Public speaking experts strongly suggest that speakers avoid introducing their speech with a definition. However, in Romans 8:26, defining “groanings which cannot be uttered” makes clear to students that Paul could not be saying that the Holy Spirit is the one groaning. And, since He is not the one groaning, then He is not the one making intercession. A host of translations and dictionaries give us the point that the word used by Paul does not mean “unspoken” but “unutterable.” It is groanings (or sighs) that baffle words.
The King James, the American Standard, and the New King James say, “groanings which cannot be uttered.” In 1850, Wilhelm Heinrich Dorotheus Eduard wrote, man “cannot, in the fulness of the emotion, express his burden in words, and can only relieve his oppressed heart by silent groanings.” The concept is that, in troublesome events, humans do not have the ability to express their feelings. Simply stated, they are at a loss for words. David found himself in such a situation: “My spirit was overwhelmed …I am so troubled that I cannot speak” (Psa. 77:1-4). Such a phrase cannot be said about the Holy Spirit. He is never at a loss for words—never.
A number of Greek Scholars have provided an excellent understanding of the meaning of the phrase. A.T. Robertson says the meaning is “inarticulate cry” (Galatians 4:6, Word Pictures in the New Testament). Inarticulate means “incapable of speech.” Fritz Reinecker gives the meaning as “sighs that baffle words.” (see also Steinle, Strong and Thayer). This faulty characteristic cannot be describing the inability of Deity. The Holy Spirit has no trouble articulating any concept. However, “the spirit itself” in Romans 8:26 does not have the capability to express itself. Therefore, the spirit cannot be the Holy Spirit. Since it is not the Holy Spirit groaning, then He is not the one making intercession.
You may be asking, “What spirit is doing the groaning?” In the context, Paul has taught us of one man who is made up of two men: the inward man and the outward man—the flesh and the spirit. We conclude, therefore, that the spirit that is groaning is the human spirit within the man.