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Romans 8:32-34 – Jesus Intercedes

Last time we dealt with verse 31’s reflection on the surety of “these things” – our future glory.

  • We saw that the surety of our future glory is found in God’s faithfulness – He is for us.

 

And though the “who” try to thwart God’s glorification plan of believers…

  • Nobody, no “who”, can successfully stand against our glorification.

 

Today we will unpack verses 32-34.

  • Romans 8:32–34 (ESV) — 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

 

 

Verse 32:

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

  • In verse 32, Paul continues his glorification apologetic.

 

Paul’s logic here is simple enough – a greater-to-the-lesser argument:

  • God is a spare nothing “grace-giver” (unstated premise).
  • He “grace-gave” His Son “for us all”.
  • All things” are not nearly as valuable as “his own Son”.
  • So God will certainly “grace-give” us “all things”.

 

Given this, we can formulate a Romans 8:32 paraphrase:

  • God the Father is a spare nothing grace-giver! He gave his Son…He will certainly give us glorification!

 

Tom Schreiner sums up Paul’s point:

“Since he has done the greatest thing imaginable—sacrificing his Son to death for their sake—then it surely follows that the Father in his grace will grant them everything along with his Son”

 

Doug Moo points out that Paul is fond of assuring us with greater-to-the-lesser arguments.

  • Romans 5:8–9 (ESV) — 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

 

So, Paul wants the church at Rome (and us) to think through the implications of what God has done.

  • Was the giving of the Son an historical event?
  • Was it something that actually took place?
  • YES!

 

So elect of Rome stop doubting your future!

  • It doesn’t matter that you groan and suffer now.
  • It doesn’t matter that the “who” are against you.

 

What matters is that God is a spare nothing “grace giver”.

  • Something clearly demonstrated on the cross.

 

So live in hope!

  • A hope full of historical content.

 

Though the effects of Garden Exile linger…

  • Groaning, suffering, doubt…
  • Rejoice!
  • There will never be a glorification exile.

 

 

Verses 33-34:

33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

 

In these verses, Paul brings us into God’s law court.

  • “The presumed setting is a type of heavenly courtroom where the fate of Christians supposedly hangs in the balance” – Michael Bird.

 

We know this because the language is, “dominated by judicial imagery” – Doug Moo.

  • Charge”, “justifies”, “condemn”, “interceding”.

 

This is not just New Testament language:

  • Isaiah 50:8 (ESV) — 8 He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me.

 

Paul’s point with this language is to further illustrate:

  • How God is for us and…
  • Why the “who” will fail (Schreiner).

 

Paul’s language bears this out.

  • Who will “bring any charge”?
  • God “justifies
  • Who is to “condemn”?
  • Jesus is “interceding

 

So once again, Paul brings up the nefarious “who”.

  • A “who” we encountered last week.
  • A “who” that we will unpack when we get to verse 38.

 

The “who” are trying to bring charges against us.

  • They are trying to condemn us.

 

But Paul reminds us that the “who” can bring no charge or condemnation.

  • It is God who justifies and it is Jesus who is interceding.
  • Romans 8:1 (ESV) — 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

 

 

Justification and Condemnation:

We have already talked about justification and condemnation – because Paul has.

  • So I want to focus in on the idea of Jesus interceding.

 

Suffice it to say, N.T. Wright sums up Paul’s justification point.

  • “God has declared all those who believe in the gospel to be in the right, and no one will be able to overturn God’s verdict” – N.T. Wright.
  • Not even the “who”.

 

And what is the Gospel as described by Paul in our text?

  • The Gospel that makes us right?
  • It is succinctly found in verse 34.

 

Paul’s verse 34 Gospel:

  • Jesus “died”.
  • Jesus was “raised”.
  • Jesus was exalted – “at the right hand of God”.
  • Jesus “is interceding for us” – currently, right now!

 

So who is not the Gospel?

  • You and your testimony!

 

Let’s unpack this intercessor stuff.

 

 

Jesus as Intercessor (vs. 34):

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

 

Paul raises the specter of a “condemner” – the “who” that keep creeping up.

  • “To be sure, Satan, the ‘accuser,’ may seek to do so; so may our enemies and, perhaps most persuasively of all, our own sins” – Doug Moo.

 

But even though all this is going on…

  • Paul assures us that Jesus is “interceding for us” (vs. 34).

 

This idea of Jesus as intercessor is present throughout the New Testament.

  • Hebrews 7:25 (ESV) — 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
  • Hebrews 9:24 (ESV) — 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
  • 1 John 2:1 (ESV) — 1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
  • Acts 7:55 (ESV) — 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
    • This shows that we even have human accusers/condemners.

 

 

Intercessor Questions:

I have two questions about Jesus as intercessor.

  • (1) What exactly is Jesus doing as He intercedes?
  • (2) And why, given the indicatives of the Gospel, does Jesus need to intercede – doesn’t this imply that the work on the cross isn’t done?

 

(1) To answer our first question, we look to the definition of the word in context – ἐντυγχάνω.

  • The BDAG puts it like this – to intercede here is to “appeal to someone against a third person”.
  • Similarly, Bill Mounce says it refers to Jesus pleading our cause.

 

So with these we have Jesus:

  • “Appealing” and “pleading” to the Father on our behalf.
  • And He is doing so in opposition to the one bringing charges against us.

 

And the EDNT confirms that this takes place in a judicial setting:

Intercession, “belongs primarily to the conceptual world of the ruler’s court… where accusations against another, and where requests on behalf of another are made with the hope of receiving a hearing”.

 

These give us an idea of what Jesus is doing.

  • But we have to flesh this out even more.
  • And it will help us to know in what capacity Jesus is interceding.

 

Given all the judicial language and the court setting…

  • It seems Jesus intercedes as a type of divine advocate – a lawyer.
    • we have an advocate with the Father” – 1 John 2:1.
  • But that is not the only, nor the most important capacity of His intercession.

 

Jesus also intercedes for us in His capacity as our High Priest – back to Hebrews 7.

  • Hebrews 7:22–26 (ESV) — 22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. 23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.

 

So what is the role of the High Priest? (From LBD)

  • Covenant enforcer – temple duties and Sinai covenant
  • Heart circumciser
  • “Handling of sacrifices and offerings” – LBD
  • Entrance into holy of holies on Day of Atonement.

 

These functions of the High Priest…

  • Found their perfection and completion in Jesus Christ.

 

John Murray says of this priestly intercession:

“For nothing serves to verify the intimacy and constancy of the Redeemer’s preoccupation with the security of his people, nothing assures us of his unchanging love more than the tenderness which his heavenly priesthood bespeaks and particularly as it comes to expression in intercession for us” – John Murray.

  • Our God participates in our life – continually!

 

So these observations help us understand what Jesus is doing as He intercedes.

 

(2) So what of our second question:

  • If “it is finished” – Jesus’ cry on the cross:
  • Why does Jesus have to intercede?
  • There are a couple of good answers to this question.

 

The first answer is:

  • Jesus intercession is ongoing because the “who” and their charges are ongoing.
  • Jesus continually intercedes because the charges keep coming and will come.
  • Again, more on this when we get to verse 38.

 

The second answer comes from John Piper.

Jesus’ intercession is, “the ongoing presentation of the reality established at the cross, and through faith, by the Spirit. God the Father doesn’t just look back to the cross. He looks straight ahead into the face of the living, righteous Jesus Christ who is our righteousness…” – John Piper (Ask Pastor John).

 

In other words, looking at the Gospel described in verse 32:

  • Jesus “died”.
  • Jesus was “raised”.
  • Jesus was exalted – “at the right hand of God”.
  • Jesus “is interceding for us”.

 

We can see that the intercession is not a separate thing from the Gospel.

  • It is part of the Gospel – it is part of the foreknown and predestined plan of God.
  • It is part of how we are brought into God’s family.
  • How we are made into the image of Christ.

 

The continual intercession of Christ is His ongoing expression of His death, resurrection and exaltation.

  • It can be put this way – what does Christ plead on our behalf?
  • “Christ pleads His death!” – John Piper.

 

And, importantly, this continual intercession of Jesus the Righteous…

  • Glorifies Christ and the Father – continually!

 

BTW – Christ’s intercession compliments the Spirits’.

  • “The intercession of the Spirit for us in our hearts has its counterpart in the intercession of Christ for us at God’s right hand.” – CNUOT.

 

 

Conclusion:

N.T. Wright leaves us with this application.

“This thought [of Jesus’ intercession] is a great comfort, especially when the going is tough, as it often was for Paul and as it often will be for those who follow and live by his gospel” – N.T. Wright.

 

 

 

 

Romans 8:1 – No Condemnation

 

Romans 8:1–4 (ESV) — 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

 

 

Given the “something” that Paul has taught thus far, he says…

  • There is therefore now no condemnation…”

 

We need to answer a couple of questions to begin to unpack our text.

  • (1) What does Paul mean by condemnation?
  • (2) What is the “therefore” – the something – that Paul is referring to?

 

(1) The answer to the first question is crucial in realizing the awesomeness of Paul’s words.

“No condemnation! This assurance can of course only carry its full force for someone who has pondered carefully the seriousness of sin and the reality of God’s judgment” – N.T. Wright.

 

The non-believer simply does not have the worldview to apprehend the enormity of Paul’s words.

  • And quite honestly, perhaps the average Christian doesn’t properly apprehend the enormity of Paul’s words.
  • Hopefully, having made it this far into Romans…this doesn’t apply to us!

 

In a nutshell, condemnation is a status or state of a person living “under sin”.

  • This includes being “in Adam” and all that goes with it.

 

It entails both death, and an “estrangement from God” – Doug Moo.

  • In other words, it is the result of being excluded from God’s Garden presence, blessing and life.

 

And some refer to it simply as suffering the curse and punishment of sin.

  • Something that is both now and not yet.

 

Condemnation, then, is not something that fundamentally results from bad behavior!

  • It is not something unfair that befalls a good person by a mean God.

 

(2) The answer to the second question is multi-faceted.

  • Romans 7:24 seems to be forecasting it.
  • Romans 7:24–25 (ESV) — 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

 

And Doug Moo says Paul also has in mind Romans 5 – where he began his discussion on condemnation.

  • Romans 5:16–21 (ESV) — 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Now we need to tie this text back in to Romans 8:1.

  • But I want to do so in a peculiar way…so bear with me.

 

So…is Paul’s “therefore” referring to history or theology?

 

What is the history?

  • “one man” – Adam
  • “death”
  • “one man” – Jesus
  • “one act” – the cross

 

We have to notice something here.

  • What does the history tell us?
  • How is it that the history has any force?

 

If you engage yourself or another in conversation with merely:

  • “Adam died.”
  • “Jesus died on the cross.”
  • What meaning is conveyed?

 

So here is what we have to notice:

  • The real meaning…the real application…is the theology!

 

The historical facts of Adam and Christ have to be applied to humanity.

  • And they must be applied correctly.
  • It is the inspired theology of the Bible writers that does this work!

 

In fact, the theology attaches to the history.

  • And as a result, the theology actually becomes historical.

 

So let’s look at the theology of Paul’s “therefore” found in Romans 5:

  • “free gift”
  • “sin”
  • “judgment”
  • “through that one man”
  • “trespass”
  • “condemnation”
  • “justification”
  • “death reigned”
  • “grace”
  • “righteousness”
  • “through the one man”
  • “Christ”

 

The history is that one man, Adam, died.

  • The theology that fills this out and applies it is the “sin”, “judgment”, “through that one man”, “trespass”, “condemnation”, and the “death reigned”.

 

The history is that one man Christ died on the cross (and rose).

  • The theology that fills this out and applies it is the “free gift”, “justification”, “grace”, “righteousness”, “through the one man”, and the “Christ”.

 

These are the theological truths that…

  • Make sense of the death of the one man Adam…
  • And the one act of the one man Jesus.
  • And give them their “so what?”

 

Now we can see what Paul is doing in 8:1.

  • Because of the theology attached to the events in history concerning Adam and Jesus…
  • We see why we were under condemnation…
  • And why we are delivered from condemnation.

 

The theology is the meat on the bones of the history!

 

But how are we joined to this Gospel history and theology?

  • Paul says it is for “those who are in Christ Jesus”.

 

Here we go again!

  • Those” is the history.
  • who are in Christ Jesus” is the theology.

 

Who are the “those”?

  • They are the people who profess Christ – Christians.

 

But, again, we need the theology to apply this and fill out its power and meaning.

  • We need the “in Christ Jesus”!

 

Why?

  • Because, all kinds of people profess all kinds of people.
  • Muslims profess Allah.
  • Buddhists profess Buddha.

 

So we need the theology attached to “in Christ Jesus”…

  • Because it is the theological content that sets this apart from any competing claim.

 

So what does it mean…Tom Schreiner says:

  • “‘In Christ Jesus’ refers to those who died with Christ Jesus and will be raised with him, harking back to 6:1–11” – Tom Schreiner.

 

Well, lets look back at Romans 6:3-11.

  • Romans 6:3–11 (ESV) — 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

 

So to be “in Christ Jesus” means:

  • He died…we died!
  • He was raised…we “were” raised, will be raised, and “live with him”.

 

As a result:

  • We have newness of life.
  • We are “no longer enslaved to sin”, “dead to sin”, and “alive to God in Christ Jesus”.

 

Think of it this way:

  • To be united to Christ is to be…
  • Joined to both Christ’s history…
    • Who He was and what He did historically
  • And the theology (the meaning) that resides in Christ and His history.

 

How does being “in Christ Jesus” do this?

  • We will answer that next week.

 

Romans 3:25b-31 – Judgment & Vindication Righteousness

Romans 3:25b–31 (ESV) — This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

 

Last week, we saw that Christ is the “but now” righteousness of God.

  • Yahweh’s righteousness as revealed in the OT now finds its center in Christ.
  • Therefore, the way to be put right or “righteoused” by God is to be joined to Christ through faith.
  • Christ is the only thing that brings the “none righteous” into righteousness.

 

In today’s text, Paul wants us to know something else about the “but now” righteousness of God.

  • We will highlight at least two things, one from verse 25b and one from verse 26.

 

 

Verse 25b:

25b This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

 

(1) God Hasn’t Winked at Sin:

Paul has been describing in detail the severity of humanity’s unrighteousness.

  • A number of weeks ago we saw how mankind is plagued with idolatry.
  • We saw a couple of weeks ago that there are “none righteous”.
  • And last week we saw that all have fallen short of God’s glory.

 

Naturally, a question arises concerning God’s character and His apparent wink at all this unrighteousness.

  • If it is so bad, why hasn’t He done what every Jew expected He would do – judge and vindicate?
  • Or more to the point, how does a crucified Messiah demonstrate God’s “divine faithfulness to covenant partners” – Robert Jewett.

 

Douglas Moo puts it like this:

  • Given the fact that there hasn’t been any judgment and vindication, “some aspect of God’s character” is “called into question” – Douglas Moo.
  • It appears that God has “treated sins in the past with less than full severity” – Douglas Moo.

 

But, Paul says that all of this “righteousing” through Christ “was to show” (vs. 25b) God has acted righteously both now (in Christ) and in the past.

  • God has not winked at sin.

 

First, God has acted righteously against sin.

  • He has done so by His “righteousing” of creation through Jesus.
  • Specifically, the justification, redemption, and propitiation Paul just spoke about in verses 24-25a.
  • Jesus’ work on the cross is how God has dealt with sin.

 

Secondly, given that in Christ sin has been dealt with, God’s actions prior to that weren’t negligent.

  • Paul says what God was doing was expressing “his divine forbearance” (vs. 25b) because he “passed over former sins” (vs. 25).
  • Divine forbearance” is “a holding back” or “temporary cessation” – BDAG.
  • Passed over” is “letting go unpunished” “former sins” – BDAG.

 

In other words, Paul concedes that before His “but now” righteousness, God did withhold judgment and vindication.

  • But this withholding was not a lack of divine activity.
  • It was, in fact, an intentional divine act on God’s part – it was righteousness and grace.

 

This echoes what Paul has already taught.

  • Romans 2:3–4 (ESV) — 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
  • God’s apparent inaction had a Gospel purpose.

 

Therefore, since Christ was always Plan A, God’s actions with “former sins” didn’t compromise God’s character.

“In the death of Jesus, God has shown himself (1) to be in the right in dealing properly and impartially with sin; (2) to be faithful to the covenant; (3) to have dealt properly with sin; and (4) to be committed to saving those who call out in helpless faith” – N.T. Wright.

  • “God’s righteous verdict against sinners has been meted out against the faithful Israelite, Israel’s representative: the Messiah, Jesus” – N.T. Wright.

 

Now on to the second thing Paul wants us to know about the importance of the “but now” righteousness of God.

 

 

Verse 26:

26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

 

(2) Future Judgment & Vindication Brought Into the Present:

But there is still a problem.

  • Through Christ’s work on the cross vindication and judgment did take place.
  • And even beyond that, through God’s divine activity on the cross, He has shown how He “can mercifully save people without compromising his justice” – Tom Schreiner.
  • Because in Christ, “the saving and judging righteousness of God meet” – Tom Schreiner.

 

However, there is still a sense in which vindication and judgment have not yet been completed.

  • The Jews were awaiting a day of judgment when Torah followers/Israel would be vindicated and the nations would be judged.
  • This was also the day from Daniel 12 when the righteous dead would be resurrected.
  • On this day, all of creation would be put right.

 

So how can Paul speak of the righteousness of a crucified Christ accomplishing anything, if this final vindication and judgment has not happened?

 

Paul’s answer is verse 26.

  • The “but now” righteousness of God was to show that this vindication and judgment (God’s righteousness/divine activity) has begun to happen “at the present time” (vs. 26).

 

Just like Jesus split resurrection history in two with His resurrection coming before the final resurrection.

  • As Paul says in 1 Corinthians, Jesus’ resurrection is the “first fruits” pointing to the believers resurrection.

 

So too has Jesus’ work on the cross split vindication and judgment history in two.

  • In the work of Christ, “The final judgment day has been brought forward into the middle of history” – N.T. Wright.
  • So that “those who put their own faith in God’s act in Jesus are marked out thereby as God’s people in the present” – N.T. Wright.
  • The result of this is that, “The promises made in the OT about the vindication of Israel have been fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ” – Tom Schreiner.

So vindication and judgment “is both present and future, for the future declaration seals the present reality” – Tom Schreiner.

 

This is why Paul can say God can be seen through Christ as…

  • just” and “justifier” of those in Christ.
  • In Christ there is both a present reality in effect and the certainty of a future reality.
  • In the future – the age to come – all things will be put right.
  • God will be shown as having been “just” and “justifier” both in Christ and in the “age to come”.
  • This includes a complete and final judgment and vindication.
  • Vindication of those in Christ.
  • Judgment of those under God’s wrath.

 

 

Vs. 27-31:

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

 

Having shown us two very important implications of God’s “but now” righteousness, Paul turns his attention back to the inadequacy of the law and the impartiality of God.

 

Because of everything that the “but now” righteousness of Jesus is…

  • All boasting “is excluded” (vs. 27).
  • One’s entry into the house of the vindicated has nothing to do with one’s own efforts.
  • Remember, Paul has already said the works of the law stop the mouth.
  • They testify against us all.

 

Paul makes this clear when he says the exclusion of boasting is based on…

  • the law of faith” not “a law of works”.
  • It is faith in the “but now” righteousness that justifies not “works of the law” (vs. 28).
  • The “law of faith” is the deathblow to the “law of works”.

 

And importantly, it is this reason that vindication is open to Jew and Gentile.

  • As God’s covenant with Abraham indicated – God is not just the God of the Jews but the Gentiles.
  • God will “justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith” (vs. 30).

 

Does all this mean we then overthrow the law by this faith?”

  • Paul says, “By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.”
  • The law is not throne under the bus!

 

How can this be?

  • I love how N.T. Wright puts it.
  • He suggests that the law was taken by Israel and put to the wrong tune – the tune of works.
  • The law, he says, “was always designed to be sung to the tune called ‘faith’.” – N.T. Wright.
  • Sung to the right tune – faith – the law becomes a beautiful song of worship and gratitude.

 

Moreover, the law still is the thing that shows us what the straight line of God’s objective morality looks like.

  • “Righteousness apart from the law’s commands does not mean that believers can dispense with the moral norms of the law” – Schreiner.

 

Romans 3:21-25 – “But Now” Righteousness of God

Last week we saw the hopelessness of the unrighteous.

  • “Something has happened. The court was in session; all were standing guilty in the dock; what more could be done? But something had to be done” – N.T. Wright.

 

 

Romans 3:21–25a (ESV) — 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25a whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith

 

 

Verses 21-22a:

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

 

God’s righteousness has a new manifestation.

  • Paul calls it the “but now” manifestation of God’s righteousness.
  • A righteousness “apart” from “the law” (for the Gentiles sake), but not severed from it – “the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it” (vs. 21).
    • Exodus from Egypt
    • Blood Sacrifice

 

What is this “but now” manifestation?

  • It is “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (vs. 22).

 

This is a remarkable statement!

  • The OT has been pointing forward to this ultimate promise fulfillment since Genesis.
  • “The OT itself promises again and again that God will fulfill his saving promises and looks forward to the day when they will become a reality” – Tom Schreiner.

 

And now Paul is reshaping the righteousness of God and its fulfillment around Jesus Christ.

  • Israel, as Paul taught, failed as “entrustees” of God’s righteousness.
  • There had to be a “but now” for God to be faithful!
  • The significance of this can’t be overstated.

 

In this context, how are we to understand this “but now” righteousness of God?

  • To get at the answer…
  • We need to remember what we have learned thus far about God’s righteousness.

 

God’s Righteousness:

We saw some weeks ago that God’s righteousness consists of…

  • God’s “…divine activity in which God vindicates his people” – Tom Schreiner.
  • This activity transforms and establishes right within all of creation – N.T. Wright.

“From God’s side, this includes his eschatological intervention to vindicate and deliver his people, in fulfillment of his promises. From the human side, it includes the status of acquittal acquired by the person so declared just” – Douglas Moo.

 

We found that this idea could be fleshed out as follows:

  • God’s righteousness is all of God’s saving work and activity in and for all of creation – promise fulfilling, covenant faithfulness, etc. – His saving righteousness.
  • This also included God’s wrath – His judging righteousness.
    • God’s holy wrath upon evil is part of putting things right.

 

Given all this we can see how Christ embodies the “but now” righteousness of God.

 

Jesus is the promise, and the promise fulfilled.

  • Jesus is now the inaugurator of the new covenant from Jeremiah 31.
  • Jesus’ death, resurrection and return are how all of creation will be put right.
  • Jesus’ work, righteousness and obedience (His faithfulness) are how God’s people will be vindicated.
  • Jesus’ work is how all of creation will be returned from Garden Exile.
  • Jesus’ return and subsequent judgment will fully and finally defeat death and evil.
  • And all of this “but now” righteousness of Christ connects directly to all that was anticipated in the OT.
  • To sum up… God is now “righteousing” creation through the risen Jesus Christ (and the Spirit).

 

I love how N.T. Wright sums this up:

“The faithful death of the Messiah unveils, before an unready and shocked world, the way in which the one true God has been true to the covenant [with Israel] and has thereby provided the answer to a world gone wrong, and to humans lost in sin and guilt” – N.T. Wright.

 

Through Faith:

God’s people are connected to this “but now” righteousness only “through faith in Jesus Christ” (vs. 22).

  • When we are joined to Christ “through faith” we are then “righteoused” by this “but now” righteousness of God.
  • It is not the law, circumcision, our conscience, culture, obedience, abstaining from alcohol, reaching out to the orphans and widows, or anything else that will “righteous” us.
  • We are only “righteoused” “through faith in Jesus Christ”.
  • And as Paul has made clear, we all need “righteousing” because none are righteous.

 

Rabbit Trail:

Given all this, what is the Gospel?

  • Is the Gospel “how we get to heaven”?
  • NO!

 

The Gospel is the good news that God is actively “righteousing” creation through the done work of Christ and the Spirit in fulfillment of OT expectations.

  • All the works of Christ – signs and wonders, teachings, the cross, the resurrection, His exaltation and Lordship – are ways God is “righteousing” creation.
  • All the works of the Spirit – drawing, regeneration, comforting – are ways God is “righteousing” creation.

 

These things are the Gospel!

  • And from them flow things like justification, sanctification, glorification and the ever popular “how we get to heaven”.

 

News Flash…this means that we are not the Gospel!

  • We can never forget that we are mere creatures in need of “righteousing”.
  • We, who are in Garden Exile, can never be the Gospel.

 

So if the Gospel is the “righteousing” work of God on creation through Christ and the Spirit…

  • How do we share it with our neighbor?
  • BTW – the answer to this is why I prefer to say, “speak” instead of “share” the Gospel.

 

 

Verses 22b-25a:

For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

 

As Paul unleashes the effects of this “but now” righteousness of God for the people of God, he alludes back to some previous themes.

  • there is no distinction” (vs. 22) alludes to God’s impartiality.
  • Jew and Gentile are in the same boat.
  • Everyone is in need of the “but now” righteousness of God.

 

Why?

  • all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (vs. 23).
  • Remember, all are “under sin” (vs. 19) – under sin’s power.
  • So it’s not just that we “have sinned”, but that under sin’s dominion (in Garden Exile) we can only “fall short of the glory of God”.

 

What does “fall short of the glory of God” mean?

  • Failed as image-bearers.
  • Failed as “entrustees”.

 

But just as “all have sinned” – Jew and Greek…

  • Also, all “are justified by his grace as a gift” (vs. 24) – both Jew and Greek.
  • So God’s impartiality extends to both judgment and justification.

 

Paul then expands on the “but now” righteousness of God that is Jesus Christ.

  • He does so by unleashing a bunch of “righteousing” words.
  • justified by his grace” (vs. 24)
  • redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (vs. 24)
  • propitiation by his blood” (vs. 25)

 

All of these are expressions of God’s righteousness in Jesus Christ!

  • his grace
  • in Christ Jesus
  • his blood

 

And even more incredible is that all of these demonstrate that…

  • Jesus Christ is God’s righteousness personified!
  • I suspect a mind blowing idea for the Jew.

 

So what do these “righteousing” words tell us?

 

Propitiation refers to the turning away of God’s wrath – His judging righteousness.

  • This is the idea that Christ bore the wrath of God in our stead while on the cross, thereby paying the penalty for our sins.
  • BTW – “The presence of propitiation does not exclude the concept of expiation. Both are present in 3:25. The death of Jesus removed sin and satisfied God’s holy anger” – Tom Schreiner.

 

Justification is a at least two things.

  • (1) It is how we are “declared to be in the right” before God – N.T. Wright.
  • We are declared “in the right” in God’s law court because Christ’s alien righteousness is imputed to us.
  • (2) But, importantly, justification also entails that our unrighteousness is put on Christ.

 

I do want us to notice something Paul adds to the idea of justification.

  • He says that we are justified “by his grace” (vs. 24).
  • Why doesn’t he say we are justified by being declared righteous in God’s law court?
  • Or we are justified by the imputation of Christ’s alien righteousness?

 

What Paul is doing here is showing that grace itself is part of God’s saving righteousness.

  • What motivated God’s saving righteousness toward creation to begin with?
    • Certainly, the answer is Love.
  • What has directed His saving righteousness towards you in particular?
    • Why are you “righteoused” by God and thus justified?
    • Certainly, the answer involves Grace.

 

So what is redemption?

  • Redemption is language that alludes to slavery or being captive.
  • Paul has told us that all are “under sin” (vs. 19).
  • We are all enslaved to sin and its power and dominion (6:6).
  • All of us are its captives and we need a new Exodus.

 

But the “but now” righteousness of God in Jesus Christ has redeemed us from this captivity and dominion.

  • Wright tells us that Paul means to tell us that Christ is our new Exodus.
  • God in Christ has paid the ransom on our behalf with His own life.
  • To be redeemed “in Christ Jesus” (vs. 24) is to have the chains of sin’s dominion over us smashed once for all.
  • But more than that, it is to be placed into the dominion of God’s “but now” righteousness.

 

So all of these words – justification, propitiation, redemption – are results of God’s divine activity of saving righteousness that is Jesus Christ.

  • They are all ways creation and we are “righteoused” by God.

 

It seems to me it would be more fitting to say, “I was righteoused by God” instead of, “I was saved by God”.

  • “Saved” just doesn’t seem to do justice to the enormity of God’s righteousness.

 

 

Genesis 2:4-25 – Part 3 – Dust-Man

Two weeks ago we saw a big picture view of Genesis 2.

  • It points forward to The Fall not backwards (the toledot, vss. 4-6, etc).
  • This means Genesis 2 is not a telescoping of Day 6.

 

Last week we tried to determine the practical meaning of verses 5-6.

  • Our main help was Sailhamer.
  • Based on his comments we paraphrased 5-6 as follows:
  • “Before Adam sinned, before the flood, and before we had to work the ground, God blessed us with a very good creation”.

 

And in anticipation of this week’s lesson, we did the same for verse 7.

  • “Though Adam bears God’s image, God made Adam out of the dust – the dust to which he would return”.
  • So today we dig into the dust.

 

 

Introduction:

Genesis 2:7 (ESV) — 7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

 

How do we know 2:7 is about Adam the man?

How do we know Day 6 is about Adam the man?

If 2:7 is Adam and Day 6 is Adam, how do we account for the differences?

  • Day 6 man/woman were made in God’s image – vs. 7 Adam is from the dust (something that already existed).
  • These leaves us seeing Day 6 man as majestic, sacred and exalted – vs. 7 seems more mundane, profane and lower.

 

Sailhamer gets us started as we explore vs. 7 and Day 6.

“The differences between the two accounts were precisely what the author wanted his readers to be aware of. Those differences broaden our understanding of the narrative events” – John Sailhamer.

  • In other words, by the differences, Moses is intended to lead us somewhere – into the dust.

 

But we first have to answer our first two questions.

 

Adam or Mankind:

Victor Hamilton identifies the problem this way:

  • “In essence the problem is this: is ʾāḏām to be understood generically (mankind) or is it a proper name? And if in translation we shift from one to another, on what basis do we make the shift?” – Hamilton.

 

He answers the question this way:

  • “As a general rule, when ʾāḏām appears without the definite article, we may translate it as a personal name, following the rule that personal names are not normally preceded by the definite article. When it occurs with the definite article (hāʾāḏām), we may translate it as ‘man.’”
  • And yet he says, “That this neat rule does not apply to all of the instances of ʾāḏām” – Hamilton.
  • Wenham adds that the “fluidity between the definite and indefinite form makes it difficult to know when the personal name ‘Adam’ is first mentioned” – Wenham.

 

For example, Genesis 1:26’s, “Let us make man” lacks the definite article.

  • Genesis 2:7 contains the definite article.
  • So one would think that the first is “Adam” and the second is “man”.
  • And yet most translations use “man” in both.

 

The ESV and the NIV don’t translate “adam” as “Adam” until Genesis 2:20.

  • Some translations not until Genesis 3.
  • So where does that leave us?
  • How do we know 2:7 is about Adam?

 

Paul may help us:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:45 (ESV) — 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
  • Paul tells us that the “adam” in Genesis 2 is the man Adam.

 

So is Day 6 also about “Adam”?

  • Why do we teach/believe this?

 

Under Sailhamer’s “eretz” as Eden view, it is the natural reading.

  • Gen. 1 is about preparing Eden/Promised Land for habitation of the first image bearers.
  • Gen. 2 tells us that the first two image bearers to inhabit Promised Land/Eden are Adam and Eve.
  • So naturally Day 6 is about Adam and Eve (with general application to all mankind).

 

But under the global views of Genesis 1, it seems much more ambiguous.

  • This ambiguity is one reason why Heiser and others suggest there are two different mankind creation events.

 

Wenham and Mathews defend a Genesis 1 as “Adam” view as follows.

  • Wenham says, “The very indefiniteness of reference may be deliberate” – Wenham.
  • Why deliberate?
  • The reason is because “adam” in Genesis 1 might serve double duty.

 

In other words, there is both an individual “man” in view and an archetypal “representative man” in view.

  • If you remember, John Walton advocates this view.
  • Mathew’s puts it like this, “The word ʾādām is theologically convenient since it can mean mankind yet can refer to an individual person (e.g., 2:5, 7) or function as a proper name, ‘Adam’” – Mathews.
  • Wenham speaks of this double duty archetypal view, “Adam, the first man created and named, is representative of humanity” – Wenham.
  • In Paul’s Epistles, Paul also speaks of Adam in the double duty way (it is a valid view).
  • In other words, Moses knew what he was doing – deliberate not confusing.

 

The point:

  • Day 6 can be both “Adam” specifically and “man” in general.
  • We are all made in God’s image, but we weren’t all created on Day 6.

 

Answers:

  • So is Day 6 about Adam? Yes. Is Day 6 about mankind? Yes.
  • Is 2:7 about Adam? Yes. Is 2:7 about mankind? Yes.

 

 

The Dust:

We now need to figure out what Moses is trying to tell us by pointing us to the dust.

  • As Sailhamer said earlier, the contrasts between Day 6 and 2:7 lie at the heart of this.
  • This contrast centers on image-bearers vs. “dust-man”.
  • We will look at 4 things the “dust-man” highlights that Day 6’s image-bearer does not.

 

1) Dust as Raw Material:

  • Mathews tell us it can mean “loose surface dirt of the ground (Exod 8:16–17 [12–13]) or the powder of something pulverized (Deut 9:21)” – Mathews.
  • The TWOT agrees and says it can mean “loose earth”.

 

“The intent of the passage is [to associate] human life [with] the basic substance of our making” – Mathews.

  • Or as Hamilton says, “God formed earthling from the earth” – Hamilton.
  • But is that all?
  • It is easy to argue that this is not the main thrust of the verse 7.
    • Some say it isn’t at all.

 

2) Dust and The Fall:

Genesis 3:19 (ESV) — 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

  • “‘Dust’ as constitutive of human existence anticipates 3:19, where the penalty for the man’s sin is his return to ‘dust’” – Mathews.

 

This connection is reinforced with a Hebrew word play.

The adam/adamah (man/ground) word play is “to emphasize man’s relationship to the land. He was created from it; his job is to cultivate it (2:5, 15); and on death he returns to it (3:19). ‘It is his cradle, his home, his grave’ (Jacob)” – Wenham.

 

3) Dust as Death:

John Walton’s functional view says this:

  • “In Genesis 2:7 the significance of ʿapar is not that it represents the raw materials found in the womb or has any usefulness for sculpting (which would use clay rather than dust), but it represents what people return to when they die” – Walton.
  • I have to point out that (3) does not necessarily exclude (1) and (2).

 

We only need to look at the Bible to see this play out.

  • Job 10:9 (ESV) — 9 Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust?
  • Psalm 104:29 (ESV) — 29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
  • Ecclesiastes 12:7 (ESV) — 7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

 

It is clear from these (and others) that “dust” came to represent death.

  • “The human being is linked inexorably with the ground and is limited; because of this limitation the human being is not immortal…” – AYBD.

 

We might be made in God’s image, but we will die.

  • We are creatures not elohim.
  • We are “earth dust not star dust” – Sailhamer.
  • From Genesis 2’s perspective – The Fall is coming and “man” will be cast out of the Garden.

 

4) Dust and Christ:

All of the above views of dust ultimately point us to our need for Christ.

  • Genesis 1’s “in the beginning” hints that this is not the end of the story.
  • The beginning awaits a consummation and ending.

 

The OT uses dust to address this “awaiting”.

  • Isaiah 26:19 (ESV) — 19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.
  • Daniel 12:2 (ESV) — 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

 

And Paul brings it all home to Christ.

  • 1 Corinthians 15:42–49 (ESV) — 42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

 

 

Dignity in the Dust:

So 2:7 seems to be the skeptic’s view of being an image-bearer leaving us with this sobering reality:

  • “The fact that man comes from the dust of the earth is a reminder of the…insignificance of man…” – TWOT.

 

And yet, 2:7 gives us back our dignity even though The Fall is imminent.

  • Moses tells us in 2:7 that God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life”.

“Breathed is warmly personal, with the face-to-face intimacy of a kiss and the significance that this was giving as well as making; and self-giving at that” – Mathews.

 

God not only made us in His image, He personally and intimately brought us life through His breath.

  • Dust-man became living-man by God’s grace; therein lies his humility and his dignity” – TWOT.

 

Dwelling on these aspects of our being – a “dust-man” dependent on God’s breath…

  • It doesn’t take long to figure out we think too highly of our ability to discern truth outside of God’s Word.
  • Job 38:4 (ESV) — 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.