NIV Bible 2011: Restoring the Spirit in the Letters of Paul

One of the many attractions of the New NIV Bible (2011) is what I consider the restoration of the Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul (see for example, 1 Cor. 12:1; Gal. 6:1, Eph. 5:19; Phil. 1:27; Col. 1:9; 3:16; 2 Tim. 1:7, etc).

Of course these were already present in the TNIV (2005), and therefore were simply adopted.

But most of these references have to do with the Greek adjective πνευματικός, pneumatikos (occurring 24 times in Paul’s Letters).

Gordon Fee, one of the translators of the TNIV and the updated NIV (2011), after demonstrating why the Greek adjective πνευματικός, belonging to “a class of adjectives ending in –ικος, formed from their corresponding nouns and bearing the meaing, ‘belonging to, or pertaining to,’ the corresponding noun” (God’s Empowering Presence, p. 29)—sums up the matter thus:

All of this is to say that the small case “spiritual” probably should be eliminated from our vocabulary, when it comes to this word [πνευματικός] in the Pauline corpus.  All the more so, when one thinks of the Greek overtones underlying most contemporary uses os this word, where “spiritual” tends to mean either “religious,” “nonmaterial” (a meaning absolutely foreign to Paul), something close to “mystical,” or, even worse, “the interior lofe of the believer.”

Fee continues,

For Paul it is an adjective that primarily refers to the Spirit of God, even when the contrasts are to “earthly” bodies and “material support.”  (God’s Empowering Presence, p. 32).

Here’s the grind: the CBT in numerous places in Paul’s letters seems to have bought into Fee’s argument. 

On the other hand, from what I’ve seen in other English Bible translations (ESV, HCSB, NLT, etc) this argument by Fee seems to have been downplayed or never really seriously considered.

This entry was posted in Bible Translations, Bibles, ESV, Gordon Fee, HCSB, Holy Spirit, NIV Bible 2011, NLT, TNIV and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to NIV Bible 2011: Restoring the Spirit in the Letters of Paul

  1. Victor says:

    I read Gordon Fee’s smaller book on Pauline Pneumatology ‘Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God’ this summer before I listened to his lecture series from Regent ‘Galatians in a Week’.

    He brought new life to the text for me, and it was great to follow that in the TNIV which, as you say, brings out the centrality of the ‘big S’ Spirit. Good to see that they have kept that in the NIV 2011.

  2. T.C. R says:


    Yeah, good stuff!

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