Paul's letter to the Romans part, part 3 (chap. 3, 1-4, 25)

Original October 17th 2023 | Andrew Perriman (start with Part 1 | Part 2)
Romans 3:1-4:25

As an apostle of the gospel of God through his Son, Paul has so far argued that the Greco-Roman world as he came to know it on his missionary journeys from Antioch to Athens Day of God's wrath or judgment goes towards. This forms the historical horizon of the letter.

It will be a judgment on the Greek religious culture that exists in Romans 1:18-32 is described. The Greeks made the cardinal error of worshiping the created object and not the Creator, and were therefore abandoned by God to the dishonor of their bodies, corrupt passions, and an unfit mind. Presumably in 1:26-27 Paul emphasizes same-sex sexual acts rather than general sexual immorality (porneia) because he sees them as the distinctive mark of such a deeply misguided civilization.

Then he turns to the Jew, who acts as a judge over these godless and immoral Greeks, but behaves little better. Paul came to believe that his own people would be judged first, then the Greeks. There is no value in being called a Jew—and being circumcised, keeping the Sabbath and dietary laws, etc.—if the circumcision of the heart is not done accordingly: “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart,” says the Law, “and be no longer stubborn” (Deut 10:16).

Then in chapter three, Paul explains to his readers why the Jews will be held accountable first.

The need for a valid standard for so-called “justification”

Israel was "entrusted with the instructions of God," but that does not mean that God will not act justly and exercise "wrath" on his people when they sin. Indeed, he must do so if he is to "judge the world" beyond Israel. Here is the logic: If the God of Israel is to judge the Greek world incorruptibly, he must first judge his own people, who, by virtue of their possession of the Torah and their observance of the divine law in their communal life, are a standard for justice. proper worship of God and that correct behavior should have represented for the nations.

When Paul says, “We said before that Jews and Greeks alike are under sin,” the argumentative force is aimed at the Jews who habitually apologized. The Chain of Bible quotations in Romans 3:10-18 conveys the idea that Israel has acted unjustly throughout its history without respect for God.

The point is that “everything the law says speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped and the whole world may be called to account before God” (3:19). The law (the Jewish Torah) – as quoted – speaks to those who who are under the law, the Jews, so that the God of the Jews can, with good reason, overthrow the old system and introduce something new in its place.

This is, of course, a delicate claim when the reputation of this God has been tarnished among the nations by the shameful behavior of the people who boast of their relationship with him.

So God has the right to judge his people: It has become an eschatological necessity if he also wants to call the pagan world to account for its error. But there is, if you will, a deeper righteousness of God (than covenantal faithfulness) to reckon with: his ancient and irrevocable commitment to the promise he made to the Jewish patriarchs. So how does he square the circle? On the one hand, the Jews have become “vessels of wrath, prepared for destruction” (9:22); on the other hand, God is obliged to make his possession a holy and righteous priestly people. This will require a fairly new and disturbing intervention.

Oh, and one more thing. The plan is not just to punish the Greek world and leave it at that. The divine plan provides that to annex the Greek world and a new regime of God to build.

So from Paul's perspective this whole program falls under the Concept of “God’s justice” – God acts consistently and coherently to fulfill the following historical purpose:

  • to condemn the idolatrous, morally and socially bankrupt system of the Greeks;
  • to condemn and perhaps abolish the failed Torah-based standard of synagogues;
  • solve the puzzle or dilemma at the heart of the program;
  • to establish a new network of just communities based on the promises of the Patriarchs, a new priesthood for the ancient world;
  • finally to initiate the (earthly) rule of (the exalted) Jesus over the nations for the coming age and to “justify” or recognize as correct all those who believed in this completely different future with great sacrifice.

The righteousness of God “without” the law

Now we come to the third step: solving the puzzle or dilemma that is at the heart of this program.

Israel in the land and, perhaps more importantly for Paul, in the diaspora has failed to present to the world religious and ethical justice according to the law. As a result, Israel has been condemned by the law.

That's why the accuracy or righteousness or integrity of God outside the law (ek nomou) or “without”/“beyond” the law by the Faithfulness of Jesus Christ shown (Rom. 3:21-22). God has found an unconventional, unprecedented solution to the eschatological problem: He has presented the Messiah Jesus "as a propitiation or reconciliation through faith or faithfulness in his blood" (3:25). In response to Jesus' faithfulness, obedience and suffering, God has overlooked the previously committed sins of Jews like Paul (he is still speaking here as a Jew on behalf of his people) so that he can justify justly or fairly or with integrity (without loss of face) the one "who believes in Jesus" (3:26).

I just want to touch on that in passing extensive scientific debate about whether the term “pistis Iēsou/Christou” refers to the Faithfulness of Jesus or on the People's faith in Jesus relates. I certainly think it is right to focus on Jesus' concrete faithfulness and obedience, but the difference in meaning between the two interpretations does not seem to be critically important here, at least at this level of my analysis.

In my opinion, it is also important to recognize the limited reach of the Language of redemption and atonement can be seen in Romans 3:25. It's not that one individual sinners at any time and place redeemed by the death of Jesus, but that People of God in the first century, that faces a day of God's wrath.

In Jewish thought there is no atonement for Gentiles. What we're talking about here is the... Redemption of a community of the historical consequences of their resistance to the living God in the run-up to the “eschatological” transformation of the Greco-Roman world. Think about that narrative framework from Habakkuk 1-2.

However, if it is no longer that Law, but those pistis Christou (Faithfulness | Faith of Christ) through which people are “justified” or judged to be in the right in this time of eschatological upheaval and transition, then it becomes possible to include pagans in the (Christian) synagogue replacement communities as a concrete sign of this , that God belongs not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles (3:29-30). Belonging to the people of God as an eschatological or prophetic community is fundamentally determined by the attitude towards the crucified and risen Lord. The churches are made up of God-praising Jews and Gentiles Anticipation the day on which YHWH alone from the nations in the name of his Son will be worshiped.

By what kind of faith was Abraham justified?

After Paul insists that the God of the Jews is also the God of the Gentiles, he sets out his argument Abraham back, because in his opinion it is not Moses and the law, but Abraham and the promise that is the most important and decisive thing in this whole story.

Here we have that original template for the argument for justification by faith. Abraham had faith, and that was credited to him as righteousness, and not anything he did—anything comparable to the works of the law. The question that is not usually asked in all the debates about justification in our theological discussions is, what was the object of Abraham's faith. What did he believe in? Not just to God, but to one future result: that he would have “descendants” and that his descendants would inherit the world (4:13). Abraham was justified, because he believed in a promise.

This future orientation must be maintained. We are not dealing here with the Reformed argument about the Justification of the individual still with the argument of the “new perspective on the interpretation of Paul” (new perspective on Paul) about the Belonging to the federal community to do, but with one eschatological argument about the fate of the world.

It's about the Lord's Day, at which the old orders swept away and a single “descendant” of Abraham (cf. Gal 3:16), a root of Jesse, vis recognized as Lord by the nations (Romans 15:12). Who will be right on this day? Those who have believed from the beginning that Jesus was given up for the sins of his people and was raised for the justification of those who have the eschatological (future-oriented) faith that present circumstances require (4:24-25).

Since Abraham was already found to be right (“righteous”) before his circumcision, he Believe in the promise Priority over that Possession of the law. For Paul this means, on the one hand, that... real Jew is the one who is in the Footsteps of Faith walks that Abraham had before he was circumcised, and on the other hand, that the Uncircumcisedwho believe in the promised new future are justified without being circumcised - the proof of this is that they have received the same Spirit, even if I am getting ahead of myself now (see my argument later in Rom 4:11-12).

Theologe mit Leidenschaft, transchristentümlich, post-kolonial, historisch-narrativ in Lemgo

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