MY EVANGELICAL THEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 2018 PAPER – “The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Atonement and its Application”




     David L. Allen

Dean, School of Preaching

Distinguished Professor of Preaching

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Fort Worth, Texas

(Draft only)



While the NT is replete with references that speak to the role of the Holy Spirit in the application of the atonement to the believer, it says next to nothing specifically concerning the role of the Holy Spirit during the time Jesus suffered and died on the cross. Only Hebrews 9:14 addresses the issue, and that assumes the “eternal Spirit” in the text is a reference to the Holy Spiri.

For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works so that we can serve the living God? (Heb 9:13–14)


The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Atonement: Hebrews 9:14.

I will not take the time to cover all the exegetical ground relative to the meaning of διὰ πνεύματος αἰωνίου (“through the eternal Spirit”) in v. 14 beyond a general survey of interpretations. It would appear there are at least 10 different views.[1] Some are possible; a few are plausible; none is provable.

  1. The Holy Spirit.[2]
  2. The divine nature of Christ.[3]
  3. The human nature/spirit of Christ (in correspondence with “eternal redemption” of v. 12 and thus stressing eternal efficacy).[4]
  4. Christ offered to God, in the heavenly Holy of Holies, his blood which was shed on the cross.[5]
  5. “Eternal Spirit” stands in opposition to the “fire,” by which the Levitical sacrifices were offered to God.[6]
  6. Christ’s spirit of determination in the sense of Jesus’ will to be obedient through suffering.
  7. The “spirit” and “flesh” are contrasted as “spirit” and “body,” not as “divine” and “human.”
  8. Christ’s state of glorification after his exaltation.
  9. Christ presented Himself not according to the letter of the Mosaic law, but according to its spirit.
  10. Variations on one or more of the previous views.[7]

Of the interpretive options for “eternal Spirit” in Heb 9:14, the two most prominent are 1) the Holy Spirit, and 2) the divinity of Christ.[8] Historically, we may generalize by saying that the interpretation of the Holy Spirit dominated both the Latin and Greek early church fathers, while the interpretation of the divinity of Christ took precedence in the Reformation and post-Reformation era. Indeed, McGrath notes that the interpretation of the divinity of Christ is not found in any commentator prior to Bullinger in the sixteenth century.[9] Calvin interpreted the phrase to mean the Holy Spirit, but Beza took it as a reference to Christ’s divine nature. After the Reformation, many Catholic scholars began to shift to the divinity of Christ view, while later in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, many Protestant scholars began to shift back to the Holy Spirit as the proper interpretation of the phrase.

There seem to be good reasons for taking the phrase “eternal spirit” to be a reference to the Holy Spirit. First, note that prior to Heb 9:14, all references to ‘spirit’ in the singular, with the exception of one (Heb 4:12), have been to the Holy Spirit. Second, many have noted the possible connection to the immediately preceding Heb 9:12 where the phrase “eternal redemption” occurs, and to the following “eternal inheritance” in Heb 9:15.[10] Third, Schreiner notes that the word ‘eternal’ doesn’t fit well with a reference to Jesus’ humanity and seems to fit better with a reference to the Holy Spirit (see §4). Furthermore, the author by adding the word ‘his’ would have made clear that Jesus’ human spirit is intended, and its omission suggests a reference to the Holy Spirit. Most of the references to the Spirit in Hebrews clearly refer to the Holy Spirit (2:4; 3:7; 6:4; 9:8; 10:15, 29; but cf. 4:12).[11] Fourth, in the most recent interpretive variation, Emmrich has attempted to demonstrate that Second Temple Jewish literature links the role of the Holy Spirit with the office and function of the high priest. The author of Hebrews may be keying in to this line of thinking as well.[12]

Why does the author speak of the Spirit as “eternal”? Given the overall context of Hebrews, the author lays stress on the “final” and “eternal” nature of Christ’s sacrifice and priesthood. Many suggest that “eternal” may emphasize the deity of the Spirit. Schreiner states: “Such a notion fits with the Lukan conception of the Spirit’s work in the life of Jesus, where his ministry was empowered by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35; 3:22; 4:1, 14, 18; 10:21).”[13] I might add further that the use of the preposition διὰ with πνεύματος occurs outside of Heb 9:14 only in Acts 1:2, 11:28, and 21:4—all references to the Holy Spirit.[14]


Trinitarian Reflections.

The early church Fathers located the discussion of the atonement within the broader framework of the doctrine of the Trinity.[15] Systematic theologians of all denominations have highlighted the role of the Trinity in atonement.[16] Modern works on the atonement and salvation recognize and emphasize this point. I. Howard Marshall states: “There is an indissoluble unity between Father, Son, and Spirit in the work of redemption.”[17] According to John Webster, “The bedrock of soteriology is the doctrine of the Trinity.”[18] Adam Johnson describes the trinitarian shape of the doctrine of the atonement: “The one God willed to send himself by means of a threefold willing: as Father he willed to sacrifice; as Son he willed to be sacrificed; and as Spirit he willed to accompany and enable the sacrifice.”[19] Johnson correctly warns us, “Any time we speak of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as though they were opposed, we do so at the expense of the doctrine of the Trinity and therefore at the expense of the Gospel—and this is just as true of those critical of the tradition as it is of its overzealous adherents.”[20] Johnson further explains: “Because it is God’s work of reclaiming God’s creation by means of God’s own life and act, for the accomplishment of God’s purposes, the shape of the doctrine of the atonement is essentially Trinitarian.”[21]

Scripture presents atonement and salvation as a trinitarian event. Ephesians 1:3–6 affirms that God is the author of salvation. Ephesians 1:7–12 indicates that Christ provided atonement for sins. Ephesians 1:13–14 states that the Holy Spirit applies and preserves salvation for the believer. In atonement, the Father gave the Son; but the Son also gave Himself. The Father sent the Son; but the Son Himself came. The Father did not require the Son to take up a cross that He was unwilling to bear. The Son did not “extract from the Father a salvation he was reluctant to bestow.”[22] Nor did the Spirit sit idly by with no involvement in the work of the Father and the Son on the cross. In perfect trinitarian harmony, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit work together to atone for human sin and bring about salvation.

The saving work of God is, then, the atoning work of the Son; and the redeeming work of the Father is the saving work of Christ. By his cross and passion in gracious fulfillment of the loving purpose of the Father, Jesus Christ the Son of God has once and for all, on behalf of and instead of sinful man, made a full and perfect atonement for the sins of the world, whereby the broken relationship between God and man should be restored and the barrier to communion with God removed. Without this reality of the cross there is no sure word of redemption for man. This is the divine “transaction”—there need be no hesitation about admitting the word—that makes Christianity not just another religion, not simply another suggested path by which man can rise to God, but a revelation from God of the one gospel of Christ for the world.[23]

Howard Marshall speaks to the trinitarian expression of atonement from a penal substitutionary perspective: “There is an indissoluble unity between Father, Son, and Spirit in the work of redemption. The recognition that it is God the Son, that is to say quite simply God, who suffers and dies on the cross, settles the question finally. This is God himself bearing the consequences of sin, not the abuse of some cosmic child.”[24]

At this point it is important to consider how to understand Jesus’s cry of dereliction from the cross: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34). Does this mean that in some way the intra-trinitarian relationship between the Father, Son, and Spirit was somehow “ruptured” or “broken” at this point? Though some have answered “yes,” Thomas McCall surveys the positions on both sides, including the patristic writers, and concludes the answer should be “no.”[25] McCall notes that concepts such as “rejection” or “completely abandoned” are not found in the NT concerning the action of the Father toward the Son when Jesus was on the cross. In what sense was the Son “forsaken”? The Father left him to die. He was abandoned to the death of the cross.[26]

Jesus’s words are a direct quotation of Ps 22:1. Though not everyone agrees, Jesus’s quotation of the first verse of this psalm likely was meant to bring to mind the entire psalm as a prophetic expression of what was taking place at the cross. This becomes even more likely when we realize that both Matthew and Mark make use of other parts of Psalm 22 in their passion narratives (Matt 27:27–31, 38–44; Mark 15:16–20, 25–32). Matthew and Mark expect their readers to see Psalm 22 as the interpretive key for the cross.[27]

Thus, McCall concludes, rightly in my view, that the Trinity was in no way “fractured,” “broken,” or “ruptured” when Christ died on the cross:

Did the Father “turn his face away from his Son?” No, the only text of Scripture that we can understand to address this question directly, Psalm 22:24, says that the Father did not hide his face from his Son. To the contrary, he has “listened to his cry for help.” Was the eternal communion between the Father and Son somehow ruptured on that terrible day? Was the Trinity broken? The answers to such questions should be resoundingly negative: careful study of the biblical text makes such a view unnecessary, and orthodox trinitarian theology makes it impossible.[28]

Herman Bavinck expresses a similar view:

Also on the cross Jesus remained the beloved Son, the Son of His Father’s good pleasure (Mt 3:17; 17:5). Precisely in his suffering and death, Christ offered his greatest, most complete obedience to the will of the Father. . . . And Jesus himself tells us that the hour would come when all his disciples would abandon him, but that he himself would not be alone for the Father was with him (John 16:32).”[29]

Christ’s eternal Trinitarian union with the Father and the Spirit as well as the incarnational union with humanity remained unbroken at the cross.


Theological Reflections.

If we assume the phrase “by the eternal Spirit” refers to the Holy Spirit in Heb 9:14, then this is an important text that speaks to the Trinitarian nature of the atonement: Christ offered himself to God as a sacrifice through (by means of, with the aid of, enabled by) the Holy Spirit.[30]

The Gospel writers emphasize the role of the Holy Spirit in connection with the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ (Matt 3:16; 12:28; Mark 1:12; Luke 1:17; 2:27; 4:1, 14, 18).[31] Works on the Holy Spirit often, however, tend to minimize or ignore the role of the Holy Spirit in the actual death of Christ on the cross, likely because outside of Heb 9:14, there is no explicit text linking the two.[32] Yet it stands to reason that the Holy Spirit, who played such a vital role in the incarnation, baptism, ministry, and resurrection of Jesus, should also play a vital role in his crucifixion. As John Owen states:

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Son, no less than the Spirit of the Father. He proceedeth from the Son, as from the Father. He is the “Spirit of the Son” Gal. iv. 6. And hence is he the immediate operator of all divine acts of the Son himself, even on his own human nature. Whatever the Son of God wrought in, by, or upon the human nature, he did it by the Holy Ghost, who is his Spirit, as he is the Spirit of the Father.[33]

It would seem Owen did not subscribe to the notion that the Holy Spirit somehow departed from Christ during his sin-bearing on the cross. “In all that ensued, all that followed hereon, unto his giving up the ghost, he offered himself to God in and by those actings of the grace of the Holy Spirit in him, which accompanied him to the last.”[34] Likewise, Owen stated: “All these things being wrought in the human nature by the Holy Ghost, who, in the time of his offering, acted all his graces unto the utmost, he is said thereon to ‘offer himself unto God through the eternal Spirit’”[35]

Abraham Kuyper has rightly argued that the work of the Holy Spirit in the Person of Christ is not exhausted in the incarnation, earthly ministry or resurrection and exaltation, but appears conspicuously in Christ’s death on the cross.[36] In fact, Kuyper argued that Christ’s human nature “could not dispense with the constant inshining of the Holy Spirit,” including Christ’s death on the cross.[37]

Kuyper continued:

To the question how His human nature could pass through eternal death and not perish, having no Mediator to support it, we answer: The human nature of Christ would have been overwhelmed by it, the in-shining of the Holy Spirit would have ceased if His divine nature, i.e., the infinite might of His Godhead, had not been underneath it. Hence the Apostle declares: “Who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself,” . . . . The term “Eternal Spirit” was chosen to indicate that the divine-human Person of Christ entered into such indissoluble fellowship with the Holy Spirit as even eternal death could not break.[38]

For Kuyper, the human nature of Christ exhibited zeal for God and love for sinners in such a way that he gave himself to die on the cross. Such dedication involved the inworking of the Holy Spirit. “The Son was willing so to empty Himself that it would be possible for His human nature to pass through eternal death; and to this end He let it be filled with all the mightiness of the Spirit of God.”[39] The Holy Spirit enabled Christ, our great High Priest, to complete the work of redemption on the cross.

The key point in Kuyper’s work on the Holy Spirit is his assertion, infused in all of his Christology, that Jesus did all he did relying on the Holy Spirit rather than his own deity. This is no less true for the work of Christ in atonement. The Son offers himself as a sacrifice to the Father through the Spirit. The Holy Spirit empowered, enabled, and upheld the Son in his atoning work on the cross.

This assertion, however, should not lead us into too much theological speculation. Jüngel, believing that the Trinity was in jeopardy because of the abandonment of Christ by God and the Holy Spirit, viewed the role of the Holy Spirit at the cross as the bond of love that in some sense held the Trinity together.[40]

Moltmann leaned too heavily into patripassianism, or perhaps what we might term “pneumapassianism,” since he argued that God, and even the Holy Spirit, and not Christ, alone bore the punishment for sin.[41]

Graham Cole suggests there is a “pneumatologia crucis” in John 19:30 and Heb 9:11-14. Pointing to John 19:30, he says that it is not only the Father who has forsaken Jesus, but the Holy Spirit. Jesus is not handing over his own spirit. Pointing to the absence of “his” in the Greek text of John 19:30, Cole supports the notion that Jesus is handing over the Holy Spirit. This becomes problematic in light of Heb 9:14, as Cole also believes that Jesus “through the eternal Spirit” offered himself on the cross.[42] One possible solution, though I don’t find it viable, is if Heb 9:14 is suggesting that the Holy Spirit was isolated to the work of applying the blood at the mercy seat in heaven, concomitant with Christ’s suffering on the cross or immediately afterward. If this is the case, perhaps Cole’s scenario becomes plausible.

How far should we venture into the realm of God’s wrath in relation to Christ and the role of the Holy Spirit at the cross? Caution is in order. But perhaps one might reasonably suppose that in addition to the Holy Spirit’s supporting the human nature of Christ in his atoning work, the Holy Spirit was also in some sense “executing” the wrath of God on the Son for the sins of the world. This would assume some work of the Holy Spirit relative to God’s wrath beyond the actual human event of the crucifixion, which in and of itself could be seen by some as sufficient to account for the wrath of God being brought to bear on the person of Christ. Yet again, we should remember the Trinitarian nature of the atonement: even the Son’s wrath against sin is satisfied by his own sacrifice.


The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Application of the Atonement.

When is the atonement applied to a person? The biblical answer is that atonement is applied at the point of faith in Christ.[43] The provision of the atonement for all is unconditional. But there is a condition annexed by God for the application of the atonement and for our receiving of salvation, which is the benefit of atonement: faith in Christ, as is affirmed in scores of NT texts (e.g., Acts 16:31; Rom 4:5; Eph 2:8–9). The atonement in and of itself saves no one. Pause and let that sink in for a moment. There is nothing in the atonement itself that makes it effectual for anyone. To be effectual, the atonement must be applied by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. This is a theological truth that is confirmed by the likes of such great Calvinist theologians as Charles Hodge, Robert Dabney, W. G. T. Shedd, A. H. Strong, and Millard Erickson, not to mention many others. All orthodox Christians must affirm the distinction between atonement accomplished and atonement applied.

The writings of John Flavel, the great seventeenth-century Puritan, are illuminating: “The same hand that prepared it [redemption] must also apply it, or else we perish, notwithstanding all that the Father has done in contriving, and appointing, and all that the Son has done in executing, and accomplishing the design thus far.”[44] Flavel continues: “Such is the importance of the personal application of Christ to us by the Spirit, that whatsoever the Father has done in the contrivance, or the Son has done in the accomplishment of our redemption, is all unavailable and ineffectual to our salvation without this.”[45] Finally, Flavel adds:

And Christ’s humiliation and sufferings are a most complete and sufficient meritorious cause of our salvation, to which nothing can be added to make it more apt, and able to procure our salvation, than it already is: yet neither the one nor the other can actually save any soul, without the Spirit’s application of Christ to it. The Father has elected, and the Son has redeemed; but until the Spirit (who is the last cause) has wrought his part also, we cannot be saved.[46]

Likewise, the great Lutheran systematic theologian Franz Pieper stated:

The Savior Himself paid the entire debt, . . . and in His resurrection received God’s receipt for it; and this receipt was made out to all mankind. Christ, who was given unto death for our sins, was raised again for our justification (Rom. 4:25). This receipt, “paid in full,” is contained in the Gospel, and the Gospel, by the powerful working of the Holy Ghost (John 16:14), calls forth faith on the part of man (“faith cometh by hearing,” Rom. 10:17).[47]

The atonement is linked to its application, but we must be careful not to conflate the extent with the application. As W. G. T. Shedd correctly states:

The expiation of sin is distinguishable from the pardon of it. The former, conceivably, might take place and the latter not. When Christ died on Calvary, the whole mass, so to speak, of human sin was expiated merely by that death; but the whole mass was not pardoned merely by that death. The claims of law and justice for the sins of the whole world were satisfied by the “offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10); but the sins of every individual man were not forgiven and “blotted out” by this transaction. Still another transaction was requisite in order to this, namely, the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the sinner working faith in this expiatory offering and the declarative act of God saying “your sin is forgiven you.” The Son of God, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, “sat down on the right hand of God” (10:12); but if the redeeming work of the Trinity had stopped at this point, not a soul of mankind would have been pardoned and justified, yet the expiatory value of the “one sacrifice” would have been just the same.[48]

Nowhere in Scripture are we told that atonement is equal to salvation. The benefits of the atonement must be applied to the individual to be efficacious, and such application is clearly conditioned in the NT upon faith in Christ. The cross itself, unapplied, saves no one. Salvation is effected not only through the death of Christ on the cross but also through the application of the benefits of His death by the Holy Spirit. We participate in the life of the triune God “through the work of Christ as the ground of its possibility, and through the agency of the Holy Spirit as its actualization.”[49] Or, as T. F. Torrance put it: “Through the blood of Christ we are redeemed from the guilt of sin, but through the Spirit of Christ we are redeemed into the life of God.”[50]


[1] See J. McGrath, S. J., “Through the Eternal Spirit”: An Historical Study of the Exegesis of Hebrews 9:13–14 (Rome: Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana, 1961), for the history of interpretation.

[2] W. L. Lane, Hebrews 9–13, Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 47 (Dallas: Word Books, 1991), 230: “The interpretation of the expression διὰ πνεύματος αἰωνίου is extremely difficult. The translation reflects the conviction that the expression is a periphrasis for the Holy Spirit. . . . This understanding accounts for the clearly secondary reading διὰ πνεύματος ἁγίου (‘through the Holy Spirit’) found in א2 D* P al it vg bo.” L. T. Johnson, Hebrews: A Commentary (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012), 234, states: “A substantial number of MSS, including the original D and the first corrector of א, have ‘Holy Spirit’ (pneumatos hagiou) rather than ‘eternal spirit’ (pneumatos aiōniou) found in the original hand of א, A, and B, as well as the second hand of D. The change may be due to the presence of the ‘Holy Spirit’ in the preceding 9:8.” The anarthrous use of πνεύματος ἁγίου in reference to the Holy Spirit is found frequently in Hebrews. The phrase διὰ πνεύματος αἰωνίου does not occur elsewhere in the NT or early Christian literature. F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), 217, states: “As regards the variant rendering of the ARV margin, ‘through his eternal spirit,’ it may be said that if our author had meant this, he could have said so quite simply.” The textual evidence at least indicates that many interpreted the phrase as a reference to the Holy Spirit. I cannot agree with Attridge’s statement that “Trinitarian speculation” is not involved since “Hebrews’s references to the spirit are too diffuse and ill-focused to support a Trinitarian theology in this context” (H. Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1989], 250), nor with R. Lenski’s take that to interpret the reference as the Holy Spirit “is to invent and inject a strange idea which is foreign to Scripture” (R. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and of the Epistle of James [Columbus, OH: Lutheran Book Concern, 1946], 298–99).

[3] So Beza, followed by many others: “To the blood of beasts our author opposes the blood of him who was not only man, like others, but also God; for by the designation “eternal spirit” I understand the infinite efficacy of the Deity in the humanity he assumed, which consecrated the whole of his sacrifice” (cited in P. E. Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990], 360). Likewise, G. Vos, The Teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1974), 114. The most thorough critique of this view is McGrath, “Through the Eternal Spirit,” 59–71.

[4] So F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, vol. 2, trans. T. L. Kingsbury (Minneapolis: Klock & Klock Christian Publishers, 1978), 95–96. “Used in this sense, πνεῦμα designates the inward spiritual being of the incarnate one…” (Ibid., 96).

[5] So H. Grotius, Annotationes in Novum Testamentum II, 2 (Leipzig, 1756 [1646]), 897; and P. Limborch, Commentarius in Acta Apostolorum et in Eistolas ad Romanos et ad Hebraeos (Basle, 1740), 640.

[6] So, for example, A. Vanhoye, “Esprit eternal et feu du sacrifice en He 9, 14,” Biblica 64 (1983), 263–74. See the critique of this view by Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 250, and Emmrich, “‘Amtscharisma,’” 18.

[7] For these last five views, consult McGrath, Through the Eternal Spirit, 35–44. See also G. Lünemann, The Epistle to the Hebrews, trans. M. J. Evans, volume 9, Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the New Testament, reprint (Winona Lake, IN: Alpha Publications, 1980), 614–15; and M. Emmrich, “‘Amtscharisma’: Through the Eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9:14),” Bulletin for Biblical Research 12.1 (2002): 17–32.

[8] As noted by John Brown, “The choice among all these modes of interpretation is confined to two: that which considers the ‘eternal Spirit’ as designating the Holy Ghost, and that which considers it as designating our Lord’s divine nature” (J. Brown, Hebrews [Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1972 reprint], 402.

[9] McGrath, “Through the Eternal Spirit,” 70. McGrath surmises that resistance to interpreting the phrase as a reference to the Holy Spirit grew out of a fear that the Holy Spirit’s role would be “robbing” from the merits of Christ; or that the Holy Spirit would be standing between Christ and the Father as a mediate agent; or that such would detract from the freedom of Christ to offer himself (16).

[10] See, for example, P. Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 457.

[11] T. Schreiner, Commentary on Hebrews, Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation, ed., T. D. Alexander, A. J. Köstenberger, and T. Schreiner (Nashville: B&H, 2015), 270.

[12] Emmerich, “‘Amtscharisma,’” 25–32.

[13] Schreiner, Commentary on Hebrews, 271.

[14] See D. L. Allen, Lukan Authorship of Hebrews, NAC Studies in Bible & Theology (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2010), 118. There is strong linguistic evidence linking Luke-Acts with Hebrews.

[15] See, for example, Gregory of Nazianzus, On God and Christ: The Five Theological Orations and Two Letters to Cledonius, trans. F. J. Williams and L. R. Wickham, Popular Patristics Series (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2002), 96.

[16] See, for example, Methodist theologian William Pope, who notes that the atonement exhibits the name and attributes of the triune God. (W. B. Pope, A Compendium of Christian Theology: Being Analytical Outlines of a Course of Theological Study, Biblical, Dogmatic, Historical, 3 vols. [London: Wesleyan Conference Office, 1879], 2:279).

[17] I. Howard Marshall, Aspects of the Atonement: Cross and Resurrection in the Reconciling of God and Humanity (London: Paternoster, 2007), 56.

[18] J. B. Webster, “‘It Was the Will of the Lord to Bruise Him’: Soteriology and the Doctrine of God,” in God of Salvation: Soteriology in Theological Perspective, ed. I. J. Davidson and M. A. Rae (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011), 18.

[19] A. J. Johnson, Atonement: A Guide for the Perplexed, Bloomsbury Guides for the Perplexed (New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015), 72. I am not fond of the way Johnson words this. It almost sounds like the heresy of modalism, though clearly Johnson rejects modalism. I would prefer that he said, “. . . the Father willed to sacrifice his Son; the Son willed to be sacrificed; and the Spirit willed to accompany and enable the sacrifice.” Worded this way, the distinction of persons is clearly maintained instead of the possible mistaken inference that the Father, Son, and Spirit are just the modes of the one Person who is one God (i.e., modalistic Monarchianism).

[20] A. Johnson, Atonement: A Guide for the Perplexed, 74.

[21] A. Johnson, “Atonement: The Shape and State of the Doctrine,” in T&T Clark Companion to Atonement, ed. A. Johnson (New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2017), 6.

[22] J. Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 15.

[23] H. D. McDonald, The Atonement of the Death of Christ: In Faith, Revelation, and History (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985), 20–21.

[24] I. H. Marshall, Aspects of the Atonement: Cross and Resurrection in the Reconciling of God and Humanity (London: Paternoster, 2007), 56.

[25] T. H. McCall, Forsaken: The Trinity and the Cross, and Why It Matters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2012), 13–47.

[26] Ibid., 43–44.

[27] Ibid., 39–42.

[28] Ibid., 43.

[29] H. Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 3, Sin and Salvation in Christ, ed. John Bolt, trans. J. Vriend (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006), 389.

[30] The use of γάρ (“for”) in v. 13 introduces the grounds for the eternal validity of Christ’s sacrifice in verse 12 as noted by N. F. Miller, The Epistle to the Hebrews: An Analytical and Exegetical Handbook (Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1988), 254.

[31] See, for example, the excellent work by H. B. Swete, The Holy Spirit in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1964). Swete summarizes the role of the Holy Spirit in the life and ministry of Jesus, including his death, on pp. 295–97.

[32] So Smeaton, in his work on the Holy Spirit, spoke of three key periods of the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christ: incarnation, baptism, and ascension (128). It is strange that he neglects to list the role of the HS in the crucifixion, though he affirms it in this section of his book. (G. Smeaton, The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit [Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1974 reprint], 128). Michael Horton’s new book, Rediscovering the Holy Spirit: God’s Perfecting Presence in Creation, Redemption, and Everyday Life (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017), mentions Heb 9:14 six times as a reference to the Holy Spirit, but does not comment on its meaning or application to the work of Christ on the cross.

[33] J. Owen, A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit, in The Works of John Owen, vol. 3, ed. W. Goold (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1994), 162. For Owen, all the works of the Trinity are undivided. “There is no such division in the external operations of God that any one of them should be the act of one person, without the concurrence of the others; and the reason of it is, because the nature of God, which is the principle of all divine operations, is one and the same, undivided in them all. Whereas, therefore, they are the effects of divine power, and that power is essentially the same in each person, the works themselves belong equally unto them: as, if it were possible that three men might see by the same eye, the act of seeing would be but one, and it would be equally the act of all three. But the things we insist on are ascribed eminently unto the Holy Ghost, on the account of the order of his subsistence in the holy Trinity, as he is the Spirit of the Father and the Son; whence, in every divine act, the authority of the Father, the love and wisdom of the Son, with the immediate efficacy and power of the Holy Ghost, are to be considered. Yea, and there is such a distinction in their operations, that one divine act may produce a peculiar respect and relation unto one person, and not unto another; as the assumption of the human nature did to the Son for he only was incarnate” (Ibid.).

[34] Ibid., 177.

[35] Ibid., 180.

[36] A. Kuyper, The Work of the Holy Spirit (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1900), 93.

[37] Ibid., 103.

[38] Ibid., 103–04.

[39] Ibid., 104. Interestingly, Kuyper speaks to the differing interpretations of Calvin and Beza concerning Hebrews 9:14. Calvin had written: “Christ suffered as man, but in order that His death might effect our salvation it came forth from the power of the Spirit. The sacrifice of eternal atonement was a more than human work” (J. Calvin, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews and the First and Second Epistles of St Peter, translated by W. B. Johnston, Calvin’s Commentaries, ed. D. W. Torrance and T. F. Torrance [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, n.d.], 121). Calvin argued that the Holy Spirit made it possible for the humanity to accomplish atonement apart from the divine nature of Christ. Beza “could not be fully satisfied with Calvin’s exposition. Calvin said that it was the working of the Holy Spirit apart from the divinity of the Son. And they [Beza and Gomarus] felt that there was something lacking. For the Son made Himself of no reputation and became obedient; but if all this is the work of the Holy Spirit, then nothing is left of the work of the Son. And to escape from this, they adopted the other extreme, and declared that the Eternal Spirit had reference only to the Son according to His divine nature—an exposition that cannot be accepted, for the divine nature is never designated as spirit” (Kuyper, The Work of the Holy Spirit, 204).

[40] E. Jüngel, God as the Mystery of the World (Mohr Siebeck, 1977/Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983), 328–29, 368. Yet Jüngel’s approach is not altogether different from that of Augustine. See C. R. J. Holmes, The Holy Spirit, in New Studies in Dogmatics, ed. M. Allen and S. Swain (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), 75.

[41] J. Moltmann, The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology, (London: SCM Press, 1982), 241. As Thiselton notes, “In The Way of Jesus Christ, Moltmann has explored the complementary relation between the Holy Spirit and Christ. His ‘Spirit Christology’ is not an alternative to ‘Logos’ Christology but a ‘necessary complement.’. . .” (A. C. Thiselton, The Holy Spirit: In Biblical Teaching, through the Centuries, and Today [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013], 401).

[42] G. Cole, He Who Gives Life: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, in Foundations of Evangelical Theology, ed. J. Feinberg (Wheaton: Crossway, 2007), 165–67; 186–89.

[43] Some Calvinists assert the notions of eternal justification or justification at the cross. Both are theological errors.

[44] J. Flavel, The Method of Grace: In the Holy Spirit’s Applying to the Souls of Men, the Eternal Redemption Contrived by the Father and Accomplished by the Son (New York: American Tract Society, 1845), 16.

[45] Ibid., 19.

[46] Ibid.

[47] F. Pieper, Christian Dogmatics (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing, 1951), 2:365.

[48] W. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1980), 3:418; (emphasis original). Shedd’s comments about the Holy Spirit working faith in the heart of the sinner reflect his Calvinistic understanding of the nature of total depravity as total inability and the Reformed notion of unconditional election, such that God chooses to give or grant faith only to His elect. All non-Calvinists would, of course, reject this construal of the process, along with rejecting the notion that regeneration precedes faith. See, for example, D. L. Allen, “Does Regeneration Precede Faith?,” JBTM 11, no. 2 (Fall 2012): 34–52.

[49] A. Thiselton, The Hermeneutics of Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 339; (emphasis original).

[50] T. F. Torrance, The Person and Work of Christ, ed. R. T. Walker (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009), 178.

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