Verses Where “He” & “Him” Should Be Referred To As “It”
Language Rules That Assign Gender To Nouns
Several translated passages, constructed under King James (better known as the KJV), can be very misleading if the reader is not versed in the rules used to translate one language to another, Greek (or Hebrew) to English, especially languages that assign a gender to its nouns. This section addresses several misleading translations as they pertain to the following passages: (John 1:1-3) & (John 14:16-17, 26).
The Context Must Agree with the Transliteration Choice
(1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(2) The same was in the beginning with God.
(3) All things were made by him (it)[the Word], and without him (it) was not anything made that was made.
Trinitarian Bible Publications, (which most of us were raised with [KJV, NIV, etc.]) transliterate the original Greek word “logos” (G3056) as the “Word,” rather than the “thought” or “plan,” of God.
However, it is the subject matter that dictates the correct word choice to be applied in any translation. Here, the context is clearly speaking about God and His creation, which He alone planned (Rom 8:29; Eph 1:5, 11; 1Peter 1:20) and created (Isaiah 44:24, 45:12). When the CORRECT (or BEST) selection is made these passages becomes much clearer and easier to understand and harmonizes much better with all scriptures that relate to God’s Word (concerning His thought, purpose, will, plan, etc.), which was made known (manifest, revealed) to mankind through His Son Jesus, “God’s Word (the plan of God) made flesh.” (Deut 18:18; John 8:28, 12:49)
For example, the above passage could correctly be worded in English as follows:
- In the beginning, was the plan(thought) of God, and the plan was with God, and the plan was God’s.
- The same plan was in the beginning with God.
- All things were done according to it, and without it, nothing was done, that was done.
- In this plan was life, and that life was the light to mankind.
1. One reason people get the idea that “the Word” is a person is the use of the pronoun “him.”
The pronoun “him,” as used in (John 1:3), can give a person the “impression” that another person (being called “the Word”) was also “with” God during the creation.
Note: Yet, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that God had no intermediary or co-creator alongside him when he “alone” created the heavens and the earth: (Isaiah 44:24, 45:12, 48:13) This means that nothing was created through or by God’s Son (Jesus) or through any other means other than God himself.
Jesus never, not even once, claimed to have created anyone or anything. This is an undisputed Biblical fact! Our translation must always align with all Biblical Truths and verifiable Facts!
The Greek text does, of course, have the masculine pronoun, because, like many languages, including Spanish, French, German, Latin, Hebrew, etc., the Greek language assigns a gender to all nouns, and the gender of the pronoun must agree with the gender of the noun.
In French, for example, a table is feminine, la table, while a desk is masculine, le bureau, and feminine and masculine pronouns are required to agree with the gender of the noun. In translating from French to English, however, we would never translate “the table, she,” or “the desk, he.” And we would never insist that a table or desk was somehow a person just because it had a masculine or feminine pronoun. We would use the English designation “it” for the table and the desk, in spite of the fact that in the original language, the table and desk have a masculine or feminine gender.
Note: This is true in the translation of any language that assigns a gender to nouns.
In Spanish, a car is masculine, el carro, while a bicycle is feminine, la bicicleta. Again, no English translator would translate “the car, he,” or “the bicycle, she.” People translating Spanish into English use the word “it” when referring to a car or bicycle. For another example, a Greek feminine noun is “anchor” (agkura), and literally, it would demand a feminine pronoun. Yet no English translator would write “I accidentally dropped the anchor, and she fell through the bottom of the boat.” We would write, “it” fell through the bottom of the boat. In Greek, “wind” (anemos) is masculine, but we would not translate it into English that way. We would say, “The wind was blowing so hard it blew the trash cans over,” Not He blew the trash cans over.” When translating from another language into English, we have to use the English language properly.
Note: Students who are studying Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, French, German, etc., quickly discover that one of the difficult things about learning the language is memorizing the gender of each noun—something we do not have in the English language.
2. The verse in (John 1:1) says, “In the beginning was The Word”; it does not say, “In the beginning was Jesus.”
“The Word” is not synonymous with Jesus and “Jesus” G2424 is not a lexical definition of logos G3056 [Word]. The logos [word] is one of several expressions used to describe God (Ref: The Expressions Of God ), just as a “word” is an outward expression of a person’s thoughts.
This expression of God occurred “outwardly” through His Son, and thus it is perfectly understandable why Jesus is called the “Word.” Jesus was the outward expression of God’s reason, wisdom, purpose, and plan. For the same reason, we call a revelation “a word” from God and the Bible “the Word” of God.
Holy Ghost, Spirit, Comforter
John 14:16-17, 26
(16) And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he (it) may abide with you for ever;
(17) Even the Spirit of truth G4151; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him (it) not, neither knoweth him (it): but ye know him (it); for he (it) dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
(26) But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost G4151, whom the Father will send in my name, he (it) shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
3. Likewise, the pronouns “he” and “him” in (John 14:16-17, 26) can also give a person the wrong impression that “the Spirit” is a person.
In doctrinal discussions about the holy spirit, some people assert that it is a person because the Bible has “he” and “him” in verses that refer to it. In the Greek language, “spirit” is a neuter noun (Part of Speech: n n – Ref. G4151 ) and thus it is associated with the neuter pronoun, “it.” So, for example, verse 17 above should be literally translated as:
“Even the Spirit of truth (the spirit); whom the world cannot receive because it (the world) neither sees it (the spirit) nor knows it (the spirit). But you know it (the spirit), for it (the spirit) lives with you and will be in you.”
Any Analytical Lexicon will confirm that the pronouns in this verse that refer to spirit are neuter, not masculine.
In Greek, if the pronouns in the Greek text are neuter, why do the translators translate them as “he” and “him?” The answer to that question is that translators realize that when you are dealing with a language that assigns genders to nouns, it is the context and general understanding of the subject at hand that determines how the pronouns are to be translated into English as we have seen in the above examples (desk, bicycle, car, wind, etc.). It is amazing that Trinitarian translators know that the same neuter pronoun can be converted to an English masculine pronoun (e.g., “it” becomes “he”) but are evidently not as willing to see that a Greek masculine pronoun could be translated as an English neuter pronoun (e.g., “he becomes “it”), if the subject matter and context warrant it. Linguistically, both conversions could be completely legitimate. But any change depends, not on the gender assigned by the Greek language, but rather on the subject matter being discussed.
For example, the logos is God’s plan and should be reflected as “it,” and the “holy spirit,” when used as God’s gift, should also be translated into English as an “it.” To the un-indoctrinated mind, plans and gifts are obviously not “persons.”
Note: Trinitarian Christians believe “the Holy Spirit” is a masculine being and translate the pronouns that refer to it as “he” in spite of the fact that the noun is neuter and call for an “it,” not a “he” in Greek. Similarly, even though the masculine noun calls for the masculine pronoun in the Greek language, it would still not be translated into English as the masculine pronoun, “he,” unless it could be shown from the context that the subject was actually a male; i.e., a man, a male animal, or God (who represents Himself as masculine in the Bible). So the question to answer when dealing with “the Word,” “the Comforter” and “the holy spirit” is not, “What gender is the noun and associated pronoun in the Greek language?” Rather, we need to ask, “Do those words refer to a masculine person that would require a “he” in English, or do they refer to a “thing” that would require the pronoun “it”?” When “holy spirit” is referring to the power of God in action or God’s gift, it is properly an “it.” (Ref. What Is The Holy Ghost?) The same is true for the “comforter.”
In Hebrew, however, “spirit” is feminine and must have feminine pronouns, while in Greek, “spirit” is neuter and takes neuter pronouns. Thus, a person trying to build a theology on the basis of the gender of the noun and pronoun would find himself in an interesting situation trying to explain how it could be that “the spirit” of God somehow changed genders as the New Testament was written.
Because the translators of the Bible have almost always been Trinitarians, and since “the Word” has almost always been erroneously identified with the person of Christ, the pronouns referring to the logos in verse 3 have almost always been translated as “him.” However, if in fact, the logos is the plan, purpose, wisdom, and reason of God, then the Greek pronoun should be translated into English as “it.” To demand that “the Word” is a masculine person and therefore the third part of a three-part Godhead because the pronouns used when referring to it are masculine is poor scholarship.
Viewed in light of the above translation, the Gospel of John reveals several wonderful truths. In the beginning, there was only one God, not many gods. It also shows that this God had a reason, purpose, and a plan, which was, by its very nature and origin was divine. It was through and on account of this reason, plan, and purpose that everything was made. Nothing was made outside its scope. Then, this plan became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ and tabernacled among us. Understanding the opening of John this way fits with the whole of Scripture and is entirely acceptable from a translation standpoint.
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