Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Paraphrase of Romans 1-4

Hi, I'm Paul, I'm a servant of Jesus Christ--and let me share a little "creed" about him you might have heard: he's "son of David" and thus Messiah in his flesh but "Son of God" in power because God raised him from the dead according to the Spirit of holiness"--and you all are the Romans. I've often wanted to come visit you so that we could have a kind of spiritual gift exchange, but it just hasn't happened up till now. I'm an apostle to the Gentiles, so I want to preach to you all at Rome too.

For I'm not ashamed of the good news about what God has done through Jesus Christ. What God has done has provided a way for everyone who has faith to be saved from God's wrath on the day of judgment. In that good news God reveals His righteousness and justice toward Israel and the world, starting with His faithfulness toward the world and leading to our faith in response, just as Habakkuk 2:4 has proclaimed: "The one who is righteous on the basis of faith, will live."

For we all start out with this a problem: God judges the ungodliness of humanity and the unright aspect of people. People should know about the true God. Everyone should know His invisible power and divinity. But instead the nations worship idols. So God has let them spiral out of control, to follow that road out to its logical conclusion. We see this in the same sex practices of certain ones who bring on the punishment of disgrace in the very act itself. In fact look at the world. We can see their spiralling out of control in their covetousness, strife, murder, gossip, deceit, boasting, etc. These sorts of behaviors are worthy of death, and yet people applaud them.

2 But don't get to smug. I know some of you have been thinking. "Yeah, Paul, most Gentiles are like that. God's going to blast them. But I am or have become a Jew." But are you actually living any differently that these "heinous Gentiles" you're laughing at? The fact that God is only graciously receiving you should lead you to repent just like it should them! It is not the hearers of the Jewish law that God accepts, but the doers.
So if you should find a Gentile [nudge, wink--I'm talking about Christians here] that keeps the essence of the Jewish law, shows the law written on their hearts [nudge, wink, because they have the Spirit] shouldn't their uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? But it works both ways. Should a circumcised Jew be considered a Jew if they don't keep the essence of the law [nudge wink: love your neighbor as yourself]? So you who call yourself a Jew, do you actually keep the Jewish law? I know a lot who call themselves a Jew but actually behave in a way that disgraces God among the nations.

3 So does a Jew have any advantage at all, especially if circumcision doesn't matter? Sure. They have the Scriptures. The fact that some don't live up to them isn't God's problem. And by the way, if you've heard that I teach "Let's sin so that God's grace will come," I don't teach that.
The fact is that both Jews and Gentiles are under the power of sin. Neither has a claim to God's favor. "No one made of flesh will be found not guilty and approved," because no one has kept the Jewish law that good. All have sinned--both Jew and Gentile--and neither have the glory God intended for humanity in the creation. That's the problem.

But God has shown His righteousness again--the fact that He is just, and that He is faithful to Israel and in fact the whole world. But He has shown his righteousness in a way that doesn't involve the Jewish Law, even though the books of the Law and the Prophets have foretold it. What I'm talking about is the righteousness God has shown through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ resulting in atonement for all who have faith in what God has done through him. So although both Jew and Gentile have sinned, both can be acquitted because of God's grace made possible by offering Christ as redemption, as an atoning sacrifice. See how this shows that God is just [because a punishment has been asserted] and yet God makes people just if they have this faith Jesus demonstrated.

No one, Jew or Gentile, has any basis to boast before God. God is one God, which means He must be God of both Jew and Gentile. And he justifies or declares someone in right standing the same way. For the Jew it is on the basis of faith [not works of law] and for the Gentile it is through their faith as well. A person is justified by faith and not by works of the Jewish law.
4 Let's use Abraham as a test case. Genesis says that Abraham had faith in God and God afforded him right standing before Him. When was this? Was Abraham circumcised when this happened? No, it was when he was uncircumcised. So Abraham at this point of his life is the father of all those justified while they are uncircumcised, namely, the Gentiles. What kind of faith did Abraham have? He had faith in a God who could raise the dead. He had faith in a God who could give life to a barren womb. If we have faith in this God who raised Jesus from the dead, we will be considered right with God too.

Jesus died to atone for our sins and he was raised to establish our right standing before God. This is the solution.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love this approach. Who needs the Message when you have the "KSV" Ken Schenck Version.

For many people, like myself, Paul is a tricky character who seems to be double-minded or shifty at times with where his arguments are headed (as we found out in our independent study). I believe you are getting closer and closer to the heart of Paul, which may be more important than my understanding of the words of Paul.

Dr. Bounds mentioned something to me the other day, something like "Hey, I heard that Schenck and you put together that article for submission on Paul and the Law!"

Is there something I don't know?