The Spirit and Soteriology in the Fourth Gospel /|cN. Osei-Asante
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The role of the Spirit in salvation has received wide currency in Johannine scholarship. However, little special attention has been given to the exegetical analysis of the pneumatic soteriological passages in the Fourth Gospel, and the ways in which, they reveal the salvific role of the Spirit. More importantly, scholars have ignored the giving of the Son (John 3.16), the bread of life discourse (John 6.27-59) and the vine metaphor (John 15.1-8) as significant passages for our understanding of the soteriological role of the Spirit in the Fourth Gospel. These passages are significant for three reasons. (1) The giving of the Son by the Father to the world was prompted by his love (John 3.16). This love becomes salvific only when a faith response is made towards it. This believing response is both provoked and sustained by the work of the Spirit. The world cannot come to Jesus and remain in Him without the work of the Spirit. To believe in the divine gift is to experience the work of the Spirit. (2) In the vine metaphor, to remain in Jesus and to bear much fruit is not possibility without the mediating agency of the Spirit. (3) In the bread of life discourse, not only is Jesus’ gift of living bread a Christological symbol but a pneumatological one. His bread is life-giving simply because it is Spirit-imbued. In developing the thesis that the Holy Spirit is both soteriologically significant and indispensable to the process of salvation revealed in the Fourth Gospel, the following steps were undertaken. First, scholarly views on the significant pneumatic- soteriological passages in the Fourth Gospel were reviewed. This helped develop the argument that the study is part of a broader theoretical scheme. Second, the concept of the soteriological role of the Spirit in the Old Testament and Second Temple Judaism was examined as a possible conceptual backdrop to John’s understanding. Third, a detailed exegetical study of the pneumatic soteriological passages in the Fourth Gospel was carried out to determine John’s understanding of the role of the Spirit in salvation. Fourth, a comparative analysis of the soteriological role of the Spirit in the Fourth Gospel and the rest of the New Testament (specifically, Luke and Paul) was examined to determine how far John’s understanding is different. Fifth, the hermeneutical implication of the salvific role of the Spirit in the Fourth Gospel was examined in order to determine the relevance of the Spirit’s soteriological role, as revealed in the Fourth Gospel, for the contemporary evangelistic mission of the church. Finally, it was concluded that the Holy Spirit is both soteriologically significant and indispensable to the process of salvation as described in the Fourth Gospel.
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