In our reading of Romans we may pay attention to condemnation, justification, sanctification, and glorification, but neglect the matters of sonship, transformation, conformation, and the Body life. The central thought of Romans is not condemnation nor justification; it is not even sanctification nor glorification. In 1:1 and 3 Paul says that he was separated unto the gospel of God concerning God’s Son. This indicates that the central concept of the gospel of God is related to the Son of God. God’s intention is to bring many sons into glory.


According to the Bible, the spiritual significance of sonship is that a son is the expression of his father. God desires to have many sons because His intention is to have Himself expressed in a corporate way. He does not want simply an individual expression in the only begotten Son, but a Body expression, a corporate expression, in many sons. John 1:18 says, “No one has ever seen God; the only begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” Although God’s expression in the only begotten Son is marvelous, God still desires an expression in many sons. His intention is to make the only begotten Son the Firstborn among many brothers. Before the resurrection of Christ, God had just one Son; that is, He had an individual expression. But by means of Christ’s resurrection, God now has a multitude of sons; that is, He has a corporate expression.

Many of us were taught that we were sinners, that God loved us, and that God sent His Son to die on the cross for our redemption. Furthermore, we were told that as Christians we should live for the glory of God and seek to enjoy fellowship with Him. Then we were taught that we shall eventually be taken to heaven. Very few of us had heard about God’s goal to produce many sons for His corporate expression. For eternity, God will be expressed through a corporate Body of glorified sons. This is His intention.


According to the book of Romans, the gospel of God is a gospel of sonship. The central aim of God’s gospel is to produce many sons conformed to His Son (8:29). His only begotten Son is a pattern, a model, for the producing of the many sons. Romans 1:3 and 4 describe this model, whereas Romans 8 reveals the mass production. Eventually, the only begotten Son—the model—will become the Firstborn among many brothers—the mass production.

As the model, Christ has two natures: the nature according to the flesh and the nature according to the Spirit of holiness. “Holiness” in verse 4 refers to the essence, the substance, of God. Before His incarnation, Christ did not have humanity, the nature according to the flesh. Through incarnation He put on human nature. However, when He put on the human nature, He did not lose the divine nature. Thus, when He was on earth, He was a mystery. According to His outward appearance, He was altogether a human being. But many of the things He said and did were extraordinary, things which no ordinary human being could possibly say or do. For example, in the Gospel of John the Lord said that He was the life and that He was the truth (14:6). He also said, “I am the light” (8:12), and, “I am the bread of life” (6:35). Furthermore, He said that anyone who did not believe in Him could not have eternal life (3:36). No philosopher would dare make such a statement. Because Christ is both divine and human, people wondered about His identity when He was on earth. They knew His family, but they could not explain how He was able to do certain things (Matt. 13:54-56). The reason for their perplexity was that the Son of God had clothed Himself with humanity.

Those responsible for the crucifixion of Christ did not realize that crucifixion was the best way for Him to be designated, to be glorified. We may use a carnation seed to illustrate this point. If the seed is put to an end by being buried in the soil, it will eventually sprout, grow, and blossom. In the same principle, through death and resurrection Christ “blossomed” as the Son of God. Satan expected the crucifixion of Christ to mark His termination, but the Lord Jesus knew that this was actually the beginning, that it would lead to His designation according to the Spirit of holiness out of the resurrection from the dead. Without death, there can be no resurrection. Hallelujah, in resurrection Christ was designated the Son of God in power!

As the designated Son of God, Christ still has two natures, both that of divinity and that of humanity. However, the humanity He has now is not the natural humanity, but the humanity uplifted in resurrection. Even His flesh has been designated the Son of God. Hence, He has been designated the Son of God with both divinity and humanity. As such a marvelous Person, He has become the model, the pattern, of all those who are being designated sons of God. A son of God must have both the divine nature and the resurrected, glorified, uplifted human nature.