Publication Date


Degree Granted


Institution Granting Degree

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School


Father, Son, Spirit, God, Romans (Letter to the), Paul the Apostle, Saint


This dissertation answers two distinct questions. First, is Paul trinitarian? Second, would the original recipients of Romans understand Paul as being trinitarian? In order to answer these questions, this work examines the discrete unit of Romans 8 and the first-century Roman theological landscape in order to ascertain the answers to these questions. Chapter 2 surveys Roman religious life, taking a few specific cults as examples. Special attention is paid to Jupiter, Isis, Mithras, and the Imperial Cult. Within the analysis of each cult, issues of salvation and the structure of the belief are explored. The Imperial Cult evinces the tendency of Romans to accept that humans are or can become gods. Romans 8 is the sample of Paul's writings used to answer the above questions since it speaks of the Holy Spirit while also discussing God and Jesus. In Romans 8, Paul answers the problem of sin found in Romans 7 and also discusses how the law fits into the equation. He does not attack the law but rather the flesh as the problem, since the flesh accedes to the demands of sin just as the law was perverted by sin. Therefore, Paul discusses the role of God, Jesus, and the Spirit in overcoming the problem of sin in terms of salvation and in terms of the ongoing life of those who believe. Paul explicitly describes the actions of God, paying special attention to the importance of adoption and the renewal of creation (recreation). God uses the Son and the Spirit as agents in causing salvation. The interrelations and congruent functions of the Son and Spirit point toward a unity not found in Roman religion, since when Roman gods coincide functionally, one god assimilates or eliminates the other. The thesis this dissertation defends is that when taking into account his Jewish background and the Roman context into which he was writing, Paul communicates the Father, Son, and Spirit as a triunity to his readers in Romans 8.