Copyright © 1991 by Westminster Theological Seminary, cited with permission.
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH
IN THE LETTER TO THE ROMANS
Part II: The Obedience of Faith and Judgment by Works
D. B. GARLINGTON
THE previous study of the obedience of faith in Romans was an attempt
to determine exegetically the meaning of Paul’s unique phrase u[pakoh>
pi<stewj. It was concluded that the phrase is deliberately ambiguous, de-
noting simultaneously the obedience which is faith and the obedience
which is the product of faith. Because of its essentially two-sided character,
it was suggested that the notion of faith’s obedience provides the link be-
tween present justification by faith alone and future judgment according to
works. Since faith, obedience, and judgment generally in Paul are such
well-worn territory,1 the scope of this article is restricted to an examination
of the relation of the obedience of faith to final vindication (justification) in
the day of judgment. In particular our attention will be focused on the
theology of Rom 2:13.
In his seminal study of “The Eschatological Aspect of the Pauline Concep-
tion of the Spirit,”2 G. Vos comments that the biblical idea of “salvation”
is, strictly speaking, a future condition (“immunity from the condemnation
of the last day”) which has been projected back into the present. Similarly:
1 For works devoted to faith and obedience in Paul, see my “The Obedience of Faith:” A
Pauline Phrase in Historical Context (WUNT 2/38; Tübingen: Mohr, 1991) 2 nn. 5-6. The judg-
ment motif has been canvassed, e.g., by L. Mattern, Das Verständnis des Gerichtes bei Paulus
(ATANT 47; Zürich: Zwingli, 1966); C. J. Roetzel, Judgment in the Community: A Study of the
Relationship between Eschatology and Ecclesiology in Paul (Leiden: Brill, 1972); J.-M. Gambier,
“Le jugement de touts les hommes par Dieu seul, selon la vérité, dans Rom 2.1-3.20," ZNW 66
(1975) 187-213; K. P. Donfried, "Justification and Last Judgment in Paul," ZNW 67 (1976)
90-110; E. Synofzik, Die Gerichts- and Vergeltungsaussagen bei Paulus (GTA 8; Göttingen:
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1977) esp. 78-90; U. Wilckens, Der Brief an die Römer (EKKNT; 3
vols.;Zürich/Neukirchen: Benziger/Neukirchener, 1978-82) 1.142-46; N. M. Watson, "Justified by
Faith, Judged by Works—an Antinomy?" NTS 29 (1983) 209-21; K. R. Snodgrass, "Justifi-
cation by Grace—to the Doers: An Analysis of the Place of Romans 2 in the Theology of Paul,”
NTS 32 (1986) 72-93; R. Heiligenthal, Werke als Zeichnen (WUNT 2/9; Tübingen: Mohr, 1983)
esp. 165-97; A. J. Hultgren,
Paul’s Gospel and
Romans (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985) 98-111; F Watson, Paul, Judaism and the Gentiles
(SNTSMS 56; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986) 119-22; L. J. Kreitzer, Jesus and
God in Paul’s Eschatology (JSNTSup 19; Sheffield: JSOT, 1987) 99-129. The studies of Donfried
and Mattern come the closest to the present one in their recognition of the importance of faith’s
obedience for the judgment texts in Paul.
2 In Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus
R. B. Gaffin, Jr. ;
Justification is, of course, to Paul the basis on which the whole Christian state
rests, and in so far eminently concerns the present, and yet in its finality and
comprehensiveness, covering not merely time but likewise eternity, it presents
remarkable analogies to the absolute vindication expected at the end.3
The impact of Vos’ remarks is that justification, as any other facet of
soteriology, transpires in stages, corresponding to salvation inaugurated
and salvation consummated. The problem, however, is not so much the
recognition of this basic datum as is the presence of biblical—particularly
NT—passages which ground eschatological justification in the works of the
individual. We think, for instance, of Jesus’ warning to the Pharisees: “I tell
you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless
word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you
will be condemned” (Matt 12:36-37). All the more striking because of its author
is the pronouncement of Rom 2:13: “For it is not the hearers of the law who
are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” And,
of course, there is James’ insistence that justification is by works and not by
faith alone (2:24). Even in passages where “justification” as such is not
mentioned, the same perspective is evident, e.g., 2 Cor 5:10: “For we must
all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be
repaid according to what he has done in the body, whether it be a good
thing or a worthless thing.”4
The question then is how the NT and particularly Paul can make what
appears to be a quantum leap from present justification by faith alone to
future justification, which entails an assessment of one's life “in the body.”
In answering, we shall argue that Paul himself provides the bridge between
these seemingly polar opposites.
I. Paul’s Dialogue with
(1) To review briefly from the first article, one of Paul’s prime purposes
in Romans is to redraw the boundaries which mark out the people of God.
Whereas once to be a member of the covenant people was to live within the
perimeters set by the Torah, the eschatological people have assumed a new
corporate identity. And since with the advent of Jesus Christ there is “no
distinction” between Jew and Gentile, Paul seeks in Romans to expound the
social and ethical expressions of this new entity. At the outset (1:1-7) then
he draws upon concepts evocative of
applies them to all the Romans, the klhtoi?j of Jesus Christ. The pivotal
3 Ibid., 93.
4 Translation mine. The same principle is embraced elsewhere, e.g., Matt 16:27;
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 49
point of the introduction is v. 5—the obedience of faith among all the
nations for Christ’s name’s sake—“a very neat and fitting summary of his
complete apologetic in Romans.”5
(2) Rom 1:1-7 is paralleled by 1:16-17,6 which is normally taken to be
the letter's thematic statement. Without going into detail, we note that the
revelation of the righteousness of God to all believers—the Jew first but also
the Greek—is the functional equivalent of “the obedience of faith among all
the nations.” As modern research has shown, dikaiosu<nh is essentially a
relational concept.7 As predicated of God, it has to do with his fidelity to
the covenant: “God is ‘righteous’ when he fulfills the obligations he took
upon himself to be
enemies.”8 As is well known, in the Psalms and in chaps. 44ff. of Isaiah,
God’s righteousness becomes synonymous with his salvation—hence Yah-
weh’s dikaiosu<nh (hqdc / qdc ), his “act to restore his own and to sustain
them within the covenant.”9 Thus the dikaiosu<nh qeou? which has now
been manifested apart from the law is “God’s action on behalf of those to
whom he has committed himself.”10
This dynamic or “action-oriented” understanding of righteousness (as
opposed to “status only)11 has a twofold bearing on our particular concern.
For one thing, it alerts us that the primary controversy between Paul and
Judaism had respect not to grace as opposed to “legalism,” i.e., earning
salvation through the accumulation of merit and thus establishing a claim
upon God,12 but to the Jewish restriction
of the grace of God to
5 J. D. G. Dunn, Romans (WBC; 2 vols.; Dallas: Word, 1988) 1.18.
6 Common to both are Jew/Gentile, the gospel, faith, obedience/righteousness, power.
7 See, among others, Hultgren,
Paul's Gospel, 12-46;
of God’ in Paul,” in New Testament Questions of Today (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1969) 172;
K. Kertelge, “Rechfertigung” bei Paulus (NTAbh 3; 2d ed.; Münster: Aschendorff, 1967)
D. Hill, Greek Words and Hebrew Meanings (SNTSMS
1967) 85-86; J. Reumann, Righteousness in the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982) 12.
8 Dunn, Romans 1.41. Cf. W. Eichrodt, Theology of
the Old Testament (2 vols.;
9 Dunn, Romans 1.41.
10 Ibid. 1.166 (on 3:22).
11 Reumann, Righteousness, 15-16. In agreement with Hultgren, Paul's imagery of justifi-
cation is more prophetic/apocalyptic (theological/theocentric) than forensic (anthropologi-
cal/anthropocentric) (Paul's Gospel, 37).
12 Instead of “legalism” I prefer “nomism,” or, in the phrase of R. N. Longenecker, “reacting
nomism,” i.e., “the molding of one’s life in all its varying relations according to the Law in response
to the love and grace of God” (Paul: Apostle of Liberty [New York: Harper & Row, 1964] 78).
“Reacting nomism” consequently is, for all intents and purposes, the same as E. P. Sanders’ now
famous “covenantal nomism” (Paul and Palestinian Judaism [
et passim). H. Räisänen prefers to speak of “Biblicism” rather than “legalism” (Paul and the Law
[WUNT 1/29; Tübingen: Mohr, 1983] 184; cf. id., “Legalism and Salvation by the Law: Paul’s
Portrayal of the Jewish Religion as a Historical and Theological Problem,” in Die paulinische
Literatur and Theologie [ed. S. Pedersen;
"Legalism," JJS 30  1-22).
(though including proselytes).13 Thus for Paul to draw upon a term so well
established in the OT and in intertestamental literature was in effect for
him to say that God’s pledge to uphold and sustain the ancient covenant
people now has equal applicability to “the Greek,” who is no longer obliged
to become as “the Jew” in order to claim the promise of the dikaiosu<nh
qeou?. As J. A. Ziesler puts it: “God’s righteousness is his own covenant
loyalty, now in Paul widened beyond a covenant
universal. This righteousness is saving precisely in that man, Jew or Gentile,
is now drawn into and lives in God's righteousness.” 14 “God’s righteous-
ness,” according to 10:3, is no longer peculiarly that of the Torah but is now
embodied in Christ, the te<loj of the law. Hence justification in Paul is
primarily concerned to answer the question, On whose behalf does the God
In the second place, because dikaiosu<nh assumes as its frame of refer-
ence the Hebrew (as contrasted with the Greco-Roman) notion of righ-
teousness, we are alerted to the possibility that the semantic range of the
verb dikaio<w is broadened by its relation to the OT concept of the
dikaiosu<nh qeou?. According to Reumann’s findings, “‘righteousness/jus-
tice/justification’ terminology in the Hebrew scriptures is ‘action-oriented,’
not just ‘status’ or ‘being’ language, and binds together forensic, ethical and
other aspects in such a way that some sort of more unified ancient Near Eastern view
13 This now widely accepted appraisal of Paul and Judaism was sparked off by Sanders’
Paul. J. D. G. Dunn, most prominently, has applied Sanders’ assessment of Judaism as “cov-
enantal nomism” to Paul’s teaching on the law, e.g., “The New Perspective on Paul,” BJRL
65 (1983) 95-122; “Works of the Law and the Curse of the Law (Gal 3:10-14),” NTS 31 (1985)
523-42; Romans 1.1xx-lxxi. It is this particular approach which I am assuming throughout,
including Dunn's criticism of Sanders' (and H. Räisänen's) appraisal of Paul and the law. An
adequate response cannot here be provided to dissenting reviews of Sanders on Judaism and
Dunn on Paul, such as H. Hübner, "Pauli theologiae proprium," NTS 26 (1980) 445-73; id.,
Law in Paul's Thought (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1984); id., "Was heißt bei Paulus ‚'Werke des
Gesetzes' ?" in Glaube and Eschatologie. Festschrift fur Werner Georg Kümmel zum 80.
Works, and Staying Saved in Paul," in The Best in Theology (eds. J. I. Packer et al.; Carol Stream,
Christianity Today, n.d.) 1.81-100; S.
and His Recent Interpreters (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988). Dunn has replied to several of his
critics in Jesus,
Paul, and the Law: Studies in Mark and Galatians (
Knox, 1990) 206-14, 237-41.
14 J. A. Ziesler, The Meaning of Righteousness in Paul: A Linguistic and Theological Enquiry
(SNTSMS 20; Cambridge: Cambridge Univesity Press, 1972) 187. In Reumann’s words, “The
gospel of God’s righteousness will have to do not just with his loyalty to his covenant people
but with his whole creation and all peoples” (Righteousness, 65). Cf. R. D. Kaylor, Paul's
Covenant Community: Jew and Gentile in Romans (Atlanta: John Knox, 1988) 60.
15 As K. Stendahl puts it, Paul's discussion of Jew/Gentile equality (in Romans 2 and 3) is
carried on "in light of the new avenue of salvation, which has been opened in Christ, an avenue
which is equally open to Jews and Gentiles, since it is not based on the Law, in which the very
distinction between the two rests" (Paul Among Jews and Gentiles [London: SCM, 1977] 81).
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 51
can readily be presupposed.” 16 “Justify” at times is certainly an adequate trans-
lation of dikaio<w. Nevertheless justification is inclusive of more than “ac-
quittal.” Indeed, it is the pregnant significance of the idea which modern
scholars have sought to preserve by the resurrection of the archaic term “right-
wise.” Even in those instances in the LXX where dikaio<w (= the hiphil
of qdc) is strongly forensic in meaning, Ziesler reminds us that it is forensic
in the Hebrew sense, i.e., the verb signifies “restoration of the community
or covenant relationship, and thus cannot be separated from the ethical
altogether. The restoration is not merely to a standing, but to an existence
in the relationship.” If such is an adequate grasp of dikaio<w, insight is
immediately provided into how Paul can move so deftly from justification
by faith here and now to ultimate justification by works.
(3) Having stated his thesis that the dikaiosu<nh qeou? is now available to
all without distinction,19 Paul proceeds in 1:18-3:20 (including the reca-
pitulating statement of 3:23) to eliminate Jewish superiority by a series of
arguments designed to place
of humanity.20 Kaylor has correctly seen that although Paul does indeed
address himself to the reality of universal human sinfulness, his central
design is to show that there is no real distinction between Gentile and Jew: “This
affirmation of non-distinction in sinfulness has as its larger purpose the
affirmation that there is no distinction in salvation! There is one new cov-
enant that unites Jew and Gentile as the one people of God.”21 Paul’s
sin's power.22 In so saying, he is “preparing the way for the presentation of
one new covenant in Christ which will bind Jew and Gentile together as one
new people of God, renewed by God’s grace and empowered by the Spirit
to fulfill God’s will in ways that neither Gentile nor Jew has been able to
The first item of his agenda is pursued in 1:18-32, where he implicates
16 Reumann, Righteousness, 16 (italics mine).
17 E.g., throughout the English version of R. Bultmann's Theology of the New Testament
(London: SCM, 1952), and Reumann, Righteousness, 11 et passim. E. P. Sanders opts for a
somewhat unwieldy term of his own devising, "to righteous" (Paul, the Law, and the Jewish
18 Ziesler, Righteousness, 20.
19 "All" throughout Romans bears a strongly qualitative sense, i.e., "all God's beloved in
The Purposes of Paul in the Epistle to the Romans (London: SCM, 1971).
20 Kaylor, Community, 32, terms this section "Gentile and Jew: Alike in Covenant Breaking."
The whole of Kaylor's treatment of Romans is supportive of the interpretation herein pre-
21 Ibid., 34.
22 Ibid., 35.
23 Ibid., 45-46.
the level of Greco-Roman paganism, as startling a notion as that must have
been to his Jewish compatriots. Since the appearance of M. D. Hooker's
article "Adam in Romans I,"24 students of Romans have been aware that
Paul's depiction of man and his plight is modeled on the fall of Adam in
Genesis 3.25 Although it is hardly true that Adam was an idolater in the
same sense as the pagan world of Paul's day, he can justly be accused of
serving the creature rather than the creator; "and it is from this confusion
between God and the things which he has made that idolatry springs."26
relevant for our purposes, Paul does not exempt
dictment of idolatry. Although his thought moves mainly within Genesis 3,
the words h@llacan th>n do<can (tou? a]fqa<rtou qeou?) in Rom 1:23 are
extracted from Ps 106(105):20 and Jer 2:11 (cf. Deut 4:15-18), which have
to do with
It is here that Paul's running debate with Judaism in the Roman letter
comes into play. His implication of
make the chosen people at one with the rest of humanity. Especially note-
worthy in this regard is the affinity of this passage with the book of Wisdom.
Scholars have long been aware that Paul's denunciation of idols and immor-
ality is modeled on Wisdom and have rightly emphasized the similarities. 27
However, Hooker is right that the differences are no less striking than the
similarities.28 The most striking discrepancy is that whereas in Wisdom the
and apostate Jews engage in idolatry,
in Romans 1 Israel qua
no less than the Gentiles, is involved in and repeats the primal sin of Adam.
in other words, has reduced contemporary
of the Torah. I have argued elsewhere29 that the idolatry in question is
in salvation history, the idolatry of elevating the law of Moses to a position
of unwarranted devotion and bestowing on it a permanence it was never
intended to have in God's ultimate plan. Thus, according to Paul, due to
her own idolatry,
24 NTS 6 (1959-60) 297-306; cf. id., "A Further Note on Romans I," NTS 13 (1966-67)
25 Cf. J. D. G. Dunn, Christology in the Making (London: SCM, 1980) 101-2; D. J. W. Milne,
"Genesis 3 in the Letter to the Romans," Reformed Theological Review 39 (1980) 10-18.
26 Hooker, "Adam," 301.
27 E.g., A. T. S. Goodrich, The Book of Wisdom (London: Rivingtons, 1913) 398-403; W
Sanday and A. C. Headlam, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the
Romans (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1895) 51-52; E. E. Ellis, Paul's Use of the Old
Testament (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1957) 77-80; C. Romaniuk, "Le Livre de la Sagesse
dans le Nouveau Testament," NTS 14 (1967-68) 505-7.
26 Hooker, "Adam," 299.
29 D. B. Garlington, "IEROSULEIN and the Idolatry (Romans 2:22)," NTS 36 (1990)
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 53
(4) Rom 2:1-3:8 forms the central section of the broader division of
Considering the amount of space Paul devotes to
would follow, as remarked above, that his actual intention is to remove the
nation from a position of superiority, particularly as this segment of the
letter is the outgrowth of 1:18-32 (dio<, 2:1). Before turning his attention
directly to the one who calls himself a Jew (2:17),30 the groundwork is laid
in vv. 1-16 for the indictment of
to 2:13, it will be useful to survey the main features of 2:1-3:8.
(a) At the outset of chap. 2 (vv. 1-5), Paul continues to speak in broad
generic terms: his adversary is man as such (&# a@nqrwpe), vv. 1, 3. Even so,
he is occupied with man as he stands in judgment on other men. That
Jewish man is in the back of his mind is evident from vv. 17-24, because this
man charges others with sin, while he himself is not free from its taint. The
Jew who believed that God would judge the world "in righteousness" (Ps
9:8; 96:13; 98:2, 9) himself will be the object of wrath (the punitive side of
righteousness),31 because the judgment of God is "according to truth" (v. 2),
i.e., God's covenant faithfulness,32 or, more specifically, his "righteousness"
as defined as his commitment to his creatures,33 a proposition established
in chap. 1. It is he who is presumptuous in his judgment of others and must
acknowledge that the goodness of God (especially in the gospel) is meant
to lead him to repentance (v. 4);34 it is he who is delinquent in his respon-
sibility to the creator. (In
what sense this is true we shall see below.)
30 See Wilckens, Romer 1.147-48.
31 The declaration of 1:17 that the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel alludes to
Ps 98:2, 9: "The Lord has made known his salvation; before the nations he has revealed his
righteousness . . . for he comes to judge the earth; he will judge the world in righteousness and
the peoples with uprightness." Not only so, the same Psalm underlies the programmatic
statement in 1:18 that the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven. Accordingly the wrath
standards will fall on her because she refuses to render to God the obedience of faith which
has Christ as its object; she, in other words, will not submit to the righteousness of God (10:3)
as revealed eschatologically in the gospel.
32 The a]lh<qeia group in the LXX frequently does service for hnvmx etc., designating God's
fidelity to the covenant. Particularly striking are passages in which God's a]lh<qeia represents
his determination to punish
Tob 3:2; Add Esth 14:6-7;
1QS 1.26. See further R. Marcus, Law in
the Apocrypha (
AMS Press, 1966) 3-4; Roetzel, Judgment, 32.
33 The thesis of Käsemann's " ‘The Righteousness of God’ in Paul." Paul thus denies a role
to the Torah in eschatological judgment by assigning that function to the primal creator/
creature relationship established in
is loyalty to or apostasy from God the creator (not one's allegiance or lack thereof to the Sinai
covenant). Cf. below n. 89. As a sidelight, what is known as "common grace" is actually the
dikaiosu<nh qeou?, the concrete manifestation of which is his "goodness," designed to lead the
disobedient to repentance (Rom 2:4; Acts 14:17).
34 The riches of God's kindness is a prominent covenant idea (cf. Rom 10:21 = Isa 65:2
LXX). As the Israel of old, the Israel of Paul's day remains the object of Yahweh's pleading:
his goodness is still being extended to his people, this time in the preaching of Jesus Christ.
Yet, in typical fashion, the nation's heart is hard and impenitent (Rom 2:5).
bier then is quite right that the religious situation addressed by Paul is that
of the exclusive Jewish claim to salvation, which is reflected by the vocab-
ulary of judgment (various forms of kri<nw).35
(b) The principle of judgment according to works, commensurate with
judgment "according to truth,"36 introduced in vv. 6-16, becomes in Paul's
hands an implement for the undoing of
ileges.37 A whole host of OT texts lie behind the proposition that "he will
render to everyone according to his works."38 Snodgrass furthermore is
right that judgment according to works is one of the most basic assumptions
of Judaism and appears in all strata of Jewish literature.39 For our purposes
it is noteworthy that Paul again draws upon the creation language of man
as God's image when he depicts the "works" according to which God will
judge as the quest for "glory, honor and immortality"; to those thus inclined
will be given "eternal life" and "peace" (vv. 7, 10). Likewise the talk of
"obedience" in v. 8, as confirmed by 5:12-18, is a conspicuous creation
reference. By appealing to creation categories, Paul implies that, accept-
ability to God is not conditioned on Jewishness but on one's commitment
to be an accurate image-bearer of God the creator. Thus the "righteous-
ness" in which God will judge the world is no longer tied to all the par-
ticulars of the Torah.40 Vv. 10-11, which look back to 1:16-17, make it
explicit that "glory, honor, and peace" are for "everyone who does good, the
Jew first and also the Greek." In the words of Peter, "Truly I perceive that
God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does
what is right [e]rgazo<menoj dikaiosu<nhn] is acceptable to him" (Acts
(c) Vv. 12-16 develop the proposition that the possession of the law is in
itself no guarantee against wrath in the day of judgment; what is required
is obedience to the law, which Romans as a whole clarifies to be "the
obedience of faith." Thus Gentiles, who possess on their hearts the func-
tional equivalent of the law written on tables of stone, are qualitatively in
the same position as
creation ideas, in this instance the law of creation inscribed on Adam's heart.
35 Cambier, "Jugement," 189.
36 As Cambier shows ("Jugement," 188), the twofold center of interest, works and truth, is
established at the outset of chap. 2 in vv. 1 and 2 and then continued into vv. 6-16: works (2:6,
11) correspond to the judgment of the inner person (vv. 9-16).
ment with Dunn, "New Perspective," 95-122; id., "Works," 523-42; id., Romans 1.1xx-lxxi,
110-11; Räisänen, Paul, 170, 177; id., "Paul's Conversion and the Development of his View of
the Law," NTS 33 (1987) 410-12, and contra Westerholm, Law, 169-73.
38 See C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the
Romans (ICC; 2 vols.;
90 n. 44.
39 "Justification," 77. See his assemblage of passages on p. 90 n. 38.
40 According to 2:12-16, the law by which the Gentiles will be judged is the functional
equivalent of the law written on stone; but even here the focus is on the law of God which
transcends Sinai and finds its origin in creation. It is this law that the Gentiles do "by nature"
(fu<sei), i.e., as created in the image of God.
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 55
(d) Rom 2:17-3:8 approach the subject along the lines of a synagogue
debate. Drawing upon the perspective established in 2:1-3, 2:17-24 judge
the Jew guilty of the very things of which he accuses others. We find here
the reversal of those passages in Jewish literature which tie morality to
of "morals" into that of the
"boundary markers"42 of
circumcision.43 The argument is to similar effect as in vv. 12-16, viz., cir-
cumcision in itself is no preventive against the judgment of God, because
the uncircumcised man who keeps the law will be regarded as circumcised.
In addition, for the first time in Romans Paul speaks of the "true Jew" as
one who is identified by means of internal not external realities. Antici-
pating 7:6, where the antithesis of "Spirit" and "letter" likewise comes to
the fore, 2:29 places the genuine Jew within the realm of the Spirit, i.e., the
era of the Spirit's work in the eschaton. In other words, from now on
Jewishness is defined in relation to the new creation and effectively to Christ,
the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Cor 3:17).
Rom 3:1-8 carry the dialogue with
ifies that being Jewish does indeed have advantages, particularly as regards
being entrusted with the "oracles of God" (cf. Sir 1:15; ’Abot 1:1). Yet this
is so only if
(v. 3). This rejection of
the charge of idolatry in 2:22, i.e., his compatriots have not been loyal to
the only God after all, inasmuch as they have allowed the Torah to usurp
the place reserved for his Son.44 When judged by the criterion of fidelity to
the creator (kata> a]lh<qeian, 2:2), the Jew is as guilty as the Gentile.
Stephen's anti-temple polemic (esp. Acts 7:39-53)45 is to the same effect:
because the temple has become a virtual idol to them, his executioners, who
received the law, have not kept it.
41 E.g., Ep. Arist. 139-43;,Josephus, Ag. Ap. 2.169-75; Philo, Mos. 1.278; Jub. 22:16;
Pss. Sol. 17:28; 3 Macc 3:4. The outlook articulated so clearly by these individual passages is char-
acteristic of entire documents,
such as Judith, the Additions to Esther, and the
42 Dunn's phrase (from the articles "New Perspective" and "Works," as cited above). More
recently A. J. Saldarini has spoken of the "boundary mechanisms" for maintaining the in-
tegrity of God's people (Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees in Palestinian
Glazier, 1988] 136).
43 The importance of circumcision can hardly be underestimated. From M. Stern's Greek
and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism (3 vols.;
Humanities, 1976-83) it is evident that although other ancient peoples practiced circumcision,
the Jews were preeminently "the circumcised." To illustrate, the author of Jubilees (15:25,
28-29) identified circumcision with the sign of the Mosaic covenant, which was actually the
Sabbath (Exod 31:12). O. Betz, "Bescheidung," TRE 5.718-19, shows how some later authors
equated circumcision with law-obedience, even to the extent of identifying "the blood of the
covenant" (Exod 24:8) with "the blood of circumcision."
44 Gal 4:3, 8-11 draw a parallel between the Galatians' former bondage to idols and their
desire to embrace the bondage of the Mosaic law.
45 See J. D. G. Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the New Testament (London: SCM, 1977) 271.
This survey of 1:1-3:8 provides the necessary context and framework of
interpretation for the justification of the doers in 2:13 and the bearing which
the obedience of faith has on that declaration. Of the essence of under-
standing the relation of faith and works in Paul is a grasp of the direction
in which his thought moves as he pens the words of Rom 2:13 (and like
statements elsewhere). The upshot is that the actual subject matter of this
lengthy section of the letter is Paul's response to the inbred nationalism of
his Jewish contemporaries, the gist of which is his
occupies the uniquely favored position imagined by her. Hence the men-
tality against which he argues is not that of a "legalistic" works-righteousness
method of salvation, but one which would confine (eschatological) salvation
to the members of a specific group—
under debate, we are prevented from prejudging that there was in his mind
a necessary contradiction between good works in this life and justification
in final judgment. In other words, an attempt on Paul's part to circumvent
a "legalistic" understanding of justification is simply out of accord with the
aim pursued by him.
II. The justification of the Doers of the Law: Rom 2:13
Because Rom 2:13 must be seen as part of an integral whole, it will be
necessary to say something in more detail about the verses immediately
preceding and following.46
The entrée into v. 13 is provided by vv. 6-12, which state the principle of
judgment by works; this forms Paul's rebuttal to the presumptuous person
who judges others (vv. 1-5). In other words, this a@nqrwpoj will not escape
condemnation precisely because God is an impartial judge whose verdict is
kata> a]lh<qeian (v. 2); he will render to every man according to his deeds
(v. 6). With Ps 62:12 and Prov 24:12 in mind, Paul pens what in and of itself
was a perfectly acceptable dictum to first-century Judaism. Indeed, the
notion of vindication for the faithful covenant-keepers is one of the com-
monplaces of Jewish thought (e.g., 2 Macc 7:9; 4 Macc 17:11-12; Tob
4:9-11; Pss. Sol. 9:3-5). The Jew would have understood his justification in
terms of his faithful practice of the full range of covenant obligations,47
including sacrifice for sins committed. Correspondingly the nations are to
be condemned because of their rejection of these standards.
That Paul has something else in mind, however, is indicated by the
creation phraseology of v. 7: toi?j . . . u[pomonh>n e@rgou a]gaqou? do<can
kai> timh>n kai> a]fqarsi<an zhtou?sin [a]podw<sei] zwh>n ai]w<nion. That is to
say, consonant with 1:18-3:20, the standard of judgment is one which tran-
scends the Sinai covenant and roots the vindication of the individual in
matters which pertain to humanity as such, not simply Jewish humanity.
46 See Dunn's analysis, Romans 1.76-77, 89.
47 Cf. ibid. 1.85.
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 57
(a) The combination of "glory" and "honor" recalls Ps 8:5's (LXX v. 6)
depiction of man's (Adam's) creation (cf. Job 40:10). "Glory" stands by
itself in Rom 1:23 and 3:23: in both cases it designates the obverse of the
quest delineated in 2:7. In the former, man outside of Christ has rejected
the creation glory of Yahweh for the sake of idols, while in the latter he has
failed to measure up to his capacity as God's image (glory).48
(b) "Immortality" (a]fqarsi<a) in the LXX occurs only in Wisdom and
immortality [e]f ] a]fqarsi<%], and made him the image of his own eternity."
This not only gives voice to the author's conception of man's reason for
existence, it places in parallel the ideas of immortality and image: man is
God's creation image by virtue of his capacity for endless life. 4 Macc 17:12,
especially striking in view of Paul's present argument, makes "the prize for
victory" of the Jewish martyrs "immortality in long-lasting life." If Paul in
fact has such a conception in mind, his appeal to immortality represents a
reversal of the mentality of 4 Maccabees as a whole, which makes absti-
nence from pork of the essence of fidelity to God and thus a precondition
of a]fqarsi<a (see especially 5:14-38). In the same vein, according to 2
Macc 6:18-20; 7:1, one ought to be willing to die rather than partake of
swine's flesh. Particularly striking for us is the connection of such refusal
and the prospect of resurrection (eternal life) in 2 Maccabees 7 as a whole.
(c) "Life" as a creation motif is exhibited by the prominence given the
idea in the first two chapters of Genesis. Outside the NT the exact phrase
"eternal life" occurs only in Dan 12:2; 2 Macc 7:9; 4 Macc 15:3, where it is
tantamount to resurrection, and in 1QS 4.7, where everlasting life (Hcn yyH) is
clearly in view. The phrase features prominently in Paul's delineation of the
work of Christ and its effects in Rom 5:12-6:23. "Eternal life" then is equiv-
alent to the life of the age to come, i.e., resurrection and "immortality," and
in effect a completion of the program commenced and yet interrupted with
Adam.49 Noteworthy is the phrase "the justification of life" (dikai<wsin
zwh?j) in 5:18. This is justification as it inevitably results in life and from
which it is inseparable.
(d) If we bring v. 10 into view, another creation term emerges, viz.,
"Peace." In biblical thinking "peace" is a virtual synonym of "rest," i.e., the
sabbath rest held forth to man upon the completion of his mandate to
subdue the earth,50 but in the course of biblical history undergoes a se-
mantic shift and becomes synonymous with the "salvation" (new creation)
procured by Christ.51 Significantly, Paul's statement in Eph 2:15-17, lo-
48 See further ibid. 1.167-68.
49 Cf. the comments of Dunn, Christology, 110-11.
50 See, e.g., A. G. Hebert, The Throne of David: A Study of the Fulfilment of the
Old Testament in Jesus Christ and His Church (London: Faber, 1941) 159-63.
51 A. T. Lincoln, "Sabbath, Rest, and Eschatology in the New Testament," in From Sabbath
to Lord's Day: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological
(ed. D. A.
cated in a context replete with creation associations, that Christ has made
and then preached peace serves to further the proposition that Jew/Gentile
distinctions have now been abolished by the blood of the cross.
It is in light of these observations that the adverbial phrase kaq ] u[po-
monh>n e@rgou a]gaqou? (Rom 2:7) is to be given its obvious and straightfor-
ward meaning: "patient persistence in doing what is recognized to be
good."52 This speaks of the modality of man's quest to be all that he was
intended to be in the original design of the creation. That human activity
is envisaged is confirmed by the synonymous expressions "obeying the truth"
(v. 8) and "doing good" (v. 10), as well as by the antitheses "disobeying the
truth," "obeying wickedness" (v. 8), and "doing evil" (v. 9). Moreover, as
Dunn further comments, the verb zhte<w reinforces u[pomonh<: "what is in
mind is a sustained and deliberate application (present participle), rather
than a casual or spasmodic pursuit of the goal."53 If we may state one of our
major conclusions beforehand, it is just u[pomonh<, endurance in testing, that
defines in large measure what is intended by "the obedience of faith" which
issues in eschatological justification.
The effect of this evocation of the creation goal of man's existence is that
"God shows no partiality" (v. 11),54 which in turn opens up the way into the
paragraph of vv. 12-16, where Paul's intentions surface even more clearly.
The terms used by him to bifurcate the human race (from the Jewish point
of view) are significant. V. 12 distinguishes between those who have sinned
a]no<mwj and those who have sinned e]n no<m&. Thereafter no<moj becomes the
fulcrum of the discussion of final judgment (vv. 13-15). One's relation to the
law, in other words, is reflective of the normal Jewish distinction between
the people of God and outsiders: the Torah (in its unmodified form) was to
be the standard of the great assize, and according to it one would be
vindicated or condemned. Thus to be e]n no<m&, i.e., Jewish,55 was to be
safe,56 and to be a]no<mwj (mh> e@xontej no<mon, v. 14), i.e., Gentile, was to be
lost. Once again, Paul speaks formally in terms acceptable to Jewish ears,
but he turns them to
judgment will not depend on whether the individual starts from within the
52 Dunn, Romans 1.86. We shall see in our final study that the "good work" of 2:7 relates to
the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. Ultimately the "good work" is alle-
giance to God the creator and a refusal to be seduced by Satan's alternate explanation of the
creator/creature relationship (tantamount to idolatry). Cf. Rom 16:19b.
54 On proswpolhmyi<a, see ibid. 1.89.
55 On e]n no<m& and similar phrases, see further Dunn's comments, "Works," 532-35. Ac-
cording to Dunn's assessment, "Paul is referring to the typical Jewish self-understanding of the
people of God as circumcised and defined by the law, as characterized by practice of the law's
distinctive features" (p. 535).
55 As Sanders more than once affirms, "all Israelites have a share in the world to come unless
they renounce it by transgression [i.e., apostasy]" (Paul, 147, citing m. San. 10.1).
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 59
people of the law or from outside. Both will be judged; sin in both cases will
The escalating argument of 2:6-3:8 reaches a climax when 2:13 enters
the picture as an explanation of why remaining within the perimeters of the
law is no insurance against the eschatological wrath of God. That is to say,
the Torah—with its boundary markers of Jewish identity—as a mere pos-
session is not enough, "For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous
before God, but the doers of the law will be justified." Paul, in other words,
grounds "immunity from the condemnation of the last day"58 in one's per-
formance of the law, not in pride of its ownership (as illustrated by Bar
Not surprisingly by this time, Paul draws on conceptions which in them-
selves were familiar to his contemporaries. The combination of "hearing"
and "doing," as Dunn notes, was characteristic of Judaism. Indeed, as
points out, the shema
of Deut 6:4—"Hear, 0
in view. However, what would have sounded odd was Paul's contrast of the
two here, hearing versus doing, because, in point of fact, the respective
descriptions "hearers of the law" and "righteous" were complementary and
overlapped in large measure.60 This leads us to infer that in driving a wedge
between these interdependent components of Jewish self-definition, Paul
has in mind a different kind of "doing the law," a doing,61 as we shall see,
commensurate with "the obedience of faith."
Interestingly, the first occurrence of dikaio<w in the letter is here in 2:13,
where it has reference to the future justification (dikaiwqh<sontai) of oi[
poihtai> tou? no<mou. Of course, beginning with 3:21 Paul will explain that
the ultimate vindication of the people of God has been secured by the
"redemption which is in Christ Jesus" (3:24). Nevertheless the future tense,
57 Dunn, Romans 1.96. "What one finds in Romans 2 is essentially a Jewish view of
judgment, but one that is radicalized and applied to both Jew and Gentile" (Snodgrass,
"Justification," 78). Snodgrass adds that
Jewish texts normally accord mercy to
condemning Gentiles according to their works. As for Jewish self-assessment: "The degree
to which the Jews were automatically accorded mercy or were also judged according to
works differs in the various writings and often depended on how much an author was pleased
or displeased with his Jewish contemporaries" (ibid).
58 Vos, "Spirit," 93.
59 Wilckens, Römer 1.132.
60 Dunn, Romans 1.97. He cites Deut 4:1, 5-6, 13-14; 30:11-14; 1 Macc 2:67; 13:48; Sib Or
3:70; Philo, Cong.
70; Praem. 79;
and 10:5. Much of my Obedience is devoted to arguing that in the pre-Christian materials hearing
and doing (i.e., faith and obedience) are tantamount to each other. Thus a first-century Jew,
offered the option of hearing or doing, would have rejected it as a false alternative. Cf. Dunn,
Romans 2.613; id., "Works," 535; id., "New Perspective," 112; H. J. Schoeps, Paul: The Theology
of the Apostle in the Light of Jewish Religious History (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1961) 202;
M. Buber, Two Types of Faith (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1951) 56; F. Mußner, Der
Galaterbrief (HTKNT; Freiburg: Herder, 1981) 170.
61 Dunn, Romans 1.132.
appearing in this setting of last judgment, serves to underscore that justi-
fication properly speaking is yet to be. It is here that Vos' observation, cited
above, is particularly relevant. That a certain quality of life is envisaged is
confirmed by the "parallelismus membrorum" of 2:13a, b; that is, those who
will be justified are the di<kaioi para> qe&?. The latter phrase is steeped in
the OT/Jewish idea of conformity to the covenant, as confirmed by ta> tou?
no<mou and to> e@rgon tou? no<mou (2:14, 15) to which the consciences of the
Gentiles bear witness.62
Attempts have been made to deny that the perspective of Rom 2:13 is
Paul's.63 Ziesler, for example, takes it to be the expression of the Jewish
viewpoint, "used to demonstrate to the Jews that their traditional way of
justification is really no way, because while possessing and hearing the law,
they do not fulfil it."64 Along similar lines are those interpretations which
seek effectively to make the verse hypothetical, i.e., Paul formulates the
principle of justification according to strict justice for the purpose of dem-
onstrating that no one can be justified by the law (assuming the factor of
However, such interpretations falter because there is nothing in Paul's
language to suggest either that the viewpoint represented is someone else's
exclusively or that he is speaking in hypothetical terms. His pronouncement
about future justification by "doing good" is as realistic as his declaration
of God's wrath upon the one who "does evil"; on this he and his Jewish
interlocutor are in agreement. Indeed, it is precisely in terms of the con-
tinuity between Paul and Judaism at this point that the genius of his ar-
62 Rom 2:14-16 is problematic for many interpreters of Paul; Cranfield (Romans 1.155-16)
and Räisänen (Paul, 103-6) give the different views. Sanders (Law, 123-24) sees these verses,
when compared with 1:18-32, as forming the "principal incongruity" of Romans 1 and 2. Yet
there is no basis here for the justification of man outside of Christ. The ga<r of 2:14 is the last
in a sequence of four ga<r-clauses (vv. 11-14), whose function is to deny Jewish superiority
predicated on the possession of the law; all of them relate to the proposition of vv. 9-10 that
judgment and reward respectively are allocated in terms of obedience, not national privileges.
can "do" as well as
on the tables of stone. In themselves, however, vv. 14-16 do not affirm that Gentiles or Jews
can be justified by (their own) works: they are simply the last link in a chain of reasoning that
Jews qua Jews are no better off than pagans qua pagans. If anything—given the backdrop of
1:18-32—the verses teach that Jew and Gentile are equally exposed to the wrath of God and
both must seek "the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" (3:24). To say that Gentiles at times
perform the requirements of the law (o!tan plus the subjunctive) is not to attribute to them "the
obedience of faith" requisite for justification in final judgment: man outside of Christ cannot be
63 The various approaches have been categorized by Snodgrass, "Justification," 73-74;
Sanders, Law; 125-26; Raisanen, Paul, 103-6.
64 Ziesler, Righteousness, 189.
65 E.g., C. Hodge, A Commentary on Romans (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1975) 53-54; R.
Haldane, Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans (London: Banner of Truth, 1960) 88-90; J.
Murray, The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT; 2 vols.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959-65)
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 61
gument in Romans 2 emerges. In other words, because the Judaism of
Paul's day knew of a future vindication based on present fidelity to the
covenant, Paul's concern is seen to be that of calling into question the
prevailing understanding of who "the righteous" are and the grounds on
which they may expect to be justified.
The difference [between Paul and Judaism] is that the dominant strands in the
Judaism of Paul's time started from the presupposition of a favored status before
God by virtue of membership of the covenant people, which could be charac-
terized by the very link between "hearing the law" and "the righteous" which
Paul here puts in question. Like his fellow Jews and the whole prophetic tradition,
Paul is ready to insist that a doing of the law is necessary for final acquittal before
God; but that doing is neither synonymous with nor dependent upon maintaining
a loyal membership of the covenant people.66
This statement of the matter leads us to draw both a negative and a
positive conclusion. Negatively, since Paul endeavors to undermine a na-
tionalistic/exclusivistic understanding of the judgment, his purpose is not
to deny the place of works (behavior) as such in the scheme of ultimate
justification. Wilckens is quite correct that there is nothing in Paul's the-
ology which is inimical to works.67 Positively, as intimated above, we are
informed that the specific character of "doing" present in Paul's mind is in
one important respect other than that assumed by his Jewish counterparts.
It is to this we now turn.
III. The Doing of the Law as the Obedience of Faith
Foundational to an understanding of faith's obedience in Paul is a his-
torically accurate picture of the same theology in Judaism. R. N. Longe-
necker is justified in his disapproval of those Christian scholars who have
spurious legalism had laid upon the shoulders of the people";68 and we
agree with writers from G. F. Moore onward that ancient Judaism has not
been given the kind of fair reading it should have received by NT scholars.
Hand in hand with the "legalistic" conception of Judaism has gone the
notion that the rank and file of the Jewish people had no concern with heart
purity and internal religion. Bultmann, for example, contended that obe-
dience for the Jew was "formal" rather than "radical," in that "the law
failed to claim the allegiance of the whole man."69
66 Dunn, Romans 1.98.
67 Wilckens, Römer 1.145.
68 Longenecker, Paul, 65. Thyen, for example, applies H. Braun's assessment of the Psalms
of Solomon to the whole of pre-Christian Judaism (see H. Thyen, Studien turn Sündenvergebung
im Neuen Testament and seinen alttestamentlichen and jüdischen Voraussetzungen [FRLANT 96;
Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1970] 76-77).
69 Primitive Christianity in Its Contemporary Setting (London: Thames & Hudson, 1956) 68.
We cannot here enter fully into the issue. Suffice it to say that the sources
can be read otherwise so as to suggest that the conception of faith's obe-
dience in the Judaism antecedent to and contemporary with Paul was not
dissimilar to his own. Most pointedly, one cannot read such passages as 2
Macc 1:3; Sus 35, 56; Pss. Sol. 1:3, 7; 2:14-15; 3:7-8, 12; 4:5, 8; 8:9 without
some recognition of the internal factor in Jewish religion. As for the later
tannaitic literature, Longenecker's treatment of "The Piety of Hebraic Ju-
daism" 70 is a model of balanced scholarship. He demonstrates, in the words
of I. Abrahams, that there were both "weeds" and "flowers" in the garden
of Judaism, and that the elements of nomism and spirituality must be kept
in proper proportion to one other.71 On the one side, an obedience rooted
in faith is in evidence; on the other, the "weeds" of Judaism were its ten-
dency toward "externalism," of which Buber, among other Jewish writers,
However, "externalism" has to be defined. It is here that Longenecker
recognizes: "the essential tension of predestruction Hebraic Judaism .. .
was not primarily that of legalism versus love, or externalism versus in-
wardness, but fundamentally that of promise and fulfillment."73 In other
words, "externalism" is not to be conceived of as a disregard of inward
motivation or internal purity, but as an undue emphasis on those factors
which marked out
Such an understanding of the covenant and of the law inevitably puts too much
weight on physical and national factors, on outward and visible enactments, and
gives too little weight to the Spirit, to faith and love from the heart. Such an
understanding of the people of God inevitably results in a false set of priorities.
On such an understanding of the law, fulfilment of the law will inevitably be
judged in terms of these priorities.74
Paul's real polemic then is to be taken as a protest against a misplaced
accent on the boundary markers. This very adequately accounts for pas-
sages such as Romans 2 and Paul's insistence elsewhere in Romans that
believers have become obedient "from the heart" (6:17) and that the law is
70 Longenecker, Paul, 65-85.
71 Ibid., 82-83. Sanders' Paul has shown repeatedly how rabbinic authors (especially in
their prayers) long for internal purity and personal
intercourse with God. Likewise the
ran hymns exhibit this clearly, not surprisingly in light of O. Betz's findings that in the Scrolls
the righteousness of God takes absolute priority over human activity ("Rechtfertigung in
Qumran," in Rechtfertigung. Festschrift für Ernst Käsemann zum 70. Geburtstag [eds.
J. Friedrich et al.; Tübingen:
Mohr, 1976] 34).
As Betz concludes, the issue at
would say in all the pre-Christian texts) is not merit but a consciousness of
stemming from membership in the community of salvation (p. 36).
72 Buber, Two Types of Faith, 58-59. Cf. R. Banks, Jesus and the Law in the Synoptic
Tradition (SNTSMS 28; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975) 180.
73 Longenecker, Paul, 84.
74 Dunn, "Works," 534. Cf. id., Romans 2.582-83, 593.
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 63
fulfilled "in" them (8:4), though, as we have said, the external factor in
Judaism is not to be absolutized.
It is here that "the obedience of faith" enters the picture; its significance
may be considered under three headings: (1) the hearing of faith, (2) the
primacy of the love command, and (3) perseverance.
1. The Hearing of Faith
When Paul wished to impress upon his Galatian converts the irreducible
minimum of his gospel as opposed to that of his adversaries, he asked them
if they received the Spirit e]c e@rgwn no<mou or e]c a]koh?j pi<stewj (Gal 3:2).
As noted in the first article, hearing and faith in OT and later Jewish
thinking are virtually synonymous: to hear rightly is to obey.75 Conse-
quently "the obedience of faith" and "the hearing of faith" depict the same
activity, i.e., believing response to the gospel. In fact, the resemblance of the
two phrases would be even clearer were we to translate the latter as "the
response of faith."76 Nevertheless Paul here juxtaposes "the hearing of faith"
(Christianity) and "works of the law" (Judaism/Judaistic Christianity). But
in what sense can this be meaningful, given the common heritage of both?
The answer is bound up with an earlier observation, viz., that in Rom 2:13
Paul, in a very un-Jewish manner, pits "hearing" against "doing" for the
purpose of remonstrating with
unacceptable to God in final judgment. Similarly, in context, Gal 3:2 is
sufficiently clear that the hearing of faith is directed toward the gospel (=
"the faith," 3:25), as opposed to the "other gospel" (= "works of the law,"
1:6, 8) of the circumcision party. What one finds in this more or less seminal
form in Gal 3:2 is expounded at greater length in Rom 10:14-21.
The lead-in to 10:14-21 is 9:30-10:13:
her own righteousness, i.e., a righteousness peculiar to herself (= national
righteousness) as defined by the Sinai covenant (th>n i]di<an [dikaiosu<nhn]
zhtou?ntej sth?sai, 10:3),77 instead of submitting to the righteousness of
in Christ, who is the te<loj of the law. For this
to confess Christ as Lord (10:9-13). It is in
confess Christ which gives rise to the assertions
of 10:14-21 that
nonconfession is the result of her nonhearing of the gospel. To be sure, the
nation has heard in one sense: preachers have been sent (vv. 14-17), and the
word has gone forth to "the ends of the earth" (v. 18). In the most mean-
ingful sense, however, God continues to hold out his hands to "a disobedient
[= nonlistening] and contrary people" (v. 21).
75 F. W. Young, "Obedience," IDB 3.580; Käsemann, "Righteousness," 177.
76 Dunn, Romans 1.17.
77 Dunn, Romans 2.587-88; id., "Works," 530; Sanders, Law, 38; G. Howard, "Christ the
End of the Law: The Meaning of Romans 10.4," JBL 88 (1969) 336.
with "the hearing of faith," i.e., faith directed toward the gospel, she is
incapable of "the obedience of faith," which grows out of the gospel. Be-
cause "faith comes from hearing" the word of God, i.e., the gospel (10:17),
ally Christian sense. Since
demned as insufficient, because it is only in Christ that one becomes the
righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21); God's righteousness (Rom 10:3) is avail-
able exclusively in Christ. Because, in the final analysis, the doing in ques-
tion is the extension of Christ's doing, the starting point must be Christ.
a result, content with performance on the nationalistic level. Starting from
the eternity of the law,78 the Jewish position was that the Torah was suf-
ficient in and of itself to produce obedience. Yet the force of Paul's polemic
it as a paidagwgo>j ei]j Xristo<n (Gal 3:24)79 and has consequently settled
for an obedience which fails to measure up to the demands of the gospel.
This brings us to consider both the primacy of the love command and
perseverance in Paul.
2. The Primacy of the Love Command 80
Galatians is the most intense of Paul's controversial letters, and because
of its decidedly polemical character, it pinpoints concisely the bone of
contention between the apostle and his opponents. In a sense, it is to be read
backwards as well as forwards, inasmuch as the practical consequences of
the Judaizers' position is brought to the fore in the paraenesis of chaps. 5
78 E.g., Sir 24:9, 33; Bar 4:1;
throughout Jubilees with its doctrine of the preexistence of the law on heavenly tablets. See
Banks, Law, 50-64, 67-85; id., "The Eschatological Role of Law in Pre- and Post-Christian
Jewish Thought," in Reconciliation and Hope: New Testament Essays on Atonement and
Eschatology presented to
L. L. Morris on His 60th Birthday (ed. R. Banks;
Eerdmans, 1974) .175-77; W. D. Davies, Torah in the Messianic Age and/or the Age to
Come (Philadelphia: SBL, 1952) .84.
79 See the studies of D. J. Lull, "‘The Law was our Pedagogue’: A Study in Galatians 3.19-25,"
JBL 105 (1986) 481-98; T. D. Gordon, "A Note on paidagwgo<j in Galatians 3.24-25,"
NTS 35 (1989) 150-54.
80 The love theme in Paul has been treated many times, e.g., C. Spicq, Agapé dans le Nouveau
Testament: Analyse des Textes (Ebib; 3 vols.; Paris: Gabalda, 1958-59) 1.208-314; 2.9-305; H.
N. Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975) 293-301; V.
P. Furnish, Theology and Ethics in Paul (Nashville: Abingdon, 1968) 181-206; id., The Love
Command in the New Testament (Nashville: Abingdon, 1972) 91-131; W. Schrage, The Ethics
of the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988) 211-17; J. Piper, "Love Your Enemies":
Jesus' Love Command in the Synoptic Gospels and the Early Christian Paraenesis
(SNTSMS 38; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979) 102-19.
81 The approach of J. M. G. Barclay's recent volume, Obeying the Truth: A Study of Paul's
Ethics in Galatians (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1988).
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 65
One of the conspicuous themes of this section of the epistle is Paul's
depiction of Christianity as a religion of love. According to Paul's portrait,
the false teachers in
of their claims, they do not abide by "all things written in the book of the
law" because they have neglected the principal part—love. Over against
them, "the whole law" for the believer "is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall
love your neighbor as yourself’ (5:14). For the Judaizers circumcision was
the acid test of one's loyalty to the God of Israel. However, for the Christian
circumcision now counts for nothing: what matters in the new creation is
faith working through love (5:6; cf. 6:15) and serving one another through love
(5:13). For this reason love heads the list of the fruit of the Spirit (5:20). If
one walks by the Spirit (5:25), instead of being conceited and provoking
others (5:26), one will bear the brother's burden and so fulfill the law of
Christ (6:1-2). Even this sketch of the love motif in Galatians informs us
that the theology of the new creation was important to Paul because the
lovelessness of the Judaizers was the product of their exclusivistic theology.
The same perspective is evident in Romans, particularly in chaps. 12-15.
Having laid the salvation-historical basis for the mutual reception of Jew
and Gentile in chaps. 1-11, Paul comes in the final chapters to speak
directly of the social ramifications of believers in one church. Therefore the
practical directives of these chapters bring to the fore the very genius of the
Christian church as it consists of peoples of divergent backgrounds insep-
arably joined in the one body of Christ. In the words of H. Strohl:
They are the charter of the new humanity. They indicate the relations which love
has created among the different members of the body of Christ. Everywhere the
dominant idea is that the [individual] man forms part of a whole; he never lives
alone in the world, but is joined by the lines of a close solidarity to,others with
whom he shares in responsibilities and blessings.82
Paul speaks explicitly of love in 13:8-10. Instead of being overcome with
evil (i.e., the evil of seeking vengeance, 12:21), the Christian is to leave the
debt of love outstanding, thus fulfilling the law. (That such a reminder was
necessary for the Romans becomes evident in chaps. 14-15.) V. 8a is written
directly in view of vv. 6-7. In other words, although there are debts which
are never to be left outstanding, there is one debt which is always to be left
outstanding—the debt of love: we are always to owe our brethren this debt
which can never be fully paid. But almost paradoxically, v. 8b explains that
the unpaid debt of love is the fulfillent of the law: what from one point of
view is an outstanding debt is, from another, a full payment to the law. Note
how 8b is answered by 10b: the two in combination give us the essence of
this phase of Paul's paraenesis. We are reminded again (from Gal 5:6,
14-15, 20, 22; 6:1-2) that love characterizes the community of the new
0 Quoted by A. Feuillet, "Le plan salvifique de Dieu d'après l'Épître aux Romains," RB
57 (1950) 508.
creation83 and is the outgrowth of the obedience of faith, which alone
satisfies the demands of the law. Both interesting and significant is the fact
that the "works of the flesh" in Gal 5:19-21 are mainly attitudes and ac-
tivities which are disruptive of the life of love and fellowship. As such, they
find an important point of contact with Rom 2:8; 16:17: the e]riqei<a and
dixostasi<ai characteristic of those who "disobey the truth" represent a
return to chaos, a reversal of God's creation plan for his people.
It is in contrast to Paul's characterization of the new covenant as a
community of love that we are to understand one of the NT's most funda-
mental complaints against then contemporary Judaism. More adequately
to understand the issue at stake, it is necessary to take into account the
"theology of zeal" which originated in the Hasmonean period. In lieu of a
full discussion of the matter, we simply note that the Maccabean "zealots,"
the forerunners of the first-century group bearing the actual name, are
consistently marked out as defenders of the Jewish way of life as embodied
in the Torah. They were ready not only to die for the purity of the covenant
but to kill for it as well—and they did just that.84 Philo (Spec. Laws 2.253)
tells us the zhlwtai> no<mou were merciless to any who would subvert the
ancestral ways, and 1QS 9.22 characterizes the righteous man as one who
is "to bear unremitting hatred towards all men of ill repute.”85 (Cf. Jose-
83 Note particularly Furnish's treatment of love and the new creation, Love Command, 91-95.
"Paul's preaching of love does not just stand alongside his emphasis on justification by faith
but is vitally related to it. To believe in Christ means to belong to him, and to belong to him
means to share in his death and in the power of his resurrection. Thereby one's whole life is
radically reoriented from sin to righteousness as he is freed from bondage to himself and placed
under the truly liberating dominion of God's grace" (p. 92).
84 See 1 Macc 2:23-28, along with 1 Macc 2:54; 4 Macc 18:12; Sir 45:23-24; 1QS 4.4; 9.23;
1QH 14.14; T Ash. 4.5. "Zeal for the law" recurs in vv. 27, 50, 58 of 1 Macc 2. Dunn rightly
characterizes the "zealots" of the ilk of Mattathias as "heroes of the faith who had been willing
to use the sword to defend and maintain
("’Righteousness from the Law’ and ‘Righteousness from Faith’: Paul's Interpretation of
Scripture in Romans 10:1-10," in Tradition and Interpretation in the New Testament:
Essays in Honor of E. Earle Ellis for His 60th Birthday [eds. G. F. Hawthorne and
Farmer, Maccabees, Zealots, and Josephus (New York: Columbia University Press, 1956)
60f.; id., "Zealot," IDB 4.937; M. Hengel, The Zealots (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1989) 146-228.
Commenting on the first-century scene, Hengel says that "In every case of serious threat to
became a sacred duty" (ibid., 225).
85 Regarding the Pharisees, E. Bickerman comments that "Early Pharisaism was a bellig-
erent movement that knew how to hate" (From Ezra to the Last of the Maccabees:
Politics to Piety: The Emergence of Pharisaic Judaism (
NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1973) 51-52. Of many examples which could be cited from intertestamental
literature, hatred toward the Gentiles in particular surfaces in Jdt 16:17 and throughout the LXX's
additions to Esther. Along these lines, P. Benoit,
the Dead Sea Scrolls (eds. J. Murphy-O'Connor and J. H. Charlesworth;
1990) 13, distinguishes Jesus and the
former's love of sinners. In the
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 67
phus, Ag. Ap. 2.37 §§271-72; 2.41 §292.) Paul himself was once such a
"zealot" (Gal 1:13-14; Phil 3:6).86 To those "zealous for the law" Christi-
anity appeared to subvert loyalty to Judaism and was consequently rejected
by the mass of first-century Jews. "That it was misunderstood from the
Jewish side at that time as a new sect urging apostasy from the law and
assimilation is indirectly the last and most grievous legacy of those Jewish
renegades who, between 175 and 164 BC, attempted to do away with the law
and ‘make a covenant with the people round about’."87
It is in opposition to such zeal for the law, and its by-product of hatred
for anyone not belonging to
that the NT sets forth love not only as the ideal of the new creation but the
actual fulfillment of the law. Hence if we ask what is the obedience of faith
that results in eschatological justification, the answer is love, which fulfills
the law. As Dunn aptly remarks (on Rom 9:32), "The obedience God looked
for was the obedience of faith, obedience from the heart (6:17), that is, from
a commitment and a lifestyle which penetrate far below matters of race and
ritual and which could be sustained and maintained independently of ei-
Without entering into the rich complex of Paul's teaching on persever-
ance, we recall that the goal of glory, honor, peace, and eternal life is to be
attained kaq ] u[pomonh>n e@rgou a]gaqou? (2:7). The design of Adam's testing
was that he would persevere in obedience until he would enter an escha-
tological state commensurate with the assumption of what Paul calls else-
where the "spiritual body" (1 Cor 15:44). Adam failed the test and became
the,first apostate from the living God; but it is the creation program, com-
menced in the first man, which is still operative for all his descendants,
notwithstanding the disadvantages which Adam has passed on to his pos-
terity (Rom 5:12-18). Hence in Paul the renewal of the creation mandate
is embodied in the obedience of faith, i.e., the work of endurance consequent upon
entrance into Christ. Of particular note is Rom 5:1-5, and especially the
conjunction of justification and the u[pomonh< which produces dokimh< (v. 4).
In the words of James, "Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he
same volume, cf. W. Grundmann, "The Teacher of Righteousness of Qumran and the Ques-
tion of Justification by Faith in the Theology of the Apostle Paul," 95.
86 See further Longenecker, Paul, 101-3; Grundmann, "Justification by Faith," 102-3; A. J.
Hultgren, "Paul's Pre-Christian Persecutions of the Church: Their Purpose, Locale, and Na-
ture," JBL 95 (1976) 97-111; cf. S. G. F. Brandon, The Zealots (New York: Scribner's, 1967)
146-220. Of course, "zealot" is being used in a nontechnical (nonfactional) sense to denote the
Mattathias-type of attitude toward the violators of the law, an attitude which cut across party
87 M. Hengel, Judaism and Hellenism (2 vols.;
important discussion of "Zeal as a Typical Element of Piety in Late Judaism," Zealots, 177-83.
88 Dunn, Romans 2.593.
has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised
to those who love him" (1:12). Conspicuous here is the combination of per-
severance and love as the preconditions of eternal life. The bottom line then
is that the obedience of faith which finally justifies is perseverance, motivated
by love.89 Indeed, it is when Paul's doctrine of the obedience of faith is allowed to
speak for itself that any superficial tension between him and James dissi-
Cambier has assembled some illuminating parallels between Romans
and the other Paulines.91 Like Rom 2:7, Col 1:10-11 link u[pomonh< with
e@rgon a]gaqo<n, thus placing the terms in a distinctively Christian context.
We might say that the believer's "good work" (cf. 2 Thess 2:17; 2 Cor 9:8)
depends on his "perseverance"; this reproduces the creation pattern evident
in Romans 2. Cambier himself notes that u[pomonh< designates the Christian
life in a manner very characteristic of Paul. In 1 Thess 1:3 the term is joined
with the triad pi<stij-a]ga<ph-e]lpi<j in Paul's praise of his readers' "work of
faith, labor of love and endurance of hope" (cf. 2 Thess 1:4). Likewise 2
Thess 3:5 is Paul's prayer that God would direct their hearts into the love
of God and into the endurance of Christ: "The love of God in the hearts of
believers is concretely the u[pomonh< of Christ which the believer lives in a
gentle and humble service for the benefit of his brethren."92 Paul can epit-
omize his own life and ministry as existence e]n u[pomonh< poll^?; his ac-
ceptance of obstacles and difficulties "with endurance" is his faith in
action.93 Hence the u[pomonh< e@rgou a]gaqou? of Rom 2:7 for Paul is nothing
but "the work of faith" (1 Thess 1:3) or "faith working through love" (Gal
5:6). "For every Christian the . . . endurance (u[pomonh<) of trials and of the
89 Stendahl states it so well: "The danger is not to get a little worse, and the hope is not to
get a little better (ethically, or in terms of faith). It is sharpened in the simplified black and
white of all eschatological situations: the dangers of apostasy" (quoted by Donfried, "Justifi-
cation," 102 n. 52). Mattern then justifiably underscores the primacy of faith as opposed to
unbelief in Romans 2 (Verständnis, 138).
90 Instead of an obstacle to be surmounted, James 2 is actually an invaluable aid in closing
the gap between Paul's apparently conflicting statements within Romans (2:13 as compared
with 3:28, etc.). J. B. Adamson's discussion of faith and perseverance in James has equal
applicability to Paul (James: The Man and His Message [
266-345). See his discussion of James and Paul on justification (pp. 203-10). James' essential
point (2:21-26) is that Genesis 22 represents the fulfillment (complement) of Abraham's jus-
tifying faith in Gen 15:6. Consequently he has in view periodic vindications in testing sub-
sequent to initial justification by faith alone, as confirmed by "the perseverance of Job" (5:11).
See R. C. H. Lenski (a Lutheran!), The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and the
Epistle of James (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1946) 589, and D. J. Moo, The Letter of James:
Introduction and Commentary (Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985) 109-10.
91 Cambier, "Jugement," 190-93.
92 Ibid., 191. This runs counter to Sanders' claim that it is "un-Pauline to require good
works" (Law, 129).
93 Cambier, "Jugement," 191.
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 69
limitations of our human condition is an expression of solid faith, of hope
and the love which has been given to him by the Holy Spirit."94
Of course, the idea of perseverance is hardly unique to Paul. Even a
passing acquaintance with pre-Christian Jewish literature is sufficient to
inform one that the issue before its authors was precisely loyalty to the
Mosaic standards in the face of widespread apostasy. It is against this back-
drop that Paul's argumentation in 2 Corinthians 3 is seen to be so radical.
The old covenant for him was predominantly one of "death" and "con-
demnation" (vv. 7, 9); it was only a killing letter (v. 6). The reason is that
the old was provisional, its glory was fading (vv. 7-11). The new covenant,
however, gives life because it is the era of the Spirit and of the Lord who
is the Spirit (vv. 6, 8, 16-18). This makes Paul's contrast of old and new
eschatological (as in Rom 2:29),95 as is his dichotomy of flesh/Spirit (e.g.,
8:1-17; Gal 5:16-26).96 Therefore the Jewish teachers in
divide. They believe that they possess the "commandments of life" (Bar 3:9,
14), but in reality they are the implement of death. In and of themselves
the commandments are only a killing letter; only the Spirit (= the Lord who
is the Spirit) can make alive. Instead of obeying the Torah, Christians now
have become obedient to the form of teaching, i.e., the Pauline gospel
concerning God's Son, to which they have been committed (Rom 6:17 in
connection with 1:1-3a; 2:16). Thus perseverance for Paul is bound up with
one's inclusion in Christ (= new covenant/new creation); only in him is
there no condemnation (Rom 8:1). In the words of Heb 7:22, Christ is the
surety of a better covenant; it is he who insures the perseverance of his people.
From the entire foregoing discussion we may conclude that the passage
from present justification by faith alone to future justification by the obe-
dience of faith is both natural and to be expected, given the broader pur-
view—and especially the creation character—of Paul's theology of faith
and obedience. However, this conclusion' is of sufficient practical impor-
tance that something more must be said. As Sanders97 and Snodgrass98
acknowledge concerning the Jewish doctrine of judgment, this is not jus-
tification by works (in any meritorious sense) but an extension of the righteous-
ness of God. Snodgrass in particular speaks of the apparent incongruity, for
modern readers, of joining judgment according to works with God's mercy.
94 Ibid., 191-92. Sanders criticizes Mattern (see above n. 89) for making the principal issue
in Romans 2 faith as opposed to unbelief. Yet he has missed the significance of "the obedience
of faith" as providing the conceptual framework for everything Paul writes in Romans. No
wonder then he thinks that 1:18-2:29 is beset with numerous internal inconsistencies and is
atypical of Paul (Law, 123, 132).
95 Snodgrass rightly identifies "glory," "honor," and "immortality" in 2:7 as "eschatological
gifts" ("Justification," 81).
96 See Barclay, Obeying the Truth, 178-215.
97 Sanders, Paul, 128.
98 Snodgrass, "Justification," 78.
He notes that although there were abuses of both ideas in ancient Judaism,
neither the OT nor Jewish literature sensed any anomaly between the two.
Indeed, Ps 62:12, which is normally considered to be the source of Rom 2:6,
actually says: "To thee, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For thou dost requite
a man according to his work."
When both themes are kept together, there is no problem. When the two are
separated, an over-emphasis on either could and did lead to perversion. Over-
emphasis on judgment according to works could lead to casuistry and a strict
doctrine of weighing. Over-emphasis on God's mercy could lead to presumption
of his mercy and neglect of obedience.99
In light of the possible (and actual!) alarm of many Christians at such
ideas it is necessary to stress that although the obedience in question entails
specific and concrete acts of a lifestyle pleasing to God (e.g., Matt 25:31-
46), it is equally important that we are not to miss the wood for the trees.
That is to say, the future justification of God's people is not made to hinge
on, say, 51% (or more!) of law-keeping,100 because obedience itself is the product
of faith; and where true faith and love exist, there must be ultimate vindication.101
When cause and effect are thus kept in proper sequence, our initial anxiety
at the notion of justification by "doing" should be ameliorated if not quelled
altogether. If we may hear Snodgrass again:
It is not necessary to recoil from this idea in fear of some theory of "works
righteousness" or in fear of diminishing the role of Christ in the purposes of God.
Nor is there any idea of a ‘natural theology’ in the pejorative sense of the term.
The witness of all the Biblical traditions and much of Judaism is that none stands
before God in his or her own righteousness. There is no thought in Romans 2 of a
person being granted life because he or she was a moral human being, indepen-
dent of God. The whole context of 1:18f. assumes the necessity of recognizing God
as God and honouring him with one's life. The description of those who work the
good in 2:7, 14-15, and 29 shows that the obedience is a direct result of the
activity of God.102
100 In keeping with the Jewish model, perfection is not required for salvation (Snodgrass,
"Justification," 79; see n. 53 for refs.).
101 "The final criterion at the last judgment is, for Paul, not how many good works man has
performed—this is irrelevant since it is the Spirit which enables man to do those deeds of
love—but whether man has held fast and remained obedient to this new life in Christ. It is
the criterion of the obedience of faith . . . which will enable us to understand many of the
Pauline last judgment texts" (Donfried, "Justification," 102-13). We may add to this N. M.
Watson's observation that Paul's warnings of judgment are directed at those who are " ‘puffed
up’, guilty of presumption, living in a state of illusion" ("Justified by Faith, Judged by Works,"
102 Snodgrass, "Justification," 80-81 (italics mine). "Judgment according to works is not the
contradiction of justification by faith, but its presupposition. The significance of faith and
participation in Christ for obedience are assumed for Paul" (ibid., 86).
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 71
Though requiring a study in itself, it is precisely the Christian's union
with Christ and the gift of his Spirit which are the fountainhead of the
obedience of faith: it is in Christ that one becomes a doer of the law, not in
the sense of sinless perfection but in one's commitment to God's (new)
covenant, whose surety and mediator is Christ (Heb 7:22; 8:6).103 As in
Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Cor 15:22): it is because
of the obedience of Christ, the Last Adam, that the people of God have
become obedient in him, as once they were disobedient in the first Adam
(Rom 5:12-19).104 In the comprehensive sense, Christ is the source of eter-
nal salvation to all who obey him (Heb 5:9), as they are enabled to do so
by "the Spirit of Christ" (Rom 8:9), who is the a]rrabw<n of their inheritance
in him (2 Cor 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:14).105 With these important Christological
qualifications, "doing the law" in Rom 2:13 is no different in kind than the
OT's classic statement of "covenantal nomism," Lev 18:5: one continues to
live within the covenant relationship by compliance with its terms, i.e.,
Otherwise put, in Christ we have become the righteousness of God (2 Cor
5:21). This succinct statement of the believer's mode of existence gains in
relevance when viewed in connection with the preceding declaration that
"if anyone is in Christ, behold, the new creation!" (v. 18). The very burden
of the above exposition has been that Paul depicts the obedience of faith
issuing in eschatological justification as a new creation: what man in Adam
has failed to obtain, i.e., glory, honor, and immortality, man in Christ has.
The whole of created reality has been subjected to Christ, and in Christ
man once more will be crowned with glory and honor (Heb 2:5-9). This
leads us to agree with Käsemann that the righteousness of God is his sov-
ereign power effecting a new creation:106 "The faithful are the world as it
has been recalled to the sovereignty of God, the company of those who live
103 Sanders is wrong in relegating Rom 2:13 to a category distinct from Rom 14:10; 2 Cor
5:10, in that it refers to all humanity who are judged by one standard, the law (Law, 126). He
does not allow for the fact that when Paul pens the words of 2:13 he has in mind what he will
say from 3:21 onward, viz., that men are justified and become obedient in Christ. Man in Christ
becomes a doer of the law, i.e., one who perseveres in the covenant, and is enabled to achieve
104 "Christ is the new Adam, because as the bearer of human destiny, he brings in the world
of obedience" (Käsemann, "Righteousness," 180; cf. Snodgrass, "Justification," 81-82). Note
how Phil 2:8's assertion that Christ was "obedient unto death" is evocative of the Adam motif
(as it intersects with that of the Servant of Yahweh). The conjunction of v. 8 with vv. 12-13
demonstrates that for Paul Christian obedience is linked inextricably to Christ in his role as
Adam/Servant, the obedient one who is to be obeyed.
105 The "downpayment" of the Spirit in Eph 1:14 is paralleled by the "sealing" of the same
Spirit in the preceding verse. In turn the Spirit's sealing (with a view to the day of redemption)
in 4:30 becomes the basis of the unity of the body of Christ, a preventive against the chaos of
lovelessness (vv. 31-32).
106 Käsemann, "Righteousness," 180: "dikaiosu<nh qeou? is for Paul God's sovereignty over
the world revealing itself eschatologically in Jesus."
under the eschatological justice of God, in which company, according to II
Cor 5:21, God's righteousness becomes manifest on earth." 107
We close with a pastoral corollary. Because the judgment of God "ac-
cording to truth" envisages the obedience of faith, it is of primary impor-
tance that preaching minister to the upbuilding of faith: faith and its growth must
receive the primacy. As Christ preeminently was the man of faith, so believers
in him are of oi[ e]k pi<stewj (Gal 3:9); everything they do in service to God
proceeds e]k pi<stewj (Rom 14:23). Thus in warning the Corinthians against
possible falling-away, Paul exhorts them to examine themselves to see
whether they are holding to their faith (2 Cor 13:5). It is to this end that he
refuses to be lord of their faith but rather the helper of their joy, because
they stand by faith (2 Cor 1:24). It would be fair to depict the problem of the
Christian life as temptation to apostasy, particularly in the face of the
on-going flesh/Spirit conflict (Rom 7:14-25; 8:1-16; Gal 5:16-26).108 Yet
when ministers lose sight of the importance of faith and its nurture, preach-
ing inevitably bears the character of intimidation and threatening and
proves counter-productive, in the end, because perseverance, i.e., true in-
ward perseverance, is contingent on the things which make for faith and
joy. So appropriate is V. A. Shepherd's observation on Calvin's doctrine of
faith and sanctification:
Faith is the Christ-engendered means of Christ "forming himself" in man…
while Christ really is the believer's sanctification (that is, coram Deo the man of
faith is a new creature and is advancing in holiness) he must ever remain such.
... Faith, then, is not a channel by which Christ's holiness is transfused into
believers until a point of sufficiency is reached. Faith is, rather, that fellowship
with Christ in which the believer is given such an anticipation of the full renewal
of the day of the Lord that he is moved presently to aspire zealously after it.109
107 Ibid. 181 (italics his). We recall that Kertelge similarly defines the righteousness of God
as his redemptive power offsetting the sway of the old aeon ("Rechtfertigung," 104).
108 Barclay concludes that the flesh and Spirit antithesis takes us to the heart of Paul's ethics
in a particularly direct way: "It reveals the situation of believers transformed by the power of
the new age and enlisted in the service of the Lord and yet required to live out that service
in the midst of the lures and temptations of the old age by a constant renewal of their
obedience to the truth in faith" (Obeying the Truth, 215). Cf. the likewise excellent remarks of
Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit (London: SPCK, 1975) 308-18; id., "Rom 7:14-25 in the Theology
of Paul," TZ 31 (1975) 272-73.
109 V. A. Shepherd, The Nature and Function of Faith in the Theology of John
Calvin (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1983) 38.
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