N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 67 (No condemnation)


N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Romans 8:1

I’m going to backtrack just a hair. We’ve covered these verses already, but only from the perspective of atonement theology. There’s more there.

(Rom. 8:1 NET) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  

“Condemnation” (katakrima) is used by Paul to refer to the loss of immortality, which he often refers to as “death,” in parallel with God’s words to Adam when God warned Adam against eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam did not die on that day, but he did suffer the curse of death. He lost access to the Tree of Life and so he lost all hope of immortality.

Katakrima is a legal term and refers literally to a verdict of guilty. Therefore, it’s the opposite of “justification,” which is a verdict of “righteous” or innocent.

Rom 5:16 and :18 are the other places the word is used —

(Rom. 5:16-18 NET) 16 And the gift is not like the one who sinned. For judgment, resulting from the one transgression, led to condemnation, but the gracious gift from the many failures led to justification.  17 For if, by the transgression of the one man, death reigned through the one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ!  18 Consequently, just as condemnation for all people came through one transgression, so too through the one righteous act came righteousness leading to life for all people.

Paul speaks of condemnation coming due to the sin of Adam. Therefore, to say that there is “no condemnation” means that we are no longer pronounced guilty and are instead found justified and so restored to the presence of the Tree of Life and immortality. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised to read —

(Rev. 2:7 NET) The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will permit him to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.’

(Rev. 22:1-3 NET) Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life – water as clear as crystal – pouring out from the throne of God and of the Lamb,  2 flowing down the middle of the city’s main street. On each side of the river is the tree of life producing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month of the year. Its leaves are for the healing of the nations.  3 And there will no longer be any curse, and the throne of God and the Lamb will be in the city. His servants will worship him,

(Rev. 22:14 NET) 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes so they can have access to the tree of life and can enter into the city by the gates. 

(Rev. 22:19 NET) 19 And if anyone takes away from the words of this book of prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.

Over and over, John the Revelator tells us that immortality comes from living in the New Heavens and New Earth (NHNE) where we’ll have access to the fruit of the Tree of Life. The curse that drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden will be gone (Rev 22:3), and we will dwell in the very Presence of God. This is the meaning of “no condemnation.” As used in Rom 5 and 8, condemnation is the curse of Gen 3; “no condemnation” is the reversal of the curse of Gen 3 — a curse that applies to all humanity.

Now, this is important for many reasons, not the least of which is that it sets up Rom 8:19-23, which speaks of the removal of the curse from Creation. Why does Paul move from the indwelling Spirit to the redemption of Creation? Because the subject at hand is “no condemnation.”  You see?

But, of course, the even larger point is that if we’re in King Jesus, we are justified, promised eternity in the NHNE, and will receive the other blessings Paul is about to cover in the balance of chapter 8. This is not a partial or occasional salvation. We are continuously saved because we are continuously in Jesus. And how do we know that? Because of our baptisms.

(Rom. 6:3-4 NET)  3 Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  4 Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life.

The rest of chapter 8 tells us what it means to “live a new life.”

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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4 Responses to N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 67 (No condemnation)

  1. Larry Cheek says:

    What must I do to attract your attention to the synchronizing of these verses that you quote with the previous messages that I have provided several times which prove that the curse on creation has been reversed by God after the flood?
    Rom 8:20-23 ESV For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope (21) that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (22) For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (23) And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
    You have never commented about how God’s Words are being ignored in reapplying a curse from Gen 3. How can this be true without denying God’s message?

  2. Dwight says:

    Larry, I think there is a difference between curse and state of man. We are indeed condemned in our state of sin, which was placed into motion from Adam to Jesus, who gave life. Through Adam death was introduced, but it wasn’t a curse, but a result of sin and as many sins, then death. The earth was cursed due to Adam, but he wasn’t personally cursed, but this curse placed a contrast to what man did and what God offered/offers….paradise.

  3. Larry Cheek says:

    The concept that I am concerned with here is that many attach the curse they reference from Gen 3 to the complete creation. This includes all life upon earth animal, plant, any organisms which have life and in fact all the earth, thus the reasoning, that the earth needs to be refined by fire. Their message is that the earth will not be dissolved (completely and utterly gone, but will be transformed, not made new), after this cleansing the complete creation described above will be released from the curse and be restored. Thus all plant, animal, and organisms will be made new again just as in the original creation (thus the restoration of the garden of Eden), which man will again inhabit being the NHNE. As it still exists than the NE descends from Heaven to the old earth which is refined, and you might say rehabilitates the old earth. You see, the old earth just becomes the new earth.

    Now looking at this quotation carefully, when does it describe that the curse from Gen 3 will gone? Only, in the NE. But, that would deny that Christ has made it possible for the curse (of condemnation) to be removed from us today. Remember in the NHNE, no body or no thing needing redemption will be there. My conclusion, the curse of Gen 3 is applied with two applications, one was upon mankind the other was upon the earth. God removed the one upon the earth after the flood, Christ gave all mankind an escape from the curse (condemnation) which is in effect now! Those who have been condemned will be fulfilled and will not be reversed, to make that statement would suggest that all mankind who had been condemned will be restored as if none of the events of this earth had existed. I believe that this is very clear in the last sentence below. There will be no humanity in the NHNE which had not been freed from the curse by Christ as they obeyed his calling. There are other illustrations which are representative of this same concept but all point to the fact that Christ was the remover of the curse.
    “The curse that drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden will be gone (Rev 22:3), and we will dwell in the very Presence of God. This is the meaning of “no condemnation.” As used in Rom 5 and 8, condemnation is the curse of Gen 3; “no condemnation” is the reversal of the curse of Gen 3 — a curse that applies to all humanity. “

  4. Dwight says:

    The way I see it is that curses are unconditional after they are placed. Sin isn’t unconditional as we all sin because we transgress God’s law or will. So death isn’t a curse, but is conditional upon man’s sin.
    Man was rejected from the garden, which kept him from the tree of life.
    Death through sin.
    In Gen. the ground was cursed for man’s sake.
    If we are to live spiritually, to the spirit as God is in spirit and not fleshly, and we are to be joined with God in Spirit as the Spirit lives in us, then our destination with God will be spiritual. The earth and creation are then not within reference for man. Thus the curse of the earth no longer plagues man.
    But the condemnation of man is relieved before we die or are resurrected, because it no longer has reign over those who dwell in the Jesus.
    From what I can see the curse was only on the ground, not on all things, but this might have been applied to all things made from the ground, which would be all flesh. Diseases, etc. animals not being subject to man, but having to be subjugated, etc.
    And yet if we see heaven as the place of man’s dwelling, then the curse’s limitation is moot.

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