Chapter 9: The Holy Spirit in Romans

Printer-friendly version

by James B. Currie, Japan

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTERS 9-11

CHAPTERS 12-16

CONCLUSION


INTRODUCTION

The first of the apostolic letters in the New Testament is, arguably, the most important. Dealing with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: its necessity, its character, its outcome and its demands, the Roman Epistle is unparalleled in the Canon of Scripture. All the other New Testament letters seem to have local reasons for being written and sent to assemblies or individuals, while the two dealing with the doctrine of the gospel, namely Romans and Galatians, are addressed to a less circumscribed readership. It will be recognised that the Romans letter was originally meant for a number of assemblies in the city of Rome and its purpose was to set forth the Gospel, as preached by Paul to the saints who had never met him. Since the fundamental truth of the Gospel is its subject, it is not to be wondered at that the Holy Spirit is mentioned so often in this letter; 27 times in all. Of the thirteen letters bearing Paul’s name only the little personal note to Philemon has no reference to the Holy Spirit. Seven of his letters have one or two mentions of the Spirit but those especially referring to His Person and work are Romans, the two Corinthian epistles and the letter to the Ephesians. In these the Apostle presents the Holy Spirit as sustaining three particular relationships. To the individual believer in the Romans He is seen, ultimately, as the "Spirit of Life"; in the Corinthian letters with regards to the local assembly He is portrayed as the "Spirit of power" (N.B. chapters 12 – 14); in Ephesians in relation to the "church which is His body" He is spoken of as the "Spirit of Promise".

Perhaps it should be mentioned in passing that there are numerous mentions of the Holy Spirit in the letter to the Galatian churches – see chapter 11 of this book. Here, too, the Spirit is spoken of in a most suitable way. He is called "the Spirit of His Son" by whom the believer, enjoying a full emancipation is enabled to cry "Abba, Father" Gal.4.6.

Two things stand out with regards to the Holy Spirit in Romans. The first is that of His character as expressed in the different titles assigned to Him. The second is the scope of His activity in and for the believer.

The epistle has three well-known sections, namely, chapters 1-8: Righteousness Demanded; chapters 9-11: Righteousness Declared; chapters 12-16: Righteousness Displayed. Following these divisions the Holy Spirit is portrayed in three different aspects. In keeping with the demand made upon mankind in general for a righteousness commensurate with the absolute holiness of God’s Own character He is designated as the "Spirit of Holiness" 1.4. The title "Spirit of Adoption" given Him in 8.15 is most apt when linked with the declaration of righteousness that procures for Israel an unmerited relationship with God based on covenant promises. The third significant name He bears in the epistle is that of the "Spirit of Life". This is also expressive when the practical display of righteousness is recognised as being the subject of chapters 12-16. It is noteworthy that the Roman letter, occupied with such a subject has as its focal point chapter 8, where the Holy Spirit is mentioned more often than in any other chapter of the Bible. The 19 times He is spoken of in this pivotal portion of the letter, calls for the attention of all careful readers of the Word.

CHAPTER 1

It is not easy to determine in many instances, whether the capital ‘S’ or the lower case should be used when the word "spirit" appears in Holy Writ. The first occasion when the word is found in Romans, 1.4, is a case in point. However, as it is generally accepted that the phrase "Spirit of Holiness" refers to character, it is best to explain the term with reference to the Holy Spirit rather than to apply it to some indistinct area where holiness is emphatic. See J. N. Darby’s notes on Rom. 1.3-4 in "The Synopsis of the Bible". These verses form a grand Christological statement as a basic fact of the Gospel. They span the earthly sojourn of the Lord from His incarnation until His glorious resurrection from among the dead. His partaking of sinless humanity, His tasting of death and subsequently being raised from the dead by the power of God, were completely compatible with the Divine character as revealed by "the Spirit of holiness".

CHAPTER 5

The same emphasis is maintained in the second place where the word "spirit" is used and, contextually, understandably so. In 5.4 Paul, having shown the true nature of man’s sinful condition with its dire consequences, and having traced the effectiveness of the Gospel to the point where he states, "being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ", further declares that "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost (Spirit) which is given to us". In an epistle dedicated to the exposition of righteousness as it involves the provision of salvation for guilty humanity, stress is placed on the holiness of the Spirit. Nothing could be more alien from the holy character of God than a means of reconciliation being promulgated upon an unholy or unrighteous basis. The holiness of God’s Spirit is accentuated by the relationship He sustains to the Lord’s resurrection and by the activities He undertakes on behalf of those who "being justified by faith have peace with God".

CHAPTER 8

It is in chapter 8 where much is stated concerning the work of the Spirit in His relationship to the believer and many meaningful titles are given to Him. Among the 19 occurrences of the word "Spirit" found in this definitive chapter, twice we read of "the Spirit of God" vv.9,14; twice He is called "the Spirit of life" vv.2,10, and on one occasion each the "Spirit of Christ" v.9, and the "Spirit of adoption" v.15. All the remaining usages of the word have to do with the attributes, work, and the relationship the Spirit maintains with the believer.

Chapter 8.1-4

The setting of Romans chapter 8 is most significant. Paul’s argument regarding "the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ" Rom.3.22, reaches its climax in this chapter. The death of the sinner is demanded and is inescapable. The "Gospel of God" proposes that a Substitute for the condemned sinner has been found in the Person of God’s Son. The pivotal point for Christian living is found in chapter 6, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him (Christ), that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin" vv.6,7. As the believer makes progress in spiritual things he comes to the realisation that Paul is correct when he speaks of "another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind" 7.23. Freed from the penalty of sin forever, the believer is devastated to learn that he is "carnal", i.e. subject to all the weaknesses of the flesh still and is, personally, unable to meet the foe with hopes of victory. Considering these things, as he must, he is on the brink of despair. The constant introversion seen in chapter 7 leads to the cry "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death" v.24. Thank God Paul knows that there is deliverance available. He returns to his earlier conclusion that the believer in Christ died with Christ and, consequently, is no longer liable for sin’s penalty. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" 8.1. Linked with Christ in permanent union the believer is free not only from sin’s punishment but also from sin’s promptings. This is brought about by a new ‘law’ working within called "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" 8.2. This law is one of emancipation and power whereas the Mosaic Law could neither deliver from the penalty of sin nor give power to overcome it since it was weak by the vehicle it must use, namely, the flesh. "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" knows no such limitation. The believer is assured of deliverance by the Spirit Who has been given to us and thus is empowered to walk, no longer by the dictates of the flesh but in the energising power of the Holy Spirit.

Being spoken of as "the Spirit of God" and the "Spirit of Christ" in complete equality, defines the intimate relationship enjoyed by Divine Persons. As the "Spirit of Life" He is the regenerating power whereby the believer is born from above, Jn.3.5-8, and as the "Spirit of Adoption", among other bestowments, the Holy Spirit enables the child of God to say "Abba, Father" in his approach to God, 8.15. Infidelity, whether of the ecclesiastic or cultic variety, is a fathomless quagmire into which people sink in their desire to deny the deity and personality of the Holy Spirit. But the vast body of teaching in over 230 references throughout the whole of Holy Scripture will not allow them to wrest the Word of God so as to deny what is very clear.

There are many capable teachers who would omit the words "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" as found in v.1. The reason they give is that "the no condemnation" of the verse is completely unconditional depending upon nothing the believer does but by virtue of him being "in Christ". The words do find their proper place in v.4 but may readily be retained here also if the translation proposed by J. N. Darby is accepted, "there is no condemnation for those who, in Christ Jesus, walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit", even though he does omit the words in his New Translation. The sense remains the same in both verses. Those who are in Christ Jesus ought no longer to walk after the dictates of the flesh but after the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit of God.

Sinai’s Law was condemnatory and the law of sin brought about captivity and wretchedness. Now an entirely different law is introduced called "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus". This law is that of the indwelling, life-giving Spirit by Whose power the believer is delivered from sin’s thraldom and final consequences. In keeping with what was made clear in the previous chapter this is shown to have been brought about, not by Law keeping in one’s own power but by the gracious outworking of God’s grand purpose that "the righteous demands of the law might be fulfilled in us". He sent His Son Who came "in the likeness of sinful flesh" and by His sacrificial death on the tree put sin and death away for those who are linked with Him by faith. What characterises those who are linked with him, judicially beyond sin and death, is that they "walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit". Nor does this describe merely an outward contrast between those linked with Christ and those who are not. The unbeliever is marked by a mind at enmity with God and set on the things of this life and fleshly pursuits. The believer now characterised in his behaviour by things pleasing to God and his mindset is such that it is the ‘spiritual’ realm wherein he dwells. Once again a reference to J. N. Darby’s rendering will show that the words "carnally" and "spiritually" are nouns that would be better translated ‘mind of the flesh’ and ‘mind of the Spirit’ intimating respectively that the mind is given over to carnal and eternal interests. To be spiritually minded is to have all thinking controlled by the Spirit. No pleasure can be given to God unless this is the ongoing experience of the believer.

Chapter 8.9-17

In the short space of these nine verses the Holy Spirit is mentioned ten times. In v.9 He is referred to three times and called "the Spirit", "the Spirit of God" and the "the Spirit of Christ". Here, immediately, two important features emerge. One is that the Godhead subsists as a Trinity. Just as the Lord Jesus told the woman by Samaria’s well that "God is Spirit" Jn.4.24, so the Holy Spirit, as to His Own personality is ‘Spirit’ and He it is the Father sends in the name of the Son. This verse, taken with many others, declares the truth of the words formed many years ago as part of the Articles of the Church of England: "the Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory, with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God."

Being called "the Spirit of God" emphasises the unconditional declaration made by the Lord Jesus in Jn.15.26 that He would send unto the disciples the Comforter "even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father". Thus He is marked out as arising or emanating from the Father. In the English language the word "emanate" also carries the thought of ‘to exhale’ as in breathing. Such a nuance is given in Job 33.4 where Elihu says, "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life". This same term describing "the Spirit of God" is found in many other places also. It could be said that in the natural process of breathing the "breath of life" emanates from man but is never a separate entity to man, so the Holy Spirit issues from and is sent by the Father to testify of Christ. The Father sends the Holy Spirit and thus is affirmed that He proceeds from the Father and is rightly called "the Spirit of God". In like manner He is also sent by the Son and is therefore designated "the Spirit of Christ". Father, Son and Spirit are of the same nature but, while it is, at least, intimated that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son it is never implied that the Father or Son issue forth from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God indwells the believer as the Spirit of Christ and this by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are reminded here that it is not possible to belong to Christ if the Spirit of Christ does not dwell within, v.9. The spiritual and eternal union formed by God dwelling in the believer is here stressed. The body of the believer is subject to death and one day, if the coming of the Lord does not take place first of all, will be brought under its power but, meanwhile, God the Father is the indwelling source of life; our Lord Jesus the channel and the Holy Spirit the mystical means of the endowment. The believer has been translated from the sphere where death reigns and is now indwelt by the Spirit of God in all the fullness of His holy attributes. Being thus indwelt by God through the Spirit the believer possesses a mind-set that can and does please God. In its practical application the believer then is to "walk after the Spirit" and, having "the mind of the Spirit" is "to mind the things of the Spirit".

The many records of the Gospel being proclaimed in the Acts of the Apostles continually emphasise the fact that "this Jesus hath God raised up", see e.g. 2.24; 3.15; 4.10; 5.30 etc. Nor are the Epistles negligent in setting forth this basic fact of the Gospel, see 1 Cor.6.14; Gal.1.1 etc. In chapter 4 God is said to be "Him that raised up Jesus from the dead" v.24. The Holy Spirit is called "the Spirit of life" 8.2. The description of the Holy Spirit as "the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead" 8.11, is most appropriate related as it is to Divine life being manifested in the believer. The unique phrase is also linked with that work of grace which, without the Law, will be revealed in the resurrection life brought about in the power of the Spirit.

In any study pertaining to the Holy Spirit chapter 8.9,11 are of great importance. All the more so, since the teaching set forth is done so in an indirect way. Paul is not making a case for the Trinitarian position but the verses in question are impossible to explain unless it is recognised that the plurality of the Godhead is expressed as a Trinity. Note that in v.9 He Who is spoken of as "the Spirit" is also called "the Spirit of God" and "the Spirit of Christ". In the same way v.11 speaks of "the Spirit"; "the Spirit of Him Who raised up Jesus" and "He that raised up Christ from the dead". In both instances all three Persons of the Godhead are clearly identified. That which is predicated of the Holy Spirit here and in many other Scriptures shows Him to be perfect in equality with the Father and with our Lord Jesus Christ. He is further perceived as being the quickening Spirit by Whom the mortal body of the believer will, in a day to come, be raised from the dead. This will be accomplished "because of His (God’s) Spirit that dwelleth in you".

Another aspect of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling the individual believer is that of the believer being led by the Spirit. Much contextual misinterpretation of v.14 has produced applications of the Scripture far removed from what is meant here and in the only other direct mention of the Spirit’s leading in Gal.5.18. In neither place is any thought of intelligent participation in the exercises within assembly gatherings broached. It is to be understood that where the leading of the Spirit is acknowledged, such will be evident in the meetings of the saints. Nevertheless, ‘the leading of the Spirit’ is of much wider import than that.

The many examples given in Scripture as to how the Lord Jesus was led of the Holy Spirit must enlighten us as to the meaning of the term. At the very commencement of His public ministry, and having been overtly acknowledged by Heaven as "My beloved Son", immediately the Lord Jesus "was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness" Mt.4.1. In the expression of His faultless humanity our Lord Jesus is the perfect Example to His people of being led by the Spirit. Just as the cry of the Psalmist in Ps.25.5 may be applied as words spoken by the Lord Jesus so they should find a very strong echo in the heart of the believer: "Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation; on Thee do I wait all the day long".

The law of sin and death is active within the believer but the "Spirit of Christ", Who is "the Spirit of life" also dwells within therefore, states Paul, "we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh", v.12, but we are obligated "through the Spirit to mortify the deeds of the body", v.13, thereby giving evidence of the life possessed. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they [and they alone] are the [mature] sons of God." Maturity in spiritual things can only be manifested by a life subject completely to the leading of the Holy Spirit in love, in wisdom and in power. It is to be remembered that Jeremiah said "it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" Jer.10.23. What the Law cannot do because of the weakness of the flesh: what man himself cannot do in the power of the flesh is brought about by the indwelling Spirit of life, so that they who are born into God’s family are given the desire and the ability to so please God in the mature understanding of His will.

Once again a contrast is presented in v.15. "The spirit of bondage" or slavery is juxtaposed with "the Spirit of adoption" or "the Spirit of sonship". in earlier times believers were under the Law and, to the extent of understanding it, "through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" Heb.2.15. To be afraid of death is to fear the consequences of the Law and thus the reason for it being named ‘the law of slavery’. By the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit the believer has been delivered and is not placed again under the Law’s dominion. Every believer has received the "Spirit of adoption". The use of the word ‘adoption’ in the A.V. should not allow us to be confused by the modern process of adopting orphans into the family. The word is exactly the same as that of "adoption of sons" or "sonship" as found in Gal.4.5. It refers to ‘an adopted state, a position conferred upon one to whom it is not natural’. This marvellous title is one that describes that which the believer enjoys in relationship to God the Father. We are then enabled by the Holy Spirit to cry "Abba, Father". These words while giving a very intimate sense to the invocation, should never be used to give voice to an over familiarity when speaking to God in prayer. Note how, in Lk.11.2, the Lord Jesus taught His own to pray, "Our Father ... hallowed by Thy Name".


Abba, Father! We adore Thee, humbly now our homage pay:
‘Tis Thy children’s bliss to know Thee, welcomed through the living way,
This high honour we inherit, Thy free gift though Jesus’ blood;
God the Spirit, with our spirit, witnesseth we’re sons of God.

                (Robert Hawker)

The last of the ten references to the Holy Spirit in this short section of Romans chapter 8 has to do with His witnessing to the reality of the believer’s standing within God’s family. The witness to the believer’s own spirit, borne in the power of the indwelling Spirit, is three-fold. First of all the undeniable assurance is given that we are born of God as His Own children. Secondly, we are constituted thereby "heirs of God" v.17. Peter reminds us that "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ... hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance, incorruptible, and undefiled that fadeth not away ..." 1 Pet.1.3-4. Thirdly, there has also been conferred upon us the wonderful title of "joint heirs with Christ".

In the minds of some the use of the neuter pronoun ‘it’ indicating the Holy Spirit presents a problem. It ought not to. The words here follow a simple rule in grammar that a noun in the neuter gender demands a pronoun of similar gender. Its use does not in anyway annul the many Scriptures that speak of the Holy Spirit by use of the masculine pronoun. Indeed, in the Gospel according to John there are a few cases of what the experts in Biblical Grammar call ‘the phenomenon of grammar’ where the word "Spirit" in the neuter is connected to the masculine pronoun ‘He’ - see e.g. Jn.14.16,17. Thus the Newberry margin reads, "The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" v.16.

Chapter 8.18-28

The last four references to the Holy Spirit in chapter 8 are interesting and contain important instruction concerning certain activities of the Spirit. The assurance of belonging to the family of God as children is given to all believers by the Spirit. However, that does not exempt the Christian from the trials and difficulties of the present human condition for, says Paul, the Creation has been made subject to vanity or futility by God’s will as the result of man’s sin and, until this present time, groans as it awaits deliverance from this bondage of corruption unto the liberty of the glory of the children of God, vv.20-22. In view of what the believer has been sealed unto, the present sufferings are not to be compared with the glory about to be revealed to and in us, v.18. Still the believer also groans together with creation waiting for the public manifestation of sonship, that is, the redemption of the body, v.23. In the midst of a groaning creation and present sufferings, the believer already possesses the Holy Spirit as the firstfruits of glory, which is an unbreakable assurance of the glory to be revealed in us. The Christian is enabled by the indwelling Spirit to await in hope the outshining of that glory which has been, from the beginning of creation, God’ s unchanging purpose.

A further need of the believer is met by the gracious workings of the Spirit. The child of God is often in perplexity as to the mind of God with regards to personal movement and, more especially, as in this context, as to the overall purpose of God. Occasions arise when "we know not what we should pray for as we ought" v.26. Complexities arise in the Christian pathway when we hardly know where to turn. Our prayers are, indubitably, rendered less definite thereby. The colourful word used here, (and also in Lk.10.40), is best described by a regular scene in the lands of the Far East. Two men carrying a burden between them on a long pole. Either of them can be said to be ‘helping’. The Holy Spirit in grace, knowing our lack of ability to pray as we ought to helps by making intercession for us. In so doing our prayers are raised to that level of spiritual intelligence marked by the mind of the Spirit which is also the mind of the Father.

Indwelt by "the Spirit of God"; "the Spirit of Christ" and "the Spirit of life" we are emancipated and given the right to cry, as children of God, "Abba, Father". We look with confidence for the effulgence of glory at the end of the dark tunnel since we already possess the Spirit as the "firstfruits" of all that God has committed Himself to, and in our prayers, in spite of personal weakness, the Holy Spirit enables us be in accord with the mind of Heaven. Is it any wonder that Paul can write, "And we know that all things work together for good for them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" 8.28.

CHAPTERS 9-11

If the apostle Paul, in the first sections of the Roman Epistle, focused on the subject of the Holy Spirit in a doctrinal way he did not neglect the practical application of the truth. He encourages the Roman saints "not to walk after the flesh but after the Spirit" and reminds them that "to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace". Such exhortations are, at once, solemn and serious. Three chapters follow which are occupied with the righteousness of God in His dealings with Israel. As facts are presented it is evident that there is no unrighteousness in God either in setting aside or in a future time taking up the nation in blessing, but that in all His ways with regards to them "the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God are unsearchable and His ways past finding out" 11.33. In these chapters the Holy Spirit is mentioned but once, drawing attention to the reality of Paul’s great sorrow on account of Israel’s present unhappy condition. Of this, he says, the Holy Spirit bears witness, 9.1. He further shows, in this connection, that his confidence in the promises of God’s covenant being fulfilled on Israel’s behalf, is not in the slightest diminished. He calls upon the Spirit of God to bear witness to the fact that what he writes is exactly what he is assured of.

CHAPTERS 12-16

At the end of the letter Paul is writing to the Roman saints in a hortatory manner. The commencement of chapter 12 is critical on this point. If a standing of perfect righteousness has been conferred upon me at such infinite cost as the death of God’s Son, my response must be commensurate. "Proving, [in practical ways] what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God" 12.2.

In every age and clime a subtle danger confronts the children of God. It is that of allowing the merely outward and superficial to pass as the truly spiritual values in one’s life. Meats clean or unclean; eating thereof or abstaining: it is of this Paul writes in chapter 14 and the attitude that accepts one or the other as being the true gauge of spirituality when, in actual fact, such dispositions result in judging, grieving or stumbling our brethren. These things, writes Paul, are not the characteristics of a ‘charitable walk’. The kingdom of God consists of much more than merely what we eat and what we drink. Its attributes are "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost" 14.17. In Gal.5.22 the apostle tells us that "joy" is one facet of the nine fold fruit of the Holy Spirit. When the Lord Jesus promised to give His Spirit He also promised to bestow "His peace" and "His joy" Jn.14.27; 15.11,26. These are all promised in the context of the Holy Spirit and from that we are warranted in recognising the Holy Spirit as the Agent through Whom such blessings flow. The joy engendered by the Holy Spirit is the distinctive mark of those who belong to the Kingdom of God and who are walking not after the flesh but after the Spirit.

Romans chapter 16 is given over almost entirely to greeting various individuals and companies of saints in the Capital city without mentioning the Holy Spirit at all but chapter 15 still has something to say concerning Him. The Spirit is spoken of 4 times in the chapter and 3 things are predicated concerning Him – power, sanctification and love. Mention is made of "the power of the Holy Ghost" v.13; "sanctified by the Holy Ghost" v.16; "the power of the Spirit of God" v.19; "the love of the Spirit" v.30. These words describe either attributes or activities of the Spirit that are completely at one with the general context wherein they are found.

Paul, by means of this crucial letter to the saints in Rome has set forth in unequivocal language what he has called "my gospel" 2.16. He has done so by using a legal setting where mankind in general is in the Divine courtroom, indicted, proven guilty and upon whom the sentence of death is passed. Remarkably, a means of pardon for such is devised and declared by the Judge Himself and this upon a basis of perfect righteousness. The mighty power of God, abounding through the agency of the Holy Spirit, takes the hopelessness of the accused and convicted and substitutes for it hope, joy and peace on the grounds of faith. In addition, by the same power wrought by the Holy Spirit, "mighty signs and wonders" 15.19, are displayed in the apostle’s preaching of the gospel to the intent that men might be obedient to the Word of God. Augmenting all that has so far been said, power is also attributed to the Holy Spirit because of these gracious accomplishments, see vv.13,19.

It is of note that in the ministry of the Gospel, Paul is aware that there is an aspect of worship involved. His desire is that in "the offering up" v.16, or sacrificing of the Gentiles, his ministry will be acceptable to God by the sanctifying energies of the Spirit of God. As the Spirit of holiness God’s Spirit declared the Divine Sonship of the Lord Jesus by His resurrection from the dead. Similarly, in holy sanctifying power the Spirit constitutes the body of believing Gentiles an offering acceptable to God. Knowing this Paul reached out to places where, as yet Christ was not named, vv.19,20.

One final point of interest with regard to the Holy Spirit in the epistle to the Romans is the apostle’s final exhortation found in 15.30. The first mention of the Spirit in the main body of the letter was found in 5.5. It is there noted that, by the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us, the love of God floods the hearts of all believers. This out-flowing of Divine love is commended to us, "in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" 5.8. As the doctrinal and practical sections of the epistle are ending, Paul for the second time, most earnestly entreats his readers that they be marked by behaviour corresponding to their profession. In chapter 12 it was that they would present their bodies as living sacrifices to God and this, he enjoins, is nothing less than their intelligent service in view of what they have come to believe. In chapter 15 he addresses them again in the same ardent manner, this time that they would strive together with him in prayer. He requests that he be the object of these united prayers with a three fold object, vv.31,32:

 

  • That he be delivered from the ire of unbelievers in Judea;
  • That his ministry of carrying financial aid from the Gentile believers to those in Jerusalem, would be accepted by the latter;
  • That, in due course, he would be able to visit the saints in Rome with refreshment by the will of God.
  •  

    The fervency of his charge is evident in the words "I beseech you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus and by the love of the Spirit that you strive together with me" v.30. Intelligently prayer is made to God and the authority for such prayer is in Christ’s Lordship and the effectiveness of the prayer is in the bond of love flowing from the Holy Spirit Himself. Once again, and in an indirect manner, the unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is seen.

    CONCLUSION

    He is the Spirit of God; the Spirit of Christ; the Spirit of holiness; the quickening Spirit; the sanctifying Spirit; and in mighty power, the Spirit of Him Who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead. In His various attributes and activities the Spirit Himself is the very embodiment of the Gospel which concerns God’s Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. This is how Paul presents the Holy Spirit of God in his letter to the Roman believers.


    For the blessed Holy Spirit, sent by Thee from heaven above
    We would join to praise Thee, Father, for this matchless gift of love.
    Equal and eternal with Thee, yet, in wondrous grace He came;
    By His power to convict us of our sin and guilt and shame.
    Then He showed us that the Saviour, on the cross had borne our sin;
    And when we by faith received Him, sealed us and now dwells within.
    Now He seeks to teach and guide us, from Thy precious Holy Word;
    And empower us for the service of our Saviour Christ the Lord.
    O, forbid that we should grieve Him by neglect or wilful sin;
    Grant that we may know the fullness of Thy Spirit now within.
    For the Holy Spirit’s presence, Comforter and Guide Divine;
    From our hearts we join to praise Thee for this gracious gift of Thine.

     

                        (Alfred Gibbs)