Raised Because of Our Justification
who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.
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In Romans 4, Paul reviewed the history of justification by faith with Abraham and David, and showed that they were both justified apart from works; they were justified by their faith which was reckoned (“λογίζεται”) to them as righteousness (Romans 4:1-9). Paul then demonstrated that circumcision in the flesh without faith accomplishes nothing (Romans 4:9-15). Only faith, in accordance with grace, brought the promise to Abraham. Then Abraham became the spiritual father of all those who have the faith of Abraham, whether Jew or Gentile. Because of the strength of Abraham’s faith, he believed the promise of God, and his faith was credited to him as righteousness. The Scriptures were written not only because of Abraham, but also because of those people who believe in God Who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. Jesus was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification (Romans 4:16-25).
Therefore, Paul cited Abraham to show how faith was credited as righteousness, particularly in believing that God will resurrect His Son, Jesus. Central to the faith of Abraham was his belief in resurrection. Abraham believed that God would raise up Isaac, even if Abraham killed him at the direction of God. Believers today, never circumcised, still claim Abraham as their spiritual father, because they have the faith of Abraham toward God. Therefore, as with Abraham, God reckoned faith as righteousness, in all who believe, whether Jew or Gentile.
The Use of the Preposition Dia To Demonstrate Causation
The Greek text helps us understand Romans 4:25, and particularly how Paul used the preposition “dia” (“διὰ”) to demonstrate causation. Please keep in mind that “dia” with the accusative does not always mean causation; at times it may suggest merely a relationship (see Baptism Never Saves Anyone). The context must decide the meaning of the preposition. In Romans 4, Paul used a series of interconnected phrases with the preposition “dia” (“διὰ”) to explain how Jesus was raised because (“διὰ”) of our justification.
Romans 4:23 provides: But not it was written only because of him (δι’ αὐτὸν μόνον–notice the “διὰ” with the accusative) that it was reckoned to him;
Romans 4:24 provides: but (“ἀλλὰ”–another of the same kind) also because of (“διὰ” with the accusative plural) us who (masculine plural) are going (“μέλλει”–present active indicative) to be reckoned (” λογίζεσθα”–present passive infinitive), to the ones who believe (“πιστεύουσιν”–present active participle) upon the One Who raised (“ἐγείραντα”–aorist active participle) Jesus the Lord out of the dead ones (νεκρῶν).
Romans 4:25 provides: Who (“ὃς “) was delivered (“παρεδόθη”–aorist passive indicative) because of (“διὰ”) our transgressions and was raised because of (“διὰ”) our justification.
Please take notice that in each use of the preposition “dia” (“διὰ”) in Romans 4:23-25, it always means “because of” and further that a caused b. Therefore, in Romans 4:23-24, the Scripture was written not only because faith was credited to Abraham, but it also was written because later believers from all nations would be credited with righteousness by faith as they believe upon the One Who raised the Lord Jesus from among the dead ones. Likewise, in Romans 4:25, just as the transgressions caused Jesus to be delivered over to death, so also our justification caused Jesus to be raised. Notice the past act caused the next act. So in Romans 4:25 the past act of our transgressions caused Jesus to be delivered and the past act of justification (having been accomplished at the cross and realized by our faith which is credited to us as righteousness) caused Jesus to be resurrected. How did the justification of believers cause Jesus to be raised?
Justification Caused Jesus To Be Resurrected
Before we look more closely at why justification causes resurrection (resurrection includes first being raised from the dead), we must first examine the elements of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:17: “and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” Paul explicitly taught that resurrection was inextricably linked to salvation, and part of the Gospel which he received by direct revelation from God (Galatians 1:11-12). In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 Paul described the Gospel of Jesus Christ which he preached:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
1 Corinthians 15:3-4
Therefore, if you do not mention the resurrection of Jesus in your Gospel presentation, then you have not presented the whole Gospel which Paul presented to people. The resurrection must be proclaimed as an essential part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now that we understand that the resurrection is an essential part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then we can begin to understand how justification caused Christ to be raised from the dead.
Paul declared that we are justified (“δικαιούμενοι”) as a gift by the grace of God through the redemption (“ἀπολυτρώσεως”) which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24). This verse helps us understand that we are justified as a gift of grace. That gift of grace comes through (“διὰ”–with the genitive) the redemption which is in Christ. Notice the timing. Because of His death on the cross in the past, we are now redeemed. Therefore we know that our redemption happened in the past when Christ died on the cross. We were redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). Because our redemption happened in the past, at the cross of Jesus, God can now justify us and declare us righteous. All the condemnation we deserve fell upon Jesus at the cross (Romans 8:1). God demonstrated that He was both just and the justifier of sinners who receive Jesus by grace through faith (Romans 3:26; 1 Peter 2:24). Therefore we know that our justification was complete at the cross, in the sense that Jesus had completed all the work of justification at the cross. The gift of eternal life, based upon that redemption and justification, could be offered by grace through faith in the Person and work of Christ on the cross. People from all ages received that free gift by grace through faith and were justified and redeemed, based upon the completed work of Christ. Their faith is credited to them as righteousness. While the work of redemption was completed at the cross, and all the transgressions of men which God passed over in His forbearance were now covered by the blood of Jesus, resurrection must surely follow crucifixion and glory.
As Jesus walked down the Emmaus road with two men, he reproved them because they were foolish and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke about Jesus. He explained to them from the Scriptures that Jesus must die. Jesus then explained that it was necessary (“ἔδει”) for the Christ: (1) to suffer and (2) then to enter into His glory (Luke 24:26). Luke declared it was essential to enter His glory after He died. One must follow the other, according to Jesus and the Old Testament prophets. For example, in Isaiah 53, we read that after death, Jesus will have a portion with the great and divide the booty with the strong, because He poured out Himself to death (Isaiah 53:12). The Old Testament prophets described Jesus in His glory after His death. If Jesus did not fulfill those prophecies, then He was not the Messiah, and if He was not the Messiah, then we have believed in vain. Notice too that Jesus linked resurrection as part of entering His glory. Because those two men were foolish and slow to believe, God prevented their eyes from recognizing Jesus, until He had both reproved them and explained to them how the Old Testament prophets declared that Messiah would be resurrected and enter His glory after suffering death.
Paul also explained the essential requirement of resurrection after justification. Paul warned the Corinthians that if Christ has not been raised, then the preaching of Paul was in vain and the Corinthians’ faith was in vain. Moreover, if Christ was not raised, then Paul and the ministry team were liars and false witnesses because they testified that Christ had been raised. Therefore, if Christ was not raised, then their faith was worthless and they were still in their sins. If Christ was not raised, then those who have fallen asleep in Jesus have perished, and all those who believe that Christ was raised are most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). Paul also spoke about Christ being raised from the dead to the Ephesians. Paul told them that after the death of Christ, He was raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God the Father in the heavenlies (Ephesians 1:20). Likewise, Paul told the Philippians that Christ emptied Himself and then became obedient to the point of death on a cross, and so for that reason (“διὸ”) God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that (“ἵνα”) at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:6-11).
The writer of Hebrews also explained that Christ, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet (Hebrews 10:12-13, quoting Psalm 110:1). David, in Psalm 110:1, as explained in Hebrews 10:12-13, demonstrated the essential link between (1) justification having been completed by the one sacrifice of Christ for sins; and (2) then sitting down at the right hand of God in heaven. David clearly spoke about Christ being raised from the dead, so that Jesus would sit bodily in heaven with His Father.
Reasons for Resurrection
Romans 4:25 provides that Christ was raised because of our justification. So, does Scripture also provide a reason that Christ had to be raised from the dead? I read many passages describing the reasons for raising Christ from the dead. Below I have shared some of my favorites.
- Exaltation, Preeminence, Headship. Paul wrote to the Ephesians that Christ was resurrected and seated at the right hand of God in the heavenlies (“τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις”). God displayed His might so that Jesus would be far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. Therefore, the preeminence of Christ demanded exaltation and resurrection. Likewise, Christ had to fulfill His role as Head over all things, including the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:19-23: Colossians 1:18).
- Prophecy and Oath. Peter preached that God had sworn an oath to seat one of David’s descendants upon the throne of David. Because David was a prophet, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay (Acts 2:30-31). Therefore, because of the prophecy and oath, Christ had to be raised from the dead.
- Promise of the Holy Spirit. Peter also preached that this Jesus God raised up again, and exalted Him to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth that which people heard and saw at Pentecost (Acts 2:33). Therefore, because of the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, and the Holy Spirit had to be poured forth upon the people, Christ had to be raised from the dead.
- Ascension. Peter also preached that because Christ ascended to the right hand of God, where He sits now, until Yahweh makes His enemies a footstool for His feet (Psalm 110:1). Therefore, because Christ had to ascend to the right hand of God and fulfill the prophecy of Psalm 110:1, Christ had to be raised from the dead.
- Proof of Lord and Christ. Therefore, let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ–this Jesus Whom the Jews crucified (Acts 2:34-36). Therefore, because God had made Jesus both Lord and Christ, Christ had to be raised from the dead.
- Justification Completed. Because Christ completed the work justification at the cross, God demonstrated that He was both just and the justifier of sinners who receive Jesus by grace through faith (Romans 3:26; 1 Peter 2:24). Therefore, because redemption had been completed, and God had to demonstrate that He was both just and the justifier of sinners, Christ had to be raised from the dead.
- Firstborn, First Place. Christ is the firstborn from the dead, so that (“ἵνα”) He Himself will come to have first place in everything (Colossians 1:18). Therefore, because Christ is the firstborn from the dead, and had to have the first place in everything, Christ had to be raised from the dead.
- First Fruit. Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man death, so also by a Man the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). Therefore, because Christ had to be the first fruit of the resurrection to make all believers alive, Christ had to be raised from the dead.
- Newness of Life. Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so that (“οὕτως καὶ”) we too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). Therefore, for believers to walk in newness of life, Christ had to be raised from the dead.
- Triumph and Spiritual Gifts. When Christ ascended, He led captivity captive and He gave gifts to men. Without the resurrection, no ascension. Because Christ ascended, took captivity captive, and gave gifts to men after His ascension, Christ had to be raised from the dead (Ephesians 4:7, Psalm 110:1; see Christ Ascended and Descended).
Because of our justification, Christ had to rise from the dead. The work of justification was completed at the cross, and becomes effective by grace through faith in the lives of individual believers. Our justification requires that Christ was raised from the dead. Many Scriptures provide reasons why Christ had to be raised from the dead. I urge you to search the Scriptures and come to your own conclusions.