applied to the Menorah are also feminine. Thus, when we read that the Menorah had "cups, knops, flowers" and such, it reads, "and its cups, and its knops, and its flowers." But technically, this should read as "and HER cups, and HER knops, and HER flowers." (See Ex. 37:17 for a better illustration).
In Greek, there IS a gender neutral case, though most nouns still have a gender. In fact, MOST languages are like this. For instance, in Spanish, the word for "book" is "libro." Now this simply means "book" but the word itself is masculine (shown by the "o" ending). If it were feminine, it would be "libra." Thus, when I am talking about the book, I would technically be saying, "the book is fascinating. He kept me entertained from cover to cover."
In English, we would use the gender neutral pronoun "it" but in MOST other languages, nouns are either masculine or feminine.
Now, why do we need to know this? Because John uses the Greek word parakletos here. Now you may be familiar with this word (or the word paraklete which is derived from it) because it is the word for "helper" or "comforter" used here to describe the Spirit.
Strong's #G3875 παρακλητος (par-ak'-lay-toss): Parakletos. Advocate, comforter, helper. From para meaning "close beside" and kaleo meaning "to call." Lit. "the one that is close enough to make a judgment-call."
You see, this noun is masculine. Therefore, the pronoun that applies is, technically, a masculine pronoun. In Greek, there is one word used to mean "he, she, it" and that is auto. Depending on the noun this pronoun applies to, determines its gender.
So in the case of the above verses of John, the pronoun auto is applied to the word parakletos making it masculine, thus rendered literally as "he." This here shows translational bias. Why did the translators refuse to translate many other pronouns as "he" or "she" when they applied to an inanimate object, but here they render it as "him"? Bias.
For instance, here is an example from the NASB.
34"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." – Matthew 6:34 (NASB)
Notice the "it" above? This is a reflexive pronoun. The word for "it" is auto as we just looked at. Here, it is being applied to the word "day" which in Greek is hemera. Hemera is a feminine word. Therefore, it should LITERALLY read as "Each day has enough trouble of her own."
But that just seems silly, doesn't it? A day isn't REALLY masculine for feminine. Which is why in English we simply say "it." In the same way, simply because parakletos is a masculine word, does NOT mean it should be given a masculine pronoun in English. By the simple fact that here (and thousands of other places) the NASB translators CHOSE to render a feminine pronoun as gender neutral, shows that they understand this. Why, then, is Parakletos rendered with a masculine pronoun? Because of doctrinal bias. They see the Spirit as a person, and therefore render it that way. However, notice that, by matter of technicality, the Holy Spirit itself actually IS gender-neutral!
In Greek, the phrase "Holy Spirit" is Pneuma Hagion, meaning "spirit" and "holy" respectively. Note that BOTH of these Greek nouns are actually gender neutral. Thus, if we are going by a STRICT grammatical rendering, the Holy Spirit should be left as an "it."
Next, we'll look at the verse we read above in 1 Corinthians 12. It seems to be that Paul is referring to the Spirit again in the masculine sense. Here, we could simply say what we just said: the word "spirit" is gender-neutral, but I believe there is more going on here than simply that.
Notice it says "as he wills." In Greek, this is actually one word, and the pronoun auto is not used at all. This is the word bouletai. It is a form of boulomai, meaning "I desire" or "I will." In this form of bouletai, it is present tense, indicative voice, 3rd person singular. Meaning, it really does mean "he wills" or "he desires."
However, I would argue here that we should not get caught up on the gender of this statement, but rather the subject. Who is the "he" that wills? Notice the context of the verses above, Paul was talking about the Spirit of Elohim, not the 3rd person of the Trinity called "God the Spirit." Here is verse 3 of 1 Cor. 12, which we need to look at in order to clarify. It is given also directly from the NASB, just to keep things consistent.
3Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. – 1 Corinthians 12:3 (NASB)
Notice that Paul prefaces his speech about spiritual giftings by stating that the "spirit" he is talking about is the "Spirit of Elohim"! Not "Elohim the Spirit" which is also "Elohim the Son" which is also "Elohim the Father." Rather, the spirit OF Elohim, or Elohim's spirit. It is the spirit that BELONGS to Elohim, THAT is the subject of Paul's following statements.
Nowhere else can you find evidence of a trinity, aside from two possible verses. Let's look at the first, because it is easier to explain.
1 John 5:7, the infamous Comma Johaneum. Let's look at it in the NASB:
7For there are three that testify: - 1 John 5:7 (NASB)
Well that's odd…How about the SQV then?
7 For there are three that testify: - Yochanan Alef / 1 John 5:7 (SQV)
Well…I guess we'll stick with the old King Jimmy, then.
7For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. – 1 John 5:7 (KJV)
There we go! But wait…why does ONLY the KJV have this verse? Well the simple reason is, because it was added later. This verse is not found in any Greek or Aramaic manuscript prior to the 15th/16th centuries. The reason for this, is Erasmus, when he was compiling the Greek letters to create (what would later be known as) the Textus Receptus (Greek text that went into the KJV's New Testament), he added in this line which was known to be a marginal note from a Latin manuscript. That's right, good old Catholic Scholar Erasmus ADDED a line into the Greek text which came from a little marginal note in Latin. That is why modern versions, which are based on older and more reliable manuscripts, do not contain this verse.
I suggest reading up on the "Johanine comma" to get the full story. There's some pretty good information even on the Wikipedia page for it.
The next section we need to examine is Matthew 28:19,20.
19"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." – Matthew 28:19,20 (NASB)
Even those that know 1 John 5:7 is corrupt (and does not deserve to be in Scripture at all) will still lean on this verse. Let me start out by saying this: if this verse truly DOES say "in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" then that still does not prove a trinity. All it does it prove there are three "somethings" mentioned.
However, it is my personal belief that this verse is also corrupt. I know, it may sound like I'm reaching, but just hang on.
The oldest manuscripts available do not contain the ending of Matthew 28 at all. Some appear to be damaged, others are simply missing a few pages. However, we do have quotations from "Church" historian Eusebius regarding the end of the book. Numerous times in his book "Ecclesiastical History" Eusebius quotes the ending of Matthew as, "Go ye therefore and make disciples of all the nations in My Name," and never once does he quote it as saying "name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." This would seem odd for Eusebius, who spent much of his time writing to DEFEND the doctrine of the Trinity. We must then ask, why would someone who defended it so vehemently, misquote the major textual "proof" on the matter? Simply put, because there was no proof. Eusebius quoted the text as it originally was, prior to the later Trinitarian addition. This is my view, and this is why. However, like I said, remember that even if it DOES read that way, it does not in any way show that there is a Trinity.
What is more, is that this would be the ONLY verse in all of Scripture that says to be baptized in the name of all three. Note that Loukas 24:47; Ma'asei 2:38; 8:12-16; 10:48; 19:5; 22:16; Romaios 6:3,4; Korinthios A 1:13; Galates 3:27; Kolossaeis 2:11; 3:17 ALL state that immersion should be done in the Name of Yeshua. ONLY in His Name is it mentioned, NOT in the name of all three.
So, going by the Scriptural principle of having two to three witnesses, the "doctrine" of baptizing/immersing in the name of all three is NOT supported, neither is there any other similar verse in all of Scripture.
But for a moment, let's consider this. Trinitarians say that because there are three spirit "beings" (Father, Son, and Spirit) that they worship a trinity. But I have to ask…aren't there seven (7) spirits of Elohim? According to Revelation 1, 3, 4, and 5 there are. So then, technically, there is no trinity, but rather a septinity, right? A 7-person "godhead"? Of course not.
This is what I believe, and what I have to say on the matter of the "trinity." So, let's wrap everything up and try to piece everything together into one cohesive message.
We have looked at a lot of topics and a lot of controversial opinions surround these topics. I am not claiming to be the final authority. I am merely sharing what I believe the Word says on these matters.
So, YHWH is Elohim, the Supreme and Sovereign Ruler of all things. Yeshua came forth from the Father, and is part of the Father. Yeshua is the symbolic "Right Hand" of YHWH. Yeshua is the messenger and shaliach (sent one) of YHWH. Yeshua is the one who "comes in the Name of YHWH." This is why some prophecies state that YHWH does something that we know Yeshua will actually fulfill. Thus, YHWH is "one" and Yeshua is "one" WITH YHWH. Yeshua is part of the Father, and is inseparable from Him. YHWH is a "person" and Yeshua is a "person." Yeshua created the universe, and He is the Word of YHWH.
The Ruach Ha'Qodesh, or "Holy Spirit" is the divine breath and expression of Elohim. It is by this spirit that man is able to know the things of Elohim (see 1 Cor. 2:11). The spirit of Elohim is not a "person" but is simply "that which is breathed out" by YHWH (and Yeshua), and empowers believers to walk in His ways. Though the Spirit is not seen, its work IS seen, much like the wind.
Hopefully this helps you put to rest some of the confusion surrounding the topic. Again, I do not claim to have all the answers, but I do hope to share perspective and interpretation. But above all, as always, it is the responsibility of ALL believers to READ HIS WORD.
Be Berean. Shalom.