Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Year: Acts 28 - Rm 2 for Nov 26

Even though this day's reading straddles two books, it is appropriate for the consecutive reader almost more than any two books of the New Testament in canonical order. Paul in Rome, Acts 28. Paul speaking to them, Romans 1ff.

When Paul has not even yet arrived in Rome, there are Christians there with whom he stays, while still on the outskirts. Hearing that Paul is "unhindered" is the last word of Luke in the book of Acts, and Romans 1 appropriately says that Paul had been "prevented thus far" (1:13). So we see that the letter to the Romans predates Acts 28.

In another way, Romans supplies "the other side," the theological-treatise side, to the narrative of Acts, in which Luke, describing the providentially guided acts of the apostles and others in the church, spent less time describing their doctrine. That is remedied in Romans. Moo's [1996] commentary on Romans correctly identifies Romans as a theological treatise with opening and closing remarks. We'll comment further on Moo's commentary in the comments, something that we have dropped since early 2010.

What is remarkable in Romans 1 are the crowning statements in 1:16-17. These statements are as above the day-to-day descriptions of the activities of religious people trying to encourage one another, as the acts of God are above the acts of men. Indeed, that is the gospel's chief advantage, that it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. It's something greater than human teaching or human activity.

In a remarkably even-handed way, addressing the human condition from the points of view of "men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness" -- whether Gentile or Jew (2:14,17), Paul lays out the problem which salvation rescues the human being from, in the way it does, by the bringing in of the gospel.

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