Archive for October 19th, 2009

Already Glorified? (Rom 8:30)

Monday, October 19th, 2009

In Romans 8:30 Paul asserts that those who were predestined, called, and justified were also glorified. What could it mean? Many (though not all—see, e.g., Cranfield and Jewett) commentators argue that it does not refer literally to a past (or ongoing) event or experience. They stand on a rather firm foundation of texts such as 5:2 (“our hope of sharing the glory of God”) and 8:17-18 (“…so that we may also be glorified with him… the glory about to be revealed to us”)—plus a healthy fear of any “theology of glory.” They offer several different interpretations of the aorist:

• the proleptic, futuristic, or prophetic aorist: a future action is so certain that it may be narrated in the past tense (many)
• the properly theological use of the aorist (my term): a future action is already complete from the timeless, eternal perspective of God (Keck)
• the a-historical use of the aorist (my-term): like “predestined,” “glorified” expresses a view of salvation events that occur outside of time as we know it, unlike “called” and “justified,” which refer to events within time (Dunn)
• the punctiliar/non-temporal aorist: an action is perceived and described with respect to its aspect (one-time or completed character), not its temporality

While each of these interpretations could make sense of the text in isolation, or in connection only with other texts that clearly refer to the believing community’s future experience of glory, I wonder if these explanations sufficiently recognize the present reality of glory that Paul describes in 2 Cor 3:18 or, more importantly, whether they connect “glory” to the totality of that theme in Romans. Here is the question: Has the glorification of humanity already begun? Can it be said, in some sense, to be a past/present reality as well as a future reality? If so, what does that mean, especially in Romans?

What do people think about this?