Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Since I post something almost everyday, what does it say about me....
Suzanne McCarthy disagrees with Wallace's view, and has a series of posts on the Better Bibles Blog about the name “Junia” in Romans 16:7. See Participatory Bible Study Blog for an index of her 10-part series.
I haven't had a chance to study the grammar. Just glancing at the verse, I would probably translate it "notable among the apostles." But I'm not sure that proves anything one way or the other in the gender debate.
Monday, January 29, 2007
Saturday, January 27, 2007
In large terms, I do agree with David Peterson (in his book Engaging With God) and others who have argued that the move from worship under the Old Covenant to the New, is the move from the temple-centred cultus of sacrifice and designated priesthood and high feasts and holy times, to a stance where worship under the New Covenant is bound up with the limitless extent of the gospel. You have Romans 12:1-2, for example, where cultic sacrificial language is used to say that the offering of our whole selves is at the heart of Christian worship....
Friday, January 26, 2007
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Romans 9 is an explanation for why the word of God has not failed even though God’s chosen people, Israel, as a whole, are not turning to Christ and being saved. The sovereignty of God’s grace is brought in as the final ground of God’s faithfulness in spite of Israel’s failure, and therefore as the deepest foundation for the precious promises of Romans 8. For if God is not faithful to his word, we can’t count on Romans 8 either.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
[So] that what I have of direction to contribute to the carrying on of the work of mortification in believers may receive order and perspicuity, I shall lay the foundation of it in those words of the apostle, “If you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body you shall live” (Rom. 8:13), and reduce the whole to an improvement of the great evangelical truth and mystery contained in them.
The apostle having made a recapitulation of his doctrine of justification by faith, and the blessed estate and condition of them who are made by grace partakers thereof, verses 1-3 of this chapter proceed to improve it to the holiness and consolation of believers. Among his arguments and motives unto holiness, the verse mentioned contains one from the contrary events and effects of holiness and sin: “If you live after the flesh, you shall die.” What it is to “live after the flesh,” and what it is to “die,” that being not my present aim and business, I shall not otherwise explain than as they will fall in with the sense of the latter words of the verse, as before proposed.
In the words peculiarly designed for the foundation of the ensuing discourse, there is:
1. A duty prescribed: “Mortify the deeds of the body.”
2. The persons denoted to whom it is prescribed: “You”—“if you mortify.”
3. A promise annexed to that duty: “You shall live.”
4. The cause or means of the performance of this duty—the Spirit: “If you through the Spirit.”
5. The conditionality of the whole proposition, wherein duty, means, and promise are contained: “If you,” etc.
Sanctification: Necessary but Not Meritorious. In Romans Paul is evidently responding to concerns that his gospel is antinomian. His response divides into basically two sections. In chapters 1–5 he substantiates his message that justification is through faith and apart from works. In chapters 6–8 he refutes the accusation that justification through faith makes works redundant (6:1, 15). Because chapters 1–5 focus on the ground of justification, they portray works negatively: “by the works of the law no flesh will be justified before him” (3:20). Nonetheless, in chapters 6–8 works are portrayed positively, as the inevitable and necessary corollary of justification.
Righteousness is inevitable because those who are united with Christ in his crucifixion death are by definition united with him in his resurrection life (6:1–14). Righteousness is necessary because the basis of divine judgment has not changed: sin leads to death, and obedience to life (6:15–23). Moral transformation is thus a prerequisite for eschatological salvation: “If you live in keeping with the flesh, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (8:13). In fact, God sent Jesus and bestows the Spirit for this very reason; namely, because sanctification—and not only justification—is necessary, and could be achieved in no other way (8:3–4).
Monday, January 22, 2007
Some who contend it refers to the normal life of the believer:
- Jim Hamilton, Why I Think Romans 7 Is Describing Indwelling Sin in Believers.
- Phil Johnson with a highlight from Charles Spurgeon, Why I Think Romans 7 Is Describing Indwelling Sin in Believers.
- Jerry Bridges, The Discomfort of the Justified Life.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
How the Cross Changes Us (Romans 6:1-14)
1. What the cross free us from
2. What the cross frees us for
3. How the cross frees us
(HT: Justin Taylor)
When rightly preached, the gospel of grace will always be open to the charge that it promotes lawlessness. Wherever Paul went he was hounded by opponents who accused him of teaching people that since they were forgiven, it did not matter how they lived. This was how they distorted his reasoning: “If God forgives us freely by grace (which he does) and if it is true that God’s grace is magnified in the forgiving of sin (which it is), then why not sin all the more so that more grace flows and God receives more glory?” (Mahaney and Boisvert, How Can I Change? p. 27).
Friday, January 19, 2007
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned — for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come (Romans 5:12-14).
The two theologians at CrossTalk have been blogging through Romans. One of the things A .B. Caneday says in his Comments on Romans 5:12-14 concerns the phrase at the end of verse 12, "because all sinned":
Augustine, who did not know Greek well, set interpreters to misreading the phrase eph hō pantes hēmarton as though it were equivalent to ev hō pantes hēmarton. Augustine made two mistakes. First, he misunderstood eph hō as equivalent to en hō, thus his Latin translation, in quo. Second, he misunderstood the relative pronoun to refer to the one man (anthrōpou), Adam, rather than to death (thanatos), thus yielding his translation in whom rather than upon the basis of which.
Following Augustine theologically but not exegetically, most interpreters take the phrase eph hō in a causal sense—so death came to all, because all sinned (cf. RSV, NRSV, NIV, NASB, NASB95, ESV).
Caneday then shows the meaning of his translation:
So, I agree with Schreiner that the all sinned does refer to each individual human as personally sinning but also that the phrase eph hō explains the basis upon which every human sins. Every human who comes into this world sins as a result of death which has come to everyone of us, and death came to us all because Adam sinned. Thus, we each enter into the world in the state of spiritual death by virtue of Adam’s sin (sorry about the unintended pun). So, by virtue of entering into the world in the state of spiritual death we all sin.
To really simplify it, I think the difference between this interpretation and the interpretation of most translations goes something like this: Do we sin because we are (spiritually) dead, or do we die because we sinned (in Adam)? I have to admit that I'm torn between the two. What do you think?
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
James says: "Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,' and he was called God's friend" (James 2:21-23).
Meanwhile Paul says in Romans 4:2-3: "If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.'"
John MacArthur quotes John Calvin:
It appears certain that [James] is speaking of the manifestation, not of the imputation of righteousness, as if he had said, Those who are justified by faith prove their justification by obedience and good works, not by a bare and imaginary semblance of faith. In one word, he is not discussing the mode of justification, but requiring that the justification of all believers shall be operative. And as Paul contends that men are justified without the aid of works, so James will not allow any to be regarded as Justified who are destitute of good works ... Let them twist the words of James as they may, they will never extract out of them more than two propositions: That an empty phantom of faith does not justify, and that the believer, not contented with such an imagination, manifests his justification by good works. [Henry Beveridge, trans., John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 3:17:12 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1966 reprint), 2: 115.]
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Monday, January 15, 2007
Jim Hamilton uses a Q & A on N. T. Wright format to help readers understand the New Perspective.
If you want more (lots more) material, check out The Paul Page, which has articles both supporting and criticizing the New Perspective.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Paul wrote in Romans 2:15 that gentiles who know nothing of Moses or Christ may nonetheless show by their deeds "that the requirements of the Law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them." J. Budziszewski, who teaches in the Departments of Government and Philosophy at the University of Texas, and whose work frequently appears in First Things and other journals, explains that this law is what philosophers call the "natural law." It is the bedrock moral understanding that we can't not know, however hard we try to evade that knowledge, because our consciences bear witness to it.
Justin Taylor has provided some helpful resources for further study on the topic of natural law:
Friday, January 12, 2007
Paul is talking about a disclosure that comes from God and it is the disclosure of wrath. We should notice here the word Paul uses for wrath. This word, when transliterated into English, becomes “orgy.” The connection to wrath is the emphasis on unbridled passion. What God is saying here is that His wrath is not a mere disturbance, not a slight displeasure, but an absolute fury. God is livid. He is, in a supernatural way, irate about something. When the Scripture tells us God is this angry about something, we need to listen up and learn what it is that can possibly provoke this loving, longsuffering deity to such anger.
We do not need to speculate because God gives us the answer. God’s wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. God’s anger is not irrational. He is not manifesting His rage in an unjust manner. This is righteous indignation because the object of His anger and wrath is ungodliness and unrighteousness. In our culture, the prevailing suggestion towards God is that if He is really loving and good there can be no room for wrath. “But if God is really righteous and sin is really sin, God cannot not be angry.” A judge who is not angry at evil is not good. God’s wrath is not arbitrary or whimsical or irrational.
You can download the message through the Shepherds' Conference site.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."
At Kim Riddlebarger's blog, there is a page where he is posting chapters in An Exposition of Romans. Chapter 3 is on A Righteousness from God (Romans 1:16-17) - pdf format.
Concerning the importance of these two verses:
Although Romans 1:16-17 are a continuation of Paul’s opening remarks in verses 8-15, it is not inappropriate to mark them off as a kind of thesis statement which, in many ways, summarizes Paul’s theology as a whole. In fact, these two verses not only set out the reason why Paul is eager to preach the gospel in Rome, but Paul also states in very precise terms the organizing theme which gives unity to the issues raised throughout the Book of Romans, which will be spelled out in great detail in subsequent chapters. While Paul addresses a number of subjects in this epistle which were the source or consequence of the division which plagued Jews and Gentiles in the early church in Rome, all of these questions ultimately find their answer in the way in which Jew and Gentile sinners are reconciled to a Holy God. Since these verses are such a tight summary of Paul’s gospel, they take on an importance way out of proportion to their length.
Concerning the nature of faith:
In his commentary on Romans, Anders Nygren makes a very important point. "The gospel and faith belong together inseparably. Therefore we may not speak of faith as something which could exist apart from the gospel. Faith is not a state of the soul which man must have, that by its aid he may receive the gospel. It is the gospel which is primary, which creates faith and awakens it in us. When one hears the gospel and is conquered by it, that is faith. Faith is not prior to the gospel and independent of it. It [faith] arises only through one’s meeting with the gospel."
If Nygren is correct, saving faith can arise only in connection to the preaching of the gospel. This means that faith is not our contribution to our salvation, nor is faith the one work God requires of us in order to be saved. Rather, faith is what God creates in our hearts through the preaching of the cross which is the power of God. And yet even though faith is something which God creates through the hearing of the gospel (cf. Romans 10:17), at the very same time, faith is our own genuine and intensely personal response to God’s promise of deliverance from his wrath, because of the genuine freedom which God restores to us through the power of the gospel. Faith is not a human work. Faith doesn’t do anything. Rather, faith receives what God freely offers to us in Christ, namely a justifying righteousness and the forgiveness of our sins.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Mark Dever's Justification: The Message of Romans. He shares six statements about justification in his message:
1. All need to be justified because all sinned.
2. No one will be justified by things they do.
3. Sinnres will only be justified by Christ.
4. Sinners will only be justified through faith in Christ.
5. Therefore all kinds of sinners can be justified.
6. None of this means that the faith-justified person can be licentious or antinomian.
Ray Stedman, The Message of Romans.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
1. Introduction (1:1–15)
2. Theme: Righteousness from God (1:16–17)
3. The Unrighteousness of All People (1:18—3:20)
- Gentiles (1:18–32)
- Jews (2:1—3:8)
- Summary: All People (3:9–20)
- Through Christ (3:21–26)
- Received by Faith (3:27—4:25)
- The principle established (3:27–31)
- The principle illustrated (ch. 4)
- The Fruits of Righteousness (5:1–11)
- Summary: Humanity’s Unrighteousness Contrasted with God’s Gift of Righteousness (5:12–21)
- Freedom from Sin’s Tyranny (ch. 6)
- Freedom from the Law’s Condemnation (ch. 7)
- Life in the Power of the Holy Spirit (ch. 8)
- The Justice of God’s Rejection of Israel (9:1–29)
- The Cause of That Rejection (9:30—10:21)
- The Rejection Is Neither Complete nor Final (ch. 11)
- There is even now a remnant (11:1–10)
- The rejection is only temporary (11:11–24)
- God’s ultimate purpose is mercy (11:25–36)
- In the Body—the Church (ch. 12)
- In the World (ch. 13)
- Among Weak and Strong Christians (14:1—15:13)
9. Commendation, Greetings and Doxology (ch. 16)
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Andrew Jones, A Prediction for 2007
Kristin Chesemore (Girl Talk), New Years Prayers
Carolyn McCulley, Seeking Wisdom for a New Year
Darryl Dash, What I Long for in 2007
David Wayne, Happy New Year!
Douglas Groothuis, Fifteen Refusals for 2007 (re-link)
Wayne Leman, Listening to the Bible in a Year
Bob Kauflin, Looking Forward to Heaven
Frank Turk, New Years Resolution
David Gunner Gundersen, Not About Me: Thoughts on a New Year
Bradford Mercer (First Presbyterian Jackson MS), I Predict
Nathan Busenitz (Pulpit Magazine), A New Year's Top Ten List
Jim Martin, Tip of the Week
Dave Becklund (SharperIron), A New Year Wish
Kirk Wellum, New Year's Resolutions
Kevin Stilley, New Year Resolutions for the Unambitious
Mark Roberts, "Hope for Peace" in 2007
Eric Reed (Out of Ur), 70 Effective Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards
Ken Sorrell, God Isn't in a Hurry
Scot McKnight, Prayer for the New Year
Melinda (Stand to Reason), New Year's Happiness
Thabiti Anyabwile, A Reflection for the New Year
Bill (The Thinklings), A Look Forward to 2007
Tim Bahula, New Year's Eve
Happy New Year!
Friday, January 05, 2007
Romans is full of commentaries, being such a central book of Paul's. This book has been the constant subject of discussion for centuries. With the rise of the "new perspective" it continues to have importance for understadning Paul and NT theology, being Paul's most systematic presentation of his thought. Cranfield in the ICC is full and excellent, but was written before the new perpsective came on the scene. Moo in the NIV Application Commentary series is also quite helpful, as is his superb NICNT volume. Michel in German is also quite good, but pre-new perspective. Fitzmyer is solid and Dunn gives a look at how someone in the "new perspective" approach handles the letter. Schreiner's work interacts with the "new perspective" critically. An old classic is Sanday and Headlam. So dive in and see what the discussion is on Romans.
What commentary on Romans have you found most helpful?
Thursday, January 04, 2007
The occasion and purpose are so intertwined for this epistle that they must be treated as one. Paul expressed his desire to go west all the way to Spain (15:22-24, 28). Since he had already proclaimed the gospel in the major centers in the east, it now seemed good to him to go west. But as was his custom, he needed an “emotional home,” a base of operations. Antioch had provided that in the east and Ephesus had in Asia Minor; Paul was hoping that Rome would in the west. Consequently, he wrote this letter, explaining his gospel carefully and fully, in the hopes that the Roman Christians would embrace him and it completely. Further, since his life had already been in much danger from the Jews (Acts 17:5, 13; 20:3), Paul may have sensed the need to pen his thoughts about the gospel in a systematic way, rather than due to occasional circumstances.
All of the above explain why Paul wrote what he wrote to whom he wrote—except for chapters 9–11. Baur suggested that this was the heart of the epistle, while most today do not know what to do with it. Recently, Paul B. Fowler, formerly of Reformed Seminary, argued that “Paul’s primary purpose in writing Romans was to dispel anti-Semitism” He based his argument on (1) many internal clues (11:13ff., etc., where Gentile pride has cropped up; cf. the whole thrust of chs. 9–11); (2) one main external clue (the expulsion of the Jews from Rome by Claudius a few years earlier—which would certainly continue to have rippling effects, even within the church); and (3) a chiastic pattern unfolding some of the structure of the book (viz., in chapter 3 Paul asks five questions which are unfolded in reverse order throughout chapters 3–11). What is intriguing is that, concerning this last point (the chiastic structure), although Paul answers in brief the question of 3:1 (“What advantage has the Jew?”) in the next verse, he really expands on it in chapters 9–11. Although Fowler goes too far in seeing a response to anti-Semitism as the primary purpose of Romans, I think he is right that this forms part of the purpose. Perhaps, in fact, it may be precisely because Paul’s treatment of Israel’s future occupies his mind so much in this letter that he leaves out other eschatological issues found in his other Hauptbriefe.
In sum, Paul’s occasion-purpose for writing Romans is threefold: (1) he was going west and needed to have a base of operations in a church that shared both his vision and his theology; (2) he knew that his life was in danger and wanted to give something of a more balanced, systematic presentation of his gospel, to leave as a memorial; and (3) he detected anti-Semitism arising in the Roman church through the influence of Claudius’ edict and wanted to give a theologically-based correction to this attitude.
I've found Wallace's introduction of Romans to be very helpful (though I'm not sold on the point about anti-Semitism in the Roman church).
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Wednesday, January 03, 2007
My wife and I were married in August 1998. We went on a one-week honeymoon, then moved to Minneapolis, where I began an internship at Bethlehem Baptist Church.
On April 26, 1998 John Piper preached the first sermon in a series on the book of Romans. When we arrived in Minneapolis four months later, he had worked through about 18 verses.
We moved to Chicagoland in January 2006. At that time Pastor John was in the middle of Romans 15. So despite being at Bethlehem for seven and a half years, I heard neither the beginning nor the end of the series! In fact, despite the fact that we've been married for eight years now, John Piper has been preaching this series longer than we have been married.
Here's some others who had something to say about the final sermon in Romans:
A Growing Experience
Anne Marie's Adventures
Everyday in Grace
And oh yes, here's a link to the series, Romans: The Greatest Letter Ever Written.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
If Romans is not a systematic theology in any modern sense, it is nevertheless a systematic presentation of the gospel. In short, Romans is God’s first-aid kit for his church in all ages. To switch metaphors, it is the map or “big picture” that draws together the most important strands of biblical doctrine.
The Big Picture
Have you ever thought of an argument as a map? Preparing for a trip, you open the road map and see the connections: If you take Interstate 5 to Highway 35, then exit on Route 102, you’ll go through Whispering Pines and Oak Hollow until you finally arrive at your campsite. Get off the map in unfamiliar territory, flying by the seat of your pants, you are more likely to end up lost, as my wife frequently reminds me with a particular relish.
Romans is like a map. It is detailed enough to engender a field called “Pauline scholarship,” yet basic enough to be understood by new Christians (Paul’s original audience). Wherever you are on that spectrum, Romans will be a reliable guide for the most revolutionary journey you will ever take.
This month I want to link to resources that teach the great truths of the gospel in Romans.