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Does the mention of the resurrection from the dead in Romans 1.4 refer to the Lord being raised from the dead or to His raising others from the dead?

In the first place we must understand that the main premise of the verse is to show that the Lord Jesus is distinct and unique from all other persons in that He is the Son of God. The gospel to which Paul refers in v.1 contains as its great subject the Person of Christ both in relation to His birth and true manhood, and in relation also to His sinless life and resurrection. In coming into this world He was of the seed of David, but by His perfect life and resurrection He gave clear evidence that He was God’s Son. Our verse says He was "declared (designated or marked out) to be the Son of God with (or "in" power), according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead". There are two statements of truth here touching Christ. The first is that His eternal deity was attested by His life of holiness. His sinlessness marked him out morally from all men. Then, by the resurrection His claims to be the Son of God have been made plain not only to those who believe, but to mankind.

It is true that by the Lord Jesus raising others from the dead during His public ministry He proved His divine power, but we believe His life has already been referred to by the expression "the spirit of holiness". It is His resurrection that gives a significance which other resurrections, such as that of Lazarus, lacked, namely that the Lord Jesus was a unique Person. By it He was defined and designated to be the Son of God. His resurrection was a moral necessity because of His sinless character and His divine claims. Paul is not merely saying that He rose from the dead, but rather that He was raised from the dead (i.e. by another). While the Lord Jesus said Himself He would rise from the dead by His own act (Jn 2.19), in Scripture it is also attributable to the might and power of God. In God thus raising the Lord from the dead His claims to be the Son of God demanded that God should move to attest His Sonship.

John J Stubbs

What is the difference in significance of the treasure hidden in the field (Mt 13.44) and the pearl of great price (Mt 13.46)? I have often heard the first referred to as Israel and the second referred to as the church, but this does not seem to fit the context.

The "treasure hid in a field" and the "one pearl of great price" are the subjects of the fifth and sixth so-called "Parables of the Kingdom" recorded in Matthew 13. "The kingdom of heaven" is the sphere in which God’s rule is acknowledged. However, there are two aspects to this kingdom: i) outward profession, embracing all who claim to recognise God’s rule, and ii) inner reality, including only those who have entered the kingdom by conversion.

The first four parables have shown that there will be good and evil in the kingdom, both righteous and unrighteous subjects. However, the two parables that follow show that there will be two classes of righteous subjects. In the first of these two parables, "the kingdom of heaven" is likened "unto treasure hid in a field" whereas in the second, it is likened "unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls".

The present writer concurs with what the questioner has "often heard". It should be observed that Israel in the Old Testament is called Jehovah’s peculiar treasure: "ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me" (Ex 19.5); "Israel...his peculiar treasure" (Ps 135.4); "they shall be mine...in that day when I make up my jewels (or special treasure)" (Mal 3.17). "The field is the world" (Mt 13.38); the "man" is "the Son of man" (Mt 13.37), the Lord Himself. By His death He has bought the field in which today the treasure lies buried. Israel, at present dispersed among the nations, is hidden in the world that now by redemptive rights belongs to Him. When He returns in glory, the treasure aspect of Israel will be realised in the faithful remnant which will be the prominent nation of the age to come.

It is of interest to observe that the word "pearl(s)" is not found in the Old Testament ("pearls"- Job 28.18 – is rendered "crystal" in the RV). The emphasis in this sixth parable is upon the "merchant man", seeking goodly (beautiful) pearls. The merchant man is the Lord Jesus; the "one pearl of great price" is the church. Of what great value must this one pearl be to Him that "he went and sold all that he had, and bought it"? Paul says, "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Eph 5.25), and he reminds the believers at Corinth, "ye are bought with a price" (1 Cor 6.20); we might well exclaim, "And at such a price!".

The respondent believes that this interpretation is in keeping with the context.

David E West


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