Question: The personality of the Holy Spirit
“Could you explain 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 and 2 Corinthians 13:14. There seems to be a sign-off by the Holy Spirit, possibly.”
Thank you for your question. First Corinthians 12:4-6 says, “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” Some have read this passage and concluded that it refers to three separate persons of a trinity god. However, the text does not require such an interpretation. A similar passage is found in Ephesians 4:4-6, which says, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Notice that the one God here is only one Person, the Father, and nobody else. This also agrees with the rest of Paul’s writings on this subject. Earlier in his letter he wrote, “To us there is but one God, the Father.” (1 Corinthians 8:6) Paul knew that there is only one God, the Father, and that His Son is our Lord Jesus Christ. “That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:6)
The context of 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 is talking about the diversity of the members of the church and their gifts, pointing out that there is only one God who designed that it should be so. Verse 13 says, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” Paul is pointing out that we are all united by the same “one Spirit” that fills us all and gives each of us different gifts to minister to the body. Whose “one Spirit” is this referring to? Verse 18 says, “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” Notice who is in control here. God, the Father, is the One who gives these gifts to men by His own Holy Spirit. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13) “The Spirit of truth,… proceedeth from the Father.” (John 15:26) This one Spirit is “the Spirit of your Father” (Matthew 10:20), not a separate person from Him.
Only poor Bible study could conclude that 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 teaches something contrary to the rest of the Bible. Paul did not have a trinity in mind when he wrote this passage. In fact, neither did any other Christian of his day, for the trinity was not formulated until nearly four hundred years later. (Please read our new book entitled, God’s Love on Trial for further details on this point.)
You also asked about 2 Corinthians 13:14, which says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion [koinwnia—koinonia] of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.” Many suppose that this verse means that God is made up of three persons. However, let’s examine the facts. Who is God in this verse? The only Person referred to as God in this verse is God the Father. Paul obviously did not write this to promote the idea that God is made up of three persons but, instead, that God is only one Person. This agrees with Paul’s earlier letter to the Corinthians, when he wrote, “To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” (1 Corinthians 8:6) According to Paul, the “one God” of the Bible is God the Father alone. The “one Lord” is Jesus Christ. If the “one God” is the Father, and the “one Lord” is Jesus Christ in this verse, who is the Holy Spirit? We noticed earlier that it is the Spirit of the Father.
Some say that the term “the communion of the Holy Ghost” proves that the Holy Ghost must be a separate individual from the Father and Son. But Paul also wrote, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship [koinwnia—koinonia] of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” (Philippians 3:10) Here Paul uses the very same Greek word that he used in 2 Corinthians 13:14. He says that he wished to know the fellowship or the communion of His sufferings. To have fellowship means we partake of something. We are to partake of God’s Spirit and the sufferings of Christ.
In 1 John 1:3 John used the same Greek word koinwnia. John explains to us with whom we are to have fellowship or communion. He says, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship [koinwnia— koinonia] is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3) Surely if John were acquainted with a third god, he would want us to have fellowship with him as well, but there is no mention of another person. John further states, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 9) “Both” means two, and only two.
So we are to have the grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God, and be partakers of the Holy Spirit of God. There is no trinity in this verse.
I hope this helps to answer your questions.