Monday, October 8, 2007

ROMANS 8.29-30

Romans 1-11 is a unit. Romans 1-8 is a unit. Romans 5-8 is a unit. The phrase “Christ Jesus our Lord” begins this section [5.1] and closes it [8.39]. This phrase also serves as a marker that ends shorter sections in 5-8 [5.11, 5.21, 6.23, 7.25, 8.39]. More climatically however, Paul ends chapters 5-8 in a very unique way.

He gets to such a point in his argument that he begins to talk about the future love of God in a past tense way because he is so zealously sure of it. He says that all those that God foreknew, He predestined; all He predestined, He called; all He called, He justified; and all He justified, He glorified [8.29-30]. The glorification of the believer [being made like Christ and being with Christ] is a future event, but Paul uses a past tense verb to describe it! He is overtaken with free grace and can in no way state it any clearer. Because of this he then asks seven rhetorical questions to highlight the unbreakable truths of 8.29-30. As Judith M. Gundry-Volf says...

Paul portrays salvation as a series of divine initiatives snowballing toward fullness. He links these initiatives so tightly that each is born of the former and bears a promise of the one which follows. Glorification is thus the finishing touch on the indivisible divine work of salvation which originated in God’s foreknowledge and predestination of Christians and has come to historical expression in their calling and justification. These verses truly do form a “chain” of interconnected divine salvific works and so imply a continuity in Christian’s salvation.

So, the Apostle states the positive realities of salvation in 8.29-30, seven rhetorical questions that are wrought by his close-to-speechlessness in 8.31-35, and then closes by a negative affirmation of what he knows can’t happen to those who are in Christ [8.38-39]: Death, life, angels, principalities, things present, things future, height, depth, nor anything ever created can separate us from God’s love in Jesus.

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