Resurrection and Redemption, A study in Paul's Soteriology Paperback – 1 Dec 2012
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About the Author
Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. is professor of biblical and systematic theology. He is an ordained teaching elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
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Christ is the one who has accomplished redemption in his death and resurrection. His accomplishments include justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification. These are applied to all who are "in Christ" - united to him by faith.
Here's one key conclusion:
"Not justification by faith but union with the resurrected Christ by faith (of which union, to be sure, the justifying aspect stands out perhaps most prominently) is the central motif of Paul's applied soteriology."
The benefit of this thoughtful book is its careful exegesis of a lot of Pauline texts. Gaffin makes lots of connections that I had not seen before. His conclusions retain the monergism of traditional Reformed theology, while reconfiguring some elements around the central motiffs of the resurrection of Christ and our union with him. I found it very insightful. Definitely worth reading.
Thesis: believers are united to Christ in his death; Christ's death took on our sin; therefore, believers have died to sin (45). Interestingly, he leaves out his previous comments on baptism as union into Christ.
The theme governing Paul's thought is the unity of the resurrection with Christ with the resurrection of the believers (59-60). In the resurrection of the believer there are two episodes: the already and the not-yet.
Gaffin affirms the Holy Spirit's instrumentality in the resurrection of Jesus (cf. Romans 8:11; p. 66). Gaffin rightly affirms that Paul's teaching on the resurrection has a Trinitarian character: The Father raises the Son through the instrumentality of the Spirit (74).
The contrast between Adam and Christ is the contrast between two different heads/representatives of two different world-orders, aeons, ages (85).
Resurrection as the Redemption of Christ
As long as Christ is dead, Satan and the powers remain triumphant. Following Romans 1:3, Gaffin maintains that Christ's exaltation in the realm of the Spirit, the new age, is his justification or vindication (121). Christ's resurrection is his justification as the Last Adam, of the firstfruits.
'God reveals Himself both in redemption and in revelation, in what He does as well as in what He says.' p 22
Concerning Pauline interpretation, Richard Gaffin Jr stimulates and adds to the independent testimonies of two of the 20th century's most able Pauline theologians, Geerhardus Vos and Herman Ridderbos. The discontinuity, as Gaffin envisages the primary dimension of revelation in redemption, lies in the nature of the divine office that Paul held, as an apostle, in that he was principally engaged in the function of authentication of that revelatory process, and in the divine scheme of things was granted to communicate the attendant special revelation. And although the NT revelation places the apostle alongside us in the grace offered through it, we are to draw from the divine receptacle of the Bible alone, as the age of immediate revelation remains irretrievable to us experientially. As an inexhaustible source of both the process and product of inspiration, Warfield amplified the notion that Paul was 'the most didactic of the NT writers.' Biblical Doctrines p 176 Paul served as interpreter extraordinaire to the Christ-event.
'The interpretation of Paul above all involves careful attention to underlying structure.' p 29
Through the wisdom imparted the apostle Paul, we stand to gain as 'Paul's interpreters ought to deal with him as they stand with him in the same redemptive-historical context and so share a common interpretive interest.' p 25 Encouraged by this missive, my amazement at the depth of the intellectual grasp continued unabated as a tribunal consisting of the most respected Pauline authorities seeks to cast light on Paul's "things which are hard to understand" (2 Peter 3:16). Within the structure of biblical revelation, Gaffin observes in Paul's writings most clearly a consistency in approach toward the altering of redemptive history. Though not doctrinal treatises, Paul's epistles are not merely ad hoc formulations (contra Fee), but have constitutive significance.
'This is uniquely so with the interpretation of Scripture, because the text by virtue of its divine origin is self-interpreting.' p 30
The death, and the particular area of study that Gaffin seeks to give priority to, the resurrection of Christ, are the major factors contributing to the changed state of affairs in the eschatological realization of the NT. Placing special exegetical emphasis on the relevant Pauline texts, Gaffin creates a distinction by first dwelling on the prima facie evidence of the resurrection theme. Thereafter, the teleological development of Christ's experience as representative head and as eternal pattern in 'the already', is framed in the apostle Paul's qualitative discussion on the resurrection, and applied to individual believers as part of 'the not yet'.
"A life-giving Spirit" (1 Cor 15:45c) rewards in particular, as Gaffin acknowledgingly places this acclamation foremost: '...nowhere in the whole of Paul is a statement more inextricably embedded in both its narrower and broader contexts.' p 78 Calvin says the second Adam, like the first, by receiving a soul entered life, but Christ, unlike Adam, brought through the Spirit eternal life. Christ is last Adam in that He alone brings in the eschatological life. In the older DPL, Gaffin stated more succinctly the focus on Christ as the second Adam, now glorified as exalted Lord and a life-giving Spirit: 'The identification is functional or eschatological, not ontological; it describes what has happened to Christ, as "the last Adam" in history.' p 348 In the newer NDBT, Professor Gaffin brought together the co-operation of these various thoughts and their intended outcome: 'Previewed in the transfiguration, this glory is attained in His resurrection.' p 509 This study has inevitably borne a life-time of enduring theological reflection, as Paul's true meaning appears to have celestial limits and therefore can be nothing but eternally rewarding. May we follow Paul insofar as he followed Christ.
'All soteric experience involves existence in the new creation age, inaugurated by His resurrection.' p 138