February 20, 2013 by Gerald Hiestand
“For all have sinned and ‘fall short/lack’ (ὑστεροῦνται) the glory of God, and are justified by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Romans 3:23-24.
ὑστεροῦνται can mean fall short, but is frequently used in Paul to denote lack; c.f. 1 Cor 12:27, 1:24, etc.
On this latter reading, we do not necessarily “fall short” of God’s glory in the sense that we fail to achieve a divine moral standard, but rather we lack something God possesses–namely his glory. Glory in Paul is often linked to immortality and participation in God’s own divine life; e.g., those who are rewarded with eternal life “seek after the glory honor and immortality” (2:7) and are subsequently rewarded with “glory (2:10); the children of God are set free from corruption via glory (8:21).
Thus to be glorified is, in some measure, to be brought to participate in the immortality of God; to be freed from the deconstructive power of sin and death. Thus we can read Paul in Romans 3:23-24 to be saying that because of sin, we lack the immortality of God — we no longer participate in his glory. Thus, in the context of Romans 3:24, to be justified is to be made a possessor of God’s glory. This reading pushes Paul’s soteriology in an ontological/regenerative direction. The real work of salvation is not the mere balancing of the divine scales; it includes this, to be sure. But beyond this, and more importantly, it is the overcoming of the curse (death) that came about as a result of sin. This reading is also suggestive that for Paul δικαιόω has more than a strictly legal and forensic range of meaning.