Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Justification, Judgment & Behavior: Judgment Day’s Coming Verdict Now Announced in the Gospel

For those of you who plan to attend the Evangelical Theological Society’s annual meetings in Atlanta (Nov. 17-19), here is a paragraph from my essay that is scheduled to be presented for the Hermeneutics Study Group on Wednesday morning, November 17 according to the schedule below. Download Program PDF.
ROOM 213
Other Perspectives on the New Perspectives on Paul and the Law
Section Moderator: W. Edward Glenny (Northwestern College)

8:30-9:10 am

A. B. Caneday (Northwestern College, Saint Paul, MN)
Justification, Judgment & Behavior: Judgment Day’s Coming Verdict Now Announced in the Gospel

9:20-10:00 am

James B. De Young (Western Seminary)
Do the Apostolic Fathers Support the Premises of the New Perspectives on Paul and the Law?

10:10-10:50 am

Respondent: Lyn Nixon (London School of Theology)
Respondent: Matthew S. Harmon (Grace College & Theological Seminary)
In Romans 2:6-11Paul’s argument is not concerned with how or on what basis God will recompense people with eternal life or with wrath. Paul’s argument concerns to whom God will recompense eternal life and to whom God will recompense wrath.[1] This is evident in that the verb, “God will recompense” (ὃς ἀποδώσει ἑκάστῳ) finds its dual indirect objects stated within the four inner clauses of the chiasm: (B) τοῖς . . . ζητοῦσιν (v. 7), (C) τοῖς ἐξ ἐριθείας καὶ ἀπειθοῦσι . . . πειθομένοις (v. 8), (C’) ἐπὶ πᾶσαν ψυχὴν ἀνθρώπου κτλ. (v. 9), and (B’) παντὶ τῷ ἐργαζομένῳ κτλ. (v. 10).[2] Each of the substantive participles, though characterizing people by their behavior, accents character. The fact that each clause characterizes by behavior the respective recipients of God’s recompense does not mean that these antipodal characterizations indicate the cause or basis of God’s reward—eternal life or wrath. Rather, lest anyone, Jews in particular, presume that the wealth of God’s kindness, forbearance, and patience exempts them from God’s wrath that will fall upon Gentile sinners (2:4), Paul emphasizes both the impartiality and the inviolability of God’s recompense. The outer matched chiastic pair, stated in 2:6 and 11, accents the impartiality of God’s righteous judgment, while the inner corresponding pairs feature the inviolability of God’s justice.[3] Paul expresses the inviolability of God’s righteous judgment in another place: “God is not mocked. For what one sows, this also one reaps. The one who sows unto the flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction, but the one who sows unto the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:7). Here, the imagery of sowing and reaping accents the inviolability of God’s justice concerning behavior that characterizes and recompense, just as Romans 2:6-11 stresses the inviolable relationship God’s righteous judgment establishes between character and recompense.

[1] In The Race Set Before Us (Schreiner and Caneday) we make the case that in Rom. 2:6-11 “Paul does not answer the question ‘On what basis will one be justified?” The question is not how but “Who will be justified?” (165ff). Upon reading these pages again, we could have expressed our thoughts even more crisply, as I endeavor to do in this essay.
[2] See note below for the chiasm.
[3] For the sake of convenience, here is the chiasm presented earlier.
A. God will judge everyone equitably v. 6
     B. Those who do good will attain eternal life v. 7
          C. Those who do evil will suffer wrath v. 8
          C.’ Wrath for those who do evil v. 9
     B.’ Glory for those who do good v. 10
A.’ God judges impartially v. 11


  1. This is very helpful. Thanks so much for posting this snippet of your essay.

  2. I see an identity between between Romans 2:6 He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;

    and Hebrews 10:35-37

    Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.


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