Terminology Tuesday: Duplex Gratia

Paul’s formula in 1 Thessalonians 5:10—”[Jesus] died for us so that … we might live with him”—corresponds to the theological categories of justification and sanctification. Christians are saved by trusting in Christ, receiving from him two saving benefits—one legal, our justification before God, and one transformational, our sanctification—so that we are increasingly conformed to the moral and spiritual character of Jesus Christ. John Calvin described this as the duplex gratia—the double grace that Christians receive through union with Christ:

 By partaking of him, we principally receive a double grace (duplex gratia), namely, that being reconciled to God through Christ’s blamelessness, we may have in heaven instead of a Judge a gracious Father; and secondly, that sanctified by Christ’s Spirit we may cultivate blamelessness and purity of life.

Paul has emphasized these same dual aspects of salvation in 1 Thessalonians. In 5:9, he highlighted our salvation from God’s wrath—this is justification. In 4:3, he stated that “this is the will of God, your sanctification.” Therefore, to be saved is both to be justified—forgiven and accounted righteous in God’s sight for Jesus’ sake—and to be sanctified—increasingly transformed by God’s grace—through our union with Christ in faith. Hugh Martin put together the dual grace of Christ by saying that salvation is both “Christ for us” and “we with Christ.” This is Paul’s very point: Jesus “died for us” so that “we might live with him” (1 Thess. 5:10). These two connections—”for us” and “with him”—make up Christian salvation, through union with Christ in faith.

Phillips, R. D. (2015). 1 & 2 Thessalonians. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (pp. 220–221). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

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