Monday, July 02, 2007

“Human Spirit” or “Holy Spirit” in 2 Corinthians 5:5?

(Scripture quotations from the KJV unless otherwise noted.)

In 2 Corinthians 5:4-5 we read:
4For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
5Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.
It has been argued that this “Spirit” is the human spirit, that the existence of our eternal human spirit serves as a “down-payment” (“earnest”) of immortality.

The Apostle Paul, as any preacher might do, often “recycles” his sermons as he presents them to different churches (perhaps “tweaking” the lesson over time, as any preacher might do); he even mentions this habit in 1 Corinthians 4:17:
For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.
The idea of the “spirit being a guarantee” seems to be one of those topics that Paul presents to different church groups. He writes of it to the Corinthian church (as quoted above), and he writes of it to the Ephesian church, as here from Ephesians 1:12-14:
12That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
13In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
In the Ephesian passage however, Paul “tweaks” his sermon by adding the word “holy”.

In both passages the spirit performs the same function, serving as a down-payment (“earnest”) of “our inheritance until the redemption” (“mortality swallowed up in life”). This indicates that both passages are referring to the same spirit.

Since Paul identifies the spirit in the Ephesians passage as the “holy spirit”, it seems reasonable to conclude that the spirit in the Corinthians passage is also the “holy spirit”.

Conclusion: The spirit referred to in 2 Corinthians 5:5 is probably the “Holy Spirit” rather than the “Human Spirit”.

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