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.” Most of the commentaries I have read say something like Moses Lard, “Had our sins not existed he would not have been given up.” “Christ was raised for our justification; that is, in order to complete provision for it, and effect it.” Lipscomb & Shepherd simply repeat that statement. Whiteside, who, in my judgment, is one of the best, says nothing at all about this expression.
Strangely enough, none of the twenty or so that I checked make any comment about the fact that normally when “dia” with the accusative is used, it means, “because of.” In this sentence, it would read, “He was delivered up because of our sins and raised because of our justification.” Most of us can probably see how it could be said that he was crucified because of our sins, but how could he be raised because of our justification? So, although the commentators make a true statement that he was raised in order to effect our justification, it is my judgment that this is not exactly what Paul is saying, for I find no case in the New Testament where “dia” with the accusative has the idea of “in order to.” The blood of Jesus was shed for the remission of sins (Mt. 26:28). The expression here is “eis aphesin hamartion.” The same expression is used in Acts 2:38.
Denominational preachers, and occasionally a scholar, will try to make it sound as if the expression can also mean “because of” since it is used in Matthew 12:41 when Jesus said, “They repented at (eis) the preaching of Jonah.” It is assumed that since they repented because of the preaching of Jonah, that “eis” means “because of.” It may be true that they repented because of the preaching of Jonah, but that is not what Jesus said here. He is simply saying that they repented into the state or condition that the preaching of Jonah demanded. The word “eis” always looks forward. To this we find no exception.
Since we find no occasion where “dia” with the accusative means “in order to” as “eis” would, we looked for a reason the Holy Spirit used that expression. We think we found a suggestion of the reason in Romans 4:17 where we find that God calls things that are not as though they were. He has just said to Abraham, “I have made thee a father of many nations” when Abraham did not even have a son.
Most of understand that God did that on many occasions, such as to Joshua, “I have given Jericho into thy hand” and other times when he speaks prospectively, because a thing which is definitely in the purpose of God is as certain as if it had already been done.
So Paul is emphasizing here that although we were not even born, and thus had no actual sins, it was on account of those sins that we would have that God delivered up Christ to die. And although it could not be properly said that Christ was raised because we were already justified (which is what “dia” with the accusative would normally suggest), it would be proper if what Paul wants to emphasize is that the justification of those who believe Him as Abraham did, yielding their lives in obedient faith, is as certain as if it had already happened. So, what Paul is saying is, “Jesus was raised because, in the purpose of God, He wants us to be justified. Since the only grounds of our justification is in His resurrection, for His death would not have been worth anything had He not been raised, then He was raised because of our justification, which had already taken place in the purpose of God regarding those with an obedient faith.”
He teaches the same kind of predestination and foreordination in Ephesians 1:3-14. But he shows clearly who it was that God predestined for the praise of his glory in verse 12 when he says, “to the end that we should be unto the praise of his glory, we who had before hoped in Christ.” When a person puts his hope and trust in Christ and shows it by his obedience to the gospel, God has foreordained his salvation from sin.
If anyone else has a better explanation of why Paul used “dia” with the accusative, which means “because of,” I would be happy to hear it.