Questions From Readers
● Romans 8:30 speaks of Christians being “glorified.” When does this occur, and how is this ‘glorifying’ connected with their being “called” and “declared righteous”?
In Romans chapter 8, the apostle Paul commented on God’s dealings with spirit-anointed Christians. God was working out his purpose by honoring or glorifying them by bringing them a knowledge of his truths, including his purpose to make them “joint heirs with Christ” in heaven. (Rom. 8:14-17) Paul also wrote, in part:
“Those whom [God] gave his first recognition he also foreordained to be patterned after the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Moreover, those whom he foreordained are the ones he also called; and those whom he called are the ones he also declared to be righteous. Finally [or, And] those whom he declared righteous are the ones he also glorified.”—Rom. 8:29, 30.
Some have wondered about the sequence: ‘called, declared righteous, glorified.’ This might be viewed as a series of steps that culminates in anointed Christians’ receiving glorious spirit life in heaven. However, note the tense of Paul’s words: “Those whom he declared righteous are the ones he also glorified.” He seems to be speaking of something that had already occurred, which would not be so if he were referring to a glorifying of Christians by resurrecting them to heavenly life in the future.
Furthermore, even though God’s resurrecting someone to be a ruler in the spirit realm is a ‘glorification,’ individuals might be “glorified” in many other ways. (See Romans 8:17; John 7:39.) Jesus was “glorified” on earth through his miracles. (John 11:4) Christ spoke of a humble man being ‘honored,’ or glorified, by being given a prominent seat at a feast. (Luke 14:10) Moses acquired “glory” as God’s spokesman in connection with the Law covenant. (2 Cor. 3:7) The Bible speaks even of a woman receiving “glory,” or being ‘glorified,’ by her long hair. (1 Cor. 11:15) In all these instances forms of the same root word in Greek are used as that rendered “glorified” in Romans 8:30.—Luke 12:27; Rom. 2:10; 1 Thess. 2:6.
It is interesting that away back in 1904 “The New Creation” (Volume VI, of Studies in the Scriptures) observed regarding Romans 8:28-30:
“This passage is usually misunderstood, because readers generally get the impression that the Apostle is here tracing Christian experiences as is usual, . . . but the Apostle is here taking an opposite view, and begins at the other end. . . . He traces backward the development of the Church, the New Creation. He shows that none will reach the grand position of the glorious elect of God except those called [accepted] to it by God’s grace; and that all called must previously have been justified [or, declared righteous]; . . . And these justified ones must previously, before their justification, have been honored [glorified, AV] . . . by God in having sent to them a knowledge of himself and of his dear Son.”—P. 182.
It is not exceptional that Paul might here present a series of connected matters in reverse order, tracing backward, as it were. He did a similar thing in Romans 10:13-15.
At Romans 8:28-30, Paul explains that “God makes all his works cooperate together.” This is for the good of those who will share in carrying out his purpose. Back at the time of the garden of Eden Jehovah God prophesied about a coming “seed.” (Gen. 3:15) Jesus Christ became the primary one of this “seed” and of the seed of Abraham. But God also selected a limited number of humans to form a secondary part of the “seed.” (Gal. 3:16, 29) Thus, from the time of the garden of Eden God gave “first recognition” to those making up the “seed.” And he “foreordained” that these selected humans would become a body of brothers of Christ in heaven, patterned after his image.
Then, in Romans 8:30, the apostle outlines certain steps that precede their being united with Christ in heaven. Such humans must have been “called” or invited to be part of the heavenly kingdom. (Rom. 1:7; Phil. 3:14; 1 Thess. 2:12; Heb. 3:1) But how could God ‘call’ them if they were yet sinners, members of Adam’s imperfect family? Before ‘calling’ them, God had to ‘declare them righteous,’ forgiving their sins on the basis of the faith they put in Christ and his sacrifice. (Rom. 3:23-26; 4:25; 5:18) Yet, how could they gain that needed faith? Before they could do so, they had to be shown the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which Paul elsewhere calls “the glorious good news about the Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:4; compare 1 Timothy 1:11.) Those who accept this “glorious good news” and come on the way that will lead them to heavenly glory can certainly be said to be “glorified,” or honored, by receiving it.