Gold from Gordon Fee

Gordon Fee is one of my favourite scholars. He has a great passion for people being learning how to read the Bible for themselves. He is professor of New Testament studies at Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia. He is the author of Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God, God’s Empowering Presence: the Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul, and (with Douglas Stuart) How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth.


This post is a selection of notable quotes from a collection of Fee’s essays that I have been reading called Listening to the Spirit in the Text. I’d highly recommend picking it up! The book was recommended by J. I. Packer, who said,

“This set of biblical explorations – mostly Pauline, as we would expect – demonstrates Gordon Fee’s strength in exegesis, biblical theology, and hermeneutics as he pursues his trinitarian, churchly, life-centered concerns. Fee is a Pentecostal pneumatologist without peer. In his largehearted service of the biblical text he is in every way a model. Brilliant and simple, these chapters will enrich all who take the Bible seriously.”

From the essay Exegesis and Spirituality: Completing the Circle:

“God’s aim in our lives is “Spiritual” in this sense, that we, redeemed by the death of Christ, might be empowered by his Spirit both ‘to will and to do for the sake of his own pleasure.’ True spirituality, therefore, is nothing more nor less than life by the Spirit. ‘Having been brought to life by the Spirit,’ Paul tells the Galatians, ‘let us behave in ways that are in keeping with the Spirit’” (pg. 6).

“A great danger lurks here, you understand, especially for those who have been called of God to serve the church in pastoral and teaching roles. The danger is to become a professional: to analyse texts and to talk about God, but slowly to let the fire of passion for God run low, so that one does not spend much time talking with God. I fear for students the day when exegesis becomes easy; or when exegesis is what one does primarily for the sake of others. Because all too often such exegesis is no longer accompanied with a burning heart, so that one no longer lets the texts speak to them. If the biblical text does not grip or possess one’s own soul, it will likely do very little for those who hear” (pg. 7).

“I want to say with great vigour that even though the first task of the exegete is the historical one (= to determine the biblical author’s intended meaning), this first task is not the ultimate one. He ultimate task, and now I repeat myself, is the Spiritual one, to hear the text in such a way that it leads the reader/hearer into the worship of God and into conformity to God and his ways. My present point is that this task is not to be separated from the historical one, or added onto it at the end. Rather, determining the Spiritual intent of the text… belongs legitimately – indeed, necessarily – to the historical task itself” (pg. 11).

From the essay, Toward a Pauline Theology of Glossolalia:

“Mention ‘salvation by grace alone’ and immediately most people think, ‘the Apostle Paul’; but mention ‘speaking in tongues’ and most people think, ‘Pentecostals’ or ‘charismatics.’ And this, despite the fact that Paul claims to have spoken in tongues more than even the Corinthians themselves” (pg. 105).

“The evidence from 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Romans 12:6; and especially Galatians 3:2-5 with its matter of fact appeal to the continuing presence of miracles in the churches, make it certain that the Pauline churches were ‘charismatic’ in the sense that a dynamic presence of the Spirit was manifest in their gatherings. And even where ‘power’ means that believers apprehend and live out the love of Christ in a greater way (Eph 3:16-20), Paul recognises here a miraculous work of the Spirit that will ne evidenced by the way renewed people behave toward one another. Whatever else, the Spirit was experienced in the Pauline churches; he was not simply a matter of creedal assent. On the other hand, Paul also assumes the closest correlation between the Spirit’s power and present weakness. Such passages as Romans 8:17-27; 2 Corinthians 12:9; and Colossians 1:9-11 indicate that the Spirit is seen as the source of empowering in the midst of affliction or weakness” (pg. 108).

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