There are several differing opinions as to what or who the Holy Spirit is. Is it the third person of the "trinity," a figure of speech, a "ghost," a force or power? As with any Biblical doctrine, we must dig deep into Scripture to uncover the truth. A superficial reading will undoubtedly lead to a false understanding.
Let's begin with the concept of "ghost." This word comes to us from the King James Version where the Greek 'pneuma' was translated 'ghost' whenever it was used in conjunction with the Greek word ' agios ' translated "Holy." The definition of 'ghost' is "the soul of man; a disembodied spirit." The English understanding of a ghost has led many to believe it is a person. Our Heavenly Father certainly cannot be a ghost for He never had a body to be disembodied from. His Son the Messiah certainly wasn't a ghost since that word was used prior to his birth at which time he did not have a body either. The KJV sometimes used "Holy Spirit" instead of "Holy Ghost" (Lu.11:13). Since the two terms are interchangeable in the KJV and since all other modern Bible translations use "Holy Spirit," we should use the correct term 'Spirit.'
In other studies at this web site we have seen how Yeshua the Messiah is not Almighty Yahweh and how Yeshua did not pre-exist (also another on pre-existence) in any form prior to his earthly birth. Yahweh and Yeshua are two separate, distinct beings. Since the Father is Yahweh and Since the Son is not, that means the Father and the Son must be two separate, distinct beings. Since the Son did not pre-exist, the concept of a trinity (three co-equal, co-eternal persons comprising the one Godhead) is untrue.
The concept of the Holy Spirit being a person that is separate from the Father and the Son, yet still part of the one "godhead" is indeed a mystery. It is such a mystery that those who espouse that claim cannot explain it either.
1) If the Father is separate from the Son, and the Holy Spirit is a serperate person from them, then who is Messiah's father? Mt.1:18-20 reads, "Now the birth of Yeshua Messiah was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of Yahweh appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit." Is the Holy Spirit Yeshua's Father and not Yahweh? The only way to understand this is through Lu.1:35, "And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit 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 Elohim." The Holy Spirit is the power by which Yahweh caused the conception.
2) Why doesn't the Apostle Paul invoke the Holy Spirit in the introduction to his epistles as he does the Father and the Son? This would seem rather offensive to the Holy Spirit if he were a co-equal person.
3) Why is the Holy Spirit never depicted as sitting on or standing near the throne as are the Father and the Son? (Acts 7:55,56; Col.3:1; and Rev.5:1-9; 7:10). We do not even see an empty throne for him.
4) 1 Cor.11:3 gives a hierarchy in which women, men, and Messiah each have a head with Elohim (Yahweh the Father) being the uppermost in authority. Where is the Holy Spirit?
5) Eph.5:5 tells us the "kingdom" that believers shall inherit is "of Messiah" and "of Elohim." Why is the Kingdom not of the Holy Spirit as well?
6) The Father and the Son converse with each other, but why don't they converse with the Holy Spirit?
Those are just a few of the many questions that arise if the Holy Spirit is a person. There are, however, several points that may lead one to believe the Holy Spirit is a person. Let's look at a few of these.
It is said that the Holy Spirit has personal attributes and therefore is a person. Among a few of these attributes are that the Holy Spirit searches the deep things of Elohim (1 Cor.2:10); speaks (Rev.2:7); cries out (Gal.4:6); intercedes (Rom.8:26); gives testimony (Jn.15:26); leads or directs us (Rom.8:14); commands us (Acts 16:6,7); can be lied to (Acts 5:3); can be grieved (Eph.4:30); etc.
However, the Holy Spirit also has attributes that cannot be applied to a person, ie; it fills people (Acts 2:4); can be poured out (Acts 2.17,18); is upon people (Acts 19:6); people can drink it (1 Cor.12:13); it is a down payment (2 Cor.1:22); it is a seal (Eph.1:13); it is symbolic ink (2 Cor.3:3); etc.
To explain this, I appeal to Ro.8:9,10;
"But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of Elohim dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Messiah, he is none of his. And if Messiah be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness."
The Spirit of Messiah dwells in us, but verse 10 tells us it is Messiah himself. The same holds true for Yahweh's Spirit. It is the mind, affections, and will of Almighty Yahweh. So the Holy Spirit's personal attributes are those of Yahweh and Yeshua dwelling within us. It is their personalities and dispositions. Yahweh has given Messiah the full measure of His Holy Spirit (Jn.3:34; Col.1:19). Now that Messiah is glorified via resurrection, the Spirit that he has consists of that of his Father and that of his own. Their spirits are united in one and are placed within believers (Jn.15:26; Ro.8:9-11), though not in its fullness. On the other hand, since the Spirit also has non-personal attributes, we should attribute that to the fact that the Holy Spirit is Yahweh's power or influence.
That the Holy Spirit is the power of Yahweh can be seen in the following verses;
"But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Yeshua from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Messiah from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you." (Rom.8:11).
"And Elohim hath both raised up the Master, and will also raise up us by His own power." (1Cor.6:14).
"And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, Which He wrought in Messiah, when He raised him from the dead, and set him at His own right hand in the heavenly places" (Eph.1:19-20).
Those verses clearly show that the power of Yahweh is His Holy Spirit and by that Spirit He resurrected His Son.
"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us," (Eph.3:20). What power works in us? The power known as the Holy Spirit.
"And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit 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 Elohim." (Lu.1:35). Did a person or a spirit being mate with Miriam or did Yahweh's miraculous power cause the conception?
"And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." (Lu.24:49).
To be "endued with power from on high" is an idiom for "to receive the Holy Spirit." It is Yahweh's power that works in us.
A literary technique often used in the Bible is that of personification. Many "personal attributes" of the Holy Spirit as listed above can be the result of this technique. For example, Paul says of sin it "deceived me," and "slew me." (Rom.7:11). He also says "death reigned from Adam to Moses." (Rom.5:14). Neither sin nor death are people. Other examples are; "charity suffers long...thinks no evil" (1 Cor.13:4-5); "righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Ps.85:10); "The moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed" (Is.24:23); "Sing, O ye heavens" (Is.44:23); "You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost His savour, wherewith shall it be salted..." (Mt.5:13); etc. In all these examples, the subject being personified is not a person. Neither is the Holy Spirit.
Another point that misleads people to believe the Holy Spirit is a person are the personal pronouns "he," "his," "him," and "whom" used in such verses as Jn.14:17; 15:26; 16:7,8,13,14.
In most European languages nouns have gender; that is, it is either masculine, feminine, or neuter. The masculine pronouns are used in these verses because 'Comforter' /parakletos/ is masculine. 'Spirit,' however, /pneuma/ is neuter and would properly require the pronoun "it." Interestingly, the Hebrew word for Spirit (ruach) is usually feminine. Grammatically, all Greek pronouns must agree in gender with the word they refer to.
Consider 1 Cor.13:4,5 in the KJV. One verse refers to charity as 'itself' and the next verse refers to it as 'her.' Is charity a person? In Ro.8:26 (KJV), the Spirit is referred to as 'itself.' In Acts 12:10, an iron gate is referred to as 'his' in the KJV.
1 John 5:7,8
"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth , the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." (KJV). Verse 7 is often used by Trinitarians to prove there are three persons in heaven that comprise the one "Godhead." The RSV [Revised Standard Version] of 1881 omits all the words in italics. The phrase should properly read, "For there are three that bear record, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." Only two modern Greek manuscripts and one or two ancient versions of little value contain the spurious words. It is not found in the Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, Coptic, Sahidic, Armenian, Slavonian, etc. Additionally, no Greek father even quotes 1 Jn.5:7 in any discussion concerning the Trinity doctrine. It is clearly a questionable addition to the New Testament and should not be in our Bibles.
The Holy Spirit, as we have seen, is not a third person of a "Trinity." It is not a person at all. It is the power, mind, and disposition of Almighty Yahweh Himself. It has been joined to the spirit of Yeshua the Messiah, now that he has been glorified, and indwells all true believers. It is the means by which we are guided into all truth and it is the power that makes the resurrection from the dead a reality. When we first receive the Holy Spirit we only get a small measure of it. It is like a down payment until we are resurrected at which time we will receive it in full. The Holy Spirit is a wonderful gift from our Heavenly Father, but it is not a third person of a fictitious trinity.