Thursday, October 01, 2009

Romans 5:3-5
"Loving and Longsuffering "

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

(NET) Romans 5:3 Not4 only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance, character, and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God5 has been poured out6 in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

4 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

5 tn The phrase ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ (hē agapē tou theou, “the love of God”) could be interpreted as either an objective genitive (“our love for God”), subjective genitive (“God’s love for us”), or both (M. Zerwick’s “general” genitive ["Biblical Greek", §§36–39]; D. B. Wallace’s “plenary” genitive [ExSyn 119–21]). The immediate context, which discusses what God has done for believers, favors a subjective genitive, but the fact that this love is poured out within the hearts of believers implies that it may be the source for believers’ love for God; consequently an objective genitive cannot be ruled out. It is possible that both these ideas are meant in the text and that this is a plenary genitive: “The love that comes from God and that produces our love for God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (ExSyn 121).

6 sn On the OT background of the Spirit being poured out, see Isa 32:15; Joel 2:28–29.

Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.

My Comments: Just in case folks didn't go back - or remember - the beginning of chapter 5, Paul had started with
Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory.
Now, most folks will rejoice - if they truly believe it - that the have been declared righteous by God, that they have peace with God, and that they stand in God's grace. Especially, if they recieve all this by faith and not by their effort.

However, now Paul says he also rejoices in his suffering - this is not something we do well; and indeed we might question why, if we are in such good stead with God, we should have to suffer at all. I did a whole series on the problem of evil (and I am not going through that again here) - and this falls into one of those posts: "What is the Purpose of Evil?". The reason Paul gives here - that pressure/suffering/evil produces endurance (strength), that strength builds character, that character produces hope, and that hope then finds its fulfillment in the love of God poured out to us through the Spirit that God gave us - is not one of those reasons Geisler gave in his book. It should have been.

Often, Carl Palmer has said (as many others have) that God does not care about our comfort - He cares about our character and our reliance on Him (instead of our own strength and will). Paul talks about the last part of that in another famous passage and adds yet another reason for suffering -- keeping us humble:
2 Corinthians 12:6 For even if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I would be telling the truth, but I refrain from this so that no one may regard me beyond what he sees in me or what he hears from me, 7 even because of the extraordinary character of the revelations. Therefore, so that I would not become arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me – so that I would not become arrogant. 8 I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
Christ talked about the suffering of His followers because of Him, and the results of endurance in that suffering:
Matthew 24 :9 “Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. You will be hated by all the nations because of my name. 10 Then many will be led into sin, and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will appear and deceive many, 12 and because lawlessness will increase so much, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the person who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Jesus also lays out the suffering to come in Matthew 10:16-42 with a kind of "what do you expect?" moment:
24 “A disciple is not greater than his teacher, nor a slave greater than his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to become like his teacher, and the slave like his master.
Our Teacher and Master suffered - we really cannnot hope not to. We are not greater than Him.

So, we are going to suffer for so many reasons - both linked to us being members of the Body of Christ and to just being human in a fallen world. So, like Paul:
rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Next: 5:6-11 -- "We Rejoice in God"

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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