The Fulfillment of the Law by the Spirit: Tracing Paul’s Eschatological Thought in Rom. 8:1-11

(This paper is published here as a theological reference for the pastor, teacher, seminary student, scholar, and every thoughtful believer.)
Paul has established that the law produced paradoxical results—powerlessness to destroy sin but also increasing power of sin (5:20). Salvation therefore is not to be found in the law, for with the law came only the knowledge and power of sin. Where sin increased in death, however, grace increased much more, which is found only in therighteousness of Christ. Salvation then is found in union with Christ, in His death and resurrection (6:4). Having died to the law through Christ, believers now serve the law no longer, but “the new life of the Spirit” (7:4, 6). It is at this point that Paul introduces the eschatological gift of the Spirit in fulfilling the requirements of the law. The gift of the Spirit of Christ signaled the new era of deliverance from the power of sin. Paul builds on the role of the Spirit in breaking that power, using the nouns, pneumatos and pneuma, “spirit,” seventeen times in Rom. 8 alone, while using them only seven times throughout the letter. While Christ’s death on the cross provided the basis for fulfilling the law’s requirement (8:1-4), the gift of the Spirit transferred believers into a new epochal reality—the realm of the Spirit, that the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled in them (8:5-11) . . . . more
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