Justification and Reconciliation

Moving through Romans again, we come across the idea of justification rather early in the book (ch. 3). As you may recall from a few posts back, I want to read Romans through the lens of reconciliation – namely, that Paul’s intent in writing this letter was to get the Jews and the Gentiles to be together as one church. Mike Gorman puts forth the following definition of justification in his book Reading Paul: “Justification is the establishment of right covenantal relations – fidelity to God and love for neighbor – by means of God’s grace in Christ’s death and our co-crucifixion with him. Justification therefore means co-resurrection with Christ to new life within the people of God now and the certain hope of acquittal, and thus resurrection to eternal life, on the day of judgment.” In this definition, Gorman does an excellent job of combining the traditional definition of justification with the new perspectives. In doing this, Gorman locates justification both in the present and in the future. Thus, justification matters now. Not just for assurance of faith but in how we relate to other human beings. Sin does not only separate us from God but also from other people. Justification does not only put us in right relationship with God, but also with other humans. This latter part is often what is neglected. We attribute to growing in love with one another to sanctification when in Paul, reconciliation and justification are intricately linked. Justification is putting the world-to-rights, both in the completion in the future, but beginning now. With you and I. Or for Paul, with Jews and Gentiles living in the new reality set forth by their co-crucifixion and co-resurrection with Jesus.

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