RAISED FOR OUR JUSTIFICATION
T. PIERCE BROWN
The book of Romans is probably one of the most profound books ever written. Although I have been reading it for 65 years, I am amazed at how little I know about it. A few moments ago I was reading in Romans4:25, “Who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification.” I noted that in the original text, for our trespasses and for our justification both had “dia” with the accusative, which means “because of.” Almost every commentary on Romans I have read, from Martin Luther down, simply comments on the verse as if “for our trespasses” means “because of our sins,” and “for our justification” means “in order that we may be justified.”
There is no doubt that he was delivered up because of our sins. There is no doubt that he was raised up in order that we may be justified. However, if that is all that Paul meant by using these expressions, we cannot but wonder why he did not use “eis” instead of “dia” in the case of our justification. Most of us know that in Matthew 26:28 when Jesus said, “this is my blood of the covenant , which is poured out for many unto remission of sins,” the word “unto” or “for” as the King James version has it, is from “eis” which indicates the purpose. It has been pointed out many times that this is the same expression as in Acts 2:38, when Peter said, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins.”
The phrases literally mean, “He was delivered up because of our sins and was raised because of our justification.” How can this be possible? It is not hard to see how or why he was delivered up because of our sins. If we had not sinned, we would not need a redeemer, so it was because of our sins that Christ died. But is it because we were justified that he was raised? Remember that we should get our theology from what the Bible says, and not try to make the Bible say what our theology has caused us to conclude.
Since he uses the same expression with regard to our sins and our justification, it seems evident that in the same context one should not be looked upon as something that had already been done and the other something that would happen afterwards. I think the solution is really very simple. Paul has been talking about the purpose and plan of God. In that purpose and plan, God knew that mankind would sin. Because of the sin that God saw in the future for all mankind, he purposed for Christ to die. In exactly the same sense, because he saw in the future that without the resurrection of Christ no one could be justified, he purposed for Christ to be raised. He was raised because of our justification, then, in the sense that our justification was a reality in the plan and purpose of God, and could not be accomplished if Christ had not been raised. It is equivalent to saying, “In the purpose of God he was to be raised because he wanted us to be justified.”
Paul says as much in 1 Corinthians 15:16-17, “For if the dead are not raised, neither hath Christ been raised: and if Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” The point here is that Paul is not emphasizing the truth he emphasizes at other places, that Christ was raised in order that we might be justified. If that had been his emphasis, he would have used “eis.” We could see that more clearly if we would realize that when we say, “He was crucified because of our sins,” it could not be because of sins we had already committed, for we were not even born, and had not committed any sins. It had to be because of the sins which, in the foreknowledge of God, we would commit. In exactly the same sense, and with exactly the same grammatical expression, he says, “He was raised because of our justification.” If it could not have been because of the sins we had actually committed, then it was not because of justification which we had actually received. In both cases, it was because, in the knowledge of God (we call it foreknowledge, but with God who is eternal, nothing is “before” or “after”) he saw both our sins, and our justification from them. Because of both, because he wanted us to be forgiven of our sins, and because he wanted us to be justified, Christ was crucified and raised.