Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Elephant in the Room - Romans 4:25

This is the second in a series of posts that seek to present key passages pertaining to the doctrine of Justification by comparing the statements of contemporary authors with the patristic writings of the the Church Catholic. It's by no means exhaustive; if it were, there would be far too many quotations for a simple blog post. But I hope it brings to mind a number of important questions: "Why is there so much disconnect? Why do the interpretations of these passages appear to completely contradict and disagree with one another?" (The first and third posts can be found here and here, respectively)

-- Exegesis of Romans 4:25 by contemporary sources --

A Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod (1932)

Francis Pieper
"God no longer looks upon sinful man with wrath, but 'before His divine tribunal' forgives the sins of mankind, does not impute their trespasses unto them (2 Cor. 5:19). 'By the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life' (Rom. 5:18). And this reconciliation is, as has been shown, complete and perfect, extensively and intensively, for we certainly have no right to restrict the meaning of of either the terms 'world' (2 Cor. 5:19) and 'all men' (Rom. 5:18) or the terms 'not imputing their trespasses' (2 Cor. 5:19) and 'justification' (Rom. 5:18). Nor do these passages speak merely of a new relation between God and man, but they state definitely that God’s action produced the new relation, God’s action in not imputing their sins unto men, in forgiving them their sins, in justifying men in His heart, this is the meaning of objective reconciliation, as taught in 2 Cor. 5:19, Rom. 5:18; 5:10; 4:25. (CHRISTIAN DOGMATICS, by Francis Pieper, Volume 2, pages 398 & 399)

"The resurrection of Christ, is as Holy Writ teaches, the actual absolution of the whole world of sinners. Rom. 4: 25: 'Who was raised for our justification.'”
(CHRISTIAN DOGMATICS, by Francis Pieper, Volume 2, page 348)

Siegbert Becker
"...all men were justified when He was justified (Ro 4:25)."
"Universal Justification," p. 5 [A paper delivered at the convention of the Southeast Wisconsin District of the WELS on June 12, 1984 at Wisconsin Lutheran High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin]

-- Exegesis of Romans 4:25 in the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and Statements from Orthodox Lutheran Fathers --

St. Augustine
"...faith in His resurrection saves and justifies us. For, If you shall believe, he says, in your heart, that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; and again, Who was delivered, he says, for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.
Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 3. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/130102.htm>.

"And in his case the expiation of this was signified by the circumcision of the eighth day, that is, by the sacrament of the Mediator who was to be incarnate. For it was through this same faith in Christ, who was to come in the flesh, and was to die for us, and on the third day (which coming after the seventh or Sabbath day, was to be the eighth) to rise again, that even holy men were saved of old. For He was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification. Ever since circumcision was instituted among the people of God, which was at that time the sign of the righteousness of faith, it availed also to signify the cleansing even in infants of the original and primitive sin, just as baptism in like manner from the time of its institution began to be of avail for the renewal of man. Not that there was no justification by faith before circumcision; for even when he was still in uncircumcision, Abraham was himself justified by faith, being the father of those nations which should also imitate his faith....it was the self-same faith in the Mediator which saved the saints of old, both small and great....For as we believe that Christ has come in the flesh, so they believed that He was to come; as, again, we believe that He has died, so they believed that He would die; and as we believe that He has risen from the dead, so they believed that He would rise again; while both we and they believe alike, that He will hereafter come to judge the quick and the dead."
Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series,Vol. 5. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight.<http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/15072.htm>.

"Therefore we observe Easter in such a manner as not only to recall the facts of the death and resurrection of Christ to remembrance, but also to find a place for all the other things which, in connection with these events, give evidence as to the import of the sacrament. For since, as the apostle wrote, He was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification, Romans 4:25 a certain transition from death to life has been consecrated in that Passion and Resurrection of the Lord....This passing from death to life is meanwhile wrought in us by faith, which we have for the pardon of our sins and the hope of eternal life..."
Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 1. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102055.htm>.

"...according to the prophetic declaration quoted by Paul, "The just shall live by faith." This is our justification. Even Pagans believe that Christ died. But only Christians believe that Christ rose again. "If you confess with your mouth," says the apostle, "that Jesus is the Lord, and believest in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved." Romans 10:9 Again, because we are justified by faith in Christ's resurrection, the apostle says, "He died for our offenses, and rose again for our justification." Romans 4:25 And because this resurrection by faith in which we are justified was prefigured by the circumcision of the eighth day, the apostle says of Abraham, with whom the observance began, "He received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of faith." Romans 4:11"
Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 4. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/140616.htm>.

Luther's Commentary on Romans
"Who was delivered for our offences (4:25). Christ's death is the death of sin, and His resurrection is the raising up of righteousness. For by His death Christ has atoned for our sins, and through His resurrection He has procured for us righteousness."
Luther, Martin, and John Theodore Mueller. Commentary on Romans. Vol. 8. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Classics, 1976. 87. Print.

Luther as found in the Lutheran Confessions
"That Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins, and was raised again for our justification, Rom. 4:25....Now, since it is necessary to believe this, and it cannot be otherwise acquired or apprehended by any work, law, or merit, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us..."
(SA, II, 1)

Philip Melanchthon as quoted in Chemnitz's Loci Theologici
"...the Gospel everywhere orders us to believe that the Son of God died for our sins, as it says [in] Rom. 4:24-25, so we must consider also this: Through the Son is access to God, Rom. 5:2.
Chemnitz, Martin. Chemnitz's Works. Vol. 8. Saint Louis: Concordia Publ. House, 2007. 904. Print.

Martin Chemnitz
"Here belong the passages of Scripture which clearly speak of merit, such as Rom. 4:25: 'He was put to death for our sins and raised for our righteousness'...We have cited these testimonies to demonstrate that Christ alone has made satisfaction for all our sins, for guilt and for punishment, so that there is nothing remaining for us to suffer or to make satisfaction for in expiating our sins....Here are pertinent those passages which say that the Father justifies believers for the sake of His Son the Mediator, e.g., 2 Cor. 5:18: 'He has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ'..."
Chemnitz, Martin. Chemnitz's Works. Vol. 8. Saint Louis: Concordia Publ. House, 2007. 1027-028. Print.

"In what, then, does justification of man the sinner before God consist according to the statement of the Gospel?This very thing, that God imputes to us the righteousness of the obedience and death of Christ the Mediator and thus justifies us freely out of grace, without our works or merits, alone by faith that apprehends the grace of God the Father and the merit of Christ; that is, He forgives us [our] sins, receives [us] into grace, adopts [us] as [His] sons, and receives [us] to the inheritance of life eternal. Ro 4:24-25, 28; 4:5; 10:4; Gl 3:24; Eph 2:8-9; Tts 3:5-7."
Chemnitz, Martin. Chemnitz's Works. Vol. 5. Saint Louis: Concordia Publ. House, 2007. 72-73. Print.

"Therefore righteousness and salvation is not of our works, but of the merit of Christ alone. Ro 3:24; 4:25; 10:4. Likewise it is the grace and free gift of God. Ro 6:23. But the means or instrument of apprehension and application is faith alone. Ro 3:22, 28; 4:5."
Chemnitz, Martin. Chemnitz's Works. Vol. 5. Saint Louis: Concordia Publ. House, 2007. 82. Print.

"Since, then, faith instructed by the Word of God knows that it cannot find such righteousness—either in the nature or in any of the most sanctified life of any man, or in any other creature—by which a man might be justified before God, it therefore apprehends, in the Word and the Sacraments, Christ the Mediator with His most holy obedience and most innocent death, by which He satisfied the Law for us, having formed the resolute conviction that this is the true and only righteousness that avails and stands before God. And faith meets the judgment of God with this righteousness, wishing, desiring, praying, and in true confidence believing that because of it a sinner is justified by God, that is, absolved of sins, received into grace, and given life eternal. And since this righteousness of Christ, rendered for us, is perfect, sufficient and abundant and can stand before the judgment seat of God, therefore God has promised that He would impute it to believers just as if they rendered it themselves. Ro 3:22; 4:23–25; 5:18. And thus believers absolutely have, not indeed in themselves, but in Christ, true and genuine righteousness, through which they are justified before God."
Chemnitz, Martin. Chemnitz's Works. Vol. 5. Saint Louis: Concordia Publ. House, 2007. 74. Print.


  1. I'd like a one paragraph summary of your views on objective vs. subjective justification.

  2. Surely, although it would be helpful to me if I knew what you mean by "objective" and "subjective" justification. In my experience, everyone has their own, personal definition which may or may not line up with the written, semi-official statements of the LCMS or the WELS.

  3. Why are you guys trying to reinvent the wheel? Are you so insecure in your faith?

    1. I only speak for myself when I post on this blog. It's the same with everyone else as well.

      As for me, my post, and my response to your comment, what do you mean? Could you clarify?

  4. Joe Krohn asks, "Are you so insecure in your faith?"

    Joe, as a devout UOJist I am amazed that you would ask such a thing. Those who teach the New Age false gospel of UOJ continue to teach that if one is to rely upon faith for the assurance that their sins are forgiven then their faith is in their faith which makes it a synergistic work. For you to ask if anyone is insecure in their faith is to imply that faith is what makes someone secure in their forgiveness - the object of this post is Justification: the forgiveness of sins.

    Zarling, "The other extreme is to stress subjective justification without understanding the objective reality. This error leads to synergism in one form or the other. Stressing faith as the cause of justification makes it a meritorious work. We have then destroyed the sola gratia of the Gospel, and cause men to look within themselves for the assurance of salvation."

  5. Brett, the reason I made the comment is because guys like you, Christian, Daniel, Lito, Jackson and all the others keep hammering at this 'UOJ'. You do the doctrine a dis-service by continually mis-representing it. After all this time the only way I can explain it is that you have this need to keep writing about it because you are trying to convince yourselves of that which you write. This behavior to me is symptomatic of a lack of confidence; lack of faith. It is similiar to the dilemma of those coming out of the Reformed camps wondering which side of the predestination equation they are on.

    The world has been redeemed; bought back by Christ and His suffering and death. That redemption is what reconciles the world to God regardless; a redemption that took place in eternity. This redemption in effect pardons all men without reference to any individual person. This is what objective means and clearly how the Solid Declaration speaks under Election. The pardon is declaration of innocence wrought for all men by the death of Jesus Christ. Justice was served by His death and heaven opened; hence a justification has come for all men. Now what a man does with that pardon/justification is another thing. He can only do one thing with it.