Thursday, March 03, 2011
The meaning of "glorified" (Rom 8:30)
Writing a Systematic Theology, here's my thoughts on "glorification":
According to Paul’s sequence beginning in Rom 8:29, persons were predestined in order “to be conformed to the image of his Son”. God purposes to imprint all those who belong to Christ with the image of the second Adam. As to when this occurs is debated, but the parallel language with Phil 3:21 (God “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body”) and 1 Cor 15:49 (“just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so will we bear the image of the heavenly man”) suggests that the conforming to Christ’s image is a future eschatological event. That is to say, God predestines believers to a future glory, the glory that Christ currently enjoys. Consequently glory is a future hope for the believer to share in Christ’s glory (Rom 8:17; Col 1:17; 3:4; 2 Thess 2:14; 2 Tim 2:10; Tit 2:13; 1 Pet 4:13; 5:10). This meshes with the final item mentioned in Paul’s sequence in Rom 8:29-30 that those justified are also “glorified”. Too much is made of the Aorist tense form of edoxasen as if it means a completed or punctilliar event, but the main issue is the verbal aspect which is perfective and so the action is envisaged as a simple whole. Perhaps as a protreptic Aorist the point could be that those whom God justified he will also glorify. The Aorist is fitting because God has already decreed that it will take place. Yet in another sense “glory” is a proleptic experience for the believer. For Paul, transformation into the glory of the Lord Jesus has already begun: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18). Peter informs believers that “the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (1 Pet 4:14). Undoubtedly “glorification” is essentially a future hope, but it has proleptically begun through the ministry of the Holy Spirit who unites us with and patterns us after the Lord of glory. Glorification represents the culmination of salvation as the “redemption of our bodies” (Rom 8:23) and being “brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Rom 8:21). If justification means being freed from the penalty of sin, if transformation means being gradually freed from the power of sin, then glorification means to be freed from the presence of sin. The future “glory” means entrance into the new creation, to dwell in God’s new world, in God’s eschatological reign, among the glorified host of God’s people.