The Spirit of the atonement: the role of the Holy Spirit in Christ’s death and resurrection

Adam Johnson*, Tessa Hayashida*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this essay, we marshal resources from a range of biblical, trinitarian and soteriological commitments, set within a broadly Barthian framework, to offer a doctrinal proposal for the Spirit’s role in the triune God’s work of at-one-ment. We argue that the Spirit plays a vital role in the atoning work of the triune God, as the Spirit is the love of God directed toward the incarnate Son a two-fold manner: (1) in the mode of wrath against our sin born by Christ our representative, and (2) in its mode of blessing in the resurrected and ascended Christ, the exalted one in whom we receive the promised Holy Spirit. Seen in this light, Christ’s death and resurrection was God’s two-fold act of love in the Spirit: the two-fold means of making our representative, Jesus, a fit receptacle for the promised Holy Spirit, that in him all the peoples of the earth might be blessed through his recapitulation of Israel. Key to this thesis are two commitments: (1) seeing a changing economic relationship between Jesus and the Holy Spirit integral to Jesus’ recapitulation of Israel, and (2) viewing wrath as a mode of God’s love, and therefore a part of, rather than something alien to, the work of the Spirit. With these doctrinal resources in hand, we have the necessary conceptual tools to affirm that the Spirit, just as much as the Father and the Son, is the one who saves us in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Original languageEnglish
Article number918
Number of pages12
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2022


  • Atonement
  • Cross
  • Holy Spirit
  • Karl Barth
  • Soteriology
  • Theology
  • Wrath


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