Trinitarians have had a hard time finding a third person in the Old Testament, so if there is the slightest possibility of a third individual in an Old Testament text, you can be sure someone is going to use it to try to prove the trinity. Genesis 1:2 is no exception. This verse says, “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2).
Here we learn that the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. This text does not say, “the Holy Spirit” moved upon the face of the waters. I realize that with a non-trinitarian mindset it would mean the same thing if it did, but some trinitiarians think that “the Spirit of your Father” is different from “the Holy Spirit.” The former is understood to be the Father’s own personal spirit, and the latter is sometimes thought to be a separate distinct person, sometimes thought to also have his own personal spirit. Yet, Genesis 1:2 mentions “the Spirit of God” as if it is God’s own Spirit rather than a separate individual.
Yet, the nail in the coffin for the possibility of this verse proving the Holy Spirit to be a separate person is when you read Psalm 33:6, 9. Here it says, “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath [ruach – Spirit] of his mouth. … For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalms 33:6, 9). The Hebrew word ruach, that was translated “breath” in this verse, is the same Hebrew word that was translated “Spirit” in Genesis 1:2. Here we find that “the word of the Lord” is used synonymously with “the Spirit of his mouth.” This is clearly speaking of God’s literal word that created the heavens. Jesus said, “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). In Psalm 33:6 God’s word is called “the Spirit of his mouth.” In Genesis 1:2 it says “the Spirit of God” moved on the waters and the next words are: “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). The context is clear that God was creating the earth and it is in this context that God’s Spirit was moving upon the waters. The Spirit of God in this text is referring to His word as demonstrated in Psalm 33:6, which tells us it was “the Spirit of his mouth.”
Please don’t get me wrong, God’s Spirit is much more than just the literal word of God. In the book Understanding the Personality of God we saw that God’s Spirit is His “own self” (John 17:5), not just His words. (Please contact us to request your copy of the book Understanding the Personality of God.) Yet, in Genesis 1:2 the term “the Spirit of God” refers to God’s word that was active in creating the world. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God” (Hebrews 11:3).