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. (nwt, emphasis added)
Jehovah’s Witnesses use this verse to attack Christian belief in the personality of the Holy Spirit. Most translations of verse 2 state that “the Spirit of God” was moving over the surface of the waters. But the Watchtower organization has taught its followers that the Holy Spirit is merely an impersonal force at God’s disposal. To prove this point to anyone who will listen, Witnesses quote the verse as it appears in their own New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. This is a situation in which individual JWs do not need to twist Scripture to fit the doctrines they have been taught—the verse comes already pre-twisted in their own Bible. (See chapter two.) In other texts, the Watchtower version speaks of “holy spirit,” not capitalized and without the definite article in English.
To answer the JW claim that the Holy Spirit is a mere impersonal force, emphasize to Witnesses that the Bible repeatedly refers to the Holy Spirit as having personal attributes. For example, even their own New World Translation reveals that the Spirit speaks (Acts 13:2), bears witness (John 15:26), says whatever he hears (John 16:13), feels hurt (Isa. 63:10), and so forth.
For further discussion on the Holy Spirit, see John 16:13; Acts 5:3–4; Romans 8:26–27; 1 Corinthians 6:19; and Subject Index.