Jehovah`s Witness/continued from 29th Dec

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QUESTION: Hi Brenton,

You have been “maxed out” for a good while so I couldn’t get this to you earlier, at least you had a heads up on this from my rating so that you could prepare.

You say
“Your understanding is, even when using the the NWT, that the person pronoun “it” refers to the Spirit that has only just been mentioned. Even I, when reading the NWT, can see how that may be the case.  I may be wrong, but, as I mentioned in my previous answer, I  personally see the personal pronoun “it” as referring to the pneuma of verse 26 and not to the  pneumatos  in verse 27.”

But you said earlier in regard to verse 27:
“But first I want to comment the way most Bibles incorrectly use the personal pronoun “he” in that verse referring back to the word “spirit” ”

Then you listed some translation that use “it” as referring back to “THE SPIRIT” of verse 27.

Now you say that you “personally see”  the “it” as referring back to verse 26 and not “THE SPIRIT” mentioned in verse 27.

Please clarify which is the case because you nowhere mentioned that you regarded the “it” as referring to verse 26 in your “previous answer”.

You also said that;
“It is my understanding that in verse 27 that the word “spirit” here does not refer to the holy spirit but to us, our vital force.”

But in your latest response you now come across as being unsure of this, because you say;
“If my assumption is wrong, and the personal pronoun “it” refers to the spirit (pneumatos) in verse 27, and, the spirit here is actually a reference to the holy spirit, (something I am not convinced of)…”

We will need to establish first whether the verb ἐντυγχάνει (entynchanei ) is referring back to verse 26 and not to verse 27. And secondly we need to establish whether the Holy Spirit is the intended referent of verse 27 or if it is as you first claimed?

So can you please expand further and give a clear indication of your position on these two points.

1.   Is the verb ἐντυγχάνει (entynchanei ) referring back to verse 26?

2.   Does the word “SPIRIT” in verse 27 refer to the Holy Spirit?

Looking forward to your clarification and position on these points. <><

ANSWER: Hi Cos

Sorry for the delay, I have had so much going on.

I hope I can clarify things for you


But first a quick reply to your questions

1. Is the verb ἐντυγχάνει (entynchanei ) referring back to verse 26?

For me, the verb does refer back to the “spirit” in verse 26, as it is the spirit joins in with help (verb συναντιλαμβανεται = literally “is together supporting” or “is aiding”)  for our weakness. Because it is helping us, it is pleading ( εντυγχανει ) our case.

2. Does the word “SPIRIT” in verse 27 refer to the Holy Spirit?

I am not convinced that the word “sprint”  (in verse 27) refers to the “holy spirit”, and,  as I said last time, if the word “spirit” actually does refer to the non person “holy spirit”, the meaning of the Greek word “φρονημα “ rules out intellect, which is what you were suggesting, in you your earlier question because, as you showed, many Bibles render φρόνημα as "mind", and thus, it was assumed from that English word, that "intellect" is being discussed.  


When I said


“But first I want to comment the way most Bibles incorrectly use the personal pronoun “he” in that verse referring back to the word “spirit” ”

That, in context, was only looking at the idea of the use of the word “he”. That pronoun should not be used in this text. The idea of showing what some other translations have done was to show that they recognised that the word “he” does not belong.

All I said was, that the pronoun (“he” or “it”) was in reference to the word “spirit”. The word “spirit is used in both verses, and both times it is neuter. It was a general statement about the nature of the word “spirit” and not to any particular instance of the word.


Yes I did come across as being a little unsure after reading another interlinear.


It has to do with the rendering of the concuntion “hoti”. The main interlinear software  I use, renders “hoti” as “that” 1190 times, as “seeing-that” 100 times and as “saying-that” once

The KJV renders “hoti” in the following ways and number of times,  that 612 , for 264, because 173, how that 21, how 11, misc 212; for a tolay of about 1290 time

Thayers Greek Lexicon gives the first meaning of “hoti as, " i. the substance or contents (of a statement) that " The lexicon then gives 4 lengthy discussions, with lots of Biblical examples of various ways hoti is used. At point ii. It says “the reason why anything is said to be or to be done....” (emphasis mine)

It is not unusual for us to use a phrase such as, “that is why ”, in explaining a reason .

I see the conjunction “that” as explaining the reason why God lets the spirit (as in the prayers that God caused to be recorded for our benefit) intercedes in our behalf, when we are in a bind and do not know what or how to pray, because he knows our imperfect human disposition. The reason that I understand, is because our disposition (φρόνημα) of imperfect humans, we do not always know what or how to pray


This is the rendering of verse 26 & 27 from the CLV The bold is mine to show how I connect the two.

Rom 8:26 Now, similarly, the spirit also is aiding our infirmity, for what we should be praying for, to accord with what must be, we are not aware, but the spirit itself  is pleading for us with inarticulate groanings." 27 Now He Who is searching the hearts is aware what is the disposition of the spirit, for in accord with God is it pleading for the saints."


For me, that is what makes sense in the context of that chapter.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Brenton,

My first question to your response is

1.   When did the Watchtower change their stance on the identification of “THE SPIRIT” in Romans 8:26-27?

My next question is related to the last part of verse 27. And since your translation of choice for these verses is CLV it says;

“...for in accord with God is it pleading for the saints.”

2.   How come tou pneumatos (which you say is “us, our vital force”) in the first part of the verse is here said to be “pleading for the saints”, doesn’t the contrast of tou pneumatos with “the saints” specify distinction?

In verse 26 “the spirit also is adding OUR IMFIRMITY” (CLV my emphasis).

3.   Doesn’t the contrast here also specify distinction?

Again in verse 26 “the spirit itself is pleading FOR US” (CLV my emphasis).

4.   Doesn’t the term “the spirit itself is” contrast with “for us” again specify distinction?

You say that the reason for your unsureness of the identification of tou pneumatos is because of the word huti. The word is rendered “for” in the CLV, and rendered “because” in most translation including the NWT at this verse. I can’t see how this word would cause you to be unsure, as you gave no real reason, you just say you were “a little unsure after reading another interlinear”, you don’t even reference the interlinear that caused this.

And your reply still indicates that you are unsure because you say;

“if the word “spirit” actually does refer to the non person “holy spirit”

This still shows that you are not sure because you qualify your answer with an alternative.

Anyway, I look forward to your answer on the above. <><

ANSWER: Hi Cos

I will try to answer your questions.


1) I have never said that the WT has changed its understanding of Romans 8:26-27. I have used the person pronoun “I” or the words “my understanding” in our discussion of this verse.

The NWT uses  the English rendering  “meaning” for the Greek word “φρόνημα”. (personally I do not think that is a good English rendering). The particular English word used by different translations would effect the way readers understand that verse.  As discussed before the evidence that I have seen leads more heavily toward the CLV rendering of disposition . The disposition is what I see as our human failings as in the context of the chapter

My overall understanding of the context of that verse, in that Chapter, is NOT at odds with the WT.


2) You asked “How come tou pneumatos (which you say is “us, our vital force”) in the first part of the verse is here said to be “pleading for the saints”, doesn’t the contrast of tou pneumatos with “the saints” specify distinction?

When you say “in the first part of the verse is here”, are you referring to verse 27 “ 27 And he that searcheth the hearts... ” (KJV) or, to the previous verse,  26 “..but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us... " ? I do not see how “ tou pneumatos” [the spirit] in verse 27 is the one pleading. In Verse 27 the one searching the hearts is understand to be God.

The pleading for the saints, I see as a reference back to the  "to pneuma" [the spirit]  in verse 26 not “tou pneumatos “ in verse 27. The context of the chapter tells us of “OUR IMFIRMITY” The “pneuma” mentioned in verse 26 does plead for us.  Previously I had explained why I see it that way. Here is what I had siad. (I have added some extra bold and underline to highlight some points that relate to this post)

QUOTE
“Your understanding is, even when using the the NWT, that the person pronoun “it” refers to the Spirit that has only just been mentioned. Even I, when reading the NWT, can see how that may be the case. I may be wrong , but, as I mentioned in my previous answer, I personally see the personal pronoun “it” as referring to the pneuma of verse 26 and not to the  pneumatos  in verse 27.

For me it is the  spirit (pneuma) as mentioned in verse 26 that “also joins in with help for our weakness”. The our weakness, for me , as I understand that passage, is our spirit, our imperfect human nature . (That is the dominant mental forces that effect our way of thinking and acting ).  Leading up to verse 26,27 Paul says a lot about our corrupt human flesh and the need to try to bring it in line with the workings of the spirit from God. For me, that is the thrust behind why at times we may not know what to pray for (words unuttered) but the inspired writings via the holy spirit are there for our benefit.
END QUOTE

3) You said …. "Again in verse 26 “the spirit itself is pleading FOR US” (CLV my emphasis). "

Here, based on the context of the chapter, in referring back to opening verses  where we are told about the failings of us imperfect humans, as discussed in a previous answer, the spirit here, I see as referring to Gods spirit that inspired the Bible. It is this spirit that plead for us because we may not know what or how to pray because of our imperfection. I then understand that the “US” is the “ pneumatos” in verse 27. Our mental anguish that causes our  imperfect  “disposition” not to be able to pray.

Remember the earlier discussions we had about the word “pneuma”. The original meaning of that word was breath, breeze or wind. These are invisible forces, but we can see the effects of these in our lives. When used of personalities in the unseen world such as God, Jesus, angels and demons, it means an invisible unseen "personality".  The question has been if the holy spirit is also a personality. The line of reason we take is that the holy spirit belongs to God, it emanates from him, just as our breath belongs to us and emanates from us, (I am not saying Gods holy spirit is the same as our breath, just pointing out the BASIC application of ownership). Also that the word “pneuma” is never used with the  personal pronoun “he”. Only neuter pronouns such as “it” are used for “pneuma”.

In conjunction with the idea of a spirit being a “force” that has an effect on us or other things, there is a text in the NWT that has an interesting phrase when it comes to the basic word pneuma (spirit). It is 'the force actuating the mind'.  I will give you the passage in the 1984 NWT followed by the 2013 NWT and the KJV

Eph 4:20-24

20 But YOU did not learn the Christ to be so, 21 provided, indeed, that YOU heard him and were taught by means of him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that YOU should put away the old personality which conforms to YOUR former course of conduct and which is being corrupted according to his deceptive desires; 23 but that YOU should be made new in the force actuating YOUR mind , 24 and should put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty” 1984 NWT (The all capital YOU/ YOUR was to show plural)

20 But you did not learn the Christ to be like this, 21 if, indeed, you heard him and were taught by means of him, just as truth is in Jesus. 22 You were taught to put away the old personality that conforms to your former course of conduct and that is being corrupted according to its deceptive desires. 23 And you should continue to be made new in your dominant mental attitude *, 24 and should put on the new personality that was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty” 2013 NWT (* foot note: Or “in the force actuating your mind.” Lit., “to the spirit of your mind)

20  But ye have not so learned Christ; 21  If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22  That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind ; 24  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” JKV

From the context here, we see that the word spirit (“pneumati”) is not referring to a person but what drives a person, what is the dominant force that motivates a person. The admonition is to put away the old personality or what drives, motives us and put on a new personality to drive and motivate us. We have to renew that which actuates us, dominates our thinking. So, in Romans 8 I understand that the “spirit” of verse 27 is our imperfect mental attitude (as per context of chapter) that at times has a “disposition” where we can not for some reason plead to God on our own account.

4) I am sorry, I do not quite understand just what it is you are asking here.


As far as the word “hoti” is concerned I do not know what else to say as I have covered that in the best way I currently know how to. I have already described how I see the difference between "that" and "because", especially in the context of Romans 8:27

The main interlinear I use is from the producers of the CLV Bible. For the word "hoti", it always uses the English word “that”. The Kingdom Interlinear that the WT produces also uses “that” at Romans 8:27. The on line interlinear http://biblehub.com/interlinear/romans/8-27.htm uses “because” and so does Benjamin Wilson Emphatic Diaglot. The Apostolic Bible Polyglt uses “for”.  

When,  what I see as a marked difference in renderings, I may be  unsure until such times as I can see definite details one way or the other. The context of the Romans 8 strongly leads me to  what I have been saying. So, to convince me that the “pneumatos“ in verse 27 is a reference to Gods holy spirit, there must be an explanation of the context that is clear.  In verse 16,  the word "spirit is used in two different ways in the same verse. We understand that, one is referring to Gods holy spirit (active force) and, the other referring to the the inward, dominate force that actuates the mind of anointed holy ones.

Previously we had a discussion on the Greek word “φρόνημα” and it was shown that this word does not refer to intellect which is what your argument was that this verse shows the holy person to have personality because, according to many Bibles it had a “mind” (“intellect”).


As I discovered, and reported in a previous post, there are at least 21 different Greek words that the KJV renders as mind, (I have not done a study of those words in other Bibles to see how they compare) and few of them actually have a meaning that means  “intellect”. And, as I have said before, even if (and I mean if) it can be shown that “pneumatos “ in verse 27 is a reference to Gods holy spirit, it still, just, does not teach us, as you have suggested, that the holy spirit has intellect.

For me an explanation must fit the context. Our perception of context can change as we learn more, but at the moment, this has been my perception of the context as to what is meant by the Greek words “φρόνημα τοῦ Πνεύματος “, and that is, that God perceives what our imperfect disposition is, and will allow at times the prayers written in the Bible to be for our benefit.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Brenton,

Thanks for the response.

You say in answer to my first question,
“ I have never said that the WT has changed its understanding of Romans 8:26-27. I have used the person pronoun “I” or the words “my understanding” in our discussion of this verse.”


Firstly let me stress that I did not say you did.

Secondly, as far as I am aware, all JW’s are to FOLLOW and PROMOTE current Watchtower teaching as it is taught by the Watchtower...am I wrong in this observation?

Therefore that is the reason I asked the question; and even though you used “I” and “my understanding” I thought were used as “agreeing” with what is being currently taught by the Watchtower.

You go on and say
“My overall understanding of the context of that verse, in that Chapter, is NOT at odds with the WT.”


Brenton, in the an article titled “Question From reader’s” December 1st 1990 issue of the Watchtower, discussing why the NWT uses “meaning” for the Greek word “phronema” at Romans 8:27, and says as their reason for doing so;

“The word phronema could have been rendered in Ro 8 verse 27 as ‘minding.’ But holy spirit is not a person that actually thinks or has its own thinking.”


In this article the Watchtower identifies the Holy Spirit as the recipient of the Greek word “phronema” in Romans 8:27, even thought they brush away the actual meaning based on their theological view. Also if you own a copy of the 1984 reference edition NWT you will see the marginal (cross) references for “THE SPIRIT” in Romans 8:27 directs you to passages that are about the Holy Spirit.

Thus you can now see why I asked the question, either the Watchtower’s position has changed...or you are at odds with the Watchtower, which is it?

Even though you admit, in a roundabout sort of way, that “THE SPIRIT” in verse 26 is the Holy Spirit, your explanation of verse 27 is not in line with the Watchtower.


You go on and say,
“I do not see how “ tou pneumatos” [the spirit] in verse 27 is the one pleading”

You then say,
“The pleading for the saints, I see as a reference back to the  "to pneuma" [the spirit]  in verse 26 not “tou pneumatos “ in verse 27.”


The only way I can see for you to do this is if you ignore that the word entugchanei refers to the immediate antecedent; and even if you prefer to use the word “that” for “hoti” the immediate antecedent is still “the spirit” (tou pneumatos) of verse 27.

“Now He Who is searching the hearts is aware what is the disposition of the spirit, THAT in accord with God is it pleading for the saints."

Can you see how what you are saying is not in harmony with the wording of the passage, even if you prefer the word ‘that” in the passage?

Brenton, I will contend that “THE SPIRIT” (tou pneumatos in verse 27) and “THE SPIRIT” (to pneuma in verse 26) both referring to the Holy Spirit.

I just want to say that I will like to discuss Eph 4:20-24 with you at a later date, for now let’s concentrate ourselves with this passage in Romans. <><

Answer
Hi Cos

In replying to your last set of questions I want to go back to where this discussion on Romans 8:27 started. When you look at http://en.allexperts.com/q/Jehovah-s-Witness-1617/2015/12/apology-accepted.htm we will get the reason for this discussion. I would like to paraphrase what it is you were asking in that question.

In essence you were trying to tell me that, because in many Bibles, that verses says “...the mind of the Spirit,” that, that indicates consciousness and that it  proved  the personality  of the “holy spirit”. You spent some time on the definition of the word “φρόνημα”.

I answered by asking “Is it your understanding here, that the word mind is speaking of a literal mind? , that is, to have the ability to think and or reason, ie intellect ? “

Your reply was not a direct yes, or no, but it did indicate that is what you were getting at.  

My responses from that point has been to show that the “spirit” (what ever it may actually refer to) in verse 27 does not have intellect . That is in line with what is printed in WT publications.

I had looked at what the “Question From reader’s” December 1st 1990 issue of the Watchtower, discussing why the NWT uses “meaning” for the Greek word “phronema” at Romans 8:27,” before I proceed to answer you. In fact I looked at all I could find on the subject. I twice  supported the conclusion made in that WT that, that no thinking ability, (or intellect) is implied at verse 27.

Earlier  I had said

QUOTE
The NWT uses  the English rendering  “meaning” for the Greek word “φρόνημα”. (personally I do not think that is a good English rendering). The particular English word used by different translations would effect the way readers understand that verse.
End quote

In line with that, that is what is happening here. It is the English rendering of “φρόνημα” that is the really at question.

The Question from readers  article refereed to the Kingdom Interlinear (KIT) rendering of “φρόνημα”. Of this word the article says.... “the Greek Scriptures shows that phroʹne·ma occurs four times at Romans 8:6, 7, 27 and that its literal meaning is consistently 'minding'. ” .... You see that the writer of that article had used as a reference the English translation of “φρόνημα”  that meant minding.  That reference was the KIT. The article goes a little further in giving a dictionary meaning ...“as: ‘way of thinking, mind(-set), aim, aspiration, striving .’—A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.” - That definition give there is better summed up with the English word “disposition” than “minding”.

I used the interlinear by CLV and its consistent rendering of “φρόνημα”.

Back in http://en.allexperts.com/q/Jehovah-s-Witness-1617/2015/12/apology-accepted.htm I showed why the English word “disposition” seems to be the best equivalent to “φρόνημα”. When that is used in all four places in Romans 8 there is no need to change the meaning as is done by the NWT. Using “disposition” does not change the overall understanding of that chapter. Paul had been warning about our mindset (or disposition) and how at times we need help in approaching God in prayer.   

Another article I looked at before answering, you was from an article in the June 15 1994 article. (bold and [ ] mine)

QUOTE
“ 9 What did Paul mean when he said that “the minding of the flesh means death”? The term “flesh” is often used in the Bible to denote man in his imperfect state, ‘conceived in sin’ as a descendant of rebellious Adam. (Psalm 51:5; Job 14:4) Thus, Paul was admonishing Christians not to set their minds on the sinful tendencies, impulses, and desires [or disposition] of the imperfect, fallen flesh. And why not? Elsewhere Paul told us what the works of the flesh are and then added the warning: “Those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom.”—Galatians 5:19-21.

10 But is there not a big difference between minding something and practising it? True, thinking about something does not always lead to doing it. However, minding is more than just having a passing thought. The word used by Paul is phroʹne·ma in Greek, and it denotes “way of thinking, mind(-set), . . . aim, aspiration, striving.” Therefore, “the minding of the flesh” means being controlled, possessed, dominated, and driven [the word disposition best describes those words] by the desires of the fallen flesh.—1 John 2:16.
End Quote

According to the meaning discussed in our earlier correspondence on this word (“φρόνημα”), it just does not mean “intellect”. Therefore the bottom line of your idea that various Bibles that use “mind” shows “intellect” of the spirit, has no substance.


The only aspect that I see different to the WT, at this time, is the identity of the  “spirit” in verse 27. It makes no difference to your assumption that, that verse teaches the holy spirit  has  consciousness. The overall meaning of Romans 8 does not change.


In verse 27 the Greek words  “entugchanei” (a verb) and “hoti” (a conjunction) do not have an antecedent. Neither are pronouns, and neither word takes the place of some thing (someone) else. Translators add the pronoun “it” (or “he”) to that verse to make sense in English.

You may "..contend that “THE SPIRIT” (tou pneumatos in verse 27) and “THE SPIRIT” (to pneuma in verse 26) both referring to the Holy Spirit..." We can discuss the semantics for ever and a day, it is not going to change the out come that you want, and, this is to prove that this verse teaches the “holy spirit” as personality and intellect.


If one wants to look at the word "spirit" in verse 27 and associate it with the "holy spirit", the English word "disposition" still fits nicely into the meaning when comparing the other 3 times in that chapter it is used (in ver 6 [twice] and verse 7)

When we consider the original meaning of the Greek word renderd spirit, (pneuma) we see it means breath, wind, or breeze.  

Now, in a storm, we can say that the wind has a nasty disposition, its inclination to do bad is very evident.

Now imagine a hot day and you are down at the beach and a cool breeze come up. The disposition of the wind is refreshing.

So if we are to take  spirit in verse 27 as referring to the "holy spirit" (that emanates from and belongs to God) Because it belongs to God, he knows it has a refreshing disposition for Gods servants who may in such a a dire need that they can not pray or know what to pray for.  In such circumstances, we are told in that pasage,  God accepts prays already uttered on their behalf and recorded by means of "His" spirit

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Brenton Hepburn

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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 . . . . .

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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.

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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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