Naselli and Gons paper, also Wallace paper, show that the Johannine paraclete verses can not argue for pneuma being masculine

Steven Avery

(b) As for John 16:13,
BRWs argument is
"John in his Gospel narrative uses the masculine ekeinos (he) to refer to the neuter, Spirit in John 16:13.

On this reasoning, [Gary R. Hudson] attempts to dismiss the mismatched gender completely apparently failing to note that the beloved Apostle John is specifically employing the masculine demonstrative pronoun ekeinos here to agree with the masculine parakletos, Comforter, in John 16:7. While ekeinos is often placed in apposition to the noun it is intended to modify, it can also be used as a substantive which ought to be clear in this place where the genders would otherwise be mismatched."

It is a common error to think that pneuma is somehow masculine grammar, ergo personalized, in the Johannine verses. And this assertion does come up in the discussions of the heavenly and earthly witnesses.

The simple fact is that the grammatical referent is the paraclete, Comforter, παράκλητος.

There are two papers that go into this in depth.


Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
“Prooftexting the Personality of the Holy Spirit: An Analysis of the Masculine Demonstrative Pronouns in John 14:26, 15:26, and 16:13–14." (2011)
Andy David Naselli and Philip R. Gons.

Also a blog post

Did John Use Bad Grammar to Teach the Holy Spirit’s Personality? (2015)
by Phil Gons


The consistent testimony of Scripture is that the Holy Spirit is a person, but John’s use of ἐκεῖνος in John 14:26, 15:26, and 16:13–14 has absolutely no bearing on the subject. A careful analysis of the texts in their contexts with sound principles of grammatical gender firmly in place demonstrates unequivocally that the antecedent of ἐκεῖνος is the masculine παράκλητος. The gender of the nouns and pronouns in these chapters neither supports nor challenges the doctrine of the Spirit’s personality. It is time to put this erroneous argument to rest once and for all.

Whether you agree with Naselli and Gons that that the Holy Spirit is a person, it is clear that no grammatical point should be made in terms of the grammar of the three verses making the Spirit masculine.

John 14:26
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost,
whom the Father will send in my name,
he shall teach you all things,
and bring all things to your remembrance,
whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 15:26
But when the Comforter is come,
whom I will send unto you from the Father,
even the Spirit of truth,
which proceedeth from the Father,
he shall testify of me:

John 16:13-14
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come,
he will guide you into all truth:
for he shall not speak of himself;
but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak:
and he will shew you things to come.

He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.


Greek Grammar and the Personality of the Holy Spirit (2003)
Daniel Wallace Grammar and the Personality of the Holy Spirit.pdf


Here we have the Spirit of truth clearly neuter.

1 John 5:6 (AV)
This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ;
not by water only, but by water and blood.
And it is the Spirit that beareth witness,
because the Spirit is truth.

Steven Avery


Ministry Magazine (2012)
“Another Paraclete”: The Holy Spirit in John 14–17
The author explains how a group of five passages in the apostle John’s Farewell Discourses refer to the Holy Spirit as “Paraclete” or “Spirit of truth.”“another-paraclete”:-the-holy-spirit-in-john-14–17

The author explains how a group of five passages in the apostle John’s Farewell Discourses refer to the Holy Spirit as “Paraclete” or “Spirit of truth.”

Since the Reformation, one of the most recurrent arguments for the personality of the Spirit is based on grammar. In Greek, Spirit (pneuma) is neuter, and several times in the Paraclete passages this word is accompanied by masculine pronouns, in addition to some neuter pronouns, as it would be expected according to the rules of grammatical agreement.9 The typical argument can be found in George E. Ladd when John correctly uses neuter pronouns in connection to pneuma: there is no implication “either for or against the personality of the Holy Spirit. But where pronouns that have pneuma for their immediate antecedent are found in the masculine, we can only conclude that the personality of the Spirit is meant to be suggested.”10

The argument, however, is not correct. The question is relatively simple. What is said means that where masculine pronouns are used, the closest noun is pneuma, thus being its antecedent. But the antecedent of a pronoun must be determined by syntax, not by proximity; and when masculine pronouns are used, the syntactical antecedent is always parakle-tos, not pneuma, which stands only in apposition to parakle-tos.11 For this reason, sometimes John uses neuter pronouns in the same passages. He does so always when the syntactical antecedent is pneuma. This means that there is absolutely nothing abnormal or meaningful in John’s use of pronouns in the contexts that refer to the Spirit. Also, the fact that parakle-tos is masculine does not have any implication regarding the personality (much less the masculinity) of the Spirit. The gender of parakle-tos, as well as that of pneuma, is nothing more than a linguistic accident, and no theological conclusion should be derived from it.12

9 The passages and the respective masculine pronouns are the following: John 14:26 (ekeinos); 15:26 (hos, ekeinos); 16:7, 8 (autos, ekeinos), 13, 14 (ekeinos [twice], heautou). In the same passages, there are four occurrences of neuter pronouns in connection to pneuma: 14:17 (ho, auto), 26 (ho); 15:26 (ho). The same happens in 7:39 (ho).

10 George E. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993), 331.

11 As Daniel B. Wallace declares, “The use of ekeinos here [John 14–16] is frequently regarded by students of the NT to be an affirmation of the personality of the Spirit. Such an approach is based on the assumption that the antecedent of ekeinos is pneuma. . . . But this is erroneous. In all these Johannine passages, pneuma is appositional to a masculine noun. The gender of ekeinos thus has nothing to do with the natural gender of pneuma. The antecedent of ekeinos, in each case, is parakle-tos, not pneuma.Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 331, 332. For a more detailed treatment including other passages in which pneuma is supposedly followed by masculine grammatical elements (Eph. 1:14; 2 Thess. 2:6, 7; 1 John 5:7), see Daniel B. Wallace, “Greek Grammar and the Personality of the Holy Spirit,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 13, no. 1 (2003): 97–125.

12 Note that in Hebrew the word spirit (rûah.) is feminine, while in German, French, and Spanish, e.g., it is masculine.