Due to space limitations, I will focus in this round on defending the Trinitarian position that the Holy Spirit is a divine person and refuting the claim that the Holy Spirit is simply God’s power or divine force. As I see it, the question of whether the Holy Spirit is a person or God’s power is the critical issue that separates my view of the Holy Spirit from Dave’s, so it will be the focus of my argument here.
A. Common Unitarian Arguments
Before I present a positive case for my position, I will address three common arguments that Unitarians and many other anti-Trinitarians use to disprove that the Holy Spirit is a person.
1. Definition by Parallelism
A common strategy that anti-Trinitarians use to show that the Holy Spirit is not a person but is simply the power of God involves an argumentative strategy that I will call the definition-by-parallelism fallacy. The classic example in this context is the use of Luke 1:35 to prove that the Holy Spirit is simply another term for the power of God. In Luke 1:35, the angel Gabriel tells Mary that “the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” Anthony Buzzard, for example, asserts that this text proves that “spirit and power are interchangeable terms” (Buzzard and Hunting, Doctrine of the Trinity, 228).
If this reasoning were to be followed consistently, it would lead to the conclusion that God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the gospel are all “the power of God”:
“power of God” = God the Father (Luke 22:69)
“power of God” = Christ, the Son (1 Cor. 1:24)
“power of the Most High [God]” = the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35)
“power of God” = the gospel/word of the cross (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:18)
This method of handling biblical expressions like “power of God” is hermeneutically fallacious.
2. The Meaning of “Spirit”
Anti-Trinitarians often appeal to lexical evidence to prove that the word “spirit” (pneuma in Greek) denotes, not a person, but a force or energy. “The fact that ‘spirit’ and ‘breath’ are translations of the same Hebrew and Greek words point to the root meaning of spirit as God’s creative power, the energy behind His utterance” (Buzzard and Hunting, Doctrine of the Trinity, 227).
This approach to “word study” is highly problematic, as hermeneutical scholars who have brought the modern discipline of linguistics to bear on biblical studies have repeatedly explained. Words do not have some sort of irreducible “root meaning” that limits or defines its sense in every usage.
In those few occurrences in the NT where one might translate pneuma as “breath” or “wind,” the word refers metaphorically to angels (Heb. 1:7), a demon (Rev. 13:15), or to God’s Spirit (John 3:8; 2 Thess. 2:7; probably Rev. 11:11). The NT never uses pneuma to refer simply to physical breath or wind. This is worth noting, considering the fact that the word occurs 379 times in the NT.
With regard to the word “spirit” (pneuma), NT usage falls almost entirely into fairly well defined and distinct meanings. Setting aside references to the Holy Spirit, most or all other uses of the term fall into one of the following three categories:
(1) Incorporeal persons or entities (about 67 times). The NT explicitly refers to God (John 4:24), Christ (1 Cor. 15:45), angels (Heb. 1:7, 14), demons (about 54 occurrences), departed believers (Heb. 12:23, possibly 12:9), and other generic supernatural beings (Acts 23:8-9, etc.) as pneuma. This category, in which pneuma unambiguously denotes an invisible person or entity, is larger than the next two categories combined. We must consider it a real possibility, then, that pneuma when used of the Holy Spirit also may refer to a person or entity, not a force or energy.
(2) Inner aspect of human beings (about 38 times). Many people assume that references to the pneuma of human beings refer to an impersonal “life force” that energizes them, but in most if not all instances we may just as well understand the word pneuma in these texts to refer to the inner or innermost person. For example, Stephen’s prayer, “Lord Jesus, receive my pneuma” (Acts 7:59) is more likely to mean, not “take my life energy,” but “take me”! James 2:26 may mean simply that the body is dead if the inner person (pneuma) is not united to it. I must also point out that in no NT text can a human being’s pneuma refer to his power. That is, “his [or her] pneuma” (Mark 2:8, etc.), “my pneuma” (Luke 23:46, etc.), and “your pneuma” (Gal. 6:18, etc.) never mean his, her, my, or your power.
(3) Figurative uses (about 6 times). Finally, there are patently figurative uses of pneuma in reference to attitudes, such as “a pneuma of gentleness” (1 Cor. 4:21) or the exhortation to stand firm “in one pneuma, with one soul” (Phil. 1:27). These clearly do not use pneuma to mean power, force, or energy. They are figurative expressions that picture individuals guided internally by a spirit that inspires gentleness, or that picture a group of people so closely united as to function as though one spirit inhabited all of them.
In short: of the 111 (give or take) occurrences of pneuma in the NT that do not refer to the Holy Spirit, a solid majority of them clearly refer to invisible persons, beings, or entities, and all or nearly all of them are consistent with this idea. This means at the very least that the lexical argument does not prove that “Holy Spirit” denotes a divine energy or force. Indeed, the lexical evidence may actually support the view that the Holy Spirit is a person rather than a force or power.
3. No Distinct Person of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
Anti-Trinitarians commonly argue that since the OT does not reveal the Holy Spirit to be a distinct person, he cannot be one in the NT. This argument disallows any progressive revelation of the nature of God, a premise I see no reason to accept.
Actually, I think there are some indications of the personhood of the Spirit in the OT, but nothing that amounts to a clear, direct revelation of that truth (nor anything that would explicitly contradict it). The view that I hold is that the first clear revelation that the Holy Spirit was a divine person distinct from the Father came in Jesus’ teaching on the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room Discourse (John 14-16). Prior to that discourse, some references to the Holy Spirit do imply that he is personal, and some may even hint that he is distinct from the Father or the Son, but the Upper Room Discourse contained the first direct exposition on the subject.
B. “Another Paraclete”: The Holy Spirit in John
I turn now to the task of presenting a positive case for my position, beginning with the writings of John, especially the Upper Room Discourse in John 14-16. (All biblical citations in this section are from the Gospel of John unless noted otherwise.) The starting point of the revelation of the person of the Holy Spirit is Christ’s announcement that he was leaving the world and would send in his stead “another Paraclete,” the Holy Spirit (14:16). As many scholars do, I am using the Anglicized transliteration “Paraclete” instead of choosing one of the several conventional translations for the Greek word paraklētos (Helper, Comforter, Advocate, etc.).
Let’s set the context. Jesus and his disciples are at the Last Supper, the night before Jesus died. John introduces the narrative of the Last Supper by explaining that “Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world to the Father…and that he had come out from God and was going back [hupagei, “going back, returning, going home”] to God” (13:1, 3). These statements are book-ended (an inclusio) with Jesus’ statement the climax of the Discourse, just before his prayer in John 17: “I came out from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father” (16:28).
Biblical Unitarians agree that Jesus literally left this world and went to the Father in heaven. However, they deny that he literally came out of heaven from the Father. Yet this is what 13:3 and 16:28 clearly say. If the going out of the world to the Father is literal, the coming into the world from the Father in the same statements must also be literal. And in fact we know that it is literal. John even reports the disciples commenting immediately after 16:28, “Lo, now you are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech” (16:29)! The teaching of these two texts flatly contradicts Biblical Unitarianism’s view that the Son’s existence began in his human conception and birth.
The meaning of the Holy Spirit’s coming of which Jesus speaks in the Discourse sandwiched between 13:3 and 16:28 dovetails closely with what these statements say about the Son. The Son is a heavenly, divine person who came out of heaven from the Father into the world. He is about to return to heaven and his glory alongside the Father (see also 17:5). This imminent return to heaven following his death and resurrection is a major theme of the discourse (13:33, 36; 14:2-3, 12, 18-19, 25, 28; 16:5-7, 16-22).
It is in this context that Jesus reveals the coming of the Paraclete. Although Jesus will be leaving them, he will send someone in his place: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Paraclete to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth” (14:16-17a). The words “another Paraclete” imply, of course, that Jesus has been a Paraclete (as John confirms explicitly in 1 John 2:1), and now he is leaving and “another” Paraclete is coming in Jesus’ place. When Jesus goes away, he “will send” the Paraclete to them (16:7). Just as the Son came “from the Father” (para tou patros, 16:28), so also the Paraclete will come “from the Father” (para tou patros, 15:26). That is, like the Son, the Paraclete is a heavenly figure who was with the Father in heaven and will be personally coming to the disciples to be with them. Since the Son was literally someone who came into the world from the Father, the Holy Spirit is also literally someone who was going to come from the Father to be with the disciples as “another” Paraclete.
The term “Paraclete” itself confirms that the Holy Spirit was someone, not just something—a divine person, not a mere force or power. The masculine noun paraklētos is a personal designation or title that denotes someone who encourages, comforts, supports, helps, defends, or otherwise stands alongside, taking the side of, someone else.
Consistent with the fact that paraklētos is a masculine noun, pronouns for which paraklētos is the grammatical antecedent are also masculine (ekeinos, 14:26; 15:26; 16:8, 14; auton, 16:7), while pronouns for which the neuter noun pneuma is the grammatical antecedent are neuter (ho, 14:17a, 26; 15:26; auto, 14:17). This means that John has not let the personhood of the Spirit trump grammatical agreement between pronoun and antecedent noun, as some scholars and apologists still claim. Nor, of course, can one extract an argument against his personhood from the neuter pronouns.
The descriptions of the Paraclete in John pervasively describe the Holy Spirit in terms that echo what the Johannine writings say about the Son, Jesus Christ. In what follows, in most cases I will simply put quotation marks around the key words (that are the same in Greek) that the texts use in reference to both the Son and the Holy Spirit.
- The Son is a “Paraclete” (1 John 2:1); the Holy Spirit is another “Paraclete” (14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7).
- The Son spoke to the disciples while he “remained” with them (14:25); the Holy Spirit will “remain” with the disciples after the Son is no longer physically with them (14:17).
- God “gave” us the Son (3:16); the Father “will give” the Holy Spirit (14:16).
- Unbelievers do not “receive” the Son (5:43); they also do not “receive” the Holy Spirit (14:17).
- The world will not “see” the Son any longer, while believers will “see” him (14:19); the world does not “see” the Holy Spirit (14:17).
- The world did not “know” the Son (1:10; 16:3) while believers do “know” the Son (10:14; 17:3; 1 John 2:3-4); the world does not “know” the Holy Spirit, while believers do “know” the Holy Spirit (14:17).
- The Son is “the Truth” (14:6); the Holy Spirit is “the Truth” (1 John 5:6; cf. John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13; 1 John 4:6).
- The Father “sent” the Son (e.g., 14:24; 15:21; 16:5); the Father “will send” the Holy Spirit (14:26, cf. 14:24); the Son “will send” the Holy Spirit (15:26, cf. 15:21; 16:7, cf. 16:5). Notice that in all three of the references to the “sending” of the Holy Spirit, there is in the immediate context a reference to the “sending” of the Son.
- The Son came in the Father’s name (5:43); the Holy Spirit came in the Son’s name (14:26).
- The Son “taught” (6:59; 7:14, 28; 8:2, 20; 18:20); the Holy Spirit “will teach” (14:26).
- The Son told the disciples “all things” that the Father said (15:15); the Holy Spirit will remind the disciples of “all things” that the Son said (14:26).
- The Son came “from the Father” (16:28); the Holy Spirit came “from the Father” (15:26).
- The Son “testifies” to the truth and to himself (3:11; 4:44; 5:31; 7:7; 8:14, 18; 13:21; 18:37); the Holy Spirit “testifies” to the Son (15:26).
- The Son will execute “judgment” of all people (5:22, 27, 30; 8:16); the Holy Spirit will prepare people by convicting the world about “judgment” (16:8, 11).
- The Son “speaks” (e.g., 16:1, 4, 6, 33; passim); the Holy Spirit “will speak” (16:13).
- The Son does not act or speak “on his own” (aph’ heautou, 5:19; 7:18; cf. 7:17; 8:28; 12:49; 14:10); likewise, the Holy Spirit will not speak “on his own” (aph’ heautou, 16:13). The deference of the Son to the Father is matched by the deference of the Holy Spirit to the Son.
- The Son “speaks” what he “heard” from the Father (8:40); the Holy Spirit “will speak” what he “hears” from the Son (16:13).
- The Son came to glorify the Father (12:28; 14:13; 15:8; 17:1, 4); the Holy Spirit came to glorify the Son (16:14).
- The Son “will declare” all things (4:25); the Holy Spirit “will declare” the Son’s things (16:14-15).
Raymond Brown, the late Roman Catholic biblical scholar, had it right when he commented, “As another Paraclete, the Paraclete is, as it were, another Jesus” (“The Paraclete in the Fourth Gospel,” NTS 13 [1966-67]: 124).
We Trinitarians commonly point out that according to Jesus the Holy Spirit will be sent, hear, speak, teach, testify, and declare, and that these are actions of a person, not a force. And we’re right, but the argument as commonly presented is not air-tight. Non-Trinitarians can pull on a thread here or there, pointing out that biblical texts occasionally say that Scripture “speaks” or that Jesus’ miracles “testify,” and since Scripture and miracles are not persons, perhaps neither is the Holy Spirit. However, take these and the other elements of what John 14-16 says about the Holy Spirit cumulatively in the context of the narrative in which one person, the Son, is leaving and before he goes promises to send someone like him, the Holy Spirit, in his stead, and the argument really becomes irrefutable.
C. The Holy Spirit as an Actor in the Narrative in the Book of Acts
If the Upper Room Discourse is the first direct revelation of the distinct person of the Holy Spirit, we would expect to see the Holy Spirit become far more prominent in the Bible after Jesus’ death and resurrection. The lexical statistics confirm this expectation. There are less than 100 references to the Spirit in the whole OT, about 58 references to the Spirit (by whatever precise name, including Paraclete) in all four Gospels combined, 57 in just the one Book of Acts, and about 154 in the rest of the NT.
We may expect that the Holy Spirit will appear as a named actor or participant in the biblical narrative for the first time following the death and resurrection of Jesus. Specifically, we may expect to see this in Acts, our only NT writing of a narrative (historical) genre dealing with events following the death and resurrection of Jesus. This expectation is fully met in Acts, as I shall show. (All biblical citations in this section refer to Acts unless stated otherwise.)
The activity of the Holy Spirit begins in the very first sentence of the book: “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen” (1:1-2). The words that Jesus spoke were also in some way the words of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1:16; 11:28; 21:4). This statement also establishes from the outset of the narrative that the Holy Spirit, though associated with Jesus, is not Jesus himself. Acts reflects the same narrative perspective as Jesus’ Upper Room Discourse: Jesus, who was on earth, has risen from the dead and gone to heaven, from where he sent the Holy Spirit from the Father as promised (2:33). Thus, Acts agrees that the Holy Spirit is neither Jesus nor the Father, although he is closely associated with both of them.
Luke reports that Jesus told the apostles that they would be “baptized in the Holy Spirit” (1:5), which meant that “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (1:8). In the OT, whenever a spirit—either the Spirit of the LORD or an evil spirit—would come “upon” a person, that spirit would make him act or speak (for good or ill) with bold abandon (e.g., Judg. 3:10; 11:29; 15:14; 1 Sam. 10:6; 11:6; 16:16, 23; 19:9; Joel 2:28-29). The symptoms of this experience in the period of the judges and kings resembled what we would call possession. This OT background assumed that the “spirit” was a supernatural entity of some kind, not merely a force or energy. Jesus tells the apostles that when the Holy Spirit comes upon them, they will have the power specifically to be his “witnesses” throughout the world. That is, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them would give them a holy boldness to testify fearlessly to Jesus (4:31; 9:27, 28; 13:46; 14:3; 18:26; 19:8).
In a meeting after Jesus’ ascension, Peter began his remarks as follows: “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold through the mouth of David concerning Judas” (1:16). This is the first of several explicit references in Acts to the Holy Spirit speaking. Other books of the NT also refer to the Holy Spirit speaking (1 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 3:7-11; 10:15-17; 1 Pet. 1:11; Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22), but as we shall see the evidence in the Book of Acts is especially difficult to explain away.
On Pentecost, the disciples “were filled with the Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance” (2:4). Later Peter quotes the words of Joel 2:28, “I will pour out from my Spirit upon all flesh” (2:17, 18, cf. 2:33). Anti-Trinitarians routinely ask how a person can “fill” another person, or a person be “poured out.” God, who is infinite, omnipresent being, can do these things. Paul, who also speaks of being “filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18), says in the same epistle that we are to be “filled up to all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19) and that Christ descended and then ascended “so that he could fill all things” (Eph. 4:10). As for being “poured out,” this is an idiom that means to give of oneself completely, and so even human beings can be said to be “poured out” (Ps. 22:14; Isa. 53:12; Phil. 2:17; 2 Tim. 4:6). This sort of language, then, does not prove that the Spirit is a force or energy.
The point about being filled with the Spirit receives some interesting confirmation in the confrontation between Peter and Ananias, when Peter asked, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit…?” (5:3). The word “filled” here is the same word (plēroō) that Acts uses to express being “filled” with the Spirit. Luke presents Peter—a man who represents the church “filled with the Spirit” to speak the truth boldly (4:8, 31)—confronting a man whom Satan had “filled” to speak a lie brazenly (5:3). (The close proximity of 4:31 to 5:3 makes this connection quite solid.) Satan, of course, is a spirit, but an evil spirit—the evil spirit—and he stands in perfect contrast here to the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Holy Spirit, like Satan, is an unseen figure who participates in the narrative; both are personal spirits that seek to “fill” people to some end, either for truth or for lies.
In defending the apostolic preaching of Jesus, Peter stated, “And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit that God has given to those who obey him” (5:32). Note the coherence between what Jesus told the apostles in the Upper Room Discourse (John 15:26-27) and what Peter, the leader of the apostles, says here. The Holy Spirit is a divine witness confirming the testimony of the human witnesses.
In more than one place in the narrative in Acts, Luke attributes specific statements that he quotes to the Holy Spirit:
- “Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over to this chariot and join it’” (8:12).
- “While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Look, three men are searching for you. Now get up, go down, and go with them without hesitation; for I have sent them’” (10:19-20; cf. 11:12).
- “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ …So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit…” (13:2, 4).
- “And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, ‘This is what the Holy Spirit says: “In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles”’” (21:11).
These statements by the Holy Spirit are statements that an important figure in the narrative makes that leads to others taking specific actions, such as going places and talking to other people. In some of these statements the Holy Spirit refers to himself as “I” and “me” (10:20; 13:2). The Holy Spirit sends people and calls people to specific missions. In his narrative comments, Luke confirms that the Holy Spirit performs these actions, as when he says that Barnabas and Saul were “sent out by the Holy Spirit.”
In another passage, Luke reports:
“They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them” (16:6-7).
Here again, the Spirit is active in the narrative, preventing the disciples from going in the wrong direction so they will go the right way (see 16:8-10). Luke refers to the Spirit in 16:7 as “the Spirit of Jesus,” an unusual variation that makes it clear that the Holy Spirit faithfully represents Jesus’ intention or will in directing the disciples’ mission.
In the aftermath of the Jerusalem Council, the apostles and elders sent a letter to Antioch in which they wrote, “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials” (15:28). Here the apostles and elders credit the Holy Spirit with being involved in their council deliberations.
Before he left Ephesus, Paul told the elders there that “the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me” (20:23). Once again, the Holy Spirit testifies and speaks. In the same speech, Paul reminded the elders that “the Holy Spirit has made you overseers” of the flock (20:28). Paul thus credits the Holy Spirit with appointing people in their church ministries.
Finally, the references to the Holy Spirit at the very beginning and end of Acts (1:2; 28:25-26) have a special significance with regard to the role that the Holy Spirit plays in the book. Richard Bauckham has shown that three of the Gospels employ a literary device of mentioning toward the beginning and the end of each book the primary witness whose testimony stands prominently behind that Gospel’s narrative. Mark mentions Simon (Peter) toward the beginning and end of his Gospel (Mark 1:16; 16:7), a fact that correlates nicely with the strong tradition that Mark’s Gospel was based on Peter’s testimony. In John, the anonymous disciple “whom Jesus loved” is one of the first two disciples mentioned and the last disciple mentioned (John 1:35; 21:24). Luke also makes Simon Peter the first and last named disciple of Jesus in his Gospel (Luke 4:38; 24:34). Thus, these three Gospels, including Luke, use this literary device of an inclusio to identify the primary witness who observed the events and whose testimony is the basis for the historical narrative (Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony , 124-27).
Luke continues the use of this device in Acts, where the Holy Spirit appears in the narrative, not only at the very beginning and end of the book (1:2; 28:25-26), but as a participant at key points throughout the book. The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples at Pentecost to launch the Christian movement (2:4, 17-18, 33, 38). He emboldened the apostles to maintain their witness in the face of opposition (4:8, 25, 31; 5:32). His presence emboldened Stephen as he became the first Christian witness to be martyred for his faith (7:51, 55). He directed the taking of the gospel outside the Jewish people for the first time to the Samaritans (8:15, 17) and the Ethiopian (8:29, 39). He filled the church’s archenemy Saul as part of the process of turning him into the church’s greatest missionary (9:17). He directed Peter to preach to pagan Gentiles for the first time and supernaturally validated their faith (10:19, 44-47; 11:12, 15-16; 15:8). He sent Barnabas and Saul (Paul) on the first evangelistic mission outside the region of the Promised Land (13:2, 4). He participated in the decision of the Jerusalem Council to admit Gentiles into Christian fellowship without requiring their submission to the Mosaic Law (15:28). He directed Paul’s missionary travels, preventing him from staying in Eastern Europe in order to move him in the more strategic direction of Western Europe (16:6-10). He warned Paul that he was going to be imprisoned and persecuted for his efforts (20:22-23; 21:4, 11).
Thus, from beginning to end, Luke is letting the reader know that the Holy Spirit was there, was involved as an active participant, and was a witness to the events that Luke narrates in his book. The Holy Spirit is the primary “witness” who was present during the events and whose testimony is the basis for the book’s historical narrative.
D. Conclusion: Person or Personification?
Anti-Trinitarians often argue that “personal” language for the Holy Spirit is personification, a form of figurative language in which an impersonal object or abstraction is spoken of as if it were a person. They frequently cite the personification of wisdom in Proverbs 1-9 as precedent. However, this argument ignores the genres and contexts of the different passages. Proverbs 1-9 is a highly poetic section of a book in the genre of “wisdom literature,” in which wisdom is portrayed in colorful, indisputably metaphorical terms. Thus, wisdom is a lady crying out in the streets and at the city gates (1:20-21; 8:1-3). Lady Wisdom has built a house with seven pillars, and she throws a party at her house with food, wine, and young women and invites men to come to her party rather than that of her rival, Madame Foolishness (Prov. 9)! This is not historical narrative, as is the Book of Acts. Nor is Solomon presenting wisdom as a figure that will literally be part of the young man’s own real-life story.
By contrast, the Holy Spirit in John is a real person, similar in many ways to Jesus the Son, whom Jesus promises to send from heaven after he returns there to the Father. In Acts, the Holy Spirit comes from heaven as Jesus promised and is an active participant and major witness of the events in Luke’s historical narrative. The “personification” explanation simply does not work.
We have, then, compelling evidence in the NT, especially in John and Acts, that the Holy Spirit is a divine person, distinct from the Father and the Son. This means that Unitarianism is incompatible with the NT. Given that the Holy Spirit is either God himself or an aspect of God’s being, the evidence that he is a person distinct from the Father shows that the Trinitarian understanding of the Holy Spirit best accounts for the NT teaching.