Thursday, August 19, 2010

A little Commentary

I am doing something a little different today in my post than normal. I am more or less posting some of my own commentary on scripture. This is more or less done out of a response to hearing a message this weekend and commenting on the verses used in the message.
This is in no way an attack on the usage of the persons message, but my attempt at understanding the original rendering of the authors intent.
The passages used for the message was from Romans 10:14-15;"How then will they call in him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'".
Without going into what the spoke on or didn't speak on, I will just comment on the passage and come in with my own thoughts on the meaning. I will begin from the start of chp. 10.
"Brethren, my hearts desire and prayer to G-d for them is that they might be saved." V.1
This part of letter is of great importance in the context of understanding Pauls theology, and ideas on soteriology, Israel and the nations.
Paul goes to great lengths using texts from the prophets to make his statements authoritative. He quotes from Lev., Duet., Isaiah, Joel and Nahum. The quotations are not so much for the gentile hearers of the letter, but more for the Jewish audience, because it comes from their own writings, directed towards them.
The first question that I have to answer is, what is Pauls idea of salvation here? Based upon Pauls train of thought here, his use of scripture is the persuasive call to repentance toward G-d and away from their pride. His basis for his proclamation seems quite consistent also with the preaching of John the baptist and Jesus. It was a call for a true form of repentance, acts of righteousness, steeped in faith and trust in the G-d of Israel.
For Paul, salvation comes in the form not just of pronouncement, but comes in objectively in the person of Jesus the Messiah. In Pauls theology, Jesus was the living message that would turn all men back to G-d and making mankind righteous positionally before G-d and set them apart for fruitful work(Ephesians 2:10).
It was Pauls deepest desire to see his people turn back to G-d away from hypocrisy and what he saw as over ritualized ceremonies that kept his people complacent, distant and apathetic to G-d and also the social needs of society.
"For I bear witness to them that they have a zeal for G-d, but not according to full knowledge." V.2
Paul is more or less giving is kinsmen some credit here. He even gives them kudos for the zeal. They did have a zeal, but unfortunately, like most of us, our personal zeal can be directed wrongly, even with pure intentions. They got so caught up in the minutia of details and forgot to practice the commandment of loving our neighbor.
There is a principle soon forgotten with myself, especially when I am steeped in a diligent study, that of what I think is of so great importance, and don't feel the tug at my shirt from my own child wanting to acknowledge her new drawings. My interest in discovering truth has just been lost in the moment I miss this moment of G-d working in and through my daughter.
" For they being ignorant of G-ds righteousness and seeking to establish their own righteousness have not submitted to the righteousness of G-d."
Using the Greek of his day, Paul uses the word "agnoustes", where we get the word agnostic. Its basic meaning is without knowing, or not knowing. For the religious of Pauls day, it was because of a lack of not knowing what G-d truly desired of them. I guess it is easy to get caught up daily routines, rituals and to forget about G-ds righteousness. It is easy because for the human who is frail, forgetful and foolish a majority of the time, spends his days building systems, walls and barriers and fences to protect our self purity.
Paul knew this all to well; for he was at the time of him writing this letter until the day he was martyred, a Pharisee. This is not a negative thing however, but it can become a negative response when seeking ones own righteousness.
Religious life and faith almost seem paradoxical. We can lean so far into the essence of one and almost negate the other. Paul however, sees it the sense that "they have not submitted
to the righteousness of G-d.".
This Paul goes onto explain in V.4;"For Christ is the goal of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes.".
Paul use Jesus as the paradox of applied intertwining truth. If anything, we should let the life of Jesus as recorded in the gospels speak this truth.
This beautiful truth I will come back to tomorrow.
Until the next post, may G-d bless.

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