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

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The Influence of Trinitarian Doctrine on Translations of the Bible

John David Clark, Sr.

How faithful to the original text is the translation of the Bible that you use?

The Issue:
Did the Apostles Think the Spirit of God Is a Person?

Did the New Testament authors refer to the Spirit of God as a thing, using it, or as a person, using he, when speaking of the Spirit? 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: In the New Testament, did the authors refer to the Spirit as a person or as a thing? To answer that question, 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 Greek words which the original writers used when they referred to the Spirit of God, the focus of my study became: How faithful to the Greek 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.

What I discovered in most of the versions of the Bible produced by Christians is irrefutable proof of intentional mistranslation of words that refer to the Spirit of God. This 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 purposely mistranslated Greek words for the obvious purpose of promoting their faith in a holy Trinity.

The evidence for my conclusions is presented in the Pneuma Table Number 1: God’s Spirit. This first Pneuma Table is the heart of this study. In it, I have organized the information to show these three things:

(1) the actual Greek words the apostles used when referring to the Spirit

(2) a correct translation of those words

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

Many times, masculine and neuter pronouns are identical in form (and one of their forms is even identical with one of the feminine pronouns). This usually presents only a minor problem for translators, however, because even in those cases where it and he are identical, there are alternative ways of determining what the writer had in mind. Mainly, this is done by looking for the antecedent of that pronoun. But even if that should fail to answer our question, other options are still sometimes available in Greek to help us determine whether the writers were thinking of a person or a thing. Unlike biblical Hebrew, so simple and direct, the Greek language was wonderfully complex and precise – very conducive to intricate philosophical expression (as the history of Greece bears witness) and very helpful in determining exactly what writers were thinking when they wrote.

In other words, we can determine what the thoughts of the authors of the New Testament were much more easily than we can the thoughts of any Old Testament writer because the grammar and vocabulary of the language enabled a man to express himself more completely.

My prayer is that what I have prepared for you will not seem complicated and that you will not become bogged down in the grammatical details. If you do, the fault is mine. I hope to have presented this information in such a way that the Reader does not have to know Greek to understand it.

How This Work Began

One evening in the early 1990s, a dear sister in the Lord, Sandy Sasser, phoned me to ask why the Bible (KJV) referred to God’s Spirit as he in Acts 8:16. If the Spirit of God is not a person, as I had taught her, then why would the physician Luke have referred to the holy Spirit as he? It was a good question, and in order to respond to it from a position of knowledge rather than one of mere doctrinal persuasion, I read that verse in Acts in my Greek Bible, where I learned that Luke, in fact, had not referred to the Spirit as he, but as it; the King James translators had simply chosen to use he in that verse.

Then I began to wonder if the other New Testament writers referred to the Spirit as he or it, and that question led me into an intense but happy time of scriptural study. It didn’t take long to learn that the New Testament writers NEVER referred to the Spirit as he and that there was complete agreement among them in referring to the Spirit as it. This 100% agreement among the New Testament writers must communicate something significant to every sincere child of God. But what?

My first inclination was that, although significant, it was purely a grammatical issue and, therefore, not conclusive. I remembered from my seminary days that pneuma, the Greek word for spirit, is a neuter word and, as such, had to be referred to as it in Greek. However, the King James’ translation of it in Acts 8:16 as he intrigued me. Why did they do it, and how did other versions of the Bible translate the New Testament Bible’s references to the Spirit?

What I found was troubling. In version after version, I unhappily discovered that the words of the apostles of Christ had been altered, leaving the impression that the apostles referred to the Spirit as he, when they never did – not once! To me, this was not just a matter of whether or not the doctrine of the Trinity is true; it was a matter of professional integrity. It seemed to me that for translators to purposely mistranslate the Greek text of the Bible to promote any doctrine whatsoever was a betrayal of sacred trust, however sure the translators may have felt about their doctrine. A vast number of God’s children do not know the Greek language, and they depend on translators to be honest about what the original language says, but that is not what I found in most Christian translations, even the “literal” ones!

The crime seemed so great to me, the offense against God’s people so enormous, that I could not persuade myself that what I had found was true. I told my wife, “There must be some rule of Greek grammar that I have forgotten, some rule that would allow for it to be translated as he.” But in spite of my earnest search in my Greek grammar books, I could not find one.

I knew that I could not risk publishing what I had found without making every effort to prove myself wrong. If I made my findings public, only later to learn that I had condemned good work by faithful men, because I was ignorant of some obscure rule of Greek grammar, it would be a great disgrace to me. I held no illusions about my knowledge of Greek, especially in comparison to that of the very learned scholars who worked on translation committees around the world. I was willing to be wrong, but just as importantly, I was willing to be right. But how could I know for certain which I was? How could I know on what grounds so many scholars had, apparently, intentionally mistranslated the apostles’ words?

The best course, it seemed to me, was to pay a visit to the seminary I had attended and put the issue before one of my old professors. I expected to be informed of a rule of Greek grammar 5that permits the translation of a Greek it into an English he, and I was fully prepared to be relieved of my sense of indignation at what appeared to be intentional mistranslation.

Now, when I walked into the professor’s office, he assumed that I was a Trinitarian as he was, seeking professional guidance in the faith. That was altogether his assumption. However, finding myself in the unusual but fortunate position of listening to a Trinitarian speak openly as he would to one of his own, I thought it best not to trouble the waters.

We sat down, and I explained to him that I was doing some research in the Scriptures and had a Greek grammar question, the answer to which I could not find in any book I had. Generously, he offered to help me, so I asked, “Is there a rule of Greek grammar that would permit a translator to translate the Greek pronoun, it, as he?”

He began a discourse concerning the nuances of the Greek language and continued to speak for what seemed like five to ten minutes. A simple yes or no would have been sufficient, and I assumed that he was talking about all those irrelevant Greek issues because I had not made myself clear. So, when he paused, I politely interrupted him and rephrased my question in an effort to make it as simple as I could.

He began a discourse concerning the nuances of the Greek language, and continued to speak for what seemed like five to ten minutes, during which time I was having an inner debate about what was wrong with me that I couldn’t ask a simple question. The professor volunteered during this discourse that he had recently been teaching on the doctrine of the Trinity, and, reaching into a desk drawer, he pulled out a copy of his notes and handed it to me, for which I was sincerely thankful. But what I wanted to know was, is there a rule in Greek grammar that would permit a translator to translate the Greek pronoun, it, as if it were he?

And so, when I caught him taking a breath, I thanked him for his material and his willingness to help, then added, rather meekly, “But sir, what I really would like to know is this: Is there a rule anywhere in Greek grammar that would permit a translator to translate the Greek pronoun, it, as if it were the pronoun, he?”

He began a discourse concerning the nuances of the Greek language and continued to speak for what seemed like another five to ten minutes. This time, a bit of new information was added, which was the mention of Professor A. T. Robertson’s monumental classic, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament In the Light of Historical Research. I remembered that book from my seminary days, and when I managed to escape the cyclone of verbiage I had found myself caught in, I made my way to the seminary library to research Greek pronouns. It was in Dr. Robertson’s famous book that, at long last, I found what I was looking for.

I had assumed that the reason the authors of the New Testament always referred to the Spirit as it was because they had to, but Dr. Robertson’s book proved me wrong. He gave New Testament examples of neuter words referred to with personal pronouns, and I could not deny the evidence. For example, child is a neuter word in Greek, but writers would refer to a child not as it but as him or her, based on whether the child was a girl or a boy. For another example, the word Gentile is neuter, but the apostles always referred to Gentiles as them, not as those things. This new information surprised me. In fact, I was at first discouraged by Robertson’s evidence because my foundational theory was destroyed. I now knew that my explanation for why New Testament writers always referred to the Spirit as it would not hold water. I thought I was, as the saying goes, “back to square one”. In deep thought, I started to close the book and leave . . . but then a powerful thought struck me. If the apostles believed the Spirit of God is a person, then why did they never once refer to the Spirit as he?

Robertson had demonstrated that when a neuter Greek word referred to a person, Greek writers were free to use personal terms (he, her, who, etc.) when referring to that word. What a simple and clear answer I had stumbled upon! The apostles never used a personal term when speaking of the holy Spirit simply because they did not think the Spirit is a person! What an amazing discovery! It wasn’t so much what the New Testament authors wrote that held the key to my question as it was what they did not write!

Introduction to the Pneuma Table 1: God’s Spirit

(And may the Lord help you richly enjoy being bombarded with details of grammar.)

(Have faith.)

Anyone can easily see a difference between these two words: he and it.

Likewise, we all can see a difference between these words: who and which.

We can see a difference between those words simply because the letters used to spell each word differ. In this study, that is how simple the issue is. In the Greek language, the difference between he and it or between who and which is as easily recognized as it is in English because those Greek words are also spelled differently. For example, consider the differences in the Greek words for he, she, and it: αὐτός, αὐτή, and αὐτό. Even a small child in ancient Greece recognized the difference between those simple Greek pronouns.

I began this study with a question: Did the writers of the New Testament refer to God’s Spirit as a person (he, him, who) or as a thing (it, which)? Finding out was a very simple process, one that a first-year student of the Greek language could easily perform. You don’t have to know Greek to understand what I am going to show you.


No one can say when in very ancient history the practice began, but many ancient and modern languages refer to things, people, and animals as him or her. This is a grammatical structure foreign to the English language, but it is not difficult for us to understand. The Greeks referred to bread, for example, as a masculine word and used the personal pronoun he or who when referring to bread. But love, sword, and city were treated as feminine in gender and were always referred to as she. The third option for gender is “neuter”. Neuter means that the word has no gender. In English, we refer to a neuter object as it. Likewise, Greek words considered neuter, such as name and water, were also referred to as it.

The gender designation for a specific noun may change from language to language (e.g. the Greek word for spirit is neuter, but the German word for spirit is masculine), but within a language itself, gender designation does not change (pneuma, the Greek word for spirit, is always neuter in Greek).

Pneuma is Neuter, Regardless of Whose Pneuma It Is

The rules of grammar that apply to God’s Spirit (God’s pneuma) also apply to other spirits, whether human spirits, animal spirits, angel spirits, or demon spirits. Pneuma is a neuter word in the Greek language regardless of whose pneuma it is. In Pneuma Table 1, I have omitted references to any spirit other than the Spirit of God because our primary focus is on the issue of whether or not the New Testament writers referred to the Spirit of God as a person.


An antecedent is a noun to which a pronoun refers. For example, John is the antecedent of his in the following sentence: John took his seat. In that sentence, his refers to the antecedent, John. John is a masculine word, so we use the masculine pronoun his in reference to John. If we had used Sally, a feminine name, we would have used her to refer to Sally. A noun can also be impersonal, as in this sentence: The flag lost its color. The word flag is neuter, or impersonal, and so the word its is impersonal. To help illustrate my point, here are two short sentences with the wrong pronouns.

John took its seat.

The flag lost his color.

See how odd that sounds? English pronouns don’t work that way.

In this study, we focus on words that refer to God’s Spirit. The Greek word spirit being neuter, New Testament authors always referred to the Spirit as it. Therefore, in translating their Greek words into English, if we would faithfully communicate what they said, we should use impersonal pronouns such as it or which, not personal pronouns such as he or who.

For example, Matthew 10:20: “For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your heavenly Father which speaks in you.” It is “you who speak” because you are a person, but it is “the Spirit which speaks” because the Spirit is a thing, not a person. Below are the actual Greek words from Matthew 10:20. You will see that, just as in my English translation, different Greek words were used by Matthew when referring to a person and to a non–person.

οὐ ὑμεῖς οἱ λαλοῦντες ἀλλὰ τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ λαλοῦν

not you who speak but the Spirit which speaks


A determiner is a word that points to a noun. In English, determiners (articles such as the) are always spelled the same way, regardless of what they point to: (the man, the woman, the tree). But in some languages, such as biblical Greek, that use gender for nouns, the determiners change their form to match the gender of their nouns. In 2Corinthians 3:17, we find this:

the Lord is the Spirit

In English, the is spelled the same way, whether referring to Lord or Spirit, but not in Greek. Lord is a masculine word and Spirit is a neuter word; so, Paul had to use two different forms of the, one masculine and the other neuter. Here is the Greek from 2Corinthians 3:17:

κύριος τὸ πνεῦμα ἔστιν

the Lord the Spirit is

The masculine the is different from the neuter the, as you can see for yourself. A young child could be taught the difference between those two words, and every young child in ancient Greece was so taught.

Greek Adjectives Change Form, Too

All Greek adjectives change their forms based on gender. An excellent example of this is found in Ephesians 4:5. In this verse, we find only six words: three adjectives describing three nouns. In English, it reads very simply:

one Lord, one faith, one baptism

The English word one is spelled the same way, whether describing Lord, faith, or baptism. But in Greek, we find three completely different words, all of them with the same meaning: “one”. And the reason Paul used three different words is because of the different genders of the three nouns in this verse: Lord is masculine; faith is feminine; baptism is neuter. These are the words for one that are found in Ephesians 4:5:

εἷς Lord, μία faith, ἓν baptism

one Lord, one faith, one baptism

The point of all this is that, in Greek, we can see and understand more of what the author had in mind than we can from the English because the Greek language was much more inflected; that is, much more precise. The following is a wonderful, revealing example of this characteristic of Greek.

You Who?

Let me pause now, in the midst of all this grammar talk, to give you a personal testimony concerning our need of God’s help, no matter how much knowledge we have of Greek (or of anything else, for that matter).

As you read this testimony, please keep in mind this fact: In English, as you already know, the word you can mean at least two different things. It can mean you, a single individual, or it can mean you, a group of people. And no matter how we use the word you, it never changes its form. In Greek, however, the you for an individual has no resemblance to the you for more than one person:

σύ = you (one person)
ὑμεῖς = you (more than one person)

And that is not all. As strange as it may seem to our English–based mind, there are in biblical Greek at least eight different ways to say what is translated into English as you.

One day, several years ago, Brother Earl Pittman and his wife were visiting our home, and, out of the blue, the Lord spoke to me and told me to leave them and go into my office to read the Bible. I am a slave, and when my Master speaks, I must obey, but it did seem a little odd that he would choose this moment to tell me to read the Bible alone in my office. Nevertheless, I went.

When I sat down, I paused with my trusted King James Bible in my lap for a minute because I had no direction from the Lord as to what part of the Bible I was supposed to read. I remember thinking as I sat there that I had not read in Revelation for a while, so that seemed to be a good place to begin. I thought at the time that it was my idea to start reading in the second chapter of Revelation, where Jesus begins his famed seven messages to the seven congregations in the ancient Roman province of Asia (modern–day Turkey). But after what happened next, I knew that it was the Lord who had put that portion of Scripture into my heart.

I opened my King James and read the first line of Revelation 2: To the angel of the church1 in Ephesus, write. Immediately, the Spirit spoke to me and said, “This is a message to an individual, not to the whole congregation.” Now, I and everyone I knew had always understood this passage to be one of seven messages to seven congregations of Asia. But the Spirit was now telling me that there was no such thing as seven messages to seven congregations. Instead, I was being told that these seven messages were intended for the individual pastors of those congregations, not to the congregations themselves!

It was the apostle John, the author of Revelation, who exhorted the saints to “believe not every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1Jn. 4:1). But how was I to test this Spirit? How could I know if this was really my heavenly Father speaking to me? I read a few more verses, and then an idea came to me. Here are those next few verses (my translation):

¶ He who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands, says these things:

2. I know your works and labor, and your patience, and that you cannot stomach evildoers. And you have put to the test those who call themselves apostles but are not, and you have found them liars.

3. You have patience, and you have endured for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.

4. Nevertheless, I have something against you because you have forsaken your first love.

5. Remember then from where you have fallen, and repent, and do your first works. Otherwise, I will come upon you and will remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

6. But you do have this, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

7. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Assemblies. To him who overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.

Did you notice all the times in this message that the Lord used the word you or your? In English, it is impossible to tell if Jesus was speaking of you as to an individual or you as a congregation, but I knew that in Greek, it would be obvious! So, I took my Greek New Testament off the shelf and began to read, and what I read confirmed what the Spirit had told me. All seventeen times that you is used in those verses, it is singular; it is to one person. And if Jesus’ message here, as well as the other six which follow, are all read as applying to a man (that is, the pastor of each congregation) instead of to the congregation, their meaning drastically changes.

For God’s glory, I must take the time to explain one more thing, however, because it is the most important part of this testimony (even more important than the grammar lesson involved). While I was in the seminary, one final Greek exam was to get to know thoroughly one of the larger New Testament books. Our professor gave us several options, and I chose Revelation. When the day came for me to take my exam, I had to sit alone with the professor in his office and read and translate whatever portion of the book of Revelation he chose for me. I was expected to be able to dissect every verb and noun form and to answer whatever other questions about the Greek text that he might ask.

I was very confident, for when time came for the exam, I knew that book from one end to the other extremely well; and indeed, when the professor asked me his questions about the sections he selected for me to translate, there was nothing I could not answer. In fact, he was so impressed that he went outside Revelation to another book, to see if I could read and translate a section that I had not previously studied.

The reason I tell this is to emphasize a vital truth. As well as I knew the biblical Greek of Revelation at that time, it took the word of God coming to me (almost twenty years later) for me to understand the significance of the singular form of you in Revelation 2! To know Greek is good, but to know Greek is not to know God. Most, if not all, of the people who helped kill Jesus knew Greek! Greek reveals no mysteries of the kingdom of God, though it may help a teacher explain the mysteries that God does reveal. Jesus promised that when the Spirit came, it would guide us into all truth. He did not say, “And Greek, when it is learned, shall guide you into all truth.” Without hearing from God, a man can know every language on earth and still be blind to the truths of God, and I thank Him with all my heart for condescending to speak to me. And I pray that He speaks to you through this study. Otherwise, you will gain nothing eternal from it.

The Temptation That Faces Translators

I want to stress the fact that every Greek word the apostles used in reference to the holy Spirit in the New Testament is in a neuter form. Every adjective, article, pronoun, verb, and participle directly related to pneuma in the Bible is neuter in form. There are times when neuter forms are identical with masculine forms. If they were always identical, this study would have been pointless, but such is not the case. Many times, the neuter form differs from the masculine, and for this study, the critical fact to note is that in every case where New Testament writers had a choice between a masculine form that differed from a neuter word, they chose the neuter word – 100% of the time! This fact concerning the biblical Greek text must tell us something about what the apostles thought concerning the supposed “personhood” of the Spirit.

A fundamental component of the doctrine of the Trinity is that the Spirit of God is a person; therefore, to a Trinitarian, it is but an appropriate sign of respect to the “person” of the holy Spirit to refer to the Spirit as him (or Him). But did the apostles? The evidence presented in this study will show that the apostles’ words in the New Testament which refer to the Spirit offer no support at all for that Christian doctrine. What are translator’s who believe in the Trinity then to do?

Confronted by the neuter words of the apostles when referring to the Spirit, Trinitarian translators had to reconcile two allegiances: (1) their allegiance to God, manifested by a desire to produce a faithful translation of the original Greek and (2) their allegiance to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, manifested by a desire to show proper respect to God, in the (supposed) person of the Spirit. These two allegiances must have presented at least some translators with a dilemma, but I found not the first comment to that effect in any of the introductions to their translations.

Were the Christian translators whose works we surveyed more faithful to God or to their doctrine? When they faced the strong temptation to translate the apostles’ neuter words that refer to pneuma as if they were masculine, was their allegiance to God sufficient to keep them from being blown off course? It is perfectly understandable that when speaking of the holy Spirit, Trinitarians would prefer to say whom instead of which, and he instead of it. However, the writers of the original texts left nothing to the translators’ discretion in this matter, because those inspired authors of the holy Bible chose which and it, not who and he, every single time that they referred to the Spirit of God. This inescapable fact must have made for a hard test for a translator of a strong Trinitarian persuasion!

The Pneuma Tables will show that, alas, many Christian translators were overcome by the powerful temptation to set aside the words of God’s apostles in order to show the holy Spirit the respect they thought “he” was due. But doing that was a tragedy of immense proportions, for their mistranslations make it appear to English readers that the apostles were also Trinitarians who believed the Spirit of God to be a person. The facts that I found, and that I present to you now in the following Pneuma Tables, forced me to an awful conclusion concerning the translators’ motive that I wish were not true, but cannot deny; namely,

This survey presents irrefutable proof of intentional mistranslation of the Greek text by many Christian translators for the obvious purpose of promoting the doctrine of the Trinity.

Format of Pneuma Table 1: God’s Spirit

In Pneuma Table 1, you will find these columns:

  1. the VERSE that contains a reference to the Spirit (pneuma).
  2. the original GREEK word that refers to the Spirit.
  3. a Correct Translation of that Greek word.
  4. the GENDER of the original Greek word. Under this heading, you will find either “Neuter” or “M or N”. The “M or N” tells you that the word is in a form that could be either Masculine or Neuter.
  5. a column for each version of the Bible surveyed, showing how each one translated the Greek word in question.

With these tables, even if you are unfamiliar with the Greek language, you can judge for yourself how faithful various English translations are to the original, inspired words of the apostles. It is so simple a task that it defies a simple description because all these words get in the way. I had great difficulty in making the issue come across as simple as it really is. But then, isn’t the whole challenge of life in Christ Jesus simply to walk in the holy way that God has created for us, the way that is so simple that even fools need not err (Isa. 35:8)? May God help us escape the flesh’s love for complexity, grandeur, and style, for such earthly things obscure the wholesome “simplicity that is in Christ.”

Symbols in the Following Pneuma Table:

[ ] indicates that a word has been added by the translators that is not in the original Greek text.

( ) indicates words that belong in the translation but are not part of the word(s) under examination.

omitted indicates that the translators omitted the original Greek word in their translations.

– indicates that the translator omits a word that others add, but which is not found in the original text.

Italics indicates words in the Pneuma Table that are already italicized in the version being surveyed.

Final Notes:

(1) The Greek texts of the New Testament that were consulted in the development of this Table (and for all Tables in this booklet) are the Byzantine text, the Majority Text (MT), the United Bible Society text (UBS, fourth edition), and the 27th edition of the Nestle–Aland text (NA). The few cases where the texts differ have been noted within the Table itself. Very minor differences have not been noted, such as the MT’s propensity not to add the moveable ν to the end of verbs.

If the Reader finds some omissions or errors, I ask only that the whole not be condemned because of a part.

(2) Apart from rare occasions where the Byz, MT, or TR texts differ from the UBS, the words he, him, his, who, or whom should not be found anywhere in the following Tables. You will find those and any other mistranslated words in red.

Pneuma Table
Part One
Matthew Through Romans

(The two Pneuma tables are presented as embedded MS Excel spreadsheets. You can scroll up and down within the tables. There is also a download link at the bottom of each table. This will allow viewers using hand-held devices to view the tables on a larger desktop or laptop device.)

Pneuma Table
Part Two
1Corinthians Through Revelation

Footnotes to the Pneuma Table 1 on God’s Spirit

1 Pronouns in general are confused in the KJV, as it’s handling of Matthew 24:32 and Mark 13:28 exemplifies. The same feminine word for fig tree is used in both verses, but it is referred to as her in one verse, but his in another. How these translators could have justified using his and her interchangeably in this case is an interesting puzzle. But they mistranslated pronouns in every direction, not only using which for who (Mt. 5:12, 16; etc.), but often who for which (Jn. 14:26; Acts 5:32). This indicates that when this version of the Bible was written, in the early 17th century, the distinction between pronouns was apparently not regarded with the same degree of importance as it is now; therefore, the King James’ mistranslation of pronouns in reference to the Spirit cannot conclusively be called Trinitarian corruptions.

Trinitarian doctrine, however, was certainly behind this version’s horrible corruption of Philippians 2:6. There, Paul’s clear meaning was completely reversed by these translators in order to promote Trinitarianism.

2 (Jn. 14:17, etc.) See the section titled, “Special Verses”.

3 (Jn. 14:17 – αὐτό) This word does not appear in the UBS Greek text but is in the Majority and Byzantine texts.

4 (Rom. 8:15) In this verse, spirit is apparently treated by the translator as a spirit other than the holy Spirit.

5 (Eph. 6:17) Normally, which would refer to pneuma, for pneuma preceded which. However, some translators do not translate it so, for arguably sound grammatical reasons. See the section titled, “Special Verses”.

6 (1Jn. 5:6) In some versions, this Scripture is 1John 5:7, not 5:6.

A note on 1John 5:7b–8a from Beck: “Our oldest manuscripts do not have vv.7b–8a: ‘in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. And there are three testifying on earth.’ Early in the 16th century an editor translated these words from Latin manuscripts and inserted them in his Greek New Testament. Erasmus took them from this Greek New Testament and inserted them in the third edition (1522) of his Greek New Testament. Luther used the text prepared by Erasmus. But even though the inserted words taught the trinity, Luther ruled them out and never had them in his translation. In 1550, Bugenhagen objected to these words ‘on account of the truth.’ In 1574 [after Martin Luther’s death] Feyerbend, a printer, added them to Luther’s text, and in 1596 they appeared in the Wittenberg Bible. They were not in Tyndale’s or Coverdale’s Bible or in the Great Bible.”

7 As with the King James Version, Wycliff mistranslates neuter words as masculine as well as masculine words as neuter. Therefore, as with the KJV, this “indicates that when this version of the Bible was written . . . the distinction between pronouns was apparently not regarded with the same degree of importance as it is now.” And so, we cannot condemn Wycliff’s references to the Spirit as “he” or “whom” as trinitarian corruptions.

What the Facts Show

When all the information is carefully weighed, the conclusion that forces itself upon us is that the holy men who wrote the New Testament books were not intentionally making any theological point in their choice of pronouns and verbs referring to the Spirit; they were merely following the rules of Greek grammar. However, the theological point they inadvertently made by their choice of words is thunderous. Please keep in mind, then, that any theological point concerning the personhood of the Spirit based upon Greek grammar, can be made only from these facts:

(1) pneuma is a neuter noun, and

(2) although the apostles could have referred to the Spirit with a masculine word (if they believed the Spirit is a person), they never once chose to do so.

These two indisputable facts argue against the Spirit of God being a person and for an opposite, biblically sound conclusion; namely, the New Testament writers did not believe the Spirit is a person and, therefore, could not have believed that God is a Trinity of divine persons. However, many Christian translators, “thinking to do God a service”, left their Readers with a contrary impression. They intentionally mistranslated certain key words, not to intentionally transgress but to render what they felt was proper honor to “the person of the Spirit”. The unfortunate result of that error is that their translations lend unjustified credence to a doctrine they favor. The transparent inspiration for their mistranslations of the simple words involved was not to make the Greek more understandable but to make the doctrine of the Trinity more believable.

Beyond a Necessary Evil

In doing the work of translating, some alterations are unavoidable; that is a necessary evil when going from one language to another. What we are looking at in this study, however, is something beyond that. There was nothing necessary about changing the Greek words to make it appear as if the Spirit is a person.

So, I am not questioning in the least any translators’ liberty to alter, add, or omit a word here and there for clarity. What is disturbing is that none of the translators who altered the text in order to make it appear that the apostles believed in the Trinity admitted to their unnecessary alterations! In the Introductions to their versions of the Bible, not one of them mentioned the subtle changes they had made. Considering the importance of the issue, this omission is absolutely inexcusable. Moreover, not only did Trinitarian translators intentionally mistranslate the Greek text; they seemed to be unaware of the ramifications of what they had done! Consider the following remarks of some of the translators themselves, taken directly from the Introductions to their various translations, with my comments following:


“The ever–present danger of stripping divine truth of its dignity and original intent was prominently before the minds of the producers at all times.” (v. of Introduction)

Comment: Despite sensing the importance of fidelity to the “original intent” of the New Testament writers, these translators intentionally mistranslated the simple, original words referring to the Spirit dozens of times, substituting the words they deemed to be more in keeping with the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.


“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 the neuter words of the apostles as being neuter? This translation, in places, would make it seem so.


“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 if the success or failure of their stated goal were to be based solely on their translation of the words related to the Spirit, any impartial judge could only conclude that they fell far short of their goal. These translators certainly did not translate the apostles’ words literally 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 Jewish New Testament (on the question of “whether the translator should ‘inject his opinion’ into his translation”):

“[This translator] cautiously answers in the affirmative . . . on the ground that it inevitably happens anyway. . . . [But this] does not mean that [the translator] should exploit his role, illegitimately swaying his readers toward a partisan position.” (xxi–xxii. of Introduction)

Comment: I do not doubt that this translator was sincere in his desire not to “exploit” his position as translator/interpreter. Yet, his translation contained many corruptions of the Greek in the narrow perimeters of this study, thus “illegitimately swaying his readers toward” a Trinitarian faith.

From Phillips’ Translation (concerning what his response would be if someone should say that his work is an interpretation rather than a translation):

“If the word interpretation is used in a bad sense, that is, if it means . . . that there has been a manipulation of the words of the New Testament Scripture to fit some private point of view . . . I would . . . strongly repudiate the charge!” (viii. of Introduction)

Comment: Nevertheless, this translator is guilty of doing just that. His version interpreted (as opposed to translated) as masculine about half the Greek neuter words that referred to the Spirit of God, thus “manipulating the words of the New Testament Scripture to fit” this translator’s “private point of view” concerning the Trinity. He cannot repudiate that charge.


“This is not a word–for–word translation, like an interlinear. It is rather a translation of the thought of the writers. . . . It is the thoughts of our New Testament, not its single words that we have tried to translate.”

Comment: It is good for Mr. Williams to admit that he did not translate precisely what the New Testament authors wrote, but what they thought. But on what basis did Mr. Williams mistranslate the apostles’ words related to the Spirit, as if he believed that the apostles thought something other than what they wrote?


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 very 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, then how could they have dared to alter every single Greek word related to the Spirit that they found in the original text? Of the thirty translations surveyed, this translation was (1) most adamant that every original Greek word of the New Testament was verbally inspired by God and without any error whatsoever, and (2) most guilty of Trinitarian corruptions of the Greek text.

Without a single exception, when these translators were confronted with the apostles’ “it” in reference to the holy Spirit, they replaced it with their own “He”, “Him”, or “Whom” (capital letters, theirs). What justification could there possibly be for their refusal to translate faithfully the words of the original text when they themselves signed a confession of faith which insisted that those words were verbally inspired by God? Where is their fear of the Almighty, or their respect for His wisdom in choosing the correct words to use?

It seems to me that translators who truly believe that God Himself verbally inspired the words written in the Bible would believe that those words were perfect and entirely beyond being improved upon, and therefore, they could not consider it appropriate to replace God’s words with words of their own. Believing that God breathed into men each Greek word, should they not consider it arrogant, if not downright blasphemous, to replace God’s words with their own?

My conclusion is that with their own affirmation of faith “in the verbal and plenary inspiration” of the original Greek words, combined with their mistranslation of the Greek text, these translators have condemned themselves and their own work.

One would think that translations that call themselves “literal” would provide a refuge from indoctrination by mistranslation, but it is not so. The “literal” translations of Trinitarian translators fared no better than most others:


“. . . many Bibles today go far beyond the level of interpretation that is required to produce a good translation. In doing so, they give you a Bible that is clouded with the translators' opinions, and many times one can be misled by well intentioned decisions that the translator made in his work. . . . With the Literal Translation of the Bible (LITV), the Word of God is given to you as it was written . . . In no other version can you study the text and see the face of our Maker so clearly without the possible distortion that occurs when translators decide to make unnecessary interpretive decisions for us (although quite well intentioned).” (Introduction online at litv/litv.htm, 4–25–07.)

Comment: In spite of his desire to avoid “unnecessary interpretive decisions”, Mr. Green’s Trinitarian faith led him to do exactly what he condemns other translators for doing, for with at least 15 intentional mistranslations of Greek words that refer to the Spirit, he has himself given us “a Bible that is clouded with the translators' opinion.” He knows that Readers “can be misled by well intentioned decisions” of translators; and yet, well–intentioned as he himself may have been, Mr. Green mistranslated most of the words that the apostles used in reference to the Spirit in order to reflect his Trinitarian faith, rejecting the words of the holy men of God who wrote the Bible.


“Any words added for clarity are bracketed, so that nothing is added without it being indicated as such. . . . This second edition of the Analytical–Literal Translation is being presented to the Christian public in the belief that the Scriptures are ‘God–breathed’ and that EVERY word of God is important to our salvation and Christian life.” (ix, x. of Introduction)

Comment: Mr. Zeolla regularly mistranslated the New Testament authors’ neuter words that referred to the Spirit. And despite his claim that everything he added to the text for clarity was bracketed, for this study I found not one bracket that would signal the Reader that he had changed the authors’ words.

Second, if Mr. Zeolla truly believes that“EVERY word of God is important to our salvation”, then why would he not want to keep in his translation God’s words concerning His Spirit instead of replacing them with his own? The answer must be that he is a Trinitarian, and his faith influenced his translation decisions.

Finally, Mr. Zeolla (xi. of Introduction) defines “literal” as meaning that “All words in the original text are translated – nothing is left out.” Yet, in Romans 8:11, when Paul refers to the Spirit as “ that which dwells in you”, the words “that which” are omitted, as is Peter’s “it” in 1Peter 1:11.

A Matter of Principle

The evidence presented here proves that some translators wrote things as being part of the holy Bible that they knew the original authors did not write, replacing original Greek words relating to the Spirit with their own. The obvious inspiration for their mistranslation was their strong belief in the doctrine of the Trinity. I do not condemn that, per se. A translator’s personal faith is his own business. The crime is that the switch was made and then no mention was made of it. That a doctrinal bias was allowed to affect the translation in such an important area should have been mentioned.

The aspiration of all the translators whose versions of the Bible appear in this study was, no doubt, to render translations without error and without corruption, and that is a noble principle by which to work. I harbor no suspicions that any of these translators set out to deceive, and I commend them for striving to produce good translations. However, in the main, the Trinitarian translators failed miserably to be guided by that noble principle when confronted with biblical Greek that contradicted their Trinitarian faith. This is a violation of the Readers’ trust. If any translator feels so strongly about a particular doctrine that he cannot in good faith adhere to the original biblical text, then he should at least alert the Readers to the changes he has made; otherwise, his Readers will be left with a wrong impression concerning the original words. This admission should be done out of respect for the Reader and for the holy authors of the original text, not to mention respect for the God who inspired the words the original authors wrote.

Even if a translator sees himself as serving God and the best interests of mankind when he alters the original text, and even if he is in fact doing so, professional integrity demands that any significant alterations must be admitted to the Readers. However, I could not find one among the guilty translators who admitted in their Introductions that they had interpreted rather than translated words related to the Spirit because of their particular faith. All of them changed the words of the apostles silently, thus leaving their Readers with a wrong idea about what the apostles originally thought about the Spirit of God.

But perhaps the translators were not even aware of what they had done. Perhaps their faith moved them to mistranslate certain words without realizing the significance of what they had done. If so, then that fact demonstrates the strange power that the doctrine of the Trinity seems to exercise over the judgment of otherwise good and capable men.

Special Verses

The following verses from John appear to contain references to pneuma as he, him, and whom. Actually, those personal pronouns refer not to pneuma, but to paraclatos (comforter), a masculine word. And since paraclatos is masculine, not neuter, masculine pronouns are used when referring to paraclatos. Here is the correct translation of each of these verses:

John 14:16–17

And I will ask the Father, and He will give to you another comforter, that he might be (1) with you for ever, the Spirit of truth which (2) the world cannot receive because it neither sees nor knows it (3). But you know it (3), because it abides (4) with you and it will be (4) in you.

1 The verb could be translated “it might be”, but since the subject of this verb, paraclatos, is masculine, the better translation most likely is “he might be”.

2 “Which” is correct because the antecedent is the neuter pneuma not the masculine paraclatos.

3 We have no choice here in these cases; John used it, not him.

4 This is an interesting sentence, for the translator must decide whether John was thinking of paraclatos as his subject or whether he was continuing his references to pneuma. If paraclatos, then these two verb forms should be translated “he abides” and “he will be”. If pneuma, then “it abides” and “it will be” is correct.

John 14:26

But the comforter, the holy Spirit which (5) the Father shall send in my name, that (masculine) one will teach (6) you everything and (he will) remind (6) you of everything that I have spoken to you.

5 Pneuma is the antecedent; therefore, which is the correct pronoun. John avoids using the personal pronoun whom.

6 Even though there is no difference in the neuter and masculine verb forms used here, paraclatos is the subject. Therefore, he is the better translation.

John 15:26

When the comforter whom (7) I will send unto you has come, even the Spirit of truth which (8) proceeds from the Father, he will testify (9) of me.

7 “Whom” refers to the masculine word “comforter” (paraclatos).

8 “Which” refers to the neuter word “spirit” (pneuma).

9 The verb form here is another example of a verb that can be used with either a neuter or a masculine subject. If the translator chooses paraclatos as the subject, which seems to be the reasonable choice here, “he will testify” is the better translation.

John 16:7–14

7. Nevertheless, I am telling 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 (“that masculine one”) comes, he will reprove the world for sin, for righteousness, and for judgment;

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

10. and for righteousness because I am going 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. When he (“that masculine one”), the Spirit of truth, comes, 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.

John 16:13 at first appears to contain a masculine pronoun referring to the Spirit, but pneuma is not the subject here. The subject throughout this section is paraclatos, beginning with verse 7.

The powerful influence of the Trinitarian faith upon even a great scholar’s mind is evident in Professor A. T. Robertson’s treatment of John 16:13. He dismisses the possibility of “that (masculine) one” in verse 13 referring to paraclatos because of the five verses that come between paraclatos and that pronoun. And he makes that assertion, despite the fact that verses 8–11 make up just one long sentence and (2) “that (masculine) one” in verse 8 is the only subject of that long sentence. In other words, paraclatos is the only subject of verses 7–11. Why then, could it not be the subject of verse 13 as well? To say, as Dr. Robertson does (p. 709), “in this passage John is insisting on the personality of the Holy Spirit” is a completely unwarranted assessment of the grammar and imposes upon John a Trinitarian faith about which he in no other place says anything, though opportunities abounded for him to do so. No one except one predisposed to a Trinitarian faith would possibly see in John’s grammar a voice “insisting” on the personhood of God’s spirit.

One should especially note that the use of the masculine noun, paraclatos, cannot be taken as evidence that the Spirit is a (masculine) personality, for other such descriptive titles for the Spirit are feminine words, such as dove, promise, and gift. In fact, the word most closely related to paraclatos is paraclasis (consolation), and it is feminine. In Scripture, there are many more feminine words than masculine words used in reference to the Spirit. But who is willing to suggest that the Spirit should be referred to as she?

Outside of these verses in John, the only other usage of paraclatos is in reference to Jesus himself, found in 1John 2:1.

Ephesians 6:17

A comment on Ephesians 6:17 is needful because of a popular misinterpretation which has prevailed in some fundamentalist and charismatic circles, contrary to the meaning which is made clear by careful attention to the Greek. Here, we read:

And take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

At issue is, what is the antecedent of which? In alluding to this verse, some over–zealous believers refer to their Bibles, raising them high and exclaiming, “Here is my sword”, as if the word which in this verse refers to sword. But if which in this verse referred to sword, then which would be feminine because in Greek, sword is feminine. However, the which here is neuter, and that requires us to look for the neuter word that which is referring to: Spirit. Paul is saying here that the Spirit, not the sword (and certainly not the Bible) is the word of God.

Most translations translate the parenthetical clause “which is the word of God” in this manner: “that is [to say], the word of God.” This is a legitimate translation. I personally read which to be referring to Spirit in this sentence, and unless one has a theological difficulty with the Spirit being the word of God, this would probably be the first meaning which would come to mind in the normal course of translation. Nevertheless, this is an occasion in which the translator must choose between two good options as to what the original writer intended.

Another interesting and legitimate rendering of this verse is from the Goodspeed Translation: “. . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the voice of God.” After all, does not God communicate to us through His Spirit? Goodspeed may have been encouraged in this rendering of the Greek by the fact that word here is the Greek rama (“that which is said”, “expression”), not logos (word, or the personified Word).

Regardless of which of these three possible translations is preferred, however, the use of sword as the antecedent of which is impossible.

They Didn’t Have to Do It!

I mentioned earlier that there are examples of the New Testament writers referring to neuter words with masculine or feminine pronouns. Let me give you some specific examples that I have found.

The Greek word Gentile(s) is neuter, but a masculine pronoun, whom, is used in referring to Gentiles (Acts 15:17; 26:17). It is obvious that the author of Acts felt it would be disrespectful to refer to people as if they were things, even if they were Gentiles.

In John’s Gospel, we find a masculine pronoun used in reference to the neuter word child, indicating that John felt it was inappropriate to refer to a person, even a very small one, as an it (Jn. 6:9). In Mark, the writer refers to yet another neuter word for child with the pronoun her, for in this case the child was female. Paul also demonstrates this liberty concerning gender when he speaks of the runaway slave, Onesimus (Phlm. 10): “I appeal to you concerning my child [neuter], whom [masculine] I have begotten in my bonds.” The same intentional change of gender is seen in Matthew 28:19, Mark 6:45–46, and Acts 8:5.

The apostle John, in his second letter, shows it was customary to refer to a mixed group with the masculine gender when, in greeting the “elect lady” (feminine) and her “children” (neuter), he uses a masculine form of whom in reference to them all (v.1).

Another instructive example of mixed gender usage concerns the word amen. In both 1Corinthians 14:16 and 2Corinthians 1:20, Paul refers to “the [neuter] Amen”. But in John’s Revelation, when Jesus calls himself “the Amen”, it is with a masculine the, not neuter. And in 5:6, John saw the Lamb (neuter), which he refers to with a masculine participle because the Lamb was Jesus. Similarly, when John refers to the Beast (a neuter word), he uses a masculine pronoun (Rev. 13:14), indicating that the coming Beast will be a person.

So, throughout the New Testament writings, the evidence shows exactly what Robertson stated; to wit, “personal pronouns are sometimes used freely according to the sense” rather than according to strict grammatical rules (p. 683).

Robertson repeats this extremely important observation later, noting that in biblical Greek, changes in the gender of pronouns are at times “made according to the real gender rather than the grammatical [gender]” (p. 713). In other words, if the ancient Greek writer used a neuter word, but with a person in mind, he was at liberty to use a masculine or feminine pronoun instead of the neuter pronoun.

The inescapable conclusion is that if the New Testament writers believed that the Spirit of God is a person, they would surely have shown as much respect to Him as they showed to humans (as in the examples above). The writers were completely free to use personal pronouns, masculine verb forms (e. g. Mk. 9:20), etc., when referring to a person, regardless of the gender of the Greek word used, and the evidence shows that they took full advantage of that liberty.

This, then, is the question which the Trinitarian translator must answer: If the original authors believed that God’s Spirit is a person, and if they were free to refer to the Spirit as he, why did NONE of them EVER refer to the Spirit with a personal pronoun, masculine determiner, adjective, or verb form? If they believed the Spirit is a person, then why did not they show him the same respect they showed slaves, children, and the Beast himself?

The facts of the original text make it perfectly clear that the New Testament authors knew nothing about the Spirit of God being a person, and for Trinitarians to translate the words those authors penned in such a way as to make it appear as if the apostles were Trinitarians is indefensible and irresponsible in the extreme.

The compulsion to refer to the Spirit in personal terms (which compulsion, it should be noted, the original New Testament authors never once felt) was a motivating factor for most of the translators whose work is represented in the Pneuma Tables. Believing strongly that the Spirit is a person, they were compelled to substitute the apostles’ words with their own. As a result, instead of simply bending a rule of grammar in order to make the original meaning clear (which is a necessary evil in translation), they violated a cardinal principle of integrity in scholarship by rejecting the words of holy men of God in order to propagate their own private beliefs. For them to have done this is not simply a matter of inappropriate methodology; it is evil.

“Middleton’s Rule”

Dr. Robertson alludes to a “Middleton’s Rule”, which holds that whenever the Greek article the is used with pneuma, “personality is being taught” (p. 795). But in the New Testament, there are about one hundred uses of pneuma without the article the, as opposed to about one hundred fifty with it. 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? And were the apostles thus reduced to making subtle hints about a doctrine of such immense significance as the personhood of the Spirit of God?

Paul wrote that the hope of the gospel prompted him to use “great plainness of speech” (2Cor. 3:12). Not only Paul, but every other teacher sent from God, taught the truth openly, not in riddles impossible for all but astute linguists to decipher. In the Introduction to his translation, J. B. Phillips (The New Testament in Modern English) makes several shrewd observations in regard to the imagined “secret messages” that some translators see hidden within the Greek text of the New Testament. “I doubt very much,” he writes, “whether the New Testament writers were as subtle or as self–conscious as some commentators would make them appear.” He continues, “[I]t appears to me quite beside the point to . . . deduce hidden meanings [from the original New Testament text].”

This is true. Accordingly, we should admit that there simply does not exist in the use of pneuma or in any use of the words related to it, an effort by New Testament writers to persuade the Reader, subliminally or otherwise, that the Spirit of God is a person. The evidence simply doesn’t exist.

The Middleton Table

It is true, as “Middleton’s Rule” states, that the Greek article the is used with pneuma when activity associated with a personality is present. But Middleton’s Rule does not 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
speaking by menMk. 12:361Cor. 12:3; 2Pet. 1:21
revealing to menLk. 2:26Eph. 3:5
teaching menLk. 12:121Cor. 2:13
giving life to menJn. 6:631Pet. 3:18
men sanctified by1Cor. 6:11Rom. 15:16
men led byMt. 4:1Rom. 8:14
men being born of itJn. 3:6Jn. 3:5

Another remarkable activity of the Spirit which is usually associated with personality is the conception of a child; in this case, Jesus (Mt. 1:18, 20; Lk. 1:35). But the article is missing here, when Jesus is said to have been born “of holy spirit”. If, as Middleton’s Rule says, Matthew and Luke were teaching the personhood of the Spirit when the article is present, what subtle message were they conveying by omitting the article in this divine act of conception? My answer is, Nothing. There is no code, no secret message being sent at all. It is simply a matter of writing style. No one except a person told to look for a Trinitarian clue would see in these verses a secret message being sent.

Even if the issue is brought up as to whose personality is being shown when the Spirit does something, the answer can only be, God’s personality. After all, whose personality is being shown when your spirit does or feels something, you or your spirit’s?

Sent by God

That the Spirit was sent by God (Jn. 14:26) does not imply that the Spirit is “distinct from the Father” as some Trinitarian scholars claim, for God explained that what He sent was “(some) of my spirit” (Acts 2:17, 18). In other words, since “the Spirit is life” (Rom. 8:10), therefore, when God poured out His Spirit on the day of Pentecost, He was sharing His holy life with fallen man; He was sharing with us His divine nature (2Pet. 1:4). Here are translations of Acts 2:17 from some of the translations used in our Pneuma Tables:

NASI will pour forth of My Spirit
New WorldI shall pour out some of my spirit
NABI will pour out a portion of my spirit

No Rule at All

All the evidence leads us to conclude that while activities associated with personality may be present when the article is used with pneuma, it is also true that activities associated with personality are present when the article is not used. “Middleton’s Rule”, then, is proved to be no rule at all. It is useless as a defense of the doctrine of the Trinity. It does not show that New Testament writers were “teaching personality” when they used the article. What Middleton’s Rule really shows is how Trinitarians must strain to find something in the Scriptures to support their doctrine. If there is a rule concerning the use of the article with pneuma, it resembles the conclusion reached by Dr. Robertson concerning the use of articles with proper names; to wit, “no satisfactory principle can be laid down for the use or non–use of the article” (p. 761). He reaches this conclusion, it should be noted, even though he stated earlier that “in the ancient Greek for the most part the article was not used with proper names” (p. 759). There is no reason why we cannot reach a similar conclusion concerning the article’s use with pneuma. Although the article is often present when personal activity is suggested, “no satisfactory principle can be laid down” because just the opposite is also true: the article is often absent when personal activity is suggested.

On the following page, I have provided a complete list of verses in the New Testament in which the article is absent when the holy Spirit is mentioned. The student who takes the time to read each of these verses will notice how some of them communicate a different feeling concerning God’s Spirit when it is read as the original writer wrote it (“holy spirit” instead of “the Holy Spirit”). There are, of course, instances where the article is needed in English to accommodate a smooth translation; but, the point is that there is nothing about personhood suggested by either the absence or presence of the article in relation to the Spirit, “Middleton’s Rule” notwithstanding. The holy Spirit should be understood to be God’s presence – in spirit rather than in body. This is how the apostles understood it, as their words indicate when they are faithfully translated.

BookVerse In Which Pneuma Has No Article
Judev. 19v. 20

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), or 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), bear witness (Rom. 8:16), and confess (1Jn. 4:2). The spirit of man knows things (1Cor. 2:10–11). It can pray (1Cor. 14:14) and work (Eph. 2:2), and it 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 (Judg. 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 the same kind of things. 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).

God’s Body

Body PartsScriptures
head & hair Dan. 7:9
eyes Prov. 15:3; Dt. 11:12; Ps. 34:15
eyelids Ps. 11:4
ears (hear) Ps. 17:6; 34:15; 5:3
nose (smell) Lev. 26:31; Amos 5:21; Phip. 4:18
nostrils Ex. 15:8; Job 4:9; Ps. 18:8, 15
mouth Dt. 8:3
tongue Isa. 30:27
lips Job 11:5; 23:12; Isa. 30:27
breath Ps. 33:6
voice Gen. 3:8; Dt. 4:12; Isa. 6:8; 30:30
face /countenanceEx. 33:20; Ps. 13:1; Num. 6:26; Ps. 4:6
arm Dt. 33:27; Isa. 51:5
hands Gen. 49:24; Ex. 15:17; Isa. 5:12
finger Ex. 8:19; 31:18; Lk. 11:20; Ps. 8:3
back Ex. 33:23
feet Ex. 24:10; 2Sam. 22:10; Isa. 60:13; Nah.
general bodily form “image”Num. 12:8; Jas. 3:9; Rev. 4:3; Gen. 1:26–27 with 5:3
heart Gen. 6:6; 8:1; Hos. 11:8
spirit Gen. 1:2; 1Cor. 2:11
soul Isa. 1:14; 42:1; Jer. 5:9, 29

Also, God rides, walks, sits, stands, feels, and thinks. Yes, we are made in His image!

NOTE: “Wings of the Almighty” are mentioned several times (Ruth 2:12; Ps. 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 63:7; 91:4), but that is a figure of speech. Wings are mentioned figuratively throughout the Bible (e.g. as belonging to Assyria in Isa. 8:8; Moab in Jer. 48:9; the risen Christ in Mal. 4:2).

So, the fact that our heavenly Father has a body (not made of earthly material, of course) is established. And if we believe what the Scriptures reveal about the existence of God’s body, then it seems to me that we can more easily accept the fact that He is a person and that the Son of God is another person with his own body. The Son’s glorified body is described by John in Revelation 1:13–15. And inasmuch as we were created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26), we can learn about God not only from the Scriptures but by looking at ourselves.

As I have said, the definition of “person” should include “having a body”. Whoever has, or ever has had a body is a person. God the Father is a person, and Jesus the Son is a person. The spirit of God has no body; therefore it is nobody. It is God’s life. Man was created in the image of God, and we can see from our own make–up that our spirit is not another person. Our spirit is our life, and God’s spirit is God’s life. God’s life is in His body, just as our life is in our body. So, the spirit of God is the life that is in the Father, which He gave to the Son (cp. Jn. 5:26), and which the Son was ordained by God to give to others (Jn. 17:2). Jesus was always very aware of his dependency on his Father for his life (cp. Jn. 6:57), as we should maintain such an awareness and a gratitude to Jesus for ours.

Speaking of humans, James said, “the body without the spirit is dead” (2:26). This means that the spirit of man is the life that is in man’s body. No man is alive whose spirit has departed from his body. When Paul wrote, “the spirit is life” (Rom. 8:10), he was telling us that God’s eternal spirit is real life. This is why the Scriptures teach that no man has eternal life in him until he receives God’s life–giving spirit. Jesus was trying to communicate this truth when he told his disciples, “It is the spirit that makes alive” (Jn. 6:63). When Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life” (Jn. 10:10), he was speaking of the life of God, the holy ghost that was poured out on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Jesus could just as easily have said, “I am come that they might have the spirit of God.” This is why Jesus came; to enable man to be made partakers of God’s life, the holy Spirit.

Footnotes to Main Text

1 The Greek word for church is κυριακόν (kuriakon), and it is foreign to the New Testament. The apostles’ word that is mistranslated as church is ἐκκλησία (ekklesia), which means assembly or congregation. In 1604, King James commanded his translators to keep the non-biblical word church in his translation in order to placate the powerful churchmen who supported him politically. William Tyndall, one of the men murdered by churchmen for translating the Bible into English (1534), refused to mistranslate ἐκκλησία as church. The word “church” appears nowhere in his translation. For some reason, the Great Bible of King Henry VIII and of Thomas Cranmer (1539) also never uses church.

2 The Greek words translated as “Godhead” (Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:20; Col. 2:9; 2Pet. 1:3,4) refer to the divine nature of God. That I can understand. I can comprehend the fact that our God is altogether divine (not just His head). Actually, the Greek word translated Godhead in Acts 17:29 and 2Peter 1:3,4 is an adjective, not a noun. Peter uses it to describe God’s divine power (v. 3) and His divine nature (v. 4). Acts 17:29 should be translated “the divinity” instead of “Godhead” if the translator really wants the reader to understand Paul’s message instead of trying to impress his audience with erudite terms. The words Paul used in Romans 1:20 and Colossians 2:9 are both nouns which simply mean “deity”, or “divine nature”.

3 Trinity (n). The union of three persons or hypostases (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) in one Godhead, so that all the three are one God as to substance, but three persons or hypostases as to individuality.

Hypostases (n). The unique essence or substance of the Godhead, and as such, of the three persons of the Trinity, Father Son, and Holy Spirit, equivalent to ousia (Lat. substantia).

4 First used by Tertullian (Against Praxeus) A.D. 213. From Greek trios (three) and Latin unitas (one). The word trios was used of the Godhead by Theophilos of Antioch in A.D. 180.

5 Some of the following material was drawn from Dr. James Leo Garrett’s “Divine Three-in Oneness in the New Testament Writings,” Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, Texas, 8/30/82, unpublished handout, 931–431 Systematic Theology.


Verbs that have Pneuma as the Subject

The verbs included in this Appendix, together with the words in the Pneuma Tables, make up an exhaustive list of the Greek words in the New Testament that have pneuma either as their antecedent or subject.

Verbs That Have Pneuma As The Subject
3:16comingM or N
1:10descending, comingNeuter
1:12drove outM or N
1:35will comeM or N
2:25was (upon)M or N
3:22descendedM or N
12:12will teachM or N
1:32remainedM or N
1:33descending, remainingNeuter
6:63isM or N
7:39...wasM or N
1:8has comeNeuter
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
20:23atestifiesM or N
20:28has madeM or N
21:11saysM or N
28:25spokeM or N
8:9dwellsM or N
8:26helpsM or N
2:10searchesM or N
3:16dwellsM or N
12:11aworksM or N
12:11bwillsM or N
3:6makes aliveM or N
3:17is (?)M or N
4:6crying outNeuter
4:1saysM or N
3:7saysM or N
10:15bears witnessM or N
4:14restsM or N
5:6aisM or N
5:6bis (the truth)M or N
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

Other Greek Words That Refer To Pneuma

(1) The and holy, the two principal modifiers of pneuma in the New Testament, are employed with pneuma often (147 and 91 times, respectively), and they are always in a neuter form.

(2) Other modifiers of pneuma are rare. Of these, “same Spirit” is used 6 times (1Cor. 12:4, 8, 9, 11; 2Cor. 4:13; 12:18), and in each case, the neuter form of same is used.

(3) Also used 6 times is “one Spirit” (1Cor. 12:9, 11, 13 (2x); 2Cor. 6:17; Eph. 4:4), and again, the neuter form of one is used in every case.

(4) Eternal is used once as an adjective for pneuma, and it is in a neuter form (Heb. 9:14).

(5) My is used 3 times, and his 4 times. They are the only other modifiers for the holy Spirit that are found in the Greek New Testament except for prepositional phrases such as “the Spirit of your Father”, “the Spirit of God”, or “the Spirit of grace”, etc.

What Trinitarians Teach

Trinity (n.). The union of three persons or hypostases (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) in one Godhead, so that all the three are one God as to substance, but three persons or hypostases as to individuality.” That is what I read from the professor’s lecture notes (see Appendix) provided to me when I approached him with a question about Greek grammar. I gladly took his notes and later read them carefully, beginning with the sentence quoted above.

First of all, as a sincere student, I was eager to find out what an hypostasis is, and who it was who first taught that Jesus is one of them. I found a partial answer further along in the professor’s notes: Hypostasis (n.). The unique essence or substance of the Godhead, and as such, of the three persons of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, equivalent to [the Greek word] ousia (Lat. substantia).


Now, I have studied Latin, and I have studied Greek. It’s the professor’s English that I didn’t understand. I may not be an expert in logic, but it seems to me that when I ask to have the Trinity explained to me, and someone tells me that the Trinity is the union of three divine hypostases, and when I ask, “What is an hypostasis?” and am told that it is the Trinitarian nature of God, I get the picture of a dog chasing his own tail (equivalent to the Greek word oura; Lat. cauda).

That kind of circular reasoning and pseudo–intellectual blather is similar to the scientific method of evolutionists who date fossils, at least in part, by the rock strata in which they are found, and then date rock strata by the types of fossils that are found in them – and then call you ignorant if you don’t agree with their conclusions.

Further complicating the issue is the word Godhead2. What does that mean, and who invented that weird word? (Don’t tell me it is the union of the three hypostases of the Trinity, please.) Webster’s Dictionary, following the standard Trinitarian formula, defines Godhead as “the essential being of God”. But in order to comprehend those words, I must respectfully ask, what is the difference between God’s plain being and His essential being? It seems to me that if God (or anyone else) is going to be, He is going to essentially be. I mean, seriously, what’s the point of being, if a person doesn’t go ahead and essentially be? And how would anyone go about unessentially being?

It might be that only the three members of the Trinity can essentially be, and the rest of us just have to plain be, but I don’t know. The professors notes didn’t cover that aspect of the Trinity.

It is all folly. Trinitarianism’s pretentious, philosophical definitions of God and its long– winded attempts at analyzing His holy nature are indications of ignorance, not knowledge of God. It treats God as if He were an Object, a divine Blob to be dissected and speculated upon. Except for the fact that Christianity claims authority from God to teach it, the doctrine of the Trinity would be dismissed by every sensible person as the babbling of a fool trying to appear wise. It is astonishing that so many otherwise reasonable people have become zealous proponents of this transparently empty pseudo–philosophy; and it is alternately humorous and frightening to consider the power with which Christianity mesmerizes so many with its meaningless babble about such things as “the three hypostases” and “the consubstantiality of the Godhead” . . . . Please, don’t ask. I don’t know.

Reading further in the professor’s paper on the Trinity, I came to the section titled “Inadequate Conceptions of the Godhead”. I assumed that this ominous sounding title means simply, “Wrong Ideas About God”, and on that basis I cautiously proceeded. Based on the professor’s paper, here are those conceptions which are condemned as heresy by those who consider themselves to be authorities on the doctrine of the Trinity:

(1) Arianism.

Condemned as a heretic by a majority vote of Christian bishops about 1700 years ago, Arius held that the Son of God was created by the Father. As Arius is purported to have said, “There was [a time] when he was not.” Now, inasmuch as Jesus said that the Father gave him life (Jn. 5:26) and that he is “the beginning of the creation of God” (Rev. 3:14), and in light of the fact that Paul calls Jesus “the firstborn of every creature” (Col. 1:15), Arius’ idea seems perfectly reasonable. It certainly is understandable. Trinitarians believe that to say that Jesus is a created being is to deny the deity of Christ. But why should that be so? Are Trinitarians of the opinion that the Father is incapable of creating a divine being if He wants to?

The Scriptural answer to that last question is clear. The Father did in fact create the Son, and then He ordained His Son to create everything else that was created (Jn. 1:3). The Son, then, is both a created being and a divine one. Christ has a God (his Father) over him (Jn. 20:17); yet he himself is God over everything else (Mt. 28:18). There is no theological problem in this. The Scriptures show that the Father can make anybody a “god” over a particular place or people. The judges in Israel were called “gods” (Ex. 22:28). Moses himself was made a god over Pharaoh and Egypt (Ex. 7:1). Those to whom the word of God came were called gods by the Father (Ps. 82:6).

This last verse (Ps. 82:6) is especially significant because it is the verse to which Jesus referred in an attempt to explain what he meant by saying that he and the Father were one (Jn. 10:34–35). Jesus was speaking of a oneness in spirit, but his adversaries mistakenly thought that he was claiming to be equal with God the Father. So, in effect, what Jesus’ adversaries wrongly accused Jesus of teaching, and what Jesus adamantly denied he was teaching, Trinitarians most emphatically do teach! (It’s an awfully sad thing when a man’s doctrine is so bad that he believes in something that Jesus and his enemies both knew was wrong.) Thus, both Jesus and his adversaries rejected the fundamental idea behind the Trinity (equality of the Father and the Son).

In light of the simple truth of God, it must be concluded that Trinitarians tragically erred when they condemned Arius for teaching that Jesus was created by the Father. In the centuries that followed, Christian teachers compounded their error by claiming divine authority to impose their Trinitarian doctrine on everybody, employing the power of the Roman Empire to persecute all (even torturing and murdering many) who dared to believe and teach the truth of the matter.

(2) Pneumatomachianism.

If you think that the Spirit of God is not a person, then according to the professor’s notes, this ominous title applies to you. A pneumatomachianist is somebody who does not believe that the Spirit of God is a person. It’s sounds dangerous, but I think it’s just a big word invented by Trinitarians to make you afraid they’ll call you one.

You should be advised that at this very moment you are reading the words of a flagrant pneumatomachianist! Aren’t you embarrassed? Don’t you want to hide this before somebody sees you reading it and then the rumor spreads that you, too, are a pneumatomachianist? Relax. If this title applies to anyone who understands that the holy Spirit is not a person, then Jesus is a pneumatomachianist, too.

(3) The other two “heresies” mentioned in the professor’s paper are nothing but variant expressions of the doctrine of the Trinity itself. The first heresy is condemned for teaching that there are three Persons who exist simultaneously as three Gods. A “denial of the unity of the Godhead!”, protested the professor’s paper. The second heresy is condemned for teaching that there is just one God who manifests Himself in three modes. “A denial of the tripersonal nature of the Godhead!” we are told. Frankly, I can’t see a hair’s breadth of difference between these two doctrines and the orthodox Trinitarian faith. None of them make a bit of sense. To me, it resembles a quarrel among identical triplets over which one is ugliest.

According to the professor’s paper (to whom I was sincerely grateful for his generosity and his efforts to help me), the correct Trinitarian formula is this: God reveals Himself to us in Scripture as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each with distinct personal attributes [i.e., tripersonal] but without division of nature, essence, or being [i.e., as one]. Really, now, what does that say? It says, according to one definition, that both Christ Jesus and the holy Spirit are “consubstantial” with the Father. Come, now! Is Jesus the Father and/or the holy Spirit, or is he not? Is the Father the Spirit and/or Jesus, or is He not? And is the Spirit the Father and/or the Son or is it not? If what Trinitarians are saying is true, the only correct response to these questions is “Yes and/or No”. For if you just say “yes”, you’re a heretic for denying “the tripersonal nature of the Godhead”, and if you just say “no”, you’re condemned for denying “the unity of the Godhead”. So, to be an orthodox Trinitarian, one must confess that Jesus is and is not the Father, and that the Father is and is not the Spirit, and that the Spirit is and is not both of the other two, who actually are, together with the Spirit, one big Godhead in substance, made up of three hypostases in individuality, and consubstantial with each other.

As my earthly father used to say, “I’ll take strawberry.”

The Power of God: A Fourth Person?

Some see evidence of the Spirit’s personhood in Scriptures where the Spirit is said to have spoken, or to have felt something, or to have done a deed. But I am persuaded that they see this in Scripture not because of what those verses state but because they have been preconditioned to see it there. Consider the power of God, by way of illustration. To my knowledge, there have been no voices raised declaring the power of God to be a person, in spite of the many Scriptures which speak of God’s power exactly as they speak of God’s Spirit. Indulge me now, as Paul said, in my foolishness.

How I know the Power of God is a Person:

In heaven, Jesus is sitting beside Power (Mk. 14:62).

David sang and praised God’s Power (Ps. 21:13).

Power will be with Jesus when he returns (Lk. 21:27).

It was God’s Power, along with God’s Spirit, that overshadowed the virgin Mary (Lk. 1:35).

Jesus was anointed with both “holy Spirit and Power” (Acts 10:38).

Paul taught that it was Power who raised up Jesus from the dead (Rom. 1:4) and that it will be Power who will also raise the saints from the grave (1Cor. 6:14).

These are just a sampling of the many Scriptures that could conceivably be seen as producing evidence for the personhood of the power of God. And the same thing could be done with such words as “truth” or “name”, etc. The personification of such things as God’s power is common throughout the Bible, but does that mean that God’s power is a person? Of course not.

Still, were we to capitalize Power and (since power is feminine) refer to it as She, and then teach naive souls that She is a fourth Person of a Holy Quadrinity, some poor souls would no doubt point to the verses in which activity associated with personality is attributed to God’s Power and “see” the evidence of personhood on their own. Some might even condemn as a heretic anyone who would not believe that God’s Power is a fourth Person of the Godhead, of one essence, equal in all respects to, and “consubstantial with” the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.

And would there then be another group of persecuted martyrs, burned at the stake for denying the Holy Quadrinity? The blood of many saints who refused to submit to the Trinitarian faith over the centuries bears witness that this question is not as far–fetched as would first appear.

The Truth of the Matter

Capitalization of spirit

Because the word spirit is so often capitalized, the assumption on the part of many readers is that pneuma is capitalized in the original Greek text. It is not. Of the 245 times when New Testament writers use the word pneuma (MT), it is never capitalized (except on two occasions when pneuma is the first word in a quotation: Lk. 1:35 and 4:18 – UBS Greek text). The only justification, then, for capitalizing spirit is to show reverence for God, which I myself often do, just as we may capitalize other words not capitalized in the Greek, such as Father, Son, and even the word God itself.

What is problematic is that most translators, not content with capitalizing the word spirit, overstep the boundary of sound discretion by capitalizing the simple adjective holy, too. And when the words holy spirit are capitalized (as a person’s name always is), the capitalized words Holy Spirit are given the appearance of a personal name. With this unnecessary addition to the original text, translators suggest something that the apostles did not teach. Such a change does not clarify the original; it alters it for pedagogic purposes. This is mistranslation, pure and simple, motivated by misdirected piety and intended to advance a sectarian idea; namely, that God’s Spirit is a person.

The Father and the Son

A person is a being with a body and a spirit. God is a person. He has a body and a spirit. No one denies the biblical testimony as to the existence of God’s Spirit; however, many deny the biblical testimony in regards to God’s body. Nevertheless, God’s hands, eyes, back, arms, and other body parts are mentioned in the scriptures. (In the Appendix is a complete list of God’s body parts mentioned in the Bible.) God’s Son, Jesus, is another person. He dwells in his own body, separate from the Father’s body (that’s what makes Jesus a different person); but he enjoys the same eternal Spirit of life from his Father that was sent to us on the day of Pentecost. By Jesus’s own confession, we learn that he received life from the Father, that he was created by Him (Jn. 5:26; Col. 1:15; Rev. 3:14; Prov. 8; etc.). Thus, being two persons, Jesus and his Father can look at each other, talk to each other, even hug each other, and they probably do. They are two separate persons enjoying a blessed unity of purpose, a communion of spirit of which carnally minded men are thoroughly ignorant. God is neither a Trinity nor a Quadrinity of persons anymore than are we who were created in His image. There are in heaven a holy Father, who is a person, and His only begotten Son, who is also a person; no other than these two is worthy of worship.

The Father created the Son and then anointed him with power to create all things, seen and unseen (Jn. 1:3). Christ Jesus is “the first and the last” of all that the Father created (Rev. 3:14; 22:13); but, though he was created with glory beyond description, he feared and obeyed God while he lived on this earth (Heb. 5:7), and he warned his followers to do the same (Lk. 12:4–5). He was completely dependent upon the Father for his doctrine (Jn. 7:16–17) and his power (Jn. 14:10), as well as his very life (Jn. 6:57). The Father is greater than Jesus in every respect (Jn. 10:29; 14:28). It is true that all power in heaven and in earth has been given to Jesus (Mt. 28:18), but it is equally true that if the Father had not given that power to him, he would not possess it. Jesus is at times called God (e.g. Heb. 1:8) because the Father made him God over this creation, just as the Father made Moses a god to Pharaoh (Ex. 7:1).

Because the Father gave life to the Son (Jn. 5:26) and the Son obediently walked in that eternal life, they were, and are, “one” (Jn. 10:30). This oneness, this fellowship with the Father, is offered to us freely in Christ Jesus through the Spirit that he purchased for us with his blood. He prayed fervently that we might be given the holy Spirit, pleading with the Father that we who believe in him might thus become one, as he and the Father are one (Jn. 17:20–23).

Jesus’ oneness with the Father is spiritual, as is our oneness with God. This oneness is a spiritual condition (thus, the neuter form of one in John 10:30). It will be obvious to every reasonable person that in praying that his followers might be made one as he was one with his Father, Jesus was not praying that we would be made into one person, but rather that we would “speak the same thing, [and] be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment”, having “the same love” for one another (1Cor. 1:10; Phip. 2:2). That is how the Father and the Son are one, and that kind of sweet harmony is the will of God for us, too.

The Deceiver’s Purpose for the Doctrine of the Trinity
(and for its first cousin, the “Oneness” doctrine)

I have often wondered what the Enemy’s purpose could have been for introducing the doctrine of the Trinity (which is to say, the notion that the Spirit is a third Person of a “Godhead”). To what unrevealed evil the Trinity doctrine is leading its adherents, I cannot say; but some of the present, ungodly effects of that doctrine are painfully obvious.

A principal result of the doctrine of the Trinity is that souls are discouraged from pursuing with zeal and confidence the holiness of God. If we believe that Jesus is one–third of an incomprehensible, divine Blob, then we will be inclined to feel that Jesus was sinless because he had an inside track to righteousness and that he overcame the world by virtue of a connection with the two–thirds of God which he left behind in heaven rather than by the power of the Spirit and obedience to his Father’s commandments. On the other hand, if we see Jesus as he was, overcoming the same temptations we face every day by faith and by the power of the Spirit of God, then we can believe that he was in real terms our example. We have genuine faith that we can overcome the world and “walk even as he walked” only when we believe that he lived here as one of us, not as an alien to our struggle.

The doctrine of the Trinity obscures the fact that Jesus suffered and died to make available to us the same power for holy living that he had from God, so that we might live as he lived, know God as he knew Him, and serve God as he served Him. It is in large part because of the influence of the doctrine of the Trinity that there are millions of people who believe that being a saint is possible only for a select few, when in fact it is the calling of every child of God. The doctrine of the Trinity makes Jesus’ perfectly upright example seem unattainable for ordinary people. But if Jesus was sinless by virtue of a special connection with God which we cannot have, then he is not our example at all!

The holy life Jesus lived was the result of yielding to the discipline and guidance of the Spirit of his Father, the same Spirit which was sent from heaven to guide us who believe in Christ. Jesus was not sinless because of a membership in an exclusive Trinity of divine, united personalities. He was sinless because he was obedient.

Other effects of the doctrine of the Trinity, such as deceitful pride and misguided confidence, are seen in various ways, one of which is the evidence presented in Pneuma Table 1. Who but an over–confident man would presume to intentionally mistranslate, for his own doctrinal purposes, the words of the apostles of Jesus and feel so justified in doing so that he does not even think to tell his Readers that he did it? Who but a thoroughly deluded man could have so little fear of the righteous judgment of God that he would publish a translation of the Greek that he himself knows is unfaithful to the original words – as almost all the translators in this study have done?

Jesus said the time would come when his followers would be slain by those who think that they are doing a service to God (Jn. 16:2). And if throughout Christianity’s sordid history, its leaders have felt constrained by their faith to execute people, including innocent saints, for the “crime” of refusing to receive its teachings, why should it be surprising to learn that Christianity’s scholars feel free to alter, without comment, some of the words of the Greek text in order to promote their Trinitarian faith?

A False Standard

Many Christian teachers insist that adherence to the doctrine of the Trinity is a standard by which one’s relationship to Christ must be judged, even though that doctrine is completely incomprehensible and inexplicable. How has such a confused philosophical concept become so important to Christians that they esteem it to be a cornerstone of true faith, and that they should pity, or even scorn, those who reject it? Christians often refer to the Trinity as a wondrous “mystery”; but, the real mystery of the doctrine of the Trinity is how vehemently Trinitarians promote and defend it. I have personally faced the ire of otherwise personable and intelligent people who became outraged at the suggestion that this doctrine is not true. And the same can be said of some who teach the Oneness doctrine. How confident they can be in their error! It is frightening.

Wrote Paul, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9). The difference, then, between those who belong to God and those who do not is not adherence to a doctrine but the possession of an experience: the baptism of the holy Ghost; “for by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” (1Cor. 12:13). And the difference between those who please God and are prepared for Christ’s return, and those who do not please God and are unprepared, is obedience to the Spirit’s guidance. Paul again wrote, “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).

There is more to salvation than simply being born again. With this truth all the Scriptures agree. “Wherefore take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. For we are made partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end” (Heb. 3:7–14). “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them” (2Pet. 2:21). And finally, “ Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left unto us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it” (Heb. 4:1).

The kingdom of God on earth, the body of Christ, has in it both the wise and the foolish. The foolish will not be prepared for the Lord’s return and will be cast out of the kingdom, their names “blotted out” of the Book of Life (Mt. 25:1–13; Rev. 3:5). The wise, on the other hand, patiently endure the trials of this life and with joy “believe to the saving of the soul” (Heb. 10:39). Repentance and receiving the holy Ghost, and faithfulness afterwards, are the standards for judgment which God originally gave to His people. Whether or not one believes in the Trinity has nothing to do with it.

“Whence Comest Thou?”

The doctrine of the Trinity, as well as the Oneness doctrine, is nothing but a tragic misunderstanding, a wrong idea about God, a vain intrusion of heathen philosophy into the faith of Jesus. What the doctrine of the Trinity does is to divide God’s children for nothing. It instigates contention over nothing, reveals nothing, confuses all, and profits nothing for those who believe it. Instead of leaving the saints alone to judge and to live by the sure standards provided by the holy Ghost, Satan has offered, among other things, the Trinity doctrine as a substitute standard by which to judge the orthodoxy of another’s walk with God. And as a result of receiving Satan’s phony standard, the knowledge of how to make righteous judgments according to the Spirit has all but passed from the saints of God on earth, and only by the mercies of God will that knowledge ever be restored.

It is a constant wonder to me that the doctrine of the Trinity has been adopted by many of God’s children as a standard by which one may judge another’s faith. It is astonishing that Satan has been able to carve such an ungodly doctrine so deeply into the hearts of so many precious brothers and sisters – not a single one of whom can either understand or explain that doctrine at all! It seems to me that since neither Jesus nor Paul, nor any other true servant of God, ever taught that doctrine, it is only reasonable to question the authority by which Christianity’s theologians have taught it for seventeen centuries. Jehovah in heaven asked a deceitful worshipper long ago, “Whence comest thou?” But who dares to ask that question of deceivers on earth?

Christianity’s doctrine of a “holy Trinity” is simply not true. Nor is the Oneness doctrine true. Jesus is not one–third of Jehovah, and Jesus is not all of Jehovah. Jesus is not Jehovah in any measure, whether in part or in whole. He is Jehovah’s precious, sinless Son! There is nothing anywhere in the Scriptures that even suggests that Jesus is more than that, except to those who have been trained to see such things in there.

The children of God should be in the forefront of delivering those who have been taught the doctrine of the Trinity (and the Oneness doctrine). They should denounce the call of Christianity’s teachers for God’s children to believe such things about their heavenly Father. Historically, Christian leaders have persecuted those faithful souls who rejected such doctrines, but Jesus never demonstrated that kind of intellectual tyranny over human minds. He was patient with us, and he was good. Let us all follow his perfect example, because we can.

List of Translations Used
1King James Version
2New King James Version
3Revised Standard Version
4The New Revised Standard Version
5Updated New American Standard Bible
6English Standard Version
7Holman Christian Standard Bible
8New International Version
9Today’s New International Version
10J. B. Phillips
11New World Translation
12New English Translation
13Young’s Literal Translation
14Literal Translation (Green)
15The Analytical–Literal Translation (Zoella)
21Today’s English Version (Good News Bible)
22Contemporary English Version
23The Message
24The New Jerusalem Bible
27The New American Bible
28William Tyndale
29Jewish New Testament
30The Non–Christian New Testament (author’s version)

The Professor’s Trinity Notes

The following pages are an exact reproduction of the generous professor’s notes, from which he had recently taught the doctrine of the Trinity to a church group. If you are able to understand it, feel free to explain it to me.

Please excuse the few misspelled words and awkward style of parts of these pages. I wanted to leave the notes exactly as I found them, and so I chose not to correct the grammar and style problems contained in the original.

The Doctrine of the Trinity3

I. Definition of Trinity

The word “Trinity” does not appear in Scripture4 but was used widely during the Arian controversy (Arius of Alexandria denied the Deity of Christ, and his views were denounced as heretical at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325) to describe a Scriptural truth. God is one (Dt. 6:1 – “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one.”) But the one true God exists in three Persons, hence “tri-unity.” (Mt. 3:16–17 – “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God [Holy Spirit] descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, [God the Father] saying, “This is My beloved Son [God the Son] in whom I am well pleased.” Just the son of a human is human, and the son of an animal is an animal, the Son of God is God, a point the Pharisees grasped in John 10:30–33 “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” [In the context, Jesus had just said, “I and My Father are one” in 10:30.])

God reveals Himself to us in Scripture as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each with distinct personal attributes, [i.e., as tripersonal] but without division of nature, essence, or being [i.e., as one].

II. Inadequate conceptions of the Godhead include:

A. Arianism – Although acknowledged as more than man, Christ is wrongly viewed as the first created being: “There was [a time] when he was not.” Presently held by Unitarians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and followers of The Way, International (a denial of the deity of Christ).

B. Monarchian modalism – the belief that God is one Person, who appears at various times in three “modes,” like one actor appearing in three parts at different times in a play (Noetus of Smyrna, Praxeus, and Sabellius) (a denial of the tripersonal nature of the Godhead).

C. Pneumatomachianism (Macedonianism) – a denial of the deity of the Holy Spirit as a person equal to the Father and Son. Assigns creaturely, inferior status to the Holy Spirit (Eustatius of Sebaste–student of Arius, A.D. 355 Archbishop of Sebaste; and Macedonius; Jehovah’s Witnesses also deny the personal nature of the Holy Spirit, and use the term Holy Spirit to refer to the invisible power of Jehovah) (denial of the tripersonal nature of the Godhead).

D. Tritheism – the belief that the three Persons exist simultaneously as three Gods (Peter Abelard’s teacher Boscellinus; condemned at the Council of Soissons A.D. 1092) (a denial of the unity of the Godhead).

III. God the Father

Attributes (Those distinctive characteristics of the divine nature inseparable from the idea of God. They form the basis for His manifestation to His creatures and comprise the essential character of God [A. H. Strong]; They show forth the character of God by which He’s distinguished from created beings, making Him worthy of worship and service [W. T. Conner]):

A. God – Isa. 40:25

1. Holy – Dan. 4:8–9; 5:11; Amos 4:2; Isa. 6; Jn. 17:11; 1Pet. 1:16

2. Everlasting – (eternal) Ps. 90; 102:27; Rom. 11:36; 1Tim. 6:15–16; Rev. 1:8

3. Unchanging – (immutability) Num. 23:19; Mal. 3:6; Js. 1:17; Heb. 6:17 (This is to be conceived of as consistency, freedom to act according to His nature, not immobile, captive to fate, whimsical, unable to act.

4. Wise – 1Cor. 1:18ff; Rom. 16:27; Eph. 1:9; 3:10; Col. 2:3; Js. 1:5

5. All–Powerful – throughout Scripture

6. “Jealous” – unwilling to tolerate disobedience, rebellion, idolatry; God’s holiness demands undivided allegiance

7. Just – (righteousness) God’s wrath is real, and is directed against sin, the thing that destroys His creatures. Ps. 96:10; Dt. 13:18; Ps. 19; 119; 129:4; Ex. 9:27; Jer. 11:20; Ezek. 9:15; Isa. 45:21

8. Glorious – Ps. 19, 72; Hab. 2:14; Jn. 17; 2Cor. 3, 4; Rom. 5:2; Col. 1:27; Eph. 1:17

9. Love – (loving, gracious) Dt. 7:7ff.; Tit. 2:11; Rom. 4, 5; 2Cor. 9; 1Cor. 15

10. Longsuffering – (patient) throughout Scripture

11. Faithful – (true) 1Thess. 5:24; 1Cor. 10:13

12. Merciful – (kind, compassionate) throughout Scripture

13. Unique – (incomparable) Ex. 8:10; 9:14; Isa. 40:18, 25; 43:11; 45:5–6; 45:21; 46:9; Dt. 4:35–39; 6:4

14. Self–Sufficient

15. Perfect

16. Omniscient – all knowing

17. Omnipresent – all present, ubiquitous

18. Omnipotent – all powerful

B. Father to Israel – Ex. 4:22; Isa.; Jer.; Hos.; Father by adoption to New Testament believers Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6 (This is not “the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man” cf. John 1:12 “But as many as received Him to them He gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in His name . . .”)

C. Personal

D. Spirit

IV. God the Son

A. God 2Cor. 5:19; Jn. 5:18; Tit. 2:13; Lk. 5:20, 24; Heb. 1:8; Isa. 40:3/Mt. 3:3; Mt. 26:63; Jn. 1:1, 14; 3:16, 18; 10:30, 38; 12:45 Jesus accepts worship – Jn. 9:38–39; Mt. 14:33; 15:25 (cf. Luke 4:8 “You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.” (See above; all of the attributes listed under III. A. are also true of Jesus).

B. Divine and one with the Father5 Jn. 1:1, 14; 10:30

C. Personal and distinct from the Father – Mt. 11:27; Jn. 5:19–24; 14:16; 17; Mt. 27:46, and all the prayers of Jesus

D. Eternal – Mic. 5:2

E. Incarnate – Jn. 1:1, 14

V. God the Holy Spirit

A. God – 1Cor. 2:10–12; 12:4; Mt. 28:19; Eph. 1:3–14; 2Cor. 13:14 (See above; all of the attributes listed under III. A. are also true of the Holy Spirit)

B. Distinct from the Father and Son – Jn. 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7–11, 13–15

C. Personal – can be grieved (Eph. 4:30), quenched (resisted) (1Thess. 5:19), have personal choices in ministry, (Acts 13:2) have personal choices as to the distributions of gifts, (1Cor. 12:11) can urge or compel people to carry out His will, (Mt. 4:1; Lk. 4:1) can have personal preferences as to Whom He will glorify (Jesus) (Jn. 16:13–14).

D. Spirit

VI. NT Passages That Mention the Three Persons of the Trinity in the Same Context

A. Without commenting on the relationship among the three: Mt. 3:16–17; 12:28–32; Lk. 10:21; 1Thess. 1:3–5; 5:18–19; 2Thess. 2:13; 2Cor. 1:21–22; Rom. 8:2–3, 11; Eph. 3:14– 21; 5:18–20; Tit. 3:4–6; Acts 1:4–5; 7:55; 1Pet. 1:2; Heb. 9:14; Jn. 3:34; 16:7–11, 13–15; 20:21–22; 1Jn. 3:21–24; 4:2, 13–14; Rev. 1:10; 3:5–6, 21–22

B. Implying a relationship among the three:

Mt. 28:19 F S Sp Eph. 4:4–6 Sp S F

1Cor. 12:4–6 Sp S F Jn. 14:16–17 S F Sp

2Cor. 13:14 S F Sp Jn. 14:26 Sp F S

Eph. 1:3–14 F S Sp Jn. 15:26 Sp S F

Eph. 2:18 S Sp F

Note: every possible order of the three is expressed here except F Sp S, but that order is found in Eph. 3:14–21; Tit. 3:4–6; 1Pet. 1:2 (see VI. A.)

VII. The Trinity and the Plan of God (adapted from Aubrey Malphurs)

The Father gave up His only begotten Son, the dearest thing He had – because He so loved the world

The Son gave up the rights and privileges of deity to become a servant – even unto the death of the cross. He gave up His very life that He might seek and save the lost

The Holy Spirit gave up His glory that He might glorify Christ (Jn. 16:13–14) What are we willing to sacrifice that the Great Commission might be fulfilled?

Correspondence with a Trinitarian Translator whose version of the Bible is used in this study.

April 2007

Dear Sir,

I use your translation constantly while I am working on my own translation of the NT, and I have a question that puzzles me.

In the pronouns, verbs, and participles of the NT that refer to the Spirit, please help me understand your rationalization for translating the Greek it (or which) as he (or who). I have noticed as I am going through the NT that you do not usually translate neuter words referring to the Spirit as neuter (it) but as masculine (he).

Is there a Greek grammar rule that you can point me to that allows for this change, especially in a “literal” version such as yours.

I am publishing a study on the issue of words used by the NT writers that have pneuma as an antecedent, and I am very interested in anything you have to say concerning the translation of neuter Greek words relating to the Spirit, possibly to include in the book as a sort of Trinitarian defense of the practice.

Thanks beforehand for any help you might give me in this matter.

John Clark


Since I am reviewing the text for the Third Edition [of my translation] anyways, I reviewed how I rendered pronouns referring to the Holy Spirit. Below is a list of the only relevant verses I could find. Also included are a few comments from A. T. Robertson on the verses indicated, plus a notation where the pronoun can be either neuter or masculine. More comments after the list.

John 14:17: “The Spirit of the truth, whom the world is not able to receive, because it does not look upon [or, watch [for] Him, nor knows Him. But you know Him, because He dwells with you and will be in you.”


Yes, this is what I was asking about. In this verse from your translation, all the words translated Him are which in Greek. And the verb “dwell in” could be either “he dwells” or “it dwells”.


John 14:26: “But the Counselor [or, Helper], the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, that One will teach you all [things] and will cause you to remember all [things] which I said to you.”


Yes, that is another case of changing the apostle’s word which to he.


John 15:26: “But when the Counselor [or, Helper] comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of the truth, who proceeds from the Father, that One will testify concerning Me.”

In John 15:26, the “which” (Greek: ho) is a grammatical neuter to agree with pneuma, and should be rendered “who” like the which (ho) in 14:26.


But that is my question. Why “should” the which, the word that the apostle John used, be translated as if it were who – whether it be in 14:26 or 15:26?

Is there any rule of Greek grammar that would allow a translator to translate the original word like that?


John 16:13: “But when that One shall come–the Spirit of the truth–He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak from Himself, but as many things as He hears He will speak, and He will announce to you the coming [things].


Since the masculine word, “Comforter” (paraclatos), is the antecedent, this translation seems correct.


Acts 13:2: “Now while they [were] ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work which I have called them to.’ ”

Romans 8:16: “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God!”

[In Romans 8:16, in the phrase, “Spirit himself”, note that the Greek pronoun auto refers to pneuma].

The grammatical gender of pneuma is neuter as here, but the Greek uses also the natural gender as we do exclusively, as in John 16:13 ekeinos (“that masculine one”) [in reference] to pneuma (neuter). See also John 16:26 (hoekeinos).

It is a grave mistake to use the neuter it or itself when referring to the Holy Spirit.


But, sir, why is it “a grave mistake”? The “himself” in your translation is not what Paul wrote. Are you saying that Paul made a “grave mistake” when he wrote itself?

The antecedent for ekeinos in John 16:13 is not actually the neuter word pneuma but the masculine word paraclatos, is it not?

Please help me here. I am trying to understand your logic because your logic is the logic of most Christian translators, and I know that you all must be capable men.

Let me try asking my question more clearly. Maybe there is something wrong with how I am phrasing it. . . .

Let’s say that we would approach the Greek of the NT without ever having been taught the doctrine of the Trinity; that is, without any theological bias at all, either for or against the notion that the Spirit of God is a person. What is there in Greek grammar itself that would make us think to change the words that the apostles used so that in English we make it appear that they referred to God’s pneuma as a person?

To be more specific about John 16:13, the phrase that ekeinos is in, is almost identical to 15:26, except for the absence of the word paraclatos, to which word ekeinos naturally belongs. “The Spirit of truth”, as in 15:26, is set off by commas from the rest of the sentence, presumably to distinguish pneuma from paraclatos, as before. In other words, where is the grammatical basis for thinking that ekeinos referred to pneuma in this verse when paraclatos is hanging out nearby and has already been used by John as the antecedent of ekeinos?


Rom. 8:26: “So in the same manner also, the Spirit helps our weaknesses; for what we will pray for, as it is necessary [for us], we do not know, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession on our behalf with inexpressible groanings.”


This himself is also itself in the original Greek.


2Cor: 11:4: “For if indeed the one coming [to you] preaches another Jesus whom we did not preach, or you receive a different Spirit which you did not receive, or a different gospel which you did not accept, you may well put up [with it]!”


This translation, it seems to me, is exactly what any good translator would write. Both spirit and gospel are neuter words; therefore, “which” is appropriate to each. I assume that in this case, you chose to refer to spirit as “which” (as Paul did) because Paul was speaking not of the Spirit of God but some other spirit. But if God’s Spirit is a person, would not some other spirit be a person as well? And if so, why not refer to that person as he or whom?


Eph 4:30: “And stop grieving the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed [or, secured] for [the] day of redemption.”

[The Greek word for “Whom” in this verse is can be either neuter or masculine.]


Yes, the form of the Greek pronoun here can be either masculine or neuter, but on what basis, other than a personal faith in the personhood of the Spirit, does a translator justify translating Paul’s word as “whom”?


1Peter 3:18–19: “For Christ also suffered once for sin for all [time, the] Righteous [One] on behalf of unrighteous [ones], so that He should bring you to God, [Christ] having been put to death on the one hand in [the] flesh [or, by flesh], on the other hand having been made alive in [the] spirit [or, by [the] Spirit], in which [or, by whom] also having gone, He preached to the spirits in prison,

[The Greek word for “Whom” in this verse is can be either neuter or masculine.]


Yes, the form of the Greek pronoun here can be either masculine or neuter, but pneuma, its antecedent, is neuter. So, on what basis, other than a translator’s personal faith in the personhood of the Spirit, would a translator choose to use whom instead of which?


1John 3:24: “And the one keeping His commandments abides in Him, and He in him; and by this we know that He abides in us, from the Spirit which He gave to us.”

“Which” (Greek: hou). Ablative case by attraction from accusative ho (object of edôken) to agree with pneumatos as often [happens], though not always. It is a pity that the grammatical gender (which) is retained here in the English instead of whom, as it should be.


But why is it a “pity”? Why “should” one use whom when John did not?

“Ablative case by attraction from accusative ho (object of edôken) to ho to agree with pneumatos as often [happens], though not always.” = ? I understand the words of that sentence, but I don’t understand what you mean. Is that your answer to my question, your justification for translating a neuter pronoun as if it were a personal one? I cannot follow you here.


Now, as you read [the above verses] and Robertson’s comments, you’ll see that the reason the pronoun is neuter is because pneuma is neuter. However, paracletos in John is masculine. So, pronouns referring to that word are masculine.


Of course. That’s about as simple as Greek grammar can get. I couldn’t even be having this conversation with you if I needed to know that.


I also included Acts 13:2 since personal pronouns are used there in reference to the Holy Spirit.


I see the personal pronouns there (“me” and “I”). I take those words to mean that God was speaking by His Spirit to the saints there in Antioch. And since those words are never neuter words in Greek, as you know, simply because they are verbs, no one should ever have a problem with them being translated as “to me” and “I have called”.

But how do those words, correctly translated as “me” and “I”, give the translator liberty to translate the apostles’ it into he in other Scriptures? You obviously see the “me” and “I” of Acts 13:2 as suggesting that the Spirit is a person, one among three in the “Godhead”. But what does your personal belief justify the altering of words used by the apostles in other verses throughout the NT?


So the simplest answer to your question is for consistency sake. To refer to the Holy Spirit as “who” in some places and “which” in others would be confusing and inconsistent.


I like simple. I can understand that answer. Here, now, is my question, based on that simple answer:

If a translator wants to be consistent, as you say you do, then isn’t it reasonable to base that consistency on the majority of examples instead of the minority? Consider these facts:

Of the 28 or so pronouns in the NT that are direct references to the word pneuma, not a single one of them is in a purely masculine form; they are all either in purely neuter form or in the either-or forms (genitive or dative of masculine and neuter). This indisputable fact would lead any unbiased person to assume that, since whenever the NT authors had a choice between masculine or neuter forms, they always chose the neuter form, then they must have been thinking neuter when they used those forms that could be either masculine or neuter. That is just plain common sense. Only a Trinitarian would not agree with that.

The only masculine pronouns that anyone could possibly think referred to pneuma are found in the verses you mentioned from John 14, 15, 16, where paraclatos (“comforter”, a masculine word) is actually the antecedent. Those masculine references are referring to paraclatos, not to pneuma. And even in those verses, when it is obvious that the pronoun referred to pneuma (e.g. 15:26), John used a neuter pronoun.

If the apostles thought as you and most other Christian translators think, then why did the apostles not do with pronouns what you do with them? If I could find an answer to that, I would be perfectly satisfied and would not take up any more of your valuable time.


Consider for instance, the pronouns referring to “the beast” and “the dragon’ in the Revelation. “Beast” is neuter while “dragon” is masculine. So I tried to render pronouns consistently in this fashion, i.e. “it” when referring to the beast and “he” when referring to the dragon. But I ran into a problem with Rev 17:11, “And the beast which was, and is not, is himself also an eighth, and he is out of the seven, and he is going away to destruction.” Note “himself” where “itself” would be expected. In fact, the “himself” is only in the MT. The CT and TR have “that one” (neuter). But as it is in the MT, for [my translation] I added “itself” in brackets to try to keep the consistency. My point is that it is not always possible to render pronouns as their actual neuter or masculine form if a consistency is to be kept in translation.


I respect your desire to get it exactly right. May God bless you and give you wisdom to do that.

Now (let’s cite the MT as the original for now) your point about the word “Beast” takes us to the heart of my question. The apostle John, using the neuter word, “beast”, afterward referred to the beast as “him” because John saw the beast not as a thing but as a personal being, probably a man. However, when referring directly to the neuter word pneuma, John did not use a masculine him (Jn. 6:63; Jn. 14:17(3x); 14:26; 15:26)! What should that say to you and to me?

If no NT writer chose to use himself when speaking of the Spirit, then why should we, apart from a personal belief in the “holy Trinity”? There really is no grammatical reason to change the apostles’ words, is there?


And secondly, in English, we would not use different pronouns to refer to a beast or a dragon. Both would be referred to as “it.” But I followed the distinction as it helps in understanding which is being referred to in the text.


That seems right to me because by following the distinction John himself made, you were translating his words – and therefore his thoughts – accurately; you were letting John speak for himself and were not putting words into his mouth. So, why didn’t you do that when translating John’s words related to the Spirit of God?


Consider also, Matthew 24:29, “But immediately after the tribulation [or, affliction] of those days, 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall down' from heaven [or, the sky], and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. [cp. Isaiah 34:4; Joel 2:10; 2:31]

Technically, “its light” should be “her light.” The pronoun is feminine. It is translated in the KJV as “her”, but all modern–day versions have “its.” The reason should be obvious; to refer to the moon as a female would be very confusing to modern–day readers. To Greek readers, it was perfectly natural to do so since grammar and not conceptions of personality versus non– personality determined the usage of pronouns; in this case, “moon” is feminine. But today, personality determines the usage of pronouns not grammar.

So since the Holy Spirit is a personal Being, then it would not be appropriate to refer to Him as “it”, anymore than you would like to be called “it”, or it would make sense to call the moon “her.” So, as Robertson indicates, it is correct to refer to the Spirit as “He” or “whom” in these texts. So, for both consistency sake and for proper modern–day usage, the personal pronouns are used. This is true not just in my translation, but in most versions and even in all three interlinears I own; so all Greek scholars agree that this practice is appropriate even in something as literal as an interlinear.


But with this example of the moon, you have argued my point! Yes, we English–speaking people are free to call the moon an it because in English, it is an it. What Robertson says about the Greek attitude is that those ancient people felt free to refer to neuter things with a personal pronoun, if they felt that they were speaking of a personal being. But the apostles never did that in reference to the holy Spirit. What should that indisputable fact tell you?

The following is an except from the book I just published (and since your version of the NT is included as an example of what Trinitarians do with the apostles’ neuter pronouns, etc., at your request, I will send you a copy of that study free charge):

Throughout the New Testament writings, the evidence shows exactly what Robertson says; to wit, “the personal pronouns are sometimes used freely according to the sense” rather than according to strict grammatical rules (p. 683). Robertson repeats this extremely important observation later, noting that in biblical Greek, changes in the gender of pronouns are at times “made according to the real gender rather than the grammatical [gender]” (p. 713). In other words, if the writer used a neuter word, but with a person in mind, he was at liberty to use a masculine or feminine pronoun instead of the neuter pronoun.

This being the case, my question should be expected. It is obvious (as Rev. 17:11 shows) that John and all other ancient Greek writers felt free to use masculine forms with neuter words when they referred to what they thought was a person. Then, what does it tell us about John’s understanding of the Spirit, as well as that of Paul, Peter, and others, when in spite of their liberty to do so, none of them ever chose to use a purely masculine pronoun or verb form when referring to the Spirit? Please give that question some serious thought and prayer.

And if we assume for the moment that the NT writers were being consistent (as you desire to be), they must have neuter in mind when they used forms that could be either masculine or neuter because whenever they had a choice, they chose the neuter. Based on that, we have every reason to say with perfect confidence that, judging by the words the original authors chose to use, no writer of any NT book made a single reference to the Spirit as a person.

Is it not obvious that there exists no objective rule of grammar that would allow an English translator to change the apostles’ neuter words?

You have told me that (because of your belief that the holy Spirit is a person) it is improper to refer to the Spirit as it. I understand that point of view, and I respect your choice of faiths. But what I hope you will see is that you are unable to provide me with any logical, grammatically sound reason for mistranslating the apostles’ references to the Spirit, other than your desire to show respect to the “person” of the holy Spirit. Even if the doctrine of the Trinity were true, sir, to intentionally mistranslate what the apostles wrote in order to make it appear that the apostles held your Trinitarian view of God is misleading and borders on deceit.

God’s people are depending on you to be honest with them. If your translation tells them that Paul said something, the children of God who read your translation are depending on that to be what Paul really said. Please reconsider, if not your choice of faiths, at least your choice of English words for your translation.

If the doctrine of the Trinity proves to be untrue, after all, will your altering of the apostles’ words survive the test of any objective grammatical standard, not to mention the righteous judgment of God?


Now I understand that some disagree with the idea that the Holy Spirit is personal, believing that the Spirit is some kind of impersonal force. And that is why I had already marked some of these verses to decide if I should give both options, as I already did with 1Peter 3:19. But I haven’t decided yet how best to handle the situation.

God bless,
(Name withheld)


Thank you so much for your open and honest response. God bless you in your work.

Before I close, I will ask you to consider this: Until you have read the information in my book, The Influence of Trinitarian Doctrine on Translations of the Bible, it might be best to play it safe and translate the apostles’ references to the Spirit as they are (it, which). If you do that, in my opinion, no one could possibly condemn your work, and it may result in you having the only truly literal translation on the market today.

Your humble servant in Christ Jesus,

John Clark

Sent: Sunday, May 06, 2007 10:45 AM

Subject: RE: Neuter words – reply

I don’t have the time to respond point by point to your comments. But to respond and to indicate the decisions I made in regards to ALT3, below are relevant entries from the Glossary in the forthcoming new edition of the “ALT Companion Volume.”

Spirit: Greek pneuma.

This word is used for unclean spirits (i.e. demons; e.g., Mt. 10:1), of the human spirit (e.g., Acts 17:16), and the Holy Spirit (e.g., Mt. 1:18). The latter usage is capitalized since it referring to deity. The Greek word pneuma is neuter, and in Greek, pronouns must always agree with their antecedents in gender and number, hence why the pronouns referring to “spirit” in whatever sense the word is used are always neuter (e.g., it, its, which). But this does not mean a “spirit” is an impersonal force. In Greek, personality or non–personality is not determined by a noun or pronoun being neuter versus being masculine or feminine. This can be seen in Matt 5:15 where the Greek word for lamp (luchnos) is feminine, while the word for basket (modios) is masculine. But under no stretch of the imagination can it be said that Jesus, or anyone else at the time for that matter, considered lamps or baskets to be female or male personal beings.

More to the point of this discussion, in Mt. 24:29 it is said literally that “the moon will not give her light.” This does not mean Jesus is teaching the moon is some kind of personal being or goddess. It is simply due to the word “moon” (selene) being feminine. In ALT3, the literal “her” is given first, but then “its” is given in brackets to prevent any misunderstanding and since today we would not refer to the moon as a “her” but as an “it.”

Similarly, the use of “it” to refer to an unclean spirit does not mean demons are impersonal forces (e.g. Mt. 12:43). It is simply due to pneuma being neuter. In this case, no alternative is given as it is normal for us today to refer to a demon as “it.” This is not because we consider demons to be impersonal entities but because they are considered to be asexual.

Also similarly, when “which” is used in reference to the Holy Spirit this does not mean the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force (e.g. Jn. 14:26). It again is due to pneuma being neuter. Since “which” is the literal rendering, it is given first, but so no one wrongly draws the conclusion the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force based on the pronoun being neuter, “whom” is given in brackets. It should also be noted that in John 14:26, the Holy Spirit is referred to as “Counselor.” This word is masculine, so the demonstrative pronoun “that One” referring to this word is masculine. To bring out this point of the grammar, the alternative of “He” is given.

In Romans 8:16, 26, most versions have the phrase “the Spirit Himself.” But the reflexive pronoun is neuter since again, pneuma is neuter. So “itself” would be more literal, but again, possibly misleading. It was considered using “the Spirit Itself [or, Himself]” for ALT3. However, the construction can also be rendered as “That very Spirit.” This was chosen as it better brings out the emphatic demonstrative force of the pronoun. The same type of translation for the same type of construction can be seen in Luke 13:1 (“that very time” – Dana and Mantey, p. 130; NRSV). Given all these points, no conclusion on the personality or non–personality of the Holy Spirit can be drawn from the nouns or pronouns being masculine or neuter.

But what is relevant is that the same word is used for the personal human spirit and personal unclean spirits as for the Holy Spirit, and that the word “Counselor” is used to refer to the Holy Spirit and to Jesus, as seen in the discussion on that word. See also the discussion on “Beast/ Dragon.”

For more Scriptural evidence of the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit, see this writer’s Scripture Workbook (see Appendix One).

Beast/ Dragon: Greek: therion/ drakon.

These words occur in the Revelation (e.g., 13:2). The word for “beast” is neuter while the word for “dragon” is masculine. Since in Greek, pronouns must agree in gender and number with their antecedents, pronouns referring to the beast (with one exception) are consistently neuter and translated as such (e.g., it, its), while those referring to the dragon are always masculine (e.g., he, him). But this does not mean the beast is an impersonal entity while the dragon is a personal entity. In Greek, the gender of a noun or pronoun does not determine personality or non–personality. Both could be taken as symbolic of either personal or impersonal entities.

The one exception is in 17:11 where the masculine reflexive pronoun “himself” refers to the beast. Why this is the case is hard to say, but to keep the consistency, “itself” is given in brackets. But it should be noted that the demonstrative neuter pronoun “this one” is an alternate reading in the Byzantine Majority Text and is the reading followed in Hodges and Farstad’s Majority Text (see the chapter “Alternate Byzantine Text Readings”). So it is possible that the neuter “this one” is the original rendering while the masculine “himself” is incorrect. Given the textual uncertainty, no implications should be drawn from the use of “himself” in this verse.

Counselor: Greek, parapkletos.

A reference to the Holy Spirit in John 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7 and to Jesus in 1John 2:2. The basic meaning of the Greek word is “one called alongside to help.” The provided help can be encouraging or consoling or it can be acting as an advocate or mediator (Friberg). The English word “counselor” has both senses of referring to one who provides advice or guidance and as referring to a trial lawyer (American Heritage Dictionary).

The word is capitalized in all occurrences in the translation since it is referring to deity.

It is important to translate this word the same in the Gospel of John and in John’s first epistle. By doing so, it shows the Holy Spirit is “another Counselor” (Jn. 14:16) whereas Jesus is the first Counselor. The word “another” is allos which means “a person or thing of the same kind” (Friberg). This means the Holy Spirit is “of the same kind” as Jesus. Since Jesus is Person who is God, the Holy Spirit must be so also.

God bless,
(Name Withheld)


1 The Greek word for church is κυριακόν (kuriakon), and it is foreign to the New Testament. The apostles’ word that is mistranslated as church is ἐκκλησία (ekklesia), which means assembly or congregation. In 1604, King James commanded his translators to keep the non-biblical word church in his translation in order to placate the powerful churchmen who supported him politically. William Tyndall, one of the men murdered by churchmen for translating the Bible into English (1534), refused to mistranslate ἐκκλησία as church. The word “church” appears nowhere in his translation. For some reason, the Great Bible of King Henry VIII and of Thomas Cranmer (1539) also never uses church.

2 The Greek words translated as “Godhead” (Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:20; Col. 2:9; 2Pet. 1:3,4) refer to the divine nature of God. That I can understand. I can comprehend the fact that our God is altogether divine (not just His head). Actually, the Greek word translated Godhead in Acts 17:29 and 2Peter 1:3,4 is an adjective, not a noun. Peter uses it to describe God’s divine power (v. 3) and His divine nature (v. 4). Acts 17:29 should be translated “the divinity” instead of “Godhead” if the translator really wants the reader to understand Paul’s message instead of trying to impress his audience with erudite terms. The words Paul used in Romans 1:20 and Colossians 2:9 are both nouns which simply mean “deity”, or “divine nature”.

3 Trinity (n). The union of three persons or hypostases (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) in one Godhead, so that all the three are one God as to substance, but three persons or hypostases as to individuality.

Hypostases (n). The unique essence or substance of the Godhead, and as such, of the three persons of the Trinity, Father Son, and Holy Spirit, equivalent to ousia (Lat. substantia).

4 First used by Tertullian (Against Praxeus) A.D. 213. From Greek trios (three) and Latin unitas (one). The word trios was used of the Godhead by Theophilos of Antioch in A.D. 180.

5 Some of the following material was drawn from Dr. James Leo Garrett’s “Divine Three-in Oneness in the New Testament Writings,” Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, Texas, 8/30/82, unpublished handout, 931–431 Systematic Theology.

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