Holy Spirit comes from the Greek hagios (“holy,” “saintly”) and pneuma (“breath,” “wind,” “spirit”) and was understood to be the Spirit of God. It has also been translated “Holy Ghost,” from the Old English word for “spirit” (gast). “Holy Spirit” only occurs three times in the Old Testament, although the Hebrew word for “spirit” (ruwach) occurs many times alone or with other descriptors in reference to God. The New Testament, however, uses “Holy Spirit” 98 times, hinting at the Christian theology of the Trinitarian nature of God.

Christianity holds that God has three distinct entities making up the same one God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Understandably confusing, and in sharp contrast to Judaism’s strict monotheism, this doctrine has been described in a variety of metaphors. The three parts of God are said to be like three pieces of the same pie. Or similar to each person having three distinct parts – a body, a mind, and a spirit – which are separate dimensions of oneself, yet intimately unified as one person. Another understanding is that God the Father produced God the Son and their relationship is the Spirit of God. However it’s understood, each entity of the Trinity is completely God. Like a cube exists in three dimensions, so God is three in one. Outside of the Gospels, one of the most explicit references to Trinitarian theology was made by Paul the Apostle: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the partnership of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Trinitarian theology developed after Jesus’ time, but the understanding during the first century was that the Holy Spirit was God’s breath or essence, not a separate being.