Here is part 1 of this paper. The rest will follow in the coming weeks. The paper can be read in full here.

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Justified by the Resurrection of Christ:

Justification and Resurrection in 1 Timothy 3:16 and Romans 4:25

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Introduction

The resurrection is the pivotal movement for Christianity. Without it our faith is foolishness and our merit is pity (1 Cor. 15:19), but because of it, our hope of final redemption and victory is sealed.

This paper will look into one of the glorious, salvific aspects of the resurrection. We will see that the Spirit’s justification of Christ by His resurrection becomes our justification by means of our union with Christ. We will do this by tracing this line of thought through 1 Timothy 3:16 and Romans 3:25. First, we will give a brief look into the nature of union with Christ to show how this paper understands the doctrine. Second we will look at the individual texts of 1 Timothy 3:16 and Romans 3:25 to see how they upholds this thesis.

Body

This paper will argue the presented thesis by looking initially at what it means to be united to Christ, then at the interpretation of two main texts. First, the nature of union with Christ will be briefly explained to give an over-arching lens for the thesis. Second, 1 Timothy 3:16 will be looked at to see what it tells about Christ’s justification by the resurrection. Third and finally, Romans 4:25 will be looked at to see how Christ’s justification affects us

Union with Christ

Union with Christ is a term which embraces all aspects of soteriology into one act whereby the believer is united to Christ. John Murray observes, “Indeed the whole process of salvation has its origin in one phase of union with Christ and salvation has in view the realization of other phases of union.”[1] Union with Christ can be defined as  having all the salvific works and benefits of Christ identified with the believers due to their identification with Christ. “To be ‘in Christ’ means to share in all that Christ has accomplished…those who are united to the risen Christ share in his justification, adoption, sanctification and glorification.”[2] John Calvin explains why this doctrine should have such preeminence: “As long as there is separation between Christ and us, all that he suffered and preformed for the salvation of mankind is useless and unavailing to us.”[3]

Biblical support for this understanding is in the “in Christ” terminology used by Paul as well as the biblical concept of fallen humanity being in Adam. “One cannot do something for or with Christ unless one is first en Christo.[4] Though Paul’s usage of the term, “en Christo,” is not monolithic[5], it does speak to our participation and identity in Christ;[6] the believer’s identity is now in Christ. This is in contrast to the next line of support where the Bible says fallen humanity is in Adam (Rom 5:12-22). Before one is in Christ he is in Adam. When one is “in Adam,” he receives all that was obtained by Adam’s representation of him in the Garden.[7] So, in contrast, to be in Christ is to obtain all that was won by Christ.

One of the facets of this union is our participation in Christ’s resurrection. Christ’s resurrection is the believer’s resurrection. The Apostle exclaims that we were raised with Christ (Col 3:1). What was won by His resurrection is now ours by this union. Thus, when Christ was justified by His resurrection so, too, were we justified. Through 1 Timothy 3:16 and Romans 4:25 we see the biblical tracing and explanation of this truth.


[1]John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955), 161.

[2]Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Holy Spirit, in Contours of Christian Theology, ed. Gerald Bray (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 106.

[3]John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. John Allen, vol 1, 6th ed.  (Philadelphia, PN: Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1902),  III.i.484.

[4]B. Witherington III, “Christ,” “The En Christo formlua,’” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 624.

[5]For a thorough view of the different usages see Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, 1st ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 840-847.

[6]Speaking of the phrase, “in Christ/in the Lord” Dunn states, “Paul’s perception of his whole life as a Christian, its source, its identity, and its responsibilities, could be summed up in these phrases.” James D. G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998), 399. Also cf. Ridderbos comments on the phrase, “[being ‘in Christ’ speaks] of an abiding reality determinative for the whole of the Christian life, to which appeal can be made at all times…[it has to do] with the church’s ‘objective’ state of salvation.” Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology, trans. John Richard De Witt (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1975), 59. Cf. also Peter T. O’Brien, “Mysticism,” “Being ‘in Christ,’” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 624.

[7]Ferguson, The Holy Spirit, 109.

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