Plight to Solution – Resurrection

SYNOPSIS - Paul’s links bodily resurrection with the New Creation. The “redemption of our bodies” refers to our future resurrection - Romans 8:10-23

Mountain Sunrise - Photo by Damian Markutt on Unsplash
In his letter to the churches of Rome, Paul presented his most comprehensive explanation of the gospel. His purpose in writing was to deal with conflicts between Gentile and Jewish members of the city’s congregations, but additionally, he was preparing the ground for taking the gospel to the western reaches of the Empire. In the process, he touched on related topics, including death, redemption, the Law, the future resurrection, and the New Creation. - [Photo by Damian Markutt on Unsplash].

The Apostle began his argument with the plight of all humanity as the result of sin; then, he presented the solution provided by God through His Son - Jesus Christ.

In the end, all men and women are in the same dilemma – disobedience has alienated them from God and condemned every member of humanity to weakness, decay, and, in the end, death. No one is exempt, neither Jew nor Greek, not even the most righteous saint from the illustrious past of Israel. Even the holy law that God gave through Moses to His covenant people was unable to reverse this horrific destiny.

Paul begins his letter by identifying himself - “Paul, a called apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, which he promised through his prophets.” In this role, he proclaimed the gospel about the one who was “marked out as ‘Son of God’ in power, according to the spirit of holiness, from the resurrection of the dead.”

The last clause reads more accurately, “A resurrection from among dead ones.” The noun – nekros - is plural and refers to dead persons, not to the state of “death” in the abstract. From the start, Paul grounded his message in the past death of Jesus and his subsequent resurrection from the dead - (Romans 1:1-4).

This gospel is the “power of God for salvation to everyone who believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Jews and Gentiles are in the same plight, and therefore, acquire right standing before God on the same basis - faith.

God has “revealed a righteousness from faith for faith,” but the gospel also reveals the “wrath of God against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” Sinners resist what truth they already know to be right from knowledge gleaned from the created order - (“The invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made”).

Having rejected the God Who created all things, they exchanged the worship of Him for the “likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things” - That is, for idolatrous worship.

For this reason, God “delivered them up to the lusts of their hearts.” The very sins in which fallen humanity delights demonstrates that men and women are under His “wrath” already. Put another way, the “wrath” of God includes His handing them over to engage in the very sins they desire to do.

This picture of idolatry run rampant has Gentiles in view, at least, primarily. But what about Jews - are they any better off than idolatrous Gentiles?:
  • No, certainly not; for we before laid to the charge both of Jews and Greeks, that they are all under sin.”
Paul cited several Passages from the Hebrew Bible to demonstrate that all have sinned, including even the most Torah-observant Jews:
  • There is none righteous, no, not one…They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that does good, no, not, so much as one.”
What about the Law? Does not its possession give Israel an advantage over unenlightened Gentiles? Well, yes and no. The Jews possess it and, therefore, understand what God requires of men. However, the Law speaks to them who are under it:
  • So that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God; because from the works of the law shall no flesh be set right in his sight; for through the law is the knowledge of sin.”
The possession of the Law only served to highlight Israel’s sin, thereby, increasing her responsibility – She was at even greater risk of receiving God’s “wrath” than unenlightened Gentiles. To whom much is given, much is required.

In contrast to the Law, the gospel provides a solution to Jew and Gentile alike:
  • The righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ for all them who believe; for there is no distinction; all have sinned and lack the glory of God.”
Both Jew and Gentile are set right before God “through the ransomed-release in Christ Jesus.” Thus, a man is put into the right relationship with God from faith, and “apart from the works of the Torah.” Thus, God demonstrated His love for us:
  • While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now set right by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath through him. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we will be saved by his life.”
When Paul stated that we would be saved “by his life,” he meant his resurrection life. Sin is not be reckoned to us if we believe that God “raised Jesus our Lord from among the dead.” He was handed over to a violent death for our trespasses, but he was “raised for our justification.”
  • This is the plight of humanity - “Through one man, sin entered into the world, and death through sin; thus, death passed to all men, for that all sinned.”
The penalty for sin is death. Paul was referring to Adam and his disobedience in the Garden of Eden - That first sin doomed all humanity to death and enslavement under sin, the just punishment for disobedience. Not that all die for Adam’s sin - All men sin, therefore, all men rightly deserve death. But God did not leave humanity without hope:
  • If by the trespass of the one man, the many died, much more did the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound unto the many…For if, by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; much more shall they that receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ.”
Believers have been baptized into Christ’s death so that:
  • Just as Christ was raised from the dead, so also we might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection… if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him; knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death no more has dominion over him. For the death that he died, he died unto sin once: but the life that he lives, he lives unto God.”
Throughout his argument, the counterpart to death is the resurrection - Life received by resurrection. That knowledge should reorient our entire lives, including our relationship to the Law. We also must “become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that we should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead.” Despite being set right before God, believers are still subject to death. However,”
  • If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he that raised up Jesus from the dead will give life also to your mortal bodies through his Spirit.”
Believers remain mortal as they continue to live in the present age. However, whether mortal or immortal, they live an embodied existence. The gift of the Spirit is a guarantee of their future bodily resurrection.

Alpine Lake -Photo by Tom Gainor on Unsplash
Photo by Tom Gainor on Unsplash

The Spirit dwells in mortal believers and attests that they are the “children of God,” and therefore, “joint-heirs with Christ.” The creation itself is in “earnest expectation” as it waits for that day at the end of the present age - The “revealing of the sons of God.”

The disobedience of Adam subjected the entire creation to decay and death; however, all creation will be delivered from this “bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God…at our adoption, that is, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:10-23).

Paul links bodily resurrection to the New Creation. The “redemption of our bodies” refers to our bodily resurrection at the end of the age. If the entire creation waits in anticipation of that event, then its arrival can only mean the arrival of the New Creation.

Paul summarizes the first half of this letter with exclamations of faith and joy:
  • If God is for us, who is against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect…It is Christ Jesus that died, yea, rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God…Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” - (Romans 8:31-39).
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Certainly NOT death!




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