God's Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old & New Testaments. NAC Studies in Bible & Theology. By James M. Hamilton, Jr. Nashville: B & H Academic, 2006, 233 pp., $19.99.
The Gospel according to John has the reputation of being the "spiritual Gospel" within the fourfold Gospel tradition. Its distinct characteristics have caused it to be one of the most beloved books in the Christian canon. Indeed, one recent commentator has said that John's Gospel "penetrates more deeply into the mystery of God's revelation in his Son than the other canonical Gospels and perhaps more deeply than any other biblical book" (Andreas J. Kostenberger, John [BECNT; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004] 1). The affection that many Christians have for this Gospel is perhaps matched only by the controversy that has surrounded its interpretation. Yet James Hamilton sounds a clear voice among the din of conflicting opinions in his new book God's Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old & New Testaments. This book is the first volume of a new series on biblical theology published by B and H Academic (formerly Broadman and Holman) entitled NAC [New American Commentary] Studies in Bible & Theology. A second recently published volume is Thomas R. Schreiner and Shawn D. Wright, eds., Believer's Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ.
In God's Indwelling Presence, Hamilton sets out to answer the question of what the Bible says about how the Spirit relates to believers before and after the glorification of Jesus. He takes John 14:17 ("He is with you, and he will be in you") to be John's summary of the Bible's teaching on indwelling as it relates to believers under the old and new covenants. Under the old covenant, God dwelled with his people in a pillar of fire and cloud, in the tabernacle, and in the temple. Under the new covenant, God dwells in a new temple, the community of believers conceived both corporately and individually (p. 3).
Having introduced his thesis in the opening chapter, Hamilton devotes the second chapter to outlining the range of opinions on the question of the Spirit's indwelling presence under the old and new covenants. Chapter 3 surveys the OT and shows that the Holy Spirit did not indwell believers of the old covenant remnant; rather, God dwelled with his people in the tabernacle and the temple. Chapter 4 surveys and explains all the references to the Spirit in John's Gospel and concludes that the Spirit-Paraclete promised in the Farewell Discourse is delivered to the disciples on resurrection day in order to continue the ministry of Jesus. The fifth chapter considers John 7:39 in light of OT expectations in order to show that John presents the reception of the indwelling Spirit by believers as an eschatological blessing experienced only after the glorification of Jesus. Hamilton argues in chapter 6 that regeneration (or "being born again") and indwelling are distinct ministries of the Spirit according to John's Gospel; specifically, indwelling refers to God's eschatological presence within individual believers after the glorification of Jesus. Chapter 7 gives some practical implications resulting from Hamilton's thesis with a particular emphasis on how the Spirit's indwelling presence compels both formative and corrective discipleship within the church.
What stands out about God's Indwelling Presence is that it is truly a work of biblical theology even though it is focused on the Fourth Gospel. One of Hamilton's goals …