Friday, December 16, 2011

New Year: Rm 14-16 for Nov 30

Romans is very unusually broad in its ethical section compared to the many letters (e.g. to the Corinthians and Thessalonians) in which Paul addresses specific problems. Here (15:14) much less so.

This has seldom been taken into account, so that the overarching nature of his approach to the Christian life in chapters 12ff. has been minimized. The things that Paul emphasizes ethically in these chapters should be considered as foundational to the Christian life as his doctrine in chapters 1-11.

For example, just as the first imperative in the doctrinal section to the Romans was for them to consider themselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus (6:11), being alive to God is his first principle behind ethics in 12:1. 6:13 moves to 12:1, as though the whole middle of the letter was needed to support the subject!

Having related the "vertical" aspects of our Christian life (13:14) to the "horizontal" (13:10-13), Paul continues in chapter 14 with the horizontal, which amounts to the building up of one another (14:19). In yet another defiance of Hume's rule that we cannot derive "ought" from "is," Paul says "for even Christ did not please Himself ..." (15:3), and to "accept one another" (15:7), because Christ became a servant of Jew and Gentile (15:8-9). Having recently gone through Acts, we can see how clearly God answered Paul's prayers of 15:31, and his proleptic statement of 16:26. "To the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen."

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