Friday, August 28, 2009

Fleeting thoughts on Romans 1:1-4

After a curry, a few glasses of wine, three journal articles, and with my buddy BW8, this is what I've come up with on Romans 1:1-4.

"The Apostolic vocation which Paul carries out has as its centrepiece the gospel. Paul was called to be an apostle and set apart for the sake of the “gospel of God”. When Paul mentions the gospel it is most often in association with Jesus Christ as its foci (see 1 Cor 9:12; 15:1-5; 2 Cor 2:12; 4:4; 9:13; 10:14; Phil 1:17; 1 Thess 3:2; 2 Thess 1:8; 2 Tim 2:8). In fact, Paul will very quickly go on to relate the “gospel of God” to the gospel “concerning his son” in 1:3 and the “gospel of his Son” in 1:9 (see Rom 2:16; 16:25). Yet here it is the “gospel of God” (see Rom 15:16; 2 Cor 11:7; 1 Thess 2:8-9; 1 Tim 1:11). The sense is deliberately open as it might mean a gospel from God or a gospel about God. Most likely, both senses are intended. The gospel is both a revelation from God (Gal 1:12) and is about what God himself has done in the faithfulness, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. To tell the gospel of God is to tell the story of Jesus. And yet the story of Jesus is entirely inexplicable apart from the story of God. Paul is the quintessential Jesus-freak, but he is not a mono-Jesus adherent. That is because God, Son, and Spirit all figure prominently in his opening narration of the gospel story in Rom 1:1-4. In fact, Romans is the most theocentric letter of the Pauline corpus with the word theos occurring 153 times! John Webster rightly states: “The matter to which Christian theology is commanded to attend, and by which it is directed in all its operations, is the presence of the perfect God as it is announced in the gospel”. As the Apostle sent and set apart by God, Paul sets out before the Roman Christians the story of how God’s plan to repossess the world for himself have now been executed in his own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ."


Edward said...

No offense, Michael, but this is a disaster. Besides being fairly incoherent, it seems like an exercise in stating the obvious. "When Paul mentions the gospel it is most often in association with Jesus Christ as its foci (sic)." No kidding! I see what you mean about fleeting thoughts. Maybe you should do your serious thinking before the wine and curry.

Paul said...

No offense, Edward, but this is perfectly coherent and explicates beautifully upon the opening of Romans, as well as shows us a bit of those nasty genitives and how they are so very important. No doubt, the wine helped, too! Maybe I should've had more vino before going to Blomberg's Greek classes.

Edward said...

I'm glad you got something out of it, Paul. I guess stating the obvious has its place. But if you'd paid attention in class you would have known it was the plenary genitive.

David Reimer said...

A helpful reflection! Only two quibbles from me:

1. "repossess" in the final sentence. "Repossess"?

2. Everyone knows it's lager with curry.

John Davies said...

I'd be interested in the implied genitive in connection with "three articles". Quite impressive if they were dashed off after curry and vino!
The important bit, I think, in this context, is God's "pre-promised" gospel. Paul's whole gospel framework is grounded in his post-Damascus-encounter OT hermeneutic.

Luke said...

I like the fact you've emphasised the Apostle Paul's theocentrism, Michael. However you should have widened your remarks to include verses 5 and 6. The "obedience of faith" is a big clue that the Apostle is also thinking back to the original obedience of God the Son, being successful in stead of the disobedient Adam. No offense John Davies but Paul's hermeneutic goes back further then his Damascus Road experience. He's thinking of obedience all the way back to Adam.

JohnGreenview said...

Paul's ultimate hermeneutic is a revelation he received from Jesus Christ. It is this that enables him to stamp so firmly his apostleship on Romans (stressed so heavily in Ch 1).

On another topic. I'm getting older, I know. I am in my fifties. In my day I have been noted for banter and it has its place. This by way of introducing a gentle questioning of the lager/vino/wine references. I am clear that Scripture does not forbid drink and feel free personally to drink in moderation from time to time. However, I am equally sure the bible urges caution and care about alcohol. I cannot see Paul writing letters with flippant comments about alcohol.

The web is wide open. Is this the impression of evangelicals, future or present evangelical leaders we wish to convey?

Questions to think about guys from one who is far from perfect and whose tongue and attempts at wit frequently trip him up.