The Deity of The Holy Spirit in 2 Corinthians chapter 3


In this chapter, we have a very detailed account of The Person and Work of The Holy Spirit. There are some, who teach that “the Spirit”, is not a “Personal Being”, and is therefore “a spirit”, and equal to “the force” of God. This chapter in 2 Corinthians shows this teaching to be heresy, and to be rejected as, what Paul calls, “a teaching of demons”.


3, αλλα πνευματος…ἀλλὰ πνεύματι θεοῦ ζῶντος, “but of the Spiritbut the Spirit of the Living God


6, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ζῳοποιεῖ, “Now the Spirit gives life


8, πῶς οὐχὶ μᾶλλον ἡ διακονία τοῦ πνεύματος ἐσται ἐν δόξῃ, “How much more the Service of the Spirit, shall be in Glory


17, “ὁ δὲ κύριος τὸ πνεῦμα ἐστιν οὗ δὲ τὸ πνεῦμα κυρίου ἐλευθερία”, “However the Spirit is the Lord; and where the Spirit of the Lord, there liberty.”


18, “καθαπερ απο κυριου πνευματος”, “even as from the Lord Spirit


There were some in the early Church, like the heretic, Origen, who taught that the Holy Spirit is created. This heresy is today taught by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others.


In verse 3, Paul says that the Holy Spirit, is “the Spirit of the Living God”. This tells us two things, that the Holy Spirit is here “distinct” from “the Living God”; and, that the Holy Spirit has “existed” as long as God has existed, which is from all eternity. You cannot separate the Holy Spirit from God.


Next, in verse 6 we read that the Holy Spirit “gives life”. The verb, ζωοποιέω, means, “to make alive, give life to”. In Psalm 36:9 we read, of Almighty God, “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light”. And, in 1 Timothy 6:13, Paul tells us, “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things”. And, in Acts 17:28, again Paul says, “for in Him we live and move and have our being”. It is clear from 2 Corinthians 3:6, that he Holy Spirit, is the One Who also “gives life”. We also Have Jesus say in John 6:63, that: “το πνευμα εστιν το ζωοποιουν”, that is, “The Spirit is The Life-giver”. We read the same in Job 33:4, “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life”. Note the distinction in this verse, between “rûach” (the Spirit), and “neshâmâh” (breath), which shows that The Holy Spirit is not just the “breath” of God. The language in Job, is very similar to that used in Genesis 2:7, “And the LORD God (Yehôvâh 'ĕlôhı̂ym) formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being”. In Psalms, Acts, and 1 Timothy, etc, we read that God the Father is the “giver of life”. In John 1:4, we read of Jesus Christ, “In Him was life”; and Acts 3:15, “And killed the Prince of life” (KJV). The word “Prince” is from the Greek, “ἀρχηγός”, which is, “first cause, originator, author”. Which says that Jesus Christ is also “the giver of life”. Then we have the passages for the Holy Spirit. How can the Holy Spirit be “the giver of life”, and not be Almighty God? How can He be a “created being”?


On verse 8, we have the interesting comments by Dr Thayer, in his Greek lexicon, “τοῦ πνεύματος, the ministry whose office it is to cause men to obtain and be governed by the Holy Spirit, 2Co 3:8”. Dr Thayer was a Unitarian, who denied the Person and Deity of the Holy Spirit. Yet it is clear from his own comments on this verse, that the Holy Spirit is a “Personal Being”. For the Holy Spirit to “govern” others, can only mean that He cannot be “impersonal”. A “thing” cannot cause such actions.


Next, we have the words in verse 17, which has been the cause of some to err, as their conclusions are not only wrong, but also impossible, indeed, even, heretical. The words in question are, “ὁ δὲ κύριος τὸ πνεῦμα ἐστιν”, which are translated in our English Versions, as, “Now the Lord is the Spirit”. Admittedly, the Greek does allow for this reading. But, contextually, it is impossible, as we shall see. It is wrongly assumed by some, that, as Paul had just said in verse 16, “Nevertheless when one shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away”, which is to turn to the Lord Jesus Christ. That the following use of “The Lord”, must also mean Jesus Christ. As it is in the Greek, the words, “ὁ δὲ κύριος τὸ πνεῦμα ἐστιν”, refer to one and the same Person. To read, “the Lord is the Spirit”, would make Jesus Christ identical to the Holy Spirit, with no “distinction” between them, as some do teach. As is in Peakes commentary, “In 2Co 3:17 he explains the deep reasons why “turning to the Lord” is followed by the removal of the veil, and in so doing gives utterance to a statement of the greatest importance for his Christology, “the Lord is the Spirit.” For here, as elsewhere with few exceptions, “the Lord” is Christ. It is the heavenly Christ whom he recognises as the Spirit.”. This is heretical, as it identifies the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, as the same Person as the Holy Spirit.


In Paul’s writings, he clearly distinguishes the Holy Spirit from Jesus Christ and the Father. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 we read,


“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit (το δε αυτο πνευμα). And there are diversities of ministrations, and the same Lord (ο αυτος κυριος). And there are diversities of workings, but the same God (ο δε αυτος εστιν θεος), who worketh all things in all”


This distinction can also be seen the the Benediction in 2 Corinthians 13:14,


“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (του κυριου ιησου χριστου), and the love of God (του θεου), and the communion of the Holy Spirit (του αγιου πνευματος), be with you all”


Then, we have another passage in Ephesians 4:4-6,


“[There is] one body, and one Spirit (εν πνευμα), even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord (εις κυριος), one faith, one baptism, one God and Father (εις θεος και πατηρ) of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all”


In 2 Thessalonians 3:5, we read,


“ And the Lord (ο δε κυριος) direct your hearts into the love of God (του θεου) and into the patient waiting for Christ (του χριστου )”


The Holy Spirit is “the Lord”, then we have “God the Father”, and then “Jesus Christ”. The Holy Trinity!


In the Greek grammar is clear that there is a distinction between the “Persons”


In the first place, the primary particle “ δὲ” here is used as resuming was has been said in verses 3-8, and not as continuing. This use is common in Greek grammar. “ δὲ is frequently employed, when something new is subjoined, distinct and different from what precedes, though not, strictly, its very opposite… It is employed also when, after a parenthesis or digression, the train of thought is resumed” (George Winer, Grammar of the New Testament Diction.p 463)”. “τὸ πνεῦμα” here is the subject, as He is in this whole chapter. “ὁ δὲ κύριος”, is the predicate, as a description of “The Spirit”, that He is “Yahweh”.  


The use of the Greek article, “τὸ πνεῦμα”, is here used by retrospective reference, to refer “πνεῦμα”, back to what is said in verses 3-8. “ὁ δὲ κύριος τὸ πνεῦμα ἐστιν”, is to be understood of the Holy Spirit, and not Jesus Christ, and be translated as “The Spirit is the Lord”. Verse 17 continues, “ and where the Spirit of the Lord (το πνευμα κυριου) is, there is liberty”, which is the Holy Spirit. Some argue against this, by saying that the order of the words,“ὁ δὲ κύριος τὸ πνεῦμα ἐστιν”, only allows for “the Lord is the Spirit”. This is not correct, as, in John 4:24 we read, “πνευμα ο θεος”, yet no one would translate this literally, “spirit is the God”; but, as “God is spirit”.


The Church fathers are important on this.As we seen in, Basil, to Meletius, writes, “ And, again, what the Spirit is firstly, the Son is secondly, in so far as the Spirit is the Lord ; and the Father thirdly, in so far as the Spirit is God” And, John Chrysostom, in his commentary writes, “Ver. 17. Now the Spirit is that Lord.This too is Lord, he says. And that you may know that he is speaking of the Paraclete, he added, And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty”. Then, we have Ambrose, on The Holy Spirit, “You see, then, that He Who went with him, Himself departed from him. The Same is, then, the Lord, Who is the Spirit of the Lord, that is, he called the Spirit of God, Lord, as also the Apostle says: “The Lord is the Spirit, now where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” You find, then, the Holy Spirit called the Lord; for the Holy Spirit and the Son are not one Person [unus] but one Substance [unum]…Then, by quotation of another still more express passage in the second Epistle to the Corinthians, it is inferred both that the Spirit is Lord, and that where the Lord is, there is the Spirit”.


In verse 18, Paul continues, ἀπὸ κυρίου πνεύματος, “from the Lord Spirit”


The reading as found some of English Versions, is wrong, “by the Spirit of the Lord”. Why are the order of words here reversed, in the English? Here, πνεύματος being placed in apposition to Κυρίου, and correctly reads, “from the Lord the Spirit”, Who is already referred to as in verse 17. The English Versions, like the, ESV, “the Lord who is the Spirit”; NASB; CSB ; GNB; NET; WEB; ASV; Darby;; Hawes; Weymouth; Moffatt.Clearly identifying the Holy Spirit as Yahweh.


The readings in these unorthodox versions, is very interesting, as they actually confirm the Deity of the Holy Spirit.


“as by the Lord, the Spirit” (George Noyes, New Testament, The American Unitarian Society)

“as from the Lord, the Spirit” (B Wilson, Emphatic Diaglott, JW’s Publication)

“exactly as done by Jehovah [the] Spirit” (Kingdom Interlinear NT, JW’s Publication)

“exactly as it is done by Jehovah the Spirit” (New World Translation, 2013, JW’s Publication)