It amazes me that we know so little about the Holy Ghost. We know many of His roles, but not His name, identity, origin, or destiny—and while we might assume He is a spirit because that’s the only way He can speak to us, I believe there is a different reason. Most of us assume that the Holy Ghost has never had a body, but that might not be correct either.

I have done some outside-of-the-box thinking, and have generated some plausible ideas—but not sure answers!—to tentatively fill in some holes in our knowledge about the Holy Ghost. Although my thinking may be unusual, I hope and believe that none of it contradicts revealed doctrine or scriptural truths.

God certainly has reasons for not revealing more about the Holy Ghost, but He might be willing to reveal more. Latter-day Saints believe in ongoing revelation; although most revelations nowadays involve policy changes, the Lord is also able to reveal eternal truths just as He revealed knowledge of the degrees of glory or celestial marriage to Joseph Smith. If God does reveal more, it will come through the prophets and apostles, especially THE prophet; or, it will come from Christ when He returns. Christ’s return is the designated time when all will be made known (121:28-31), but this does not prevent God from revealing some things earlier.

In the meantime, I offer some reasonable ideas based on what I hope is logical thinking. I call it the “low-hanging fruit” (where the “higher” fruit requires revelation and is above my pay grade). Orson Pratt said,

There are many things that we can learn, already within our reach, without any special and direct revelation, that is, when I say special revelation, I mean without the Lord revealing directly by a vision, the ministration of an angel, or by direct words, as he revealed many things to the ancient revelators, seers, and Prophets. There are a great many things that we can learn independently of these direct revelations; but still we need the help of the Lord, in some measure, in our researches, to learn anything; we need the influence of the Spirit of God to quicken the light that is within us.[i]

Speculation on gospel topics isn’t appropriate for Sunday School lessons and sacrament meeting talks, and speculation on trivial inscrutable topics can waste time. Some people (including some Church leaders) frown on discussion of topics that are “not essential to our salvation” but in my opinion, speculation isn’t all bad. First, thinking about gospel topics promotes scripture study and learning—sometimes on related topics, even if we never learn the answers we were originally looking for. Second, it can motivate interest in gospel topics. Third, many things “not essential to our salvation” have indeed been revealed. And fourth, by exercising curiosity now, we will appreciate the answers even more when all is finally revealed.

In this article I’ll share some thoughts about: 1) What do we know about the person of the Holy Ghost and how do we know it?, and 2) Will He ever have a body? In a subsequent article, I’ll share some thoughts about the Holy Ghost’s roles and how He fulfills them.

The Holy Ghost is a Spirit Man, Probably a Son of Heavenly Father

Very little on the Holy Ghost has been canonized. D&C 130:22 (added to the D&C in 1867) is our best source; it tells us that the Holy Ghost is a spirit so that He can “dwell in us,” but even that verse has been modified from how it was originally written by Joseph Smith:[ii]

“the Father has a body of flesh & bones as tangible as mans the Son also, but the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit. –and a person cannot have the personage of the H G in his heart he may receive the gift of the holy Ghost. It may descend upon him but not to tarry with him[.]”

Therefore, while the current version says the Holy Ghost can dwell in us, the original version says we cannot have the Holy Ghost in our hearts. However, in the context of verse three of the same section—“The idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.”—the original version just means that the Holy Ghost, like the other two Godhead members, are real Beings, not just abstract ideas inside of our figurative hearts. So, the old and new versions are not really contradictory, as may first appear. In any case, I accept the verse in its present canonized form. Although the Holy Ghost cannot be in more than one place at a time (and therefore cannot be in all of our hearts simultaneously), He can and does visit us personally and temporarily “dwell in us.”

Joseph Smith also taught on at least seven other occasions that the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit:

  1. Early 1841:[It is] the province of the Father to preside as the Chief or President, Jesus as the Mediator, and the Holy Ghost as the Testator or Witness. The Son [has] a tabernacle and so [does] the Father, but the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit without tabernacle.[iii]
  2. May 1841:Everlasting covenant was made between three personages before the organization of this earth, and relates to their dispensation of things to men on the earth; these personages, according to Abraham’s record, are called God the first, the Creator; God the second, the Redeemer; and God the third, the witness or Testator.[iv]
  3. January 1843:The Holy Ghost is a personage, and is in the form of a personage. It does not confine itself to the form of the dove, but in sign of the dove.[v]
  4. June 1843:Any person that had seen the heavens opened knows that there are three personages in the heavens who hold the keys of power, and one presides over all.[vi]
  5. In August 1843, according to Franklin D. Richards (who later served as an apostle),Joseph Smith also said that the Holy Ghost is now in a state of probation which, if he should perform in righteousness, he may pass through the same or a similar course of things that the Son has.[vii]
  1. June 1844:The Holy Ghost is yet a spiritual body and waiting to take to himself a body as the Savior did, or as God did, or the Gods before them took bodies.[viii]
  1. June 1844:I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods.[ix]

These Joseph Smith statements are important, because the Lectures on Faith (1834-35) identifies the Holy Ghost as the “mind” of God[x] and even Elder Orson Pratt, who probably was unfamiliar with Joseph Smith’s statements, expressed his opinion in 1855 that the Holy Ghost was a personage, rather than just a force, but admitted he really didn’t know for sure.[xi] The scriptures give male pronouns to the Holy Ghost, but these could just be andromorphic expressions; and while including Him as a Godhead member would seem to make Him a personage, most other Christians believe the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are all one being anyway. Thus, D&C 130:22 and Joseph Smith’s statements are key to our understanding. It makes the most sense that the Holy Ghost is a son of Heavenly Father; but even this is not known for sure.

Although the Holy Ghost is the third member of our Godhead, and is a spirit being; and although the Spirit of the Lord and related terms often refer to the Holy Ghost, the terms Holy Ghost and Spirit of the Lord sometimes refer generically to God’s power and influence, rather than a specific member of the Godhead. For example, in 1925 President Anthony Ivins (counselor in the First Presidency) described the Holy Ghost in terms of God’s power and influence, more like we’d usually describe the Light of Christ, rather than as a personage:

We believe that the Holy Ghost is the agency through which the will of the Father is communicated to his children, here upon earth. That it takes of the things of the Father, and manifests them unto man. It bears record of the Father and the Son, is our comfort in sorrow and distress, our strength in weakness, and our guide when in doubt. It is the Spirit of the Lord, the light which lighteth everything that cometh into the world, and with which all men are endowed in a greater or less degree.[xii]

And several scriptures, including those below, describe the Spirit as God’s power/the Light of Christ rather than the person of the Holy Ghost, although exact meanings of these terms are not always discernable:

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass (Isaiah 40:7).

But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you (Matthew 12:28).

But as many as there were who did not believe in the words of Samuel were angry with him; and they cast stones at him upon the wall, and also many shot arrows at him as he stood upon the wall; but the Spirit of the Lord was with him, insomuch that they could not hit him with their stones neither with their arrows (Helaman 16:2).

For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil (Moroni 7:16).

And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit (D&C 84:46).

It is not always clear in the scriptures if Holy Ghost or Spirit refers to the third Godhead member or to the general the power/influence of God and the Light of Christ; and sometimes all of these definitions may apply; but it is useful to remember the different ways that these terms are used as we study the scriptures.

Will the Holy Ghost gain a body?

Will the Holy Ghost obtain a body? Although no scripture addresses this issue, here are four reasons I believe that the answer is yes. First, the Holy Ghost is a spirit is so He can work with our spirits (more on this in Part 2 of this series) in order to sanctify us and provide us further Godly qualities. Once resurrected and assigned to kingdoms, we will forever be subject to the entire Godhead including the Holy Ghost, but the exalted will no longer require continuous sanctification by a spirit being. Nor do I believe that God requires a spirit being to mediate His communication with His resurrected children. Second, exaltation requires eternal increase (D&C 132: ending of verse 19), which requires a body, as taught by the First Presidency under Joseph F. Smith:

So far as the stages of eternal progression and attainment have been made known through divine revelation, we are to understand that only resurrected and glorified beings can become parents of spirit offspring. Only such exalted souls have reached maturity in the appointed course of eternal life; and the spirits born to them in the eternal worlds will pass in due sequence through the several stages or estates by which the glorified parents have attained exaltation.[xiii]

Third, Satan’s great curse is to be denied a body; how could the Holy Ghost suffer the same fate as Satan? (Furthermore, President Joseph F. Smith saw in vision that the spirits of the dead looked upon the absence of their bodies as “bondage” [D&C 138:50], although perhaps premortal spirits don’t feel that way, having not experienced bodies yet.) And fourth, Joseph Smith noncanonically taught that the Holy Ghost will have a body, as seen in the statement #6 above. Some theorize that the Holy Ghost has already obtained a body, and is now deceased; the extended statement #6 in the footnote seems to leave open this possibility.

Salvation comes from Christ and from the Father who sent Him; and the Holy Ghost distributes the Father’s and Son’s blessings. To do so, the Holy Ghost must be a spirit and a God, but it is not necessary for the Holy Ghost to reveal his identity. Therefore, I think the Holy Ghost’s reluctance to reveal Himself is due to His desire for us to focus on Christ and if we do, the Holy Ghost will not restrain His full friendship in the eternities.


[i] Orson Pratt, in Journal of Discourses 17:327 (14 March 1875).

[ii] See Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook. Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph (BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980), p. 173 and footnote 5, pp. 268-69. And see Ronald E. Bartholomew. “The Textual Development of D&C 130:22 and the Embodiment of the Holy Ghost,” BYU Studies Quarterly 52, no. 3 (2013).

[iii] Joseph Smith. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, p. 42, which cites: “Quoted by William P. McIntire, reporting a discourse given by Joseph Smith in early 1841 in Nauvoo, Illinois; William Patterson McIntire, Notebook 1840–45, Church History Library. William McIntire made brief reports of several discourses given by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo in early 1841.)

[iv] Discourse, circa May 1841, as Reported By Unidentified Scribe, p. 2, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed May 30, 2024,  OR Joseph Smith. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph, p. 190.

[v] “History, 1838–1856, volume D-1 [1 August 1842–1 July 1843],” p. 1458, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed April 22, 2019,  OR Joseph Smith. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Deseret Book Company, 1976), p. 276.

[vi] “History, 1838–1856, volume D-1 [1 August 1842–1 July 1843],” p. 1574, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed May 30, 2024,  OR, History of the Church, 5:426; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on June 11, 1843, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Wilford Woodruff and Willard Richards.

Wilford Woodruff’s notes have slightly varying wording, and are found at “Discourse, 11 June 1843–A, as Reported by Wilford Woodruff,” p. [45-46], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed May 30, 2024,

[vii] This was a sermon recorded by Franklin D. Richards on 27 August 1843. These are Richards’ words, not a direct quote of Joseph Smith. The part about the Holy Ghost’s “probation” doesn’t really fit topically into the rest of the sermon, nor do other transcribers of this sermon word it in quite this way; in James Burgess’ version, Joseph Smith discusses our probation. So, I think it is possible that Elder Richards got mixed up on this issue, but this is still evidence that Joseph Smith viewed the Holy Ghost as a Being, not just a force. “Discourse, 27 August 1843, as Reported by Franklin D. Richards,” p. [32], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed May 30, 2024,  OR Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook. Words of Joseph Smith (BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980), p. 245.

James Burgess’ version: “Discourse, 27 August 1843, as Reported by James Burgess,” p. [13-14], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed June 4, 2024,

[viii] “Discourse, 16 June 1844–A, as Reported by George Laub,” p. 30, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed May 30, 2024,  OR Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook. Words of Joseph Smith  (BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980), p. 382. Here is Laub’s version in a larger context: “Every one being a different or separate person and so is god and is god and Jesus Christ and the holy Ghost. Separate persons. But they all agree in one or the self same thing. But the Holy Ghost is yet a spiritual body and waiting to take to himself a body. As the Savior did or as god did or the gods before them took bodies for the Savior says the work that my father did do I also and those are the works he took himself a body and then laid down his life that he might take it up again and the scripture say those who will obey the commandments shall be heirs of god and joint heirs with of Jesus Christ we then also took bodies to lay them down, to take them up again and the spirit itself bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God and if children then heirs and joint heirs with Jesus Christ…”

[ix] “History, 1838–1856, volume F-1 [1 May 1844–8 August 1844],” p. 101, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed May 30, 2024,  OR History of the Church, 6:474; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on June 16, 1844, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Thomas Bullock.

[x] Joseph Smith Jr. “The Godhead,” Lecture Fifth, in Lectures on Faith, published 1834-1835.

[xi] Orson Pratt. “The Holy Spirit and the Godhead,” in Journal of Discourses 2:338 (see also p. 337). (18 February 1855.)

[xii] Anthony W. Ivins. Conference Report, October 1925, pp. 19-28 (this quotation is on page 24). Conference reports of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; 1920-1929; 1925 October; Church History Library,  (accessed: May 30, 2024).

[xiii] The Father and the Son: A Doctrinal Exposition by the First Presidency and the Twelve, in 1916 (Messages of the First Presidency 5:26-34). This is also available in the April 2002 Ensign, or in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism Appendix 4: Doctrinal Expositions of the First Presidency, pp. 1670-1677.