Thursday, July 02, 2009

Romans 1:1-7:
God's Gospel and Paul's Ministry

[Crossposted to Street Prophets. The index for the series is here.]

I am using Carl Palmer's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text is:

(NET) Romans 1:1 From Paul, 1 a slave 2 of Christ Jesus, 3 called to be an apostle, 4 set apart for the gospel of God. 5 2 This gospel 6 he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3 concerning his Son who was a descendant 7 of David with reference to the flesh, 8 4 who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power 9 according to the Holy Spirit 10 by the resurrection 11 from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him 12 we have received grace and our apostleship 13 to bring about the obedience 14 of faith 15 among all the Gentiles on behalf of his name. 6 You also are among them, 16 called to belong to Jesus Christ. 17 7 To all those loved by God in Rome, 18 called to be saints: 19 Grace and peace to you 20 from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

1 tn Grk “Paul.” The word “from” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied to indicate the sender of the letter.

2 tn Traditionally, “servant.” Though δοῦλος (doulos) is normally translated “servant,” the word does not bear the connotation of a free individual serving another. BDAG notes that “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American normal usage at the present time the two words are carefully distinguished” (BDAG 260 s.v.). The most accurate translation is “bondservant” (sometimes found in the ASV for δοῦλος), in that it often indicates one who sells himself into slavery to another. But as this is archaic, few today understand its force.

sn Undoubtedly the background for the concept of being the Lord’s “slave” or “servant” is to be found in the Old Testament scriptures. For someone who was Jewish this concept did not connote drudgery, but honor and privilege. It was used of national Israel at times (Isa 43:10), but was especially associated with famous OT personalities, including such great men as Moses (Josh 14:7), David (Ps 89:3; cf. 2 Sam 7:5, 8) and Elijah (2 Kgs 10:10); all these men were “servants (or slaves) of the Lord.”

3 tc Many important mss, as well as several others (Ì26 א A G Ψ 33 1739 1881 Ï), have a reversed order of these words and read “Jesus Christ” rather than “Christ Jesus” (Ì10 B 81 pc). The meaning is not affected in either case, but the reading “Christ Jesus” is preferred as slightly more difficult and thus more likely the original (a scribe who found it would be prone to change it to the more common expression). At the same time, Paul is fond of the order “Christ Jesus,” especially in certain letters such as Romans, Galatians, and Philippians. As well, the later Pauline letters almost uniformly use this order in the salutations. A decision is difficult, but “Christ Jesus” is slightly preferred.

4 tn Grk “a called apostle.”

5 tn The genitive in the phrase εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ (euangelion qeou, “the gospel of God”) could be translated as (1) a subjective genitive (“the gospel which God brings”) or (2) an objective genitive (“the gospel about God”). Either is grammatically possible. This is possibly an instance of a plenary genitive (see ExSyn 119-21; M. Zerwick, Biblical Greek, §§36-39). If so, an interplay between the two concepts is intended: The gospel which God brings is in fact the gospel about himself. However, in view of God’s action in v. 2 concerning this gospel, a subjective genitive notion (“the gospel which God brings”) is slightly preferred.

6 tn Grk “the gospel of God, which he promised.” Because of the length and complexity of this sentence in Greek, it was divided into shorter English sentences in keeping with contemporary English style. To indicate the referent of the relative pronoun (“which”), the word “gospel” was repeated at the beginning of v. 2.

7 tn Grk “born of the seed” (an idiom).

8 tn Grk “according to the flesh,” indicating Jesus’ earthly life, a reference to its weakness. This phrase implies that Jesus was more than human; otherwise it would have been sufficient to say that he was a descendant of David, cf. L. Morris, Romans, 44.

9 sn Appointed the Son-of-God-in-power. Most translations render the Greek participle ὁρισθέντος (Jorisqentos, from ὁρίζω, Jorizw) “declared” or “designated” in order to avoid the possible interpretation that Jesus was appointed the Son of God by the resurrection. However, the Greek term ὁρίζω is used eight times in the NT, and it always has the meaning “to determine, appoint.” Paul is not saying that Jesus was appointed the “Son of God by the resurrection” but “Son-of-God-in-power by the resurrection,” as indicated by the hyphenation. He was born in weakness in human flesh (with respect to the flesh, v. 3) and he was raised with power. This is similar to Matt 28:18 where Jesus told his disciples after the resurrection, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

10 tn Grk “spirit of holiness.” Some interpreters take the phrase to refer to Christ’s own inner spirit, which was characterized by holiness.

11 tn Or “by his resurrection.” Most interpreters see this as a reference to Jesus’ own resurrection, although some take it to refer to the general resurrection at the end of the age, of which Jesus’ resurrection is the first installment (cf. 1 Cor 15:23).

12 tn Grk “through whom.”

13 tn Some interpreters understand the phrase “grace and apostleship” as a hendiadys, translating “grace [i.e., gift] of apostleship.” The pronoun “our” is supplied in the translation to clarify the sense of the statement.

14 tn Grk “and apostleship for obedience.”

15 tn The phrase ὑπακοὴν πίστεως has been variously understood as (1) an objective genitive (a reference to the Christian faith, “obedience to [the] faith”); (2) a subjective genitive (“the obedience faith produces [or requires]”); (3) an attributive genitive (“believing obedience”); or (4) as a genitive of apposition (“obedience, [namely] faith”) in which “faith” further defines “obedience.” These options are discussed by C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans (ICC), 1:66. Others take the phrase as deliberately ambiguous; see D. B. Garlington, “The Obedience of Faith in the Letter to the Romans: Part I: The Meaning of ὑπακοὴ πίστεως (Rom 1:5; 16:26),” WTJ 52 (1990): 201-24.

16 tn Grk “among whom you also are called.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation. The NIV, with its translation “And you also are among those who are called,” takes the phrase ἐν οἳς ἐστε to refer to the following clause rather than the preceding, so that the addressees of the letter (“you also”) are not connected with “all the Gentiles” mentioned at the end of v. 5. It is more likely, however, that the relative pronoun οἳς has τοῖς ἔθνεσιν as its antecedent, which would indicate that the church at Rome was predominantly Gentile.

17 tn Grk “called of Jesus Christ.”

18 map For location see

19 tn Although the first part of v. 7 is not a complete English sentence, it maintains the “” pattern used in all the Pauline letters to indicate the sender and the recipients. Here, however, there are several intervening verses (vv. 2-6), which makes the first half of v. 7 appear as an isolated sentence fragment.

20 tn Grk “Grace to you and peace.”
My comments: At Street Prophets there was a diary examing the ideas of obedience/slavery/submission vs consent. That theme arises is these first 7 verses. The NIV that Carl preaches from uses the word "slave", some use "servant", and it should be "bondservant" - but in any case Paul sees himself as the servant or slave of Jesus, or the Gospel, for the Glory of God. However, there is no way, I think, to not see that Paul is in full consent with that status.

The subtle differences in those three words are important:
  • Servant: could be a slave, or could just be hired.
  • Bondservant: has sold themselves into slavery.
  • slave: could be a bondservant, and also could be someone forced into slavery.
This is a real difference in discussing Paul's view of himself as a slave of Christ - bondservant is certainly a better word; but is it too archaic?

It is interesting to me that the translator's notes pinpoint the change in translation from "slave" to "servant" to the period of early American history. I think particularly in the west, and most clearly in the United States, the idea of autonomy and freedom is most important. We do not wish to see ourselves as servants or slaves to anyone (even God) or any cause (including what is right and just). We want to be independent partners with God, rather than lovingly doing His will to perhaps our own personal detriment. We are, perhaps more than anywhere else on the planet, the center of our own personal universe - a universe that is here to serve us and not us to serve it.

Further, the idea of the "obedience of faith" or "obedience from faith" is deep. Do we obey because we have faith, or do we develop faith through obeying - or both (that is what I think)?

Also in these first seven verses is Paul's understanding of why the resurrection was important - it proved that Jesus was the long promised Messiah. It also was the point where Jesus, born in weakness as a human, assumed (or re-assumed in my mind) the position/power of Son.

Finally, for those who didn't get through all the audio, the word "saint" is not about behavior - it is about position.

Next: Romans 1:8-15 -- "Paul's Desire to Come to Rome"

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How to debate charitably (rules are links to more description of rule):
1. The Golden Rule
2. You cannot read minds
3. People are not evil
4. Debates are not for winning
5. You make mistakes
6. Not everyone cares as much as you
7. Engaging is hard work
8. Differences can be subtle
9. Give up quietly