Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate.  Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach.  For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.

 
 
 

Going to Jesus

Pastor John’s Abbreviated

Pneuma(πνεῦμα) Study

Did New Testament Writers Think that
God’s Spirit (God’s Πνεῦμα) Was a Person?

John David Clark, Sr.

Download pdf version:

The Issue:
Did the Apostles Think That God’s Pneuma (Spirit) Was a Person?

Did the New Testament authors refer to the Spirit of God as a thing (“it”) or as a person (“he”)? Careful attention to the words of the Greek New Testament can answer that important question. If those holy men referred to the Spirit as “he”,then it is certain that the authors of the New Testament books believed the Spirit to be a person, but if they referred to the Spirit as “it”, then they did not. So, the issue is simple, and the answer easy to determine; we need only to look at the original Greek text and see what is there. That is what I did.

After I gathered the information on the words the original writers used when they referred to the Spirit of God, my focus became, How faithful to the original writers’ words are different versions of the Bible? So, I looked at English translations of the New Testament and compared what I found there with the original Greek.

Amazingly, what I discovered in most versions of the Bible produced by Christians was irrefutable proof of intentional mistranslation of Greek words that referred to the Spirit of God. That statement is not an exaggeration, nor is it intended to antagonize anyone. It is simply a statement of fact, and it is a fact that no scholar on earth can refute. In the versions of the holy Scriptures I examined, I discovered that most Trinitarian Christians routinely and purposefully mistranslated the Greek for the obvious purpose of promoting their Trinitarian faith.

The evidence for my conclusions is presented in the Pneuma Tables. The Pneuma Tables are the heart of this study. In it, I have organized the information to show these three things:

(1) the Greek words the biblical writers used when referring to the Spirit

(2) a correct translation of those words

(3) how those Greek words were translated in various versions of the Bible.

Unlike biblical Hebrew, which is so simple and direct, biblical Greek is wonderfully precise, which is helpful in determining exactly what Greek writers were thinking when they wrote. In other words, we can determine what the authors of the New Testament meant much more easily than we can we can determine what Old Testament writers meant because the grammar and vocabulary of the Greek language enabled the writer to express himself more precisely.

My hope is that this study will not seem complicated and that you will not be overwhelmed by grammatical details. If you do, the fault is mine because the facts themselves are simple. My aim was to present the information in such a way that the Reader does not have to be able to read Greek in order to see and understand the evidence.

The Agreement Rule

In biblical Greek, all nouns have gender; that is, they are either Masculine, Feminine, or Neuter. (“Neuter” means neither masculine nor feminine.) For example, in Greek, “Lord” is a masculine noun, “faith” is a feminine noun, and “spirit” is a neuter noun. Also, in biblical Greek, the spelling of the word, “the”, changed in order to “agree with” the gender of the noun.

The Greek Article (“The”)

If the Greek writer wanted to say “the Lord”, he would write it like this: “” Lord because “Lord” is a masculine noun and “” is the masculine word for “the”.

If the Greek writer wanted to say “the faith”, he would write it like this: “” faith because “faith” is a feminine word, and “” is the feminine word for “the”.

If the Greek writer wanted to say “the Spirit”, he would write it like this: “τό” spirit because “spirit” is a neuter word, and “τό” is the neuter word for “the”.

When the masculine “the” and the neuter “the” are written close together, we can easily see the difference:

2Corinthians 3:17a
The Lord is the Spirit

κύριος ἐστιν τὸ πνεῦμα

By “Agreement Rule”, we mean that if a noun is masculine (such as “Lord”), then its article, “the”, has to be masculine, too. And if a noun is feminine (such as “faith”), then its article, “the”, has to be feminine. And if a noun is neuter, (such as “Spirit”), then its article, “the”, has to be neuter.

THIS IS IMPORTANT!

THE GENDER OF THE ARTICLE HAS TO AGREE WITH THE GENDER OF THE NOUN.

Make sure you understand this idea before you continue.

The Article: “THE”

There are 17 different ways to spell “the” in Greek, as the following charts show:

Singular “The”
Masculine Feminine Neuter
the τό
of the τοῦ τῆς τοῦ
in the τῷ τῇ τῷ
— the τόν τήν τό
Plural “The”
Masculine Feminine Neuter
the οἱ αἱ τά
of the τῶν τῶν τῶν
in the τοῖς ταῖς τοῖς
— the τούς τάς τά

Since there is only one holy Spirit, the SINGULAR forms are all we need to look for and, even if the apostles thought the Spirit was a person, they never would have referred to the Spirit as “she”. So, we may simplify matters even further and remove the forms that are plural and the forms that are feminine:

“The”
Masculine Neuter
the (subject of sentence) τό
of, from the τοῦ τοῦ
in, to, by the τῷ τῷ
— the (direct object) τόν τό

Look carefully at the middle two rows below. The masculine forms of “the” are spelled the same way the neuter forms are spelled. When writers of the New Testament used one of these identical forms, it made it impossible for us to determine whether they were thinking of a masculine “the” or a neuter “the”. The verses where those forms are found cannot help us determine whether or not the writers thought the Spirit is a person; therefore, they are left out of the main Pneuma Tables (Pneuma Table #2 and #3). Pneuma Table #1 (found at the end of this study) contains all the New Testament verses in which writers referred to the Spirit with neuter forms of “the” (and other words) which are identical with masculine forms.

“The”
Masculine Neuter
the (subject of sentence) τό
of, from the τοῦ τοῦ
in, to, by the τῷ τῷ
— the (direct object) τόν τό

As you can see, the forms of “the” in Pneuma Table #1 are useless in helping determine if the apostles thought the holy Spirit is a person, because all of those forms could be either masculine or neuter, as in the center two rows in the chart above. That is why those verses are not included in Pneuma Tables #2 and #3.

After we remove all the unhelpful verses in Pneuma Table #1, we are left with verses that contain one of the four remaining forms of the article, “the”, shown in the chart below.

Masculine Neuter
the (subject of sentence) τό
— the (direct object) τόν τό

You will notice that it is easy to tell the difference between these masculine and neuter forms of “the”. Because the biblical writers had a choice between masculine and neuter in these cases, these four forms can help us determine what the biblical writers had in mind when they wrote, “the Spirit”, whether they were thinking of the holy Spirit a person or a thing.

Adjectives and Pronouns

Just as with the article, “the”, the spelling of Greek adjectives and pronouns changed in order to “agree with” the gender of the noun to which they referred.

An excellent example of adjectives changing their form is found in Ephesians 4:5, where Paul uses the Greek adjective, “one” in his statement, “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism”. In the Greek language, “Lord” is masculine, “faith” is feminine, and “baptism” is neuter. Therefore, we find this in the Greek text:

When Paul said, “one Lord”, he wrote, “εἵς Lord” because εἵς is the masculine Greek word for “one”.

When Paul said, “one faith”, he wrote, “μία faith” because μία is the feminine word for “one”.

When Paul said, “one baptism”, he wrote, “ἕν baptism” because ἕν is the neuter word for “one”.

As for pronouns, their spelling also changed to “agree with” the gender of the noun.

If the Greek writer wanted to say “he” or “himself”, he wrote, αὐτός.

If the Greek writer wanted to say “she” or “herself”, he wrote, αὐτή.

If the Greek writer wanted to say “it” or “itself”, he wrote, αὐτό.

These changes in the spelling of articles, adjectives, and pronouns to match the gender of the noun being referred to was the rule. But the Greeks, with their penchant for being precise with their words, did not box themselves in. They allowed for exceptions to the Agreement Rule when doing so would clarify their meaning. And it is because of “The Exception to the Agreement Rule”, explained on the following page, that we know that the New Testament writers did not believe the Spirit of God is a person.

The Exception to the Agreement Rule

Exceptions to this Agreement Rule were made whenever a neuter word referred to a person. Greek writers were allowed to change any neuter article, adjective, or pronoun to a masculine or feminine gender if the writer wanted to indicate that he was referring to a person. Dr. A. T. Robertson, in his classic, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, points out that “personal pronouns are sometimes used freely according to the sense” (p. 683), adding later that changes in relative pronouns, too, can be “made according to the real gender rather than the grammatical” gender (p. 713).

A wonderful example of the Exception to the Rule is seen by comparing two verses where the word “Amen” is used. When the author was thinking of “amen” as a thing, he used a neuter “the”:

1Corinthians 14:16

. . . how will the one who occupies the place of the ignorant say the “Amen” at your giving of thanks?

... ὁ ἀναπληρῶν τὸν τόπον τοῦ ἰδιώτου πῶς ἐρεῖ τὸ Ἀμην ἐπὶ τῇ σῇ εὐχαριστία;

As you can see, Paul used a neuter “the” (τὸ) in the scripture above. However, if “the Amen” referred to a person (here, the Lord Jesus), we find a masculine “the” ()

Revelation 3:14

These things says the Amen, the faithful and true witness.

Τάδα λέγει Ἀμην, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινός.

Please make sure you have a firm grasp on the concept of the Agreement Rule and of the Exception to the Agreement Rule because

PLEASE NOTE!

THE EXCEPTION TO THE AGREEMENT RULE IS THE CRUX OF THIS STUDY.

FREEDOM

(TO EXPRESS WHAT YOU REALLY THINK)

Use the following six charts as you consider the verses below the charts. Words used in those verses are highlighted in yellow here so that you can locate them quickly:

Singular “The”
Masculine Feminine Neuter
the τό
of the τοῦ τῆς τοῦ
in the τῷ τῇ τῷ
— the τόν τήν τό
Plural “The”
Masculine Feminine Neuter
the οἱ αἱ τά
of the τῶν τῶν τῶν
in the τοῖς ταῖς τοῖς
— the τούς τάς τά
Singular
Masculine
he, him
Feminine
she, her
Neuter
it
αὐτός αὐτή αὐτό
αὐτοῦ αὐτῆς αὐτοῦ
αὐτῷ αὐτῇ αὐτῷ
αὐτόν αὐτήν αὐτό
Plural
Masculine
they, them
Feminine
they, them
Neuter
they, them
αὐτοί αὐταί αὐτά
αὐτῶν αὐτῶν αὐτῶν
αὐτοῖς αὐταῖς αὐτοῖς
αὐτούς αὐτάς αὐτά
Singular
Masculine
he, him
Feminine
she, her
Neuter
it
ὅς
οὗ ἧς οὗ
ὅν ἥν
Plural
Masculine
they, them
Feminine
they, them
Neuter
they, them
οἵ αἵ
ῶν ῶν ῶν
οἷς αἷς οἷς
οὕς ἅς

GENTILES/NATIONS

Jesus called us Gentiles “dogs” (Mt. 15:26), but at least he recognized that we are persons. The word “Gentiles” (also translated as “nations”) is a neuter word; nevertheless, Jesus referred to us not as “those things” but as “them”:

Matthew 28:19

. . . all the Gentiles, baptizing them . . .

... πάντα τὰ ἔθνα, βαπτίζοντες αύτους ...

Acts 15:17

. . . all the nations, upon whom my name is called . . .

... πάντα τὰ ἔθνα, ἐφ᾽ οὕς ἐπικέκληται τὸ ὄνομά μου ...

CHILD

For our next example, “child” is a neuter word, but each child is referred to either as “him” or “her”, depending on whether the child was a boy or a girl. Only when speaking abstractly would a child be referred to as “it” (as in Mt. 18:2-5):

Mark 5:41

And taking hold of the hand of the child, saying to her . . .

Καί κρατήσας τῆς χειρὸς τοῦ παιδίου, λέγει αὐτῇ

SLAVE

As for Onesimus, a slave who was Paul’s child in the faith:

Philemon 10

I beg you for the child of mine, whom I have begotten in my bonds, Onesimus.

Παρακαλῶ σε περὶ τοῦ ἐμοῦ τέκνου, ὅν ἐγέννησα ἐν τοίς δεσμοῖς, Ὀνήσιμον.

Feminine Nouns That Refer to Jesus and the Spirit

No one knows why ancient Greeks designated certain words as masculine and others as feminine or neuter. For example, the Greek word “comforter” (παρακλήτος = paraclatos) was masculine, but a closely-related word, “consolation”, (παρακλήσις = paraclasis) was feminine. It is clear, though, that if any word was used in reference to a person, the writer was free to use whatever gender was appropriate for articles, adjectives, and pronouns that referred to that word. For example, observe how the feminine word “head” is treated in the following Scriptures:

HEAD (JESUS)

Below, Paul uses a feminine word, “head”, in reference to Jesus. There was available to Paul a feminine “from whom” (ἧς), but because Paul was talking about a man, he changed genders to a masculine “from whom”:

Colossians 2:19

. . . not holding the head, from whom the whole body. . .

... οὐ κρατῶν τὴν κεφαλήν, ἐξ οὗ πᾶν τὸ σῶμα ...

PROMISE (THE SPIRIT)

However, when the physician Luke used the feminine word, “promise”, to refer to the Spirit, he did not change genders to a masculine form of “who”:

Acts 1:4

. . . wait for the promise of the Father, which you have heard of me . . .

περιμένειν τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν τοῦ πατρός, Ἣν ἠκούσατέ μου

It is obvious from this that Luke did not consider the Spirit a divine person; otherwise, he would have used a masculine relative pronoun (“who”) to refer to the feminine word “promise”, as Paul used a masculine “who” in reference to the feminine word “head” when speaking of Jesus.

Other feminine nouns that were used in reference to the Spirit are gift, sword, and dove, and they are all treated the same way “promise” is treated. As the Pneuma Tables show that the New Testament writers never changed genders from neuter to masculine when referring to the Spirit, the example from Acts 1:4, above, shows that the same can be said about feminine words. The New Testament writers never changed genders from feminine to masculine when using a feminine word for the Spirit, though they did change from feminine to masculine when using a feminine word (“head”) for Jesus! If the writers had thought that the Spirit was a person, they would certainly have shown that “person” the same respect they showed the person of Jesus.

ONE

These are the forms of the adjective, “one”:

Masculine Feminine Neuter
one (subject of sentence) εἷς μία ἕν
of one, from one ἑνός μιᾶς ἑνός
in one, to one, by one ἑνί μιᾶ ἑνί
— one (direct object) ἕνα μίαν ἕν

Paul said that God was one person:

Galatians 3:20

... God is one.

... θεὸς εἷς ἐστιν.

Paul said that he and Apollos were one, in the sense of united in heart and mind:

1Corinthians 3:8

He who plants and he who waters are one.

Ὁ φυτύων δὲ καὶ ὁ ποτίζων ἕν είσιν.

Jesus also said that he and the Father were one, in the sense of united in heart and mind:

John 10:30

The Father and I are one.

Ἐγω καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν.

Jesus also prayed that we would be one, in the same way that he and the Father are one, not one in person (εἷς), but united in heart and mind (ἕν):

John 17:21-23

21. that they all might be one (ἕν), just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they may also be one (ἕν) in us, so that the world might believe that you sent me.

22. And the glory you’ve given me, I’ve given them, that they might be one (ἕν), just as we are one (ἕν);

23. I in them, and you in me, that they may be perfected in one (ἕν), and so that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them just as you loved me.

The Pneuma Tables

You are now ready to go to the main Pneuma Tables. Remember, the Greek word for “spirit” (πνεῦμα) is neuter, just like “nations”, “slave” and “child”. The Pneuma Tables contain every verse in the New Testament in which the writers had a choice between a distinctive masculine or neuter article, adjective, or pronoun that referred to God’s Spirit.

THE TABLES SHOW THAT EVERY TIME A NEW TESTAMENT WRITER HAD A CHOICE, HE CHOSE A NEUTER ARTICLE, ADJECTIVE, OR PRONOUN TO REFER TO THE SPIRIT.

If the men of God who wrote the New Testament believed the Spirit to be a person, would they not have shown the Spirit of God the same respect they showed to Gentiles, slaves, and children?

Pneuma Table 2

Pneuma Table 3

The Comforter

Trinitarians who believe that the Spirit of God is a person make much of John’s use of the masculine word, “Comforter”, in reference to the Spirit. But to my knowledge, none of them have ever made much of the apostles’ use of the feminine words that refer to the Spirit, such as dove, promise, sword, and gift. In fact, feminine nouns are used much more frequently than masculine nouns when the subject is the Spirit.

The following verses from John appear to contain references to the Spirit (πνεῦμα) as “he”, “him”, and “whom”. Actually, those personal pronouns do not refer to the neuter word “Spirit”, but to the masculine word “Comforter” (παρακλήτος). And since “Comforter” is masculine, not neuter, masculine personal pronouns such as “he” or “whom” are used when referring to it.

Using the charts already provided, look at the Greek words in bold, below, and determine which words John used to refer to the Spirit.

Note: The last two words in bold must be translated on the basis of what has come before. They could mean either “it” or “he”. How would a translator decide which is correct?

John 14:16-17

16. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter so that He might be with you forever,

17. the Spirit of truth [whom or which?] the world cannot receive because it neither sees αυτό [him or it?] nor knows αυτό [him or it?] But you know αυτό [him or it?], because [he or it?] abides with you and [he or it?] will be in you.

In the following scripture, John switches from “whom” to “which” in mid-sentence. Can you see why? Note: Near the end of the verse, you will see a new word, a demonstrative pronoun, meaning “that one”. Why did I translate it as “he”?

John 15:26

When the Comforter comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth which proceeds from the Father, he will testify of me.

Ὁταν δὲ ἕλθῃ ὁ παρακλήτον ὅν ἐγὼ πέμψω ὑμῖν παρὰ τοῦ πατρός, τὸ πηεῦμα τῇς ἀληθείας παρὰ τοῦ πατρός ἐκπορεύεται, ἐκεῖνος μαρτυρήσει περὶ ἐμοῦ.

Demonstrative Pronouns

Masculine
“that one” = he
Feminine
“that one” = she
Neuter
“that one” = it
ἐκεῖνος ἐκείνη ἐκεῖνο

“Insisting on Personality”?

John 16:7-14 appears to contain a masculine pronoun referring to the Spirit, but the neuter word, πνεῦμα, is not the subject of this section of John. Instead, the subject is the masculine word, Comforter (paraclatos).

John 16:7-14

7. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; it is better for you that I go away. For if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

8. And when he comes, he (lit., “that masculine one”) will convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment;

9. for sin because they do not believe in me,

10. for righteousness because I go to the Father and you no longer see me,

11. and for judgment because the ruler of this world has been judged.”

12. I still have much to tell you, but you are not now able to bear it.

13. But when he (lit., “that masculine one”) comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak of himself, but whatever he will hear, he will speak, and he will reveal to you things that are coming.

14. He will glorify me because he will take from what is mine and reveal it to you.

The powerful influence of the Trinitarian faith upon even a great scholar’s mind is evident in Professor A. T. Robertson’s treatment of the above passage from John 16, in particular, verse 13. He dismisses the possibility of “that (masculine) one” in verse 13 referring to Comforter because of the five verses that come between the word “Comforter” and that relative pronoun. And he makes that assertion, despite the fact that (1) verses 8-11 make up one long sentence and (2) “that (masculine) one” obviously refers to “Comforter” in verse 8, and is the subject of the entire whole sentence. Why then, would “that (masculine) one” (= Comforter) not be the subject of verse 13?

To say, as Dr. Robertson does (p. 709), “in this passage John is insisting on the personality of the Holy Spirit” is, frankly, bizarre. It is clearly an unwarranted assessment of the grammar and imposes upon John a Trinitarian faith about which he in no other place says or suggests anything, though opportunities abounded for him to do so. It is surprising that the usually level-headed Dr. Robertson should have made such a statement. But that he does so is an indication of how one’s personal faith can distort one’s judgment.

“Middleton’s Rule”

Dr. Robertson seems to agree with what he refers to as “Middleton’s Rule”, which holds that whenever the Greek article the is used with the Spirit (τὸ πνεῦμα) “personality is being taught” (p. 795). But in the New Testament, there are over ninety times when πνεῦμα is used without the article, as opposed to almost one-hundred-fifty times with it. So, are we to infer from those numbers that about 40% of the time (when the article is absent), the New Testament writers were teaching that the Spirit is not a person?

It is true, as Middleton’s Rule states, that the Greek article “the” is used with πνεῦμα when activity associated with a personality is present. But Middleton’s Rule fails to take into account the fact that the article is also not used when activity associated with personality is present. The following Table lists activities attributed to the holy Spirit when the article is present and when it is not:

ActivityPneuma With ArticlePneuma w/o Article
SpeakingMk. 12:361Cor. 12:3; 2Pet. 1:21
RevealingLk. 2:26Eph. 3:5
TeachingLk. 12:121Cor. 2:13
Giving lifeJn. 6:631Pet. 3:18
Sanctifying1Cor. 6:11Rom. 15:16
LeadingMt. 4:1Rom. 8:14
Bringing about the New BirthJn. 3:6Jn. 3:5

Activities of the Spirit of Man

The question should be asked, “If the fact that God’s Spirit knows, feels, and does things indicates that God’s Spirit is a person, then what do the activities of man’s spirit indicate?”

From the Bible, we learn that a man’s spirit can be troubled (Gen. 41:8), revived (Gen. 45:27; Isa. 57:15), stirred up (1Chron. 5:26; 2Chron. 36:22; Ezra 1:1), wounded (Prov. 18: 14), overwhelmed (Ps. 77:3), and refreshed (1Cor. 16:18). Further, the spirit of man is said to be able either to make one willing to do something (Ex. 35:21), or to restrain one from an action (Job 32:18). Man’s spirit searches things out (Ps. 77:6; Prov. 20:27; Isa. 26:9; Ezek. 13:3; Mt. 22:43), sometimes fails (Ps. 143:7), and at other times sustains a man (Prov. 18:14). Man’s spirit can rejoice (Lk. 1:47), serve God (Rom. 1:9), and bear witness (Rom. 8:16). The spirit of man knows things (1Cor. 2:10-11). It can pray (1Cor. 14:14), and it sometimes needs rest (2Cor. 2:13). The spirit of man is said to travel (Eccl. 3:21; 12:7; Lk. 8:55; cp. 1Cor. 5:3-4), and amazingly, we are told it can go places and return (Jud. 15:19)! Why, man’s spirit can even stand up, and do work (Eccl. 10:4; Eph. 2:2)!

When a man’s spirit needs rest, it is because the man needs rest. When a man’s spirit prays, the man is praying. When a man’s spirit knows something, the man knows something. Your spirit is the life that is in your body, and it will continue to live after your earthly body is decayed. Your spirit is you. And God’s Spirit is God. None of the activities of man’s spirit means that man’s spirit is a person, and yet Trinitarians use the same or similar activities of God’s Spirit as evidence that it is a person.

We were created in God’s image, and the fact that the Bible mentions things done by the Spirit of God is only to be expected, since our spirits do and feel some of the same things that God’s Spirit does. It is altogether proper to speak of the Spirit as living, feeling, performing deeds, and knowing, because God does those things. And He does them by the same means we do them: by the Spirit that dwells in Him. God’s Spirit is His life, just as our spirit is our life (Jas. 2:26).

On the following page is a chart showing some of the activities of spirits: God’s Spirit, man’s spirit, and evil spirits.

Activities of Spirits

ActivityGod's SpiritMan's SpiritEvil Spirits
Feel grief Eph. 4:30 Isa. 54:6; 61:3
Mk. 8:12
-
Feel sorrow Hos. 11:18 1Sam. 1:15
1Kgs. 21:5
-
Know 1Cor. 2:11 1Cor. 2:11 Mk. 1:24
Lk. 4:34
Search 1Cor. 2:10 Prov. 20:27
Isa. 26:9
Lk. 11:24
Speak 2Sam. 23:2 Rom. 8:16 Mt. 8:31
Pray Rom. 8:26 1Cor. 14:14 Mt. 8:31
Enter a body Acts 2:1-4 Lk. 8:54-55 Mt. 12:45
Lk. 8:30
Leave a body 1Sam. 16:14 Mt. 27:50 Lk. 4:35, 36, 41
Be stirred up Judg. 13:25 2Chron. 36:22
Ezra 1;1,5
-
Feel anger many verses Eccl. 7:9 Rev. 12:12
Be vexed Isa. 63:10 Eccl. 1:14
2Pet. 2:8
-
Be provoked Ps. 106:33 Acts 17:16 -

Notes:

1. This is just a sampling of hundreds of verses that mention things spirits do and feel.

2. There are two words for “demon” in the New Testament, one masculine and one neuter, besides being called “evil spirits”. It seems that demons are considered to be personalities, though without bodies of their own.

Beyond a Necessary Evil

In doing the work of translating, some alterations are unavoidable. Translators must have the liberty to re-arrange, to alter, to add, or to omit a word here and there for clarity; to do so is a necessary evil when going from one language to another. What we saw in the Pneuma Tables, however, is something beyond that. There was nothing necessary about mistranslating the Greek words which the apostles used when referring to the Spirit of God.

The most obvious reason for intentionally mistranslating those words is the personal faith of the translators. When asked why he so often translated “it” as “he”, Gary Zoella, who produced Translation #15, explained to me, “It is a grave mistake to use the neuter it or itself when referring to the Holy Spirit.” It was Mr. Zoella’s personal faith in the Trinity that caused him to think it is a “grave mistake” to refer to the Spirit as “it” or “which”. There is NO rule of Greek grammar that says it is a grave mistake to do so. But if it is a grave mistake to refer to the Spirit as “it”, then the New Testament writers made many grave mistakes!

The conclusion that one must draw from the evidence is that intentional mistranslation of the apostles’ references to the Spirit has occurred in many modern translations for doctrinal, not grammatical reasons. This must have been done in order to make it appear that the holy Scriptures support the Trinitarian faith.

What is especially disturbing about the translations used in the Pneuma Tables is that not one of them acknowledged what they had done. It is a matter of some gravity that none of these translators, in the Introductions to their translations, mention they intentionally mistranslated certain words that referred to the Spirit. As a matter of professional integrity, this alteration should have been acknowledged, regardless of what is true about the personhood of the Spirit. Considering the importance of the issue, this omission is inexcusable. God’s people around the world are buying Bibles, trusting that the translators have risen above personal opinion and have translated the original text faithfully. The evidence proves beyond any doubt that such is often not the case.

Consider the following remarks, taken from the Introductions to two translations, with my comments, following:

FROM THE ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION (Translation # 6):

“The ESV is an ‘essentially literal’ translation that seeks as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text. . . . ” (vii. of Introduction)

Comment: Does this mean that these translators thought it was not possible to translate some of the apostles’ neuter words as neuter, when the Spirit was the subject?

AGAIN, FROM THE ESV:

“In the area of gender language, the goal of the ESV is to render literally what is in the original.” (viii. of Introduction)

Comment: Overall, the ESV is a good translation, as are others on this list, but any impartial judge would conclude that they fell short of their stated goal, for they did not translate 13 of the apostles’ words literally (just in this small study) when it came to words related to the Spirit; the influence of their Trinitarian faith was too strong upon them to permit it..

FROM THE NEW KING JAMES VERSION (Translation #2):

The most astonishing contradiction of one’s own principle is found in the practice of these translators. Sharply criticizing modern translations for frequently altering the original text, these translators claimed to be guided by the “principle of complete equivalence,” saying,

“In faithfulness to God and to our readers, it was deemed appropriate that all participating scholars sign a statement affirming their belief in the verbal and plenary [absolute] inspiration of the Scripture, and in the inerrancy of the original autographs.” (iii. of Introduction)

Comment: This sounds impressive. But one must wonder, if these translators sincerely believed that the original Greek text was absolutely inspired of God and without any error at all, how could they have dared to alter so many Greek words related to the Spirit that they found in the original text? Of the thirty translations surveyed, the NKJV (1) was the most adamant that every original word of the New Testament was verbally inspired by God, without any error whatsoever, and (2) ranked among those most guilty of Trinitarian corruptions of the Greek text, at least 13.

One must wonder, what justification could there possibly be for a translator to mistranslate the words of the original text when he himself has signed a confession of faith insisting that those words are pure and perfect, being the very words of God?

Summary

  • New Testament writers often changed the gender of articles, adjectives, and pronouns that referred to a neuter word – if that neuter word referred to a person.
  • Although there were many opportunities to do so, and although it was allowed by the rules of Greek grammar, New Testament writers never changed from neuter to masculine when referring to the Spirit of God. They always referred to the holy spirit as “it” or “which”, never “he” or “whom”. The Pneuma Tables provide proof of this.

The only reasonable conclusions, based on an impartial assessment of the Greek words used in the books of the New Testament is:

  • The authors of the New Testament did not think of the Spirit of God as a person
  • Many modern translations contain intentional mistranslations of certain words found in the Greek text because the translators sought to promote their Trinitarian faith.

Pneuma Table #1

Pneuma Table 1
When the Masculine and Neuter Forms are Identical
VerseEnglishGender
Mt.
3:16comingM or N
Mk.
1:12drove outM or N
Lk.
1:35will comeM or N
2:25was (upon)M or N
3:22descendedM or N
12:12will teachM or N
Jn.
1:32remainedM or N
6:63isM or N
7:39awasM or N
7:39bwhichM or N
Acts
1:8has comeM or N
1:16spoke beforehandM or N
2:4gaveM or N
8:18was givenM or N
8:29saidM or N
8:39caught awayM or N
10:19saidM or N
10:44fell uponM or N
11:12toldM or N
11:15fell uponM or N
13:2saidM or N
16:7did (not) permitM or N
19:2existsM or N
19:6cameM or N
20:23testifiesM or N
20:28has madeM or N
21:11saysM or N
28:25spokeM or N
Rom.
5:5is givenM or N
8:9dwellsM or N
8:11dwells inM or N
8:15by whichM or N
8:26helpsM or N
1Cor.
2:10searchesM or N
3:16dwellsM or N
6:19athat (is in)M or N
6:19bwhich (you have)M or N
12:11aworksM or N
12:11bwillsM or N
2Cor.
3:6makes aliveM or N
Eph.
4:30with whichM or N
1Tim.
4:1saysM or N
2Tim.
1:14dwells inM or N
Titus
3:6whichM or N
Heb.
3:7saysM or N
9:8indicatingNeuter
10:15bears witnessM or N
1Pet.
1:12sentNeuter
3:19by whichM or N
4:14restsM or N
1Jn.
3:24whichM or N
5:6aisM or N
5:6bis (the truth)M or N
Rev.
2:7saysM or N
2:11saysM or N
2:17saysM or N
2:29saysM or N
3:6saysM or N
3:13saysM or N
3:22saysM or N
11:11entered intoM or N
22:17says (with bride)M or N
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