Friday, December 01, 2017

2. Concentrated Romans (1:16-17)

I've taught two classes this semester that go through Romans. A couple times I've thought, "I should take all the talking points and put them in a long bulleted list." Here are my main talking points on the key verses of Romans, 1:16-17

1. Romans 1:1-15

Romans 1:16-17
  • Arguably the beginning of the letter body of Romans, a section that goes to 15:33
  • Key verses of Romans, a general statement that plays itself out in the verses that follow, especially 1:16-11:36.
  • "I am not ashamed." Honor-shame language, a reminder that the Mediterranean and biblical worlds were honor-shame rather that guilt oriented worlds. See Bruce Malina, New Testament World.
  • "of the gospel." Debate over what the primary referent of the gospel was. N. T. Wright, Scot McKnight argue that the focal good news is that Jesus is Lord, as we see implied in Romans 1:3-4. I would say that all that it entails is also good news, which includes salvation. So our salvation is part of the good news, but not the heart of the good news, which is the fact that Jesus is king. See Scot McKnight, King Jesus Gospel.
  • "It is the power of God leading to salvation." I think salvation for Paul is primarily future focused. 5:9 - "we will be saved from wrath." When? On the Day of Judgment. What would it even mean to be saved today or in the past? Saved as in healed? That's Luke's use of the word. Saved as in from the power of Sin? Fits with Paul's theology but not how he uses the word. Paul uses it with a future orientation. Ephesians 2:8 is atypical and may be proleptic even then.
  • "to everyone who has faith." Faith for Paul is not primarily used of belief or faithfulness (although see Rom. 3:3). It is about a trust or confidence, perhaps even an allegiance.
  • "to the Jew first and also to the Greek." A reminder that the inclusion of the Gentiles stands in the background of all of Romans. Yes, there are implications for individual salvation that Augustine would later focus on. But reading Romans it is significant to remember that Paul's world is a group, collectivist culture (see Malina above). He is discussing the justification of the Gentiles and Jews far more than the justification of individuals.
  • "In the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed." Long history of debate over the phrase, "the righteousness of God." The older Roman Catholic view saw it as the "justice of God," God's dispensing of justice. Luther recognized that this was hardly good news. Luther suggested Paul was talking about our legal righteousness--the good news is a righteousness God ascribes to us legally, justification by faith and a righteousness from God. Fine theology, but not the view that comes from our knowledge of the Jewish background in the Psalms and Isaiah, as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls. N. T. Wright suggests, "covenant faithfulness" or "covenant justice." I would define the righteousness of God here as the "propensity of God to save Israel and the world."
  • "from faith for faith." Two basic interpretations--"by faith from first to last" or "from God's faithfulness resulting in our faith response." The latter certainly fits Paul's theology and the idea that God's righteousness is in play in this verse.
  • "As it is written, 'The person who is righteous by faith will live.'" This seems to anticipate justification by faith, a focus of chapters 3 and 4. "Righteous by faith" means deemed in right standing with God because of our faith in him. Richard Hays' suggestion that Paul read this verse as a prophecy of Jesus is interesting but not compelling.

No comments: