Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Thrust of Romans

This seems to be the argument of St Paul in Romans:

Jesus Christ has been "declared with power" to be the Son of God "by the resurrection from the dead" (1:4); in other words, His claim -- strikingly prominent in all the Gospels -- to be God's Son has been vindicated.  He has been justified "according to the Spirit of holiness" (cp. 1 Tim 3:16): this decree means that His human nature has been given life and the condemnation against Him has been annulled.

However, due to the sin of Adam, all the world is in bondage to death, twisting their created natures in accordance with "all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men" (1:18)  Both Jew and Greek labor under this cosmic Pharoah, so that none can be justified (3:9ff.; that is, share in Jesus' resurrection-eternal life) under their own power, even that given by God and commanded in the Torah (3:21-22; including the cultus).  Abraham was acquitted (ch.4; justified) before the time of Christ by His faith in the faithfulness of God the Father through Christ.  This Christ then takes our condemnation of death on the Cross, reconciling/uniting us to the Father (chs. 5-6), then giving us the Spirit (ch.8; God's Life) in the present time so that we can start living resurrection lives now (6:4), in full hope of the future resurrection (8:29; "conformity to the image of the Son") and liberation of the whole created order (8:21).  "In this hope have we been saved" (8:24).  The life/justification/resurrection of Christ is given to us now in the same way it was given to Abraham, that is, by faith in the Christ: this is objectively actualized in the mystical sharing of Christ's passion and death in baptism into the Church (6:3).  Where Christ was "declared with power" to be God's Son in His resurrection (1:4), we are now "pre-declared/pre-destined/justified" (8:29) as sons before our (eventual and guaranteed) resurrection.

This death/condemnation in water raises us up into membership in the Church, where the Torah can finally be fulfilled in mutual love of one another in all things (chs. 12-14).

However, if the goal is resurrection, especially for those who have been "foreknown/known beforehand" (Israel according to the flesh -- 11:2), why is Israel currently "hardened" (11:7): here is the mystery of God's will -- just as Pharaoh was "hardened of heart" to secure Israel's release from Egypt, so Israel is hardened to secure the Gentiles release from Adam's curse; however, unlike Pharaoh, God will use the Gentiles to cause "His people whom He foreknew" (11:2) to want Jesus Christ and so "all Israel will be saved" (11:25-26).  For, in one of the most important and most neglected verses in the book, "God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all" (11:32).  To accomplish this jealousy, though, Christians must become "living sacrifices" (12:1), those who voluntarily die to self while even possessing the justification of Christ's life, so that the will of God, the salvation of the whole world, may be accomplished.  This means that even though the Christian has freedom, they must not abuse it, but rather further enter Christ's suffering and death (chs. 12-14), His ultimate kenosis, "filling up in the flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ" (Col. 1:25, slightly modified).

"And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly" (16:20).

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