I found an excellent article that gives a good perspective with references. As we know that the English Bible translations have been done by the best of the best, and have even shaped the language; the defenders of King James Bible have written well to defend its usage of "it" for the spirit. The key references are Romans 8:16 and 26, because in John 14 and 16 the "he" is referred to the Comforter, advocate, for which the Greek uses the masculine pronoun, so it is fine to translate it as "he" in those chapters. [I repeat that this is strictly about English language, while the subject is Biblical. There is no rule that forbid us the Bible as the subject. These kind of questions are often closed by the insecure pharisees on Christianity and Bible Hermeneutics Stackexchange, due to their dogmatic bias.] If you search for "itself" on the link of Rom 8:16 and 26 you will find a couple of new versions also rendering "itself", including the NTE translation by reputed scholar N. T. Wright.
I am defending the old Bible versions (until ASV and some new revisions of it like WEB, NHEB) using "it" for the Spirit in Rom 8:16; and "it" when the spirit descended as a dove; "it" is for the dove. But I was confused as to why those old versions use "he" for the unclean Spirit in Matt 12:43-45 and Luke 11:24-26, it seemed inconsistent but then I noticed the mention of demon in Luke 11:19-20, which means the later pronoun "he" is for the demon, not the spirit. The demon is the direct object. The new mainstream versions (like ESV NASB NET NIV) use "it" for this demon or unclean spirit, which means the whole arguments by them to translate agents or persons as "he" was not sincere, but a made up excuse. The religious establishment has changed the English grammar to suit their agenda.
The whole issue arises because it seems unnatural to use a masculine pronoun for the Spirit; and the problem gets more dangerous when other languages (like the Indian languages) follow the English translation and go against their own language which requires a feminine gender for the spirit, because they think there is a religious dogma that defines the spirit as masculine, so we must disregard our grammar rule. I am afraid the English sources we find stating the spirit cannot be neuter, may be driven by a religious bias which may have been originated to counter the Unitarians who reject the Trinity.
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?