The Spirit

 

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Exposition of The Spirit in Romans
     

‘Flesh’ and ‘spirit’ are used by Paul with the following general meanings:

FLESH is not primarily the natural physical being inherited from Adam but the state of mind of men unguided by God’s Word. Not even descent from David or circumcision can profit those with this mind.

SPIRIT is not a divine unspoken moral influence descending from God, but the state of mind of men guided by God’s Word which results in the resurrection - birth of a Spirit creature who is in all ways a son of God. It also does not stand for the power of God.

Significantly "Holy Spirit" (pneuma hagion) does not occur between chapter 5:5 and 9:1. Yet pneuma without the adjective occurs 23 times between these two verses and these 3 chapters (6, 7, 8) are the three "conversion"1 chapters. This fact in itself is a powerful blow to the popular idea that the Holy Spirit, independently of its operation through the "Word of the gospel", is directly involved in the process of conversion. There is clearly a divine selection of terms used in Romans on the subject of the Spirit. It seems clear that in the context of the Epistle as a whole, "spirit" carries a meaning(s) different from "Holy Spirit" which is consistently used with reference to the miraculous power of God2.


1 See Section B "Conversion".
  1. Ch. 6 demonstrates how a believer enters into Christ.
  2. Ch. 8 shows how Christ enters the believer.
  3. Ch. 7 is autobiographical and the apostle discusses with frankness the inner struggle he has had between the innate propensity to sin and the new man which longed to "perform that which is good". This struggle continued in spite of his conversion and his possession of the Holy Spirit!

    This is devastating evidence for those who refuse to acknowledge that the motions of sin continue to be active within the minds of the converted. cf. also Gal. 5:17. Whatever the interpretation of "spirit" in these chapters it is something which also requires a life long struggle against sin.

2 quoted largely from TEST. Vol. 44, P. 151.

Rom. 1:4
"declared the Son of God with power according to (the) spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead:"

It was because of his holy character ("the Spirit of Christ") that the Father raised Jesus from the dead and thereby attested again to Christ being His Son. There are similar terms to "a spirit of holiness" in the Bible:

i.e. spirit of fear (2 Tim. 1:7)       patient in spirit (Ecc. 7:8)
      spirit of meekness (1 Cor. 4:21)       faithful spirit (Prov. 11:13)
      poor in spirit (Matt. 5:3)


Rom. 1:9
"God ... whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son."

In Acts 19:21 Paul "purposed in the spirit" to go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome." The question arises as to whether it was only Paul by himself who intended to visit Rome, or whether he was simply recording here the instructions given him by Christ through the Holy Spirit. Verses 10 and 11 suggest that, whether or not he had received direct instructions from the Lord, his own desire was strongly in favor of the visit. Rom. 15:23 confirms this. Therefore "spirit" probably means "mind".


Rom. 1:11
"For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift"

Although the Roman ecclesia had several gifts (Chap. 12), they obviously lacked in some gift; otherwise Paul would not have made this statement. The Romans had probably received these gifts on trips to Jerusalem. One of the main purposes of the gifts was to make the infant ecclesia mature through such gifts as "wisdom", "knowledge" and "prophecy". This longing of Paul’s, then, was much more than the desire to enable them to "work a few miracles". His purpose is stated in the next phrase.

"to the end that ye maybe established" (see Eph. 4:13)

This statement suggests that Paul wished to impart the better gifts such as wisdom and prophecy.


Rom. 1:16
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ1: for it is the power2 of God unto salvation."

This statement is only half understood by Christianity. To them the "gospel" is the good news of Christ’s redemptive work of salvation from sin. The "power of God" is transferred by them from the gospel itself to mean the direct action of God on the heart by the Holy Spirit.

The true gospel is, of course, the GOSPEL of the KINGDOM. This was what Christ and Paul preached (v. 15). To see it as anything else is a gross distortion of the context and of Bible truth.

The reason that the gospel is powerful is stated:

"for God’s righteousness is revealed in it."


1 "of Christ" is not in the best texts.
2 Dunamis is inherent power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature.

Rom. 2:29
"But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart"

The real purpose of circumcision was to indicate a cutting off of fleshly thinking, so that the heart became filled with spiritual things.

"in the spirit"

Those who cut off fleshly thinking had carried out the spirit or inner meaning of circumcision and were regarded as circumcised (v. 26). These would judge those whose circumcision was only outward in the flesh (v. 27, 28). These obeyed the commandments, though they did not keep the ritual.

"not in the letter"

Those who obeyed the letter (ritual) by being physically circumcised but who did not keep the real meaning (commandments) of the law were not Jews (v. 27).

The contrast is not between the Holy Spirit and the Bible!


Rom. 5:5
"And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us."

Problem:

This verse is sometimes used to show that the Holy Spirit is a present possession and that it is by that means that we can have the love of God and grace in our hearts.

Solution:

  1. Once the correct tense is substituted, the problem is removed. The tense is aorist2 and should be translated "has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us." (RSV)

    Therefore this verse refers to the Holy Spirit being in the Romans and Paul and it must be admitted that this had reference only to the first century and cannot be made to apply to us3.

  2. What was the love of God? It was the providing of a means of reconciliation (in the sacrifice of His Son). It is extremely dangerous to equate the Spirit of God only with the love of God. The Spirit is also involved in wrath, death and destruction.

  3. How had it been shed abroad? "By revelation" "unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit". Eph. 3:2 - 5.

Notes:

"ashamed" = Grk. kataischuno and is the same word as in the LXX of Joel 2:26 and 274 (which introduces the pouring out). It can be clearly seen that Paul is alluding to Joel here. Whether in the sphere of creation, redemption or judgement, the Spirit is God in action. The Spirit provided the means for love (i.e. the message) and revealed God’s love but was not in itself a sanctifying influence.

"has been poured" (RSV)

"poured" is the same word as in Acts 2:18, 33 and looks back to Pentecost and Joel’s prophecy, which refer to miraculous gifts including tongues and prophecy.

"into our hearts"

- not directly by thinking into the brain. The Gospel of the love of God in Christ had been imparted by the ministry of the Spirit gifts. This love had flooded the hearts of Paul and his readers.

"by the Holy Spirit"

Both this verse and 9:1 clearly use "Holy Spirit" with reference to the supernatural gift. Probably this had reference to the "gift of prophecy" or "knowledge".

"which has been given to us"

It was not a subjective thing but one for which there was concrete evidence. It was because the gifts had been given, that revelation occurred. It would not have occurred if they had not "been given" the Holy Spirit.


cf. Section B - "Did Not Cause Righteousness".
2 Romans, EXPO, P. 624 and RV.
3 cf. notes on v. 15, 17.
4 Concordance of the Septuagint (London: Bagster, 1971). P. 129.

Rom. 5:15, 17
"The grace of God, and the gift of grace1 which is by one man, Jesus Christ hath abounded unto many."
"For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ".

Problem:

Verse 5 is linked with verse 15, 17. Once this is achieved, it is then proclaimed that the real purpose of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was not to perform miracles but to work an inner righteousness, in the heart of the believer2.

Solution:

  1. The gift of righteousness is something that is imputed, not something actual (cf. Rom. 4:6). Also the gift of righteousness was not one of the gifts of the Spirit and is never described as such.

  2. This aspect of the grace3 of God is the forgiveness of sins4 as must be evident upon a straight through reading of this chapter in another translation. Paul is talking about the sacrifice of Christ, (v. 18) and how we can have access to God to obtain forgiveness, v. 2. He most certainly is not describing the entrance of theological ‘grace’ or the imposing of ‘righteousness’ in the heart of the believer.

  3. Paul is contrasting:
    the sin of Adam (which caused death) with the sacrifices of Christ (which brought forgiveness and opened the way to life.)
    ADAM CHRIST
    v.l2 "sin came into the world through one man and death by sin."

    v.15 "Many died through one man’s trespass."







    v.16 "the judgement following one trespass brought condemnation."

    v.17 "death reigned through that one man."



    v.18 "one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men."

    v.10 "We were reconciled to God by death of His Son."

    v.15 "the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. The NEB is clearer "Its effect (Adam’s sin) is vastly exceeded by the grace of God (in providing the sacrifice) and the gift (forgiveness) that came to so many by the grace of one man, Jesus Christ."

    v.16 "the free gift following many transgressions brings justification."

    v.17 "Those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness (will) reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ."

    v.18 "one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men." (RSV)

    It is a gross distortion of facts to make this grace refer to "more private and personal influences" of the Holy Spirit. Is the Atonement of Christ to be further distorted by those who ought to know better?

  4. The Holy Spirit was the medium through which:
    a) Christ was raised making possible this forgiveness.
    b) this forgiveness was revealed by Paul to the Romans.

    The love of God or the gospel (in providing a way of forgiveness) was shed abroad so that it filled the hearts of the believers. This revelation of God’s love was revealed by the Holy Spirit which was given unto us (Paul). V. 6 was a demonstration of what the Holy Spirit had revealed to Paul. Paul in turn revealed this love of God to the Romans.


1 See Section B - "Did Not Cause Righteousness."
2 cf. TBSM, *The Gift of the Holy Spirit, Vol. 1, P. 69.
3 see Section B - "Grace, Solution 1 c".
4 a) "We are now justified by his blood" (i.e. sins forgiven at baptism).
    b) "Much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God" (i.e. by Christ acting as a mediator we obtain forgiveness after baptism - if we ask for and mean it.)

Rom. 7:6
"But now we have been released from the Law… so that we serve in newness of the spirit". (cf. Rom. 2:29).

"Spirit" here has the same meaning as in chapter 8; "the new life in Christ" which operated on the basis of faith.

"and not in oldness of the letter"

This was the Jewish concept with the mind fixed on the literal observances of the but without recognition of the "spirit" and truth represented therein.


ROMANS CHAPTER 8

Problem:

‘. . . it seems to me certain that the Spirit throughout is the Spirit of God, God’s active strengthening help in the outworking of the Christian life. Such passages as, "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His", do not in my view, say that we must have the disposition of Christ. They tell us that if Christ does not in some real sense dwell in us by the Spirit, we are not his disciples1.’

Solution:

The whole chapter is a discussion of the conflict between the flesh and the spirit. In verse 9 Paul says, "Ye are not in the flesh." But we definitely are! He also says we are "in the spirit" which we are not! Evidently, then, he is using "flesh", and "spirit" in a figurative way2.

‘If we interpret the Spirit of God as a reference to a divine power bestowed by God directing us, as the Spirit was bestowed in the first century, then the moral issues which Paul is emphasizing are lost, and salvation then depends upon the divine gift of the spirit; and since that gift is dependent upon God’s will, its absence could not be in any wise a condition of blame. To grow God-like a man must be a diligent disciple, giving attentive ear to the divine counsel, and then being a "doer of the word". But if we identify the Spirit with a power which the first century Christians allegedly had, making that power "the Spirit of Christ" and "Christ in them", we reduce the divine dealings with men to something akin to a non-moral activity, in which salvation results from an operation almost like a magical process. The plane of activity, however, is moral and religious - "He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Gal. 6:8)"
CONTRASTING TERMS USED TO DESCRIBE THE DUALITY IN A PERSON
The old way of thinking The new mode of thinking and feeling created in a believer by the gospel.
sin that dwelleth in me
the law, that evil is present with me
me, that is my flesh
a different law in my members
the law of sin in my members
the old man
flesh
a clean heart and right spirit
a new spirit
a new creature
heart of flesh
the inward man
the new man created in righteousness and true holiness
renewed unto knowledge after the image
of Him that created him.
the hidden man of the heart
spirit


1 TCM, Vol. 96, P. 167.
2 J. S. Thomas, TEST, (1954), P. 369. Although the word "spirit" is usually printed with a capital, is it not evident that the very antithetical form of Paul’s statement requires that if we print "Spirit" we should also print "Flesh"? The words "flesh" and "spirit" are contrasted, being used as synonyms for the two classes of terms at the close of Chapter 7, and clearly meaning all that is summed up in the phrases "the old man" and the "new man". (TCM, Vol. 63, P. 253).
TCM, John Carter, Vol. 92, P. 366.

Rom. 8:1
"Who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit"

The RV with all modern editors of the Greek text omit this phrase. It would, therefore, seem to be a gloss from verse 4.


Rom. 8:2
"For the law of the Spirit of life"

"For the new spiritual principle of life" (Phi)
This phrase should be compared with:and contrasted with:

"the law of God" (7:22,25)
"the law of sin" (7:23, 25; 8:2)

"the law of my mind" (7:23)
"another law in my members" (7:23)

The Holy Spirit through Paul defines its own terms in Romans. At Romans 8:2 Paul writes:

"For the law of the spirit (of life in Christ Jesus) hath made me free".

The words bracketed are intended to define the word "spirit", so that each time it is used in the same grammatical construction it will stand for "life in Christ Jesus". It does not refer to a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Law here has the meaning of "operation, procedure, a principle1 or conduct". The "principle" of the Spirit or the gospel was revealed through the apostles and prophets by His Spirit.

"When the knowledge of that purpose and will of God finds an entrance into a person’s mind, the new mode of thinking, by metonymy might be called the spirit".2 "While obeyed, it confers a right to eternal life."3 "The law of the Spirit is the regulative influence of the word"4 (cf. John 6:63). The words have nothing to do with "the present possession of the Spirit."5


1 It is translated as "principle" in NASB, NEB and KNOX in 7:20, 21. It is not comparing the ‘Law’ of Moses with the teaching of Christ, but natural thinking with spiritual. 2 CLTR, P. 82
3 Elpis Israel, P. 89
4 LOGOS, Vol. 32, P. 143.
5 cf. Section B - "Did Not Cause Righteousness."

Rom. 8:4
"That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (RV)

The words flesh and spirit are contrasting terms and are used antithetically6. The ‘flesh’ is the name for the ‘old man’, the ‘spirit’ for the ‘new man’. The existence of the gospel is due to God directing the prophets to speak and write as they were moved by the Spirit. "Therefore that which is begotten by the Spirit-word can very fittingly be called ‘spirit’"7.

‘The context always helps fix the meanings of the words used ... As "flesh" does not describe the material body, but denotes the thoughts and ways in which flesh expresses itself, so "spirit" indicates the mental and moral development which has its ultimate source in God, who is Spirit, and who has revealed His purpose by His power, which is also called Spirit.’8

The words do not mean that there is a present indwelling of the Spirits: They mean a new way of thinking.


6 refer to the preceding table of contrasting terms
7 CLTR, P. 85
8 IBID, P. 86.

Rom. 8:5
"For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the spirit9." (RV)

"and people who are controlled by the spiritual think of what is spiritual" (GSPD). "spiritual things" (CON, MON)

Those governed by fleshly thinking follow slavishly its dictates but those governed by the Word - the "Spirit" being put for its product ("they that are after the Spirit") seek to imbibe and reflect the principles it reveals ("the things of the Spirit")10.

The "things of the Spirit" relate to the words of Jesus (John 6:63). It could also refer to the virtues mentioned in Gal. 5:22-23. A person following the word, will build these characteristics into his life.


9 see notes on v. 4
10 SPER, P. 30.

Rom. 8:6
"For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the spirit is life and peace." (RV)
"For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." AV)

The carnal mind is the natural thinking of the flesh which is not illuminated by the revelation of God. The "mind of the spirit" obviously refers not to the indwelling of the spirit but to the mind or way of thought created by the action of the gospel on a receptive mind.

"The Bible is designed not so much to convey information as to change us by the power of its influence."11


11 LOGOS, Vol. 32, P. 181
Rom. 8:9
"But ye are not in the flesh but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his." (RV)

The obvious similarity in meaning of the three expressions "Spirit of God" "Spirit of Christ" and "Christ in you" show that there is no need to retain the capital. The word is used in a similar sense to the verses preceding where the RV removes the capital. It is obvious that Christ cannot literally be. in us just as it is obvious that we do not presently possess the Spirit in any form.

The absence of the article suggests that "of God" and "of Christ" are genitives of character and if translated as adjectives, as Bullinger suggests, would introduce no ambiguity: "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that a divine (Godlike) spirit dwelleth in you. But if any man have not a Christ-like spirit he is none of his".13

"There is no point of identity of a man with Christ if the man does not share Christ’s thinking."14 "Let this mind (attitude) be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). Paul contrasted the "spirit of man" (the natural thinking of the flesh) with the "Spirit of God" (or the mind induced by embracing the truth) and he wrote

"You have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God" (1 Cor. 2:11-12).

Problem:

This verse is cited to prove the need for the present possession of the Spirit before we can belong to Christ. This is received when you have an ‘experience and accept Jesus as your personal saviour’.

Solution:

  1. The above claim fails to harmonize the events that happened at Samaria (Acts 8:12-18). Here we have the record of some who believed and were baptized. They did not have the Holy Spirit until Peter and John came down and bestowed it upon them by the laying on of their hands. It cannot be said that these baptized believers did not belong to Christ until they received the Holy Spirit. Of course they were his, and the Holy Spirit was then given to make them powerful workers for Christ.

  2. Simon, a baptized believer, and an associate of Philip was rebuked severely because his desire to possess the Holy Spirit was so strong that he offered the disciples money to receive it.

  3. Paul certainly had an experience with Jesus on the road to Damascus. But it still required that his sins be washed away in baptism . Therefore, to have an experience or to have the Holy Spirit act upon a person is still not enough.

  4. The verse, therefore, cannot refer to the Holy Spirit. It refers rather to the mental and moral attitude of a person developed by an assimilation of the word* of God.

  5. If the word of God dwells in us, so that we know it and obey it, it is equivalent to Christ in our hearts which is another way of saying we have the mind of Christ, and therefore the mind of the Spirit, or the mind of God.

13 CLTR, P. 87
14 SPER, P. 30, "The disposition of the great Examplar" TCM, Vol. 60, P. 8.
Acts 22:10, 16
* This is evident from the contrast below:
Flesh Spirit
7:23 "a different law in my members"
    "law of sin which is in my members"
7:25 "with my flesh the law of sin."
8:5 "set their minds on the things of the flesh."
8:6 "the mind set on the flesh is death"
8:7 "hostile toward God"
8:8 "cannot please God."
7:22 "law of God in the inner man."
7:23 "law of my mind." 7:25 "I myself with my mind am serving the law of God." 8:5 "the things of the Spirit." 8:6 "the mind set on the Spirit (AV "to be spiritually minded") is life and peace."

The two phrases as seen by the contrast above, are not a description of the absence or presence of God’s Holy Spirit but of walking in God’s laws and allowing it to mould our lives.

Man’s natural state is the thinking and acting of the flesh, but when the word enters our minds and we allow it to do something then we become spiritually minded (cf. Romans 8:2)


Rom. 8:10
"And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness."

Note the shift in words. Paul makes the contrast not between "flesh" and "spirit" but "body" and spirit. This takes us back to Chap. 7:23 where Paul describes himself as two parts: "my members" in which dwell sin; and "my mind" in which dwells the law of God. In his body he is still in the grip of sin and death: but his spirit (of life in Christ) assures him of life through righteousness.

The body is dead because "I am crucified with Christ15".
The "Spirit is life" in the sense that "Christ liveth in me".15

The "of righteousness" may refer to that righteousness of Christ or it may refer to that imputed righteousness in the sense of the NEB "because you have been justified". (cf. Rom. 5:17, 18). The Spirit again refers to a state of mind. This "new man" is destined to life eternal.


15 Gal. 2:20 cf. Romans 6:11.
Rom. 8:11
"But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."

"Spirit of him" = intention or attitude of God’s mind. In us, the Word produces it. The idea is the same as that of verse 6. In these verses the Apostle is not speaking of the effluence of the spirit but of an attitude conceived by the word (which was given by God through the Spirit).

"by his Spirit that dwelleth in you"

Some ancient manuscripts read "because of"16 instead of "by". The idea would be that we would be quickened "because of the mind induced in us by the Spirit word; i.e. What was worthy of perpetuation on His own Son will likewise be perpetuated in us if it exists in us."17


16 Gr. "dia" +accusative. See AV margin and American Bible Union Version. If a person had the Holy Spirit, this did not guarantee salvation.
17 SPER, P. 31 cf. Rom. 6:8.

This stage of argument had already been anticipated by Paul’s reference to the example of Christ at 1:4. The believer may also have his mortal body quickened, if he has made the effort to develop in himself the same "spirit of holiness".


Rom. 8:13
"For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye, through the Spirit18 do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."

We cannot of ourselves mortify the deeds of the body but the scriptures "are able to make thee wise unto salvation" (2 Tim. 3:15). If we absorb and obey the Scriptures we can overcome. In plain language, old habits are overcome by the power of the new ideas. The result will be life.

The Holy Spirit was never given for the personal benefit of the possessor so "Spirit" here cannot refer to the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost.


18 The figure metonymy is employed. The cause is put for the result. "Spirit" is put for a spiritual mind.
Rom. 8:14
"for all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God."

This should not be confused with the possession of the Holy Sprit by the believer. It is the Spirit-word to which Paul is referring, and which is capable of transforming lives and revealing in sons of Adam the Divine likeness (John 17:17). "To be led by the spirit is the same as allowing the ‘new man’, which is ‘after God renewed in knowledge’, to direct life".19


19 CLTR, P.89.
Rom. 8:15
"For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, Abba Father!"

Anyone who is led by the transforming power of the word can turn to God and cry "Abba, Father". He is dominated, disciplined and guided by the Truth, and has become a child of God.

"Abba" is the Aramaic word for Father and "Pater" is the Greek word for Father thus expressing by its use that the family of God incorporates Gentiles as well as Jews. Abba is the first word a Jewish child learns to say and thus the word expresses intimate, personal love and trust that a child has in his parent. Pater is a more formal expression. It expresses the status and dignity that is due to the Head of the family. The two together express the love and intelligent confidence of the child20 (V). The spirit of adoption is only a tentative position that looks forward to the complete adoption:

"waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body" (v. 23).

This tentative position is further described by Paul:

"God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love21 and of sound mind." (2 Tim. 1:7).

Spirit in both cases in this verse means attitude or state of mind. The first refers to the attitude of those under the law.


20 cf. LOGOS Vol. 23, P. 44.
21 cf. John 15:15 "I have called you friends".

Rom. 8:16
"The spirit itself"

The new man in Christ Jesus shares tenancy of the believer’s mind with "the flesh" described by Paul in 1 Cor. 2:11 as "the spirit of man, which is in him" and as "the spirit of the world" (v.12). "Spirit" in this phrase refers to "the life in Christ" as explained earlier. (cf. "spirit of adoption" (v.15). This is the result of the word understood and obeyed.

"beareth witness"

The inner conflict produced by the two natures within the child of God, discussed at length by Paul in chapter 7 is in itself a "witness" that those who experience it are the children of God. Without the intrusion of "the Spirit of Christ" there would be no conflict. This idea is closely akin to that contained in 1 John 5:10:

"He that believeth on the Son hath the witness in himself"

"with our spirit"

This refers to "the spirit of man" which is "the spirit of the world" (1 Cor. 2:11,12). It is the "spirit of slavery leading to fear" (v. 15). This verse continues the thought of verse 15 where spirit is used in two different ways.


Rom. 8:23
"But also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the spirit"

This is genitive of partition (TCM, 1926, P. 253) as when we say "half an apple". The harvest will come when Christ comes. "Spirit" of course still has the same meaning that it does throughout chapters 6 - 8. Paul is here, in v. 23, simply repeating the groan of 7:24.

Although "the Spirit", "the mind of the Spirit", "the Spirit of Christ" (by whatever term it is called) in Paul, and all other believers, is imperfectly developed, and still has to compete with "the flesh" for mastery, it is nevertheless comparable to firstfruits because it represents a beginning of that perfection of character that will eventually come with "the redemption of the body." Any attempt to interpret "firstfruits" here as the miraculous Pentecostal gifts would involve a serious dislocation of thought within the context and would also disregard the otherwise consistent meaning of "Spirit" within Romans.


Rom. 8:26
"The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered".

Solution:

  1. The very nature of the statement precludes the Holy Spirit being intended. Imagine the Spirit being in the predicament indicated by the words "groanings which cannot be uttered!" (cf. "all power is given unto me."22)

  2. We know that in past ages God by his Spirit found very clear expression through the words and deeds of the prophets, and He has the same ability today.

  3. The mistake is in supposing that it is God’s Spirit that supplicates. It is the spirit (mind) of the saint, which often fails to express itself properly. This can easily be seen by referring to verses 22 and 23. ("even we ourselves groan within ourselves").

  4. "How fortunate for us, in our ignorance and weakness, that our heavenly Father accepts the intention of our hearts instead of our words."23

  5. In any case the Spirit of God is a power and therefore cannot groan since groaning can only be attributed to a person.

Notes:

"Likewise" - "and in like manner" (ASV)
"In the same way" (NASB)

This word links what Paul is going to say with what he has already said. Just as the hope of the redemption of the body enables us to endure the sufferings of the present time, so this new way of thinking enables us to pray without fear. "When we cannot see the solution to our problems, or our deep need, (born of a sense of unworthiness) makes words difficult to express, the mind that seeks refuge in the Father causes us to throw our burden upon Him in inarticulate groanings."24

"the spirit"

The previous notes and the context shows us that "spirit" here is synonymous with the new mode of thinking.

"our infirmities"

The power of the truth enables one to derive strength to overcome the natural inability to approach God aright. It is us that

  1. has the infirmities
  2. know not what we should pray for
  3. as we ought
  4. groan (v. 23)
not the Holy Spirit or Christ!
"spirit itself"

Grk. neuter gender. The power of the truth believed. The new way of thinking.

"maketh intercession"

The word of God will help our weaknesses, will reveal what we should pray for and will produce in us groanings unutterable for even with the help of the spirit word, we find it impossible to give proper expression to our feelings.

Christ recognizes our new way of thinking and even though our prayer is inarticulate groans, He accepts this prayer because of this new thinking. John Carter paraphrases as follows:

"So also the new man helps us to bear our infirmity of the flesh; for we know not how to pray as we ought but the new man maketh intercession, approaching God in prayer with unutterable, inarticulate groanings."25

"groanings" - sighings. It is the saint who groans in anguished prayer cf. v. 23.

22 Matt. 28:18
23 TEST, C. m. Gwillian, "Groanings Which cannot be uttered", 1955, P. 96. "The verses are dealing with what goes on in the believer’s mind (spirit). He prays to God not knowing what to ask for. Should he ask for the sufferings to be removed or should he ask for strength to endure? God knows what is going on in man’s troubled mind." Leask, Romans p. 6.
24 SPER, P. 33 cf. John 10:27; Matt. 26:39.
25 TCM, Vol. 63, P. 254.

Rom. 8:27
"And he that searches the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the spirit because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."

"he" - Christ. His ability is the same as the Father’s (cf. Matt. 6:8).

"mind of the spirit"

‘Christ knows the disposition induced by the Truth and is not deceived by mere pretence. The Apostle is reminding us that God is not moved by eloquent prayers, but by sincere and heartfelt prayer induced by the Truth26.’ The spirit refers to the saint whose mind has been changed by the gospel to a new (spiritual) way of This phrase is the same in the Greek as "spiritually minded" at v. 6. (see RV).

This suggests that Paul’s reasoning is still moving within the same category of ideas. The Lord Jesus is the one who searches the hearts of the believer, as he told the Thyatiran ecclesia:

"I am He who searches the minds (inner man) and hearts"(Rev. 2:23).

He knows omnisciently the state of our minds, and is aware when we lapse into fleshly ways and foolishly drain ourselves of the "life of the Spirit". It is then that he intercedes for saints who pray and holds up failing hands, as he did for Peter even before the apostle’s denial of him (Luke 22:31-32).

"according to the will of God"

Our prayers contain both acceptable and unacceptable requests and Christ acts as a monitor of these. Rev. 8:3 demonstrates that Christ (Rainbowed Angel) receives the prayer incense of the saints, and as he offers it up to God he adds "much incense" "to the prayers of all the saints"27 so that those prayers are "according to the will of God"28. In this way we can obey the injunction of Heb. 4:16.


26 LOGOS, Vol. 32, P. 255
27 RV & NASB
28 adapted from TEST, Vol. 44.

Rom. 9:1
"I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit".

The NEB and TCNT have "enlightened by the Holy Spirit". This is an obvious reference to the Spirit gifts.


Rom. 11:8
"God gave them a spirit of stupor"

How often we find that the punishment God inflicts corresponds in its form to that mode of life which man has already chosen. Because the early Christians did not receive the love of the truth, God sent them a strong delusion that they should believe a lie (2 Thess. 2:10, 11). The words above are taken from Deut. 29:4 and Isa. 29:9,10. The second passage describes an intoxication caused by false doctrine. God had poured out upon them a spirit of deep sleep because the word of God was not opened and read. Those who close their minds to the truth of their closed Bibles and seek for "the Spirit" will likewise be confirmed in this drugged attitude of mind.

There is no need (or reason) to see this punishment as something that comes directly. Israel’s mind became focussed on the details of the ritual observance of the sacrifices on "their table" (v. 9 cf. Mal. 1:7, 8) and so lost sight ("were blinded", v. 7) of the true meaning of the law.

Isa. 29:10 belongs to a context in which Israel is threatened by an Assyrian invasion, and the Prophet sees captivity as a judicial blindness sent by God upon those who had closed their own eyes to His light.

By quoting David, Paul affirms the justice of

  1. giving darkness (captivity) to those who refuse light.
  2. making slaves of those who demanded justification by works (i.e. "bow down their back" v. 10).

Rom. 14:17
"The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit."

Paul looks forward to the time after (v. 10) the judgement seat. Their concern for meats would not matter then. What Paul is saying is that the "weak" brother will not want to discuss food diet in the kingdom. The virtues that will endure into the kingdom are the true elemental food. These elements will be enjoyed with all the miraculous powers of the Holy Spirit in a Spirit body.

Although we are not yet in the kingdom we must serve Christ in righteousness, peace and joy now if we are to be "acceptable to God" (v. 18). The words "in the Holy Spirit" do not suggest we must have this before we can have joy. We all can rejoice in what God has done and will do for us by His power.


Rom. 15:13
"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit."

Problem:

This verse is sometimes taken to mean that the Spirit dwells in us in some unnoticeable way and gives us hope, joy and peace.

Solution:

  1. A keyword to the correct understanding of this verse is the word "power". This power of the Spirit of God was the ability to work "mighty signs and wonders" (v. 19). Let those who cannot do such, cease to wrest this Scripture.

  2. The believers1 who saw such miracles as were wrought by the Apostles "abounded in hope" because their hope rested on a strong foundation: the manifested power of God. This hope combined with right actions would give them joy and peace.

  3. Since God was the source of this power then it is said that He filled them with joy and peace.

  4. The possession of the Holy Spirit did not in itself cause joy and peace. This is evident from the previous footnote.

1 Those at Rome possessed the gifts as is evident from Chapter 12:6-8:

"Having then gifts ... whether prophecy ... or ministry ... or teaching ... or exhortation." (cf. Section B - "Grace" footnote 4.).

This, however, did not cause joy and peace. This is evident upon reading ch. 12: 9-13:14. Most of Paul’s comments are showing how to live in peace:

"do not be haughty" (12:16).
"never pay back evil for evil" (12:17).
"be at peace with all men" (12:18).
"never take your own revenge" (12:19).


Rom. 15:15
"I have written very boldly to you . . . because of the grace that was given me from God".

His object in writing so boldly in some parts of the letter, was to call to their remembrance the truth believed, and that because God had called him, he was the apostle to the Gentiles, not of his own choice, but of the grace1 of God.


Rom. 15:16
"ministering as a priest the gospel of God"

Paul’s ministry was to preach the gospel (wherever directed by the Spirit) to counsel and to exhort the believers.

"that my offering of the Gentiles might become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit".

Sanctified, that is, by the Holy Spirit in (or through) the message delivered unto them. It was not a direct action but indirect through the gospel.


Rom. 15:18,19
"For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me . . . in the power of signs and wonders,"

Christ gave Paul the Holy Spirit gifts. This enabled him to accomplish Christ’s purpose by word and work or to put it another way by preaching the gospel and working miracles.

"in the power of the Spirit"

This preaching with signs following (or preceding) was done "in the power of the Spirit". Paul having all the gifts of the Spirit was thus fully equipped for the work of this ministry.


Rom. 15:30
"by the love of the Spirit"

Spirit here has the meaning of the new life in Christ as in chapter 8. This new way of thinking provided the love that would cause them to fulfill Paul’s request.


1 See Section B - "Grace".