As demonstrated by others that in John 14:26 and in John 16 the "he" is used for the masculine word advocate paracletos, and not for the Spirit in the Greek. But the translators are wrong in using "he" for it, as rightly pointed out by the Unitarians.
In Greek, both masculine and neuter words are used to refer to the
Holy Spirit. The Greek word translated "Counselor," "Helper,"
"Comforter" and "Advocate" in John chapters 14 to 16 is parakletos, a
masculine word in Greek and thus referred to in these chapters by
Greek pronouns equivalent to the English "he," "him," "his,"
"himself," "who" and "whom."
Because of the masculine gender of parakletos, these pronouns are
grammatically correct in Greek. But to translate these into English as
"he," "him," etc., is grammatically incorrect.
For example, you would never translate a particular French sentence
into English as "I'm looking for my book so I can read him." While
this grammatical construction makes sense in the French language, it
is wrong in English. In the same way, to suppose on this basis that
the Holy Spirit is a person to be referred to as "he" or "him" is
So the controversy should be more focused on the English grammar rule as to which pronoun is to be used for the ghost/spirit? It or he? To me, it is clear that Spirit or ghost comes under common gender or neuter nouns in English (such as baby or animal, they are gender-neutral), hence, it should be "it". The assumption that you have to give a gendered pronoun to an individual being in English is given by both the Trinitarians and Unitarians, but without any evidence from English grammarians. Counselor or advocate would require "he", but Ghost has no gender, so technically it should be an "it" rather than "he". I asked this question on the English:SE(it may get closed by the pharisees of that site) and someone quoted some authentic sources using wiki, showing that:
the pronoun of neuter gender in Greek does not deny the noun it replaces the possibility of being a human person, whereas in English the disparity between the uses of it as referring to non-human entities and human ones is much greater.
Whereas "he" and "she" are used for entities treated as people (including any entities that are being anthropomorphized), the pronoun "it" is normally used for entities not regarded as persons, though the use of "he" or "she" is optional for non-human animals of known sex (and obligatory for animals referred to by a proper name).
It is considered to be neuter or impersonal/non-personal in gender. In Old English, (h)it was the neuter nominative and accusative form of hē. But by the 17th century, the old gender system, which marked gender on common nouns and adjectives, as well as pronouns, had disappeared, leaving only pronoun marking. At the same time, a new relative pronoun system was developing that eventually split between personal relative who and impersonal relative which. As a result some scholars consider it to belong to the impersonal gender, along with relative which and interrogative what. (Wikipedia)
It seems fair to use "he" for the spirit, if the gender grammar of English has evolved as they say, and we can accept "he" for the spirit, even though it sounds unnatural, but the problem only begins when we discover that in other languages that requires feminine declension for the spirit, use masculine, only by following the tradition of English versions. You should imagine how bizarre it sounds when the other languages using the wrong gender for the spirit, if you know other languages. I suppose, all other languages are following the wrong gender except Hebrew, Greek, Syriac and Aramaic.
KJV The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God
Even some new translations use "it" in Rom 8:16, including N. T. Wright's NTE translation. This is a highly informative article:
IS THE KING JAMES BIBLE IN ERROR TO REFER TO THE HOLY SPIRIT AS "IT"? By Will Kinney
The purpose of this article, is to do just that - address this
matter. Mr. Kutilek's objections to the use of "it" or "itself" in
referring to the Holy Ghost are both hypocritical and ignorant.
Hypocritical because there are many versions, including the modern
ones, that use "itself" in either the very same verses or in the same
manner. And ignorant because apparently Mr. Kutilek does not know
the proper use of his own English language.
There are four verses in the KJB that he criticizes. John 1:32;
Romans 8:16, 26 and I Peter 1:11. We will examine these verses with
other translations and then look at examples in the nkjv, niv and nas
However, first, we shall look at how our English dictionaries define
the use of the words "it" and "itself". The Random House Webster's
College Dictionary of 1999 lists under the second definition of
"itself" - "used to represent a PERSON or animal understood,
previously mentioned, about to be mentioned, or present in the
immediate context." Examples given are: "Who is it? It is John. "
"Did you see the baby? Yes, isn't it cute." " the cat likes to sun
itself in the window." The Websters 1967 Collegiate Dictionary
defines "it" as "a PERSON or animal whose gender is unknown or
disregarded." The Father and the Son are clearly masculine, but the
Spirit is sometimes refered to as masculine and sometimes as neuter,
not because He is neuter, but rather because the gender is disregarded
or not taken into account in that particular context.
The first verse is John 1:32 . And John bare record, saying, I
saw the Spirit descending like a dove, and IT abode upon him."
Other Bible versions that agree with the KJB in their use of "it" are
Tyndales first edition, the Geneva Bible of 1599 and 1602 ( I have
copies of these), the Bishop's Bible, Darby, the ASV of 1901, the
Douay of 1950, Henry Alford's translation, Youngs, the English
Revised Version of 1881, the 21st Century KJB, Williams New Testament
1937, Lamsa Translation 1933, Daniel Websters Bible translation
1833, the 20 th Century New Testament, Weymouth translation, the
RSV and the NRSV of 1989. So you can see the KJB is not alone in its
proper understanding of the English language. It is Mr. Kutilek that
is in error.
The second verse is Romans 8:16 "The Spirit ITSELF beareth witness
with our spirit, that we are the children of God."
Versions that agree with the KJB are the 21st Century KJB, Alford's,
Bishop's Bible, Darby, Websters and the NRSV.
The third verse is Romans 8:26 "But the Spirit ITSELF maketh
intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
Again the 21st Century KJB, Alford's translation, The Bishop's Bible,
Darby, Websters and the Geneva Bible of 1599 and 1602 agree with the
The fourth verse is I Peter 1:11 "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." Versions that have "it" here are Alfords, the Revised
Version of 1881, the ASV of 1901, Websters, Berkeley, Basic Bible in
English and the NRSV of 1989.
So we see that many Bible versions which both predate and follow the
KJB have used it and itself to refer to the Spirit of God. This is
perfectly acceptable English. Mr. Kutilek apparently is unaware of
The nasb and niv have two interesting and parallel verses in the new
testament. Both Matthew 12:45 and Luke 11:26 speak of a "spirit that
takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than ITSELF".
Here is a case of a spiritual entity that can see, hear, speak and
has a personality, yet the gender is disregarded in the nas and niv,
and is referred to as "itself". This spirit was not an inanimate
object, but rather a spiritual being with a distinct personality. The
same thing occurs in the KJB, nkjv, niv and nasb in Luke 8:29 "For
he had commanded the unclean SPIRIT to come out of the man. For
oftentimes IT had caught him."
Here again is a spirit that talks, reasons, hears and knows that
Jesus is the Son of God and that torment awaits him. This is clearly
a personality and yet all the above mentioned versions refer to him as
an "it". The gender is disregarded, and this is perfectly acceptable
All of the modern versions, like the nkjv, niv and nas use "itself"
when referring to both animals and groups of people. The nkjv has the
donkey itself -Hosea 8:9, the goat itself- Lev. 16:22; Israel itself
-Judges 7:2; Numbers 23:9 speaks of "a people dwelling alone, not reckoning itself among the nations, and Zech. 12:12 "the family of the
house of David by itself."
All Bible versions at times speak of Jesus Christ as being a thing
or something neuter. In Matthew 1:20 the angel of the Lord says to
Joseph: "fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for THAT WHICH is
conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." Notice the angel does not say
"he", but "that which",: it is neuter both in Greek and in English.
In Luke 1:35 the angel says to Mary "The Holy Ghost shall come upon
thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore
also THAT HOLY THING which shall be born of thee shall be called the
Son of God." That holy thing is neuter, yet we all know that Jesus
Christ is a person, in fact, God manifest in the flesh.
The book of I John opens with a reference to Jesus Christ, yet it
refers to Him as a thing. "That which was from the beginning, which
we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked
upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life." Yet Christ is
not a thing, but a person. In I John 5:4 we are told: "WHATSOEVER is
born of God overcometh the world." This is a neuter. Are we to
assume that everyone who is born of God is a thing?