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WTJ 79 (2017): 77–95




Steven R. Coxhead

assume that the term cardionomography is new to the world of theological
scholarship. A search of the Internet conducted as recently as February
2017 brought up no hits for this term, so I feel safe enough to put myself
forward as its author. This word was coined during the process of preparing
lectures on Paul’s epistle to the Romans, and was first used in a public forum
during my lectures on Romans at Christ College in Sydney, Australia, in early
2004.1 Cardionomography is a long word, but in my experience it has proven to
be eminently useful in conveying in a succinct way the concept of the Holy
Spirit’s work of writing the law on the hearts of God’s people, a concept that
is significant not only in Pauline theology but also in OT theology. For those
unfamiliar with the Greek vocabulary that makes up the components of this
term, cardio denotes heart, nomo stands for law, and graphy indicates writing. The
term cardionomography simply denotes, therefore, the writing of the law on the
heart. One can even speak of pneumato-cardionomography in order to make clear
that the work of writing God’s law on the heart is the work of the Holy Spirit.
The fact that the term cardionomography has been coined relatively recently
potentially suggests that the work of the Holy Spirit writing the law on human
hearts is a concept that has not received a large amount of attention in Chris-
tian theology. This is arguably the case overall in modern Christian scholarship,
where the concept does not feature prominently in most discussions on biblical
or systematic theology.2 This is a very serious oversight. I am prepared to say

Steven R. Coxhead is the Associate Minister of Chung Chen Chinese Christian Church and a Tutor in Ancient
Hebrew at the Macquarie Ancient Languages School in New South Wales, Australia.
1 Prior to 2014 Christ College was known as the Presbyterian Theological Centre.
2 One of the most detailed earlier treatments of the idea of the law written on the heart is found

in Augustine’s On the Spirit and the Letter, where he argues that perfect human obedience to God is
theoretically possible in this life (albeit non-existent in reality for everyone except Christ) but only
as the Holy Spirit moves people to such obedience (Augustine, On the Spirit and the Letter, in NPNF
5:83–114). Modern authors who have explored the idea of the law written on the heart include
Andrew Murray, William Dumbrell, and Scott Hafemann. See Andrew Murray, The Believer’s New


that any system of theology that has not considered the biblical teaching on
pneumato-cardionomography is at a great disadvantage in understanding the
bigger picture of God’s work as presented in the Scriptures. This is not to say
that the term cardionomography itself is important, but an understanding of the
concept conveyed by the term is definitely necessary in order to understand
with clarity what God is doing in salvation history. Not realizing the importance
of the cardionomographic work of the Spirit in the OT, and not seeing how
the NT builds upon this concept, hampers the important theological task of
ascertaining the nature and relationship of the old and new covenants.

I. The Concept of Cardionomography in the Old Testament

It is important to recognize that pneumato-cardionomography is a concept

that is present in the OT. In particular, the idea of the Holy Spirit writing God’s
law on the hearts of his people emerges when Jer 31:33 and Ezek 36:26–27 are
linked together.
Jeremiah 31:33 occurs within a pericope that defines the new covenant
(Jer 31:31–34), which is itself set within a grand oracle that speaks of God’s
intention to restore the fortunes of his people, Israel ( Jer 30:1–31:40).
According to Jer 31:33, God would at a certain point of time in the future
“put [his] law within [the people of Israel] and write it upon their hearts”
(‫ל־ל ָבּם ֶא ְכ ֲתּ ֶבנָּ ה‬
ִ ‫ת־תֹּור ִתי ְבּ ִק ְר ָבּם וְ ַע‬
ָ ‫)נָ ַת ִתּי ֶא‬. Jeremiah 31:33 speaks, therefore, of
Significantly, when Jer 31:33 is read in combination with Ezek 36:26–27,
a concept of pneumato-cardionomography emerges.3 Ezekiel 36:26–27 links
the concepts of a new heart and God’s Spirit with covenant obedience on the
part of Israel. God promised Israel: “And I will give you a new heart, and a
new spirit I will put within you, and I will remove the heart of stone from your
flesh, and give you a heart of flesh, and my Spirit I will put within you, and I

Covenant (Minneapolis: Bethany, 1984), 28–33, 45–49; William J. Dumbrell, Covenant and Creation:
An Old Testament Covenant Theology (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 1984), 260–63, 272; Dumbrell, The
End of the Beginning: Revelation 21–22 and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985), 86, 90–92;
Scott J. Hafemann, Paul, Moses, and the History of Israel: The Letter/Spirit Contrast and the Argument from
Scripture in 2 Corinthians 3 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1995), 130–35, 141–43, 147–48; Hafemann,
“The Covenant Relationship,” in Central Themes in Biblical Theology: Mapping Unity in Diversity, ed.
Scott J. Hafemann and Paul R. House (Nottingham: Apollos, 2007), 51–54. For a good discussion
on the related metaphor of the circumcision of the heart in the OT, see Jason C. Meyer, The End of
the Law: Mosaic Covenant in Pauline Theology, NAC Studies in Bible and Theology 6 (Nashville: B&H
Academic, 2009), 241–62; and for an extensive exploration of the idea of heart transformation in
Deuteronomy, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and early extra-biblical Jewish literature, see Kyle B. Wells, Grace
and Agency in Paul and Second Temple Judaism: Interpreting the Transformation of the Heart, NovTSup
157 (Leiden: Brill, 2015).
3 According to Hafemann, “The metaphor of the law written on the heart [in Jer 31:33] …

corresponds to the new covenant promise found in Ezekiel 11:19–20 and 36:26–27 of a new ‘heart
of flesh’ and the pouring out of the Spirit” (Hafemann, “Covenant Relationship,” 51).

will cause you to walk in my decrees, and to keep my judgments, and do them”
(‫ת־לב ָה ֶא ֶבן ִמ ְבּ ַשׂ ְר ֶכם וְ נָ ַת ִתּי‬
ֵ ‫רוּח ֲח ָד ָשׁה ֶא ֵתּן ְבּ ִק ְר ְבּ ֶכם וַ ֲה ִסר ִֹתי ֶא‬
ַ ְ‫וְ נָ ַת ִתּי ָל ֶכם ֵלב ָח ָדשׁ ו‬
‫וּמ ְשׁ ָפּ ַטי ִתּ ְשׁ ְמרוּ‬
ִ ‫ר־בּ ֻח ַקּי ֵתּ ֵלכוּ‬
ְ ‫יתי ֵאת ֲא ֶשׁ‬
ִ ‫ת־רוּחי ֶא ֵתּן ְבּ ִק ְר ְבּ ֶכם וְ ָע ִשׂ‬
ִ ‫ָל ֶכם ֵלב ָבּ ָשׂר וְ ֶא‬
ֶ ‫)וַ ֲע ִשׂ‬. Ezekiel 36:26–27 explains, therefore, how it would be that God would
write his law on the hearts of his people. God would do so by sending forth his
Spirit to change the stony hearts of disobedient Israel, so that they might have
hearts of flesh, which indicates hearts that are receptive to God’s word. In this
way, Israel would finally be enabled to keep God’s law, and receive the blessings
(Ezek 36:28–30) that were promised under the terms of the old covenant to
those who keep God’s law as per passages such as Exod 19:5–6; Lev 26:1–13;
Deut 28:1–14.4
The wording of Ezek 36:26–27 is very similar to Ezek 11:19–20, where
God, speaking through the prophet Ezekiel, says: “And I will give them one
heart, and a new spirit I will put within them, and I will remove the heart
of stone from their flesh, and I will give them a heart of flesh, in order that
they might walk in my decrees, and keep my judgments, and do them”
(‫רוּח ֲח ָד ָשׁה ֶא ֵתּן ְבּ ִק ְר ְבּ ֶכם וַ ֲה ִסר ִֹתי ֵלב ָה ֶא ֶבן ִמ ְבּ ָשׂ ָרם וְ נָ ַת ִתּי‬
ַ ְ‫וְ נָ ַת ִתּי ָל ֶהם ֵלב ֶא ָחד ו‬
‫ת־מ ְשׁ ָפּ ַטי יִ ְשׁ ְמרוּ וְ ָעשׂוּ א ָֹתם‬ִ ‫ ) ָל ֶהם ֵלב ָבּ ָשׂר ְל ַמ ַען ְבּ ֻחקּ ַֹתי יֵ ֵלכוּ וְ ֶא‬Comparing Ezek
11:19–20 and Ezek 36:26–27, the addition of the clause and my Spirit I will put
within you (‫ת־רוּחי ֶא ֵתּן ְבּ ִק ְר ְבּ ֶכם‬ ִ ‫ )וְ ֶא‬in Ezek 36:27 highlights the fact that God’s
Spirit would be given to eschatological Israel. Both of these passages speak
clearly of how God would soften the hearts of his people, to make them more
receptive to his word, resulting in covenant obedience on the part of eschato-
logical Israel. This heart transformation effected by the Spirit as foreshadowed
by Ezekiel is the equivalent of the circumcision of the heart effected by God
that is prophesied about in Deut 30:6, a verse that occurs in the middle of Deut
30:1–14, which is itself an extremely important restoration oracle from the time
of Moses.5
It is to be noted that having God’s law in one’s heart is an OT ethical ideal.
In Deut 6:6, Moses speaks of the necessity of having the law within the heart:
“These words which I am commanding you today should be upon your heart”
(‫ל־ל ָב ֶבָך‬
ְ ‫)וְ ָהיוּ ַה ְדּ ָב ִרים ָה ֵא ֶלּה ֲא ֶשׁר אָנ ִֹכי ְמ ַצוְּ ָך ַהיֹּום ַע‬. A similar idea occurs in

4 Thomas Schreiner notes that the new covenant prophecies of the OT indicate that “the Spirit

will be given to God’s people so that they will obey the Torah” (Thomas R. Schreiner, “The Com-
mands of God,” in Central Themes in Biblical Theology, 77). Hafemann states that “the very purpose
for the pouring out of the Spirit in Ezekiel in conjunction with the promise of the new covenant
from Jer. 31 is that God’s people might now keep the Law with transformed hearts” (Hafemann,
Paul, Moses, and the History of Israel, 158). Thus, “when the Spirit is mentioned in connection with
the Law and the heart it is portrayed as the agent of empowerment which makes obedience to the
Law from the heart possible” (p. 141). See also Thomas Edward McComiskey, The Covenants of
Promise: A Theology of the Old Testament Covenants (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985), 84–86.
5 For the view that Deut 30:11–14 should be read together with Deut 30:1–10 as a prophecy

concerning the eschatological future, see Steven R. Coxhead, “Deuteronomy 30:11–14 as a Proph-
ecy of the New Covenant in Christ,” WTJ 68 (2006): 305–20.

Deut 11:18: “And you shall place these words of mine on your heart and on
your soul” (‫ל־ל ַב ְב ֶכם וְ ַעל־נַ ְפ ְשׁ ֶכם‬ְ ‫ת־דּ ָב ַרי ֵא ֶלּה ַע‬ ְ ‫ ;)וְ ַשׂ ְמ ֶתּם ֶא‬and in Deut 32:46:
“Set your heart on all the words that I am testifying against you today” (‫ִשׂימוּ‬
‫ל־ה ְדּ ָב ִרים ֲא ֶשׁר אָנ ִֹכי ֵמ ִעיד ָבּ ֶכם ַהיֹּום‬
ַ ‫) ְל ַב ְב ֶכם ְל ָכ‬. Similar language can be found
in what is ostensibly a non-Israelite setting in Job 22:22 where Eliphaz instructs
Job: “Receive instruction from [God’s] mouth, and place his words in your
heart” (‫תֹּורה וְ ִשׂים ֲא ָמ ָריו ִבּ ְל ָב ֶבָך‬ָ ‫) ַקח־נָ א ִמ ִפּיו‬. Another indirect reference to
cardionomography can be found in Prov 3:3, which says: “Write them on the
tablet of your heart” (‫ל־לוּח ִל ֶבָּך‬ ַ ‫) ָכּ ְת ֵבם ַע‬. Significantly the referents of the
object pronoun in the verb phrase write them (‫ ) ָכּ ְת ֵבם‬are kindness (‫ ) ֶח ֶסד‬and
truth (‫) ֱא ֶמת‬, which effectively parallel instruction (‫ּתֹורה‬ ָ ) and commandments
(‫ ) ִמ ְצֹות‬in Prov 3:1. Similar ideas involving words in the heart are also found in
Prov 4:21; 6:21; 7:3.
The idea of God’s law being in one’s heart is an important ethical concept
in the OT. Having God’s law in the heart means that God’s law has become an
integral part of the person’s psyche, governing his or her behavior, as Ps 119:11
indicates: “I have stored up your word in my heart in order that I might not
sin against you” (‫א־לְך‬ ָ ‫) ְבּ ִל ִבּי ָצ ַפנְ ִתּי ִא ְמ ָר ֶתָך ְל ַמ ַען לֹא ֶא ֱח ָט‬. Cardionomography
is necessary in order for people to respond to God in obedience to his word.
The significance of cardionomography when applied to ancient Israel is that
the law of Moses was supposed to be internalized within the hearts and lives of
the people.6 Originally the law of Moses was delivered to Israel in an external-
ized form, symbolized by the Ten Commandments written on tablets of stone;
but this external law was subsequently meant to be internalized in the hearts of
the people through covenant instruction and meditation (Deut 6:7–9, 20–25).
With the law internalized or written upon the hearts of the people of Israel, the
obedience that God required of Israel under the stipulations of the covenant
would be realized.7
Furthermore, the idea of God’s law being in the heart is a concept of great
significance in the OT with respect to the outworking of God’s relationship with
Israel in salvation history. As far as Moses and the prophets were concerned, the
future well-being of the nation of Israel was dependent upon how well the exter-
nal law became Israel’s internal law. This situation existed due to the covenant

6 Dumbrell states that the law was “always meant to be in the national and individual heart”
(Dumbrell, End of the Beginning, 91). He also views the concept of the law in the heart in Jer 31:33 as
constituting a return to the “idealism” of Sinai (p. 92). See also McComiskey, Covenants of Promise, 85.
7 Hafemann, commenting on Jer 31:33, says that the writing of the law on the hearts of the

people of Israel means that “under the new covenant Israel’s rebellious nature will be fundamen-
tally transformed so that her hardened disobedience will be replaced with an obedience to God’s
covenant stipulations” (Hafemann, “Covenant Relationship,” 51). Dumbrell states: “The newness
of the New Covenant would … result in the cessation of Israel’s desire to breach the [covenantal]
bond. Her heart would be changed and so she would finally be loyal” (Dumbrell, End of the Begin-
ning, 90). According to Wells, the books of Deuteronomy, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel present “the hope
that God will transform people into faithful covenant partners” (Wells, Grace and Agency, 53).

structure of Israel’s relationship with God. As the law became written on the
hearts of individuals and the nation as a whole, the law would be obeyed, the
covenant kept, and the blessing of life experienced by Israel as a result.8 The real-
ity of pneumato-cardionomography, therefore, is portrayed in the OT as being
central to the survival of Israel in the promised land, as well as being necessary
for the realization of the fullness of covenant blessing in the eschatological age.

II. The Reality of Cardionomography in the Old Covenant Age

From the above discussion, it could be concluded by some that because Israel
failed to keep covenant with God during the old covenant age, pneumato-
cardionomography did not exist during that period of salvation history. This
is, however, a wrong conclusion to draw. The evidence from the OT clearly
proves that pneumato-cardionomography is not a unique prerogative of the
new covenant, but it was indeed a historical reality in the lives of a minority
within Israel under the old covenant.9
There are several OT verses that prove this. In Ps 37:31, a psalm ascribed to
David, the righteous person is described as one who has “the law of his God in
his heart” (‫ֹלהיו ְבּ ִלבֹּו‬ ָ ‫תֹּורת ֱא‬
ַ ). Because torah is in his heart, “his steps do not
slip” (‫)לֹא ִת ְמ ַעד ֲא ֻשׁ ָריו‬. David also makes the claim in Ps 40:8 [40:9 MT] that
God’s law was “within [his] innards” (‫תֹור ְתָך ְבּתֹוְך ֵמ ָעי‬ ָ ְ‫)ו‬. Likewise, as quoted
previously, the author of Ps 119 states that he has “laid up [Yahweh’s] word in
[his] heart.” One of the fundamental ethical presuppositions of the OT, which
is particularly prominent in Psalms and Proverbs, is that a distinction can be
made in this life between the righteous and the wicked (e.g., Ps 1:1–6; 11:5–7;
37:10–22, 37–40; Prov 3:33; 10:3, 6–7, 11, 16, 20, 24, 28–32). The righteous,
when gathered together, make up the congregation or assembly of the righ-
teous (Ps 1:5; 22:22, 25 [22:23, 26 MT]; 111:1). Significantly, the assembly of
the righteous is viewed in the psalter as being a populated set. In the light of Ps
37:31, the assembly of the righteous consists of those who have the law of God in
their hearts. This conclusion is consistent with Isa 51:7 where God addresses the
righteous remnant of his people as “you who know righteousness, the people
in whose heart is my law” (‫תֹּור ִתי ְב ִל ָבּם‬ ָ ‫)י ְֹד ֵעי ֶצ ֶדק ַעם‬. Knowing righteousness
parallels having divine torah in the heart.

8 Wells notes that “Ezekiel’s expectation of a [new] Spirit and Jeremiah’s hope of a new cov-

enant together with Deuteronomy 30:1–10” establish the pattern of a divine “act on the heart,”
which “leads to obedience,” which in turn “leads to life” (Wells, Grace and Agency, 293).
9 Dumbrell argues that it is “to go beyond the evidence to suggest that the newness of the New

Covenant” lies “only in the emphasis upon the inwardness of the law” (Dumbrell, The End of the
Beginning, 92). “The OT salvation experience of the individual presupposed the premise of the
‘law in the heart’” (p. 91). Schreiner acknowledges that “the majority of the members of the old
covenant” were “uncircumcised in heart,” and “failed to keep God’s law and were sent into exile
because they did not have the Spirit”; but that also implies that a minority of old covenant Israel did
have “a heart to keep God’s law and to do his will” (Schreiner, “Commands of God,” 75, 78, 84).

It is apparent, therefore, that there were a number of people during the

old covenant age who had God’s law in their hearts.10 In the light of this fact,
it is also important to consider the means by which God’s law came to be in
the hearts of these people. Since Jer 31:33 and Ezek 36:26–27, when read in
combination, speak of God writing his law on the hearts of people in the new
covenant age through his Spirit, it is valid to extrapolate back from this that
whenever a case of the law being written on someone’s heart is encountered
under the old covenant, then this also must have been the result of the work
of the Holy Spirit. As the Apostle Paul teaches in Rom 2:29, “circumcision of
the heart is by the Spirit” (περιτομὴ καρδίας ἐν πνεύματι). God’s word can only
penetrate a person’s heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, in relation to
the situation that existed under the old covenant, there is only one conclusion
that can be drawn: God’s law was present in the hearts of the faithful remnant of
Israel because it was inscribed there by God’s Spirit.11 On the basis of the bibli-
cal evidence, we have to assert that there was a genuine (albeit quantitatively
limited) cardionomographic work of the Spirit during the old covenant age.
It is important to note the reality of cardionomography for the faithful rem-
nant within OT Israel, because it is rather common to come across scholars
who ignore or downplay the significance of the Spirit’s work of regeneration
under the old covenant.12 Jason Meyer, for example, criticizes Scott Hafemann
for not “treat[ing] the Spirit as intrinsic to the new covenant” by way of contrast
to the old, which is “largely defined in terms of the Spirit’s absence.”13 Even
though Meyer acknowledges that some members of the old covenant were
regenerated by the Spirit, he downplays the significance of this detail.14 That
the cardionomographic work of the Spirit ramps up dramatically under the new
covenant is not to deny the reality of a limited cardionomographic activity of

10 Dumbrell argues that the “inward change” wrought under the new covenant is not “radically

different” from what existed under the Sinaitic covenant because “an appropriate level” of such
change already existed under the old covenant; furthermore, “in the Old Testament, the law’s lodg-
ing in the heart is an assumed prerequisite for individual godly experience” (William J. Dumbrell,
The Search for Order: Biblical Eschatology in Focus [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994], 100).
11 According to Glenn Davies, even though “Israel as a whole proved unfaithful” to God,

“there were always faithful Israelites whose obedience demonstrated their inner renewal,” which
was worked in them by God’s Spirit (Glenn N. Davies, “The Spirit of Regeneration in the Old
Testament,” in Spirit of the Living God: Part One, ed. Barry G. Webb [Homebush West: Lancer, 1991],
32). Davies also argues that “the OT imagery” for God’s work of regeneration is “a clean heart
or a circumcised heart,” and that this corresponds to “the NT imagery for the work of the Spirit
which enables a person to believe,” namely, “spiritual resurrection or regeneration” (p. 36). James
Hamilton also maintains that the members of the old covenant remnant were regenerate through
the work of the Spirit, where “circumcision of the heart appears equivalent to regeneration” (see
James M. Hamilton Jr., God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments, NAC
Studies in Bible and Theology 1 [Nashville: B&H Academic, 2006], 47, 161–63).
12 Hamilton gives a good summary of the range of scholarly views on this issue in Hamilton,

God’s Indwelling Presence, 9–24.

13 Meyer, End of the Law, 112.
14 Ibid., 113, 277.

the Spirit during the old covenant age. Furthermore, in speaking of the Spirit
as being intrinsic to the new covenant, Meyer effectively ignores the problem of
the inaugurated but not yet consummated nature of the kingdom of God that
many of Jesus’ kingdom parables were intended to highlight. Parables such as
the parable of the sower (Matt 13:3–9, 18–23), the parable of the unmerciful
servant (Matt 18:23–35), the parable of the wedding banquet (Matt 22:1–14),
and the parable of the talents (Matt 25:14–30), teach that not all members of the
new covenant will persevere until the end or inherit the kingdom.15 Therefore,
speaking of the Spirit as being fundamentally intrinsic to the new covenant is
only strictly true after the consummation of the eschaton has arrived. During
the new covenant age prior to the consummation, the cardionomographic
work of the Spirit will be exuberantly prosecuted as part of the new covenant
reality, but it will not have reached its climax. The cardionomographic work of
the Spirit is only complete and indelible once the consummation has come.16
It should be noted, however, that even though it is true that the Spirit is fully
intrinsic to the new covenant in its consummated form, this truth does not
invalidate the reality of a genuine but limited cardionomographic work of the
Spirit during the old covenant age.
That a work of the Spirit writing God’s law on the heart of particular individu-
als existed during the old covenant age is arguably the traditional Reformed
position on the matter. John Calvin, for example, when speaking on how the
letter versus Spirit distinction of 2 Cor 3:6 is to be understood explains that “the
Old Testament is of the letter, for it was published without the working of the
Spirit. The New is spiritual because the Lord has engraved it spiritually upon
men’s hearts”; but at the same time he notes that this distinction is a compara-
tive and not an absolute distinction: “We are not to surmise from this difference
between letter and spirit that the Lord had fruitlessly bestowed his law upon
the Jews, and that none of them turned to him” during the old covenant age.17
Calvin agrees with Augustine’s teaching that all believers, including those who
lived under the old covenant, rightly believe that “the Spirit was given to them
that they might do good.”18 Elsewhere, when discussing the issue of salvation

15 See Bruce K. Waltke with Charles Yu, An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and

Thematic Approach (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 442–43.

16 The fact that the climax of the cardionomographic work of the Spirit awaits the consumma-

tion is the reason that the teaching of God’s people is still necessary in the present age, despite
the promise of Jer 31:34 that teaching one another will no longer be necessary as part of the
new covenant due to the fact that everyone will know the Lord. It is obvious that at the present
time covenant instruction for God’s people is still needed. None of us as yet has arrived at a full
knowledge of God’s truth. There is yet more of God’s word to be written on our hearts. Before the
consummation, we can expect an effective conjunction of word and Spirit in the hearts of many
members of the new covenant, but not in all members at all times. This is the reason that apostasy
on the part of certain individuals within the new covenant is possible before Jesus returns.
17 John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles

(Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), 2.11.8.

18 Ibid., 2.11.10.

during the time of the law, Calvin acknowledges that “God ... regenerated his
chosen, and illuminated them by his Spirit.”19 He also states that “no one can be
turned so as to obey the Law, until he be regenerated by the Spirit of God,” and
that “the doctrine of the letter is always dead, until God vivifies it by his Spirit.”20
He explicitly claims that Abraham, Moses, and “the rest of the faithful” under
“the ancient covenant” had God’s law inscribed in their hearts.21
We can conclude, therefore, that there was a cardionomographic work of the
Spirit during the old covenant age among those predestined by God to receive
this grace. Those who were beneficiaries of the cardionomographic work of the
Spirit are identified in the OT as being the righteous. This means, therefore,
that the prevalent and fundamental ethical distinction in the OT between the
righteous and the wicked was a direct consequence of the cardionomographic
work of God’s Spirit. During the old covenant age, Israel was made up of a
righteous minority who, because of the cardionomographic work of the Spirit,
were covenant keepers, and a wicked majority, who did not have the law in their
hearts, and who were, as a result, covenant breakers.

III. The Importance of Pneumato-Cardionomography in Salvation History

It is helpful at this point for us to consider the place of pneumato-car-

dionomography in the bigger picture of God’s plan of salvation. In order to
understand this with sufficient clarity, we need to consider the function of the
old covenant within the wider purposes of God.
The question of the role of the old covenant within salvation history can
be ascertained by considering the overall plot structure of the OT. The OT
is basically a story about what happens to the world when humanity disobeys
God. It is primarily a story of failure. In fact, the OT is primarily a story of two
failures. The first instance of disobedience and failure occurs with the fall of
Adam. Adam disobeyed God and lost for himself and his descendants the right
to dwell in the presence of God in paradise. It is in the light of this fall that
the OT then shifts its focus to the people of Israel. The remainder of the OT
after the patriarchal age is basically concerned to trace the fall of the nation of
Israel, a fall which is presented as being analogous to the rebellion of Adam in
significant respects. Mirroring the rebellion of Adam is the covenant rebellion
of Israel. The OT, therefore, is a story of two falls involving the fall of humanity
in Adam, and the fall of Israel in Moses.
The idea of a dual-fall structure to the OT as suggested above is confirmed by
several recent studies. Roy Ciampa’s plot analysis of the historical narratives of
the Bible is particularly significant in this regard. Ciampa identifies “two CSER

19 John
Calvin, A Commentary on Jeremiah, 5 vols. (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1989), 4:141.
20 Ibid.,
21 John Calvin, Commentaries on the First Twenty Chapters of the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, trans.

Thomas Meyers, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948), 2:177.


[Covenant-Sin-Exile-Restoration] structures, with the second … national CSER

structure … embedded within the first … global CSER structure.”22 The story
of the fall and restoration of Israel is embedded within the wider story of the
fall and restoration of humanity. Jacob Neusner has also provided evidence
that this dual-fall structure was recognized by the ancient rabbis in their read-
ing of Scripture. Neusner argues that the Halakhah presupposes the story of
the Hebrew Scriptures, which it understands to be a story of two falls: “The
theology of the Halakhah … aims at the restoration of Man to Eden through
Israel in the Land. In line with the Torah’s narrative, Israel represents the new
Adam.… The Land of Israel stands for the new Eden. Just as Adam entered a
perfect world but lost it, so Israel was given a perfect world [i.e., the promised
land] … but sinning against God, lost it. The story told from Joshua through
Kings matches the story told in Genesis” despite Israel’s possession of torah, a
benefit which “Adam did not have.” 23 “Adam and Eve … losing Eden form the
pattern recapitulated by Israel’s gaining the Eden that the Land was meant to
be, only through sin to lose the Land.”24
More significantly, it can be argued that the dual-fall plot structure of the OT
identified above is also confirmed by the teaching of the Apostle Paul in Rom
5:20, where he states that “the law came in additionally in order that it might
intensify the trespass” (νόμος δὲ παρεισῆλθεν ἵνα πλεονάσῃ τὸ παράπτωμα). The
ἵνα clause in Rom 5:20 has primarily been understood with τὸ παράπτωμα taken
as being the subject of the intransitive verb πλεονάσῃ, leading to translations
such as the law came in so that the trespass might increase (see KJV, ASV, NASB, NIV).
Syntactically, however, there is nothing to stop us from taking τὸ παράπτωμα as
being the direct object of a transitive use of πλεονάσῃ with νόμος (understood
from the previous clause) as the implied subject of the clause.25 This transitive
possibility is reflected in the translations of the RSV, NRSV, and ESV; and it is
also the sense followed by F. F. Bruce, James Dunn, and Paul Barnett.26 Although
Cranfield, following Sanday and Headlam, has argued that πλεονάσῃ is most
likely intransitive given the intransitive use of ἐπλεόνασεν in the next clause,
Douglas Moo argues (correctly in my opinion) that Paul was “considering the
situation [of the giving of the law] from the perspective of God’s purpose,”

22 Roy E. Ciampa, “The History of Redemption,” in Central Themes in Biblical Theology, 257.
23 Jacob Neusner, The Theology of the Halakhah (Leiden: Brill, 2001), x.
24 Ibid., xi–xii.
25 In the structure ἵνα plus non-passive verb plus articular noun in the NT (excluding Rom

5:20), the noun is objective rather than subjective in 74 percent of cases (Matt 27:32; Mark 14:12;
15:21; John 3:17; 6:28, 38; 8:56; 12:47 [2x]; 17:13, 24; Acts 21:24; 2 Cor 2:9; 11:12 versus Mark 12:19;
Luke 1:43; John 14:31; 17:23; Rom 15:16), and this frequency only increases once pronouns and
adjectives are allowed in place of the noun phrase.
26 See F. F. Bruce, The Letter of Paul to the Romans: An Introduction and Commentary, 2nd ed., TNTC

6 (Leicester: InterVarsity, 1985), 126; James D. G. Dunn, Romans 1–8, WBC 38a (Dallas: Word,
1988), 285–86; Paul Barnett, Romans: The Revelation of God’s Righteousness (Fearn, Ross-shire, UK:
Christian Focus, 2003), 128.

thereby indicating “God’s intention in giving the law,” so it is best to take the
ἵνα clause as a purpose clause.27 It indicates an important purpose for which
God gave the law to Israel. Furthermore, as Dunn has perceptively noted, in
Rom 5:20 “the polemic against traditional Jewish evaluation of the law is the
essence of the point being made.”28 Taking τὸ παράπτωμα as the direct object
of a transitive instance of πλεονάσῃ with νόμος as the implied subject definitely
puts the focus of the first half of the verse on the function of old covenant
torah within salvation history in a manner consistent with this polemic noted
by Dunn. Regarding παρεισῆλθεν, the full force of the παρα prefix should be
acknowledged. The core of the semantic range of παρεισέρχομαι is the idea of
coming in beside. In other words, the law has entered into the flow of salvation
history alongside or in addition to something else. In particular, if Gal 3:19 is
accepted as being a close conceptual parallel to Rom 5:20, then παρεισέρχομαι
in Rom 5:20 parallels the verb προστίθημι (meaning to put together or add) in Gal
3:19. John Murray, noting this parallel and Paul’s use of the verb παρεισέρχομαι,
argues that the Mosaic law “was complementary” in the sense that it was sub-
sidiary to the nexus of sin in Adam and grace in Christ.29 But in the context of
Paul’s argument in Rom 5:12–21, the implied entity in relation to which the law
of Moses is additional must logically be understood as being the commandment
that had been given to Adam previously. Just as Adam sinned against Adamic
torah, the giving of the law to Israel resulted in their sinning against Mosaic
torah. Given the above considerations, and also that πλεονάζω can denote “to
cause an increase in the degree of some experience or state,” that is, to intensify
(as Louw and Nida attest in L&N 1:689), a translation for the first half of Rom
5:20 along the lines of but the law came in additionally in order that it might intensify
the trespass has much to commend it.
If the interpretation of Rom 5:20 outlined above is correct, then it is impor-
tant to note that the law that Paul has in mind in this verse is specifically the law
of Moses, not God’s law in general. This is also evident from the wider context
of Rom 5:20 in Rom 5:12–21. In particular, in Rom 5:13–14 Paul speaks of a
time “before the law” (ἄχρι … νόμου), a time when “there was no law” (μὴ ὄντος
νόμου), which corresponds to the time “from Adam to Moses” (ἀπὸ Ἀδὰμ μέχρι
Μωϋσέως). The coming of the law, therefore, corresponds in Paul’s thought
to the time of Moses. This identifies the law that Paul has in mind in Rom
5:12–21 as being specifically the law of Moses.30 Furthermore, the trespass that

27 See William Sanday and Arthur C. Headlam, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle

to the Romans, 5th ed. (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1980), 143; C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical
Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1987), 1:293; Douglas J. Moo,
The Epistle to the Romans, NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 347.
28 Dunn, Romans 1–8, 286.
29 John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans: The English Text with Introduction, Exposition and Notes,

2 vols. (Edinburgh: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1967), 1:207.

30 As John Murray states: “The ‘law’ cannot reasonably be taken in any other way than the law

as revealed by Moses” (ibid.). See also Dunn, Romans 1–8, 285; Otfried Hofius, “The Adam-Christ

Paul mentions in Rom 5:20 is not the concept of sin in general, but specifically
the sin of Adam. The trespass in Rom 5:20 (τὸ παράπτωμα) in the first instance
is nothing other than the trespass mentioned in Rom 5:15, 17–18, namely,
the trespass of the one man (τὸ τοῦ ἑνὸς παράπτωμα), who is Adam.31 Paul’s
argument in Rom 5:12–21 operates along salvation historical lines. In Paul’s
Christian reading of the OT, the giving of the Mosaic law primarily served in
God’s purposes in history to compound and intensify the problem of origi-
nal sin, in effect to show, by way of contrast to the failure of ancient Israel in
keeping covenant with God, how a definitive conjunction of God’s word and
Spirit in human hearts would ultimately be required in order to overcome the
universal effects of Adam’s sin. The giving of torah to Israel did not deal with
the underlying heart problem of Israel. Even after Sinai, the Israelites were still
primarily Adamites. In terms of practical morality, there was no real distinction
between Israel and the nations despite the fact that Israel was in covenant with
God (e.g., 2 Kgs 17:7–18; 21:2, 9; Isa 1:4; Jer 9:26).
Paul’s argument in Rom 5:20, therefore, is that the law of Moses was given to
Israel with the express purpose in God’s plan of intensifying the problem of sin
in Adam. Israel’s disobedience to the law mirrored Adam’s disobedience to the
commandment. This interpretation is confirmed from what is implied by Paul’s
description in Rom 5:14 that those who sinned in the period from Adam to Mo-
ses “did not sin in the likeness of the transgression of Adam” (μὴ ἁμαρτήσαντας
ἐπὶ τῷ ὁμοιώματι τῆς παραβάσεως Ἀδάμ). This description implies that the
people of Israel, who clearly received the law as part of their covenant relation-
ship with God, actually sinned in the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who
similarly rebelled against an explicit commandment.32 Thus, Paul perceives an

Antithesis and the Law,” in Paul and the Mosaic Law, ed. James D. G. Dunn (Grand Rapids: Eerd-
mans, 1996), 198; Moo, Epistle to the Romans, 346. Robert Jewett, however, thinks that the anarthrous
use of νόμος permits “the scope of [Paul’s] argument to extend to all law everywhere” (Robert
Jewett, Romans: A Commentary [Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007], 387).
31 Murray notes in this regard that the trespass in Rom 5:20 would seem to refer in the context

to “the trespass of Adam,” but he is unsure “how the one trespass of Adam was made to abound by
the entrance of the law” (Murray, Epistle to the Romans, 207). His solution is to suggest that Israel’s
disobedience is described in Rom 5:20 using the term trespass in order to allude to the trespass of
Adam, thereby setting up a parallel between Adam’s transgression of a “clearly revealed command-
ment” and Israel’s transgression of clearly revealed laws (pp. 207–8). Schreiner favors the view that
“the law increases the seriousness of sin in that disobedience to a specified law constitutes greater
rebellion than infractions against an unwritten law or conscience” (Thomas R. Schreiner, Romans
[Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998], 295). He notes that the use of the singular παράπτωμα has
been taken by some exegetes to suggest that an increase in the seriousness of sin is in view here,
not an increase in the number of sins; but he suggests that a generic use of παράπτωμα does “not
exclude the idea that the number of sins increased as well” (p. 296). For a brief summary of the
main exegetical options at this point, see Colin G. Kruse, Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 2012), 252–53.
32 David VanDrunen has also noted this implication: “By stating that the pre-Mosaic people

sinned in a way unlike Adam … Paul implies that Mosaic Israel sinned in a way similar to that
of Adam” (David VanDrunen, “Israel’s Recapitulation of Adam’s Probation under the Law of
Moses,” WTJ 73 [2011]: 309). This analogy between Israel and Adam does not mean, however,

analogous relationship in salvation history between the rebellion of Adam and

the rebellion of Israel. God deliberately set up the old covenant to bring about
an intensification of the sin of Adam through the covenant failure of Israel. The
law was given to Israel primarily to function as a yoke under which Israel would
stumble. This failure on the part of old covenant Israel intensified the original
trespass of Adam in the sense that an extra layer of sin and rebellion was added
to the canvas of salvation history. As Paul puts it in Rom 3:20, “for through the
law [of Moses] is the knowledge of sin” (διὰ γὰρ νόμου ἐπίγνωσις ἁμαρτίας). The
dual-fall structure of OT salvation history functions to highlight the insidious
power of sin, but significantly this was arranged by God as a backdrop for the
spectacular appearance of superabundant grace on the stage of salvation his-
tory with the coming of Christ and the new covenant. As Paul goes on to say in
the second half of Rom 5:20, “but where sin increased, grace increased all the
more” (οὗ δὲ ἐπλεόνασεν ἡ ἁμαρτία, ὑπερεπερίσσευσεν ἡ χάρις). In Paul’s view,
therefore, the dual-fall plot structure of the OT sets the historical backdrop for
the superabundant work of God’s grace in Christ. Understood correctly, Paul’s
summary of salvation history in Rom 5:20–21 brilliantly epitomizes the overall
plot structure of the Bible.33
Paul’s teaching on the basic plot structure of salvation history is true to the
OT’s own presentation of the matter. This can be appreciated in particular by
considering how the cardionomographic work of the Holy Spirit fits into the
salvation historical equation. Having understood that the major function of the
old covenant within salvation history is to illustrate in greater detail what hap-
pens to human beings and their environment when humanity disobeys God, we
can now relate this to the cardionomographic work of the Spirit. When looking
at the OT in terms of the work of the Holy Spirit, it is possible to say that the
OT paints a detailed picture of what happens to humanity and the world when
the cardionomographic work of the Spirit of God is limited.34 For during the
old covenant age, the cardionomographic work of the Spirit was, in accordance
with God’s plan, significantly limited in scope, being restricted primarily to the
minority within Israel known as the faithful remnant.35

that the Mosaic covenantal arrangement represents a republication of the Adamic covenant of
works (as VanDrunen seeks to argue), because the Sinaitic and Deuteronomic covenants were,
after all, redemptively gracious in nature. Yet, VanDrunen makes a good point in his reminder that
old covenant Israel’s experience under the law was primarily negative from a salvation historical
perspective, and he rightly questions “the tendency among critics of the republication idea” that
“equate[s] the basic experience of Israel under the Mosaic law with the experience of new covenant
believers under God’s law today” (pp. 319–24).
33 Ciampa also sees evidence that the two CSER [Covenant-Sin-Exile-Restoration] plot structure

of the OT was understood and employed by the Apostle Paul in his reading of Scripture, although
surprisingly he does not specifically cite Paul’s summary of salvation history in Rom 5:20–21 as
evidence to this effect (Ciampa, “History of Redemption,” 298–301).
34 As Waltke states, “the Sinai covenant makes sinners realize how lost they truly are apart from

God’s saving grace through his Spirit” (Waltke, Old Testament Theology, 436).
35 According to Calvin, God’s regeneration of old covenant believers through the work of the Spirit

was “not [done] so freely and extensively as now” under the new covenant (Calvin, Jeremiah, 4:141).

It should also be noted that Israel’s failure under the old covenant occurred
despite the grace that was on offer within that covenant. As Calvin has correctly
observed, when the law of Moses is considered in terms of its function within its
broader covenantal context (i.e., tota lex, the law considered as a whole, which
includes “the promises … of the divine mercy”), then torah is gracious.36 The
old covenant was redemptively gracious in that the law of Moses contained
within it provision for the forgiveness of sins through the Levitical sacrificial
system. In particular, the burnt offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering
all had making atonement as a significant part of their function (Lev 1:3–4; 4:3,
13–14, 20–24, 26–28, 31, 35; 5:5–6, 10, 14–19; 6:1–7). Of course, the ultimate ex-
ample of the provision for the forgiveness of sin under the old covenant was the
Day of Atonement (Lev 16:1–34). These sacrifices of atonement proleptically
offered covering in the perfect righteousness of Christ to old covenant Israel on
the condition of covenant faith. As Geerhardus Vos has written: “Every sacrifice
and every lustration proclaimed the principle of grace.”37 But an important
corollary of the gracious nature of tota lex is the understanding that torah can
in fact be kept by believers (not absolutely, but in the intended covenantal
sense, which the OT defines as doing torah in the context of redemptive grace).
Indeed, the OT records specific examples of people who kept God’s law. Listed
among such keepers of the law are Abraham (Gen 22:15–18; 26:4–5), David (1
Kgs 14:8; Ps 18:20–24 [18:21–25 MT]), and also the writer of Ps 119 (Ps 119:11,
30–32, 44, 51, 56, 67, 69, 102, 112, 129, 153, 157, 167–168). In the light of
the tota lex perspective from which the OT authors typically view old covenant
torah, to say that the law of Moses demanded perfect obedience of Israel per
se, such that no one could ever keep it, is to misunderstand the way that the
old covenant functioned.38 It is true that the law of Moses demanded absolute
righteousness as a condition for human fellowship with God, but the important
point to note is that the law of Moses graciously supplied this necessary righteous-
ness to Israel through the Levitical sacrificial system as this pointed forward
to the perfect sacrifice of Christ. Absolute righteousness being provided for
representatively through the sacrificial system, what was demanded of Israel
per se was covenant loyalty or faithfulness, a commitment to doing the whole
of torah in the context of grace.39

36 John Calvin, The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Romans and to the Thessalonians, ed. David

W. Torrance and Thomas F. Torrance, trans. Ross Mackenzie (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973),
222–23. Calvin contrasts tota lex (the whole law inclusive of divine mercy) from nuda lex (the law
abstracted from divine mercy). See also Calvin, Institutes, 2.7.2; 2.9.4; 2.11.7.
37 Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology, Old and New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954), 129.
38 VanDrunen, e.g., argues that the law demands perfect obedience, and identifies other

scholars who follow a similar line (see VanDrunen, “Israel’s Recapitulation of Adam’s Probation,”
316–17). Andrew Das also argues that perfect obedience was required by the Mosaic law despite its
location within a gracious covenantal framework (A. Andrew Das, “Beyond Covenantal Nomism:
Paul, Judaism, and Perfect Obedience,” Concordia Journal 27 [2001]: 240–45, 250–52).
39 It is interesting that even though Schreiner holds that the Apostle Paul believed that the law of

Moses demanded perfect obedience of Israel, he acknowledges that “the OT itself did not demand

Yet, despite the fact that old covenant law was gracious in nature, and despite
the fact that Israel was theoretically able to keep covenant with God as a corollary,
the great majority in Israel nevertheless proved to be covenantally disobedient to
God. The faithful remnant kept covenant with God (e.g., Ps 44:17–18 [44:18–19
MT]), yet Israel as a nation broke covenant with God. Despite the covenant
faithfulness of the obedient minority, the disobedience of the majority meant
that the curses of the old covenant were enacted against Israel as a whole. The
faithful remnant was caught up in this national punishment and suffered greatly
as a result (e.g., Ps 44:9–22 [44:10–23 MT]; 79:1–5; 80:4–6 [80:5–7 MT]; Lam
3:1–18). Their covenant obedience, which was the way of life for them during
the old covenant age, was nevertheless unable to bring them the fullness of life
during that covenantal era, because of the sin of the majority.40 But the righteous
trusted that, in the end, God would act to right the wrongs of their situation, to
bring about for them the blessing that he had promised to give to those who
keep covenant with him (e.g., Ps 79:11–13; 80:3, 7, 14–19 [80:4, 8, 15–20 MT];
Lam 3:19–33). Thus, the righteous remnant within disobedient Israel looked
forward to the time when God would reveal his righteousness in the sight of
the nations by working salvation for his people (Ps 98:1–3). The climax of the
outpouring of the covenant curses against the nation occurred, of course, with
the defeat and exile of Israel and Judah that took place at the hands of the Assyr-
ian and Babylonian armies respectively. Some respite was experienced with the
Jews’ return from Babylon back to the land; but even then God’s ancient people
still effectively remained in spiritual exile, subject to foreign rulers (Ezra 9:8–9;
Neh 9:36–37). Their community was still troubled by a general disinclination
to obey the law.41 This is precisely where the OT story ends, with national Israel
spiritually dead, awaiting spiritual transformation.
The history of the people of Israel, therefore, highlights the problem of
human disobedience to God’s word. In effect, what we see is the problem of
the mere externality of the law. The law had to be written on the hearts of
God’s people for covenant blessing to come (Deut 6:5–6, 17–19; 30:6–10); but

perfect obedience to the law” in accordance with what George Howard has shown (see Thomas R.
Schreiner, “Is Perfect Obedience to the Law Possible? A Re-Examination of Galatians 3:10,” JETS
27 [1984]: 159; George Howard, Paul: Crisis in Galatia: A Study in Early Christian Theology, SNTSMS
35 [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979], 49–54).
40 Obedience to torah in the context of grace was the way of life for believers under the old

covenant, but this was only true thanks to the way in which (in God’s plan) the old covenant
anticipated the fullness of new covenant blessing through instances of partial blessing. No matter
the degree of individual or corporate blessing under the old covenant, because of the sinfulness
of the majority of Israel (which was in effect a function of the non-eschatological character of that
covenant), in and of itself the old covenant could not bring about the fullness of blessing to any
of the righteous within ancient Israel. It is in this broader, corporate context that the law of Moses
functioned to condemn even the righteous under the old covenant to the curse of sin and death,
along with the wicked (as Paul argues in Rom 3:9, 19–20).
41 The ongoing problem with sin within the life of post-exilic Israel is recorded clearly in Ezra

9–10; Neh 13; and also the book of Malachi.


the OT paints a stark picture of the cursed existence that results when this
has not taken place, a situation due ultimately to the limited nature of the
cardionomographic work of the Spirit during the old covenant age. Hence the
teaching of Paul in 2 Cor 3:6: “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (τὸ …
γράμμα ἀποκτέννει, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ζῳοποιεῖ). Hence also the teaching of Calvin:
the law “of itself … can only accuse, condemn, and destroy.”42 Or as Augustine
himself once wrote: “if [the Spirit of grace] be wanting, the law comes in merely
to make us guilty and to slay us.”43 This in a nutshell is the story of Israel under
the old covenant.
In the light of this situation, the conundrum of the OT can readily be identi-
fied: Israel must keep covenant with God in order for the promised covenant
blessings to come, not only upon herself but also upon the world as a whole;
but what if Israel does not, or indeed cannot, keep covenant with God? Israel
was established by God as a microcosm of the world to be the vehicle through
whom divine blessing would go out to the nations. According to God’s plan,
Israel had to keep covenant with him in order for the promised covenant blessings
to come; but Israel proved herself unable to do what she was theoretically able
to do, namely, to keep covenant with God. This is precisely the problem that
the OT paints for us, or what can be called the old covenant conundrum: God
commanded Israel to be committed to obeying his law in the context of grace,
but (alas) Israel showed no such willingness. But what then is the solution to
this conundrum? How can Israel be transformed so that she might indeed keep
covenant with God with the result that the fullness of covenant blessing might
come upon Israel and the nations?
It is quite wonderful in the context of the old covenant conundrum as
outlined above to see how, right at the point of the lowest ebb of Israel’s re-
lationship with God, when the full weight of the covenant curses was coming
down against Israel because of her covenant rebellion, God sent prophets to
his people to testify of a time in the future when Israel would be restored to life
in a perfect and permanent relationship of obedience to God. The prophets
testified that one day God would indeed act in the power of his Spirit to soften
the hearts of his people and to write his law on their hearts (Jer 31:33; Ezek
11:17–20; 36:26–27), so that Israel would be changed, in order that she might
be enabled to keep covenant with God in a comprehensive way, in order that
the promised blessings might finally be realized. In fact, so exuberant would
be the cardionomographic work of God’s Spirit in the new covenant age that
the law would be written even upon the hearts of Gentiles (see Isa 2:3–4; Zech

42 Calvin, Institutes,
43 Augustine, On Rebuke and Grace, in NPNF 5:472. Hafemann identifies the letter versus Spirit
contrast as being between “the Law itself without the Spirit, as it was … experienced by the majority of
Israelites under the Sinai covenant, and the Law with the Spirit, as it is now being experienced by those
who are under the new covenant in Christ” (Hafemann, Paul, Moses, and the History of Israel, 171).

The significance of the OT prophecies of restoration can now be understood

with greater clarity. They show the way in which the old covenant conundrum
would be solved. They show how God would solve the problem of the law re-
maining primarily external in the life of his people: by sending his Spirit-filled
yet suffering Servant into the world to “make many to be accounted righteous”
(Isa 53:11), and to pour out the Spirit of God upon all flesh (Joel 2:28–32
[3:1–5 MT]). This Servant would not only die to become the true sacrifice of
atonement (Rom 3:25), but he would also die in order to break the power of
sin in the flesh (Rom 8:3), then apply the resulting freedom to serve God to the
elect by pouring out the Holy Spirit upon them in order that the Spirit might
perform his cardionomographic work within them. This cardionomographic
work of the Spirit would effect a radical change in the hearts of God’s people,
enabling them to fulfill “the requirement of the law” (τὸ δικαίωμα τοῦ νόμου)
by walking according to the Spirit (Rom 8:4), thereby meeting the common
condition of covenant obedience, such as had been set out by God back in the
beginning through Moses (e.g., Deut 6:25; 18:15; 30:6, 15–16, 19–20), which
is the necessary response under both the old and new covenants in order
that the fullness of the blessing of life that God promised to Israel might be
realized.44 In other words, Jesus died (in part) in order to bring about the
spiritual transformation of Israel and the nations. Jesus died so that Israel
and the nations would no longer break covenant with God, but instead keep
covenant with God! This time of spiritual renewal is exactly what Jer 31:31–34
identifies as the new covenant.
In this way, the OT concludes with the expectation of the coming of the
new covenant, of the time when God would act to reverse the spiritual exile
of humanity from his blessed presence, by writing his law within the hearts of
his people in a radical and comprehensive way. Through God’s acting in this
way, the law would become internalized in the hearts of his people, and the
covenant obedience resulting from this would effect the changing of covenant
curse into covenant blessing (as outlined in Deut 30:6–10). In this way, Israel’s
spiritual exile would come to an end, and she (and those among the nations
who would follow her) would be restored to life in the presence of God (Isa
56:6–8; 66:18–23).

44 Gerhard von Rad states in relation to the new covenant prophecy of Jer 31 that it outlines “the

picture of a new man, a man who is able to obey perfectly because of a miraculous change of his
nature” (Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology, trans. D. M. G. Stalker, 2 vols. [London: SCM,
1975], 2:213–14). McComiskey likewise argues that “the failure of the people to receive the law into
their hearts” is the “weakness that the new covenant overcomes because it promises a new heart, a
responsive attitude to God’s law” (McComiskey, Covenants of Promise, 85). The cardionomographic
work of the Spirit under the new covenant also fulfills the requirement of obedience under the
Abrahamic covenant, which was put forward as being a necessary condition for the realization of
the Abrahamic promises (see Gen 12:1–3; 15:1; 17:1–2, 14; 18:19; 22:16–18; 26:3–5).

IV. The Importance of Obedience within Deuteronomic Soteriology

It is possible that the description presented above regarding the soteriologi-

cal significance of torah obedience in the new covenant may sound novel to
some, but this outline of covenant history is clearly delineated in the book of
Deuteronomy. Despite the provision that was made for the forgiveness of sin
under the Mosaic covenant through the sacrificial system, the Deuteronomic
outlook has always posited that the old covenant would initially prove to be a
catastrophic failure as far as the nation of Israel was concerned. This initial
failure of the Mosaic covenant was predicted by Moses himself early on in God’s
dealings with the nation of Israel. Moses knew that Israel would prove to be
disobedient as a nation (Deut 4:25; 31:16–21, 27–29; 32:15–35), and that this
would result in her expulsion from the land in accordance with the curses of the
covenant (Deut 4:26–27; 30:1). Thus, the Mosaic covenant would initially prove
to be a failure. But balancing this bleak outlook, Moses also prophesied that
the covenant (in its eschatological form) would eventually succeed in bringing
obedience and blessing to Israel. Eventually God would work to circumcise the
hearts of his people with the result that Israel would come to repent of her sins
and, as a consequence of this, be restored back to life in the holy land (Deut
4:29–30; 30:1–14; 32:36–43). Thus the covenant relationship between God and
Israel established at Sinai would, in the end, result in the eternal blessing of
Israel and the nations, thereby fulfilling God’s promise of worldwide blessing to
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Gen 12:2; 13:14–17; 15:5; 17:7–8; 22:16–18; 26:24;
28:13–15; 35:11–12; Deut 4:31). The view of salvation history presented in the
previous section is simply, therefore, orthodox Deuteronomic soteriology.
In line with this orthodox Deuteronomic perspective, it is necessary to note
that Israel’s return from exile, her eschatological restoration to the land, is
presented in the OT as being conditional on repentance or covenant obe-
dience. Deuteronomy 30:1–14 is the Mosaic equivalent of the new covenant
prophecy of Jer 31:31–34; and, like Jer 31:31–34, it is programmatic of salvation
history post-exile. Its message is effectively the same as that of Jer 31:31–34
in proclaiming that, in the new covenant age, God will enable the covenant
obedience of his people, Israel, in a comprehensive way. It is very significant
that Deut 30:1–14; Jer 31:31–34; Ezek 11:19–20; 36:26–27 do not speak of the
covenant obedience of Israel (and the nations) as being unnecessary once the
new covenant age has come.45 As Deut 30:2–3 records, Moses said of Israel at
the time of the eschatological restoration: “when you and your children return
to Yahweh, your God, and obey his voice in accordance with all that I am com-
manding you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then Yahweh, your
God, will restore your fortunes, and have compassion on you, and will gather
you again from all the peoples where Yahweh, your God, has scattered you”

45 As Hafemann has observed: “the letter/Spirit contrast … in no way points to the termination

or devaluation of the Law” (Hafemann, Paul, Moses, and the History of Israel, 168).

(‫ל־ל ָב ְבָך‬
ְ ‫וּבנֶ יָך ְבּ ָכ‬
ָ ‫אַתּה‬
ָ ‫ֹלהיָך וְ ָשׁ ַמ ְע ָתּ ְבקֹלֹו ְכּכֹל ֲא ֶשׁר־אָנ ִֹכי ְמ ַצוְּ ָך ַהיֹּום‬
ֶ ‫וְ ַשׁ ְב ָתּ ַעד־יְ הוָ ה ֱא‬
ְ ‫ל־ה ַע ִמּים ֲא ֶשׁר ֱה ִפ‬
ָ ‫בוּתָך וְ ִר ֲח ֶמָך וְ ָשׁב וְ ִק ֶבּ ְצָך ִמ ָכּ‬
ְ ‫ת־שׁ‬
ְ ‫ֹלהיָך ֶא‬
ֶ ‫וּב ָכל־נַ ְפ ֶשָׁך וְ ָשׁב יְ הוָ ה ֱא‬
‫ֹלהיָך ָשׁ ָמּה‬
ֶ ‫)יְ הוָ ה ֱא‬.
This eschatological repentance and obedience equates to the cir-
cumcision of the heart spoken of in Deut 30:6: “Yahweh, your God, will
circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love
Yahweh, your God, with all your heart and all your soul, that you may live”
(‫ל־ל ָב ְבָך‬
ְ ‫ֹלהיָך ְבּ ָכ‬ ֶ ‫אַה ָבה ֶאת־יְ הוָ ה ֱא‬
ֲ ‫ת־ל ַבב זַ ְר ֶעָך ְל‬
ְ ‫ת־ל ָב ְבָך וְ ֶא‬
ְ ‫ֹלהיָך ֶא‬
ֶ ‫וּמל יְ הוָ ה ֱא‬
ְ ). The phrase translated as that you may live (‫ ְל ַמ ַען ַחיֶּ יָך‬, lit.
‫וּב ָכל־נַ ְפ ְשָׁך ְל ַמ ַען ַחיֶּ יָך‬
for the sake of your life) is highly significant. It means that, according to Moses, in
the end, God was going to move Israel to obey torah for the express purpose
that Israel might live as a result of her love for God.
It is clear, therefore, according to the teaching of Moses and the OT proph-
ets, that the new covenant would involve a return of Israel to covenant obedi-
ence. Indeed, the evidence of the OT forces us to conclude that, in terms of the
broader cardionomographic perspective, the OT prophesies the triumph of the
justifying and vivifying function of (new covenant) law over the condemnatory
and mortifying function of (old covenant) law. The OT view of salvation is
intimately connected with torah, so much so that the OT presents torah as
being an integral and positive part of the new covenant just as much as it was an
integral (albeit primarily negative) part of the old.
Obviously this Deuteronomic view of salvation history has important implica-
tions for the Christian formulation of the place of obedience in the process
of salvation. The Deuteronomic perspective of the OT prophets suggests that
Christian teachings which exclude obedience per se from the process of salva-
tion have seriously oversimplified the wider biblical presentation on the issue.
The OT looks forward to the obedience and death of Christ, not as replacing
the need for the covenant obedience of Israel and the nations, but as enabling it.
As Thomas McComiskey has observed concerning the new covenant prophecy
of Jer 31: “It envisioned a time when the people of God would obey God’s tôrāh,
not out of fear or under duress, but because they had renewed hearts. The New
Testament says that time has been realized.… The obedience called for by the
New Testament is thus covenantal obedience—the same type of obedience that
Jeremiah said would characterize the new covenant.”46
It is regrettable, therefore, that the importance of Spirit-enabled torah
obedience within the framework of the new covenant has arguably escaped
the consideration of those theologians whose view of the law is primarily (if

46 McComiskey, Covenants of Promise, 162. Bradley Green also states concerning the place of obe-

dience under the new covenant: “Rather than seeing Christ’s obedience as something that renders
my obedience superfluous, his obedience should be seen as the fount or source of obedience, for
Christ is being formed in me” (Bradley G. Green, Covenant and Commandment: Works, Obedience and
Faithfulness in the Christian Life [Downers Grove, IL: Apollos, 2014], 170).

not exclusively) negative.47 In many cases insufficient attention has been paid
to the OT teaching regarding the ultimately positive role of torah in salvation
history with the result that the possibility and indeed the necessity of the torah
obedience of individual believers in the process of salvation under the new
covenant has been ruled out, despite the fact that, according to the OT, a key
component of what the new covenant is all about is the eschatological reality
of torah written on the heart.48

V. Conclusion

To summarize what has been argued above, the message of the OT, by
recording the historical failure of Adam and Israel due to a limited cardio-
nomographic work of the Spirit during the pre-Christian era, highlights the
need for the internalization of the word of God in the human heart. In other
words, the OT highlights the great need for the cardionomographic work of
the Spirit on an international scale, and it looks forward to the time when this
would take place, to the time of the new covenant, when God would write his
law on the hearts of his people through his Spirit in a comprehensive and
ultimately complete way as an integral and vitally important component of the
new covenant in Christ.

47 As John Murray has previously observed, there is “a pattern of thought current in many

evangelical circles that the idea of keeping the commandments of God is not consonant with the
liberty and spontaneity of the Christian man, that keeping the law has its affinities with legalism
and with the principle of works rather than with the principle of grace” (John Murray, Principles
of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957], 182). Richard Gaffin has also
given expression to what he sees as “a tendency,” which in his impression is “pervasive, within
churches of the Reformation,” to suggest that sanctification is “not really integral to our salvation,”
or somehow that it is not an important work of divine grace within the believer (Richard B. Gaffin
Jr., By Faith, Not by Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation [Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2006], 76–77).
Green is also of the view that “the heirs of the Reformation have struggled at times to affirm the
necessity of obedience conceptually while simultaneously affirming passionately sola fide” (Green,
Covenant and Commandment, 17).
48 Green rightly notes that, in accordance with the new covenant prophecy of Jer 31:31–34 in

particular, it is “through the Holy Spirit, and through the power of the cross and the resurrection
itself” that “God’s people have the spiritual ability to obey him. Jesus has obeyed the Father in our
place … but his obedience for us does not negate the centrality of the obedience of God’s covenant
people” (Green, Covenant and Commandment, 71). He also perceptively states: “Our law-keeping
[before the consummation] is always incomplete and imperfect, but because Christ, the perfect
Law-keeper, is being formed in his people, an echo of that law-keeping is happening, by the power
of the Spirit, in God’s people” (pp. 101–2).
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