16 March 2008

Justified by Faith, Judged according to Works

I'm thinking through the relationship in Paul between justification by faith and judgment according to works for a doctoral seminar on Pauline justification. So far I have the following 13 ways people are trying to put the two together. Suggestions? Any unfair categories or unfaithful descriptions? Would you add anyone? Any views I'm overlooking?

I recognize it's a bit artificial, etc. (many names could be placed in multiple categories, many categories are not mutually exclusive, etc), but I'm trying to get my mind around the various ways people reconcile these two things. Sorry for the footnotes-in-progress; just ignore them.

1) Justification is by faith, and referring to judgment according to works is strictly hypothetical, putting oneself in the shoes of one’s interlocutor (Lietzmann,[1] Waters[2])

2) Justification is by faith, and reference to judgment according to works, though not hypothetical, serves mainly to awaken sinners to hopelessness in final judgment apart from grace (Conzelmann[3])

3) Paul is downright inconsistent (Kuula,[4] Wrede[5])

4) Judgment according to works excludes legalistic works, not works per se; it is indeed the “doers of the law” (by divine grace) who will be justified (Snodgrass,[6] Berkouwer[7])

5) Justification by faith refers only to the inauguration of salvation; final judgment will be the result of the works produced thereafter (Sanders,[8] Donfried,[9] Rainbow[10])

6) Judgment according to works refers not to each individual deed but to a judgment rendered on the basis of the consistent pattern of life, in accordance with Sanders' covenantal nomism (Yinger[11])
7) The judgment according to works motif is an unfortunate retention of Jewish belief that Paul ought to have left behind but was not adequately jettisoned (Weiss,[12] Braun[13])

8) Judgment according to works refers not to eternal damnation or salvation, but relative degrees of reward; judgment is an event subsequent to final justification (Filson,[14] Devor,[15] Mattern,[16] Vos,[17] Ladd[18])

9) Judgment according to works applies only to faithful Jews; gentiles, on the other hand, are justified by faith (Gaston, Gager)

10) The judgment according to works motif simply serves Paul’s rhetorical purposes (drawing on preexisting materials: Synofzik[19]; the relationship between the two motifs is dialectic and must not be conceptually or dogmatically integrated: justification teaching is directed toward the despairing, judgment teaching toward the morally presumptuous: N. Watson,[20] Joest[21])

11) Justification is apart from Jewish works of Torah, but in accordance with obedience more broadly conceived; there is thus no tension with a judgment according to moral works; justification is, however, by faith (Dunn, Wright, F. Watson[22])

12) As in the preceding view, it is the ethnic/ritual works that are abrogated in light of the Christ event; yet justification is not by faith; rather, God’s “grace” is simply a way of denoting the way in which God has placed an earned salvation within reach of humans. Thus judgment according to works is the very core of NT soteriology (Haufe[23])

13) Judgment according to works is neither theoretical (on the one hand) nor contributory to final acquittal (on the other) but organically connected to justification sola fide in that justifying faith is the same faith by which one is united to Christ and his lordship—a union from which fruit will inevitably grow (Calvin,[24] Schlatter,[25] Ridderbos,[26] Cranfield,[27] Käsemann,[28] Gaffin, O’Brien,[29] Bird[30])

Such a list is, of course, necessarily artificial to some degree; each of these positions must be elaborated to get the full flow of the writer’s argument. And there is certainly overlap between the categories. Some, moreover, could be placed in more than one category—Wrede, for example, not only sees Paul as inconsistent but also believes Paul “never entirely escaped from” his Jewish background.[31] Sanders, too, could be added to the “inconsistent” group.[32] F. Watson at times sounds as if he ought to be placed in the “hypothetical” category.[33] Nevertheless I have sought to distill the core of each writer and categorize accordingly.

[1] Hans Lietzmann, Die Briefe des Apostels Paulus I: Die vier Hauptbriefe (HNT 3; Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1910), 13-15. A general theological understanding of judgment on believers being hypothetical is not equivalent to an understanding, more specifically, of “the doers of the law” in Rom 2:13 being taken hypothetically; the first group would be much smaller than the second. Ridderbos helpfully points this out (Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology [trans. John Richard de Witt; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975], 178-79).
[2] Guy Prentiss Waters, Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul: A Review and Response (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2004), 175-77; cf. 209-10. For a fuller list, see Michael Bird, The Saving Righteousness of God: Studies on Paul, Justification, and the New Perspective (Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock, 2007), 159 n13.
[3] Hans Conzelmann, An Outline of the Theology of the New Testament (trans. John Bowden; London: SCM, 1969), 248. See also his A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1975), 83-84.
[4] Kari Kuula, The Law, the Covenant, and God’s Plan: Paul’s Treatment of the Law (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2003), 136-37.
[5] William Wrede, Paul (trans. Edward Lummis; London: Philip Green, 1907), 77-78. Maurice Goguel, too, sees Paul as inconsistent, but, unlike the other scholars mentioned in this category, does not see this as detracting at all from Paul’s overall coherence. He believes consistency to be an unfair expectation of the apostle in light of his varied contexts (“La caractère, à la fois actuel et futur, du salut dans la théologie paulinienne,” in The Background of the New Testament and Its Eschatology: In Honour of Charles Harold Dodd [ed. William D. Davies and David Daube; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1956], 336). Calvin Roetzel, more softly, simply believes that “any attempt to reconcile these motifs may be more of a concern of the western theologian for consistency than a concern of Paul’s” (Roetzel, Judgement in the Community, 178).
Some have placed Heikki Räisänen in this category (e.g. Bird, Saving Righteousness, 158; Jean.-Noël Aletti, “Review of Paul and the Law,” Bib 66 [1985]: 428-29), but this is incorrect. Räisänen understands Paul’s view of the law to be inconsistent, but not Paul’s integration of justification by faith and judgment according to works (see Heikki Räisänen, Paul and the Law [2d ed.; WUNT 29; Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1987], 184-85).
[6] Klyne R. Snodgrass. “Justification by Grace—to the Doers: An Analysis of the Place of Romans 2 in the Theology of Paul,” NTS 32 (1986): 72-93. Akio Ito aligns Glenn Davies with Snodgrass at this point, but this is not quite fair (Akio Ito, “Romans 2: A Deuteronomistic Reading,” JSNT 18 [1996]: 22 n7). Davies argues that obedience is crucial to the life of the people of God in both Old Testament and New, yet in both instances obedience is rooted in faith (Glenn N. Davies, Faith and Obedience in Romans: A Study in Romans 1-4 [: JSNTSup 39; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1990], 173-75). He does not see doing as leading to justification in the same way Snodgrass does; rather (referring to Rom 2:13), “The doing of the law by these Gentiles witnesses to their justification” (66; emphasis added).
[7] G. C. Berkouwer, Faith and Justification (trans. Lewis B. Smedes; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954), 103-112. See also Peter Toon’s comments concerning Berkouwer in see also Justification and Sanctification (Foundations for Faith; Westchester, Ill.: Crossway, 1983), 136-37.
[8] E. P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977), 515-18; idem, Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983), 105-13. In this latter work, however, Sanders does at times appear to endorse the “Paul as inconsistent” view; most clearly this can be seen on p. 123: “the treatment of the law in [Rom] 2 cannot be harmonized with any of the diverse things which Paul says about the law elsewhere.”
[9] Karl P. Donfried, “Justification and Last Judgment in Paul,” ZNW 67 (1976): 90-110. Specifically, Donfried proposes a schema in which Paul speaks of justification as past, sanctification as present, and salvation as future.
[10] Paul A. Rainbow, The Way of Salvation: The Role of Christian Obedience in Justification (Carlisle: Paternoster, 2005), 187, 193-203. D. H. Williams attirubutes a similar view (namely, justification takes care of past sins, but believers are now enabled to obey God, and it is “on the basis of” [Williams’ wording] these works, together with faith, that believers are judged on the last day) to Origen (D. H. Williams, “Justification by Faith: A Patristic Doctrine,” JEH 57 [2006]: 655).
[11] Kent L. Yinger, Paul, Judaism, and Judgment according to Deeds (SNTSMS 105; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 160, 202, 284.
[12] Bernhard Weiss, ________ in Kritisch-Exegetischer Kommentar über das NT (7th ed.; ed. H. A. Meyer; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1886), 113-14.
[13] Herbert Braun, Gerichtsgedanke und Rechtfertigungslehre bei Paulus (UNT 19; Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs’sche, 1930), 96-97. Specifically, this study examines the relationship between judgment and righteousness in Paul, not judgment and justification by faith. For a fuller (though dated) list of those who hold to this view, see Watson, “Justified by Faith, Judged by Works,” 220 n8.
[14] Floyd W. Filson, St. Paul’s Conception of Recompense (UNT 21; Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs’sche, 1931), 115.
[15] Richard Devor, “The Concept of Judgment in the Epistles of Paul,” Ph.D. Dissertation, Drew University, 1959.
[16] Lieselotte Mattern, Das Verständnis des Gerichtes bei Paulus (ATANT 47; Zürich: Zwingli, 1966), 177-78. For a helpful overview of Mattern’s thesis, see Calvin J. Roetzel, Judgement in the Community: A Study of the Relationship between Eschatology and Ecclesiology in Paul (Leiden: Brill, 1972), 5-7.
[17] Geerhardus Vos, The Pauline Eschatology (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1930; repr., Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 270-77.
[18] George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (rev. Donald A. Hagner; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 611-12.
[19] Ernst Synofzik, Die Gerichts- und Vergeltungsaussagen bei Paulus: Eine traditionsgeschichtliche Untersuchung (Göttingen: Vandenhoech & Ruprecht, 1977). Synofzik calls Paul’s rhetorical use of the judgment motif an “Argumentationsmittel” (105 e.g.).
[20] Watson, “Justified by Faith, Judged by Works,” 214-21.
[21] Wilfried Joest, Gesetz und Freiheit: Das Problem des Tertius Usus Legis bei Luther und die neutestamentliche Parainese (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1968), 177-90.
[22] Francis Watson, Paul, Judaism, and the Gentiles: Beyond the New Perspective (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 212-13.
[23] Christoph Haufe, Die sittliche Rechtfertigungslehre des Paulus (Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1957).
[24] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (ed. John T. McNeill; trans. Ford Lewis Battles; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), 3.11.10; 3.11.20; 3.14.21; 3.16.1.
[25] Schlatter, Theology of the Apostles, 234-37. John Owen might also be placed in this category, though the emphasis of his writings is not so much union with Christ fueling works as the evidential nature of works (John Owen, Justification by Faith [repr.; Grand Rapids: Sovereign Grace, 1971], 139, 143, 159-60); so also with John Piper (The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright [Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2007], 110-11).
[26] Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology (trans. John Richard de Witt; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), 178-80.
[27] Charles E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (2 vols.; ICC; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1975, 1979), ____.
[28] Ernst Käsemann, Commentary on Romans (trans. and ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), 56-61. Kasemann emphasizes the lordship of Christ (56-57), Cranfield the fruitful gratitude of the believers (1:155, 173).
[29] Peter T. O’Brien, “Was Paul a Covenantal Nomist?” in Justification and Variegated Nomism, Vol. 2: The Paradoxes of Paul (ed. D. A. Carson, Mark A. Seifrid, Peter T. O’Brien; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004), 265; idem, “Justification in Paul and Some Crucial Issues of the Last Two Decades,” in Right with God: Justification in the Bible and the World (Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock, 1992), 89-95.
[30] Bird, Saving Righteousness, 176-78. John Owen might also be placed in this category, though the emphasis of his writings is not so much union with Christ fueling works as it is the evidential nature of works (John Owen, Justification by Faith [repr.; Grand Rapids: Sovereign Grace, 1971], 139, 143, 159-60); so also with John Piper (The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright [Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2007], 110-11); on the evidential nature of works see also Calvin, Institutes, 3.14.18-19.
[31] Wrede, Paul, 137.
[32] As, indeed, he is categorized by Bird (Saving Righteousness, 158). See e.g. Sanders, Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People, 124. But see also p. 103, where he argues that it is not inconsistent of Paul to expect right behavior from his readers.
[33] See e.g. Francis Watson, Paul and the Hermeneutics of Faith (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2004), 352 n57.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dane,

I wondered where the 'invisible'/'visible' paradigm fit in? That is, the view that one is invisibly justified by virtue of their invisible union with Christ; but that verdict is met by a visible manifestation, visible works, and an a audible voice (you are in the right), ...at the judgment day. It seems to me that this is more that just 'evidence' since it actually is a aspect of justification itself, which overturns the world's verdict 'you are in the wrong'. I noticed that you didn't seem to have a footnote to Gaffin, but if i am reading him correctly, i think this is his view. At least, that is what i got out of his BY FAITH AND NOT BY SIGHT, and the lectures from which it came.

Anonymous said...

Sorry forgot to say that the above comment was by Kyle Wells

Dane Ortlund said...

Hi Kyle! See footnote 30; this seems to be the thrust of Owen + Piper. Your comment, though, makes me wonder if this ought to be another category altogether. I relegated it to a footnote b/c so many who could be placed in this one seemed to fit better in another (esp #13).

Yes, it is By Faith etc that I am referring to w/ Gaffin; still in process of tracking down pp. But I believe the main emphasis of his reconciliation of justif. and judg. is union w/ Christ. I'll look again: thanks for mentioning that.

Andrew said...


Don B. Garlington and Chris VanLandingham probably merit the inclusion in that list.

The categorization system I use, which I have developed and rejigged over time to a point where I think it's pretty optimal is as follows:

1) Inconsistent
There is no systematic theology to be derived.

2) Hypothetical
No one will be justified by works. Such statements are rhetorical.

3) One Judgment
There is only one judgment and it is by the criteria of good works. Good works are the same as faith(fulness) in Paul's view, or faith(fulness) is meritorious only in as far as it leads to the good works that save.

4) Two Judgments
There are two distinct judgments at different times with different criteria:

(4a) Rewards not Salvation
At the final judgment, two separate judgments are made. One concerning eternal salvation which is according to faith, and one concerning finite rewards and sufferings which is by works.

(4b) Double-Justification
At the moment of conversion there is a justification that is by faith at which point past sins are forgiven and the person becomes part of the church. At the final judgment there is a judgment that is by works which determines final eternal destiny.

(4c) Miscellaneous Other
Very few positions require this category. Of the 13 you listed only number 9 belongs here.

My categories there are essentially:
- Only one judgment, by faith
- Only one judgment, by works
- Two judgments, the important one is by faith
- Two judgments, the important one is by works

Dane Ortlund said...

Very helpful--thanks Andrew.

Eric said...

Dane - Wow, great post. Dane, where do you fit in? Where would you position yourself? I guess, had you asked me, I would have told you that there are two judgments, but that those truly justified by faith will invariably show goods works in their lives. But obviously the issue can be nuanced much more deeply than I realized!!!

So where do you fit?

Gavin Ortlund said...

Dane, fascinating list. Thanks for your obvious hard work. I had to think about this a lot last semester when preaching from Genesis 22 (which is referenced in James 2). The way I "solve" in my own thinking any potential tensions between James 2 and Paul is by holding that they are using the term "justification" and MAYBE the term "works" differently because they are writing in different contexts with different aims. The way you put this in (13) - "organically connected" - was very helpful. Thanks for the helpful list!

Eric said...

I guess I'm saying I'm most sympathetic to # 6, 8, and 13. Your thoughts?

Dane Ortlund said...

Wonderful, thanks for the help brothers.

Eric: I am basically #13 (for now!).

On #6, I think Yinger makes an important point when he speaks of judgment with respect to the general way of one's life, but much of his portrait includes an overly optimistic moral anthropology that I find very problematic (e.g. see his discussion of works of the law, 169-75). Moreover, he sees obedience (once one is in the covenant) as a "condition" for remaining in, which in a far off way is right, but makes me wince at the same time, and is more unhelpful than helpful. But I agree there is a solid insight here nonetheless.

And yes I agree that #8 (about degree of reward) is part of Paul's teaching--I see no other way to do honest justice to 1 Cor 3:10-15 and 4:1-5. In truth, some in this camp (#8) could go with #13, and vice versa; I was trying to detect main emphases in each scholar.

So I would say: justification is by grace-fueled faith ALONE, but that very movement of the will by which one casts oneself in faith on Christ for his righteousness is the same movement of the will by which one finds oneself living in a new direction, with a new awareness, with new desires, etc--the new birth! In other words both justification and judgment are rooted in a common source--union with Christ. Can't have on ewithout the other--though in our sinful, limited knowledge of spiritual things, warnings against apostasy are thoroughly appropriate.

I'm becoming more and more convinced that union with Christ is just critical in these discussions.

I've been influenced by Schlatter and Calvin on this question most heavily.

So much more to say, and footnotes to add, but that's the crux of it--again, for now!! The trick is to both keep obedience out of the ground of justification, yet keep presumptuousness out of our understanding of the Last Day.

Gav I agree that dikaiow is used diff by Paul and James, and in my mind so is pisteuw (in Paul's definition of faith, demons could never believe!), though I don't think works is used idfferently--but Dad agrees with you so I'm probably wrong. But the real issues I'm wrestling with is: we don't even need to go to James to find significant tension: before leaving Paul, we find this tension between just by faith and judg acc to works. Indeed, within a single letter we find it (Rom) and within the space of one chapter, no less (2:13 with 3:20)!

I invite you guys or anyone else to correct me...

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