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Is God a Trinity... Part IV
Although, the grammar is often used by many evangelicals as the first line of defense, the problem is that the grammar doesn't unarguably support the idea that the Holy Spirit is male, as many believe.

Carol Brooks

    Index To All Six Sections

      Part I: Definition and Historical Background, Relying On Others To Decide What We Should Believe

      Part I B Plurality in The Godhead, The Deity of Christ & The Deity of The Holy Spirit

      Part II: Passages That Supposedly "Prove" the Trinity.

       Part III: The Holy Spirit... a Separate Person, Or The Divine Presence And Power Of The Father Himself

      You Are Here 001orange Part IV: The Grammar... Can it legitimately be used to support the idea that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity

      Part V: The Cappadocian Fathers.. The doctrine of the trinity, which has remained virtually unchanged to this day, found its roots in paganism not the Bible. This largely due to the part played by three ancient Greek philosophers and mystics.

      Part VB: The Cappadocian Fathers... Are both the Son and Spirit derived from the Father in "different ways"? Asceticism and Mysticism. The sad legacy of Neoplatonism.

      Part VI: Summary and Conclusion

     

    ON THIS PAGE
    Basic Rules That Govern Greek Nouns and Pronouns

    Relative Pronouns Used To Indicate The Holy Spirit is a Person

    Demonstrative Pronouns Used To Indicate The Holy Spirit is Male

    Translation of John 14:17

    Translation of John 16:7-8

    Capitalization

    Various Translations


    Note: All reference to Strongs refer to Strongs Concordance which is an exhaustive cross-reference of every root word in the KJV. Each word is numbered which allows the reader to compare how the same word may be used elsewhere in the Bible. 
     

    Basic Rules That Govern Greek Nouns and Pronouns

    Greek Nouns
    In English, the neuter gender refers chiefly to inanimate objects that are neither masculine nor feminine. However, this is not the case in several other languages including French, Spanish, German and Greek in which the grammatical gender of nouns is often arbitrary, and is not always linked to actual gender. The gender is simply a grammatical feature of the language and often makes no sense at all.

    Take for example, Mark 1:9-10 in which Galilee is feminine and Jordan is masculine. Water and Spirit are neuter, heavens is masculine, and dove is feminine.

      In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee (F) and was baptized by John in the Jordan (M). Immediately coming up out of the water (N), He saw the heavens (M) opening, and the Spirit (N) like a dove (F) descending upon Him; (Mark 1:9-10 NASB)


    Greek Pronouns
    Because Greek assigns a specific gender to every noun including inanimate objects, all Greek pronouns reflect the number and gender of the noun they stand in for. Masculine or feminine pronouns in Greek were used, not because the objects to which they referred were necessarily male or female, but because grammar required that the pronoun agree in gender with the noun to which it was referring.

    Simply put... in Greek, pronouns show grammatical gender, not necessarily real life gender.

    However, when translating Greek into English, one also has to know what the the gender and number of the noun is in English.

    In a basic lesson on Greek grammar, the site ibiblio says the following (Emphasis Addded)

      In Greek, it would be quite normal to say something like, "the light shines in the darkness, and she has not overcome it"; because darkness is feminine and light is neuter, "she" would have to refer to the darkness, and "it" would have to refer to the light. Naturally, we wouldn't want to use "she" and "it" in an English translation of this sentence! [38]

    In other words, we would use "it" if we know (or assume) the object is inanimate, "he" if we know (or assume) the object is male, and "she" if we know (or assume) it is female.


    Similarly, in Hebrew, Pronouns Do Not Prove Gender

    When the Bible says, for instance, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1), the Hebrew word for God is elhym, used well over two thousand times in the Old Testament. What is important to this topic is that both elhym and elahh are masculine nouns. The rules of grammar dictate that any pronoun used must agree in gender with the noun to which it is referring. In other word, just because the pronoun "He" is used of God, it does not necessarily mean that God is masculine. In fact God transcends gender.

    Although God's Spirit is clearly not female, in Hebrew, the word ruach (literally "breath" or "wind"), translated "spirit", is a feminine noun. For example

      The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit (Heb. ruach) of God was moving over the surface of the waters. (Genesis 1:2 NASB)

    It is hardly likely that God can be masculine and His Spirit feminine. But let's return to the Greek in the New Testament.


    Relative Pronouns Used To Indicate The Holy Spirit is a Person

    Strong's number G3739 (Gk. ho)
    Take for example, two statements, one made by Jesus and the other by Paul, in which the English words who or whom, relative pronouns used only to refer to people, have been translated from the Greek word ho (). (Underlining added)

      But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom (Gk. ho) G3739 the Father will send in My name, He (Gk. ekeinos) will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.  (John 14:26 NASB)

      In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who (Gk. ho) is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14 NASB)

    And, since both are living beings, exactly the same Greek word has also been used of God the Father, and of people.

      My Father, who (Gk. ho) has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. (John 10:29 NASB)

      For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who (Gk. ho) is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (Ephesians 5:5 NASB)

    However, in Strong's Hebrew and Greek lexicon, several forms of a word are grouped together under a common number. In this case, the related Greek words hos he ho are found under Strong's number G3739. However, all three of these pronouns do not necessarily mean who or whom, but can also mean which, what, or that, as in the following examples where ho is used for...

      Offering: And Jesus *said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that (Gk. ho) Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."  (Matthew 8:4 NASB)

      Concealed Things: Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that (Gk. ho) will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.  (Matthew 10:26 NASB)

      Sin: Flee immorality. Every other sin that (Gk. ho) a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18 NASB)

      The Gospel: according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which (Gk. ho) I have been entrusted. (1 Timothy 1:11 NASB)

      Sacrificial Blood: but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which (Gk. ho) he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. (Hebrews 9:7 NASB)

    In other words, Ephesians 1:13-14  could legitimately been translated In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, that (Gk. ho) is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.

    And there are plenty more examples HERE

    In other words, in John 14:26 and Ephesians 1:13-14 the Greek ho could have legitimately been rendered "which" or "that".  This was not done because the translators mistakenly believed the Holy Spirit was a person.


    Strong's number G3588
    (Gk. to)
    It is exactly the same case with the Greek word to (τὸ) that falls under Strong's number G3588. In reference to the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 2:12 and Ephesians 1:13-14 have been rendered

      Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who (Gk. to) is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God (1 Corinthians 2:12)

      In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who (Gk. to) is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14 NASB)

    Exactly the same word has been translated "who" in reference to Jesus and people

      Jesus: concerning His Son, who (Gk. to) was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,  (Romans 1:3 NASB)

      People: You are aware of the fact that all who (Gk. to) are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. (2 Timothy 1:15 NASB)

      Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those (Gk. to) who sought the Child's life are dead." (Matthew 2:20 NASB)

     However the word is also used for inanimate objects and abstract nouns.

      Prophecy: Now all this took place to fulfill what (Gk. to) was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:  (Matthew 1:22 NASB)

      Abomination of desolation: Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which (Gk. to) was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), (Matthew 24:15 NASB)

      Salvation: For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which (Gk. to) is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.  (2 Timothy 2:10 NASB)

      Knowledge: Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which (Gk. to) is according to godliness, (Titus 1:1 NASB)

    And there are plenty more examples target="_blank" onClick='alert("Please Note.. You are visiting a site outside of InPlainSite.org, which will open in a new window and may provide further relevant information. This does not mean that we necessarily endorse all, or any of the beliefs on this site. InPlainSite is not responsible for the substance, accuracy or beliefs of other sites. Click OK to continue, or close this pop-up window to return to www.InPlainSite.org.")'HERE

    In other words, 1 Corinthians 2:12 could have legitimately been translated "the Holy Spirit, that (Gk. to) the Father will send in My name".

    And, of course, Ephesians 1:13b-14 (referring to the Holy Spirit) could have legitimately been translated "... having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, that (Gk. ho) is given as a pledge of our inheritance.

    Using who or whom was a choice made by the translators... a decision made based on ideas already set in stone.


    Demonstrative Pronouns Used To Indicate The Holy Spirit is Male

    The site letusreason.org says

      The Holy Spirit is identified as a Person by John, using in the Greek the masculine ekeinos in Jn. 16:13. [36]

    Let's look at the entire verse

      "But when He (ekeinos), the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. (John 16:13 NASB)

    Note VERY carefully that, in the original Greek, only the first "He" (in bold above) exists in the Greek. The others have been added in to make the sentence flow in English. Let me explain.

    The verbs (guide, speak, hear, disclose) are all third person singular with, as far as I can tell, no indication whether the third person is male or female. For example, "He will guide" has been translated from the Greek word hodegesei which simply means "guide". The same word has been used only two other times in the New Testament, once in Acts 8:31 in which the Ethiopian eunuch was reading the book of Isaiah, and told Philip he could not understand it "unless someone guides (Gk. hodegesei ) me?...". That "someone" did not necessarily have to be male.

    Similarly, the actual Greek reads "not indeed he will speak from himself". The "himself" means absolutely nothing because the very same Greek word has also been translated "itself" as in John 15:4 speaking of a branch and in Matthew 12:45 speaking of an unclean spirit. See other uses of the word HERE

    Ekeinos
    The Greek translated "He" (Strong's G1565) is a demonstrative pronoun i.e., a pronoun that points to a specific thing (or things). However, once again, there are several forms of the word under this particular number. The precise form used by John was ekeinos (ἐκεeῖνος) which is used some 240 time in the New Testament. Although it usually refers to a person, it has also been occasionally used for inanimate objects as in the following examples.

      A field: Wherefore that (ἐκεeῖνος) field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. (Matthew 27:8 KJV)

      God's Word: He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what (ἐκεeῖνος) will judge him at the last day. (John 12:48 NASB)

    It is a matter of curiosity as to why, the NASB translates ekeinos into "that one" in reference to Christ in John 4:25. Although they capitalize the word "One", the translation is interesting.

      The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One (Gk. ἐκεeῖνος) comes, He will declare all things to us." (John 4:25 NASB)

    Yet, in John 14:26, and 16:13, the NASB translates ekeinos into "He" when referring to the Holy Spirit.

      "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom (Gk. ho) the Father will send in My name, He (Gk. ἐκεeῖνος) will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.  (John 14:26 NASB)

      "But when He (Gk. ἐκεeῖνος), the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. (John 16:13 NASB)


    Translation of John 14:17
    The NASB reads

      that is the Spirit of truth, whom (Gk. ho) the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. (John 14:17 NASB)

    Note: the English word "he" (in bold above)  is not in the original text, but added to simplify reading. According to the Interlinear Bible, John 14:17 reads

      the spirit of truth whom the world is not able to receive because not it does see him (Gk. auto) nor know but you know him (Gk. auto) for with you he abides and in you he will be (SEE)

    Exactly the same form of auto is used twice in this verse. But was it necessary to translate the word into "Him"?

    This same form of the word is also used in Luke 23:52 in reference to Jesus' body after His death. Similarly, the two occurrences of "it" in Colossians 2:14 have also been translated from the exact same Greek word- auto

      this man went to Pilate and asked for the body (Gk. soma) of Jesus. And he took it (Gk. auto) down and wrapped it (Gk. auton) in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain. (Luke 23:52-53 NASB)

      having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it (Gk. auto) out of the way, having nailed it (Gk. auto) to the cross. (Colossians 2:14 NASB)

    In other words, the Greek pronoun auto did not necessarily have to be rendered "him" unless, of course, the gender of the Holy Spirit was pre-assumed. Also remember that there was no reason to translate ho into the English whom. This relative pronoun can also mean which, what, or that.


     John 16:7-8
    John records several instances when Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as the parakletos, a word that has been translated advocate, comforter, helper etc. depending on which version of the Bible you read.

      "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Gk. parakletos) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (Gk. auton) to you. And He, when He (Gk. ekeinos) comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment" (John 16:7-8 NASB).

    About this verse, the New Catholic Encyclopedia says

      So clearly does St. John see in the Spirit a person who takes Christ's place in the Church, that he uses a masculine pronoun (Greek) in reference to the Spirit even though (spirit) is neuter in gender (16.8, 13-16). Consequently, it is evident that St. John thought of the Holy Spirit as a Person, who is distinct from the Father and the Son, and who, with the glorified Son and the Father, is present and active in the faithful (14.16; 15.26; 16.7). [39]

    Which is quite untrue on more than one count.

    The Greek word Parakletos, which is male in gender is the subject of all three sentences. Even if John had used a masculine personal pronoun, it would not have been because he was convinced that the Holy Spirit is the male, third person of the Trinity, but because Greek grammar would require him to do so.

    In any case, we cannot assume the pronouns John used were masculine. As previously mentioned, ekeinos has been used of inanimate objects. The Greek auton rendered "Him" in John 16:7-8 has also been used of a lamp in Matthew 5:15 and of the Gospel in Matthew 13:20.

      nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it (Gk. auton) gives light to all who are in the house. (Matthew 5:15 NASB)

      "The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it (Gk. auton) with joy;  (Matthew 13:20 NASB)


    Capitalization
    The New Testament uses pneumatos (a form of pneuma) several time in reference to man's spirit.

      The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.  (Galatians 6:18 NASB)

      in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 2:2 NASB)

      The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  (Philippians 4:23 NASB)

      that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.  (2 Thessalonians 2:2 NASB)

    In the Greek New Testament, the words Holy Spirit (hagios + pneumatos) is not capitalized, nor is the word for God (theos)

    In English, ignoring formal use of grammar, we often capitalize words that relate to God and Christ.. done to show respect. I certainly would not like to see the 'Spirit of the Father' in lowercase letters.

    However, capitalizing 'Holy Spirit' is, unfortunately, a double edged sword because although pneumatos is the exact same word used for man's spirit, it gives the appearance that the Spirit is a person in his own right.


    Various Translations
    What is interesting is the fact that, in some passages of the King James Version the translators, who certainly believed the Spirit to be  the male third person of the Trinity, used neuter pronouns when referring to the Spirit...

      The Spirit itself (Gk. autos) beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:  (Romans 8:16 KJV)

      Likewise the Spirit (Gk. pneuma) also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself (Gk. hautou) maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26 KJV)

      For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which (Gk. ho) speaketh in you. (Matthew 10:20 KJV)

      Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. (1 Peter 1:11 KJV)

    However, in the more modern NASB, these very same verses are translated with masculine the pronouns "he", "himself", or "who" (which indicates a person).

      The Spirit (Gk. pneuma) Himself (Gk. autos) testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, (Romans 8:16 NASB)

      In the same way the Spirit (Gk. pneuma) also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself (Gk. hautou)  intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;  (Romans 8:26 NASB)

      "For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit (Gk. pneuma) of your Father who speaks in you. (Matthew 10:20 NASB)

      seeking to know what person or time the Spirit (Gk. pneuma) of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.  (1 Peter 1:11 NASB)

    Finally, note how the CLV (Concordant Literal Version) translates three verses from John. Not because the translators decided to de-emphasize the Holy Spirit as a person, but because the grammar can go either way. (Emphasis Added)

      the spirit of truth, which the world can not get, for it is not beholding it, neither is knowing it. Yet you know it, for it is remaining with you and will be in you. (John 14:17 CLV)

      Now the consoler, the holy spirit, which the Father will be sending in My name, that will be teaching you all, and reminding you of all that I said to you. (John 14:26 CLV)

      Yet whenever that may be coming - the spirit of truth -it will be guiding you into all the truth, for it will not be speaking from itself, but whatsoever it should be hearing will it be speaking, and of what is coming will it be informing you." (John 16:13 CLV)

    Does all of this tell you something?

    It certainly tells me something... doctrinal bias, not grammatical accuracy, is responsible for referring to the Holy Spirit with masculine rather than neuter pronouns.

    In other words, there is no grammatical foundation for the orthodox view of the Trinity

       

    Continue Reading... Part V
    The Cappadocian Fathers
    So, if not the scriptures, where did the idea of the trinity come from?

    The doctrine of the trinity, which has remained virtually unchanged to this very day, was given explicit shape at the Second Ecumenical Council. However, what few people know is the part played by three ancient theologians from Cappadocia, a province in modern day Turkey, Basil, bishop of Caesarea, his brother Gregory, bishop of Nyssa, and Basil's close friend Gregory of Nazianzus, were jointly known as the Cappadocian Fathers.

    The problem is that all three  were well trained in philosophy and rhetoric, the art of using language effectively and persuasively. There are strong links between Plato's teachings and the Trinity as adopted by the Second Ecumenical Council in 381 AD. 

    Additionally, they were all greatly influenced by the writings of Origen, known for introducing Greek ideas into Christianity. Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus not only "edited a collection of Origen's writings, but Gregory of Nazianzus wrote: "Origen is the stone on which all of us were sharpened." 

    Here is an example of how Gregory of Nyssa's conception of the Trinity was based on Origen's ideas. Origen stated that,  since there are "certain secret analogies or affinities" between the things below and the things above, we must "read within ourselves the reflection of truths" that we could not otherwise know. It was Gregory of Nyssa however, who applied Origen's line of reasoning to the trinity. In fact, he says we would have no content for our thoughts about Father, Son, and Spirit, if we did not find an outline of their nature within ourselves. In other words, the key to the Trinity is in our triple nature ... our minds or reasoning, our word, and our souls. And, Gregory went several steps further, stating that you learn "the secret of God" from the things within yourself... a "testimony above and more sure than that of the Law and the Gospel".

     Finally, they were Catholic mystics. Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus pioneered the rules of monastic life, compiling what became known as "the Rule of St. Basil". By the way, if you have been told that Catholicism was not alive and well at this time, you have been misinformed.

     

    Endnotes

    [36] Mike Oppenheimer. The Holy Spirit Is A Person. http://www.letusreason.org/Trin4.htm

    [37] http://biblesuite.com/greek/4151.htm

    [38] Pronouns and gender. http://www.ibiblio.org/koine/greek/lessons/pronoun.html. Note: ibiblio.org is a collaboration of the School of Information and Library Science, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Information Technology Services at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    [39] New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1965, Spirit of God, Vol 13, p574-576

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