The Eagle Way No 23

The Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you….. 

As we celebrate Easter we look more closely at the meaning of the resurrection, and how this applies to our own spiritual lives

Let’s us read how Scripture describes this in Romans Eight:

9 “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8: 9-11)

Paul now contrasts the situation he has described in v. 9b at the same time as he resumes the main thread of his teaching from v. 9a.  Paul speaks of “Christ” being in the Christian, whereas in v. 9 it was “the Spirit of God” who was said to be dwelling in believers.

What this means is not that Christ and the Spirit are equated or interchangeable, but that Christ and the Spirit are so closely related in communicating to believers. These benefits of salvation that Paul writes about can move from one to the other almost intuitively.

Now the believer, who by faith, has come to be joined with Christ (see Romans 6:1–11) has not only Christ but also the Spirit resident within.  The indwelling Spirit and the indwelling Christ are distinguishable but inseparable.  Paul describes the movement from “Spirit of God” (v. 9a) to “Spirit of Christ” (v. 9b) to “Christ” (v. 10a) to “Spirit” (vv. 10b–11) reveals the “practical trinitarianism” that already characterizes the New Testament.

Paul’s describes the flexibility of his theological metaphors:
The union of the believer with Christ, our representative head (cf. Romans 5:12–21), can be conveyed both by the language of the believer being “in” Christ and of Christ being “in” the believer.

Then Paul spells out the benefits secured for the believer by the indwelling Christ in two parallel clauses:
1. “the body is dead because of sin”; and “the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” 
The first clause, “body” (sōma) refers to the “person” as a whole, dead “with reference to” sin, in the sense of (Romans 6) — that is, the person has “died to,” been freed from, the dominion of sin.  But it is better to think of the body’s “deadness” here as a negative condition, the state of condemnation — a condition that has come about “because of sin.”  The “body” is the physical body specifically, its deadness consisting in the penalty of physical death that must still be experienced by the believer.

2. There is considerable difference of opinion over the meaning of this second main clause:
Many English versions (e.g., RSV, NIV, NASB) translate pneuma in an anthropological sense, [the study of human behavior]: “your spirit is alive because of righteousness.”

It is better to understand Pneuma as a reference to the Holy Spirit as Pneuma, as we have seen, consistently refers to the Holy Spirit in (Romans 8), and it certainly does so in v. 11. This explains v. 10b. Moreover, identifying Pneuma as the Holy Spirit makes enhanced sense.  Paul is teaching that the believer, although still bound to an earthly, mortal body has residing within him or her the Spirit, the power of new spiritual life, which conveys both that “life,” in the sense of deliverance from condemnation enjoyed now and the future resurrection life that will bring transformation to the body itself.

All this takes place “because of righteousness,” this “righteousness” being that “imputed righteousness” which leads to life (see Romans 5:21). Paul finishes off his rehearsal of the life given “in” and “by the Spirit” with an affirmation of the Spirit’s instrumentality in securing bodily transformation.  Significant to this point, the Spirit is now designated as “the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead.”  The reference, is to God the Father (see Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:4), but the focus is on the Spirit.

The reference to resurrection is plain in the first part of the sentence, “will make alive” must also refers to future bodily transformation — through resurrection for dead believers — rather than, for instance, to spiritual life in justification, or to the “mortification” of sin in the Christian life.  Paul certainly stresses the certainty and unbrokenness of life, a theme that is prominent in the rest of the (Romans 8), but the future is genuinely temporal.  The cause-and-effect relationship between Christ’s resurrection and the believer’s, is made plain in (Romans 6:5 and 8:17). For this reason Paul gives affirmation that God will give life to “our mortal bodies” just as He raised Christ from the dead.

Paul’s focus throughout this part of Romans 8: is on the Spirit who is the instrument by whom God raises the body of the Christian.  As in v. 9, the indwelling of the Spirit suggests that the Spirit has “made his home” in the believer; and since the Spirit is “life” (v. 10b; cf. v. 2): “the Spirit of life”, His presence cannot but result in life for that body which he inhabits. The Spirit’s life-giving power is not circumscribed by the mortality of the body but overcomes and transforms that mortality into the immortality of eternal life in a resurrected body.


  • New King James Study Bible
  • Study notes using Logos and commentaries from: The Epistle to the Romans