Re: Holy Spirit - "He" or "it?"

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Aug 19 1998 - 13:50:32 EDT

<x-rich>At 11:40 AM -0500 8/19/98, Kyle Dillon wrote:

<excerpt>In Greek, John 16:13a says: "hOTAN DE ELQHi EKEINOS, TO PNEUMA
THS ALHQEIAS...," which is translates "When He (or that One), the
Spirit of truth, comes..."


Some say that because John used the masculine EKEINOS (that One)
instead of the neuter EKEINO (which would have grammatically agreed
with the neuter PNEUMA), he must have been making a theological
statement concerning the personality of the Holy Spirit.


Others say that the EKEINOS in this verse is not referring to the
appositive PNEUMA, but its supposed antecedent PARAKLHTOS (Counselor, a
masculine word) from verse 7. Hence, no theological statement is made;
John would just be conforming to the rules of Greek grammar.


So my question is: does EKEINOS refer to the PNEUMA of verse 13 (which
would be theologically significant) or the PARAKLHTOS of verse 7 (which
would be grammatically correct)? Also see John 15:26: is the antecedent


Personally, I don't see any likelihood of EKEINOS as making a
theological statement concerning the gender (I think that's what you
meant by "personality" in this instance, isn't it?) of the Spirit of
truth. Quite apart from the fact that TO PNEUMA THS ALHQEIAS must
almost surely be understand as standing in apposition to EKEINOS, there
are two other compelling reasons for understanding EKEINOS as a pronoun
that is masculine solely because it refers back to the masculine noun
hO PARAKLHTOS in 16:7 (and I think the same relationship holds between
hO PARAKLHTOS and EKEINOS in 15:26):

(a) EKEINOS is already used in 16:8 (KAI ELQWN EKEINOS ELEGXEI ...)
more immediately following upon a re-stated PARAKLHTOS IN 16:7, and it
is used again clearly with the same antecedent in 16:14 (EKEINOS EME
DOXASEI ...); and

(b) Although this principle does not hold universally and exclusively,
nevertheless in standard Greek idiomatic usage EKEINOS points backwards
to an antecedent noun, while hOUTOS and hODE tend to signal in advance
a significant noun that will follow soon after. Thus, if the writer
intended to highlight TO PNEUMA THS ALHQEIAS, he would more likely have
should add that even that would not bear any necessary implication that
the gender is significant theologically, since the gender of the
pronoun would in this instance also (as in the instance of EKEINOS and
PARAKLHTOS) be simply a matter of agreement of the pronoun with the
noun referent.

Carl W. Conrad

Department of Classics/Washington University

One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018

Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR



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