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Recently Added
to Exposition of Romans:


9:19–23—The triumph of God’s mercy through his forbearance of wrath
(November 17th 2017)
Romans 8:10–11—The Spirit, who is life, will bring our bodies back to life.

9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit,
if [since] in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.
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.

Now let’s focus on the life-giving role of the Spirit. If you are saved, Christ lives in you and so does the Holy Spirit. Through the Spirit we enjoy abundant spiritual life now, and in the future God will call upon “his Spirit” to raise our bodies from the dead.

“The Spirit is life,” Paul says in verse 10, and this is true “because of righteousness,” meaning the righteousness of Christ that has been imputed to those who believe in him. Paul spoke similarly about “the Spirit of life” in verse 2: “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” To be declared righteous in Christ is to be free of sin and death.

Spiritual life present, physical life future
Here are just a few of the Spirit’s present workings on our behalf: he fills us with love, joy, and peace; warms our hearts to thanksgiving; empowers our ministries; and assures us of acceptance by the Father. All these blessings, and many more, are packed in the word “life.” Paul has already said a lot about them, especially in the first part of chapter 5, so he quickly pivots to the future in verse 11.

Our bodies will die as a consequence of sin, Paul says, likely referring to Adam’s sin, which caused death to reign over humanity (see 5:12 and 5:15–17). But physical death is not the end. The bodies of those who are saved will be raised from the dead just as surely as Jesus himself was raised from the dead and walked on this planet for many days before he was taken up to heaven. By the power of the indwelling Spirit, we will follow Jesus from death to life, someday returning in our resurrection bodies to a renewed earth to live with the Father, Christ, and one another forever.

There is more to say, but first we should deal with a potentially confusing translation issue. If you read from the NASB or a pre-2011 NIV, you will notice a difference between your translation and the last line of verse 10 in the ESV above. Here is the reason for the difference.

Spirit or spirit? Life or alive?
It used to be common to interpret the last phrase of verse 10 (“the Spirit is life because of righteousness”) as a reference not to the Holy Spirit but to the human spirit. The NASB, for example, reads “yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” Perhaps translators assumed Paul wanted to contrast “the body is dead” with “the spirit is alive.” Most scholars today, however, think Paul has in mind the Holy Spirit. Until its 2011 update, the NIV had “your spirit is alive because of righteousness,” but it now has “the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.”

Support for “Spirit”/”life” includes the following: (1) all other uses of pneuma in this chapter, with two exceptions (verses 15 and 16), refer to the Holy Spirit; (2) context suggests Spirit, because the phrase introduces the work of the Spirit in verse 11; and (3) “life,” not “alive,” is the literal and normal translation of the noun Paul used. It can be seen as well that “the Spirit gives life” more closely parallels the promise in verse 11 that God will give life to our mortal bodies through his Spirit.

Characteristics of our future bodies
The incarnation of Jesus Christ demonstrates the value God places on the human body, and we rejoice in his promise to give us glorified (resurrection) bodies fashioned after the body of him who has gone before us. Here are some features of our glorified bodies:
  1. They will be similar to our earthly bodies, complete with flesh and bones. After his resurrection, Jesus met with his disciples. “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39).
  2. They will be incorruptible, beautiful (“raised in glory”), and powerful. “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power” (1 Corinthians 15:42-43).
  3. They will be spiritual bodies, but they will retain material form—“It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:44).
  4. They will be like the body of the Lord Jesus. “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21). “And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:49).
  5. They may be able to move without the present limitations of time and space. Jesus entered locked rooms to present himself to his disciples (John 20:19, 26). Our ability to perform this feat will depend on whether it was a function of Jesus’ humanity, independent of his deity. We’ll find out.
  6. We will be able to recognize people we knew on earth. A short time after he was raised, Jesus approached two men who were walking to Emmaus and grieving over his death. They were prevented from recognizing him until they observed him do something in his unmistakable manner. “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight” (Luke 24:30-31).

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