Review: God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments

539735James M. Hamilton Jr. is Professor of Biblical Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Hamilton has a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary and a PhD from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Hamilton is the author of numerous books in the field of biblical theology, including God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgement: A Biblical Theology, What Is Biblical Theology?: A Guide to the Bible’s Story, and With the Clouds of Heaven: The Book of Daniel in Biblical Theology. Still, one of Hamilton’s most widely received books remains God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments.  

God’s Indwelling Presence was the inaugural volume in the coveted New American Commentary Studies in Bible and Theology series. Hamilton set the pace of the series with a captivating study on the work of the Holy Spirit. Hamilton does much to bring canonical continuity to the discussion as he explores the details of the biblical text while remaining focused on the broader goal. Hamilton begins by orienting the reader towards the study, which beings in the Old Testament and moves (rather quickly) into the New. The major emphasis of Hamilton’s examination on the work of the Holy Spirit focuses on the concepts of indwelling, regeneration, baptism, and empowerment, and he spends a fair amount of time on each. Beyond the main content of the book, Hamilton provides three useful appendixes on relevant passage and themes in the New Testament.

An interesting aspect of the book, though rightly placed in my opinion, is the amount of emphasis that Hamilton devotes to the nature of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life and ministry of the old covenant believer. For Hamilton, while old covenant believers were regenerate, as the Fourth Gospel seems to indicate rather clearly (Jn. 7:36; 16:7), they did not experience the same indwelling that characterized new covenant believers. Additionally, Hamilton’s interaction with the theme of the dwelling place of God (i.e. tabernacle, temple, new covenant believers) is excellent. Not only does he offer readers with a clear biblical-theological path, but he brings the weight of the application to life with the implications of a living temple. The only foreseeable shortcoming of the book is found in the theological assumptions that some readers may not be willing to themselves assume. Though this would have made the volume more comprehensive, I’m not convinced that such would have added much to the more narrow focus of the volume.

God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments by James M. Hamilton Jr. is a fascinating journey into a question that will eventually cross the mind of every Christian. Hamilton is a respected scholar and a learned biblical theological voice. Not only does he offer the reader insight into the biblical narrative and the work of the Holy Spirit therein, but he brings it home to the life of the believer. It comes highly recommended!

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