Thursday, July 25, 2013

Through the Bible: Week 43 - Romans, part 2

What and Why Paul is Writing: “The Obedience of Faith”
Romans 1: 1-7

Paul has self identified as an apostle of “the gospel of God.”  He mentions several things about this “good news” which bears close scrutiny.

  1. The gospel is good news not good advice.  It is a royal proclamation about what God has done to set the world right through his Son.  The gospel is first and foremost about what God has done not what should do.

  1. The good news is long promised – thus Paul reviews Jesus’ pedigree (v3-4).  Thus we are introduced to the full humanity and deity of Jesus. 

  1. The good news is closely tied to Jesus Christ.  The good news has him as its subject.  It is about his arrival, his death, his resurrection – and the implications of all that for the world. 

  1. But there is an implication of this good news – “to bring about the obedience of faith.”  This phrase sandwiches the whole letter thus underlying its importance (16:26).

    • “Obedience” – derives from the word “to hear.”  It is not performance in relation to a law.  It is a relational word and implies a willingness to be open and responsive to the communication of another.
    • Sometimes Elizabeth asks me to “listen.”  If I don’t listen I cannot fully appreciate or relate to her in an appropriate manner.  Thus it is with God.   

      5.   This rendering of “obedience” fits the word it modifies – “faith”.

·         Faith is essentially a posture of “trust” or “openness.”
·         Example of interacting with estranged friend. 
·         Opens possibilities of insight and understanding; this insight comes from the other side of the world, as a distant One who comes close to guide and teach me. 
·         This experience of relatedness opens me to the other.  Faith implies a posture of other-orientedness.  My goal is sharing the gospel is not, first, to change another.  IT is rather, to share a common humanity that is estranged, in need of reconciliation.  We must experience a fraternity, beginning with the experience of the otherness of God.  What does this mean for us?  It means, even if we are different, that difference is much smaller than our difference from God.  Yet this God, the one revealed in Jesus Christ, has come close to decrease the difference.  God’s incarnation has made reconciliation possible.  There is hope that we can be reconciled to each other in Him.  We will pick this theme up next week. 

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