Is the Spirit of Elohim a He, She or It?

Acts 8:16, For as yet He had

In most of our modern English Bibles, this verse supports the notion that the Holy or Set-Apart Spirit is masculine by using the third person singular of the verb in reference to the antecedent Holy Spirit, which is found in the preceding verse. Is this a correct translation? 

First, the Greek word spirit pneuma/pneuma is a neuter gender noun. To be grammatically correct, therefore, our verse should read, “For as yet, It….” and not “He.” However, the Bible reveals that the Set-Apart Spirit is a Person, so it has to be either masculine or feminine. In our text, the English words “he had” are the one Greek word ’hn which is the active, indicative, imperative, third person singular of the verb ’eimi meaning, in its infinitive state, “to be,” or in its imperfect tense, “was.” In this verse, the verb ’eimi in this form can mean either, “he was, she was, or it was” (Basics of Biblical Greek, p. 59, by William Mounce). 

So how do we determine what the gender should be of the Set-Apart Spirit? In the Tanakh, the Hebrew word for spirit (as in Set-Apart Spirit) is ruach/JUr, which is in the feminine gender. Since the concept of the Set-Apart Spirit originates in the Hebrew language of the Tanakh, and since Elohim (the plural Hebrew noun indicating the plurality of the Godhead) reveals himself as both male and female (Gen 1:26–27), it is, therefore, illogical to refer to the Set-Apart Spirit in the masculine gender in Acts 8:16. 

Therefore, in Acts 8:16, referring to the Set-Apart Spirit as he is a blatant example of scribal gloss, and is an example of the translators bowing to the Catholic doctrine of the third person in the Godhead being male in gender even though the linguistics of this verse don’t support it, and something the Bible as a whole doesn’t support. This now begs the following question: If the Set-Apart Spirit isn’t male, but is part of the Godhead, then what other gender is there for the Set-Apart Spirit to be?


17 thoughts on “Is the Spirit of Elohim a He, She or It?

  1. Shalom. In Hebrew do all words have a designated gender, even inanimate ones? Therefore, just because a word has a feminine designation it doesn’t make the item in question feminine, does it? I’m not fluent enough in Hebrew to answer this question myself or give an example. Thanks.

  2. Another begging question is the origin of the doctrine of the trinity. Are you sure that is a biblical concept? I believe there is abundant Scripture that show the trinity if false.

  3. Hello Natan– You are off track here. The trinity doctrine is a false doctrine. The Bible says Mary conceived of the Holy Spirit. Luke 1: 31, 35. If the Holy Spirit is a person, then Jesus’ Father would be the Holy Spirit, not God the Father. (Think about it). Jesus said the Father was His Father. Did Jesus have two fathers? Did He not know who His Father was? The Holy Spirit is the power of God. v. 35. The word trinity does not even appear in scriptures, and it is a wholly made up Catholic doctrine.

    • Look, I was born and raised in the parent church of the church (since the 1950s) to which you made reference in your comment, and thus I know what they teach. (I removed the reference to that organization, since it’s against our blog rules to post websites that are not approved by me on this blog.) Contrary to your false accusation, I do not teach the doctrine of the trinity as the mainstream church teaches. You are correct. The trinity doctrine as the RCC and its harlot daughters teach is unbiblical. It’s not a complete or correct view of the Godhead. Neither is the oneness doctrine nor the idea that the Holy Spirit is just a force and not a personality. This latter idea ignores much that the Bible has to say about the nature of the Godhead. Sadly, HWA was not a Hebrew scholar, and much of his doctrinal stances were a polarized reaction against the mainstream church while ignoring the whole counsel of YHVH’s word. When our search for truth is based on reactionism, it skews our ability to ascertain the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. (Using his charisma, authoritativeness and various fear tactics, HWA convinced many people to believe as he did. Many thing he taught were correct, many were not.) The idea of the Godhead being a Twinity is an example of this skewed view. This said, we will have to agree to disagree on this point. Thankfully, this is not a salvational issue, so I refuse to argue about it. Blessings to you.

  4. and since Elohim (the plural Hebrew noun indicating the plurality of the Godhead) reveals himself as both male and female (Gen 1:26–27),

    I will also point out that as 1 Corinthians 11: 7-12 shows, Adam was made in YHVH image and the woman was made in Adam’s image. Gen 1 26-27 does not prove YHVH is both male and female.

    • On your latter point you are correct. That’s why we don’t rest our assertion on that point alone. Let everything be established in the mouth of two or three witnesses. Nonetheless, the idea that the Ruach is a male has even less biblical validity and merit. Actually, it has none. Thankfully, knowing the exact nature of the Godhead is not a salvational issue, or else no human could be saved, for no human mind has the capacity to understand the unsearchable and infinite.

  5. Hello Natan– blessings back to you. I apologize if I “accused” you. That was not my intent. I do distill from your teachings however that you believe in some form of the trinity–Father, Son and Holy Spirit ( a female). Since were just having a friendly discussion–iron sharpening iron– then I would offer this additional though. Mary conceived of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:31, 35). Did she conceive by a female? Or did God the Father send His divine power forth to impregnate Mary? (I believe the latter).

    • Labels like Trinity are pointless and meaningless. I will not be pigeon holed into ridiculous man-made labels and then judged by these false labels. This is neither fair nor biblical. What I believe about the Godhead is simply what the Bible says. The Godhead is comprised of Father, Son and Holy Spirit as per Matthew 28:19. Nothing more or less. Can I fully explain this? No. No one can. But please don’t insult me or the Godhead, even unintentionally, but putting man-made labels on that which is undefinable, uninvestigatable and unsearchable. Also, to try to define the Godhead in this manner or that (e.g. Oneness, Twinity, Trinity, etc.) is to create a god in our own image, which is a form of idolatry. Let’s leave the question open as to the nature of the Godhead and not try to cram it into man-made labeled boxes. This is Greco-Roman fallen nature Catholic thinking, not biblical Hebraic thinking. Blessings!

      • Natan, have you considered that Matthew 28:19 may not be part of the original text? For example, no where in Scripture are we to be baptized in any name but that of Yeshua. Acts 10:48. The triune formula for baptism is not found in any Scripture. Nor is the triune greeting used in the books of Paul, Peter, etc. Something to look into if you haven’t considered this.

      • I’ve heard this argument before, but I don’t buy it. Moreover, I don’t base my belief solely on Matt 28:19. This article was my briefest of explanations, not a dissertation on the subject. Much more could be said, but I’m not sure if it’s necessary to go there right now. The purpose of the article is merely to get people thinking about some of the Christian traditions that they almost mindless believe. It’s amazing to me how people want to rip pages out of the Bible when it doesn’t suit their biased beliefs. Some say the same thing about Mark 16:17-19. Some false Messianic teachers have ripped the entire book of Hebrews out of the Bible, while others are trying to add in Enoch and Jasher. When will people stop toying with Scripture? It’s bad enough that we have translation issues and scribal gloss, without ripping out verses and whole books from the Bible and adding others. It’s a slippery slope that I’m keeping my foot of of.

  6. It is the feminine within the Ruach that keeps the animal in us god fearing men under control and well balanced. All praise to Elohim,

  7. Hello Natan– I did not mean to insult you and ask your forgiveness for that. I tend to be too “informational” and sometimes my tone needs to be more seasoned with salt. We disagree on the Nature of God issue, but we still agree on many things. I appreciate much of what you have to say.

    Peace to you.

  8. Natan…ya kinda opened up a can of worms with the title of this blog ( a question) and then your question at the end!!

  9. Well now if JHVH (father/son/spirit) made man in “our” image and “made them male and female” it would make a lot of sense if the Ruach was feminine. AND would also explain the plethora of paganistic counterfeit trinities (Satan loves to steal and corrupt truth from JHVH, i.e. the current usage of the rainbow). Though Satan always makes it Father/Mother/Son, a relationship paradigm that may be only of this world. I doubt that it is that simple and I am happy to have it be a mystery until Yeshua’s return or even for eternity. Should we ever expect to completely understand the infinite almighty JHVH?

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