Difference Between the Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost?

I recently wrote a post about the Holy Spirit being the mind of God. Since then I have had some people message and talk to me and say “yes! So Good, but isn’t the Holy Ghost something entirely different from the Holy Spirit?”

To this I respond, “What is the difference between a Ghost and a Spirit?”

There is no real difference. Understanding the English language and it’s influences is important here; as well as understanding original languages of the Bible, Hebrew and Greek.

In the Hebrew the word for spirit is ruach. In the whole of the bible in it’s original Hebrew the word for Spirit of God or Sprit of the Lord is Ruach (spirit).

In the Greek the word for spirit is pneuma. Likewise, the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost in the New Testament is translated from the same word…Pneuma (spirit).

In both Hebrew and Greek, there is no differentiation to the phrase Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit. They are the same things. It is also the same in Latin based languages; Espirito Santo is used interchangeably for Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit. So why do we (English speakers) have these two phrases that seem to cause so much confusion.

Well, the English language is complicated, it is derived from a Germanic Base and a Anglo-French (Latin) base. In some instances we have some words that have Twins. This video explains it better then I ever could.

The German word for Spirit is Gast, from which the English word Ghost is derived. The Anglo-French word for Spirit is, Espirt, from which Spirit is derived. They are the same word. Ghost comes from the German Base, while Spirit comes from the Anglo-French base.

So we understand in English we have two words that mean same thing. Ghost and Spirit are twin words. We equate ghost with more Halloween type meaning on the street, but trust me the Holy Ghost isn’t ‘haunting you’. (My poor attempt at humor).

Why then in the English bible do we see both Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost? This can be easily explained; the King James Translators had an agenda.

“During the middle Ages, Christian translators created a way to make the English Bible reflect their belief that the Holy Ghost was not the Holy Spirit.

These theologians coined the phrase “Holy Ghost” to designate the Third Person of the Trinity. In contrast, they used “Holy Spirit” to refer to the Spirit of God or Spirit of the LORD encountered by the Hebrews and Jews in the Old Testament.

Then, in the 16th century, Bible printers reinforced this distinction by introducing capital and small letters. In the OT they used “spirit” and “holy spirit.” In the NT they printed “Spirit” and “Holy Ghost,” but with subtle distinctions.

These translation and printing differences do not exist in the Bible itself, in either Hebrew or Greek.

They are invented theological biases imported into the (English) Bible. They provided both verbal and visual validation for the already existing conviction that Christianity must be separated from its Hebraic/Jewish foundations.” (http://www.hebrew-streams.org/works/spirit/spirit-to-ghost.html)

No matter the mental gymnastics, us, English speakers go through, it doesn’t change the fact the Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit always were and have been, the same thing.  Joseph decided to use the phrase Holy Spirit in the Lectures on Faith, he could have used Holy Ghost as well.  I guess he just wanted to sound fancy.  🙂

2 thoughts on “Difference Between the Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost?

  1. How do you reconcile the use of Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit in 2 Nephi 33:1-2 if they mean the same thing why would the prophet use them separately here.

    1 And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.

    2 But behold, there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught.

    Could it be that the Lord did mean that they are two separate things…from the LoF (1835):

    There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing, and supreme power over all things—by whom all things were created and made that are created and made, whether visible or invisible; whether in heaven, on earth, or in the earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space. They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory, and power, possessing all perfection and fullness. The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle,…And he being the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fullness of the glory of the Father—possessing the same mind with the Father; which Mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son;…these three constitute the Godhead and are one: the Father and the Son possessing the same mind, the same wisdom, glory, power, and fullness;

    Then we have this from a revelation to Joseph Smith in 1843:

    D&C 130:22 The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.

    I believe the Lord is hinting that there is more to the true attributes of these two by using the English language to help us differentiate between the “Mind and Will of God” and the “Personage of Spirit”

    1. My understanding has evolved a bit. For most instances in scripture, Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit are totally interchangeable. literally a translation problem. Joseph However does clearly set out a distinction in some of his later talks. It can be summed up with this questions. “Has your Ghost been made Holy”. They holy Ghost dwells in you, it is your spirit when it is made holy by the baptism of Fire, and you receive the gift of the holy ghost, which unites itself with the Holy spirit (hence making is so dang complicated) and there for you become the third member of the Godhead us Mormons like to believe in.

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