Often we misunderstand a topic because we consider the issue in fundamentally the wrong way. Having taken up the question at the wrong end, the actual solution becomes invisible.

One such issue is the matter of the indwelling of the Spirit how that relates to OT believers. I Dr. Abner Chou’s paper at the November 2018 meeting of the ETS entitled, “Revisiting the Spirit’s Indwelling of OT Saints: Ezekiel’s Contribution to the Issue” provides a good example of how recasting the issue can provide a “way forward” to resolve a long-standing quandary.

The essay begins with a survey of the various potential ways to address the issue, ranging from total continuity, through varying degrees of discontinuity. But in this discussion, the underlying issue for the commentators seems to concern the question of regeneration: “At least in recent history, people cannot speak of the indwelling without speaking of regeneration.”

The issue has been how do we talk about the salvation or sanctification of OT saints if they were not indwelt by the Spirit? And I must admit as thought of the topic, without any particular study of the issue, I began the with the question of how salvation or sanctification took place without indwelling of the Spirit.

This leads to a primary element in Chou’s argument, “such a presupposed link is not necessarily required.”

As he rehearses the various positions, it becomes clear that the primary issue among those who have been discussing the issue is how salvation and sanctification took place before the coming of  the Spirit promised in John 14: Perhaps the OT saints were indwelt, but were merely not indwelt to the same extent as NT saints. Or the Spirits work was done by the Spirit presence’s in the Temple.

The discussion thus leads to an impass. The Scripture supports non-indwelling, but theology requires indwelling (or no one was saved before Christ).

Chou puts the problem at the level of definition: The discussion of indwelling has presumed that indwelling is necessary for salvation, therefore, we must nuance the concept of “indwelling”. The emphasis has thus been upon the results of indwelling rather than the nature of indwelling.

In effect, the issue has been grabbed from the wrong end.

Rather than beginning with the presupposition that indwelling effects salvation, Chou begins with what the Scripture says about indwelling. The issue of indwelling, or the Spirit is discussed in the OT but in terms of the Spirit filling the Temple. Thus, to understand the issue, we must the Temple: The Temple is indwelt with the Spirit: For instance, the Temple is “filled” with the glory of God.

The NT believers have taken over as the Temple, and thus believers are filled with the Spirit in the exhibition of the Glory of God.

The article is 29 pages of single space 12-point text, so plainly there is a great more to be found. The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society is available online