THE HOLY SPIRIT
IN PAULINE THEOLOGY

 


1. The Promise of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
2. The Spirit of Holiness as Eschatological Principle of Obedience in Second-Temple Judaism

3. The Holy Spirit in the Writings of Paul
    3.1. The Indwelling Spirit

    3.2. The Effects of the Indwelling Spirit
        3.2.1. The Spirit as an Eschatological Principle of Obedience

        3.2.2. The Spirit as Providing Proof that Believers are Children of God
        3.2.3. The Spirit as the Means of Signs, Wonders, and Miracles
        3.2.4. The Spirit as Dispenser of Spiritual Gifts


 

1. The Promise of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament

1.1. Ezekiel prophesies that, after the restoration to the land, God would give the Spirit to his people.

1.1.1. Ezek 36:22-27 (see also Ezek 11:18-20)

22 Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 and I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations will know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 For I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land.  25 I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.  26 A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.

In this passage, Ezekiel connects the giving of the Spirit to the new possibility of obedience to the Law after the restoration to the land; the Spirit of God is the causal antecedent of this new possibility (see the new covenant in Jer 31:31-34). According to the prophet, when God puts his own Spirit in them, the Israelites restored to the land wll have a new spirit and a new heart, both of which refer to a person's cognitional and volitional center. No longer will they have a heart of stone, which is to say a heart that is unresponsive and resistant to God.

1.1.2. Ezek 37:12-14

12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD:  Behold, I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you home into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken, and I have done it, says the LORD."

Ezekiel prophesies that, after the restoration, God will put his Spirit in the people, and they will live as a result. There is a causal connection made between the Spirit and this new spiritual life.

1.1.3. Ezek 39:29

And I will not hide my face any more from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, says the Lord God."

Ezekiel foretells that God will no longer hide his face, but pour out his Spirit on the people.

1.2. Isaiah makes two references to the future giving of the Spirit to the people.

1.2.1. Isa 32:15

Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.

Isaiah alludes to the future eschatological event of the pouring out of the Spirit from God ("on high"), resulting in “fruitfulness,” or new spiritual life. This new spiritual life is expressed metaphorically as rain falling on a desert and its becoming a field full of plant life and then rain falling on a field with the result that the field grows into a forest because of the additional water. The Spirit is being compared to life-giving water.

1.2.2. Isa 44:3

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your descendants, and my blessing on your offspring.

God promises through the prophet Isaiah that he will pour out his Spirit on the Israelites, Jacob's descendents. This event will occur at the time of Israel's eschatological renewal. The Spirit is compared to life-giving water poured on dry, barren land.

1.3. Joel 2:28-32

28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.  29 Even upon the menservants and maidservants in those days, I will pour out my Spirit.  30 "And I will give portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.  31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes.  32 And it shall come to pass that all who call upon the name of the LORD shall be delivered; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

The prophet Joel foretells that in "the day of Yahwheh," at the time of Israel's eschatological restoration, God will pour out his Spirit on all flesh; as a result, people will prophesy, have visions and prophetic dreams.
 

2. The Spirit of Holiness as Eschatological Principle of Obedience in Second-Temple Judaism

In the second-Temple period, in continuity with the Old Testament, the promise of the giving of the Holy Spirit (or better "spirit of holiness") is interpreted as God's giving to Israel an eschatological principle of obedience. In other words, at the end, the time of Israel's final and definitive salvation, God will so spiritually transform his people, that disobedience to the Torah will henceforth be impossible. To have a spirit of holiness is to have a God-given disposition to holiness; generally, in these texts, spirit of holiness refers not to God as Spirit placed in human beings but to a new human spirit or disposition created by God that leads to holiness. (See Book of Jubilees 1.12-26; 4Q504 [Words of the Luminaries] 5.15-16; 1QS [Rule of the Community] 3:6-8; 4.18-21; 9.3; 1QSb [Blessings] 1.2 1QH-a [Thanksgiving Hymns] 15.6-7; 8; Barkhi Nafshi.)  (There are other ways to express the idea of Israel's spiritual transformation used in the Old Testament and in later texts.)  In some of these texts, the spirit of holiness is a present reality, whereas in others it is a future reality.


3. The Holy Spirit in the Writings of Paul

3.1. The Indwelling Spirit

The Holy Spirit is central to Paul's theology. Expressing himself in various ways, he asserts that that the promise of the giving of the Spirit has been fulfilled. Different from the prophecy in the Hebrew prophets, however, he holds that the promise is fulfilled for the church, the new community of God, consisting of Jews and gentiles, and not for the nation of Israel. In Paul's view, to be a Christian is not simply to accept certain propositions as true, such as Jesus is Israel's Messiah, but rather but to be indwellt by the Holy Spirit. It seems that he can take it for granted that his readers already have an experiential understanding of this.

3.1.1. Rom 5:5

And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who is given to us.

According to Paul, the reason that a believer’s hope does not disappoint is that, “the love of God is poured out (ekkechutai) in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who is given to us (tou dothentos hêmin).” By the term “heart,” Paul is referring to what a human being truly is, his or her cognitional and volitional center. He uses the metaphor of “pouring out” in order to communicate the idea of abundance or overflowing surplus. The implication is that believers do not naturally possess the Spirit as some type of innate faculty; rather, the Spirit comes to a person from without. God has poured out his love into the heart, insofar as he has given the Holy Spirit to believers (The phrase “love of God” is a subjective genitive: God’s love.) In other words, the means by which this love of God is experientially present to believers is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a manifestation and proof of the love of God, in particular, God's saving intention. The hope of eschatological salvation that a believer has for the future is experientially confirmed by the present gift of the Holy Spirit. (See the parallel in Sir 18:11: “The Lord... pours out his mercy upon them.”) On this interpretation, the use of the preposition dia, + genitive describes the manner in which God has poured out his love, i.e., through the Holy Spirit.

3.1.2. Rom 8:9-11

You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, so long as the Spirit of God dwells in you. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this one does not belong to him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 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.

In Rom 8, Paul contrasts two mutually-exclusive modes of being: “in the Spirit” (en pneumati) and “in the flesh” (en sarki). To be “in the Spirit” results from being indwelt by the Spirit: “You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, so long as the Spirit of God dwells in you (oikei en humin)” (8:9a). To be indwelt by the Spirit of God appears to be synonymous with “to have [the] Spirit of Christ” (pneuma christou echein); this is evident from the fact that in the very next sentence, Paul says, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this one does not belong to him” (8:9b). If so, then the phrase Spirit of Christ may be a subjective genitive: “Christ’s Spirit.” It is also possible to interpret it as a genitive of origin: the Spirit who comes from Christ. Regardless of his exact meaning, Paul’s intention is not only to distinguish Christ from the Spirit, but also to assert an inseparable connection between them. Paul then speaks about the fact that Christ is “in” a believer. The phrase “If Christ is in you” (ei de christos en humin) likewise seems to be another synonym for being indwelt by the Spirit and having the Spirit of Christ. So being indwelt by the Spirit of God, having the Spirit of Christ and Christ’s being in a believer all mean the same thing. Why Paul would use such variety of expression is not clear, except to indicate that the relationship between the Spirit and the believer is ultimately inscrutable.

3.1.3. 1 Cor 12:12-13

12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 We were all baptized into one Spirit to become one body whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were given one Spirit to drink.

In explanation of the assertion that “the body is one” (1 Cor 12:12), Paul says, “we were all baptized in one Spirit to become one body” (en eni pneumati hêmeis pantes eis en sôma ebaptisthêmen). It seems that Paul is speaking about the reception of the one Spirit by believers, which results in there being one body, or organic spiritual unity of individuals. His point is that the oneness of the body, the church, is the result of the one Spirit. Paul conceives the Spirit as that into which believers have been baptized: just as they were literally baptized in water so metaphorically they were also baptized in the Spirit. In other words, sharing in the one Spirit unifies believers into one body, a plurality in a unity. (Paul is probably using of eis not with a local sense but with a consecutive meaning, to describe the result of receiving the one Spirit.) In the same verse, still speaking metaphorically, Paul says, “We were given one Spirit to drink” (pantes en pneuma epotisthêmen); this new image serves to supplement the previous idea of being baptized in the Spirit to become one body. To drink of the one Spirit is intended to communicate both that the Spirit is within a believer and that the Spirit, because he has entered from without, is not being natural or endemic to a human being. Believers are mortal beings unnaturally possessed by the immortal Spirit. Moreover, all believers have the same Spirit in them, as if they all drank the same drink.

3.1.4. Gal 4:6

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his son into your hearts.

Paul says to the believers at Galatia that, “God sent the Spirit of his son into your hearts.” The reason that God has done this is because they are sons (see 3:26) (The conjunction hoti is causal: “because.”) The “place” where God sent the Spirit of his son is the “heart,” which is not really a place, but the cognitional and volitional “center” of a human being. The phrase “Spirit of his son” is undoubtedly synonymous with the Holy Spirit and other terms expressive of the same reality. The phrase could be a genitive of origin, so that Paul means the Spirit sent from God’s son, or even a genitive of apposition: Spirit, who is the son of God. Perhaps both senses are intended. The Spirit in the heart of a believer then calls out “Abba, Father.” (Abba is the Aramaic word for “father.") Paul means that the Spirit as a possession of believers residing in the heart testifies to them that they are indeed sons of God, causing them to address God as Father.

3.2. The Effects of the Indwelling Spirit

Although he agrees with the post-biblical texts examined that the Holy Spirit is an eschatological principle of obedience, Paul's view is fuller and more complex.

3.2.1. The Spirit as an Eschatological Principle of Obedience

With the eschatological events of the death and resurrection of Christ comes the eschatological Spirit. In Paul’s view, consistent with Old Testament prophecies, the indwelling Spirit is indispensable to being able to do the will of God. The believer is controlled and empowered by the Spirit (or other, synonymous designations), no longer being controlled by the "the flesh" (sinful nature). This is the norm for all believers in Paul's view, not an option. Unlike the texts from the second-Temple period but in conformity with Old Testament prophecy, for Paul the Holy Spirit is not simply a new human disposition to holiness created by God—a human "spirit" or disposition—but is the Spirit of God or Christ in a human being, which results in spiritual transformation. The other difference between Paul and second-Temple Judaism is that, in Pauline theology, the Holy Spirit as the eschatological principle of obedience is given on an equal basis to Jews and gentiles alike, even though the promise was originally made to Jews only.

A. Rom 8:1-9

1. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law (principle) of the Spirit of life has set us free in Christ Jesus from the law (principle) of sin and death. 3. 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 as an offering for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 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. 9a But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.

According to Paul, the purpose of God’s sending his son was “to condemn sin in the flesh,” (8:3b) in order that the requirement of the Law (to dikaiôma tou nomou) might be fulfilled in “us” (8:4a). The phrase “the requirement of the Law” is a genitive of content: the requirement consisting of the Law. Paul’s use of the singular to dikaiôma (“the requirement”) implies the unity of the Law expressible as one requirement. In other words, the purpose of the work of Christ is that the essence of the Law be truly obeyed by believers. In Rom 13:8-10 and Gal 5:14, Paul identifies the essence of the Law as “love” (agapê). Earlier, in Rom 8:2, Paul writes that the principle (literally “law” [nomos]) of the Spirit of life has set “you” (i.e. a believer) free from the principle of sin and death. He sees “sin” as a principle or causal agent operating in human beings that results in death, not only physical death but eternal also (8:2); this is nullified by another principle, the law of the Spirit of life (ho nomos tou pneumatos tês zôês), or the Spirit whose purpose it is to make eternal life possible (genitive of direction or purpose). The inclusion of the adverbial phrase “in Christ Jesus,” modifying the verb “set free,” denotes that it is because of Christ that any of this is possible: the “in” (en) is causal.This is the reason for Paul’s confident affirmation in Rom 8:1: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The use of the conjunction gar (“for”) in Rom 8:2 implies that what follows in this verse is the warrant for what is written in Rom 8:1. So the reason that there is no condemnation is that “those who are in Christ” have been so transformed that they are now righteous in a practical sense as the result of being under the influence of “the law of the Spirit of life.” In other words, they will necessarily be found to be obedient to the “righteous requirement of the Law” at the final judgment. The reason that the righteous requirement of the Law is fulfilled is because of the Spirit’s indwelling and functioning as a principle of obedience, which is what Paul means by the term “law of the Spirit of life.” This is also implied by Paul’s definition of those in whom the requirement of the Law is fulfilled as those who walk according to the Spirit and not the flesh (tois mê kata sarka peripatousin alla kata pneuma) (8:4b).

Paul then contrasts “those who are according to the flesh” (hoi kata sarka ontes) and who “think on the things of the flesh” (ta tês sarkos phronousin) with “those who are according to the Spirit” (hoi kata pneuma [ontes]) who “think on the things of the Spirit” (ta tou pneumatos [phronousin]) (8:5). Flesh and Spirit represent two mutually-exclusive principles, or causal agents, operative within human beings. Those for whom the flesh is the principle are designated as “those who are according to the flesh,” whereas those for whom the Spirit is the principle are called “those who are according to the Spirit.” “To think on” either “the things of the flesh” or “the things of the Spirit” describes the human being as under the influence of one or the other principle, resulting in two different modes of being, or basic existential orientations. The flesh and Spirit necessarily lead to their corresponding actions. Paul then says that the “mind of flesh” (to phronêma tês sarkos), or ‘fleshly’ basic existential orientation, is opposed to God (The phrase mind of flesh is a genitive of quality, so that the mind has the attribute of ‘fleshiness’.)

B. Gal 5:16-24

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit (desires) against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, in order that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness,  20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit,  21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like.  I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  23 gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.  24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

As in Rom 8, in this passage, Paul contrasts the “flesh” (sarx) with the Spirit as two principles, or causal agents, according to which a human being could live. In Gal 5:16, he speaks about walking in the Spirit (pneumati peripateite), in Gal 5:18 about being led by the Spirit (pneumati agesthe) and in Gal 5:25 about living by the Spirit (pneumati zômen). These are all synonyms, denoting coming under the principle, or causal agent, consisting of the Spirit. Paul says that “walking in the Spirit” will result in not fulfilling “the desire of the flesh” (epithumia sarkos) (5:16). The genitive phrase “the desire of the flesh” is a genitive of origin (“the desire originating in the flesh”) or a subjective genitive (“the flesh’s desire”). On either interpretation, flesh is conceived as almost a quasi-substantial entity, one that produces a fundamental, illicit desire in a human being; in other words, the flesh is an evil principle or causal agent directing human beings to be disobedient to God. Paul probably uses the singular “desire” to emphasize that all disobedience to God has its origin in this fundamental opposition to God. In Gal 5:17, Paul elaborates further on what he wrote in the previous verse. The Spirit desires what is contrary to the flesh and the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit. In other words, the flesh and Spirit have an intractable antipathy to each other and are mutually exclusive of each other: they do not and cannot co-exist.

There follows a list of “the works of flesh” (ta erga tês sarkos): “sexual immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing and similar things.” These works are the manifestations of the principle, or causal agent, of the flesh. To walk in, live by, be led by the Spirit leads to the production of “the fruit of the Spirit,” which Paul lists in 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control. The use of the metaphor of “fruit” lays stress on “divine empowerment,” the result of the influence of the Spirit on the human being. If he or she walks in the Spirit, a person does not carry out the “desire of the flesh” (epithumia sarkos), which is a way of describing the fundamental attitude of defiance to God (5:16). If the “desire of the flesh” is carried out, the result is “the works of the flesh,” as delineated in Gal 5:19-21. Another of Paul’s ways of expressing that this new principle of obedience is operative in the lives of believers is to say that they have “crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (tên sarka estaurôsan sun tois pathêmasin kai tais epithumiais) (5:24). This is a metaphorical way of describing how the Spirit has rendered the “flesh” ineffective: by killing it. The “passions” and “desires” of the flesh are probably synonyms; each denotes the experiential results of the flesh’s fundamental defiance of God, “the desire of the flesh.”

3.2.2. The Spirit as Providing Proof that Believers are Children of God

Rom 8:16

It is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.





2 Cor 1:22

He [God] has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.





2 Cor 5:5

He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.




Eph 1:13-14

3 In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 which is the guarantee of our inheritance.

Eph 4:30

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.


 

In Rom 8:16, the Spirit testifies to the believer's spirit to the fact that he or she is a son (child) of God in the soteriological (saving) sense. Paul also says that the Spirit metaphorically functions to seal believers (sphragizein). To seal something is to set the stamp of one's ownership on it, so that metaphorically believers have the stamp of God's ownership on them insofar as they have the Spirit ( 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:30) (see the parallel in Rev 7:3; see also Ezek 9:4; 44:5; Ps. Sol. 15:6, 9; 4 Ezra 6:5-6). Moreover, Paul refers to the Spirit metaphorically as a guarantee (arrabôn) (2 Cor 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:14). The point is that the Spirit is the first installment of all the benefits of eschatological salvation, and so functions as a guarantee that the rest will come. It should be noted that in Rom 8:11, he writes that, if the Spirit dwells in "us," the Spirit will raise "us" from the dead in the same way that the Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. In this way, the present indwelling of the Spirit is the guarantee of future resurrection. What Paul describes in these passages is part of the experience of the believer, and by definition is not fully communicable.

3.2.3. The Spirit as the Means of Signs, Wonders, and Miracles

Rom 15:18-19 

18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has wrought through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that from Jerusalem and as far round as Illyricum I have fully preached the good news of Christ.

1 Cor 2:4 

And my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.  





 

 Gal 3:5 

Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? 
 
 
 
 
 

In Romans 15:18-19, 1 Corinthians 2:4 and Galatians 3:5, Paul claims that he and other believers performed signs and wonders by the power of the Holy Spirit; the signs and wonders were confirmations of the good news. He does not give any details about these signs and wonders, but from what Luke says in Acts these signs and wonders in part consist of healings (Acts 14:8-20; 19:11-12).

3.2.4. The Spirit as Dispenser of Spiritual Gifts

According to Paul, the Spirit gives spiritual gifts to believers to be exercised for the benefit of the whole church. Paul compares the church to a body with different parts (i.e., different gifts), each working in harmony with the other parts for the good of the whole body (1 Cor 12:1-11; Rom 12:3-8); these gifts are not natural abilities but supernatural, Spirit-given abilities. There are two passages in his letters where Paul provides lists of spiritual gifts (charismata). With the exception of the charisma of prophecy, the two lists are different, which leads one to think that possibly there are other gifts of the Spirit not listed in either passage.

A. 1 Cor 12:1-11

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were heathen, you were led astray to dumb idols, however you may have been moved. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says "Jesus be cursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit. 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one.  7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the workings of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. 

In 1 Cor 12:4-11, Paul explains the nature and purpose of spiritual gifts, and gives a list of some of these. He is perhaps responding to the Corinthians’ request for such a clarification. (Why they would need clarification is not clear.) Paul explains that there is a diversity of gifts (charismata), but only one Spirit, a diversity of ministries, but one Lord and a diversity of operations but one and the same God is at work (12:4-6). His purpose is to stress the unity that exists amidst the diversity of spiritual activities. Paul also points out the manifestation of the Spirit in each person is for the benefit of all, the common good (12:7). There is also an Trinitarian formula in 1 Cor 12:4-6 insofar as Paul implicitly identifies the Spirit (pneuma), the Lord (Jesus) (ho kurios) and God (ho theos).

Paul then provides a partial list of spiritual gifts (charismata), the ways in which the Spirit is operative in believers. He does not define these gifts, so that we must determine their nature simply from the names that he gives to them. In some cases this is simple, but in others it proves to be more difficult.

  • Word of wisdom (logos sophias)

A word of wisdom is a communication with wisdom as its content. Wisdom, in Paul's understanding, is of divine origin, being given by revelation; it especially pertains to word of the cross (see 1 Cor 1-2). It seems that the spiritual gift of a word of wisdom is being enabled by the Spirit to understand in part the mind of God. To have a word of wisdom to have an insight into the nature of reality that is of some practical use to the church.

  • Word of knowledge (logos gnôseôs)

The gift of a word of knowledge must differ from a word of wisdom, since it is a distinct gift. It seems that this gift consists in receiving useful information from God that is otherwise unknowable. This information is useful in some manner.

  • Faith (pistis)

A gift of faith is to be differentiated from the faith that all believers have; as a gift, faith is the ability to know God's will and then with certainty and confidence to believe that this will be realized.

  • Gifts of healings (charismata iamatôn)

Gifts of healing are the Spirit’s multiple grantings of the ability to heal human beings. Since Paul uses the plural (healings), it seems that he conceives of each healing is a distinct gift of healing; each instance of healing requires its own gift.

  • Workings of miracles (energêmata dunameôn)

The gift of workings of miracles are giftings to do extraordinary things. Again, since the plural is used, each miracle is a separate gift of the working of a miracle.

  • Prophecy (prophêteia)

A gift of prophecy is a  Spirit-inspired message given to a specific person to be delivered to a group. Paul gives more information on prophecy in the (Corinthian) church in 1 Cor 14. It is clear from what he says that prophecy is for the purpose of the edification of believers (14:3-5): they hear what is given to the prophet by the Spirit and are built up in their spiritual lives. (Prophecy was a common phenomenon in the early church [e.g.’s Acts 2:17; 13:1; 21:10].)

  • Discernment of spirits (diakriseis pneumatôn)

The nature of a gift of discernment of spirits is difficult to determine, because the meaning of “spirits” is unclear. Either the gift consists in the ability to know the spiritual states of another (human spirit) or to recognize the activity of demonic spirits. It is probable that the gift consists in the ability to discern both types of spirits. The purpose of the gift is to be able to discern truth from error and good from evil.

  • Types of tongues or languages (genê glôssôn)

A gift of tongues is the ability to a speak divinely-inspired communication in another language not understandable by the speaker or the hearer.

  • Interpretation of tongues (hermêneia glôssôn)

A gift of interpretations of tongues is the ability to understand and translate for others a divinely inspired message given in another language.

In 1 Cor 12:12-26, Paul stresses the spiritual co-dependency of the members of the church. Using a metaphor, he compares different people with different gifts within the church to the parts a body, each of which contributes to the well-being of the whole body. Paul’s reasons for saying this could be that the Corinthians are putting too much stress on the gift of tongues (see 1 Cor 14). He says that the church is an organic unity so that each part is affected by the others: when one suffers the others do also, and when one rejoices so likewise do the others (12:26).

B. Rom 12:3-8

3 For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having spiritual gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 he who encourages, in his encouragement; he who shares, in liberality; he who leads, with zeal; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. 

Paul explains that those "in Christ" are like the many parts of a single body; he stresses that each part does not have the same function (12:4-5). He then says that there are many spiritual gifts (charismata), but one grace, i.e., one source in God as gracious.

  • Prophecy (prophêteia)

As in 1 Cor 12: this gift is the ability to speak a  Spirit-inspired message to a specific person or persons at a specific time (This is the only item in common between 1 Cor 12 and Rom 12.)

  • Service (diakonia)

The gift of service is the ability to meet some particular practical need in the church.

  • Teaching (didaskôn)

The gift of teaching is the ability to communicate spiritual truths to one or more people in such a way the teaching is effective.

  • Encouragement (parakalôn)

The gift of encouragement is the ability to encourage one or more people to continue in obedience to God.

  • Sharing (metadidous)

The gift of sharing is the inclination and ability to share materially with those in need in a much greater capacity than the non-gifted but still generous believer.

  • Leadership (proïstamenos)

The gift of leadership is the capacity to provide leadership  to the church in a particular situation.

  • Showing mercy (eleôn)

The gift of mercy  it  is the ability  to show compassion in a practical way to the extremely needy and genuine unlovely.

 

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