by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 3 Study # 9 December 11, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
1901 ASV Translation:
23 And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
I. A Question: Why Did Paul Write of Our (Plural) Body (Singular)?
A. In Romans 6:6 he also wrote of our (plural) old man (singular). The question here is whether he sees each of us as having an "old man" within or whether he sees us as collectively having an "old man" (i.e., Adam??). The difference would be that he either understands each of us as having a "sinful body" or that he understands that all of us are so interconnected that we share one "old man". Was the crucifixion of "one old man" or of "many individual old men"? Was he looking at Jesus as a new Adam Who dealt with the Old Adam, or was he looking at Jesus as a "personal Savior" Who dealt with each of us individually?
1. What "actually" happened at the crucifixion? Paul claims that "our old man was crucified with Christ". Nothing "physical" (of which we are aware) happened to anything "of us" there. None of us in our own time were "materially" there. In the same sense that we were all "in" Adam when he sinned so that we are all "sinners", having participated with him in his sin, we become "in" Christ at the point of regeneration. That there is some kind of "actual" link cannot be doubted because we all show our bondage to sin long before we can reason our way into our actions. That Jesus was blocked from being "of" the male connection by being born of a virgin seems particularly important in a physical sense. Jesus could not have shared in Adam's sinfulness, but He did share in Mary's physical genetics. There must be something distinctively "physical" about the transmission of sin within humanity.
2. That the angel guarded the Tree of Life in the post-fall garden so that man could not eat from it "and live forever" in his now sinful state strongly implies that "eternal vitality" has physical elements that are not directly related to the presence, or absence, of sin. That the same Tree of Life is in the New Heavens and New Earth scenario for "the health of the nations" strongly implies that this physical reality is distinctively "human" and absolutely "essential", being the object of resurrection and all that such a thing brings to the table. And, in addition, the fruit of the Tree is apparentlynecessary to the physical aspect of our "life" whether "sin" is involved or not. In theory, this would seem to mean that if a "sinless" human being did not eat of the fruit of the Tree, he would "die". There will be, apparently, no possible scenarios of the Kingdom in which a "sinless human" would not have ready access to the fruit of the Tree and, thus, the only reason for not eating would be "refusal", which, in turn, would be "sin" and, thus, the death would be by sin. This suggests that "sin" is, as often as not, simply "refusing" to take what is readily available so that "life" can go on. But, this raises this apparent "fact": "sin" is about "refusal" to be guided by Truth. And that raises this question: what is it about the "physical" that addresses this "refusal"?
B. In this text, the difference between "our body" and "our bodies" would be somewhat of the same issue: does he write of a "collective redemption" or of many individual redemptions that occur at the same time? Is he using "our body" to refer to a physical entity or is he using "body" in metaphor, referring, perhaps, to that "group which makes up a unit to which he refers as a body"? Or, it maybe that since Paul sees both the Adamic humanity and the new humanity of Christ as uncompromised unities (that what Adam did, we all did; that what Christ did, we all did) his view of "our body" is simply that our physical composition is a unit in Adam that is not "challenged" by Christ until resurrection. Our "salvation" is not physical until Death has won the day in its regard; then, once Death thinks it has won, resurrection power is exercised to defeat Death altogether. Thus, the "body" that we all possess as an integral aspect of Adam's generation is, in reality, a unit that is not seen as a fragmented multiplicities of "bodies" in which "independent" creatures exist as such. We are "one" in Adam, or we are "one" in Christ, and "independence" is a myth. Every molecule in our universe is, in a very real sense, a stand-alone reality in the sense of "Being", but no molecule in our universe can "stand alone" and retain its "Being".
C. In terms of the larger impact, whether "body" or "bodies", the point is "redemption" of the last major troublesome aspect of "salvation". But in terms of the more specific details, "body" continues to put the focus upon our "unity" as a contradiction of our natural sense of separate independence wherein our greatest problem exists. As long as we see ourselves as "independent" with our "own" prerogatives, sin will run roughshod over us. Only as we see ourselves as a "particular" partner in a greater whole can we come to the understanding that we have both the failure of Adam and the victory of Christ within the circle of our "Being" so that we can simultaneously operate with the humility of the failure and the confidence of the victory.