HOLY SPIRIT OR HUMAN SPIRIT?

13εἰ (If) γὰρ (for) κατὰ (according to) σάρκα (flesh) ζῆτε (you live), μέλλετε (you are about) ἀποθνήσκειν (to die); εἰ (if) δὲ (however) πνεύματι (by the Spirit) τὰς (the) πράξεις (deeds) τοῦ (of the) σώματος (body) θανατοῦτε (you put to death), ζήσεσθε (you will live)14ὅσοι (As many as) γὰρ (for) Πνεύματι (by the Spirit) Θεοῦ (of God) ἄγονται (are led), οὗτοι (these) υἱοί (sons) εἰσιν (are) ⇔ Θεοῦ (of God).

What’s with the hieroglyphics? – you may ask. It is to demonstrate how Paul’s writings have been translated from the Greek by many in such a way as to obscure the existence of the human spirit and the related theological reality that it is the believer and not the Holy Spirit who is required to “put to death the deeds of the body” to sustain spiritual life.

Look carefully at verse 13 and note how πνεύματι has been translated as “Spirit” (by  implication the Holy Spirit) whereas verse 14 which is indeed referring to the Holy Spirit is in its Greek form “Πνεύματι” with a capital Pi “Π” rather than a lower case Pi “π”.  The above interlinear quotation is taken from Bible Hub and is also utilized by the Berean Interlinear and literal Bible. The Greek text being used is the highly regarded “Nestle 1904” version and corresponds exactly in this regard to the Textus Receptus followed by the Reformers translating the English Authorized Version of the Bible – except that they disregarded whether the Greek text of a particular verse specified πνεύματι (spirit) or Πνεύματι (Spirit) so as to support their particular theological understanding.

 It should be pointed out that the original New Testament text was written entirely in capital letters with no spaces or punctuation. So whether the Greek word for spirit was capital or lower case Pi is a scribe-based rather than genuinely textually based issue. But the point is that in all cases my interpretation is in line with that of the scribes with regard to whether Paul is referring to the Holy Spirit or the human spirit. For I affirm again with Paul that man consists of body, soul and spirit (1Thes5:23, cf. Rom8:16). Following precisely the aforementioned Greek text (in terms of whether it should be “spirit” or “Spirit”), the first half of Romans 8 would be translated as follows: 

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and to deal with sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spiritFor those who are in accord with the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are in accord with the spirit, the things of the spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the spirit if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if 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. 12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living in accord with the flesh, you are going to die; but if by the spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—that is, providing we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. (Rom8:1-16 applying “Spirit” and “spirit” in line with Greek text) It can be verified HERE.

Apart from these lexical considerations, the passage itself is packed with theology, all of it supporting the biblical synopsis set out in the Little Book of Providence and summarized in my 95 theses. Some aspects were covered in recent posts, e.g. the Christian’s need to fulfil the spirit of the law (verse 4). Note also from verse 7 that the mind set on satisfying the desires of the flesh is hostile towards God because “it does not subject itself to the law of God” , indicating of course that such is still a requirement. Not a slavish return to observance of the letter of Torah (v15) but to fulfil its ultimate purpose (love for God and neighbor) in heart and action (Gal5:14). Also, the fact that if Christ’s righteousness were imputed to the believer as so many believe it would contradict what Paul is writing here. about the need to put to death the deeds of the body in order to sustain spiritual life. And if verse 17 is not a theology of glory I don’t know what is: the Spirit witnessing with our spirits that we are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—that is, providing we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him”. Yet as is made clear earlier in the passage, such a glorious destiny for Christ’s faithful disciples has been made possible by the fruits of Christ’s Passion and the theology of the Cross. And as will be touched upon as we examine the second half of chapter 8, this is not unconnected to the mystery of God’s extraordinary strategy to permit evil to enter the world and even allow His arch-enemy to have a temporary hand in running and corrupting it (next post).