Romans 8:9 Commentary



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Romans 8:9 Commentary

Romans 8:9  However you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him (NASB: Lockman)

Greek humeis de ouk este (2PPAI) en sarki alla en pneumati, eiper pneuma theou oikei (3SPAI) en humin. ei de tis pneuma Christou ouk echei, (3SPAI) houtos ouk estin (3SPAI) autou.
Amplified But you are not living the life of the flesh, you are living the life of the Spirit, if the [Holy] Spirit of God [really] dwells within you [directs and controls you]. But if anyone does not possess the [Holy] Spirit of Christ, he is none of His [he does not belong to Christ, is not truly a child of God].
 (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: but you are not dominated by the pursuits which fascinate our sinful human nature; you are dominated by the Spirit, if so it be that the Spirit of God dwells in you. If anyone does not possess the Spirit of Christ he does not belong to Christ. (Westminster Press)
Godet: But as for you, ye are not under the dominion of the flesh, but under that of the Spirit, if the Spirit of God really dwell in you. But if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His
Phillips: But you are not carnal but spiritual if the Spirit of God finds a home within you. You cannot, indeed, be a Christian at all unless you have something of His Spirit in you. (
Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: But, as for you, you are not in the sphere of the sinful nature but in the sphere of the Spirit, provided that the Spirit of God is in residence in you. But, assuming that a person does not have Christ’s Spirit, this one does not belong to Him.  (
Young's Literal:  And ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God doth dwell in you; and if any one hath not the Spirit of Christ -- this one is not His;


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Modified from Irving L. Jensen's excellent work "Jensen's Survey of the NT"

HOWEVER, YOU ARE NOT IN THE FLESH BUT IN THE SPIRIT: humeis de ouk este (2PPAI) en sarki alla en pneumati: (Ro 8:2; Ezek 11:19; 36:26,27; Jn 3:6)

"are not controlled by the flesh but by the Spirit"  (NET Bible Note)

“You are not unspiritual but spiritual.” (Charles Hodge)

In Romans 8:9-11, we have the full and final answer to the question of Romans 7:24, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?." The basis of the deliverance is clearly the indwelling Spirit of God.

"However" (or "but" in most translations) marks a contrast. Paul’s readers were not those who only had a sinful human nature.

You (5210) (humeis) is the second person personal pronoun "you". After speaking objectively about the two types of persons, Paul now addresses his readers directly as "you".  Here the “you” is emphatic (notice it is placed first in the Greek sentence for emphasis). It is also notable that since the Greek verb ("are" = este) normally carries its own person in its ending ("you" is determined by the ending), it would not need a separate pronoun ("you") to indicate the person acting in the verb. The point is that when a pronoun ('humeis" = you, in this case) is used with a verb ("are" = este), it is used for emphasis or for contrast. Paul had just spoken of the unregenerate who were in the sphere of the flesh or in the grip of the evil nature, namely. Thus one might paraphrase what Paul is saying as follows...

“But as for you, in contradistinction to the unsaved, you are not in the sphere of the evil nature, the flesh  but in the sphere of the Spirit."

The little preposition "in" (1722) (en) speaks of the sphere in which one lives. As a fish lives in water and all mankind in oxygenated air, so too a believer lives no longer in the "atmosphere" of the flesh but in the sphere of the Spirit. Not only that but the Holy Spirit now lives within him.

William Newell writes that...

Here the great mark of a true Christian is, that the Spirit of God dwells in him. If he is indwelt by the Spirit of God, he is not "in flesh, " but instead an entirely different kind of being, -"in Spirit." The Spirit becomes now the element in which the believer lives, like water to the fish, or air to the bird, vital, supplying, protecting. (Romans 8: Expository Notes Verse by Verse)

Constable remarks that...

This is one of the clearest statements in Scripture that corrects the false notion that baptism with the Spirit is a second work of grace for the Christian. (Expository Notes)

The KJV Bible Commentary adds that here...

 Paul clearly teaches that no one can receive Christ’s atonement for salvation unless the Spirit of God dwells within him. It is therefore irrational to say that there are Christians who have not fully received the blessing of the Spirit of God. There is no scriptural basis for a second work of grace or a baptism of the Holy Spirit subsequent to salvation. At salvation either we have all of the Spirit of God or we have none of Him. There may be a time subsequent to salvation in which the Spirit of God gets more of us, but there is never a time when we get more of Him. (Dobson, E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV Bible Commentary: Nelson)

Note also that the phrase "in the flesh" clearly is opposed to the phrase "in the Spirit" (believer). The point is that while believers may occasionally act like they are still "in the flesh", the fact is that strictly speaking they are no longer living in the sphere of the flesh. Thus "in the flesh" is not an accurate description of the state of a genuine believer, irregardless of how "fleshly" they might be behaving at the moment!

Not (3756) (ou) is absolutely not. You are absolutely not in the flesh.

Flesh (4561) (sarx) (Click word study on sarx) in this verse refers to the evil nature present in those in Adam (and still present even in regenerate man).

Haldane writes that...

Flesh is a principle that attaches to the earth, and the things of the earth; but the spirit of regeneration is as a light, which, coming from heaven, elevates the mind to those things that are celestial...This indwelling of the Spirit is a sure evidence of a renewed state; and believers should be careful not to grieve the Spirit, and should labor to enjoy a constant sense of His presence in their hearts.  (Haldane, R. An Exposition on the Epistle to the Roman. Ages Classic Commentaries)

A T Robertson notes that "in the Spirit" most likely refers to...

“in the Holy Spirit.” It is not Pantheism or Buddhism that Paul here teaches, but the mystical union of the believer with Christ in the Holy Spirit. (Greek Word Studies)

IF INDEED THE SPIRIT OF GOD DWELLS IN YOU: eiper pneuma theou oikei (3SPAI) en humin: (Ro 8:11; Lk 11:13; 1Cor 3:16; 6:19; 2Cor 6:16; Gal 4:6; Eph 1:13,17,18; 2:22; 2Ti 1:14; 1Jn 3:24; 4:4; Jude 1:19, 20, 21) (Jn 3:34; Gal 4:6; Php 1:19; 1Pet 1:11)

"If" (1512) (eiper)  is an emphatic marker of condition and is used of something that is assumed to be. Eiper could be translated “since”, "if as is the fact", "if as is the case." That is, since the Spirit of God dwells in you, that is an indication that you are not in the sphere of the evil nature, the flesh.

McGee explains it this way...

This first “if” is not casting a doubt over the Roman believers’ salvation. They are saved. Let me give you a literal translation: “But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit since the Spirit of God really dwells in you.” That is the real test...The true mark of a born-again believer and a genuine Christian is that he is indwelt by the Spirit of God...A believer is a new creation (Ed note: The indwelling Holy Spirit gives a believer a totally different life - 2Cor 5:17). Do you love Him? (Do you love His Word? Do you want to communicate with Him?) Do you want to serve Him? Are these things uppermost in your mind and heart? Or are you in rebellion against God? (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary:  Nashville: Thomas Nelson)

Dwells (3611) (oikeo from oikos = home) means to live or dwell in a certain place as one's home. Present tense = "is dwelling" or continually dwells. This fact is important for it emphasizes that the Spirit is not an occasional visitor but that He takes up residence in God’s children. What an awesome truth that the Spirit of the Living God would make His home in ever redeemed sinner.

Godet writes that oikeo in the present tense

denotes a permanent fact; it is not enough to have some seasons of impulse, some outbursts of enthusiasm, mingled with practical infidelities. (Godet, F L: Commentary on Romans. Kregel. 1998)

Sanday and Headlam remark that oikeo...

denotes a settled permanent penetrative influence. (Sanday, W., & Headlam, A. C.. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle of the Romans. Originally published 1897. T. & T. Clark Publishers. 1980)

The New Jerusalem Bible renders it as

"the Spirit of God has made a home in you."

S Lewis Johnson draws a wonderful picture from Romans 8:9 noting that...

The believer is said to be in the Spirit, but the Spirit is also said to be in him. That is the language of an element, such as the elements of earth, water, fire, and air. It may be illustrated, for example, by the element of water. A fish may be said to be in the water, but the water is also in the fish. The force of the terms is to stress the closeness of the relationship that exists between the believer and the Spirit, a kind of mutual indwelling. The Spirit is the believer's element, a magnificent picture indeed. The apostle also points to the absolute necessity of the possession of the Spirit for one to belong to Christ. This is the test of spiritual life (cf. Gal. 4:1-7). (Romans 8:5-17) (Bolding added)

Although, not in a comment specifically on this passage, the rabbis wrote that  he who dwells in a house is the master of the house, not just a passing guest! Ponder that in the context of Romans 8:9!

Charles Hodge writes that...

The Roman Christians’ faith was spoken about throughout the world. Their real character, however, was not determined either by their professions or their reputation. The apostle therefore adds, if the Spirit of God lives in you. This is the only decisive test. Every other bond of union with Christ is of no avail without this. We may be members of his church, yet unless we share that vital union which comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are his only in name. The Spirit of God is everywhere, yet he is said to dwell wherever he especially and permanently manifests his presence. So he is said to dwell in heaven; he dwelt of old in the temple; he now dwells in the church, which is “a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22); and he lives in each individual believer, whose body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). (Compare John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16; 2 Timothy 1:14 note; etc.)

Mounce adds that the reality of the indwelling Spirit...

Obviously rests upon the assumption that the Spirit of God had taken possession of them. (Mounce, R. H. Romans: The New American Commentary. Broadman & Holman Publishers)

Mounce goes on to add the important comment that...

Nowhere in Scripture do we find a clearer indication that the Spirit enters a person’s life at the moment of conversion (cf. also 1Cor 12:13 "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit."). If the Spirit needed to wait for some subsequent commitment to holiness, it follows that he would be absent between conversion and that later point in time. But that cannot be because Paul clearly indicated that a person without the Spirit does not belong to Christ. It is because God has given us his Spirit that “we know that we live in him and he in us” (1John 4:13). Without His Spirit there can be no assurance of salvation. (Ibid)

Wuest comments that...

The Spirit is not only resident in the believer in the sense of position in him, but He is actively at home in him, living in him as His home. The Spirit has a ministry to perform in him, namely, to give him victory over sin and produce His own fruit. This, together with the presence of the imparted divine nature in him, (Ed note: see note 2 Peter 1:4) and the fact that God has broken the power of the flesh (Ed note: see especially dead to sin in see  notes Romans 6:1-2; Romans 6:3), puts that person out of the sphere of the flesh and into the sphere of the Holy Spirit. (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Studies in the Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans)

The saved person is therefore not in the grip of the flesh but under the control of the Holy Spirit as he yields himself to Him (Gal 5:16-18).

Warren Wiersbe adds...

What a difference it makes in your body when the Holy Spirit lives within. You experience new life, and even your physical faculties take on a new dimension of experience. When evangelist D. L. Moody described his conversion experience, he said: “I was in a new world. The next morning the sun shone brighter and the birds sang sweeter... the old elms waved their branches for joy, and all nature was at peace.” Life in Christ is abundant life. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)

Most Jewish people did not claim to have the Spirit; they believed that the Spirit would be made available only in the time of the end. After the Messiah had come, all those who were truly God’s people would have the Spirit working in them (cf. Isaiah 44:3; Isaiah 59:21 Ezekiel 39:29).

BUT IF ANYONE DOES NOT HAVE THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST HE DOES NOT BELONG TO HIM: ei de tis pneuma Christou ouk echei (3SPAI), houtos ouk estin (3SPAI) autou: (Jn 17:9,10; 1Cor 3:21, 22, 23; 15:23; 2Cor 10:7; Gal 5:24; Rev 13:8; 20:15)

But if anyone does not possess the [Holy] Spirit of Christ, he is none of His [he does not belong to Christ, is not truly a child of God].  (Amplified Bible)

But, assuming that a person does not have the Spirit of Christ, this one does not belong to Him. (Wuest)

In this section of the verse "if" (1487) (ei) defines a condition of the first class or one that is assumed to be true.

Leon Morris draws our attention to Paul's

Notice the “characteristic delicacy of expression” (Sanday and Headlam); Paul used “you” when speaking of those who are not in the flesh, but now “anyone” as he refers to those who do not have the Spirit. (Morris, L. The Epistle to the Romans. Eerdmans; 1988)

Note that, in this verse, the Holy Spirit is called both the "Spirit of God" and the "Spirit of Christ." The terms are synonymous. Thus, Christ is God, and so is the Holy Spirit. (see note Philippians 1:19 for "Spirit of Jesus Christ" and note on 1 Peter 1:11 for "Spirit of Christ", cp Gal 4:6 "Spirit of His Son", Acts 16:7 "Spirit of Jesus") Paul sees the Holy Spirit as integrally related to Christ as well as to God the Father.

Hodge adds that...

No clearer assertion and no higher exhibition of the Godhead of the Son can be conceived than that which presents him as the source and the possessor of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit proceeds from and belongs to him and by him is given to whomever he wills (John 1:33; 15:26; 16:7; Luke 24:49; etc.). (Hodge, Charles: Commentary on Romans. Ages Classic Commentaries)

Kent Hughes adds the practical comment that...

The clear implication of Paul’s use of the phrase “the Spirit of Christ” is that through the Spirit we experience something of Jesus’ disposition—His kindness, His gentle care, His love in our lives. As we allow the Holy Spirit to fill us, we are filled with the ethos of Jesus, and life becomes more and more to us what it was and is to Him. (Amen!) (Hughes, R. K. Romans: Righteousness from heaven. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books)

Have (2192) (echo) means to possess and is in the present tense points to more than a passing contact but conveys the thought of continual possession.

Not (3756) (ou) means absolutely not and is used in both phrases "does not have the Spirit" and "does not belong to Him"

"Not belong to Him" is literally "He is absolutely not His". The Greek is what is referred to as "genitive of possession" which conveys the idea of ownership, in this case in a negative sense. Paul's point is that the one who does not have the Spirit of Christ is not "owned" by Christ and thus is an unsaved person. Since only the Holy Spirit gives spiritual life, a person cannot be related to Christ apart from the Spirit.

Haldane notes that here Paul gives...

a necessary reservation. If the Spirit of God did not really dwell in any of those whom the Apostle addressed, they were still in the flesh, notwithstanding all their profession, and all their present appearances, and his persuasion respecting them. And no doubt some will be found to have escaped for a time the pollutions of the world, who may afterwards show that they were never renewed in heart. Many ridicule the pretensions of those who speak of the Holy Spirit as dwelling in believers; yet if the Spirit of God dwell not in any, they are still in the flesh; that is, they are enemies to God... Every Christian has the Spirit of Christ dwelling in him. When Christ takes possession of any man as His, He puts His Holy Spirit within him. Without the presence of His Spirit, we can have no interest in Christ. (Haldane, R. An Exposition on the Epistle to the Roman. Ages Classic Commentaries)

Wuest adds that...

The truth is brought out that the Holy Spirit is given the believing sinner the moment he puts his faith in the Lord Jesus, and not some time afterwards, as is erroneously taught in some quarters, since that believing sinner becomes the possession of the Lord Jesus the moment he believes and thus must possess the Holy Spirit as an indweller (cp note Romans 5:5). (Ibid)

This verse also makes it clear that the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is the identifying mark of a believer in Jesus Christ. In his first epistle John echoes this truth writing that

"the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And we know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us." (1John 3:24)

John adds that...

"By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit." (1John 4:13)

To belong to the family of God, it is essential that a person have the Holy Spirit. No amount of religious devotion or good works will produce salvation and eternal life, but only "the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (see note Titus 3:5).

Every true believer in Christ is indwelt by the Holy Spirit for as Paul asks...

"do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, Whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?" (1Cor 6:19)

All believers are being led by the Holy Spirit

"For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." (see note Romans 8:14).

The person who gives no evidence of the presence, power, and fruit of God’s Spirit in his life has no legitimate claim to Christ as Savior and Lord. Stated another way, the person who demonstrates no desire for the things of God and has no inclination to avoid sin or passion to please God is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit and thus does not belong to Christ.

In light of this sobering truth Paul admonishes those who claim to be Christians:

Test (present imperative = continually, command) yourselves (who?) to see if you are in the faith; examine (dokimazo = present imperative) yourselves! Or do you not recognize (know fully) this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you-unless indeed you fail the test (a single word in Greek = adokimos = rejected after examination = not standing the test)?” (2Cor 13:5).

The Christian life is the life of the Spirit of Jesus Christ living in and through you.

The Christian life is...

NOT our trying to live like Christ -- that is a misconception,

NOR is it our trying to be Christ-like -- that is another misconception,

NOR is it even Christ giving us the power to live a life like His.

It is none of these. It is the Spirit of Christ indwelling us, living His life through us. And that life was designed to be lived in the toughest, most difficult spots on earth -- your home, your job, your everyday circumstances!

This is the test of whether you are laying hold of the power of the life of Christ in you. Is your home life different? It doesn't make any difference how well you talk in public, but are you different at home? That is the test -- for that is where the Christian life is designed to be lived.

Wayne Barber adds that what Paul is saying in essence is...

"that believers have a brand new identity. When you are in Adam your spirit is dead so you are simply in the flesh.

Now that we are in Christ we are no longer  in the flesh. We can be duped by the flesh or deceived by it but the truth is that we have been baptized into Christ and the spiritual part of our being is now alive (Ro 8:10-note). Have you ever said "Boy, I got in the flesh today". No you didn't because you cannot get back in the flesh. Now that you are in Christ, you are now in the Spirit. You may be "after the flesh"…you may have strayed off course…you may have put your confidence back in your flesh, but you are not in the flesh anymore. And that's why you are so miserable and that's why the Holy Spirit is trying to get you back on course of gravitating you toward God.

Now the Spirit dwells in you, the Greek word signifying to be at home. So if you have the Holy Spirit of God in you, then you are no longer in the flesh. You are a brand new entity - you are in the Spirit. Yes, you will still sin, but when you sin you are going against the direction that the Spirit is drawing you toward (Ezekiel 36:27).

Some people believe that you can be saved and not receive the Holy Spirit until later in your "Christian life". But the meaning here is quite clear -

No Spirit of Christ = Not born again

When you received Christ, you received all of God you will ever get and you received one God. You do not receive the Spirit of God later. Be suspicious when someone tries to get you to go to a revival or a meeting so that you will receive the Holy Spirit.

Like Dr Barber warns there are many so called "revivals" going on in America today that are not focused on Jesus but on the Spirit. But remember what Jesus told us that when the Spirit comes "He will bear witness of" Jesus (John 15:26)."

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