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16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

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16. The Spirit himself, etc. He does not simply say, that God’s Spirit is a witness to our spirit, but he adopts a compound verb, which might be rendered “contest,” (contestatur,) were it not that contestation (contestatio) has a different meaning in Latin. But Paul means, that the Spirit of God gives us such a testimony, that when he is our guide and teacher, our spirit is made assured of the adoption of God: for our mind of its own self, without the preceding testimony of the Spirit, could not convey to us this assurance. There is also here an explanation of the former verse; for when the Spirit testifies to us, that we are the children of God, he at the same time pours into our hearts such confidence, that we venture to call God our Father. And doubtless, since the confidence of the heart alone opens our mouth, except the Spirit testifies to our heart respecting the paternal love of God, our tongues would be dumb, so that they could utter no prayers. For we must ever hold fast this principle, — that we do not rightly pray to God, unless we are surely persuaded in our hearts, that he is our Father, when we so call him with our lips. To this there is a corresponding part, — that our faith has no true evidence, except we call upon God. It is not then without reason that Paul, bringing us to this test, shows that it then only appears how truly any one believes, when they who have embraced the promise of grace, exercise themselves in prayers. 255255     The words αὐτὸ τὸ πνεῦμα, seem to mean the divine Spirit. The reference is to “the Spirit of God” in Romans 8:14; “This self-same Spirit,” or, “He the Spirit,” for so αὐτὀ τὸ πνεῦμα, may be rendered, especially when the article intervenes between it and its noun. See Luke 24:15; John 16:27
   Beza renders συμμαρτυρεῖ τῶ πνεύματι ἡμῶν, “testifies together with our spirit — una cum nostro spiritu,” and the Vulqate “testifies to our spirit,” as though the verb had not its compound; and it is said to have only the simpler meaning of testifying, though compounded, in Romans 9:1; and in Revelation 22:18, where it has a dative case after it as here, “I testify to every man,” etc. The soul appears to be here called “spirit,” because the renewed soul is intended, or the soul having the spirit of adoption; or it may be an instance of the Apostle’s mode of writing, who often puts the same word twice in a sentence, but in a different meaning. The Holy Spirit testifies to our spirit, say Origen and Theodoret, by producing obedience, love, and imitation of God, which are evidences of our adoption; but Chrysostom and Ambrose say, by enabling us to cry Abba, Father, according to to former verse. The latter seems to be the meaning adopted by Calvin It is said by Estius, according to Poole, that the compound verb is never used without the idea of a joint-testimony being implied, and that in Revelation 22:18, it is a testimony in conjunction with Christ. Then the import of this text would be, that the Holy Spirit testifies, together with the spirit of adoption, to our spirit, to our soul or renewed mind, that we are the children of God. Thus a direct influence of the Spirit, in addition to that which is sanctifying and filial, seems to have been intended. See 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13,14, 1 John 2:20, 27

   Professor Hodge gives this paraphrase, — “Not only does our filial spirit towards God prove that we are his children, but the Holy Spirit itself conveys to our souls the assurance of this delightful fact.” This seems to be the full and precise import of the passage. — Ed.

But there is here a striking refutation of the vain notions of the Sophists respecting moral conjecture, which is nothing else but uncertainty and anxiety of mind; nay, rather vacillation and delusion. 256256     “The [Roman] Catholic Church, with which all sects that proceed from Pelagian principles agree, deters from the certainty of the state of grace, and desires uncertainty towards God. Such uncertainty of hearts is then a convenient means to keep men in the leading-strings of the priesthood or ambitious founders of sects; for since they are not allowed to have any certainty themselves respecting their relation to God, they can only rest upon the judgments of their leaders about it, who thus rule souls with absolute dominion; the true evangelic doctrine makes free from such slavery to man. — Olshausen
   There is no doubt much truth in these remarks; but another reason may be added: Those who know not themselves what assurance is, cannot consistently teach the doctrine; and real, genuine assurance, is an elevated state, to which man, attached to merely natural principles, can never ascend. — Ed.
There is also an answer given here to their objection, for they ask, “How can a man fully know the will of God?” This certainly is not within the reach of man, but it is the testimony of God’s Spirit; and this subject he treats more at large in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, from which we may derive a fuller explanation of a passage. Let this truth then stand sure, — that no one can be called a son of God, who does not know himself to be such; and this is called knowledge by John, in order to set forth its certainty. (1 John 5:19, 20.)




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