Rethinking Romans

JustificationThere is a lot of rethinking going on these days with regards to Paul’s writings, especially centred around the renowned letter of Paul to the church in Rome. Or we call it Romans.

The rethinking doesn’t simply centre around the ‘new perspective on Paul’ and justification, but this encompasses both the whole letter and the multiple parts of the whole.

Author’s such as Andrew Perriman are challenging us to read Romans in its first century, city of Rome context, which was prior to establishment of what became known as western Christendom (I say ‘became’ knowing that Christendom has fallen in western Europe).

Still, Perriman is asking us to consider what is going on for Paul, a second-temple Jew writing to a Jew-Gentile church in the capital city of a majorly pagan empire. What did it mean then? Not what did it mean to Luther as he stood against the imperial Roman Catholic Church of his day, nor even what it means from a ‘new Pauline perspective’.

Perriman’s book is entitled The Future of the People of God: Reading Romans Before and After Western Christendom, of which I posted a review of the book here.

Whether one agrees with the new Pauline perspective, with Tom Wright being its most popular, but not the only, proponent, I believe he offers some great thoughts in his book Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision.

With the quote below, he offers a ‘thought experiment’, asking this: What if the Reformation had started with Ephesians and Colossians, rather than Romans and Galatians? Continue reading

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De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da in Romans 7

Everyone know The Police song, De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da? If not, you can have a listen and watch here.

Now Romans 7 is difficult enough just on its own terms. But add in the distraction of Sting belting out one of his great hits, well, it’s simply all over (especially after watching the video!).

Why Romans 7 and The Police?

Romans 7 is that chapter where Paul uses the word do so many times. Yes, that chapter! I count 20 times in vs15-20! There we find the famed words, ‘I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.’

Actually, did you know Romans 7 causes difficulty? Not because of The Police, but rather because people have been debating for a very long time whether Paul is describing the normal life of a Christian or non-Christian. Continue reading

Why We’re Not Called To Think Like Gollum

During the month of October, we are engaging in a series at Cornerstone on our identity in Christ – Who are we? What has God done for us and in us?

These are extremely important questions to understand.

This past Sunday, I particularly looked at Paul’s words in Romans 5:20-6:14.

Watch this short clip from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and then read on. Continue reading

All Creation Awaits…Even Now

This past Sunday, I honed in on a passage in Romans 8:18-30. It’s not an unknown passage by any means.

Paul is writing to a church that has become easily divided. Some 6 to 8 years before Paul wrote to the church, the emperor Claudius had expelled all Jews from the area of Italy (see Acts 18:1-2). Thus, the church became strongly Gentile. But the successor to Claudius, emperor Nero, allowed the Jews to make their way back into this area of the Roman empire.

So Paul isn’t so much addressing an abstract situation where he is thinking of you and I, the church for all-time. He is addressing a real situation in real time and history. We have a Gentile people mainly disconnected from the Abrahamic faith of Israel and you have a Jewish people desiring to see this great heritage not lost. And it’s in the context of the Roman church with Paul laying out the Abraham faith story that would benefit both groups, hopefully uniting them as God intended.

With chapter 8, Paul moves into the very important role of the Spirit of God in walking out the right (justified) life of God based in the faithfulness of Messiah. Even more, in the end, God is working out the good for his Spirit-enlivened people (8:28). They are destined to look like Messiah-King, being Messiah and King of both Jews and Gentiles. Continue reading