Friday, February 11

Genesis 42: In these encounters of Joseph with his brothers, there are two features to bear in mind:

First, since Joseph is familiar with their Semitic dialect, he understands everything the brothers are saying among themselves, but they, imagining that they are dealing with an Egyptian, do not know this. Joseph always has the jump on them. From their conversations, he ascertains that the brothers are still trying to deal with their ancient sin. Joseph is joking at their expense and apparently having some fun at it.

At the same time, however, he is hard hit by his own feelings as he sees what is happening to his brothers. Overcome with emotion, he must retire from the scene in order to weep.

Second, unlike his brothers, Joseph is aware how long the famine will last. He knows, therefore, that they will be back in Egypt eventually. In order to guarantee it, in fact, he seizes Simeon, the second oldest. Joseph has just learned that the oldest, Reuben, had tried to save him at the time of his abduction; Reuben is spared.

Joseph puts a new twist on the game (vv. 27–28). His return of the brothers’ money may seem like generosity on his part, but the brothers are terrified by it. It may appear, they fear, that they have run off without paying for their food, and this governor of Egypt is obviously no man to be messed with. How could they ever explain how they had neglected to pay?

We observe that Joseph does everything he can to keep his brothers off-balance. Within three chapters he will reduce them to quivering bundles of insecurity. Whatever arrogance or unrepentance or hardness of heart is still in them will be completely gone before Joseph is finished.

Romans 7:13-25: It was Paul’s own strict adherence to the Law that had led him to the most serious sin of his life, the only personal sin on which he ever comments—the persecution of Christians. In Paul’s conversion he was made aware, in a way that he would never forget, that his endeavor to achieve righteousness by the observance of the Law had led him into his worst sin: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?”

It was in that experience of his conversion that he discerned "another law in my members, working against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members" (verse 23).

That is to say, it was his very zeal for the Law of God that had occasioned his worst sin against heaven. He had not been doing what he had intended to do (verse 15). Sin had taken over his life. He had been acting as a slave of sin. Thus, in his conversion Paul learned the experience common to all the children of Adam—the radical inability to find justification before God without the reconciling grace of Christ.

Saturday, February 12

Genesis 43: In the previous chapter it was Reuben who served as spokesman for the brothers, both to Joseph and to Jacob. As we saw, he had not been terribly successful, so this time Judah takes over the task (vv. 3–5).

Against the objections raised by his father, Judah puts his foot down. Enough of this guilt, denial, and blame (vv. 8–10)! In his executive action, we perceive the attitudes and skills of the kings to whom Judah will become the father: David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Josiah, Joseph of Nazareth.

Judah obliges Jacob to give in (vv. 11–14), and the latter makes very practical suggestions about taking gifts to the Egyptian official and returning the money. Judah also assumes responsibility for Benjamin. Finally, Jacob prays (verse 14), not really knowing what he is praying for (though the reader knows), and not knowing that his prayer has already been answered.

The brothers return to Egypt (vv. 15–17).

Romans 8:1-11: This section, which climaxes with the promise of God’s victory over death and corruption at the final raising of our bodies (verse 11), introduces a more extensive meditation on the Holy Spirit. The Spirit, hitherto referred to only five times in the previous seven chapters, will be named twenty-nine times in the present chapter, easily the highest concentration in all of Paul’s writings, and even in the whole New Testament.

The grace of justification, "this grace in which we stand" (5:2), comes from the Holy Spirit who abides in us. Unlike the Law, by which we can never be justified, the Holy Spirit is internal to us (verse 2). The indwelling Holy Spirit is the reason of our final salvation, which is the resurrection of our bodies.

If, however, we go back to "live according to the flesh" (verse 5), this flesh which is still destined to die (verse 10), we place ourselves once again under the reign of death.

Those who do so "cannot please God" (verse 8). And pleasing God is the summation of man’s moral duty (1 Corinthians 7:32; 2 Corinthians 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:15; 4:1). The grace of justification, therefore, places on the believer a most stern obligation to bring his mind and his conduct under "the things of the Spirit" (verse 5). Only thus will he be truly free of sin, death, and the Law (verse 4).

The word for "mind" in these verses is not nous, as in the previous chapter, but phronema, perhaps better translated as "mind set," or “frame of mind.” Paul is contrasting two kinds of consciousness and intentionality (verses 6-7,27). Outside of the four times here in Romans 8, phronema is not found in the New Testament. Also the verb form of this noun, phroneo, which means “to think on,” or “to set one’s mind on,” is found in Romans several times (8:5; 11:20; 12:3,16 [twice each]; 14:6 [twice]; 15:5).

Sunday, February 13

Genesis 44: After the departure of his brothers, Joseph has them pursued (vv. 6–13). The brothers plead their innocence. With great confidence they offer the life of the guilty party if there be such a one among them. This is exactly what Jacob had said to Laban when the latter had complained about the theft of his household god (31:32). Once again the process goes by the oldest to the youngest, a procedure that permits the gradual build-up of suspense, reaching the climax of the scene in the discovery of the cup in Benjamin’s sack.

The brothers at this point are struck silent. There is not a word, not an excuse, not a protestation. They now return to the city in silence, each man dealing privately with his own desperation. According to the terms of the steward, all of them may return safely home except Benjamin, but then they must face their father without Benjamin. Joseph has them exactly where he wants them. The trapdoor is closed. The brothers have run out of options. Now Joseph will learn what they are made of.

Romans 8:12-27: Hitherto we have considered how the Christian’s heart is sustained by his memory of the past, his recollection of what God has already done for him in Christ. Now, however, Paul will speak of the Christian’s encouragement by bearing in mind what God will yet do for him in the future. As we have had several occasions to observe, the vocabulary of salvation (such as "saved") in the Epistle to the Romans tends generally to be in the future tense. Man’s definitive salvation consists in the resurrection of his body, the final victory over the reign of death.

It was in man’s body, after all, that sin "reigned in death." Mortality was the essence of Adam’s legacy to us, the very embodiment of his sin. Salvation is not complete, therefore, until the resurrection of our bodies. Several years earlier Paul had argued that thesis in 1 Corinthians 15. He returns to it several times, as we have seen, in Romans, and he deals with it again in the present passage. The final object of the Christian hope, for Paul, is not even the soul’s departure to be with God in heaven. It is, rather, "the redemption of our body" (verse 23), this very body laid low by death, but from which the Holy Spirit refuses to depart (verse 11).

It is by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of adoption, or sonship (huiothesiaGalatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5), that we are made the children of God (verses 14-17). It is for this reason that the Lord’s Prayer, the "Our Father," is supremely the prayer of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, we can only pray it in the Holy Spirit. It is only the Holy Spirit who gives us to say, "Abba, Father," just as it is only the Holy Spirit who gives us to say, "Jesus is Lord." Only in the Holy Spirit do we know the identity of the Father and the Son.

The Holy Spirit both makes us the children of God and alters our consciousness so that we know ourselves to be the children of God (verse 16). The Holy Spirit, then, is the new, internal principle by which we are untied to the Father and the Son in knowledge and in love.

But there are obstacles to the Holy Spirit in our hearts, and these must be resisted and overcome. The Christian must mortify, "put to death," whatever in himself is inimical and recalcitrant to the Holy Spirit (verse 13). This effort will involve a measure of suffering, which we unite, by intention, with the sufferings of Christ (verses 17-19,25).

Monday, February 14

Genesis 45: The tension has been mounting for several chapters, as Joseph has, step by step, put to the test the spiritual state of his brothers. He has now utterly reduced them, forcing them to face their guilt and to assume responsibility for their plight. They are completely hopeless and limp before him. At the same time, Joseph has been obliged to place very tight, unnatural restraints on his own emotions, and now the latter have mounted to flood stage behind the restraining wall of his will. The time has come, then, to bring everything out into the open. No good will be served by further delay. Joseph speaks (vv. 1–3).

The brothers are not able to come to grips with the situation. This powerful stranger has suddenly started speaking to them in their own language. The veil is removed. If the brothers were vulnerable and despairing in the previous chapter, now things have become infinitely worse. They are now faced with a reality that they had not even slightly suspected. Joseph must repeat who he is (v. 4), and for the first time he now mentions a little incident that happened in Dothan many years before.

Romans 8:28-39: Paul will continue the ancient theme of God’s providential ability to bring good out of evil. This thesis, which will form the substance of his argument in chapters 9-11, is a common one in the Old Testament. It is obvious, for instance, in the stories of Joseph. Paul will appeal to its presence in the stories of Esau and Pharaoh.

God’s knowledge of the future is the basis on which He is able to arrange for those circumstances that will influence the course of events. The English biblical word for this is called "predestination," which means "adjusting things ahead of time."

Those who love God (or however else verse 28 is to be interpreted, as we saw above) are the "predestined" (verse 29), "those who are called according to His purpose" (verse 28). These "predestined and called" are not a separate category of Christians. The terms refer to the body of those who constitute the Church, the Christians who have responded to God’s initiatory love and call (1:6; 1 Corinthians 1:12).

This statement of Paul has nothing to do with anyone’s alleged predestination to heaven or hell. It is not a statement of theodicy. Although God certainly knows all things ahead of time, including each person’s eternal destiny, He does not predetermine those actions that lie within human freedom. Men make their own choices, for which they alone are held responsible. We do not understand how God influences the activities of history, but we do know that He never acts in such a way as to remove man’s freedom of choice.

What, then, does Holy Scripture mean when it asserts that God "predestines"? The verb itself, proorizo, means "to arrange ahead of time.” In the biblical context, where this verb appears with "foreknow" (proginosko, “to know ahead of time”), the verb signifies the providential arrangements by which He brings people to the grace of the Gospel. That is to say, predestination embraces the mysterious influences that God brings to bear on history, so that all things work together for the good of those who love God.

This is very clear in today’s story of Joseph in the Old Testament. God made use of the sins of Joseph’s brothers to predestine the deliverance of Joseph’s family: “And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God. . . . But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 45:7-8; 50:20).

Tuesday, February 15

Genesis 46: God reveals Himself to Jacob at Beersheba (vv. 1–4), as He has done each time Jacob moved, at Bethel (ch. 28) and at Peniel (ch. 32). God had also revealed Himself at Beersheba to Abraham (ch. 21) and Isaac (ch. 26). In that latter passage, as here in chapter 46, the message had to do with the great number of the promised posterity. Jacob now goes down into Egypt with few people, but they will be greatly multiplied over time. This is the latest in the series of migrations in Genesis, from Ur to Haran, from Haran to Canaan, from there to Mesopotamia, back down to Canaan, and now to Egypt (vv. 5–7).

There ensues a long list of those who went down into Egypt, their names preserved because these are the families who will form the company of the Exodus. These are, in short, the “first families” of Israel.

Romans 9:1-13: Paul commences the third part of this epistle, chapters 9-11, in which he applies the principle of the divine predestination to an actual theological problem addressed by the early Church: How can it be that the greater part of the Jewish people, whom over many centuries God had prepared with such persistent care for the coming of His Messiah, failed to recognize the Messiah when He came?

Several sources in the New Testament address this thorny question in some form. In most of these sources the New Testament writers recognized that Israel’s failure, its "falling away," had itself been prophesied in the Old Testament, chiefly Isaiah. This approach to the problem is clearest in John (12:37-41), but we find it in other authors as well (Matthew 13:10-15; Mark 4:10-12; Luke 8: 10; Acts 28:23-28).

Paul goes further. Israel’s failure, he says, was not only prophesied but also providential. God, foreknowing Israel’s defection, made use of that defection; He prepared ahead of time to make it serve as the occasion and the impulse for the justification and salvation of the Gentiles. He did this by His mysterious, unfathomable, providential guidance of history. Such is the argument of Romans 9-11.

Although the verb "predestine" does not appear in these chapters (nor is the noun "predestination" to be found anywhere at all in the New Testament), the development of Paul’s thought here surely extends his teaching on predestination in chapter eight. As we proceed through these next three chapters, therefore, it will be important to bear in mind our earlier reflections on divine predestination in chapter eight.

Otherwise we run the risk of regarding Paul’s historical illustrations, such as Esau and Pharaoh, as examples of eternal loss. This would be not only an unwarranted inference but a mammoth distortion of Paul’s thought. It may be the case, of course, that both Esau and Pharaoh have been condemned to hell, but there is nothing about this question in Romans 9-11. Esau and Pharaoh serve as examples, rather, of God’s mysterious ability—based on His foreknowledge—to bring good out of evil in the course of history.

Thus, the moral obtuseness of Esau and the hardened heart of Pharaoh are predestined, are arranged ahead of time, to be the occasions of grace for Jacob and Israel, before any of these had been born or had performed any good or evil act (verse 11). Jacob and the Israelites are made vessels of election, recipients and containers of God’s blessing, while Esau and Pharaoh become "vessels of wrath prepared for destruction" (verse 22). All of this, says Paul, was predestined, was arranged ahead of time, by God in His wisdom and mercy.

Paul begins his argument by establishing the principle that mere physical descent does not make someone an Israelite. (He will use the words "Israel" and "Israelite" in this section, because his major Old Testament prefiguration is Jacob, whose other name is Israel.) Consequently, the Jews can make no special claims on God merely by the fact that they are Abraham’s descendents (verses 6-10).

Even God’s election of Israel was not prompted by any merits on the part of Israel. This is proved by God’s promise and mysterious intervention to bring about the conception and birth of Isaac (verses 8-10). As we have seen, that predestined intervention was a clear illustration of God’s ability to give life to the dead and call to being those things that did not exist (4:17).

Even regarding the descendents of the promised Isaac ("our father"), God distinguished between Jacob and Esau, before either was formed or had made any moral choice (verse 11). God’s own choice, prior to either man’s choice, fell on Jacob. He loved Jacob, that is to say, before Jacob ever loved Him (verse 13; 1 John 4:19). God’s historical choice of Jacob/Israel prefigured His predestined election of the Gentile Christians, who had done nothing to merit God’s favor (verse 12). This biblical example, Paul contends, foreshadowed the present situation of the Gentile believers. God had used Esau’s defection, which He foreknew, as the occasion to make Jacob His chosen vessel in the history of salvation. He does the same now for the Gentile believers.

As for Esau himself, he got exactly what he deserved. His own place in biblical history was to be shoved off to the side, a vessel of dishonor (verse 21). Instead of inheriting the Promised Land, which should have been his birthright, he was obliged to become merely a desert chieftain (Malachi 1:2-3). Contemning his own inheritance, he made the choice himself (Hebrews 12:16).

In other words, Esau’s conduct and its results served as an historical foreshadowing of what occurred to the greater part of the Jewish people in Paul’s time. They had shunned their true inheritance, which thus passed to the Gentiles. They became the castaways of salvation history, the Christians’ elder brothers, shoved off to the side. They could not blame God for this. They themselves, like Esau, had made the choice. As Paul will argue in the next section, the responsibility was theirs.

The "hate" of verse 13 is, of course, a standard hyperbole in Holy Scripture (Luke 14:26). God hates nothing that He has made. That understood, the real mystery is not how God could hate Esau. The real mystery is what prompted God to love Jacob. This we do not know. He has mercy on whom He has mercy, and He shows compassion to whom He shows compassion (verse 15). That is God’s business, not ours. We are content to know that God treats no man unjustly. Esau got what he deserved, and Jacob didn’t. Our trust, as Christians, is that God will not treat us as we deserve.

Wednesday, February 16

Genesis 47: The reader discerns three stories in this chapter: (1) the movement of Jacob’s family into Egypt (vv. 1–11); (2) Joseph’s career as an Egyptian official (vv. 12–26); and (3) Jacob’s burial request (vv. 27-31).

The first story has two scenes. First there is a scene involving Joseph’s meeting Pharaoh with some of his brothers (vv. 1–5), and then a scene with Pharaoh and Jacob (vv. 5–11). In the first scene, care has been taken to relate the settlement of the family in Goshen to the earlier accounts of their nomadic life. The Egyptians, as the Sacred Text reminds us, were not fond of shepherds, an attitude reflecting the frequent strife between sedentary and nomadic peoples (a strife that goes back to Cain and Abel).

In the second story (vv. 12–26) Joseph alters the entire economic and political structure of Egypt, not only saving the people in the time of famine, but also greatly strengthening the throne of Pharaoh.

In the third story (vv. 27–31), Jacob, making it clear that Egypt is not the family’s real home, arranges to be buried in the Promised Land (cf. Hebrews 11:21). The exact meaning of the text, with respect to Jacob’s gesture, has been unclear almost from the beginning. Originally it may have meant only that he nodded assent on his pillow.

Romans 9:14-24: God’s predestinations, His predetermined adjustments to the unfolding of history, are not arbitrary. They are founded on the divine foreknowledge. "Predetermination is the work of the divine command based on foreknowledge," wrote John of Damascus in the eighth century (De Fide Orthodoxa 2.30). God’s sovereignty over history, then, is no detriment to man’s ability to make moral choices. It is chiefly manifest, rather, in God’s ability to bring good results out of man’s bad choices. God’s sovereignty is in no way challenged by man’s decisions.

For this reason, God’s election frees no man from his moral obligations. God’s ability to bring good out of evil does not warrant anyone to do evil. Nor should it lessen any man’s efforts to do good. "Now if men in their choices choose what is best," said John Chrysostom, "much more does God. Moreover, the fact of their being chosen is both a sign of the loving kindness of God and of their own moral goodness. . . . God Himself has rendered us holy, but we must continue to be holy. A holy man is someone who partakes of the faith; a blameless man is someone who leads an irreproachable life" (Homilies on Ephesians 1).

The man whom God rejects, therefore, has no just case against God. God causes no man’s failure. Even though the Scriptures speak of God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart (verses 17-18; Exodus 4:21; 7:3; 9:12), this is a metaphor describing God’s providential use of Pharaoh’s hardened heart. Pharaoh himself is the only one responsible for his hard heart (Exodus 7:14,22; 8:5,19,32). Pharaoh’s sin cannot be ascribed to God, as though God had decreed that sin. God foreknew that sin and determined ahead of time—predestined—how to employ that sin to bring about His own deliverance of Israel from Egypt. There is no unrighteousness in God (verse 14).

Like Esau, Pharaoh’s role or place in salvation history is negative. It represents a resistance to grace that God employs to show even more grace. The resistance to grace, on the part of Esau and Pharaoh, is providentially subsumed into God’s plan of deliverance, being used as the contrary force (the "push backwards") in a process of historical dialectic, much as a man steps on a rock, the friction and resistance from which enable him to go forward. This is what Paul sees happening among the greater part of the Jewish people of his own day. Their resistance to God’s mercy has served only to enhance and extend that mercy, for God does nothing except in mercy.

It is fallacious, therefore, to argue that God’s ability to bring good out of evil should oblige Him not to blame those who do evil (verse 19). Paul had earlier refuted that line of argument (6:1,15).

To someone who would argue this way, Paul responds, "So who put you in charge of history?" God takes into His hands the raw material of history, "the same lump" (verse 21), and shapes it as He wills. He forces no one to be evil; He compels no man to be a vessel of wrath and dishonor, but God does have His uses for vessels of wrath and dishonor.

On this image of God as a ceramic potter, cf. Isaiah 14:9; 29:16; 45:9; 64:8; Wisdom 15:7; Sirach 38:39-40; Theophilus of Antioch, Ad Autolycum 2:26. God is fashioning His purpose from the common clay of human history. The prophet Jeremiah, far from regarding this image as an excuse for human failure, employs it as a summons to repentance: "Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil ways, and make your ways and your doings good" (18:11).

"Prepared for destruction" (verse 22) means "ready for the dump." Some vessels, after all, are not worth keeping. After they have served their purpose, they are no longer part of the process of salvation history. Such were Esau and Pharaoh, who serve no other purpose in Holy Scripture than as examples of men who resisted God. Doing evil, they thus served their purpose in God’s redemptive interventions of grace, and now they have been tossed out on the ash bin. This lot they brought upon themselves, as is clear in the biblical accounts of them.

The vessels of honor, on the other hand, the "vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory" (verse 23), share in the everlasting exaltation that marks God’s work of deliverance. These are taken from among Jews and Gentiles (verse 24).

Thursday, February 17

Genesis 48: When Jacob is introduced to Joseph’s two boys (vv. 8–11), his poor eyesight reminds us of aging Isaac, Jacob’s father, of whose blindness he had earlier taken advantage. The irony is striking. In that earlier case too the larger blessing had been given to the younger son. What Isaac had done by mistake, however, Jacob will do on purpose (vv. 12–15).

A Christian reader will take note of Jacob’s crossing of his hands in the act of blessing. It is noteworthy that at least one Christian reader of this text referred to this action as an act of “faith” (Hebrews 11:21, the only example of faith that this epistle ascribes to Jacob). In the blessing itself (vv. 15–16), Jacob reaches back two generations in order to reach forward two generations.

Romans 9:25-33: In chapter eleven Paul will make two initial points about Israel’s defection with respect to Jesus. First, not all the Jews fell away from the faith. A remnant of them believed and became Christians, and these formed the original nucleus of the Christian Church.

A significant part of this original nucleus were the "saints" in Jerusalem, for whom Paul manifested a singular solicitude, as described in the Acts of the Apostles. Indeed, in this very epistle he wrote of the collection that he had organized for the financial relief of the saints at Jerusalem (15:25-27). These were a very important part of the remnant of which he will speak in Romans 11:4-5.

Second, the defection of the greater part of the Jewish people became the occasion of the evangelism and conversion of the Gentiles. We find this pattern everywhere in Luke’s description of Paul’s ministry in the Acts of the Apostles, and it is spelled out as a theorem near the end of that book (28:25-28). Paul will write of this theme in Romans 11:7-11.

Prior to dealing with either of these themes, however, Paul here lays the biblical foundations that support them, showing that both facts had already been prophesied eight hundred years earlier. The prophecy of Israel’s remnant he finds in the Book of Isaiah (verses 27-29), and the prophecy of the calling of the Gentiles in the Book of Hosea (verses 25-26).

Both of these prophets, delivering their oracles in the context of the downfall of Samaria to the Assyrians, faced a situation analogous to that addressed by Paul. That is to say, the crisis in Samaria, culminating in the tragic events of 722 B.C., brought to pass two things. First, the emergence of a faithful remnant, who resisted the apostasy of the Northern Kingdom. Second, a transferal of the heritage of the Northern traditions (Elijah, Elisha, Hosea) to the South, which then experienced a new spiritual vitality under Hezekiah.

In both of these particulars, that earlier situation, as interpreted by Hosea and Isaiah, found its parallel in Paul’s own time, when a remnant of the Jews remained faithful, and the former glories of the Hebrew people (9:4) would be preserved in the Christian Church.

Friday, February 18

Genesis 49: Flavius Josephus tells us that Jacob lived seventeen years in Egypt (Antiquities 2.8.1). The biblical description of Jacob’s death (vv. 28–33) is remarkable for its failure to mention death! Jacob simply goes “to his people” (el-‘ammiw). Jacob had become Israel, and Israel had become a people. Hence, it was deemed inappropriate to come right out and say that Jacob had died. Jacob was Israel, and Israel still lived!

Romans 10:1-13: Like chapter nine, the present chapter begins with an expression of Paul’s sorrow over the contemporary falling away of Israel. These present verses indicate that that defection was not inevitable. In His merciful providence, God dealt with it, but He in no way caused it. On the contrary, God made easy the path to faith (verse 9).

Israel’s defection was not caused by God; it was caused by Israel. Paul still prays for the salvation of the Jews, nonetheless (verse 1; cf. 9:1-3). As Paul knows from his own experience (Galatians 1:13-14; Philippians 3:9), they are zealous for God (verse 2). Their failure has not been in zeal, but in knowledge, epignosis, for they have been "ignorant of God’s righteousness" (verse 3). Thus, they resist the Gospel, as Paul himself had done.

"Christ is the end of the Law" (verse 4) in two senses. First, as the historical moment in which the Law lost its obligatory nature (Galatians 3:23; Ephesians 2:15; John 1:17). The new dispensation in Christ accomplishes what the Law could not. In this sense the era of the Law is over.

Second, "Christ is the end of the Law" in the sense of being its theological goal, its telos. The Law was given on Mount Sinai, only with a view to the coming of Christ, in whom it is fulfilled (3:31; 8:4; Matthew 5:17).

Whereas the Law is concerned with what man does, the Gospel is concerned with what God does. Faith is concerned, not with the Law, but with the Incarnation of God’s Son ("to bring Christ down") and His Resurrection ("to bring Christ up from the dead"). These are the things that God does. Faith is concerned, then, not with what we can do for God, but with what God has done—and promises to do—for us. In the Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ (and, of course, everything in-between), God has reconciled the heights and the depths. Man is required only to believe and to confess what God has done in Christ (verse 9).

In this confession of faith we observe the primacy of the Resurrection, by which Christ put death to death (4:25). Putting there our trust, says Paul, we will be saved (verses 9,10,13—We note again the future tense for salvation). This salvation will be complete when our own bodies are raised from the dead at Christ’s return: “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (6:5).