in Catechesis

Romans 6-8: “The Christian Life”

The following is the fourteenth week’s lesson. For a brief interlude, we considered the Christian life according to St. Paul in Romans chapters 6-8. Luther famously coined the phrase simul justus et peccator to describe our life as the Baptized. We are “simultaneously justified and sinner.” This will set the conversation as we move into the chapter 6 and following. Apologies for the audio quality. It should improve in the future.

Here is a brief definition:

“Simultaneously” is a crucial word in Christian theology; it describes life and reality in “the time between”—between Jesus’ first and second coming; the time after the announcement that “the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15) and yet the time during which we pray “thy kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10); the time after Jesus’ bodily resurrection yet before our bodily resurrection; the time after God’s judgment against sin on the cross and yet the time when we confess that Christ “will come again to judge the living and the dead.” “Simultaneously” points to this time between the times—the co-existence of two “times” at the same time: the old age and the new creation are both present realities. This means that the Christian lives in two times: in themselves, they remain the old Adam in the old age; in Christ, they share the status of the second Adam (Jesus) in the age to come. Simul iustus et peccator is a way of identifying this double existence. It means, literally, “simultaneously just and sinner.” The point is not that everyone’s a little of each—that the line between good and evil runs through all people as the saying has it. “Just” and “sinner” are total rather than partial realities. The Christian, in him or herself, is totally a sinner while at the same time being, in Christ, totally righteous before God. In other words, Christians are fully human—real people with real problems and real pain. But Christians, at the same time they’re sinners, are fully and savingly loved (Rom 5:6-10).