Resurrection Hope in Rome

In Romans, Paul presents his gospel from humanity's plight due to sin to salvation in the resurrection of the dead and the New Creation - LIFE FROM THE DEAD

In his letter, the Apostle presents his most detailed explanation of the gospel. His purpose is to deal with conflicts between Gentile and Jewish members of the church and prepare the ground for his taking the gospel to the west. In doing so, he touches on key topics, including death, redemption, the Law, resurrection, and New Creation.

He begins by describing the plight of humanity as a result of sin, then he explains the solution provided by God through His Son, Jesus of Nazareth.

All men are in the same dilemma. Disobedience alienates them from God and condemns every member of humanity to weakness, decay, and death.

COMMON PLIGHT

No one is exempt from the penalties of sin, neither Jew nor Greek, not even the most righteous saint from the illustrious past of Israel. Even the holy law given by God through Moses is unable to reverse this horrific reality.

Paul identifies himself to the church of Rome as a “called apostle, separated to the gospel of God, which he promised through his prophets.” In this role, he proclaims the good news of 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 more accurately reads, “RESURRECTION FROM AMONG DEAD ONES.” Here, the Greek noun nekros is plural and refers to dead persons, not the state of “death” in the abstract. From the start, Paul grounds his message on the past death and resurrection of Jesus - (Romans 1:1-4).

The 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 fix, and therefore, acquire right standing before God on the same basis, namely, 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 from the knowledge they glean 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 exchange 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.

UNDER WRATH


For that reason, God “delivered them up to the lusts of their hearts.” The very sins in which fallen humanity delights demonstrate that men are under His “wrath” already.

Put another way, the “wrath” of God includes handing men over to engage in the very sins they desire. The picture of idolatry running rampant primarily has Gentiles in view. But what about Jews? Are they any better off than the idolatrous Gentiles?

Paul answers in the negative - “No, certainly not, for we before laid to the charge both of Jews and Greeks, that they are all under sin.” And he cites several passages from the Hebrew Bible to demonstrate that all have sinned, that all are in the same rotting boat, including even the most devout and Torah-observant Jew:

  • 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.”

But what about the Law? Does not its possession give Israel an advantage over unenlightened Gentiles? Well, yes and no.

The Jews possess the Mosaic Law, and therefore, they understand what God requires. However, the Law speaks to those 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 highlights Israel’s sin and thereby increases her responsibility. The Jews are 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 for Jews and Gentiles alike:

  • The righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ for all of them who believe, for there is no distinction; all have sinned and lack the glory of God.”

SALVATION IN JESUS


Both Jews and Gentiles are set right before God “through the ransomed release in Christ Jesus.” Thus, a man is put into a right relationship with God from faith, and that is “apart from the works of the Torah.” Thus, God demonstrates His love for humanity:

  • 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 states we are saved “by his life,” he means his resurrection life. Sin is not 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, and Paul is referring to Adam and his disobedience in the Garden of Eden. That first sin doomed all humanity to death and enslavement under sin. Not that all die for Adam’s sin, for all men commit sin, and therefore, all rightly deserve death. Fortunately, God has not left 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.”

RESURRECTION LIFE


Believers are baptized into Christ’s death so that:

  • Just as Christ was raised from the dead, so we also 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 Paul’s argument, the counterpart to death is resurrection - LIFE RECEIVED BY THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD. That knowledge should reorient a believer’s entire life, including his 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. But—:

  • 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. But whether mortal or immortal, they live an embodied existence. The gift of the Spirit is the guarantee of their future bodily resurrection.

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, at present, in “earnest expectation” as it waits for the day when the “sons of God” will be revealed.

The disobedience of Adam subjected the entire creation to decay and death. Nevertheless, all creation will be delivered from the:

  • 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).

Thus, Paul links the bodily resurrection and the New Creation. The “redemption of our bodies” refers to our resurrection when Jesus returns. And if the entire creation is waiting for that event, then Christ’s arrival will result in the New Creation.


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