Jehovah`s Witness/Luke 2:27-34


Hello again Brenton

I would like you to reply to this question please

Derrick in his reply  says  he “want to give a JW the opportunity to explain the logic behind this "translation"  and I would like to know as well.   Is there any legitimate reason for calling Jesus an it

Hello Henry

Thank you for writing and asking that question.  and I am pleased to be able to offer an explanation. Please note... This explanation is mine and not from the NWT translating committee.  It is formulated on what I know and understand about the Greek language

First of all I have cut and copied Luke 2:27-34 from both the NWT and the King James Bible.  In both cases I have put in bold the “offending”  word (it) in the NWT and he corresponding word (him) in the the King James.  

Luke 2:27-34   NWT (1984)

Under the power of the spirit he now came into the temple; and as the parents brought the young child Jesus in to do for it  according to the customary practice of the law, 28 he himself received it into his arms and blessed God and said: 29 “Now, Sovereign Lord, you are letting your slave go free in peace according to your declaration; 30 because my eyes have seen your means of saving 31 that you have made ready in the sight of all the peoples, 32 a light for removing the veil from the nations and a glory of your people Israel.” 33 And its  father and mother continued wondering at the things being spoken about it . 34 Also, Simeon blessed them, but said to Mary its   mother: “Look! This one is laid for the fall and the rising again of many in Israel and for a sign to be talked against

Luke 2:27-34  King James

“27  And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, 28  Then took him  him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29  Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30  For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31  Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32  A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. 33  And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him . 34  And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary him mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;”

The NWT, generally, is a literal rendering of the original Greek.  It strives to keep to the correct “gender” of pronouns.  When the Greek uses masculine, feminine or neuter pronouns the NWT will render those pronouns in that gender into English.  Some personal pronouns can apply to any gender.  It is the nouns that that are attached to (or refer to) in the context that detrmis what gender they are.

There are 2 words involved in this text that directly relate to the discussion.  

The first word  used at Luke 2:27-34 is a noun  “παιδίον”  English = paidion   You can look this up in Strongs Greek Lexicon  word number 3813.  It says “3813. παιδιον paidion; neuter ; a childling (of either sex), i.e. (properly,) an infant, or (by extension) a half-grown boy or girl; figuratively, an immature Christian: —  (little, young) child, damsel.”

Notice what I have in Bold the word neuter .  This word is always neuter as it  can be used for either a male child or a female child.  

The second word  involved here is Strongs Greek  pronoun, word number 846   which says “αυτος autos ow-tos’; from the particle αυ au ; the reflexive pronoun self, used  of the third person, and (with the proper personal pronoun) of the other persons: — her, it(-self), one, the other, (mine) own, said, ([self-], the) same, ([him-, my-, thy-])self, [your-]selves, she, that, their(-s), them([-selves]), there[-at, by, in, into, of, on, with], they, (these) things, this (man), those, together, very, which.”

This pronoun can be masculine, feminine or neuter depending on the context and/or the word it relates back to. It takes on the gender of the noun it refers to.

Liddell and Scott Greek Lexicon says “reflexive Pron., self , Lat. ipse:-in the oblique cases simply for the personal Pron., him, her, it :” - Italics original

Some comments from Thayers Greek English lexicon on the word “αυτος”


In itself it signifies nothing more than again, applied to what has either been previously mentioned or, when the whole discourse is looked at, must necessarily be supplied...self, as used (in all persons, genders, numbers) to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence

end quote

When we look at “the whole discourse” of Luke 2:27-34, the word  “αυτος” (autos) is applied to a previously mentioned “person” or “thing” to give to give him (it) emphatic prominence.  In the text (“the whole discourse” ) in question, the word “auto” refers back to the “παιδίον”  (young child) in verse 27 which is in the neuter gender.  There is nothing wrong with using the masculine he/ him her, Whoever  the NWT translators decided to kept the neuter gender (it) when rendering “αυτος” throughout the passage, because of its relationship with the neuter word rendered  “young child” in line with the context .”

What about Luke 2:40 where the NWT renders autos is him?

Yes it does. What needs to be taken into consideration is the context .   In verses 27-34, the “young child is only 8 days old. (The noun that “αυτος” refers to is neuter.)  The parents are going to the temple as per the custom and law.

Verse 40   we need to read in context with verse41 - 43 the NWT reads.

“ 40 And the young child continued growing and getting strong, being filled with wisdom, and God’s favor continued upon him 41 Now his parents were accustomed to go from year to year to Jerusalem for the festival of the passover.  42And when he became twelve years old, they went up according to the custom of the festival  43and completed the days. But when they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, and his parents did not notice it”

The context is no longer a baby a few days old, but the child is growing and the account takes up again when he is 12 years of age.

There are two distinctly different words here. The  words young child are the same as in Verse 27 , and the word boy ( the child in the KJV) is a different Greek word.  This Greek noun here is the word  “pais” Strongs word number 3816.  “παις pais  perhaps from 3817; a boy (as often beaten with impunity), or (by analogy,) a girl, and (genitive case) a child; specifically, a slave or servant (especially a minister to a king; and by eminence to God): —  child, maid(-en), (man) servant, son, young man. “  

So now we have 2 nouns that the  “αυτος” could be referring too.  One is neuter,  and the other is masculine. So the context is important.

The context has moved away from Jesus being a baby  (described by a neuter noun) to being a child described by a  masculine noun).    The word “autos” in context now is referring to the boy.

Now do we get upset at the KJV for using the grammatically wrong words (the child) when it translates “ “παις pais“ ?  No we don't because the context still gives the same meaning the words are not grammatical correct but the reader knows what is meant.  There is NO theological teaching in those verses

In verses 27-34 does the use of the word “it” by the NWT change anything of the meaning?  I will leave that to you to decide for yourself, as for me it makes no difference to the meaning.  Perhaps it is the culture where I live but it is not unusual for a very young child to be refereed to as an “it”.  

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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.

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