1 & 2 Thess.
1 & 2 Timothy
1 & 2 Peter
Gifts of the Spirit
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".
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)
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".
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.
This statement suggests that Paul wished to impart the better gifts such as wisdom and prophecy.
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.
The real purpose of circumcision was to indicate a cutting off of fleshly thinking, so that the heart became filled with spiritual things.
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.
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!
"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.
"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.
- 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.
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".
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.
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.)
"spirit" here has the same meaning as in chapter 8; "the new life in Christ" which operated on the basis of faith.
This was the Jewish concept with the mind fixed on the literal observances of the Law, but without recognition of the "spirit" and truth represented therein.
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)"†
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.
The RV with all modern editors of the Greek text omit this phrase. It would, therefore, seem to be a gloss from verse 4.
"For the new spiritual principle of life" (Phi)
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."
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 Spirit: They mean a new way of thinking.
6 refer to the preceding table of contrasting terms
7 CLTR, P. 85
8 IBID, P. 86.
"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.
Refer to the preceding table of contrasting terms.
9 see notes on v. 4
10 SPER, P. 30.
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
The obvious similarity in meaning of the three expressions "Spirit of God" "Spirit of Christ" and "Christ in you" (v. 10) 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).
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:
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)
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 "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.
"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).
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 in 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".
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.
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.
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".
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.
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"
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.
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.
"Likewise" - "and in like manner" (ASV)
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 previous notes and the context shows us that "spirit" here is synonymous with the new mode of thinking.
The power of the truth enables one to derive strength to overcome the natural inability to approach God aright. It is us that
Grk. neuter gender. The power of the truth believed. The new way of thinking.
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
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.
‘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).
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.
The NEB and TCNT have "enlightened by the Holy Spirit". This is an obvious reference to the Spirit gifts.
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
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.
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).
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.
Paul’s ministry was to preach the gospel (wherever directed by the Spirit) to counsel and to exhort the believers.
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.
Christ gave Paul the Holy Spirit gifts via Ananias. 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.
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.
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".