Eschatological Anthropology: In What Sense is the Believer Raised with Christ?

This paper will argue that the believer possesses and experiences genuine Resurrection life – which is best expressed as hidden and yet-to-be-revealed. Paul insists that the believer has been raised with Christ will be raised with Christ. This eschatological tension, possessing ‘life’ through union with the resurrected Christ while awaiting physical resurrection, requires a nuanced understanding of the believer’s present identity and status as ‘raised’. The inaugurated but yet-to-be-consummated nature of the believer’s resurrection appears to require some kind of theological-anthropological dualism. This dualism has been expressed in theological-anthropological terms, such as spiritual/physical, inner/outer person, or forensic/transformative. Others have instead highlighted an eschatological dualism such as anticipation/affirmation. While all of these distinctions are used by Paul, this paper will argue that the soteriological-anthropological identity of the believer is not best understood primarily through an anthropological dualism, but through an eschatological dualism, as the believer’s resurrection, and salvation, is hidden and waiting to be revealed.

If, as Richard Gaffin argues, ‘all soteric experience is derived from solidarity in Christ’s resurrection’, the extent to which we share his resurrection impacts the extent to which we share in the blessings of salvation. The nature of the believer’s present ‘resurrection’ therefore impacts their understanding of their justification and sanctification, of their identity, empowerment and Christian life. Because the believer possesses and experiences genuine resurrection life – which is hidden and yet-to-be-revealed, believers are empowered and emboldened to walk in newness of life to the glory of Christ.

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