Cults – Jehovah’s Witnesses
What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe About the Holy Spirit?
By Dr. Paul M. Elliott (From the Teaching the Word Bible Knowledgebase)
This is the fourth in a series of articles about the doctrines and practices of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Read part three.
A Neuter Impersonal Force
Here is an excerpt from an article on the official Watchtower Society website:
What is God’s holy spirit? In its opening words, the Bible speaks of the holy spirit – also rendered “God’s active force”-as “moving to and fro over the surface of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2) In the account of Jesus’ baptism, while God is described as being in “the heavens,” the holy spirit appears “descending like a dove” upon Jesus. (Matthew 3:16, 17) Additionally, Jesus spoke of the holy spirit as a “helper.” – John 14:16.
These and other Bible passages have led some to conclude that the holy spirit is a person, just as God, Jesus, and the angels are individual spirit persons. In fact, for centuries some of the most influential religions of Christendom have attributed personality to the holy spirit. Despite this long-standing doctrine, many church members remain confused, and some even disagree with their religious leaders….
An honest Bible reader cannot help but conclude that the holy spirit differs from official church descriptions of it as a person.1
Changing the Bible to Support False Teaching
As in many other instances, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation of the Bible changes the words of the original Scriptures to support their false teaching. They do so from the very first verses of Genesis:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1-2, NKJV)
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth proved to be formless and waste and there was darkness upon the surface of the watery deep; and God’s active force was moving to and fro over the surface of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1-2, NWT)
The Watchtower Society’s Bible uses the words “holy spirit” – “spirit” – and “helper” (all lower case) to impose its erroneous view upon Scripture, and goes through linguistic gymnastics to avoid attributing personality to the Holy Spirit. Here are but three of hundreds of examples:
“But when the Helper [KJV, “Comforter”] 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. NKJV)
“When the helper arrives that I will send you from the Father, the spirit of the truth, which proceeds from the Father, that one will bear witness about me (John 15:26, NWT)
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – 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 14:16-17, NKJV)
“And I will request the Father and he will give you another helper to be with you forever, the spirit of the truth, which the world cannot receive, because it neither beholds it nor knows it. You know it, because it remains with you and is in you.” (John 14:16-17, NWT)
“Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:27, NKJV)
“Yet he who searches the hearts knows what the meaning of the spirit is, because it is pleading in accord with God for holy ones.” (Romans 8:27, NWT)
Comment: The word translated “mind” in the KJV and NKJV is phronema, which denotes the seat of reasoned thinking, and the thoughts and purposes it produces – never “meaning” as in “the message expressed.” But because of their blasphemous doctrine of the “holy spirit” the editors of the New World Translation were forced to also mistranslate phronema in the other places it appears (twice in Romans 8:6, once in 8:7), making nonsense out of those verses as well.
Authentic Christianity in Contrast
The original language of the Bible clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit is God, is coequal with the other Persons of the Godhead, is masculine, and is personal – the Third Person of the Trinity.
Next: What do Jehovah’s Witnesses teach about the Trinity?
1. “Is the Holy Spirit a Person?” at www.watchtower.org/e/200607a/article_01.htm, as viewed on 9/24/08.