Coheirs with Jesus
The covenant with Abraham is fulfilled in Jesus, the Patriarch’s seed and heir, including the promise of the Earth. In his Letter to the Romans, Paul presents Abraham as the great exemplar of the faith, the model for all men to emulate who choose to live from the “faith of Jesus.” God counted the Patriarch’s faith as “righteousness” while he was yet uncircumcised, and thus He justified him apart from the “works of the Law.” Consequently, he became the father of everyone who is “from faith” whether Jew or Gentile, moreover, he is the “heir of the WORLD” or Kosmos.
According to the Apostle, only after instituting the covenant with him did Yahweh command Abraham to implement the rite of circumcision as the “seal” of the “righteousness” that he had demonstrated already through his faith in the promise of God.
|[Photo by Josh Gordon on Unsplash]
In the following passage, references to “promise” and “heir” point to future realities, things not yet received. For Abraham and his “seed,” the receipt of the “inheritance” will mean nothing less than the possession of the entire “world” or kosmos.
Hence, Paul has universalized the original land promise made to Abraham so that it now includes the entire planet rather than just the small territory of Canaan:
- “And a sign he received, circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while yet uncircumcised, To the end, he might be the father of all that believe during uncircumcision, to the end, the same righteousness might be reckoned to them. And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of the faith while yet uncircumcised of our father Abraham. For not through the law does the promise belong to Abraham or to his seed, that he should be heir of the world but through righteousness from faith. For if they who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and of no effect is the promise” - (Romans 4:11-14).
Moreover, since the receipt of the inheritance is through faith, the “promise is firm to all the seed” of Abraham, that is, to all those who live by the same “faith as our father Abraham” - regardless of race or nationality.
God appointed Abraham the “father of many nations” because he believed the word of the promise given by the One who raises the dead. Therefore, He granted him “seed” even though Sarah’s womb even though it was “dead” due to the ravages of old age.
RAISING THE DEAD
References to “raising the dead,” “heir,” “seed,” and “children” anticipate the discussion in Chapter 8 about the resurrection, the redemption of the creation, and our inheritance with Christ.
- “If anyone has not Christ’s Spirit, the same is not his; but if Christ is in you, the body, indeed, is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness. Moreover, if the Spirit of him that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he that raised Christ Jesus from the dead will quicken even your death-doomed bodies through his indwelling Spirit” - (Romans 8:10-11).
Our present mortal bodies are “dead because of sin,” and we all remain subject to death sooner or later. But that is not the end of the story. “If the Spirit of Him that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you… He will quicken your death-doomed bodies.” Paul links the past resurrection of Jesus to the future bodily resurrection of the saints. The Spirit is both the guarantee of our future resurrection and the quickening agent that will accomplish it.
If God is to redeem humanity and recover all that was lost due to Adam’s transgression, then redemption must include the physical body. Likewise, the creation that was enslaved by corruption and death because of Adam must likewise be redeemed.
- “For you have not received a spirit of bondage leading back into fear, but you have received a spirit of sonship, whereby we are exclaiming Abba! Oh, Father! The Spirit itself is bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God; and if children, heirs also, heirs, indeed, of God but coheirs with Christ, if, at least, we are suffering together in order that we may also be glorified together. For I reckon that unworthy are the sufferings of the present season to be compared with the glory about to be revealed towards us; for the eager outlook of creation is ardently waiting for the revelation of the sons of God” - (Romans 8:15-20).
Though still mortal, believers are the “children of God” and “coheirs with Christ.” But to be a coheir with him also means suffering for his sake so that we “also will be glorified together” with him. But the sufferings of “this present season cannot be compared with the glory that is about to be revealed,” that is, on the day of Christ’s “arrival” from heaven.
The creation itself was subjected to death and decay, and it has suffered until the present hour while “awaiting the revelation of the sons of God.” When they are “revealed,” the “creation itself also shall be freed from the bondage of decay into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God.”
- “That creation itself also shall be freed from the bondage of the decay into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God. For we know that all creation is sighing together and travailing-in-birth-throes together until the present, and not only so, but we ourselves also who have the first fruit of the Spirit within our own selves do sigh, sonship ardently awaiting, the redemption of our body” - (Romans 8:21-23).
Thus, Paul connects the coming New Creation to the bodily resurrection of the saints. This is what it means to be an “heir of the world” like our father Abraham. For righteous men, everlasting life is received at the resurrection, an event that will coincide with the New Creation.
Moreover, the redemption of the creation is dependent on the resurrection of the “sons of God.” And here, the promises of bodily resurrection and the New Creation are inextricably linked.
God “foreknows” the men and women who will exercise faith in His Son, and therefore, He works all things together for their good - “to those who are called according to purpose.” That purpose is to produce children, “many brethren,” who will be conformed to the “image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Furthermore, those whom he “called,” he also “justified” and “glorified.” In this context, that glory means their “redemption” and resurrection from the dead. That will be when they are conformed fully to the image of the glorified Son of God.
This is the purpose for all men and women who “walk in the faith of our father Abraham,” both Jew and Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised. As the “children of Abraham,” disciples of Jesus are coheirs with the “firstborn” son, and therefore, entitled to inherit everlasting life in the coming New Creation on the New Earth.
Finally, though called to suffer with him in this present life, believers will become conformed to his image and filled with his glory in the coming age when God raises the dead and reveals His glorified sons for all creation to see.