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Hi brenton,

I went to delete your “The expert can’t answer your question” without reading it. But something made me open it instead, and I’m glad I did for you ask me a question which I am more than glad to answer, if I had just deleted it then you might have come to some wrong conclusions.

Before I answer your question, let’s take a look at the many times Jesus, a person, is associated with impersonal things; but these do not argue against HIS PERSONALITY. Jesus refers to Himself as the vine (John 15:1), the door (John 10:17), bread (John 6:35) etc,. Because these terms are used in association with Jesus they do not cancel out His personality, right?

1 John 5:6-8, “water” is a reference to Jesus’ baptism, “blood” a reference to his crucifixion, and the Holy Spirit testifies to these facts.

The answer to your question is NO, blood and water are not people.

So now answer me.

Is it legitimate to say that Jesus is not a person because HE is often associated in Scripture with impersonal things such as a vine, a door, bread?

Yes or no?

Because you have done so before, I believe you do shut down the conversation “when things get deep”.

And quickly, you know the old saying; “repetition is the best form of emphasis”. So if you think I’m asking something that you have “already” answered then going over it again should be beneficial all round. <><

Answer
Hello Cos,

For the benefit of readers
Over the last few weeks I had had several conversations with Cos that I have not let go to the board for various reasons. To be able to do that I send him a  “The expert can’t answer your question”  type reply that allows me to give him an explanation as to why I can not answer or will not answer.   It wasn't that I could not or will not answer his questions (I actually did answer his questions) it was because I had decided the type of debates we were having were not in line with the “spirit” of this board. From what he has just said, It would appear as if he may have automatically deleted some of my replies without reading them.  Any way, recently he had asked me  (this is only a portion of his post that relates to his question above )  

COS
…... And the reason I believe is because the Bible show that the Holy Spirit is a person.

Consider this example: “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness” (John15:26–27). 

NOTE that Jesus says the Spirit will “bear witness” just as the disciples will bear witness (as “you also…”). 

Jesus regards the Spirit (the Helper) as being just as much a person as each of the disciples, and speaks of them in the same terms. Beyond that, the actions He attributes to the Spirit—coming, being sent, proceeding, bearing witness—do not fit a mere personification of some aspect of God.

Here is another example to consider: 

“If I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you…I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John16:7–13)

Throughout these passages in the book of John, Jesus ascribes the same or similar personal actions to the Holy Spirit as He does to the disciples and even Himself (e.g., I will go/He will come; I have things to say/He will speak). It would be very bizarre to ascribe these personal actions in the same way and in the same statement to real persons and to a personification.

John 12:49 “because I have not spoken out of my own impulse, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a commandment as to what to tell and what to speak." (NWT)

John 16:13 “However, when that one arrives, the spirit of the truth, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his OWN IMPULSE, but what things he HEARS he will SPEAK, and he will declare to you the things coming.”

REMARK
I did not reply to all that he wrote but I did ask him a question in relation to points above. What point was that? His reasoning above is that the holy spirit is a person because ”... he will bear witness ...”  There are 2 issues here, the wrong use of the personal pronoun “he” and can something impersonal bear witness.  I asked him

Previous Brenton
So you have changed the subject back to John 14, 15 and 16. That's fine with me. Now, may I ask you a question. Are blood and water people? A simple yes or no.

REMARK
So that brings us to the above response.  

Cos, I can see that you did give an answer to my question.

“The answer to your question is NO, blood and water are not people.”

You picked up up on a text that I was referring to, that of 1 John 5:6.    Your reasoning is that because Jesus  was  “... associated with impersonal things; ... these do not argue against HIS PERSONALITY” .  That is true, I fully agree with you. What we need to consider is the context and the original wording in the Greek.  First of all a brief look at what those  “ impersonal things” that are associated with Jesus.  I can see where your thinking was at and the connection you made between them  and 1 John 5.  Now, please, notice Jesus words

I am the bread” John 6:35, 41
I am the door”  John 10:7,9
I am the vine” John 15:50

This is quite different from 1 John 5:6-8.  Here, the spirit is not saying “I am the ...” like Jesus did.  Jesus was using things that we know and understand in an illustrative manner to get a point across that expressed an aspect about his roll as the Messiah.

He was the bread of life.  Just as we need food to live now, he showed that he was “the living bread that came down from heaven.”  He added  “If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and, for a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world.” (John 6:48-51) This  ‘eating’ was not literal, but would have to be done in a figurative way, by exercising faith in the value of Jesus’ perfect human sacrifice (see John 6:40)

It is similar with his being a “door”.  A door acts to protect by letting some in and keeping undesirables out. To be among those saved one has to enter through Jesus into the symbolic sheep pen of which he is the also the fine shepherd.

Jesus, as the true vine and his God is  the cultivator. Through that passage in John 15 we see God taking away from the vine undesirable branches that that do not stay in union with Jesus, and, or, produce bad fruit.  To stay on the vine, or to stay in union with Christ, one needs to produce fine fruit.  Those fruits can be found at (Galatians 5:22, 23) “...the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 mildness, self-control.” (1984 NWT)

What we have at 1 John 5:76-8 is quite different. Here the spirit is joined together with water and blood as  being three “impersonal things”.   So lets examine that as it relates to the topic of discussion.  Now remember that it is your reasoning that because the spirit bears witness, it must have personality. Your reasoning on that text is

COS
“1 John 5:6-8, “water” is a reference to Jesus’ baptism, “blood” a reference to his crucifixion, and the Holy Spirit testifies to these facts.”

Remark
Yes we agree with that.  It is important to notice that the three “impersonal things” all agree as one .  They are linked together as all three bearing witness .  Notice the wording of verse 8 according to the KJV “And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one .”   There is  absolutely no doubt that the three “impersonal things” all bear witness and agree as one.  That is the argument I was making. The Bible tells us that “impersonal things” can, and do, bear bear witness.  Therefore you can not use the reasoning that because the spirit bears witness it must be a person.

First of all what is the passage about.  Starting in verse 1 we  start to find the answer “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God,.. “  now lets go down to verse 4 “...  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”  (NIV) (emphasis mine)

What are we being told?  That we need to believe in Jesus as the son of God. Why? If we do we will conquer the world, that is, the world will not have mastery over us.  Now then, since faith in Jesus is so important to our being able to conquer the world, John gives us three evidences (testimonies)  about Christ  or “ witness bearers.”  First John says that Jesus “came by means of water.”  What does that mean?  when he came to John at the Jordan and was baptised in symbol of his dedication to do Gods will and preach the gospel (good news) of Gods Kingdom and to be sacrificed, the Almighty one  declared: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” (Matthew 3:17) Christ was also shown to be God’s Son “with the blood” he poured out in his death as a ransom. (1 Timothy 2:5, 6)   

The most important one was the spirit. How did the spirit bear witness? The descending of the spirit upon Jesus at his baptism was proved him to be God’s Son. (Matthew 3:16; John 1:29-34)  God's spirit enabled Jesus to carry out his commission and perform powerful works. (John 10:37, 38; Acts 10:38) By the spirit, God caused unusual darkness, an earthquake, and the rending of the temple curtain when Jesus died, and then by the same spirit God resurrected him.—Matthew 27:45-54.

Bellow is a direct word for word Greek to English translation of that text using the “Byzantine Majority text”. (for any readers that prefer the KJV, you will notice that in this rendering there are some word missing  in verse 7 that are included in the KJV. The “Byzantine Majority” type text is the bases for the 1550  Stephanus Greek Text that the KJV translators worked from.  Many people think that the KJV was produced from the Textus Receptus (TR), but the TR was fist published in 1633 some 22 years after the KJV. )

NOTE: words in [ ] are alternate meanings
6. this is the having-come by water and blood Jesus the christ [anointed] no by the water only but by the water and by the blood. And the spirit [breath/wind] the testifying [ one bearing witness - singular] because the spirit [breath/wind] is the truth 7. that three are the testifying [ones bearing witness – the plural form is used here] 8.  the spirit [breath/wind] and the water and the blood and these three in the one are [to be]

It is interesting to note that plural form of the Greek word “μαρτυρέω” (bear witness) showing that all three – water, blood, spirit – ALL testify, bear witness


The last portion of verse 8 is important. “ these three in the one are ”  The spirit is not separated from water and blood and the three are to be numerically one. The Greek word for one can also mean, individual, agreement, unity. The last Greek word in verse 8 is εισιν.  This is a form of the verb “ εἰμί ”  meaning “to be, to exist, to happen, to be present”.

Here are a couple of different English Bibles of those three verses

“6 This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify:8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. “ (NIV)

“6 This is the one who came by means of water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. And the spirit is bearing witness, because the spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three witness bearers:  8 the spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.” (NWT)


The NIV has a capital “S” at the start of spirit and the NWT does not.  The capital “S” tends to tell English readers  that the word “spirit” is a proper noun. It is not. There is no grammatical reason to use the capital  “S” for spirit in this passage. It is pure theology that cause a translator to capitalise the “S”. Is that a good idea?
 

When Jesus was, as you put it,  in “associated with impersonal things” he was not linked as being at one or in agreement  with, testifying with the door, vine or bread. Those three things are listed on separate occasions.  In 1 John 5 they are joined together as all three bearing witness.


Now the point of my bringing up the question  to you of if water and blood are “people” is because your reasoning was that the spirit was a person because it could “bear witness”.  In 1 John 5 we see water and blood bearing witness in the same way as  the spirit.  You agree that water and blood are not people, so the reasoning that the spirit can bear witness does can not be used to support the idea that the spirit is a person because the water and the blood are said to be doing the exact same thing as the spirit.


Now, we have covered other aspects of what you asked, before.  In the text you quote from John 14 and 16 about the comforter,  many Bibles do not follow rules of Greek Gramma or use good translation principles as they will at times  wrongly use the personal pronoun “he”.  The personal pronoun “he” that you highlighted do not apply to the spirit.  English readers associate personal pronouns with natural gender .  When we see the words such as “he”, “him”, “she” or “her” we associate those words with a physical aspect of human nature.  That is not the case in Biblical Greek. The reader must use context to determine if natural gender is being discussed.    Here is some information on Greek gender from http://www.foundalis.com/lan/grkgram.htm   (underline  and italics mine)


All nouns have a specific gender, but contrary to English, even things (including concrete objects and abstract ideas) can be masculine, feminine, or neuter, and there is no way to predict the gender from the semantics of the noun a point that causes a lot of frustration to learners of Greek. For example, the wall is masculine, the door feminine, and the floor neuter.   Native speakers of English typically make a strong association between the concepts masculine ↔ man and between feminine ↔ woman .   Native speakers of Greek learn to associate the gender as something inherent to each specific noun, adjective, article, etc., and do not make such a strong association.  So, we say that English has “natural gender”, whereas Greek has “formal gender”. “


In the examples you gave of John 15 and 16 you quoted form a Bible that uses the masculine “he” and, based on past conversations,  I would assume that you have assigned that to mean the spirit.  Many Bibles will actually capitalise the “h” to say “He” in this verse, this highlights that idea even more. But are they correct in doing so?   Now in the Greek, the masculine word for “he” does not appear.  What these Bibles have done is translated a demonstrative pronoun as “he” in stead of by “that”.  This web site will explain the use of demonstrative pronouns http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/parts-of-speech/pronouns/what-is-a-demonstrati   John correctly used this type of pronoun ( ἐκεῖνος)  instead of  the personal pronoun ( αὐτός)  Remember All NOUNS in Greek have gender, but not all the genders are what we see as “natural”.  Greek dictates that pronouns that refer to a noun must be in the same gender.


These Bibles correctly render John 15:26 without the use of “he”


Diaglot  “ When but may come the helper, whom I will send to you from the Father, (the spirit of the truth, which from the Father shall come out,) <b<that</b> will testify concerning me.


2001 An American Translation “ 'So, when the Advocate (that I'm going to send you from the Father) arrives (the Spirit of Truth that comes from the Father), that [one] will testify about me”


ABP  But whenever  [should come the comforter],  whom  I  send  to you  from  the  father,  the  spirit 1 of the truth, who  from  the  father  goes forth,  that one  will witness  concerning  me;  


CEV (avoids personal pronoun altogether) “I will send you the Spirit who comes from the Father and shows what is true. The Spirit will help you and will tell you about me.”


CLV “Now, whenever the consoler which I shall be sending you from the Father may be coming, the spirit of truth which is going out from the Father, that will be testifying concerning Me”


Diaglot  “ When but may come the helper, whom I will send to you from the Father, (the spirit of the truth, which from the Father shall come out,) that will testify concerning me.


GWV  “"The helper whom I will send to you from the Father will come. This helper, the Spirit of Truth who  comes from the Father, will declare the truth about me.


LEB “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father—that one will testify about me. “


LTV “And when the Comforter comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father, that One will witness concerning Me”


NWT “But the helper, the holy spirit, which the Father will send in my name, that one will teach you all things and bring back to your minds all the things I told you.


The subject of John 14, 15, and 16 is the paraklētos and not pneuma.   The word  paraklētos is used of Jesus and obviously Jesus has personality and intellect.  But, just what does paraklētos indicate?  It indicates a quality that Jesus displays, he was there to help us.  The greatest way he helped us was by dyeing as a corresponding ransom for mankind.  He also helps us draw closer to God by showing us how to do it.  Likewise with the pneuma,  paraklētos is telling us something good or useful about the pneuma.  By plugging into Gods active force it will help us discern what our responsibility toward God are and how to follow his son.   

Some Bibles render paraklētos as comforter. Paraklētos does not just mean comforter. The quotes you used, used the word “helper”. THAYER's Greek Lexicon tells us that “ in the widest sense, a helper ”  .  I have illustrated for you in the past how pneuma (wind) can be a helper.   A helper does not have to refer to a person, but, can refer to a “thing” - anything that lends aid or is useful and a help in a given situation. A helper is one that helps.
'That rope was a really good helper, without it I would not have been able to ….'  
'I had an invisible helper, the wind, it blew the tree over'  


Translated correctly, the masculine idea of the spirit can not be found in that text. Neither the word  pneuma, or  paraklētos carry the idea or thought of  “natural” masculine.  Using the masculine pronoun “he”  in these verse to refer to either one is poor translation.


What I hope I have demonstrated above, is that “impersonal things” can, and do, bear witness, therefore, the spirit (breath, wind, blast) can be an “impersonal thing” (the facts show it is).  And that neither the  paraklētos nor the pneuma can rightly be considered  “natural masculine gender”. As a matter of translation, neither showed have their relative pronouns rendered as "he" in English. The use of demonstrative pronouns instead of personal pronouns testifies to that.  John used correct Greek grammar in his writings. He was not teaching something new about the 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 . . . . .

Experience

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.

Education/Credentials
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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