Father Boylan on Romans 8:8-11

Words in red represent my additions to the text.

Rom 8:8  And they who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Those who are in the Flesh are those who are “according to the Flesh”
(verse5): the δε is equivalent to “I say” resuming what has been said. Those that are in the Flesh, dominated as they are by the Flesh, cannot, as such, please God, for no man can serve two masters (Matt 6:24). The phrase “cannot please God” is a litotes: they cannot escape His condemnation. But, as Aquinas adds, possunt desinere esse in carne . . . et tunc Deo placebunt. Aquinas wrote: But they can cease to be in the flesh according to the manner described and then they will be pleasing to God.

Rom 8:9  But you are not in the flesh, but the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

The baptised are not in the Flesh, but “in the Spirit,” and Paul now proceeds to show that their “life in the Spirit” involves a special kind of divine presence which is called the indwelling of the Spirit.

In this verse the first πνευματι, as in the preceding verses of this chapter, means sanctifying grace; but the second is the Holy Spirit. ειπερ (“If so be that”) does not directly suggest a doubt: it means “If, as I believe is the case.” Yet it leaves the possibility open that a Christian may be deprived of the indwelling of the Spirit. The same is implied in the following: “If anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” The Vulgate in verse9 ought to be si quidem, rather than si tamen. Note that Paul calls the Holy Spirit here the Spirit of God, and then, evidently referring to the same Spirit, calls Him the Spirit of Christ. Since, however, “the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son as from one principle, and by a single spiratio” (Coun. of Florence), idem est Spiritus Christi et Dei Patris; sed dicitur Dei Patri sin quantum a Patre procedit : dicitur Spiritus Christi in quantum procedet afilio (Aquinas. See John 14:26; 15:26)). If anyone has not the indwelling Holy Spirit he does not belong to Christ he is not in living communion with Christ. Aquinas explains: Sicut non est membrum corporis quod per spiritum corporis non vivificatur, ita non est membrum Christi qui spiritum Christi non habet.  Aquinas wrote:For just as that is not a bodily member which is not enlivened by the body’s spirit, so he is not Christ’s member who does not have the Spirit of Christ: “By this we know that we abide in him, because he has given us of his own Spirit” (1 Jn4:13).

Rom 8:10  And if Christ be in you, the body indeed is dead, because of sin: but the spirit liveth, because of justification.

If Christ is in you, etc.: The Spirit of Christ and Christ Himself are one in the divine nature, and hence, the indwelling of the Spirit is also the indwelling of Christ. From the circuminsessio, which arises from the identity of the Divine nature in the Persons of the Trinity, it follows that one Divine Person cannot be divided or separated from another, but, citra confusionem ac servato discrimine insunt in se invicem ; ut adeo ubi est divina natura ibi quoque sunt ires Personæ divinæ (Petavius, De Trinitate. Lib. iv., cap. xvi.). Chrysostom notes here that Paul does not identify Christ with the Holy Spirit, but only says that whoever has the Spirit, not merely belongs to Christ, but
possesses Christ Himself. Cf. John 14:23, where the indwelling of Father and Son is promised to those that love Christ.

Through the indwelling of Christ the soul is participant in eternal life on account of (δια) justice on account of the holiness or justice with which grace adorns the soul. But the body of such a one is “dead”i.e., subject to death
(necessitati mortis addictum. Aquinas) on account of (δια) Sin that is, Adam’s Sin and Sin generally: νεκρον (nekron = “dead”) is used here proleptically, instead of θάνατος (thanatos) (Cf. v. 11).

The πνεῦμα (= pneuma, “spirit”) which is life on account of justification, is the
soul (= spirit) as elevated by sanctifying grace. The expression “the spirit is life,” instead of “the spirit is living,” means that the spirit is altogether living. The Vulgate weakens the sense by rendering spiritus vivit. The Vulgate version of δια δικαιοσυνην (“because of righteousness”) is propter justificationem, which ought properly to be propter justitiam. Paul is speaking of the condition of the justified, rather than of their justification. The “justice” here is not justice to be accomplished (as if the reference were to the fruits of the spirit), but the holiness which belongs to the spiritual.

Rom 8:11  And if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you; he that raised up Jesus Christ, from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies, because of his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

Though the body is “dead” because of Sin, yet the indwelling of the Spirit of God in the soul affects the body also, giving it hope of resurrection. As God raised Jesus from the dead, He will also give life to our “mortal” bodies because of His Spirit which dwells in us.

Works of power are appropriated to the Father, and so Jesus is said to be raised up as man from the dead by the Father (cf. Rom 4:24; 6:4). Hence the Spirit of the Father is spoken of here because it is the omnipotence of the Father that fulfils the hope here held forth.

The Spirit of God will vivify our bodies (ζωοποιησει =”quicken”) i.e., will make them to share in that life in which the soul participates by sanctifying grace (Cf. 1 Cor 15:20). This will take place at the General Resurrection (Cf. 2 Cor 5:4 ff.). In 1 Cor 6 Paul speaks of our body as a temple (ναος) of the Holy Spirit. Thus both in soul and body those who “are in Christ” are free from κατακριμα (condemnation) (Rom 8:1).

Father Boylan goes on to note that in the manuscript tradition there are two variations of the last words of verse 11: (a) because of his Spirit that dwelleth in you; (b) by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. He then notes: In (a) the Spirit is ‘the pledge or guarantee of resurrection: in (6) the Spirit is the agent of the resurrection. The Vulgate seems to support (a) by its rendering propter
inhabitantem Spiritum; and (a) is supported also by the Pauline teaching elsewhere formulated (2 Cor 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:14; Rom 8:23), that the indwelling Holy Spirit is the “earnest” of the inheritance of eternal salvation. The weight of evidence, however, is in favour of (b). Lietzmann regards (a) as due chiefly to the tendency of Late Greek to use the accusative, rather than the genitive, with prepositions. He thinks that (a) is possibly also due to the influence of δια δικαιοσυνην (“because of justification”) (verse 10). This teaching about the participation of the body in the glorious life of the soul shows that a dualistic theory, making the flesh something essentially evil, is utterly remote from St. Paul’s thought. The Spirit of God could not dwell in something intrinsically evil as His Temple, nor make it a sharer at the General Resurrection in the glory of Him Who is the “first fruits of those that sleep” (1 Cor 15:20 ff.).

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One Response to Father Boylan on Romans 8:8-11

  1. Pingback: Resources and Commentaries for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year A | stjoeofoblog

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