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Holy spirit, Trinity, Godhead, His Spirit, third person, Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ, God's spirit Holy Ghost
Generally speaking Christianity teaches that the Holy Spirit referred to in its sacred writings is actually a unique individual. Although unique, this individual is indivisibly bound to the Father and Son. Together they comprise the ‘One God’ of the Trinity. There do seem to be references to ‘spirits’ that indicate they are independent invisible beings with significant abilities. However, there are also ‘spirits’ who are not independent individuals, but rather are references to individual or group mentalities.
This is reflected in the use of the word in English too. For instance, a major national holiday in the USA is called Thanksgiving. Anyone referring to the spirit of Thanksgiving would be referring to an attitude of gratitude. This spirit would encompass and represent all the good will and appreciation for blessings the holiday Thanksgiving is supposed to embody. No one really believes there is an individual living spirit named Thanksgiving or a spirit being that is designated responsible for that day.
I occasionally refer to the spirit of my physical father who died years ago. He taught me certain behavior and values. Occasionally when I determine to do what is right, rather than what I want to do, I will acknowledge that the spirit of my father is telling me what to do again. Did I hear a voice? No, but I might just as well have. I know what he would say as sure as if he were speaking to me face to face.
So how do I know the spirit of my Father is an actual being with independent intellect, but the spirit of my father is not?
Hebrew History of the Spirit
There are many references to the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. Even the Catholics know that Judaism recognized the existence of the Holy Spirit. However, the Jews did not recognize the Spirit as a unique individual the way Christianity generally does.
The Vatican web site article "The Jewish Roots of the Holy Spirit", from Jubilee 2000 magazine. http://www.vatican.va/jubilee_2000/magazine/documents/ju_mag_01021998_p-24_en.html, has this to say about the Hebrew/Jewish understanding of the Holy Spirit. "Although in Jewish scripture the Holy Spirit is never presented as a person but rather as a divine power capable of transforming the human being and the world, the fact remains that Christian pneumatological terminology is rooted in that of the Jewish religion."
The Jews have always considered that the Holy Spirit was the "divine power capable of transforming the human being and world", not a unique individual. Those who hold to the Trinity simply interpret their terms differently. They use the Jewish terminology and description, but don’t consider the intended Jewish meaning. In effect, they put their own meanings on the scriptural, Jewish originated, terms. If this is a valid approach, it must be that somewhere in the words of Jesus or the Apostles there is a definitive clarification or correction of the Jewish misunderstanding. This would be especially true if this matter really makes any difference one way or the other.
The treatment of the individuality and person of the Holy Spirit by the Catholic Encyclopedia (C-E) is enlightening. Keep in mind that we’re looking for Jesus or the Apostles to correct the misunderstanding of the Jews among whom they lived and taught.
Let’s examine the highlights of the C-E article The Blessed Trinity (TBT). (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15047a.htm#I)
"The Trinity is the term employed to signify the central doctrine of the Christian religion -- the truth that in the unity of the Godhead there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, these Three Persons being truly distinct one from another."
Note that in their opening remarks on the subject, quoted above, they call the doctrine of the Trinity "the central doctrine of the Christian religion". One would expect it to be very important not only to Christianity, but also to the being they worship. Again, one would expect very clear and definitive statements affirming their understanding throughout their sacred writings.
The Trinity doctrine is not only central to Catholics, but Protestants as well. According to the National Association of Evangelicals (http://www.nae.net/about-us/statement-of-faith), believers are not considered believers unless they accept the Trinity. Belief in Jesus is not enough. That's pretty important for a faith that espouses ‘So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved"’ (Acts 16:31).
Key Holy Spirit Texts of the New Testament
The C-E/TBT, section entitled "Proof of Doctrine from Scripture", focuses especially on Matthew 28:18-20, where Jesus tells His disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This does seem to put the Holy Spirit in the same category as the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ. However, we should consider the action of the Apostles in following this instruction.
Of particular note is the baptism of some believers in Ephesus by Paul. Acts 19:1-6 tells of some students of Apollos who had been baptized in the name of John the Baptist. Paul evidently noticed something about them that made him wonder if they had received the Holy Spirit when they first believed. They had not even heard of the Spirit. They were then quickly baptized "in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Act 19:5). Apparently the baptism did not include the name of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Matthew 28:19.
It seems that since the Holy Spirit was a central focus in this account, if Paul were baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit would have at least been mentioned here. It is not connected with the baptism at all.
Also, Peter when admonishing the crowd on Pentecost, exhorted them to be baptized only in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38). The baptisms of Philip in Acts 8:12-17, also indicate that he baptized only in the name of the Lord Jesus (vs. 16). Peter again, when he baptized Cornelius, baptized him only in the name of the Lord (Acts 10:48). When Paul was baptized, he was exhorted only to call on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16, see also Acts 9:17-18)
Paul also mentions baptism to the Romans, but only mentions the connection with Jesus Christ (Rom 6:3). A similar thought occurs in Galatians 3:27. The context of I Corinthians 1:13 indicates baptism only involves Jesus.
The Holy Spirit is definitely associated with baptism, but the text of Matthew 28:19 didn’t seem to have a very profound effect on the practice of those who baptized in the New Testament church. Cornelius and his household evidently received the special gift of the Holy Spirit before they were baptized. The Samaritans apparently received it days if not weeks later (Acts 8:14-17).
As part of the baptismal process, the one doing the baptizing typically laid their hands on the new believer. This was evidently symbolic of their appointment as a member of the body of Christ, the congregation. The Spirit was received through that process, not the baptism itself. That appointment could be done days after the baptism.
There are also other scriptures, while not mentioning baptism directly, run contrary to the injunction of Matthew 28:19. "…for there is no other name under heaven, given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). "whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus..." (Col 3:17).
The lack of adherence on the part of the early church probably exists because Jesus never spoke the words attributed to Him in Matthew 28:19. Generally speaking Jesus didn’t work on formulas such as that found in verse 19. In other words, God doesn’t act because someone says the magic words, but because of the humble, teachable heart and mind of those involved in the situation.
It is also in keeping with the mind of God that facts are established on two or three witnesses (Mat 18:16, II Cor 13:1, 1 Tim 5:19, Deu 19:5). Thus virtually everything that is important instruction to believers is repeated or reinforced somewhere else. The Matthew 28:19 formula is found only in this one verse. This verse is the only indication one is supposed to be baptized into some name or authority other than that of Jesus Christ.
Historical writings shed an interesting light on this verse. The historian Eusebius of Caesarea references this verse in his work on many occasions. Seventeen of them seem to quote Jesus as saying only baptize or make converts "in my name" (particularly Demonstratio Evangelica, col. 240, p. 136). In the three times where his text includes mention of the Father and Holy Spirit, the document is of his later work after 325 AD/CE. Jerome also refers to Matthew 28:19 in his Dialogue with Tryphon, (Chap 39, para. 1) and echoes the bulk of Eusebius references. No mention is made of the Father or Holy Spirit.
That date 325 CE was the first worldwide conclave of the Christian leadership we know of after Acts 15. It became known as the Council of Nicaea. This Council ruled that the Father and Son were co-essential and of the same essence. Before this time many believed Jesus Christ had been created, particularly those in Greece, Asia Minor and the Holy Land. In any case, it was a watershed event in the church and caused a fair amount of re-thinking… and likely re-writing of the Apostolic Writings.
It is also interesting that the two very earliest manuscripts of Matthew end at Matthew 26:52. The last two chapters are missing from both documents. Other early documents were copied after the Council of Nicaea.
So while Matthew 28:19 seems to place the Father, Son and Holy Spirit equally in a special group, the disciples and Apostles did not take great care to practice their faith by its instruction. It is also a lone witness in opposition to the typical requirement to judge a matter based on at least two witnesses. Finally, very early historical works, although fairly frequently referring to Matthew 28:19, do not confirm the text as we know it. This calls into question any weight the church might put upon it.
Certainly many scribal comments found their way into New Testament scripture long after the Apostles were dead. When we have the complete Greek text, Matthew 28:19 is included in it. That doesn’t preclude it from having been added by some creative scribe in the third or fourth century. Given the nature of the controversy that brought about the Council of Nicaea and the decision made there, it would not be a stretch to think that there was a concerted effort by many to modify this verse to conform to the decision of the Council.
Another statement foundational to the doctrine of the Trinity is found in I John 5:7-8. Actually the great bulk of this text does not appear in any early Greek or Latin documents of scripture. It first appears in a version of the Latin Vulgate dated about 800 CE. It does not appear in any Greek texts made before about 1500 CE. As a result, the vast majority of people who study such things agree that it was not penned by John. Even the authors of the New International Version, who are staunch believers in the Trinity, recognize the lack of authority for this text. The quote below indicates the text penned by John in bold italics. The rest was likely added later by a creative scribe.
7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.
The really telling evidence is that many early proponents of the Trinity quote John 10:30 "I and My Father are one", but they don't quote I John 5:7. The latter would have produced the stronger argument by far. Likely the “oversight” is due to the fact the text these proponents were using had not yet been changed to include the addition now found in the KJV.
Further on in the C-E/TBT article we have the following:
"In regard to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the passages which can be cited from the Synoptists as attesting His distinct personality are few."
Indeed this is true. However the encyclopedia is convinced that "For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say" (Luke 12:12), clearly implies a separate individual.
Consider the following quote from: Anti-Jewish Tendencies in the Synoptic Gospels by R. Steven Notley, "The idea of the holy spirit as a teacher is well-known in first-century Jewish thinking" (Jerusalem Perspective Apr-June 1996). So Jesus statement that the holy spirit would teach the disciples after He left (John 14:26, Luke 12:12) would have been easily accepted by anyone who held to the typical Jewish concept of the holy spirit. They would have understood no implication of a separate individual. They would have understood He was talking of the power of God. There would need to be a clear statement, if there were an intention to correct the general impression of Judaism for all the Jews who might read John or Luke.
The nature of communication among Hebrew and/or Aramaic speakers tends toward metaphor and giving life to inanimate objects. Psalms 98:8 is a good case in point: "Let the rivers clap their hands; Let the hills be joyful together before the LORD". (see also Isa 55:12) Another good example of the metaphorical nature of the language is found in Mat 6:3. ""But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." Are your right and left hand individuals who can sneak behind the others back? In a language where these kinds of references are frequent, one must be careful about what one reads into the text. Although the text we have is Greek, the authors were native Hebrew/Aramaic speakers. Implications are often in the mind of the reader, not necessarily the author. Since the Jews to whom Luke 12:12 was written likely understood the spirit as God’s power, it is likely they didn’t get the ‘clear’ implication seen by the C-E. There is no reason, to think it was intended by the Jewish author.
Matthew 12:24-28 describes a confrontation Jesus had with the Pharisees. Jesus was casting out demons "by the Spirit of God" (Vs 28). The story is repeated in Luke 11:18-20. However, in the Luke account Jesus is quoted as saying He casts out the demons by "the finger of God" (vs 20). The spirit of God and His finger are equivalent. Is the finger of God a separate unique individual of the Godhead? More likely the finger of God is a member of His hand, which represents His ability to move and direct the accomplishment of His will as He sees fit. A force or power under His direct control is indicated, not a separate independent individual.
"It is evident that, were the Spirit not a Person, Christ could not have spoken of His presence with the Apostles as comparable to His own presence with them ([John]14:16). Again, were He not a Divine Person it could not have been expedient for the Apostles that Christ should leave them, and the Paraclete take His place" (C-E/TBT/Proof of Doctrine from Scripture)
There are a number of issues this brings up. 1) Is Christ even talking of a different presence than His own? 2) Is this a bodily presence or a mental presence? 3) Why did Christ need to leave in order for the Paraclete to come? We’ll look at these, one at a time.
Consider "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." (John 14:17). This is the verse following one referred to just above. Who or what was then dwelling with them and would later be in them? Certainly that was our Savior/Yeshua. The Spirit was not yet given (John 7:39) so the spirit was not dwelling with them. Yeshua was dwelling with them at that time.
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." (Gal 2:20ab)
"Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." (John 14:23, Note this is seven verses after that referenced in the C-E above.)
"But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His." (Rom 8:9)
It is apparent that the "Spirit of truth" (John 14:17), that was with them and would be in them was Jesus Christ Himself. It also seems that it is both the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of Jesus Christ that dwell in a believer. The Father and Son do not dwell exclusively in any one particular person. Neither is a third individual being described here, but Jesus Christ indicates that He would come back to live in each of the disciples. As a human He could only be in one place at a time. He couldn’t always be with them all. As a spirit being, He is not so limited.
These scriptures indicate a spirit of the Father and of Jesus Christ. They also indicate the Father and Christ would dwell in the believer. At the same time Jesus Christ had to go away to send the Holy Spirit. Are there two individual Spirits or three? Is this gift of the Holy Spirit separate from these?
"that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:" (John 17:21-22)
"Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel," (Phil 1:27)
"Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like–minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." (Phil 2:1-2)
Is John 17:21-22 saying that we will become part of the Trinity just like they are? It seems apparent that the intent here is that we are to be of the same mind as Jesus Christ and the Father. Jesus Christ and the Father are one in that their mentality, values and conduct reflects the same mind. It is desired that we humans be one "just as We are one" and that we are one with Them. So, there are not really two spirits or three, multiple separate individuals vying for dominance in a person. Believers are all to be one in the same thinking and mentality of the Father and Son.
In John 14:7-11 Jesus and Philip converse about knowing the Father and His relationship to the Son, Jesus/Yeshua. The conclusion of the matter (vs. 10-11) is that what Jesus spoke and did came from the Father. Although Philip was probably interested in physical appearance, that was not of importance to Jesus. Jesus point was that His words and actions exemplified the Father. We truly know someone not by appearance (or how they came to be), but by their conduct. "Therefore by their fruits you will know them." (Mat 7:20)
Jesus Christ came to do the will of the Father (Heb 10:7, 9, John 14:24). He and the Father are of one mind, one mentality. We should be of that same mentality. When a believer lives his life based on the example and instruction of Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ is living in the believer. Whether one calls it the Holy Spirit, the spirit of God or the spirit of Jesus Christ makes no difference. It is the mind of God that works His will in this world. Ultimately the source is the same, the Father.
"He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked." (1 John 2:6)
"A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher." (Luke 6:40)
If we are one with Jesus Christ and the Father, we will conduct ourselves like they would conduct themselves. We will have Their mind and Their spirit (mentality).
Why did Jesus need to leave before the spirit would come?
For some reason the Paraclete, the comforter, the Holy Spirit, would not come to the disciples as long as Jesus Christ was with them. "Nevertheless 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 depart, I will send Him to you" (John 16:7). Was there a turf war going on here? That is highly unlikely. For some reason Jesus had to send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Why would that be?
"Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6) "All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him." (Luke 10:22 Note that Jesus didn’t indicate any identity for the Spirit similar to that of the Son or the Father, or that the Spirit might know one of them.)
Christ is the mediator between God and men. The Holy Spirit is not. (Heb 8:6, 9:15, 1 Cor 11:3). This might explain why Jesus Christ had to ‘send’ the Spirit. Christ had to regain His existence as a spirit being and thus regain His ability to influence humans through the spirit or mentality. "But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." (John 7:39). In any case the Spirit works at the request of Jesus Christ (John 14:15-16).
Can we see why the Comforter could not come until Jesus left? Jesus imparts a portion of His own mind to the believer. His mind is in accord with the mind of the Father. The source of Jesus mentality is from the Father. It proceeds from the Father (John 15:26). When Jesus ascended again to the Father, He was restored to His glorified spirit existence. He could then begin working with all His believers through His spirit. As a human He simply did not have that ability. Others, besides those who were able to physically be with Jesus, could be benefited once Jesus was glorified.
Are the New and Old Testament Spirit different?
The Spirit coming on the day of Pentecost described in Acts 2 is obviously a significant event. Some believe that the Holy Spirit was unknown, or at least wasn’t given to men before this time. Yet we have King David saying "Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me" (Ps 51:11).
After Mary was informed that she would conceive the Messiah, she visited her cousin Elizabeth, who was over five months pregnant with John the Baptist (Luke 1:36). At their meeting Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit (vs. 41). John the Baptist certainly had the Holy Spirit from birth (vs.15). The New Testament writers make no distinction between this pre-Jesus Holy Spirit and the post-Jesus holy spirit. The spirit was being given until almost the time of Jesus birth.
However, there is no record of anyone receiving the Spirit after John the Baptist until the Pentecost of Acts 2, with the possible exception of Jesus Himself. Those who had the Holy Spirit kept it (Luke 2:25-30), but even the disciples did not receive it until after the crucifixion.
It is not that the Spirit was on vacation when Jesus was walking the earth. The Spirit of God is the mind, mentality, power, movement and will of God. Those humans that already had an understanding and conviction of the will of God, kept it. Those who did not have that special gift went about their normal lives. Humans are not naturally of the same mind as God. We can be of one mind with Him through the influence of the Son, Jesus Christ. This requires active effort by the believer (I John 2:6, 3:3, Heb 11:6).
So even though Jesus and the Apostles called the Holy Spirit by various names, there are not multiple spirits. The Father and Son are of the same mind, therefore their spirits are the same. It influences, teaches or helps the believer to better understand the mind of the Father and Jesus Christ. The living Jesus Christ administers, sends or imparts that spirit to humans. As a human being Jesus was evidently unable to send that spirit. After John, the spirit was not sent again until Jesus was once again glorified.
Before we get too far afield let’s consider the quotes from John 17 and Philippians 1 again. "that they also may be one in Us" and "that they may be one just as We are one" and "that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel"
These desire a unity among believers and the Father and Son. It is not a unity of existence though, but of mind. Jesus wants the believers to be one just like He and the Father are one. So either He is asking that the Trinity be expanded or He is asking that believers be of the same mind as Jesus and the Father. At the same time He is indicating that Their unity is not a unity of existence. Jesus had to go somewhere to actually be with the Father (John 17:11, 16:28).
The Spirit is not mentioned in Jesus requests to be one. However, if the Spirit were an individual of the Godhead, one would expect Him to be included in the unity of the Father and the Son. Surely the Spirit would be included in "that they may be one just as We are one". Jesus asked that believers be granted inclusion with that unity, but He ignores the spirit when mentioning it. This seems like something of an affront to the spirit. This is also a problem for Trinitarians, because the generally accepted concept of the Trinity does not allow for additional members.
Assumed Comparable Presence
The C-E asserts that Yeshua’s comments equating a presence of the Spirit with the disciples in John 14:16 indicates a unique individual. Humans, even without God, have a spirit (I Cor 2:11, Jas 2:26). As it turns out Paul indicated his spirit could be someplace where he was not (I Cor 5:3-4). This is not talking of the Holy Spirit, but Paul’s own mind, mentality, values and perspectives that make up the spirit that is in men. The Spirit of God being somewhere the human Messiah was not, is no reason to assume an implication of a separate unique individual unless one also believes Paul’s spirit was a separate individual from Paul.
I Cor 2:11 "For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God."
Humans can understand human things because of their thinking processes. God understands His things because of how He thinks. Humans each have thinking that makes them who they are. God’s thinking makes Him who He is. The Hebrew writers of the New Testament had no problem putting a distinction between a person and his spirit, the thinking that personified the individual.
This did not indicate a separate individual, but was just a Hebrew form of expression highlighting the mind or mentality. Paul’s spirit was negatively provoked in Athens (Acts 17:16). Apollos was fervent in his spirit (Acts 18:25). Paul worked out his traveling plans in his spirit (Acts 19:21). Paul served God in his spirit (Rom 1:8). There is a distinction between someone’s body and spirit (I Cor 7:34, II Cor 7:1). Paul’s spirit was refreshed by others (I Cor 16:17). Our spirit may not be blameless (I Thes 5:23). Our body can’t be alive without our spirit (Jas 2:26).
It is apparent the spirit in humans is treated similarly to the way the Spirit of God is treated. Our spirit is obviously not a second unique individual. There is no reason to assume the Spirit of God is a second unique individual. In scripture and in Hebrew thinking God’s spirit is simply personified to make for a vivid story. "
"Moreover, notwithstanding the neuter form of the word (pneuma), the pronoun used in His regard is the masculine ekeinos. " (C-E/TBT)
The C-E notes and dismisses the fact that in Greek, ‘spirit’ is a neuter word. The C-E emphasizes the masculine pronoun that is used in conjunction with ‘Paraclete’ (John 15:26). They neglect to mention the opposite situation appears in John 14:17. "Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." In fact, the pronoun translated ‘him’ in this verse is Greek ‘auto’ and is neuter in gender and refers to ‘pneuma’ which is also neuter. A strict translation would replace each instance of ‘him’ with ‘it’. ‘He dwelleth’ is in the reflexive form, which means that it takes the gender of the noun it modifies. So it should be translated ‘it dwelleth’ as well.
Gender in English is usually reserved for things that indeed have gender, i.e. males and females. Occasionally it is also connected to things for which we feel an affinity or attachment. Use in that case is entirely at the discretion of the speaker. Many languages including Greek do not allow speaker discretion. Greek gender may be based on certain logic, but is often fixed even when there really is no gender involved. In a language like this the appearance of gender cannot be taken as an indication that an item is a male or female. Neither does gender indicate the item under discussion is, or ever was, alive.
The discussion of the Spirit in John 16 begins (vs 7) by calling the Spirit, ‘Paraclete’, the Helper or comforter. This Greek word is assigned male gender, so the following discussion continues to refer back to the Paraclete using the male gender. The discussion of the Spirit in John 14:17 continues with neuter pronouns because spirit, ‘pneuma’ is neuter.
The authors of the Gospels, in particular John, were content to use the appropriate gender based on the term used to refer to the Spirit. They were not attempting to hint about the individuality of the Spirit. In reality, spirit beings likely don’t have any gender as we know it anyway (Mat 22:30). So even if the Holy Spirit were a unique individual assigning it a gender would be arbitrary. Likewise, it is an assumption to think that because gender is assigned, a unique individual is implied.
"The distinction of the Holy Spirit from the Father and from the Son is involved in the express statements that He proceeds from the Father and is sent by the Son ( 15:26; cf. 14:16, 14:26)." (C-E/TBT)
Yes, these are statements made by John, so they are express statements. How they expressly distinguish the Holy Spirit as a unique individual is another matter. Does not the influence and mind of God proceed (John 14:24) from The Father? Can anyone comprehend that mind and draw close to Him except through the Son? (John 14:6) The Son must be involved. So if the C-E finds three unique individuals to be expressly evident in this relationship, it is because they are reading into the text what is simply not there. They are using Jewish communication, but assigning their own meanings ignoring the original Jewish thinking that authored it. This text could just as easily be expressing the workings of the Father and the Son in influencing believers to become like the Father and His Son (Mat 5:44-45, Phil 2:5). This is done in conjunction with the believer setting their own will aside (Mat 16:25) diligently seeking the will of the Father (Heb 11:6) and living based on the standard of the Father (Jam 4:8).
"In certain texts the coordination of Father, Son, and Spirit leaves no possible doubt as to the meaning of the writer. Thus in II Corinthians 13:13, St. Paul writes: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ., and the charity of God, and the communication of the Holy Ghost be with you all." Here the construction shows that the Apostle is speaking of three distinct Persons." (C-E/TBT)
It is interesting that ‘grace’ and ‘charity’ are very similar in meaning. They indicate a special favor, loving-kindness, good will, and benevolence. ‘Communication’ is different. It indicates a fellowship, sharing and joint participation. Two cannot walk long together unless they agree (or meet, Amos 3:3). Believers enjoy fellowship, sharing and joint participation, because they are of the same mind, not because the Spirit is a conduit between them . In any case Paul felt no need to correct common Jewish misunderstanding. The C-E simply assumes the meaning they prefer in the text, justified or not.
It is also interesting that this second Epistle to the Corinthians begins with the following greeting. "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (II Cor 1:2). The Spirit is ignored. Actually the greeting is very similar in First Corinthians too. Romans is the same, as is Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. In all Paul’s Epistles where He sends greetings from the Father and Son, he omits a greeting from the Holy Spirit.
Consider the greeting of 1 John 1:3. "that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ." II Corinthians 13:13 seems to indicate fellowship comes because of the Spirit, yet when encouraging fellowship of the believers, John ignores the Spirit and indicates the fellowship is truly with the Father and Son. There is no fellowship with the Spirit. There is fellowship of the spirit, i.e. a oneness of mind. The Spirit that promotes fellowship with the Father and Son is the mentality that is one with Them and seeks to live as They would live.
Consider also the greeting given in 2 Peter 1:2-3. "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue".
It is the "divine power" that taught them " the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord “ and “all things that pertain to life and godliness". Wasn’t this the job of the Spirit? Indeed it is (John 14:26). These things were given to them by the influence and knowledge and understanding of the mind of the Father by His power to make His perspective known to those who seek Him. His Spirit, His mentality, His ‘divine power’ imparts knowledge and understanding.
"yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live" (1 Cor 8:6). The Spirit is in a different class from these individuals. It is not mentioned.
"The Divinity of the Three Persons is asserted or implied in passages too numerous to count." (C-E/TBT)
It is implied to those who have already decided it is fact. The supposed assertions are understood based on the assumption that the concept of the Trinity is true, along with a narrow prejudice reading of a picturesque language that often gives life to inanimate objects. They site no scripture where Jesus or the Apostles correct the Jewish understanding of the time. The very terminology they use comes from the Jews. For some reason they think it means something other than what the Jews who wrote it and to whom it was written understood.
Old Testament spirit
The C-E also deals with evidence of the Trinity in the Old Testament. It explains that some early church writers believed they found evidence of the doctrine in the Old Testament. In some cases they even disagreed with Paul regarding to which member of the Trinity the Old Testament is referring. However the C-E, to its credit concludes:
"But in others of the Fathers is found what would appear to be the sounder view, that no distinct intimation of the doctrine was given under the Old Covenant.[Testament]"
The Jews have always considered that the Holy Spirit was the force or power of God, not a unique individual. The text of the New Testament does nothing to contradict this opinion. Those who hold to the Trinity simply interpret the terms differently. They use the same terminology, but assign their own meanings. This of and by itself ought to give us pause to consider. If there was no clear affirmation of the individuality of the Spirit in opposition to the prevailing belief held by Judaism, is there any reason to think a New Testament believer should believe anything different than an Old Testament believer? Put another way: every Jew upon first contact with Jesus likely held the opinion that the Holy Spirit was the divine power of God, not an individual. Why isn’t this ‘erroneous’ opinion clearly addressed somewhere? Is the Trinity "the central doctrine of the Christian religion" or isn’t it? Is a believer not a believer unless he/she believes in the Trinity or not? If this issue wasn’t clearly explained, how important is it that Christians believe in the Trinity?
Since at least the Garden of Eden there has been a separation between the Father and humans. Undoubtedly part of this is because our sins separate us (Isa 59:2). Also, the absolute brilliance of His majesty (1 Tim 6:16) would overwhelm us. In any case, the one who became Jesus Christ was apparently the one with whom the Patriarchs interacted (I Cor 10:4, Heb 7:3-4, John 1:3). Since Jesus is the "Word", (John 1:1, 14) spokesman, representative and general Ambassador of the Father, He could speak as if He were the Father. "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." (John 14:10 KJV)
Evidently at least while Jesus was human on earth, the Father helped Jesus gather disciples, but He did not bypass the Son. "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6) Even the Father evidently does not interfere with Jesus mediating position with respect to men. "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44). Consider the next verse. "It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me." (John 6:45, see Isa 54:13)
Christians recognize that the Holy Spirit comes to teach and help believers remember. Yet the Father teaches and draws believers to Jesus Christ. Does the Father usurp the job of the Holy Spirit, but not that of Jesus Christ? One could say this reflects one God in three individuals. One could just as easily say the Spirit is the power of the Father working. That is how those to whom Jesus spoke would have understood it. No correcting explanation was given.
The spirit and Jesus
There was one case where the Father dealt directly with a human. That was in the case of Jesus Christ. At His baptism the Holy Spirit seemed to float down like a dove "in bodily form" from above (Luke 3:22). The prevailing opinion of traditional Christianity takes this as proof that the Holy Spirit is a separate individual. The image John saw would have us picture a dove. Is the Holy Spirit a dove?
John witnessed the spirit descending (John 1:32). He had been told that he would see the spirit descend and that is how he would identify the Messiah (vs. 33). The account describes for us what he saw, because it was unusual that the spirit, whether power or individual, would be "visible" in any form.
John does not indicate that what he saw revealed to him was an individual. The visible object was simply to allow John to identify who the Messiah was. The power of God can do wonderful things. Surely the Father has the power to make something appear like the descending of a dove.
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Mark 13:32). Was there any other individual that could have possibly known the day of Jesus return? Apparently not, at least Jesus didn’t seem to think there was any other realistic possibility. The possibility of the Spirit knowing didn’t seem to cross His mind.
"You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22). The Jewish understanding of who they worshiped was generally speaking, accurate.
Did it take both the Holy Spirit and the Father to engender Jesus? How did that work? "And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35) Anyone vaguely familiar with Hebrew/Aramaic and honest in their assessment, will recognize "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you" as Hebrew parallelism. They are very simply the very same thing, not two different things. The Holy Spirit = the power of the Highest.
"Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come… And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:1-3). Someone sent is typically subordinate to the one who sent him. The Father is the "ONLY TRUE GOD". "How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?" (John 5:44).
There is no attempt in the New Testament to correct the ‘misunderstanding’ of the Jews with regard to the status of the Holy Spirit. The spirit of the Father, commonly called the Holy Spirit is the mentality of the Father, which is occasionally motivated to action in the world and the people He chooses to influence and those that diligently seek Him. The Father is the "only true God". His mentality originates with Him. It is in the Son because the Son seeks to emulate and do the will of the Father. It is in His believers because they seek to emulate Jesus/Yeshua. They purify themselves. (see also 1 John 3:3)
Helper or Fixer?
"But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me" (John 15:26, see also 16:7). The spirit is the servant of our savior Yeshua, just like He was the servant of the Father (Heb 10:7, 9, John 7:16, 14:10). It is the mentality of the Father. It resides in Yeshua/Jesus and He puts it in the mind of those who truly believe to help their effort.
"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double–minded." (Jam 4:8)
The gift of the Holy spirit does not eliminate the need for a believer to correct his conduct. The gift of the Holy spirit is a gift of help, not an instant panacea. Messiah expects us to repent, i.e. to fundamentally change our life direction to conform to His before this special gift is given
"And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” (Acts 5:32)
Extra help is given to those that obey. Partial obedience is not likely sufficient. Our Creator has been working to make humans in His image. How He looks is not nearly as important as how He thinks, how His mind works. He does not force us to do His will or make it impossible to disobey. He wants us to willingly set aside our will to do His. He helps those who are really serious by supporting our efforts with a piece of His own mindset.
Paul’s preaching to the gentiles was intended to “‘to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God…” (Acts 26:18ab). It was the life and example of Messiah that was intended to make truth and light obvious so we could turn our lives toward it. He opens our eyes to the light so we can walk toward it.
“Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (Jas 1:18). It is the life of Messiah which we can understand and appreciate by the word of God that documents His life. When the example and purpose of Messiah finally make a significant impression such that we indeed turn from our ways to seek the ways of our Creator the promise of John 14:15-16 is fulfilled for us. In order to do this we must understand that the way of the Creator is fundamentally selfless. “If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;”
This ‘Comforter’ doesn’t cleanse our hands for us (Jas 4:8). He doesn’t push us into the light (Acts 26:18). He doesn’t purify our hearts (I John 3:3) no matter how defiled the mind. We must show evidence of obedience to the instruction of our Master, committed to His ways, obeying (Acts 5:32, 26:20).
Consider that receipt of the gift of the Holy spirit burns a bridge. There should be no going back to the old ways for a believer. “But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."” (Luke 9:62) If he/she does not continue in the high standard of Christ there is no other way to be reconciled.
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” (Heb 6:4-6, see also Heb 10:26-29)
Yeshua, Messiah is undoubtedly very careful to whom He gives the gift of the Holy spirit. Recipients must have already shown themselves serious about understanding and following the example He set. If that is the case they will put the gift of the Holy spirit to good use learning even more about the ways of the Creator.
The Creator wants us to come to the point that we seek to do His will as Messiah did. The teaching and example of Messiah is intended to evoke a reciprocal appreciative response from us. The gift of His spirit assumes one is already following the example and instruction of Christ. The believer must have purified themselves and be walking in the light (I John 1:7). Doing this is evidence of the believer responding to the Creator and seeking His will. The believer is emulating the spirit of God in his mind and therefore his conduct.
The Creator doesn’t share us well with sin. He wants us to understand the terms of His new covenant and be single minded in living by it. If we don’t fully understand the terms why would Messiah assume we will not later rebel as Lucifer did? How can we fully repent if we don’t know what the problems are and what is expected?
A believer emulating the mind of God will diligently seek to better understand and carefully follow Messiah’s example, which is the New Covenant. Messiah seeks to do the will of the Father because the Father is His God too (Rev 3:12). The gift of the spirit will help us do that better than we would be able to do by ourselves. If we learn to do that as a habit in this life with all its negative enticements we will have no trouble continuing that in Kingdom. His laws will be written on our heart and in our nature. The self will that caused the fall of Lucifer will be recognized for the error it is and will find no place in us.