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I found similar questions asked on Romans 8:9, but none asked with this focus, One was even closed for lack of focus.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit [πνεύματι], if in fact the Spirit of God [πνεῦμα θεοῦ] dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ [πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ] does not belong to him. (Rom. 8:9, ESV)

If Spirit of Christ equals Spirit of God, doesn't it follow that Christ is God?

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  • This is a very obvious question, but How is it not different than all "spirit of Christ" featuring 1Peter1:11 and Rom 8:9 topics? The only diff is that you explicitly wanna know if Christ is God, something which was implicit in those topics! It becomes a trinitarian theological debate topic. hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/search?q=%22spirit+of+christ%22
    – Michael16
    Aug 10, 2023 at 12:08

4 Answers 4

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My views about the divinity of Christ are well-known on this site (I have been consistently downvoted for them, often). However, let me set out what Rom 8:9 actually says.

If we assume for the moment that Rom 8:9 is equating the Spirit of Christ with the Spirit of God (that is disputed by some, but not many), then it does NOT necessarily follow that Christ is God. Allow me to illustrate with another example:

My spouse and I live in the same house and thus I am able to say (with legal documents to prove it) that the house in which I live is my house. My spouse can also say that the same house also belongs to my spouse. Thus, two people can legitimately say that the same house is theirs; BUT - this does not make both people the same person.

The same is true of the Holy Spirit. Whether that Holy Spirit is a person or otherwise, the fact that the Holy Spirit is both the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of God (the Father) does not make Christ = the Father.

Further, the same verse also says that this Holy Spirit dwells within all Christians (see also 2 Tim 1:14, 1 Cor 3:16, James 4:5, Rom 8:11, Eph 2:22, etc) and thus, in one sense at least, as a Christian I might claim that the Holy Spirit is also my Spirit; but that does not make me divine nor equal to either Christ or God.

CONCLUSION

Thus, I would respond to the OP's question with the answer, "NO". Rom 8:9 does not make Christ equal with God. That fact must be deduced from other places and material in the Bible.

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    Romans 8:9 says "spirit of God" not "spirit of Father", doesn't it? The question is does this verse make Christ = God, not Christ = Father. Also, for the house example to work the Spirit would have to be something other than Christ or God, just as the house is something other than you or your spouse. Aug 11, 2023 at 12:24
  • 4
    Regarding your point about being voted down, I wish people would reserve downvotes for poor or illogical answers rather than on a basis of theological correctness as they see it. As the opening paragraph of the Tour says "We welcome Jewish, Christian, Atheist, and other viewpoints, as long as they take seriously the process of understanding Biblical texts." Aug 11, 2023 at 13:12
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    @DanFefferman - I could not agree more strongly
    – Dottard
    Aug 11, 2023 at 21:28
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    I agree with the conclusion the verse does not make Christ equal to God. OTOH your analysis deviates from the actual text which describes three distinct, πνεύματι, πνεῦμα θεοῦ, and πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ (all without an article). There is no mention of πνεύματι ἁγίῳ. A more reasoned approach would not assume what was purposely omitted (eg. 9:1, 14:17, 15:16) is essential to understanding what was written here. Aug 13, 2023 at 8:13
  • My second question that I didn't think was complicated becoming so.
    – Perry Webb
    Aug 15, 2023 at 9:49
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Three Distinct - Not Two Equal

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (ESV)
ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐκ ἐστὲ ἐν σαρκὶ ἀλλὰ ἐν πνεύματι εἴπερ πνεῦμα θεοῦ οἰκεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν εἰ δέ τις πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ οὐκ ἔχει οὗτος οὐκ ἔστιν αὐτοῦ

God and Christ are both genitive with the head noun Spirit πνεῦμα θεοῦ...πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ. Spirit is also used without a genitive, πνεύματι. All are anarthrous; "the" Spirit of God and "the" Spirit of Christ add something not present in the text. Understanding Paul intends to describe each as distinct is also seen in how each is used to express a different relationship to the believer.

  • Spirit - δὲ οὐκ ἐστὲ ἐν σαρκὶ ἀλλὰ ἐν πνεύματι You now are not in flesh but in Spirit.
  • Spirit of God - πνεῦμα θεοῦ οἰκεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν Spirit of God dwells in you.
  • Spirit of Christ - πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ οὐκ ἔχει Spirit of Christ not have

Finally, since the most common use of the article is anaphoric1by omission the composition prevents understanding Paul intends to equate either Spirit of God or Spirit of Christ with Spirit. On this basis alone it would be wrong to equate God and Christ. The text has been composed such that both Spirit of God and Spirit of Christ are described as separate and distinct from Spirit.

Spirit πνεύματι - Spirit of God πνεῦμα θεοῦ - Spirit of Christ πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ
The three uses of Spirit have been arranged chiastically centered on Spirit of God dwells in you which is introduced with the conditional εἴπερ. This word is only used by Paul (cf. Romans 3:30, 8:9, 8:17, 1 Corinthians 8:5, 15:15, 2 Thessalonians 1:6) and is absent from the LXX.

In discussing conditional sentences, Daniel B. Wallace places Romans 8:9 in the the category of "Assumed True for the Sake of Argument" and gives this explanation:

Here the conditional particle is a spin-off of εἰ, strengthening the ascensive force. This looks very much like 1 Thessalonians 4:14-i.e., it too seems to be a "responsive" condition. The audience would most likely respond along these lines: "If the Spirit of God dwells in us? Of course he does! And this means that we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit? Remarkable!"2

The "assumed true" aspect of εἴπερ is better expressed as since God's Spirit dwells in you, and the three distinct uses of Spirit describe three distinct conditions:

A  You now are not in flesh but in Spirit
   ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐκ ἐστὲ ἐν σαρκὶ ἀλλὰ ἐν πνεύματι        
   
    B Since Spirit of God dwells in you
      εἴπερ πνεῦμα θεοῦ οἰκεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν

A' If now anyone Spirit of Christ does not have he does not belong to him
     εἰ δέ τις πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ οὐκ ἔχει οὗτος οὐκ ἔστιν αὐτοῦ

The opening begins with a negative statement, you are not in flesh.... The negative in this case is a positive condition ...in Spirit. The verse begins by stating both sides of being in Spirit. The condition of being in Spirit leads to the second: Spirit of God dwells in you. Together these indicate a relationship between Spirit and God's Spirit. The verse ends by stating a negative condition Spirit of Christ not have and the negative results not belong to him.

Since Spirit of Christ is placed in a negative condition, does not have, the opposite does have is is not found in this verse.3One may assume does have also means does belong, but clearly Paul chose not to say anyone who has Spirit of Christ does belong to him.

The significance of the negative condition is not in either have ἔχει or not have, οὐκ ἔχει. With respect to Christ, the positive condition is to be "in" ἐν. For example, compare 8:9 with 8:1:

(8:1) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
(8:9a) You now are not in flesh but in Spirit
(8:9b) since Spirit of God dwells in you
(8:9c) If now anyone does not have Spirit of Christ he does not belong to him

The typical Pauline term for those who have come to faith in the Gospel is to be in Christ, ἐν Χριστῷ or in Christ Jesus, ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, not in Spirit, ἐν πνεύματι. Therefore what Paul says in 8:9 looks back to 8:1 which demands understanding in Spirit means the same as in Christ Jesus or in Christ and so, Spirit of God dwells in you. Again, each of the three must be seen as distinct from the other. Despite being distinct, the three describe one condition.

Like the answer to the question who raised Jesus from the dead, the answer to how does one who believes the Gospel experience new life while still in the body, is three-fold. It is not only Spirit. It is not only Spirit of God. It is not only Spirit of Christ. It is three-as-one.

Conclusion
One way of understanding the Trinity is by the deity of Jesus. Yet, we must remember the correct Trinitarian definition of God includes Three, Jesus and Father and Spirit, not one. This means "God" should not be used of just one of the Three, unless it is qualified to distinctly apply to just one of the Three (eg. God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ or our God and Savior Jesus Christ).

The essence of the Trinity is found in passages such as Romans 8 which describe three distinct in a way which results in one identical condition. Just as the resurrection of Jesus is described in terms of three distinct acting in a single work, so too those who believe the Gospel are described in terms of three distinct: in Christ Jesus and in Spirit and God's Spirit dwells in them.

Significantly, Paul makes no mention of Holy Spirit and the one reference to Father is familial:

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 18 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8)

Paul leaves no doubt of the nature of Spirit, Spirt of God, and Spirit of Christ Jesus in this passage.


1. Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, Zondervan, 1996, p. 218
2. Ibid., p. 694
3. When a negative statement is false, it does not logically say anything about the true condition. This is especially where the writer purposely chooses to avoid making explicit the positive condition. After laying out the positive in Spirit and God's Spirit dwells in you, one might expect you have Spirit of Christ and belong to him.

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    "Significantly, Paul makes no mention of Holy Spirit and the one reference to Father is familial." You make an important point. While most commentators consider "the one who raised Jesus/Christ" is a periphrasis of God the Father, some (Barnes) believe it to be a reference to the Holy Spirit. I myself do not see why it could not also refer to Christ (cf Jn 2:19). So even in this one expression, there is an ambiguity that is richly suggestive.
    – Nhi
    Aug 17, 2023 at 14:24
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Romans 8:9 lies within a discussion where death/sinful flesh is presented in opposition to life/Spirit. In this context, there are three noun constructions in vv 9-11 that share a similar structure – the word pneuma followed by a genitive noun/pronoun:

Pneuma Theou  Spirit of God 
Pneuma Christou  Spirit of Christ
Pneuma tou egeirantos ton Iēsoun  Spirit of the one who raised Jesus

While pneuma is the common denominator in these three constructions, the relationship among them is not made clear. When Paul makes the connection between the Spirit and life, is he referring to [the] Spirit of God, [the] Spirit of Christ, or the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus? The overlapping thoughts make it difficult to answer this question.

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. – Rom 8:9-11 NKJ

Rather than intentionally trying to confuse, I believe what the author is trying to communicate is beyond what human language can convey. Can we conclude from his words that Christ is God? Instead of saying Christ is God, I understand the text to mean that Christ is one in Spirit with God and the only way by which we can enter into that union. What it ultimately means to say that Christ is one in Spirit with God depends, I think, on the faith of each person.

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Plain and Obvious

Yes, Paul assumes as do all the scripture that Christ is God. The natural and direct meaning is the correct one, and I think the theological presuppositions may unnecessarily hamper the obvious interpretation of this text which clearly uses "spirit of Christ" interchangeably with "spirit of God". This should be not surprising since the New Testament is quite clear about teaching the deity of Christ and that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ (Acts 16:6-7, Phil 1:19, 1Pet 1:11). The tendency to repeat and extend the same thought with slight variations is common in Paul's writing.

This quote from Witness Lee has nicely interpreted the passage in the book The Relationship of God with Man in God's New Creation- 2004, Page 15

In the previous chapter we saw that God is the Triune God who is mingled with man. This is further confirmed in Romans chapter eight. Verses 9-10a of this chapter say, “But you are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Yet if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not of Him. But if Christ is in you...” These verses mention the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ interchangeably, indicating that the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ. Furthermore, Christ is mentioned interchangeably with the Spirit of Christ, indicating that the Spirit of Christ is Christ Himself. These three titles—the Spirit of God.” “the Spirit of Christ,” and “Christ”—refer to one person, because the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of Christ is Christ Himself. These three are one Spirit, for Christ is God (9:5) and Christ is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17). Verse 11 in Romans 8 continues, "If the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you". In verses 9 through 11 there are actually four different titles: the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, Christ, and the Spirit. Actually, these titles refer not to four different persons but to one person.

As Christians who have received the Lord Christ as our Savior, we must know two things. The first is that the One ‘whom we have received as our Savior is not only God but also aman. He is a God-man, man as well as God and God as well ‘as man. Because God is the Triune God, our Savior s also a Triune God-man. Moreover, we have pointed out that this ‘Savior whom we have received is God mingled with man. He was mingled with man before we received Him.

Also, Frank D. Macchia writes in The Trinity, Practically Speaking - Page 79

Jesus and God as Interchangeable
It is quite remarkable how the terms Jesus and God become interchangeable in the New Testament. For example, the Holy Spirit is called the “Spirit of God” in the Bible (e.g., Matthew 3:16). God said in Joel, “I will pour out my Spirit” in the latter days (Joel 2:28; see Acts 2:17). God calls the Holy Spirit “my Spirit” because the Spirit belongs uniquely to God as representative of God's presence. God breathes forth the Spirit as his very own breath (Genesis 2:7). Yet in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is also called the Spirit of Christ (e.g. Philippians 1:19), and Christ breathed forth the Holy Spirit as his own breath (John 20:22). The Spirit belongs to Christ in the same way that the Spirit belongs to God, equating Jesus with God.

Romans 8:9 refers to the Holy Spirit as both the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. The Spirit therefore belongs to Christ as much as to God. The Spirit proceeds from God the Father and is also sent by Christ (John 15:26). God will pour out the Spirit according to Joel 2:28, and Jesus pours forth the Spirit, as well (Acts 2:33). Jesus does so from the right hand of God, a position of divine authority. With regard to the Holy Spirit, God and Christ are interchangeable terms. The Spirit is breathed by both and poured forth by both. The Spirit testifies for both (John 15:26). The Spirit essentially belongs to both. The implication is that Jesus shares deity with God the Father.

The same can be said for a number of other terms. The kingdom or reign of God (c.g., Matthew 12:28) is also at the same time the kingdom or reign of Christ (e.g., Ephesians 5:5).

From Catena Bible site, we see early Christian Abrose from 400 AD commenting on this verse:

...they will be said to be in the Spirit, because the Spirit of God cannot dwell in anyone who follows carnal things. Here Paul says that the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ, for everything which belongs to the Father belongs to the Son as well.

And Oecumenius, AD 990

The Spirit is common to the Father and the Son.

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