From "The Answer Book" ©1989 Samuel C. Gipp.
Reproduced by permission
QUESTION: Isn't the Holy Spirit incorrectly called "it" in Romans 8:26 in the King James Bible'?
ANSWER: No. There is nothing wrong with the translation of "pneuma" in Roman 8:26.
EXPLANATION: The refutation of this popular though feeble charge against the integrity of the Bible comes from three sources. First, the Greek language itself, secondly, the hypocrisy of Bible critics and thirdly, from Jesus Christ Himself. (Since the Bible is our final authority in all matters of faith and practice, His testimony should hold considerable influence.)
First, the word translated "itself" in Romans 8:26 is "autos", which refers to "pneuma", which means "spirit." (Since the "spirit" is like air (Genesis 1:7, John 3:8) we use the word "pneumatic" to describe things that are air operated.) In Greek every word has its own distinct gender, masculine, feminine or neuter. Masculine gender is denoted by the article "o," feminine by "a," and neuter by "to." The word for spirit, "pneuma" is neuter, a fact which is known to even first year Greek language students. Thus, the King James Bible correctly translates pneuma "itself" because it would be grammatically incorrect to translate it "himself" as many of today's inferior translations do. Since critics of the King James Bible like to deride it for pretended "mistranslations" of the Greek, it seems hypocritical indeed to criticize it here for properly translating the Greek. Then to add insult to ignorance they laud other versions such as the New American Standard Version, New International Version, and New King James Version which INCORRECTLY render pneuma as "himself."
Secondly, in adding to their hypocrisy and exposing their disdain for God's Bible, these same critics, who become indignant at the Holy Spirit being called "it" in Romans 8 in a King James Bible, will promote translations such its the New American Standard Version and the New International Version which call God a "What " in Acts 17:23. The Authorized Version correctly renders it "Whom."
Thirdly, and most convincingly, is a statement that Jesus Christ makes in John chapter 4 while dealing with the woman at the well.
Jesus, completely unintimidated by twentieth century scholarship, doesn't hesitate to say to the woman in verse 22, "Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews."
To whom is Jesus referring to by the word "what?" The next verse defines His statement perfectly.
"But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him."
Thus we see that Jesus finds referring to His own Father as "what" in verse 22 a non-issue. While the mighty mice of twentieth century scholarship would translate an entirely new version over it. Even though they, in their own casual conversation, find no offense in referring to the Holy Spirit in the neuter.
Which will you follow'?