God’s New Creation In Romans 8:4 -- By: Peter Dubbelman

Journal: Southeastern Theological Review
Volume: STR 09:1 (Spring 2018)
Article: God’s New Creation In Romans 8:4
Author: Peter Dubbelman


God’s New Creation In Romans 8:4

Peter Dubbelman

Senior Adults Pastor at Apex Baptist Church

In Rom 8:4, when Paul mentions how “the Law’s decree might be fulfilled in us,” he means not only an imputed righteousness but also the fullness of righteousness that a Christian is to become. For Paul understands that the proclamation of the gospel provides a continuum of the Creator’s Word (2 Cor 4:5–6), which both redounds toward the fullness of new creation life and creates a relationship between a Christian’s being and doing. This perspective of justification includes an ontological transformation of the inner person toward the fullness of spiritual health and well-being, namely the image of the Son (Rom 8:29).

Key Words: justification, new creation, righteousness, Romans 8:1–4, spiritual formation, the Love Command, the Law’s fulfillment

In Rom 8:4, when Paul mentions how “the Law’s decree might be fulfilled in us,” he means not only an imputed righteousness but also the fullness of righteousness that a Christian is to become.1 This thesis is controversial and its field of play broad, encompassing various Pauline perspectives on justification held within Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. It does, however, fit within an interpretation, made by a diverse and growing group of Pauline scholars (e.g., Thomas Schreiner; E. P. Sanders), that the decree of the Law mentioned in 8:4 pertains to a Christian’s obedience.2 It contends with the Magisterial Reformers’ interpretation of 8:4 that relied only on an “as if” righteousness—a perspective exemplified by John Calvin’s comment below:

You see that our righteousness is not in us but in Christ . . . sin

has been condemned in Christ’s flesh that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us (Rom. 8:3–4). The only fulfillment he alludes to is that which we obtain through imputation. . . . To declare that by him alone we are accounted righteous, what else is this but to lodge our righteousness in Christ’s obedience, the obedience of Christ is reckoned to us as if it were our own?3

The thou...

You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
Click here to subscribe
visitor : : uid: ()