The Holy Spirit in Greek Grammar

The Personality of God, is not to be found in the gender of the noun "θεὀς", but in the characteristics which are attributed to Him, which are clearly Personal. Likewise of the Holy Spirit, we are told that He has "a mind" (Rom.8;27); He can be "grieved" (Eph.4:30); He "teaches" (Luke 12:12; John 14:26); "leads" (Luke 4:1); "forbids" (Acts 16:6); "lied to" (Acts 5:3); "bears witness" (Acts 5:32), etc. All of which is also used of God throughout the Old Testament, which can only be understood of a Person.

The teaching of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John, is very important, for it is here that we come across something new. We have already dealt with the facts, that the noun "Spirit" in the Greek language is neuter; and that the Holy Spirit is a Person, in as much as the Father and Son are. We now move on to another aspect of the grammar, which has been overlooked.

In Greek grammar we have two "genders" of words, there is the "grammatical gender", and there is the "natural gender". The Former deals with the "agreement" of gender within a sentence; the latter is the "sex" gender. Take, for example, Romans 8:16, and 26, where we read the words: "αυτο τὸ πνευμα", which is translated by the King James Version: "the Spirit itself". Now, because we have the use of the neuter "πνευμα", the pronoun "αυτο", and article "τὸ", are also in the neuter; this is what is called "grammatical agreement of gender", where it is so required by the "rules" of grammar. Taken by itself, the sentence as translated by the King James is correct. But, here we have a case, where other Scriptures, as well as the context, demands that we render the words: "the Spirit Himself". Before I get accused of being biased, and translating the words because of my "theological" position, I shall elaborate. Firstly, in verse 16 we read of the Spirit of "bearing witness" to the fact that we are "sons of God" (by adoption); secondly, in verses 26 and 27 we read of the Spirit "interceding" on our behalf before the Father. Now, in the book of Hebrews, we read of Jesus Christ as "ever living to make intercession" (7:25), which is clearly used of a Person. Then, thirdly, in verse 27, we read of "the mind of the Spirit", where the Greek word for "mind" is "φρονημα", which denotes: "thought, purpose, will, judgement, feeling" (see, H G Liddell and R Scott; A Greek-English Lexicon; vol. II, pp.1955-1956), which can only be used of a Person! So, the translation " the Spirit Himself" is in keeping with the entire passage, which clearly shows Him to be a Person.

Coming back to John's Gospel, we find a most interesting use of grammar by Jesus of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord refers to the Holy Spirit by the pronoun "He", in a few places (eg. 14:17, 26; 15:26; 16:8, 13, 14, etc.). But, it has been said, that the use of "He" is not because a Person is meant, but for the sake of "personification"; as Paul does in 1 Corinthians 13:5, where he says of "love", that it "seeks not her own (feminine)". Let us come away from the English, and look at the Greek of what Jesus used. As I have already said, because "πνευμα" is a neuter noun, the correct grammatical noun that Jesus should have used, would be "εκεινο", which is also in the neuter. Also it should be remembered, that the use of the neuter does not in any way indicate that a Person is not meant, as I have shown this is more to do with correct grammar. However, instead of using the neuter "εκεινο", Jesus uses the masculine "εκεινος". Why? Also, when He refers to the Holy Spirit as "the Comforter"(14:26), he should have used the neuter "το παρακλτον", which would agree grammatically with the use of "πνευμα". But, as before He adopts the masculine "ὀ παρακλτος". And, we also have the use of the masculine "αυτον" ("Him" -16:7; where we should expect "αυτο"); and "εαυτοὗ" ("Himself" - 16:13; again where we should expect "εαυτο"); and we also have the use of the pronoun "ὁν" ("Whom"- 15:26; where the neuter "ὃ" is required). On the use of the masculine, the Jehovah's Witnesses argue, that, because Jesus uses the masculine "παρακλτος" for the Holy Spirit, "So when Jesus referred to what the helper would do, he used masculine personal pronouns (John 16:7, 8). On the other hand, when the neuter Greek word for spirit (pneuma) is used, the neuter pronoun 'it' is properly employed" (Should You Believe in the Trinity, p.22). Here, once again we can see their wilful ignorance of the Greek grammar. Their argument that Jesus uses the masculine "παρακλτος", and therefore uses the masculine "εκεινος" to agree in gender, is with fault. The question, as to why did He use the masculine "παρακλτος", instead of the neuter "το παρακλτον"?, is not dealt with. If He had the neuter available to Him, then why should He employ the masculine, seeing that the neuter "agrees" in gender with "πνευμα"! As for their argument, that "when the neuter Greek word for spirit (pneuma) is used, the neuter pronoun 'it' is properly employed", is without any ground. As they themselves go on to quote 14:17 (ibid), where Jesus uses the neuter "αυτο" for the Holy Spirit, and they argue that it should be rendered "it"; where, though Jesus uses the neuter "πνευμα" in this verse, yet in the previous verse He uses the masculine "ὀ παρακλτος"; which, according to their argument, the masculine should have been employed. The question we must ask is, why does Jesus use the neuter "αυτο" here? The answer lies in the fact, that the earliest textual evidence for this text, the Papyri Greek manuscript, known as P66 (c.200 A.D.), actually has the masculine "αυτον" (see, Papyrus Bodmer II; Dr William's Library, London); which must show that the change to neuter is a corruption!

Dr George Winer, who, in his Greek Grammar, deals with "the gender of pronouns", has this to say:

"The gender of pronouns,- personal, demonstrative, and relative,- is not infrequently different from that of the noun to which they refer, the meaning of the noun being considered rather than its grammatical gender. This construction is most common when an animate object is denoted by a neuter substantive or a feminine abstract, in which case the masculine or feminine pronoun is used, according to the sex of the object...Jo.xv.26, however is not an example of this kind, as πνευμα is only an apposition"

(A Treatise on the Grammar of New Testament Greek, 176-177)

What the above means is this, that sometimes the gender of a pronoun differs to the noun to which they refer. Take, for example, John 6:9 (one that Dr Winer uses) where we read of the "παιδαριον" (neuter, lit. child; without reference to sex), where our English versions read "boy". The way that the "sex" of the child was determined, was from the use of the pronoun used in the sentence, "ὃς" (who), which is the masculine gender. Here the gender of the pronoun (masculine), is different to the noun (neuter); but it is the gender of the pronoun that establishes the "sex" of the child. Likewise, in John 15:26, we have the neuter noun "πνευμα", which is described by the pronoun "εκεινος" (He) which is in the masculine. Dr Winer dismisses this by saying that the masculine is used here with the neuter, because it is "only an apposition". But, this has got nothing to do with the use of "εκεινος" with "πνευμα", as in apposition we would see the use of the neuter "εκεινο"! The reason why Dr Winer remarks as he does above on John 15:26, is because he denies the "Personality" of the Holy Spirit, even His Deity (as he was a Unitarian). Therefore, this was his only "solution" to what otherwise would have been a problem.

Now, we must return to the all important question, why did Jesus use the masculine gender here in John's Gospel, when speaking of the Holy Spirit? We cannot agree with the explanation as given by Raymond Brown in his commentary on this Gospel, where he says that the masculine is used, because, "As the paraclete, the Spirit takes on a more personal role", p.639; See also Leon Morris, commentary on John's gospel, p.683). For Jesus to be here describing the "role" of the Holy Spirit, He would have not adopted the masculine, as the neuter  "αυτο" is also a personal noun, and would have better suited the grammar of the context. As we can see from the rendering of the neuter "αυτο" (14:17), where the King James has  "Him", and not "it"; and where Paul uses the neuter in Romans, as we have already seen, when speaking of a "Personal" role of the Holy Spirit. Nor can we allow for those who would draw a parallel with Jesus' use of the masculine "εκεινος", with the use of the same in John 12:48, where Jesus speaks of "the word which I spoke, that (εκεινος) shall judge him". Here we have a case, where the phrase "the word" (ὀ λογος), is in the masculine gender, and would, according to the agreement of "grammatical gender", require the use of the masculine "εκεινος" (that). Further examples of such can be found in John 2:22; 4:50; 15:3, 20; 1 Cor.15:54; 1 Thess.2:13, etc., and has no bearing, whatsoever on the use of "εκεινος" when applied to the Holy Spirit.

We must look at another example on the use of the masculine, where the neuter would have sufficed. Paul, in his Epistle to the Ephesians wrote:

 " Whom also, upon believing,  you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, Who is the guarantee of our inheritance.." (1:12-14)

Here, Paul is describing the Holy Spirit (τᾧ Πνευματι τᾧ Αγιῳ) as our "guarantee" of eternal life. Instead of using the neuter ὄ (which), corresponding to the neuter (τᾧ Πνευματι τᾧ Αγιῳ), he uses the masculine "ος" (Who). I am aware that both readings are attested for by ancient evidence, but the masculine has the far stronger witness, dating to Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons (A.D.130-200), who quotes this verse in his work "Against Heresies" (book V. ch.viii), which was written at the end of the second century; for which he would have used far older manuscripts of this Epistle (and the majority of Greek Mss.). The oldest witness to the neuter reading, is the Papyri manuscript (P46), which dates from around 200 A.D. The use of the neuter would have been enough for the Personality of the Holy Spirit; so why use the masculine?

The only possible answer to the use of the masculine, by Jesus Christ, and Paul, of the Holy Spirit, can be this. "The Holy Spirit", says Paul, "expressly speaks, that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to lying spirits, and doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1). Jesus Christ, Who knew of the heresies that would infect His Church, uses language to warn us, not to depart from the faith, by believing, as some do, that there is any hint of femininity within the Godhead. I am aware that there are those who maintain, that God is not of any "sex", which gives them permission to describe Him as "her", "it", or, "that person", which is nothing short of blasphemy. The fact remains, that the Holy Word of God clearly tells us that God is "Male" (as was clearly seen in Jesus Christ, Who was certainly not "ambisextus", as some hold!), and has not got anything to do with "male chauvinism", but teaching a Biblical truth.

There is no place to be given to the heresy that teaches, that, since "God is Spirit", He is therefore asexual. It is this teaching that has led to demonic translations of the Bible, such as the new, "An Inclusive Version", published in America by Oxford University Press. This, so-called "Politically Correct Bible", has changed much of the language of this Bible, to respond to the devilish feminist movement. The Lord's Prayer now reads: "our Father-Mother in heaven". The phrase used for Jesus, "Son of man", has become, "the human one"; amongst other demonic teachings. This Version has its origin in hell, and does not have the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit!