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Another question really got me to thinking about the Holy Spirit. I thought it better to open a new question rather to divert the focus of that thread. So growing up, I also thought of the 1st Person of the Trinity as Father and the 2nd Person of the Trinity as Son but never really came away with the overwhelming feeling of Holy Spirit as He. "It" would certainly be quite wrong, after all the Holy Spirit is the 3rd Person of the Trinity. What support is there for referring to the Holy Spirit as He?

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This may help: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_of_the_Holy_Spirit –  Waggers Feb 10 '12 at 12:31
I don't think it's sensible to refer to spirits as male or female. We have no idea that such a distinction even exists. While God has chosen males as his special representatives (priests, etc.), he, himself, has no "gender." Genitalia, hormones, special organs—how could one demonstrate that God were male or female? Attempting to discern gender sounds like a logical impossibility. –  mojo Dec 28 '13 at 5:17

2 Answers 2

Jesus calls the Holy Spirit "him":

  • John 14:16

    I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever

  • John 16:7

    But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.

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I'd want to know that in the original languages the pronoun was masculine, and that there was a gender neutral alternative that the writers discarded in favour of "he". Otherwise this could be simply an arbitrary choice by the writers, not intended to imply actual gender information. –  DJClayworth Feb 10 '12 at 20:37
In John 14:16, there is no pronoun - it's just paraklatos, which is masculine. –  Affable Geek Feb 14 '12 at 2:21
@DJClayworth it is actually arbitrary, to a point. The gender used is masculine because "paraclete"/"helper" is masculine. The word choice itself was not arbitrary because he meant to say what he said, but the gender of the word is. So this line of reasoning is not accurate. –  Mallioch Feb 14 '12 at 3:32
Yes. The gender of the word is not indicative of anything. Otherwise the Hebrew ruach would be a feminine spirit and then we're all theologically messed up. –  swasheck Feb 14 '12 at 18:52
So to summarize the comments, this answer is completely wrong! Jesus did not call the Holy Spirit "Him". The biblical translators had to pick a pronoun to make the sentence grammatical, and choose "him" as probably the best alternative. –  DJClayworth May 8 '12 at 16:48

There is never any indication in the New Testament that the Holy Spirit is a "he". In Greek, gender for normal nouns like "spirit", "rock" or "bread" is a grammatical thing, not a sex thing. This is common in the romance languages as well, if you are familiar with those. The fact that it is neuter does not tell you that it is an "it" as we think in English. The word "day" is feminine, but there is nothing feminine about the daytime. "Death" is masculine, but both males and females die. "teknon", one of the Greek words for child, is neuter, etc... So the fact that the word "spirit" is neuter (and it is, despite what was said in one of the other answers) actually doesn't tell you anything.

People often appeal to things like John 14:16 and 16:7 to prove that the Holy Spirit is male, but this is inaccurate. The word "helper" is masculine grammatically (like the words above). This is why pronouns that refer to "helper" like the "auton" in 16:7 are masculine. To do otherwise would be to commit a grammatical foul.

If you wish to say that the Holy Spirit is a "he", realize that this is an English thing you are doing, not a Greek. Orthodoxy states that the Holy Spirit is a person, so speaking of him/her/it personally entirely makes sense and is appropriate, but personhood in the Godhead need not imply gender. So, theologically, feel free to call him a person. But by arguing about gender you are taking this question beyond what the writers of the New Testament apparently felt like discussing.

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Thank you! It's been way too long since Greek. –  Affable Geek Feb 14 '12 at 11:36
Glad I could help :) –  Mallioch Feb 14 '12 at 13:41
@Mallioch While I appreciate your (on the whole) well reasoned response, I fail to see how you are not contradicting yourself between paragraphs 2 & 3 - specifically: 'This is why pronouns that refer to "helper" like the "auton" in 16:7 are masculine' & 'this is an English thing you are doing, not a Greek' - is it possible to clarify this at all? –  bruised reed Mar 31 '14 at 5:30

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