Capitalization in the Bible

This originally appeared as an email delivered on
Saturday, May 26th, 2012.

More than a few people have had questions about the capitalizations of Spirit in the King James Bible.

Capitalization conventions are different in other languages. They are absent in some languages including languages the Bible comes from. Their primary function in English is to ease the use of reading and not to change the meaning of words.

Capitalization of nouns and pronouns used for God are called reverential capitals. The word “spirit” is a noun. It can refer to any spirit including God’s, or it can refer to God himself as the “Holy Spirit”.

You can determine if the noun refers to God by cross references and context (e.g Joel 2:28 prophesies about God the Spirit according to Acts 2:17 even though it is lowercased).

Should we trust the capital letters in the Bible? Yes (e.g Romans 8:16 uses both “spirit” and “Spirit” in one verse)

Must we capitalize every word that is ever associated with God? No (e.g. most often the “H” in Holy Spirit is lowercased in the Bible because it is an adjective).

Capitalizations are helpful, but are not the nails that form your belief system. A capital letter should not be the only evidence for an interpretation of a word.

For His glory,

Justin Curtis Johnson

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