Kyle just posted on John Piper’s new book responding to Wright. In his (Piper’s) conclusion (which is partially quoted on Kyle’s blog) he notes several times the death of Christ as important for justification but doesn’t mention resurrection. I’m sure he has a place for resurrection, but it’s interesting how much evangelicals (of which I also count myself) emphasise the death of Christ as dealing with the guilt of humanity while neglecting the resurrection. A typical interpretation of the resurrection (in Romans) goes something like this: God ‘vindicated’ Christ, who was condemned as guilty to death, by raising him from the dead to show he is not guilty (cf. Rom 1.4). Just as he was vindicated, so are those who believe in him.
While I don’t deny that interpretation, I think it is a very limited aspect of the whole life-resurrection motif that Paul has in Romans. The connection between life and righteousness is evident in Romans, and even provides a common thread between the oft separated chapters 1-4 and 5-8. (I’ve got to go back and read Käsemann on this, but I think his emphasis on creative righteousness is similar.)
Severval associations connecting life and righteousness exist in Paul’s letter:
1.17: ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’
4.13-22: Abraham believed in a God who brings life from the dead (4.17, 19) and was justified.
4.25: Christ ‘was raised (to life) for our justification.’
5.17: ‘Those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.’
5.18: ‘One righteous act resulted in justification and life for all.’
5.21: ‘Just as sin reigned through death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’
6.13: ‘Offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and offer every part of yourself to him as instruments of righteousness.’
In Romans 8.1-2 there is an end of condemnation through the presence of ‘the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.’ And again the righteous requirement of the law is ultimately fulfilled by the presence of Christ and the Spirit in us. In particular, πνεῦμα is directly related to life several times in the passage (8.2, 6, 11) and ‘life through righteousness’ (8.10). As a result, the Spirit’s creative and generative work is also an aspect of righteousness.
The implication then is that the concept of being justified (δικαιόω) should not be disconnected from the life-righteousness association. This does not provide the only bridge between Paul’s discussion in chapters 1-4 with his discussion in 5-8, but it does provide an important one. The righteousness granted to believers in Romans 1-4 is not just a plain, forensic declaration but it also includes the life giving restoration later explored in Romans 5-8.
It seems that the logic of Paul’s thought regarding righteousness and life is the following:
1) The result of sin is both guilt and, just as importantly, death (3.23; 5.12; 6.23)
2) Christ died to condemn sin and was raised to new life to bring justification to the believer (4.25; 5.9-10).
3) Paul exhorts humans in sin to believe in Christ in order to receive justification (3.22, 4.24).
4) Through justification the believer experiences new life (5.17, 21; 8.1-2).
5) As believers participate in the resurrection life of Christ through faith, they live a new life (6.4).
6) As resurrection life is lived out, it produces righteousness (6.13).
Paul clearly sees life as attached to righteousness. And if glory is fundamentally about immortality, as I’m arguing, then there are even more connections between life and righteousness in Paul.
Do I have this right? I’m hoping to include part of this in my BNTS paper, so I’d love feedback on my analysis.