1-6 The Principle of Personification

It is a recognised feature of the Bible that inanimate or non-living things such as wisdom, riches, sin, the church are personified, but only in the case of the devil is some fantastic theory woven around it. The following examples will illustrate the point.


“Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man that gets understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the profit thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things you could desire are not to be compared unto her” (Prov. 3:13-15).

“Wisdom has builded her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars” (Prov. 9:1).

These verses, and indeed the rest of the chapters in which they appear, show that wisdom is personified as a woman, but because of this, no-one has the idea that wisdom is a literal beautiful woman who roams around the earth; all recognise that it is a very desirable characteristic which all people should try to acquire.


“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other: or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [riches]” (Mt. 6:24).

Here, riches are likened to a master. Many people strive very hard to gain riches and in this way they become their master. Jesus is here telling us that we cannot do that and serve God acceptably at the same time. The teaching is simple and effective, but no-one assumes from this that riches is a man named Mammon.


“...Whoever committs sin is the servant of sin” (Jn. 8:34). “Sin has reigned unto death” (Rom. 5:21). “Don’t you know, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16).

As in the case of riches, sin is likened here to a master and those who commit sin are its servants. No reasonable reading of the passage justifies assuming that Paul is teaching that sin is a person.


“When he, the spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself...” (Jn. 16:13).

Jesus is here telling His disciples that they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit, and this was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2:3-4, where it is stated that “there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit”, which gave them remarkable power to do wonderful things to prove that their authority was from God. The Holy Spirit was not a person, it was a power, but when Jesus was speaking of it He used the personal pronoun “he”.


“Behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death” (Rev. 6:8).


“Again I will build you, and you shalt be built, O virgin of Israel; you shall again be adorned...” (Jer. 31:4). “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; You have chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn me, and I shall be turned; for you are the Lord my God” (Jer. 31:18).

Adapted from “Christendom Astray” by Robert Roberts.



Back Back

Next Next