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Thomas Schreiner – The Spirit of Power

21 Mar

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The Spirit in Pauline theology is a Spirit of power. He transforms God’s people. We see this clearly in Paul’s letter-Spirit contrast that is noted on three different occasions (Rom. 2:29; 7:6; 2 Cor. 3:6). The letter-Spirit contrast should not be construed as a hermeneutical contrast but rather in terms of redemptive history. Transformation of human beings did not occur in the old era under the Mosaic law, but it has been effected by the power of the Spirit in the new age. The true Jew and true circumcision are the work of God’s Spirit, not the letter (Rom. 2:29). Here “the letter” refers to the OT law, and in context it almost certainly refers to the commands contained in the law (Rom. 2:17-29). The commands of the law, though good, do not provide human beings with the power to put them into practice. Mere possession of the law is useless if people do not keep it. Paul argues here that Gentiles are considered to be true Jews and enjoy the circumcision of the heart if they have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, unlike the law, grants people the ability to keep what the law commands (Rom. 2:26-27). The keeping of the law by Gentiles here is not merely hypothetical, for it is grounded in the transforming work of the Spirit.

~Thomas Schreiner~


New Testament Theology – Magnifying God in Christ (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic; 2008) p. 481

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