Written by the Holy Ghost?

Charles David Isbell cisbell at home.com
Sun Feb 18 20:07:19 EST 2001

Dear Harold et al,
All of this is fine, but we should not forget that gender designations in
languages are grammatical distinctions/classifications that do not equate to
gender distinctions. That is, to say that a noun is feminine or masculine or
neuter is not the same thing as to say that a woman or a man or a "thing" is
the referent.  In Hebrew an "ear" is feminine whether it is mine or belongs
to the sexiest woman in the world.  So in Luke 2:16, "the babe," referring
to the infant Jesus is a neuter grammatical form, not implying that Jesus
was sexless, but  functioning normally using a noun that in its formal
characteristics follows the neuter declension.  So the participle that
describes that infant as "lying in a manger" is also neuter, making it
grammatically concordant with its antecedent, "babe."
I would conclude that whether the holy spirit is masculine or feminine or
neuter is not addressed by the simple grammatical fact that Greek pneuma is
a neuter class noun.  Whether one believes God or the spirit to be masculine
or feminine or both is a matter of one's theological presuppositions, and
cannot be argued simply on the basis of the grammatical class into which a
particular noun does or does not fall.
Charles David Isbell
----- Original Message -----
From: "Harold R. Holmyard III" <hholmyard at ont.com>
To: "Biblical Hebrew" <b-hebrew at franklin.oit.unc.edu>
Sent: Sunday, February 18, 2001 6:10 PM
Subject: Written by the Holy Ghost?

> Dear Raymond and Liz,
> I agree, Raymond, that the gender of PNEUMA is neuter, and the NT almost
> always uses the neuter with reference to it, but some passages suggest
> the masculine would be appropriate in English.
> In John 14-16 Jesus made promises to his believers about the holy spirit.
> He said that he would ask the Father, and He would send another helper
> himself (PARAKLHTON), the spirit of truth (John 14:16). The noun "helper"
> is a masculine noun. In this place Jesus uses the neuter TO with "spirit"
> and the neuter pronoun AUTO in subsequent references. But in verse 25 he
> mentions the helping spirit again, but uses the masculine EKEINOS ("that
> one") in reference to him. The next time he mentions the helper, he also
> uses the the masculine EKEINOS, perhaps in agreement with PARAKLHTOS.
> says that when he goes, he will send him (AUTON) to the disciples (16:7).
> In the next paragraph, he says,
> Yet many things do I  have to tell you, but you are unable to bear them.
> But when that one (EKEINOS) comes, the spirit of truth, he will guide you
> in all truth. For he will not speak from himself (hEAUTOU), but whatever
> hears he will speak, and will announce to you the things which are coming.
> That one (EKEINOS) will glorify me . . .
> The paragraph uses masculine terms with regard to the spirit, although it
> may do so with reference to the earlier mentioned PARAKLHTOS.
> The way that Jesus describes the spirit is as a person. The spirit is like
> Jesus. He speaks. He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and
> (John 16:8-9).
> Another relevant text is Acts 5:3-5:
> "But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the
> holy spirit (neuter gender) and to keep back for yourself part of the
> of the field? Did it not remain yours when it belonged to you, and was it
> not at your disposal when you sold it? Why have you put this thing in your
> heart? You have not lied to men but to God."
> Later the wife of Ananias comes and Peter says to her,
> "Why have you agreed to tempt the spirit of the Lord?" (Acts 5:9)
> Peter equates the holy spirit with God here. He also speaks of lying to
> spirit and tempting the spirit. These are things that one does to a
> The holy spirit is described in ways most suitable for a person. He can be
> grieved:
> Eph. 4:30 "And do not grieve the holy spirit of God, by whom you were
> sealed unto the day of redemption."
> He prays:
> Rom. 8:26 Likewise the spirit also helps our infirmities: for we do not
> know what we should pray for as is necessary: but the spirit himself makes
> intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
> (The KJV uses "itself" instead of "himself")
> He often speaks:
> Acts 8:29 Then the spirit said unto Philip, "Go near, and join this
> Acts 10:19 While Peter thought about the vision, the spirit said unto him,
> "See, three men seek you."
> He permits:
> Acts 16:7 After they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia: but
> spirit did not permit them.
> He dwells in people:
> Rom. 8:11 But if the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead
> dwells in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also give life
> to your mortal bodies by his spirit that dwells in you.
> He bears witness:
> Rom. 8:16 The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the
> children of God:
> He searches:
> 1Cor. 2:10 But God has revealed them to us by his spirit: for the spirit
> searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
> God is also said to be spirit:
> John 4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit
> and in truth.
> Since Christians understand the spirit to be a person, a part of God, and
> since they use masculine pronouns of God, they refer to the spirit as
> Yours,
> Harold Holmyard
> Dallas, TX
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