The Obedience of Faith in the Letter to the Romans -- By: Don B. Garlington

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 55:1 (Spring 1993)
Article: The Obedience of Faith in the Letter to the Romans
Author: Don B. Garlington


The Obedience of Faith in the Letter to the Romans

Don B. Garlington

Part III: The Obedience of Christ and the Obedience of the Christian

The investigation of the obedience of faith in Romans, commenced some three years ago,1 has thus far yielded two basic conclusions. (1) The phrase ὑπακοὴ πίστεως (Rom 1:5; 16:26) embodies a twin idea: the obedience consisting in faith and the obedience arising out of faith.2 (2) Faith’s obedience, defined in the first instance as perseverance, is the link between present justification by faith and eschatological justification for the “doers of the law” (Rom 2:13). We come now, in the concluding study, to consider the role of Christ, the obedient one, who ensures the obedience of his people. Our attention will be directed to Romans 5.

I. Romans 5 within the Scheme of Chaps. 5-83

As one reads these chapters, one cannot help but be impressed with the series of antitheses constructed by Paul, which in very broad terms may be reduced to the following elements. Chap. 5: life in Christ vs. death in Adam; 6:1–7:6: newness of life in Christ vs. death and bondage to sin and the law; 7:7–8:39: life and liberty in union with Christ and the Spirit vs. captivity to the flesh, even in spite of indwelling sin and the believer’s groaning for the redemption of the body (7:14–25; 8:18–25). In each instance, the motif of the believer’s once-for-all break with the past and his entrance into a new state of affairs stands out in prominent relief: an old pattern of existence is broken in order that a new

mode of life may begin. This is the Christian’s “definitive sanctification,”4 inasmuch as the representatives of the old age—sin, death, the law, and the flesh—have been overthrown and caused to release their grip on those who are now in Christ.

There is, accordingly, a pronounced Christological focus to each phase of the believer’s transformation from his old condition to the new. Chap. 5 highlights our solidarity with Christ as he heads up the age to...

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