Recently Added
to Exposition of Romans:

3:9–20—Conclusion: OT confirms that humanity is under sin’s power
(January 26th 2019)
Romans 8:9–11—You are in the Spirit, who lives in you and is your source of life.

9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit,
if [since] in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
10 But if Christ is in you [and he is, assuming you are saved],
although the body is dead because of sin,
the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 If [since] the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies
through his Spirit who dwells in you.

These three verses abound with assurance for believers. Immediately before this, Paul divided humanity between those who direct their lives according to the flesh and those who direct their lives according to the Spirit. Now Paul assures the Roman Christians (“you”) that they belong to the second category. They have a new identity and status, along with a new destiny that will culminate with the bestowal of resurrection bodies.

New creation in the Spirit
We might well regard this passage as the Romans equivalent of Paul’s assertion in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” In that letter Paul says God has “given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (1:22). Here in Romans, Paul makes the Spirit’s indwelling presence a point of emphasis. And not only is the Spirit in us but we are “in the Spirit.” We are people in, by, and of the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit’s regenerating work created our new identity, and his sanctifying work empowers us to live out that identity. To help us see and think of ourselves as God does is the reason I wrote my book. Referring again to the 2 Corinthians passage, we must no longer regard one another or ourselves “according to the flesh” (5:16), but as people in the Spirit and being renewed by the Spirit.

Also catching our attention are such matters as the significance of the preposition “in” in verse 9, the translation of several conditional clauses, the notable presence of the Trinity, and the resurrection of believers’ bodies in verse 11.

The power of “in”
With the help of Douglas Moo and other scholars, we have seen Paul use various ways to contrast the old age of sin and death with the new age of righteousness and life. In verse 9 Paul uses the preposition “in” to make a point about the people who belong to those respective ages. Says Moo:
So characteristic of these respective “ages” or “realms” are flesh and Spirit that the person belonging to one or the other can be said to be “in” them. In this sense, then, no Christian can be “in the flesh”; and all Christians are, by definition, “in the Spirit.”

To Moo’s point, NIV translates the first part of verse 9 as follows: “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you.” In other words, “in” conveys the idea of control by the powers of one age or the other. We Christians are not controlled by the flesh but are governed and guided by the Spirit.

Four conditions
These three verses contain four conditional phrases, each beginning with “if.” The question in each case is whether “if” assumes the truth of the statement and therefore has the meaning of “since” or “because.” The ESV translation above glosses over the second “if,” which appears in the second part of verse 9 and reads as follows in the NASB: “But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” This use of “if” is clearly conditional with no assumption of truth.

As you see in the above ESV translation, I inserted in brackets what seems to be the best way to interpret the other three phrases. Charles Cranfield says the “if” in the first part of verse 9 “indicates a fulfilled condition.”

Trinity on display
God is three persons. Each person is fully God. And God is one. These three statements assert undeniable truths about the Trinity. It is also true that Father, Son, and Spirit carry out somewhat different functions. “Equal in being but subordinate in role” is one way to summarize the distinction of roles in the Trinity, says Wayne Grudem.

Our verses describe primarily the role of the Spirit, who is mentioned six times. One of those refers to his relationship with the Son (“the Spirit of Christ”). Twice Paul refers to the Spirit’s relationship with the Father, once as “the Spirit of God” and also as “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead.” The Father is “him” in that phrase and “he” in the phrase that follows.

We see that Paul refers to all three persons of the Godhead as sharing in the intimate, personal relationship with every believer. The Spirit’s indwelling fulfills Jesus’ promise to his disciples that he would ask the Father to give them the Spirit of truth to “be in you” (John 14:17). At that time Jesus also promised that he and the Father would come and make their home with anyone who loves him (14:23).

Moo comments on the flexibility of Paul’s language: “Christ and the Spirit are so closely related in communicating to believers the benefits of salvation that Paul can move from one to the other almost unconsciously.” According to Cranfield, Paul thinks of the indwelling of the Spirit as the manner of Christ’s dwelling in us. How quickly Paul moves from “Spirit of God” to “Spirit of Christ” to “Christ” to “Spirit” reveals the “practical trinitarianism” that characterizes the NT, Moo says.

I will take up in the next message the Spirit’s role in giving life to our mortal bodies.