“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 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 1:1.2.
Look, says the Trinitarian, there is the Holy Spirit, the third Person of a triune God.
What makes you think so?
Well it says so. It is the first time the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the Bible, and it continues through the whole of Scripture.
But it doesn’t say ‘Holy Spirit’ or 'third person' or 'triune God'.
No, but that is what it means.
How do you know that is what it means?
What else can it mean?
You now understand that this method of Bible discussion is called eisegesis. It does not result in a knowledge of the truth of God.
It includes a type of logic as shown below, and very defective:
* God in Genesis 1:1 is the word ‘Elohim’, meaning more than one (which is true, except when the verb is singular, which it is in Genesis 1:1)
* The Father created the earth by His Son (which is true. See Hebrews 1:1.2)
* There are three co-equal Persons in the Trinity (an assumption)
* The Spirit of God in Genesis 1:2 is the Holy Spirit.
* The Spirit of God is the third of the three co-equal Persons in the Trinity.
This type of reasoning is used when trying to prove other doctrines from the Bible as well, each time resulting in a false conclusion.
The word for Spirit is ruach. This is the only word in the Hebrew for spirit -- any spirit -- man’s spirit, holy spirit and evil spirit. The word ruach itself does not identify which spirit; it is the context.
The Hebrew is ruach elohiym - “spirit god” - moved upon the face of the waters. We know it is speaking about the true God, so we can give both words a capital letter 'Spirit' and 'God'. It could be read simply as 'Spirit God' or by adding a word, Spirit of God.
When interpreting the text, what does the Bible say?
It says, “the Spirit God (or Spirit of God) moved upon the face of the waters”. Genesis 1:2.
Does it say this is the third person of a triune God? No.
Is it Trinitarian or non-Trinitarian?
It depends on whether our mode of study is exegesis or eisegesis. Based on this text alone we must say, I don’t know. Only a study of other Bible references for ruach will reveal the meaning of the words ruach elohiym.
Sixteen years ago, this was the first study I did on the subject of the Spirit. I looked up every verse that mentioned spirit (ruach in Hebrew), then read the context to see if it referred to God's Spirit, an evil spirit, or man's spirit. When it was clear, I wrote down the main point.
My determination was to read the Bible as written and base my conclusions only on true statements, never on assumptions. If the verse was not clear, I would compare Scripture with Scripture before making a decision.
For Genesis 1:2 I simply wrote -- Spirit God or Spirit of God moved on waters.
The next verse is Genesis 6:3. It says, "And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years."
I have capitalised My and Spirit because it is clearly God's Spirit. I wrote down -- My (God's) Spirit not always strive with man.
From this verse I can see that the words 'Spirit of God' for Genesis 1:2 are correct. It is God's Spirit that moved on the face of the waters.
The next verse is Genesis 41:8. It says, "And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt...."
The context tells me that this is the spirit of Pharaoh. See verses 1-7. I wrote it down on my list -- Pharaoh's spirit was worried.
The next verse is Genesis 41:38. It says, "And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the spirit of God is?"
This verse is a repeat of Genesis 1:2. I wrote down -- Spirit of God in Joseph.
Grammatically, the term ‘of God’ means that it is ‘from, concerning, out of, or relating’ to God. It is the same with ‘word of God’, ‘voice of God’, ‘mind of God’, ‘work of God’, ‘grace of God’, or any other noun that precedes ‘of God’. This must include Spirit of God, or common sense is nonsense.
And so I continued throughout the Bible. When finished, I began to group them together (the part referring to the Spirit) and this is what I found: ‘Spirit of God, My spirit, Spirit of the Lord, my spirit, His Spirit, his spirit, the Spirit, the spirit, a spirit, every spirit, your spirit, their own spirit, of spirit, another spirit, in spirit, whose spirit, spirit, spirit of, spirit in’; and others with an adjective before ‘spirit’, such as ‘familiar spirit’. (Those with a capital letter refer to God’s Spirit, gained from the context; with lower case, either a man’s spirit or an evil spirit)
Nowhere is there the title ‘God the Holy Spirit’ in the Hebrew.
In the New Testament, the Greek word is pneuma, and exactly the same terms are used. Some with an adjective before them are ‘unclean spirit, dumb spirit, quickening Spirit, eternal Spirit’. Other verses are – ‘by one Spirit are we all baptised’, and ‘he who is joined unto the Lord is one spirit’. (Similar terms use Holy Ghost instead of Spirit)
Other New Testament terms are ‘Spirit of Christ, Spirit of your Father, Spirit of His Son, Spirit of His mouth, Spirit of prophecy’.
Nowhere is the title ‘God the Holy Ghost’, or ‘God the Holy Spirit’ in the Greek or the Hebrew.
A comprehensive study reveals that ‘the Spirit’ is God’s own personal presence -- in Spirit.
A false charge against non-Trinitarians is – You believe the Holy Spirit is only an influence or power.
No, it is the omnipresent Spirit of God Himself.
Seated upon His throne in glory, God is able to speak to the holy beings in His presence, but He is also able to speak, hear, direct, guide, rebuke, convict, comfort and give power to His people in any place in the universe by His personal omnipresent and powerful Spirit.
Another charge is made – You don’t believe in the Holy Spirit.
For many the thought is frightening, because a denial of the Holy Spirit might be the unpardonable sin. But this too is incorrect.
Eisegesis or Exegesis