Friday, November 28, 2008

Romans 4:25, and Dr. Emmett Brown

In keeping the comment of the missus that I am the person who likes to answer questions no one is asking, I might as well live up to it.

The discussion so far has led me to much thinking and Romans 4:25 came up in my musings.

I recall that in my doubts about UOJ, a pastor from the States pointed this passage to me as proof of UOJ.

So today I went to check the original.

First in English (thanks to

Romans 4:25

who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (ESV)

Then in NT Greek...
Romans 4:25

ὃς παρεδόθη διὰ τὰ παραπτώματα ἡμῶν καὶ ἠγέρθη διὰ τὴν δικαίωσιν ἡμῶν

The pastor pointed out that at the resurrection of Christ, all human beings have been justified - meaning - treated not guilty or declared by God as righteous, irrespective of faith on our part.

To the contrary my skepticism understands the Gospel that at the Cross, Jesus paid the debt I owe. On the other hand UOJ says, God has declared people righteous independent of their faith.

Notice that there are two phrases starting off by διὰ. The first one has been translated in English "for our trespasses", the second "for our justification". The pastor said that Rom 4:25 says that when God raised Jesus from the dead he made a declaration too that all humans are now declared righteous - proof verse of UOJ.

So, OK, the crucial question to be examined in my mind then is how should that διὰ to be taken? Now both instances of this preposition have the so called accusative form. As one pastor I heard said, NT Theology is operated by prepositions (to paraphrase him). Prepositions in Greek are followed by forms to tell the reader how that phrase is to be taken. Here the context is that the accusative should be taken as a marker for time.

Commentators say that there are 2 ways of taking those phrases, either retrospective (past) or prospective(future). If retrospective, then the American pastor may have a good point. Meaning, our justification happened in the past.

There may be doubts as to how the first should be taken (for our trespasses) - hence, he was put to death on account of our past sins (retrospective), or put to death on account of our on going sins (prospective).

However, commentators like Sanday and Hedlam and C K Barrett, comment that the second is no doubt prospective - i.e. "with the view of our justification". Barrett even find the retrospective view (the pastor's view) artificial, (I think he means grasphing at the straws). Stuhlmacher also includes faith in his analysis of this phrase.

OK may be I am also biased, I was taught in uni to take this accusative of time as "with the view of". Yet the force of this accusative is not able to dissuade me from looking at that διὰ to mean "with the view" because even if you translate it as "because of" or "for the sake of our justification" etc, you can not still avoid the possibility of it being taken in the prospective, i.e. you have not ruled beyond reasonable doubt the impossibility of the prospective sense.

So to quote what Dr. Emmett Brown said to Marty in Back to The Future, it (in this case justification) happens in your space- time continuum.


William Weedon said...


What do you make of Romans 3:23, 24? And what bearing might that have on how you translate 4:25?

Also, note the clear teaching of universal justification in that St. John Chrysostom quote I love to cite - and yet how he clearly does NOT fall into any sort of universalism.

L P Cruz said...

Pr. Will,

Good point on Rom 3:23-24.

I do hope though that some are listening to my struggle - that we sound universalistic i.e. all are saved by default.

I realize the force of v.24 but I cannot stop there but go on to v.25 as well.

The present passive verb δικαιούμενοι is still ongoing, further, what is the object of faith in v.25? is it not the propitiation of Christ i.e. his blood/death/resurrection? This justification is received through faith in his blood.

My struggle with UOJ is that it says I should believe that I am already justified/declared righteous already and I would have it. This smells like when I was in the Pentecostal movement and was in the Word-Faith movement, that is why I am struggling with it psychologically; the method implied to me makes me recall Word-Faith principles.

Rather in Rom 3:24-25, justification is received not by believing justification itself/per se but by trusting instead the atonement.

You bring out an important point which Pr Ernie asked me about- does faith create justification? Also is there a righteousness that is out there that is independent of my faith?

I attempt to answer that now in my next post.


William Weedon said...


I think I understand the struggle you're going through on this. My solution may be simplistic but here it is: "in Christ." The solution to it all is that "in Christ" is a salvation that is full, final free and for all. In Christ, all sins have been forgiven, the world created anew, hope restored to all. All of it, in Christ. But outside of Christ, all is still death, judgment, sorrow, and doom. Thus when I proclaim that the sins of all the world have been atoned and you are reconciled to God - I always add - IN CHRIST. Faith is the putting of you into Christ. Without that faith, the righteousness of Christ which is for all avails you not at all. The gift whole and entire is in the Son of the Virgin, crucified and raised from the dead. He IS the gift.

Does that help in any way?

L P Cruz said...

Pr. W.

Yes that is the missing qualification. Indeed, IN Christ Alone we find what we need.

The preposition so small but so big in putting things in order.

That clears it up for me.


Like a heavy weight pressing on my chest, has eased.


William Weedon said...


I'm happy that helped! I'm always reminded of the line from Lewis' The Last Battle - where all of heaven was inside the stable - and so what was inside the stable was bigger than all the world outside, and Lucy said as much: "Once in our world there was something bigger than all the world outside in a stable too." Or something like that. The gift in Christ is enormous. But the world stumbles as such a little door and entrance into this vast world. They want (so they think) what is inside of Christ, but only on their own terms. We tell and urge them that what's in Christ is for them, but it is always and only in Him.

Off to preach the hope of the resurrection at a funeral - our dear neighbor, one farm down from the church.

Pax Christi!

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

"Justification" is a later term from Dogmatics. An absolute no-no in a translation.

"... by the justifying..." I would read it.

L P Cruz said...

Thanks but I do not see the difference.

If you must translate it that way then you should translate it "by our justifying", you left out the word "our".... to be consistent with the text.

And so your translation is awkward hence, the translation in English "justification" captures the sense.

Hence I do not see the difference.


Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Justifi-cation is a Concept in later Dogmatics, thus misleading in the Modern translation of an Ancient text.

The point of a translation is not not to "capture" something which didn't extist...

BTW it was you who left "our" out.

Better so?

L P Cruz said...


Justifi-cation is a Concept in later Dogmatics, thus misleading in the Modern translation of an Ancient text.

The point of a translation is not not to "capture" something which didn't extist...

Looks like you have a different translation philosophy.

For me the aim of translation is to give the meaning of what the author of the text is trying to say as close to the text as possible, so your beef with me is best directed to the many English scholars who translated the NT to English.

Justification as a word is the way the English churchmen capture your "by the justifying", which you left out the "our" of which too I quote yourself here...

"... by the justifying..." I would read it.

So give me a quote of myself where I left "ours" out. I re-read my post and I mentioned mine in the context of "for the sake".

Justification was used in the 1611 KJV.

So I come along today, and it is already there and more ancient than me, I need to interact what is already there, if I am translating for myself and my friends.

So I disagree with you objection to the use of the word "justification" - it captures the meaning of what is being said - to me at least so I have no problem with that. No, the modern English translation does not mislead.

Also yours is a rather weird reasoning, of course there was no English word for τὴν δικαίωσιν that is original to English- justification is the word used to translate that thing by English churchmen.

If I follow where you are at every thing I do to translate, you can charge as misleading the ancient text.