[K:NWTS 4/3 (Dec 1989) 14-29]

The Holy Spirit and Eschatology

Richard B. Gaffin, Jr.

No development in biblical studies within the past century has had a greater impact than the recovery of the eschatological character of the New Testament message. To speak of an "assured result" of biblical scholarship is always risky but at least in this case appears to be warranted.

1. The story of this development is well known:1 The theological liberalism of the 19th century had tried to distance eschatology as far as possible from the core of the New Testament, in the interests of showing that Jesus especially was at heart a kind of neo-Kantian moralist. But subsequent scholarship, beginning right at the end of the last century with a reassessment of the kingdom-proclamation of Jesus in the synoptic gospels, has reached a quite different conclusion. Through an ongoing process of scholarly correction and supplementation of viewpoints there has been a spreading recognition eventually resulting around 1965 in a virtual consensus, firmly established, across a broad spectrum of scholarshipthat eschatology is central not only to the proclamation of Jesus but also to the teaching of Paul and most, if not all, of the other New Testament writers. A controlling viewpoint of the New Testament as a whole is an eschatology, rooted in the death and resurrection of Jesus, of both future, even imminent consummation and already realized fulfillment.

2. This consensus not only represents an exegetical repudiation of the older theological liberalism. It is also in tension with classical Christian theology where there is an unmistakable tendency to "de-eschatologise" the present identity and life of the church. That tendency is reflected, for instance, in the traditional loci (topical) structure of dogmatics, where "eschatology" eventually comes up for attention as the final topic and is concerned with the "last things", defined in terms of Christ's return and the ensuing eternal state, perhaps also with the inclusion of what happens to the individual at death.2 Eschatologyand this is still the popular mind-set found among most Christians todaytends to be kept at arm's length, at a more or less remote, spectator distance, without any real, integral tie to the present experience of the believer.

These opening remarks set the stage to observe further that the "turn to eschatology" in this century has not left untouched NT Testament teaching on the Holy Spirit and his work; in fact it has brought to light the fundamentally eschatological aspect of that teaching.3 In what follows I want (A) to provide a selective survey of relevant New Testament data on the work of the Holy Spirit, trying to do little more than identify the most important givens. Then will follow (B) some reflections pertinent to several issues of contemporary concern regarding the Spirit's work.




In the New Testament the eschatological dimension of the Spirit's work emerges from several angles. 1. The synoptic gospels have relatively few references to the Spirit, but their eschatological significance can be seen once we recognize that the kingdom proclaimed by Jesus is an eschatological entity, already present (as well as still in the future) in his person and work.

In the healing incident recorded in Mt. 12:22ff (par. Lk. 11:14ff.), Jesus' decisive pronouncement is that "if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Mt. 12:28; par. Lk. 11:20). Here, plainly, the activity of God's Spirit ("finger"Lk.) is a present manifestation of the eschatological rule of God. The Spirit is the dynamic of the kingdom, that is, eschatological power; the presence of the Spirit is an eschatological presence.

Lk. 11:13 and 12:32 are linked as the only two places in Luke where Jesus speaks of the Father's purpose to give to the disciples, of his will to meet their needs. In 11:13 the incomparable gift that the Father will give to them is the Holy Spirit, while in 12:31-32 the greatest blessing they are to seek, and the Father wills to give, is the kingdom. Thus a certain equation exists between the Holy Spirit and the kingdom in the sense that they are alternative or correlative ways of specifying the ultimate and highest blessing of the Father, that is, eschatological blessing. Further, this equation looks forward to Pentecostin its primary significance as an epochal, once for all event in the coming of the kingdom (cf. Acts 1:3, 2:32-33)where the coming of the Spirit is the fulfillment of "the promise of my/the Father" (Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:4; cf. 2:33: "the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father"). 

2. Intimations of the eschatological Spirit are also found in John. The presence of the Spirit in believers is a function of the glorification of Jesus (7:38-39); the Spirit's epochal coming to be with the disciples (the church) is contingent upon the culmination of the glorification process in Jesus' going to be with the Father (14:12ff.). In his identity as the paraklętos the Spirit provides essential counsel and definitive assistance in the great end-time adjudication between the church and the world (16:7-11; cf. 14:16,26; 15:26). And in the eschatological vision of Revelation the sevenfold Spirit before God's throne is associated with exalted Christ (1:4-5; cf. vs. 16) such that the words of the exalted Christ specifically are "what the Spirit says to the churches" (e.g., 2:1 and 7; 2:8 and 11; 2:12 and 17).

3. It is Paul, however, that the eschatological aspect of the Spirit's work is most pronounced and unmistakable. His descriptions of the Spirit as "deposit" and "firstfruits", apparently coined by him, are especially calculated, in context, to express the provisional, yet truly eschatological nature of the church's present possession of the Spirit. These single terms, arrabôn and aparchę, focus the Spirit's work within the already-not yet structure of his eschatology as a whole. In Ephesians 1:14 the Spirit is the "deposit" on the church's "inheritance", an unambiguously eschatological category (cf. esp. 1:13 with 4:30; 5:5). And in Romans 8:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:5 the Spirit is "firstfruits" and "deposit" with a view towards the future resurrection body of the believer, that is, bodily eschatological existence.

The point of this usage is that the Spirit present in the Church (indwelling all believers and in the full diversity of his working) is the down payment on the eschaton, which down payment is itself a realization of the eschaton; he is the first installment of eschatological existence. In that actual sense the Spirit is the guarantee that what has already been received initially will be received in its fullness at Christ's return. His work provides the provisional, anticipatory experience of the eschatological transformation to be accomplished completely in the resurrection of the body.

Further, these two terms show that the line of Paul's thinking concerning the Spirit moves out of the future into the present, rather than the reverse. That is, the future is not so much an extension of the present (although it can be put that way) as the present is an anticipation of the (eschatological) future. Paul is fully in accord with the writer of Hebrews, who, in terms of the historical-eschatological schema taken over from intertestamental Judaism, says that the powers associated with the Holy Spirit are "the powers of the age to come" (6:4-5).

Paul's eschatological conception of the Spirit's work also comes out clearly in the great resurrection chapter, 1 Corinthians 15. In the unit, verses 42-49, the one word used to describe the future resurrection (that is, eschatological) body of the believer is "spiritual" (pneumatikon, vs. 44). The reference of this adjective is neither anthropological (to the body adapted to the human spirit or in which that spirit has gained ascendance or dominance) nor substantial (to the presumably immaterial pneumatic substance of the resurrection body) but to the activity of the Holy Spirit.4 Paul's point is that the resurrection body is what it is, with its eschatological qualities, because it has been so thoroughly transformed and renewed by the Holy Spirit that the single term that best describes it concretely is "spiritual".

This passage also brings to light the cosmic dimensions of the Spirit's eschatological activity. Paul is concerned with the resurrection body not simply in the abstract but in terms of the context or environment that is appropriate to it. That concern appears from the fact that the contrast between the preresurrection and resurrection bodies (vss. 42-44) is anchored in the sweeping, comprehensive contrast between Adam and Christ, the last Adam and second man, in their representative and determinative roles (vss. 45, 47-49). Accordingly, the Spirit, associated with the last Adam, is the source and principle of nothing less than a new, eschatological creation order; his work of eschatological transformation is on a cosmic scale, affecting every aspect of creaturely existence (cf. Rom. 8:19-23).

This is the place to caution that these Pauline materials must not be treated as abstract, self-contained eschatological principles, as more or less isolated pneumatological givens. Rather, they are to be related to the redemptive-historical focus that controls Paul's entire teaching. To that end a brief reference to 1 Corinthians 15:45c should suffice. Paul says there: "the last Adam became the life-giving Spirit".

In my judgment careful exegesis5 shows that in this statement (a) pneuma refers to the person of the Holy Spirit and (b) the "becoming" in view took place at Christ's resurrection or, more broadly, his exaltation.6 What Paul asserts, then, is a certain equation between the exalted Christ and the Holy Spirita unity or onenessdating from the resurrection.

This is a consideration of cardinal importance, one that certainly controls both the christology and pneumatology of Paul, but of much of the rest of the New Testament as well. All reflection on the Spirit and his eschatological work must remain tethered to this equation.

In passing, it is perhaps worth observing that it burdens this statement unwarrantable to discover in it trinitarian confusion or a denial or blurring of the personal distinction between Christ and the Spirit. Essential, inner trinitarian relationships are not foreign to Paul (cf., e.g., Rom. 1:3, 8:3, 32; 9:5; Phil. 2:6), but they are outside his purview here. He is not thinking in terms of Christ's essential deity, but of what he experiences in his genuine humanity, in his identity as "last Adam" or "second man" (vs. 47). His perspective is historical, concerned with what Christ "became". The oneness or equation in view is "economic" (not ontological), functional "eschatological".7

Paul's point is that by virtue of resurrection (glorification), Christ as the last Adam has come into such complete and permanent possession of the Holy Spirit, as he himself has been so thoroughly and climactically transformed by the Spirit, that consequently the two are equated in their working. They are to be seen as one as they have been made one specifically in the activity of "giving life", eschatological, resurrection life.

In the context of chapter 15 this life-giving activity of Christ, "the firstfruits" (vs. 20), has in view the still future resurrection-harvest of the body. But it would certainly be difficult to deny that there is also at least an intimation of what Christ is presently doing (giving eschatological life), because of who he now is or has become (the life-giving Spirit).

For an overall program of New Testament theology, I Corinthians 15:45c is, in effect, Paul's one-sentence commentary on Pentecost, clustered together in its once-for-all significance, with Christ's death but especially his resurrection and ascension (as Peter indicates in Acts 2:32-33). From this perspective the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost is not merely an addendum to the work of Christ, not a more or less independent sphere of activity in the church that goes beyond or supplements Christ's work.

Rather, Pentecost brings to light not only that Christ has lived and has done something but that he lives now and is now at work in the church. Pentecost is not only when Christ poured out on the church the gift of the Spirit; it is also the coming to the church of Christ himself, as the life-giving Spirit. On Pentecost, when Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit, we may say, he baptizes with himself, his own presence. The gift of the Spirit is the gift of Christ himself, the glorified Christ.

Briefly, a similar pattern of thought is present in John 14-16. In particular, at 14:12ff. the giving of the Spirit, conditional on Jesus' own going to the Father, is at the same time the coming of Jesus himself (vs. 18: "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you"; cf. 16:16ff). The coming of the Spirit, following on Jesus' glorification (cf. 7:39), is the coming of Jesus. And when at the close of Matthew's gospel the exalted Jesus promises the disciples, "I will be with you always, to the very end of the age" (28:20), that promise is to be understood not only in terms of his divine omnipresence but also, and primarily, with reference to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

4. To sum up this New Testament survey and bring it to its controlling focus: the eschatological Spirit is the exalted Christ. It is important to appreciate how, in the light of the New Testament, this is a permissible generalization. But by itself it is easily subject to misunderstanding; it is too terse and needs qualification. To expand, we may say that eschatological life in the Spirit is the shared life of the glorified Christ. When the New Testament speaks of the work of the Spirit in the church, in view is the resurrection, eschatological life of Christ; conversely, when the New Testament speaks of resurrection, whether present or future, in view is the eschatological work of the Spirit.

Paul's own distillation of this principle is found in Romans 8:9-11 concerning those who are "not in the flesh but in the Spirit" (9a), he says also that "the Spirit of God dwells in you" (9b), by implication, that they "belong to Christ" (that is, are "in Christ", [9d], and that "Christ is in you" [10a]. Within the span of three short sentences, all the possible combinationsyou in the Spirit, the Christ in you, you in Christ, Christ in youare used interchangeably and as virtually synonymous to describe the church's experience. This pattern of usage, it should be remembered, can occur because of what is true in back of and antecedent to all Christian experience, because of who Christ is, "the life-giving Spirit" and who the Spirit is, "the Spirit of Christ" (9c). And verse 11 adds that through the Spirit, presently indwelling believers, God will eventually raise up their mortal bodies (as he has already done for Christ). The Spirit is eschatological, resurrection power; he is the eschatological Spirit because his power is resurrection power.




New Testament teaching on the eschatological Spirit has an important bearing on at least three concerns of contemporary spirituality. These concerns have a pastoral focus; they have been chosen primarily with the life of the congregation in view.

1. At the outset we noted the tendency in much historic Christian thinking to de-eschatologise the gospel and its implication. Nowhere is that more true than in the attitude taken toward the work of the Holy Spirit. There has been a persistent tendency to isolate the Spirit's activity from eschatology, to view his present work in the believer in the inner life of the Christian, without any particular reference or connection to God's broader eschatological purposes for the entire creation. The result, too often, has been largely privatized, self-centered understandings of the Spirit's activity.

In the New Testament, however, while the work of the Holy Spirit concerns the individual, it is not individualistic; that work is certainly intimate and personal, but it is not private. There is no more important or more basic New Testament perspective on Christian existence than this: in its entirety Christian life, life in the Spirit, is to be subsumed under the category of resurrection. Pointedly, the Christian life is resurrection-life. It is part of the resurrection-harvest that begins with Christ's own resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20); the believer's place or share in the harvest is now, not only in the future but already in the present. Christian existence is a manifestation and outworking of the resurrection life and power of Christ, the life-giving Spirit (cf. Rom. 6:2ff; Eph. 2:5-6; Col. 2:12-13; 3:1-4). Paul's assertion in Galatians 2:20 ("I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me") is neither enthusiastic overstatement nor unique to his own experiencethe way it is popularly read. To be sure, it is doxological, but it is a "measured" doxology that realistically assesses the situation of every believer.

In this connection the various instructional efforts of the church will constantly have to make clear that it is in this sense, namely eschatological, resurrection life, that the New Testament offers "eternal life" to believers. It is "eternal", not because it is above or beyond history, "timeless" in some a-historical sense, but because it has been revealed, in Christ, at the end of history and, by the power of the Spirit, comes to us out of that consummation.

It is perhaps useful, if not pretentious, to state the issue here in terms of a still to be completed side of the Reformation. The Reformation, we should not forget, was a (re)discovery, at least implicitly, of the eschatological heart of the gospel; the sola gratia principle is eschatological in essence. Justification by faith, as the Reformers came to understand and experience it, is an anticipation of final judgment. It means that a favorable verdict at the last judgment is not an anxious, uncertain hope (where they felt themselves abandoned by Rome), but a present possession, the confident and stable basis of the Christian life. Romans 8:1 ("there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus"), which they clung to, is a decidedly eschatological pronouncement.

But while the Reformation and its children have grasped, at least intuitively, the eschatological thrust of the gospel for justification, that is not nearly the case for sanctification and the work of the Spirit.

Undeniably there is a tendency, at least in practice, to separate or even polarize justification and sanctification. Justification on the one hand, is seen as what God does, once for all and perfectly; sanctification on the other hand, is what the believer does, imperfectly. Sanctification is viewed as the response of the believer, an expression of gratitude from our side for salvation defined in terms of justification and the forgiveness of sinsusually with an emphasis on the inadequate and even impoverished quality of the gratitude expressed.

The intention of such an emphasis is not doubt to safeguard the totally gratuitous character of justification. But church history has made all too evident that the apparently inevitable outcome is the rise of moralism, the reintroduction into Christian experience of a refined work-principle, more or less divorced from the faith that justifies and eventually leaving no room for that faith. What is resolutely rejected at the front door of justification comes in through the back door of sanctification and takes over the whole house.

Certainly we must be on guard against all notions of sinless perfection. Forms of "entire" sanctification or "higher" "victorious" life, supposedly achieved by a distinct act of faith subsequent to justification, invariably de-eschatologise the gospel by operating with domesticated, voluntaristic notions of sin and in their own way result in moralism. Certainly we must not forget that "in this life even the holiest have only a small beginning" (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 44).

Butand this is the pointthat beginning, however small, is an eschatological beginning. It stands under the apostolic promise that "he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6). In the New Testament there is no more basic perspective on sanctification and renewal than that expressed in Romans 6: it is a continual "living to God" (vs. 11) of those who are "alive from the dead" (vs. 13). It is a matter of the "good works" of the eschatological new creation, for which the church has been "created in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:10). In their sanctification believers begin at the "top", because they begin with Christ; in him they are those who are "perfect" (1 Cor.2:6) and "spiritual" (vs. 15), even when they have to be admonished as "carnal" (3:1, 3).

An important and fruitful challenge for the teaching ministry of the church is to clarify further the nature of justification within the already not-yet structure of New Testament eschatology, at the same time ensuring that commensurate attention is given to the eschatological nature of sanctification and the present work of the Holy Spirit.

2. But the question might now be raised: does not the intense, world-wide preoccupation with the work of the Spirit in recent decades compensate for the traditional neglect and shortcomings just noted? To be more specific, have Pentecostalism and the charismatic movement not seen and, in large measure, recaptured the eschatological nature of the Spirit's working?

These questions obviously open up a large area of discussion, one that can only be touched on briefly here to make just one point, a point on which I hope charismatics and noncharismatics might be able to agree without having to settle other differences.

Within the overall working of the Holy Spirit, it is important to see that the New Testament distinguishes between the gift and the gifts of the Spirit. All believers, without exception, share in the gift of the Spirit by virtue of their union with Christ the life-giving Spirit, and their incorporation into his Spirit-baptized body, the church (e.g., 1 Cor. 12:13). The gift (singular) of the Spirit is present in the church on the principle of "universal donation".

On the other hand, the gifts (plural) of the Spirit are variously distributed in the church; no one gift, in this sense, is intended for every believer. The gifts are given on the principle of "differential distribution." This seems reasonably clear, for example, from the point of the rhetorical questions posed at the close of 1 Corinthians 12 (vss. 29 and 30): all are not apostles, all are not prophets...all do not speak in tongues. And this is so, ultimately, by divine design: the one body with diverse partsnot because of lack of faith or failure to seek a particular gift.

The significance of this distinction for the question asked above is this: the gift (singular) of the Spirit, in which all believers share, is an essential aspect of the salvation revealed in Christ and is as such an eschatological gift. It is as noted earlier, the firstfruits-experience of resurrection, the actual down payment on the church's final inheritance.

In contrast, the gifts (plural) of the Spirit, variously distributed in the church, are provisional and subeschatological, workings of the Spirit projected on to the plane of the present order of things and inseparable from "the form of this world [that] is passing away" (1 Cor. 7:31). This seems clearly to be one of Paul's points in 1 Corinthians 13:3ff.: prophecy and tongues among other gifts have a provisional, limited function and so are temporary, designed to pass away (vss. 8 and 9), while those works of the Spirit, like faith, hope and love, endure (vs. 13).

The point to ponder is this: it is not in the distinctives of contemporary charismatic experience, however else we may evaluate them, that we find the eschatological substance of the Spirit's present activity. Rather, it is the "fruit" of the Spirit, pre-eminently love, that has an eschatological "reach" and effects eschatological "breakthroughs". It is faith in its modes of hoping and loving that grasps and anticipates the perfection of the order to be introduced at Christ's return.

3. But a question may come from another quarter. Will not stressing the eschatological character of the Spirit's work engender a false sense of attainment and of having "arrived"? Will that emphasis not minister an easy triumphalism?

The New Testament is sensitive to this danger and addresses it head-on. In the interim between Christ's resurrection and return, believers are "alive from the dead", but only "in the mortal body" (Rom. 6:12-13); Christians experience "the power of the age to come" (Heb. 6:5), but only as "the present evil age" (Gal. 1:4) is prolonged, only within the transient "form of this world" (1 Cor. 7:31).

Elsewhere, in 2 Corinthians 4:7, Paul says, "we have this treasure in clay jars". This statement is autobiographical but certainly intends to provide a paradigm for all believers. From the context, "this treasure" is the content of the gospel, and its possession, the experiential knowledge of the eschatological glory God in Christ (vs. 6). The "clay jars" are believers in the mortality and fragility of their existence. The verses that immediately follow (8-9) expand on this situation by four pairs of contrasting participles: as a function of their identity as "clay jars", believers are "hard pressed on every side", "perplexed", "persecuted", and "struck down"; but, in possessing "this treasure", they are "not crushed", "not in despair", "not abandoned", and "not destroyed".

Verses 10 and 11 sum up this state of affairs and bring it to a focus: "always carrying around in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our body...always being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our mortal flesh."

It is important to grasp that "the dying of Jesus" and "the life of Jesus" highlighted here do not refer to separate sectors or more or less compartmentalized dimensions of the believer's experience. Rather, the life of Jesus, Paul is saying, is revealed in our mortal flesh and nowhere else; the (mortal) body is the locus of the life of Jesus. "The dying of Jesus" is the existence-form that shapes the manifestation of his life in believers.

Philippians 3:10 is another compelling expression of the same thought: Paul's deepest, heartfelt aspiration in union with Christ (vs. 8-9a) is in part "to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death". The full impact of this clause turns on recognizing that in it the uses of the conjunction "and" (kai) are not coordinating but explicating: to know Christ is to know the power of his resurrection, and to know the power of his resurrection is to know the fellowship of his sufferings. The experiential knowledge of the power of Christ's resurrection is realized just as fellowship in his sufferings and conformity to his death.

Christ's resurrection-power is a conforming energy, an energy that produces conformity to his death. The impress, the imprint of the resurrection in Paul's experience is the cross.

Paul's experience provides a pattern for the whole church. Until Jesus comes, resurrection-eschatology is eschatology of the cross. The form of Christ's resurrection-power in this world-age is the fellowship of his sufferings as the cross-conformed suffering of the church. The sign of inaugurated eschatology is the cross. Believers suffer, not in spite of or even alongside of the fact that they share in Christ's resurrection, but just because they are raised up and seated with him in heaven. According to Peter, it is just as Christians suffer for Christ that God's Spirit of (eschatological) glory rests on them (1 Pet. 4:14). For the present, until he returns, suffering with Christ remains the primary discriminant of the eschatological Spirit.

All this raises large questions that need careful and probing reflection, especially where the church is in situations of relative freedom and affluence and suffering with Christ can seem remote and confined to the church elsewhere. Instructive at this point is what Paul has to say in Romans 8:18ff. about "the sufferings of the present time", particularly the present subjection of the entire creation, including the church, to "frustration" (mataiotes, vs. 20) and "the bondage of decay" (vs. 21). This suggests that Christian suffering is much broader than we usually think of it. It concerns the mundane and unspectacular of everyday living as well as what is monumental, heroic or traumatic. Christian suffering, we may say, is everything in the lives of believers, as they continue to be subjected to the enervating futility and decay that presently permeates the creation, everything about this present existence that is borne for Christ and done in his service.

Paul's word to the church in Philippians 1:29 remains a perennial challenge: "It has been granted to you for Christ's sake not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him." Here Paul speaks of the "giveness" of Christian suffering, for the church as church. The Christian life, Paul says, is a "not only...but also" proposition, not only believing but also suffering; suffering is not simply for some believers but for all.

Where the church grasps this correlativity of faith and suffering, there it will have come a long way toward not only comprehending but also experiencing the eschatological quality of life in the Spirit, there in all aspects of its existence it will increasingly validate the eschatological power of the Holy Spirit.




1. See e.g. the lengthy survey of N. Perrin, The Kingdom of God in the Teaching of Jesus (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1963) and more recently I. H. Marshall, "The hope of a new age: the kingdom of God in the New Testament," Themelios, 11, 1(Sept. 1985: 5-15, esp. p. 5 and the literature cited there, notes 1 and 6.

2. But note the instructive comments of Prof. Heyns in his Dogmatiek(Pretoria: NG Kerkboekhandel, 1978) pp. 390f.

3. This insight has resulted largely from investigating the relationship between Jesus and the Spirit, especially in Paul; out of a great volume of literature see, e.g., J. C. Coetzee in A. B. du Toit (red.), Die Pauliniese briewe: Inleiding en teologie (Handleiding by die Nuwe Testament, 5) (Pretoria: NG Kerkboekhandel, 1984), 236-253; J. D. G. Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975), esp. pp. 308-326; J. J. Engelbrecht, Jr. "Pneuma en Eskatologie by Paulus", Neotestamentica, 3 (1969): 61-75; J. P. Versteeg, Christus en de Geest (Kampen: Kok, 1971). Still stimulating and valuable is the ground-breaking work of G. Vos, "The eschatological aspect of the Pauline conception of Spirit," Biblical and Theological Studies (New York: Scribners, 1912), pp. 209-259 and The Pauline Eschatology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979/1930), pp. 159-171.

4. This conclusion follows from Paul's only other use of the psychikon-pneumatikon contrast earlier in 2:14-15 as well as the fact that, apart from the (unrelated) exception in Eph. 6:12, Paul always uses the adjective pneumatikon to refer to the activity of the Holy Spirit; cf. R. B. Gaffin, Jr., The Centrality of the Resurrection (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978), pp. 85f. 

5. See e.g., Versteeg, Christus en de Geest, pp. 43-96 and Gaffin, Centrality, pp. 78-92. 

6. Despite the divergence of opinion among commentators and the ambivalence of some, the reference of "heaven" and "heavenly" on the one side of the contrast in verses 47-49, is almost certainly to the exaltation (not, say, to Christ's pre-existence or his incarnation).

7. So Versteeg, Christus en de Geest, p. 91.


Westminster Theological Seminary
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


From C. J.Wethmar and C. J. A. Vos (Ed.), 'N WOORD OP SY TYD (a festschrift for Professor Johan Heyns) reprinted by permission of NG Kerkboekhandel, 1988 (Edms) Bpk, Pretoria, 1988, pp. 45-52.