Friday, April 23, 2010


Romans 1-3

Paul begins his epistle to the Romans with prayers and greetings, and expressed a desire to visit the church in Rome. He praises them for their "faith is being reported all over the world" and tells them that they are in his prayers "at all times" and he prays that "at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you." He wants to see them to "impart to you some spiritual gift" and they and he "may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith." And he tells them that he is eager to preach the gospel in Rome, and that he is "not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes." Then he spends the rest of the first chapter talking about God's wrath, about those who "neither glorified him...nor gave thanks to him" and how they were fools that God allowed to follow their own folly unto destruction.

Chapter two continues on the same theme, and tells them that anyone passing judgment on another condemns himself "because you who pass judgment do the same things." Stubborness and unrepentence "are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath." And he begins talking of the law, telling them that "all who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law." Hearing the law doesn't make one righteous in God's sight, but obeying it. And those who do what the law says, even Gentiles who don't have the law, "show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts" and will be judged accordingly "on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ." The law only has value, he tells them, only for those that obey it, but those who have the law and break it are condemned as if they never had it. "A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit."

In chapter three, he asserts that there is, nevertheless, advantage in being a Jew, because "they have been entrusted with the very words of God." God righteousness is even clearer in the reflection of our unrighteousness, but that doesn't excuse us for it - we should never say "let us do evil that good may result." But Jew and Gentile alike are under sin, and "no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law" but the law makes us aware of our sin. And he finishes the chapter with the argument that righteousness "comes from God through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe...we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law." And God is the God of the gentiles also, "since there is only one God."

Thoughts, questions, issues

  • One of the things that Paul does in the opening chapter is make the general revelation argument. "Since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."
  • As I noted during the discussion of Galatians, Paul is the "faith" writer of the New Testament. It all comes down to faith with him, faith rather than works, faith rather than law.

Proverbs 28:1-14

The book of proverbs tells us, very early, that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." It's a theme that runs all the way through it, as we see here in chapter 28: "Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble."

Proverbs 28

1 The wicked man flees though no one pursues,
but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

2 When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers,
but a man of understanding and knowledge maintains order.

3 A ruler who oppresses the poor
is like a driving rain that leaves no crops.

4 Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
but those who keep the law resist them.

5 Evil men do not understand justice,
but those who seek the LORD understand it fully.

6 Better a poor man whose walk is blameless
than a rich man whose ways are perverse.

7 He who keeps the law is a discerning son,
but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.

8 He who increases his wealth by exorbitant interest
amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.

9 If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law,
even his prayers are detestable.

10 He who leads the upright along an evil path
will fall into his own trap,
but the blameless will receive a good inheritance.

11 A rich man may be wise in his own eyes,
but a poor man who has discernment sees through him.

12 When the righteous triumph, there is great elation;
but when the wicked rise to power, men go into hiding.

13 He who conceals his sins does not prosper,
but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

14 Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD,
but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.

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