Jehovah`s Witness/Is The Holy Spirit he or it


Brenton I appreciate the knowledge that you have in your detailed answers, so I would like to ask you a another  question in relation to the same answer that Derrick gave that I refereed you to last time.  In Derricks reply about Luke 2:27-34, he made the comment that he would not like to see any "JW attack the KJV for saying "the Spirit itself".  As I understand the KJV it uses the words he and him to refer to the Holy Spirit.  After reading your previous answer i can follow what you said about the word "it" and he and it makes sense, so who does that apply to the Holy Spirit?

Greetings again Henry,

First I want to just say that I do not have a lot of knowledge. I can not just sit down and know what to write.  I have to do a lot of research and spend many hours working out how to reply.   I have a lot of non JW resources that I can refer to  on  each and every word in the Bible especially on the  grammatical construction, meaning, and how  of each and every word in the Bible is used as well as  6 different dictionaries (lexicons ) and about 15 different commentaries as well as over 20 different English Bible  versions so  I try to make use of these resources and share as much as I can because few people have access to such material.  So I apologize to you and other readers if my answers are long and drawn out I answer in a way that I like to receive information.

Now to your question “Is the Holy Spirit a he or an it?.

The way different Bibles present the word spirit causes much of the confusion. There are 2 things that translators do that have no justification in translation.  1) they often  misuse personal pronouns of he , him, etc. when referring to the the holy spirit, and, 2) they often give the word spirit a capital “S” and and capital “H” (for holy).   Both these two tactics will give the impression that the holy spirit is a person but there is no grammatical reason for this to happen.  What the Bible reader has to decide is if there is no grammatical reason why do they do it?  MY view point is, that, translators do it because, before they become scholars in the Greek language, they are already theologically conditioned to believe that the holy spirit is a person and thus that influences their translation.

A point of interest .
[ The King James Bible that I have only uses the expression holy spirit 4 times and in  3 occasions it is not capitalised.  All other occasions the KJV uses Holy Ghost with capitals]

A good place to start  is by looking at the meanings of the Greek and Hebrew words rendered as “spirit”in English.

The Hebrew word is “ ruwach” (I can not get the Hebrew font) and literally means “breath, wind, air” and similar words .  Notice how the Kjing James Bible renders it into English (numbers are the amount of times tat English word is used

Spirit or spirit 232, wind 92, breath 27, side 6, mind 5, blast 4, vain 2, air 1, anger 1, cool 1, courage 1,

The New American Standard renders “ruwach” in the following ways

air (2), anger (1), blast (2), breath (31), breathless (1), cool (1), courage (1), despondency (1), exposed (1), grief* (1), heart (1), inspired (1), mind (3), motives (1), points (1), quick-tempered (1), side (4), sides (2), Spirit (76), spirit (127), spirits (3), strength (1), temper (2), thoughts (1), trustworthy (1), wind (98), winds (7), windy (2), wrath (1).

The Greek word that is rendered as spirit into English is “πνευμα” =  pneuma and means “a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; ” it can also imply “vital principle, mental disposition,”

Now the KJV nearly always renders  pneuma as spirit

Spirit 111, (Holy) Ghost 89, Spirit (of God) 13, Spirit (of the Lord) 5, (My) Spirit 3, Spirit (of truth) 3, Spirit (of Christ) 2, human (spirit) 49, (evil) spirit 47, spirit (general) 26, spirit 8, (Jesus’ own) spirit 6, (Jesus’ own) ghost 2,

Here are some thoughts from Thayers Greek Lexicon

“ a movement of air (gentle) blast; a. of the wind: hence, the wind itself, John 3:8; plural Heb. 1:7 (1 Kings 18:45; 19:11; Job 1:19; Ps. 103:4 (104:4), etc.; often in Greek writings). b. breath of the nostrils or mouth, , the breath of life, Rev. 11:11 (Gen. 6:17, cf. ).

the spirit, i. e. the vital principle by which the body is animated:  Luke 8:55; 23:46 ; John 19:30; Acts 7:59; Rev. 13:15 (here R. V. breath);  to breathe out the spirit, to expire, Matt. 27:50

The Scriptures also ascribe a pneuma to God, i. e. God's power and agency -- distinguishable in thought”

Now the Greek word  pneuma in all is forms is ALWAYS in the neuter gender.  The various pronouns that are used with pneuma are all neuter. The pronouns job is simply to agree grammatically with the grammatical gender of the noun. Not only pronouns but all words that modify the noun have the same gender (in Greek, all words have one of three genders assigned to them, and, generally it has nothing to do  “physical” gender)

Here is an example of how the King James Bible uses the masculine personal pronoun in referring to the spirit as well as a neutral personal pronoun

John 14:17 “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him : but ye know him ; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”

Here is the sane text from  NWT

“the spirit of the truth, which the world cannot receive, because it neither beholds it nor knows it . YOU know it , because it remains with YOU and is in YOU.”

NOTICE the two neuter pronouns  whom in the KJV suggests a person,  where as the pronoun which in the NWT does not.     The word “ whom” is  correctly used because of the masculine pronouns he and him. But, the problem is, he and him are incorrect.  Where as the NWT keeps the rules of gramma correct all the way through the passage according to context and the noun that the pronouns refer to.

To follow the rules of Greek gramma the pronouns used in that text (and all other texts relating to  pneuma should always be neuter.

There are only a couple of places where the context suggest that  pneuma may be masculine.

John 14:26 “ But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

John 15:26 “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he  shall testify of me:

John 16:7-14 “7  Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8  And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9  Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10  Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11  Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 12  I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13  Howbeit when he , the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14  He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”

In ALL the cases in the above the personal masculine pronoun he/ him refers to the the  subject of the discussion, the  comforter.  The Greek word rendered as “comforter” is in the masculine gender, so correctly the masculine personal pronoun is used. It nay appear as if the spirit is being spoken of as a person but in reality it is not

I am going to revisit  John 14 but this time include verse 16 from the both Bibles becasuse the word “comforter” is the subjrct of yhis verse


16  And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17  Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him : but ye know him ; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

“16 and I will request the Father and he will give YOU another helper to be with YOU forever 17 the spirit of the truth, which the world cannot receive, because it neither beholds it nor knows it . YOU know it , because it remains with YOU and is in YOU.”

[ [ In the oldest Greek manuscripts there is no punctuation so all punctuation is added by translators. The King James finishes verse 16 with a semicolon, and starts verse 17 with a word  the word “Which” (that does not appear in the original language ).  I just mention that because the NWT is often accused of adding words.] ]

The NWT follows  both the context and the subjects of the passage, by keeping the correct pronouns, and does so withh ALL references to the Greek word “pneuma”

One the other hand the KJV is inconsistent with its pronouns. When the word “pneuma”  (spirit) has no reference to God the King James will  often use the  the neuter pronoun.  A couple of examples are

Lu 9:39  And, lo, a spirit (“pneuma”) taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him.

John 3:8 “The wind (“pneuma”) bloweth where it listeth,  and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth:”

The bottom line is that the correct grammatical wording  for all occasion where the Greek  noun “pneuma” occurs is to use the neuter pronouns. You  can decide if it is theological bias to use masculine pronouns.

A very prominent ANTI JW campaigner (he has never been a JW) one Mr Rob Bowman put forward the following argument


An easy and non-controversial example of a neuter noun that normally and literally refers to a person is  the Greek noun paidion  , “child.” The noun occurs 52 times in the Greek New Testament (and 168 times in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament). The fact that it is neuter has absolutely nothing to do with whether it refers to a person. One can in no way infer that a child is not a person, or even that it might not be a person, from the fact that the Greek noun paidion happens to be neuter. Jesus is called a paidion eleven times in the New Testament.

Likewise, pronouns that are neuter and that refer back to neuter nouns like paidion  do not imply that their referent is impersonal.
(Italics original)
end quote

That sounds a very logical explanation on the surface.  But before we go on I want to copy the very next thing he said


Likewise, pronouns that are neuter and that refer back to neuter nouns like paidion  do not imply that their referent is impersonal.

End quote

He is right the neuter pronouns do not imply that the  referent – the noun the pronoun refers to is impersonal.  What about the MEANING of the referent word itself

First we have talked about the context of paidion in Luke 2.

Second lets just consider the meaning of both words paidion and “pneuma”.  Remeber the word “pneuma” means breath, wind, breath, tempest  From the Greek word  “pneuma” we get  in English “

neumonia; - a disease of the lungs

pneumoconiosis;  - a disease of the lungs caused by the habitual inhalation of irritants (as mineral or metallic particles)

pneumatic ; - of, relating to, or using gas (as air or wind):

pneumatophore ;  - a muscular gas-containing sac that serves as a float on a siphonophore colony

above definitions from

Is there any way that those words would ever refer to “personality”?

Now the Greek word  paidion - child by its very nature we understand that, even though, it is a neuter word, always refers to something with personality.   The same dictionary as above says

child; - an unborn or recently born person, a young person especially between infancy and youth, a son or daughter of human parents     

Back to Mr Bowman's comment the fact that paidion is a neuter gender word in Greek we automatically can assign personality to a child.

The word  “pneuma”  by its very nature suggests an invisible unseen “force”.  We Are told “God is a spirit”
(John 4:34 ) that describes his nature, an invisible force – something we can not see, but the effects of God are felt just like we can not see the wind but its effect are seen and felt.

What about the spirit speaking,  teaching and being grieved against, surely that shows personality.  For example, wisdom which we know has no personality  is said to have “children. Luke 7:35 “ But wisdom is justified of all her children”  KJV

Death is spoken of as having the power to reign [as a king] in Romans 5:14 & 17 “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.... 17  For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.'  KJV

Just a few verses on sin  is also said to “reign” in Romans 5:21 ”That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”  KJV

In Romans 7:8-11 sin dies, gets revived, deceives, and slays “8  But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead .
9  For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived , and I died.
10  And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. 11  For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by <i>it slew me</u>.”

Yes but sin and death are not grieved against where as the holy spirit can be grieved I hear some say.

Ok lets just consider what this text is teaching us

Ephesians 4:30  And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

The Greek reads “no be causing sorrow the spirit the holy the God”  Did you notice the King James changes word order (not real important) and does not capitalise the word “holy”?  What this is saying is not that the holy spirit is a separate entity of the “Godhead” but that God (the father) owns or is on possession of the holy spirit.  Now because the word spirit basically means “wind or breath” Gods holy spirit is Gods breath, his words.  So when the holy spirit teaches it is Gods (the Fathers) word that teaches us.  It is Gods words that become our comforter.  It is Gods words that we grieve as expressed in  Ephesians 4:30   and not a third person of the trinity.

Jehovah`s Witness

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Brenton Hepburn


I AM one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I am always learning. I am NOT an expert in the full sense of the word but I can answer questions on the reliability of the NWT - the so called mind control problems-so called prophecies - how being a JW affects the individual and relatives and general practices and history of Jehovah’s Witnesses. >>WARNING<< Please be aware that there are people here who ARE NOT practicing JWs. By all means ask these ones questions. Depending on the question you will get an honest answer, but, generally the answer you get, will mislead you as to what we believe, often because, they do not give ALL the relevant details. These ones will, have an agenda against JWs., and will at times give answers that are not correct in regard to JW teachings and practices. If you are after a answer from one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, please read some of the answers that the various experts have published before choosing someone. If you want to ask one of the NON JWs a question, that is fine, BUT if you want a balancing view after asking one of the NON JWs, ask a JW the same question. PLEASE ALSO NOTE: There(have been)and are, some "experts" here who are NOT always the most courteous and polite, at times are actually quite rude, that applies to both JW's and non JW's and their answers may offend, especially when they get personal and attack the character of the person and not the message. Unfortunately some here that have done that. So it IS IMPORTANT to chose an "expert" that YOU feel will best suit YOU by reading some of their past answers . . . . .


I have been a publisher since 1964. When I first went on the internet I found a lot of negative information dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses covering prophecy, mind control and what many said was a very bad translation of the Bible known as the NWT. It shook my faith. After may hours researching these topics I could see why some felt that way, but, I was also able to explain why there were these misleading views. I can now set matters straight for anyone that has negative information about Jehovah’s Witness to show them that such information is at best misleading and at worst dangerous lies.

I have been a student of the Bible for many years, am trying to teach myself Biblical Greek. Was a public tax accountant for many years untill SEP 2009 when I gave it up due to health problems.

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]