Already Glorified? (Rom 8:30)

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?

5 Responses to “Already Glorified? (Rom 8:30)”

  1. S.Daniel Owens says:

    Not sure how we could be ‘glorified’ in some sense in this passage since the section speaks of glory about to be revealed. Maybe you could change my mind. But I will say I have always thought that the so-called golden chain is not referring to ‘believers.’ I think it is Paul’s way of referring to Israel (the infamous ‘those’) and the Exodus story. You know, the people that needed to persevere in the midst of purposeful suffering so that God would inhabit them (Exodus 40!)

    Anyway, back to your question, how could we be glorified already? Would we need to redefine the traditional category? I only say this because I never connected the two passages (2cor and Rom 8) as speaking of the same thing.

    Thanks

  2. Human glorification in Paul is primarily an eschatological event, which, as I understand it, involves the dual aspects of bodily resurrection and exaltation over creation under the Lordship of Christ. However, if sanctification is understood in terms of inaugurated eschatology, a present, though partial, experience of future resurrection life, then sanctification could be understood as a present, though only partial, experience of glorification, the future having come back into the present. In so far as sanctification is a present experience of future resurrection, so also it could be understood as a present experience of future glorification.

  3. MJG says:

    Daniel—

    One plausible option, I think, would be that if (1) Paul can say that “we were saved in hope,” when “save” (sozo) language is always, even there, future in orientation for him, and if (2) future salvation includes glorification, then he could quite plausibly mean in saying “those God justified God also glorified” that believers were glorified in hope, that is, they were and are partially and proleptically saved/glorified in the initial and daily reality of justification, that is, of dying with Christ and rising to new life in Christ.

    While there may be an allusion to the Exodus narrative in Rom 8, I don’s see how, in the context, one can avoid concluding that the primary referent is the community of those in the Messiah.

    Jewett also connects Rom 8 and 2 Cor, by the way.

    Matt—

    Your comment and my response to Daniel are quite in sync, I think.

  4. India Cerceo says:

    I absolutely cherish my brand new Hoover vacuum cleaner and shampooer. It certainly blows whenever your cats leave little poopees all through the house for you ;-)

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