In this paper, I will argue that κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιασύνης in Romans 1:4 should not be understood as a reference to the Holy Spirit, but as a reference to Jesus’s holy nature. The question driving this paper is “Why did Paul use the unique phrase ‘πνεῦμα ἁγιασύνης’ if he is referring to the Holy Spirit?” The first key aspect of this paper will be arguing that Paul has a normal custom of speaking about the Holy Spirit, and so sufficient justification must be made for why this unique phrase should be connected to the Holy Spirit. A second key aspect will be to explore the connection between the Holy Spirit and Jesus’s resurrection, which Romans 1:4 would make if πνεῦμα ἁγιασύνης is understood to refer to the Holy Spirit.
First, I will survey the three most prominent understandings of this phrase. Second, I will explore whether Romans 1:3-4 is traditional material and what the implications are for how to translate the phrase. Third, I will explore how Paul and other NT writers refer to the Holy Spirit and show how Romans 1:4 does not fit the pattern. Fourth, I will examine whether the phrase is a literal translation of the Hebrew, and show that, while certainly possible, this explanation does not provide sufficient reasoning for Paul to use this phrase. Key to this section will be an examination of how the LXX translates the relevant Hebrew phrase. Fifth, I will explore how the NT writers connect the Holy Spirit to Jesus’ resurrection and show that most (if not all) connections are tenuous, thereby making a connection in this passage also tenuous. Instead, the NT writers overwhelmingly connect the Father with Jesus’ resurrection. Finally, I will make a positive case for understanding πνεῦμα ἁγιασύνης as a reference to Jesus’s holy nature, which explains Paul’s unique usage.