What Scripture Says About Salvation
A Bible Study by Fred Kenison
Monograph 15: The Holy Spirit versus Holy Spirit
The title of this monograph was chosen to emphasize a grammatical truth about the use or omission of the definite article. Whether or not the definite article is used has a tremendous impact on the meaning of any particular scripture. This has been ignored by many translators who, in their attempt to make scripture easily read in English, wind up with misleading interpretations.
Robertson said about the importance of the article in the Greek:
"The article is associated with gesture and aids in pointing out like an index finger. It is a pointer. The article is never meaningless in Greek, though it often fails to correspond with the English idiom. The translators of the King James Version, under the influence of the Vulgate, handle the Greek article loosely and inaccurately." (p. 576).
He also pointed out that,
"It is not necessary to have the article with qualities. So in 1 Cor. 12:9-11 the gifts mentioned have no article." (p. 758).
Furthermore, Robertson points out that,
"When the article occurs with subject (or the subject is a personal pronoun or proper name) and predicate, both are definite, treated as identical, one and the same, and interchangeable." (p. 768).
And, finally, he noted that,
"There are indeed few of the finer points of Greek which need more constant attention than the absence of the article." (p. 790).
Dana & Mantey also emphasize the importance of handling the article.
"When identity is prominent, we find the article; and when quality or character is stressed, the construction is anarthrous [without the article]." (p. 138) "It is certain that one engaged in exegesis cannot afford to disregard the article." (p. 140). "Abstract nouns are ordinarily general in their character and application, and therefore indefinite. But in Greek, when it is desired to apply the sense of an abstract noun in some special and distinct way the article accompanies it. Thus aletheia, truth, means anything in general which presents a character of reality and genuineness, but the truth, as used in the New Testament, means that which may be relied upon as really in accord with God's revelation in Christ." (p. 141).
Actually, we believe it to be all truth regardless, as all things are of God and revelation about God's creation is truth about God.
Dana and Mantey continue,
"Sometimes with a noun which the context proves to be definite the article is not used. This places stress upon the qualitative aspect of the noun rather than its mere identity. An object of thought may be conceived of from two points of view: as to identity or quality. To convey the first point of view the Greek uses the article; for the second the anarthrous [no article] is used." (p. 149).
Dana and Mantey (p. 150) also noted that,
"It is instructive to observe that the anarthrous noun occurs in many prepositional phrases. This is no mere accident, for there are no accidents in the growth of a language: each idiom has its own reason. Nor is it because the noun is sufficiently definite without the article, which is true, as Greek nouns have an intrinsic definiteness. But that is not the reason for not using the article. A prepositional phrase usually implies some idea of quality or kind. ...So we might present innumerable instances in proof of the fact that in a prepositional phrase it is the qualitative aspect of the noun which is prominent, rather than its identity."
The monographs in this section will discuss the term "holy spirit" without the article, and the term "the holy spirit," where the article is used. These studies will point out various distinctions which are not clarified in many Bible translations. Without doubt, this may deprive many people of their "pet theories" about the spirit's identity, the spirit's actions, and the spirit's purpose.
The word "spirit" was used about 400 times in the New Testament. We have studied all of these , but for the sake of brevity we will only comment on some of them.
We have cited all verses considered significant to the study of "holy spirit" or "the holy spirit." However, many overlapping scriptures have been omitted since nothing new would be added by including them.
# Whether or not the definite article is used has a tremendous impact on
the meaning of any particular scripture. When identity is prominent,
we find the article; and when quality or character is stressed, the
construction is anarthrous (without the article).
# A careful study of "holy spirit" without the article, and "the holy
spirit," where the article is used, will point out various distinctions
which are not clarified in many Bible translations. This may deprive
many people of their "pet theories" about the spirit's identity, the
spirit's actions, and the spirit's purpose.
© 2009, Fred Kenison and Merrill Douglass. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.