Category Archives: Romans

How the gospel reveals God’s wrath

So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth (Romans 1:15-18 ESV).

The typical interpretation, I think, is that the Gospel reveals God’s righteousness, and is the solution to God’s wrath which is revealed somehow “from heaven.” The idea is that God’s wrath is God’s actions of turning people over to further sin because they sin, as is vividly described in Romans 1.18ff.

God does indeed give people up to sin, and is just in so doing. But that process described beginning in Romans 1.18 is not the fullness of God’s wrath. Paul clearly states that this whole process, rather than satisfying God’s wrath, actually requires his patience and kindness. He writes at the climax:

 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them
(Romans 1:32 ESV).

And yet death has not overtaken all human history. God has not sent a worldwide flood. God has not consumed the world by fire. Why not?

Then in the next chapter it is stated more clearly that God’s mercy is involved in all of this:

 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed
(Romans 2:2-5 ESV).

This plainly tells us that this whole process, where God gives up sinners to more sin, was not a simply an exercise of God’s justice, but involves a work of grace. Furthermore, the “day of wrath” is not an ongoing aspect of this history, but a future date.

This raises the question: Is Romans 1.18 telling us that God’s wrath is revealed in the Gospel because the Gospel tells us about this future day of wrath?

As Paul writes a little further on:

They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus (Romans 2:15-16 ESV).

If the Gospel reveals God’s wrath, we might understand Romans 1.16-18 as follows:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel… For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” For [in it] the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth (Romans 1:16-18 ESV)

I think this is right, but I don’t think the fact that the Gospel foretells the day of judgment is what Paul is referring to when he says that the Gospel reveals the wrath of God.

How does the Gospel reveal both the righteousness of God and the wrath of God?

The answer, of course, is spelled out in Romans 3.21ff. God displays both his faithfulness or righteousness and his wrath by publicly subjecting Jesus to His wrath.

 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who trust. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, through [his] faithfulness. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who belongs to the faithfulness of Jesus (Romans 3:21-26).

First, notice that once again we see that God’s wrath was not revealed in the process described beginning in Romans 1.18ff. Paul reiterates that God had “passed over former sins.”

But by putting Jesus forward as a propitiation, God has revealed his righteousness and faithfulness. He revealed his wrath on Jesus.

The righteousness of God is revealed in the Gospel because the Gospel reveals the wrath of God by preaching the cross of Christ.

Thus,

 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh
(Romans 8:1-3 ESV)

And again:

    You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:19-24 ESV)

Note that, in that last passage above, Paul is not claiming that all the unbelieving Jews are beyond the possibility of redemption. There is still time to repent. He goes on to say that only a “partial hardening has come upon Israel” (Romans 11.25). The wrath here is not the eternal wrath on unbelieving sinners at and after the day of Judgment. Rather, it is the wrath displayed on the cross. Israel’s hardening brought salvation to Jew and Gentile alike.

    So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
(Romans 11:11-12 ESV)

For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
(Romans 11:30-35 ESV)

RACING DOWN THE ROMANS ROAD 1 = 1.1-6

A (Speed) Reader’s Guide

Chapter 1.

1 From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.
2 This gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures,
3 concerning his Son who was a descendant of David with reference to the flesh,
4 who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.
5 Through him we have received grace and our apostleship to bring about the obedience
of faith among all the Gentiles on behalf of his name.
6 You also are among them, called to belong to Jesus Christ.

All Christians are slaves of Jesus Christ, so Paul is partially setting an example in referring to himself as one. But he is also asserting his special authority since he often assures Christians that they are not slaves but sons. The point in saying he is a slave is to point out he is serving the King.

“Christ” it should be remembered is a royal title. It means “anointed” which is how prophets designated men in the office of king (For example, Samuel the prophet anointed David as king). So being a slave of the king, indicates that one might have special knowledge and a special commission. Thus Paul goes on to point out that his service makes him an ”apostle”–a representative and ambassador. Further, his calling or commission is in reference to proclaiming “the gospel” or good news “of God.”

This Gospel was prophesied in that body of works we now commonly call “the Old Testament.” In verse 3 and 4 Paul spells out the content of the Good news it can be summarized in three points:

A. God sent his Son

B. To live and die as a human and as the royal king of Israel

C. And to raise him as a New Creation and King by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The title “son of God” is ambiguous because it can refer to possessing deity and it can refer to Israel’s king. The reason for this ambiguity can be best understood this way:

A. Adam was made in the Image of God (Genesis 1.26-30).

B. Being in the Image of God and being the Son of God are very closely related (Genesis 5.1-3).

C. Israel was formed to be a new Adam (Compare Genesis 1.28; 8.17; to 35.11; and the terms of promise in Genesis 17.2, 6).

D. The King of Israel represented and embodied the nation of Israel, and thus was a “son of God” (2 Samuel 7.14).

E. Jesus is thus the true image of God and, as Human, was both transfigured more into God’s image by the work of the Holy Spirit as well as established as the human king of creation at God’s right hand (Hebrews 1.1-5; Romans 8)

Paul thus sets out a two-stage life for Jesus, his death and resurrection, that he will use again and again in his letter. The NET Bible I am using is correct in v. 4 to say that Jesus was “appointed the Son of God.” Versions that merely say “declare” make it sound as if the resurrection merely proved something that was already true about Jesus. But Paul is not writing about the resurrection revealing Christ’s divine Sonship, but of his being established in a new reality and office.

Being a son through resurrection implies that the resurrection is a new birth. Paul will make a great deal of this idea in chapter 8. Jesus taught this view in his conflict with the Saducees (Luke 20.36), and it explains the title “Firstborn of the dead” (Colossians 1.18; Revelation 1.5) Also Peter’s first sermon claims that death, for Jesus, involved birthpangs (Acts 2.24; literal translations). Isaiah reveled this same idea when he prophesied Israel’s return from exile as a resurrection from the dead (Isaiah 26.18-19).

This “good news” about a new King in a new glorified life is Paul’s Gospel. Yet it can be explained with a great deal more information–as the rest of Romans proves.

If Jesus is a new King, then he should have people with whom he shares his great fortune, and whom he sends as his ambassadors. Paul has already said he is a slave and an apostleship. In verse 5 he reiterates this point, making it clear that to be take as God’s servant is to receive “grace.” And by that grace or favor, Paul has received the status of an apostle. The purpose of Paul’s calling is to take part in the Great Commission (Matthew 28.18-22). “The obedience of faith” is a term that acknowledge both that Jesus is Lord and that we are commanded to trust him. More specifically, we are to believe the message of the Gospel which tells us that Jesus is now both Lord and Christ (see Acts 2.36).

The Great Commission has already been obeyed and carried out to some extent, which is why the Roman Christians are in a position to receive God’s letter. Just as Paul is called to be an Ambassador to Jesus, so they are called to belong to him. This hints at the obligation that the Romans should willingly participate in Paul’s work as an ambassador bringing about ”the obedience of faith” among other nations or Gentiles.

Romans, resurrection, history, theodicy

Life and death are a big deal in Paul’s letter to the Romans, especially death and new life.

The most obvious interpretation of the data is that humanity deserves death for sin and is granted resurrection life through Jesus by faith alone.

But Paul not only speaks of death as what sinners deserves. He also speaks of death as a present state that manifests itself in ongoing sin. We sin because we are dead.

And then, there is another interpretation having to do with Jesus himself: death was embraced as the path to new life for himself and all who entrust themselves to him. Death becomes pathway to life and glory.

And there is also a historical scheme. All humanity was dead in sin and spiraling into judgment death, but now we have entered the age of life and glory. We are in a new and undeserved age.

But all this fits together in one more way. Not only was the death in history a problem that needed to be solved, but it, itself, was part of the path to the solution–a final death of sin in the body of Christ on the cross to bring about new life. God allowed death to abound in order that life might abound all the more.

Romans 6.1 in the NCV v. the Horne Thesis

The law came to make sin worse. But when sin grew worse, God’s grace increased. Sin once used death to rule us, but God gave people more of his grace so that grace could rule by making people right with him. And this brings life forever through Jesus Christ our Lord. So do you think we should continue sinning so that God will give us even more grace?

via Romans 5.20-6.1 NCV – The law came to make sin worse But when – Bible Gateway.

Been awhile since I have engaged in self-promotion commentary on Romans, so I thought I’d point out my differences with the NCV on Romans 6.1.

The goal is not “that God will give us even more grace”–as in forgive us more of our individual sins. The point is that Paul has just showed, in Romans 5, how God’s salvation and grace was brought about through a “trespass” (different word than “sin” in 5.20). By the ultimate act of unfaithfulness on Israel’s part, God granted to the world the salvation that Israel was commissioned to bring about through faithfulness.

Compare 5.20 and 6.1 more literalistically:

Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more

Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?

And the scope of Romans 5 is all of world history. First Adam was made and then sinned. Then Israel was given the Law to be a light to the nations to increase the trespass to the point of Adam’s original trespass in the original sanctuary. And then in the ultimate trespass, the crucifixion of Christ, God brought salvation to the world.

So Romans 6.1 asks, “Is this our model for mission?”

Paul says, “NO!” in all caps.

 

Phinehas and Abraham, both Jew and Gentile justified by faith

I think it is time to amplify and restate a point I posted about in December 2009:

Mark Horne » Blog Archive » Gentile Abraham, David, and Phinehas.

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O LORD God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

In Romans 4, Paul argues from the way Abram responded to a promised reward, and the nature of the promise, in order to prove justification is by faith, not by works, so that believing Gentiles are justified by God along with believing (and only believing) Jews.

For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his reward is not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

The “very great” “reward” that Abraham believes he will receive is a nation that is covenanted with the LORD that will go into Egypt and then come out, as the rest of Genesis 15 explains. But it is more than that. Paul points out that the content of the promise mentioned in Genesis 15, which Abra[ha]m believes, includes what is said in Genesis 17:

And God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

So the promise itself, even though it includes a special nation marked out by circumcision, promises that Abraham will be the father of a multitude of nations. “The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.” This promise, is, in fact, an OT reality. Jacob hears it begin to be fulfilled when Joseph tells him that he has been made a father to Pharaoh (Genesis 45.8). The OT is filled with believing Gentiles, contrary to many Evangelical (and quasi-Marcionite) myths about the world before Christ. Paul is not satisfied with the OT benefits, however. He sees the promise as promising that eventually all nations will belong to God in the same special way as Israel so that there is no longer any distinction or special privilege among them.

But I’m getting away from my main point.

Paul makes a huge deal about the language of Genesis 15.6: “And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”

This passage is treated by unbelieving commentators as an occasion to mock Paul’s reasoning, and I don’t see Evangelical commentators really confronting the difficulty (though this is a blog post, not a research paper, so I haven’t read many of them before writing this. If you know of someone who deals with the issue, let me know). The reason is that Abraham is not the only person in the OT to whom something he did “was counted as righteousness.”

Then they yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor,
and ate sacrifices offered to the dead;
they provoked the LORD to anger with their deeds,
and a plague broke out among them.
Then Phinehas stood up and intervened,
and the plague was stayed.
And that was counted to him as righteousness
from generation to generation forever.

Thus, Psalm 106 explains the story of Phinehas in Numbers 25:

And behold, one of the people of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel, while they were weeping in the entrance of the tent of meeting. When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand and went after the man of Israel into the chamber and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly. Thus the plague on the people of Israel was stopped. Nevertheless, those who died by the plague were twenty-four thousand. And the LORD said to Moses, “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy. Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace, and it shall be to him and to his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel.’”

So like Abraham, Phinehas’ reward was very great. His act of zeal and loyalty to YHWH was counted to him as righteousness, which means, just like was true for Abraham, his descendents would be a special priestly covenant people.

It is ridiculous to read Romans 4 as if Paul was ignoring Phinehas’ story because it worked against his argument from Genesis 15. If Paul singles out language only used two times in the OT we can be sure that Paul is not incompetent and that he is arguing from both stories! After all, what is Paul’s argument? That Abraham is “the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. As Paul goes on to write:

That is why it is of faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the one of the law [the believing Jew like faithful Phinehas or forgiven David] but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham [the uncircumcized believer], who is the father of us all, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations

The whole point is that Abram the believing uncircumcised Gentile was justified just like Phinehas the faithful believing Jew. Thus, if Abraham receives the same (and really a greater) reward as Phinehas, righteousness and covenant standing for himself and his heirs, then the reason for Phinehas’ reward cannot be his Jewish works, but the faith he held in common with the uncircumcised Abram.

Paul does not thoughtlessly overlook Phinehas. He argues from him, albeit silently. Just because we don’t read Numbers or the Psalms that much doesn’t mean Romans is supposed to be understandable without such knowledge. We have no business treating Paul as ignorant as we are or as accommodating such ignorant readers, and then self-righteously deciding his argument is flawed on that false assumption.

“Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your wage shall be very great”?

I don’t like the above translation of Genesis 15.1. It seems misleading.

But it is relevant to the way Romans 4.4 gets translated:

Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.

Now this statement occurs in the middle of a great deal of commentary on Genesis 15. It seems, frankly, to come out of nowhere.

I noticed recently however that the Greek word does not have to be translated as “wages.” “Reward” is a common translation of the same Greek word.

In the context of “one who works” it makes sense that translators would think of “wages.”

But what about the context of a discussion of Genesis 15?

Genesis 15.1:

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”

This “reward” is precisely the promise that Abram believes and so is justified–the main topic of Romans 4. And the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures in Paul’s day, the Septuagint (or LXX as it is commonly abbreviated) uses the same word that our English translations produce as “wages.”

In my opinion, Genesis 15.1 should count as context to Romans 4.4 and affect how we translate the word.

“Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”

Now to the one who works, his reward is not counted as a gift but as his due.

F. A. Hayek and the Apostle Paul should do a hip hop point counterpoint together

No, I don’t think Paul would disagree with Hayek’s economic theory, or even very much with his social theorizing on the rule of law…

But by some weird providence, as soon as I got done listening to The Road to Serfdom I put my recording of the Romans back in the cd player and realized I was hearing about the same issues at their point of origin.

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations… In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named… Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ!

When you read Hayek it becomes clear that he is lamenting how history has changed directions. What should have been the flowering of Christian civilization has been traded for a bowl of red stuff.

And because he himself, despite acknowledging that Christian culture happened to be involved, is not a disciple of Jesus, Hayek can’t really call anyone back to what they had. He weeps over a cut flower and pleads with it to bloom again.

Hayek analyzed some elements of it and defended them, as much as a Darwinist could–but it was the Apostle Paul who gave us the international social order of peace, freedom, and prosperity. If you read The Road to Serfdom and then read Paul’s letter to the Romans, this basic truth will become forcefully apparent.

And just in case anyone doesn’t know what I mean by the “hip hop” reference:

YouTube – “Fear the Boom and Bust” a Hayek vs. Keynes Rap Anthem.

YouTube – Fight of the Century: Keynes vs. Hayek Round Two.

Propitiation is in the Gospel after all….

One of the personal oddities about this post, is that it brings me full circle. I’ve always taught and preached that Jesus’ work on the cross was propitiatory, but for the last decade or two I’ve been convinced that “the Gospel” denotes a more specific message about Jesus being Lord by virtue of his resurrection from the dead. Romans provides much evidence for this…

But now my reading of Romans 1.16-3.27 leads me to understand that Paul insists that the Gospel reveals God’s wrath, as part of revealing his righteousness.

And it reveals God’s wrath by revealing how it was all put upon Jesus on the cross.

Was there an act of unfaithfulness related to the propitiation that Jesus provided?

Paul writes that the Gospel reveal’s God’s righteousness (i.e. that it proves that he is righteous). It also somehow reveals God’s wrath:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” For [in it] the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth….

Note that I am now reading the passage so that the wrath is not something revealed somewhere or somehow else, to be answered by the Gospel, but it revealed also in the Gospel itself.

Thus begin Romans 1.16 to climax at the end of chapter 3. In that passage we find God’s righteousness is demonstrated twice, first by Jewish unfaithfulness and then next by the death of Jesus as a propitiation of God’s wrath:

Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?  Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.  What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?  By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,

“That you may be justified in your words,
and prevail when you are judged.”

But if our unrighteousness serves to show God’s righteousness, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)  By no means! For then how could God judge the world?  But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?  And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

But now the God’s righteousness has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of  Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, through faithfulness. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.  It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who is of the faithfulness of Jesus.

So think real hard: Was the death of Jesus somehow associated with the unfaithfulness of Israel so that both could be said together to show God’s righteousness?

And then what about other passages–are these unrelated?

And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification… Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”  So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”  But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”  Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,  in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.  Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?

For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

Make sense? And yes, I’m wondering if God wanted to “show his wrath and make known his power” in the cross of Christ. Despite being “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” Paul clearly states that their hardening was “partial,” meaning temporary. While some were indeed hardened in the way we Calvinists think of (for else how could God judge the world?–as Paul asked earlier) the statement seems primarily directed to God’s putting forward of Jesus as a propitiation.

But if Romans 9 (or 7) makes you stumble, just drop it out of the argument…

Thus, the humbly named “Horne thesis on Romans” in a nutshell.

Faith for the New Civilization

Jesus said that his disciples were to be a city on a hill. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5.14). In Paul’s epistles, as seven of their names attest, we see this is taking place in a way that is almost literal. For example, consider what Paul writes to the Church at Rome:

I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.

The new civilization of Jesus (civil-ization = “city” society) requires a faith that shines like the sun for all to see…

But it also requires a cosmopolitan tolerance. A city is multi-ethnic and the faith must be practiced in a way that is conducive to a peace that shines bright without shadow. Thus, Paul also says to the Romans:

Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.

The faith of the Church can only be proclaimed in one voice if the faith of the members knows limits set by love.