Sunday, February 1, 2015

So, what are we exactly working towards in faith?

The theological hope behind Romans
The church as the new Olive Tree, Israel of God. That is, “God has chosen and called a people to himself out of all peoples, as Abraham was called out of Ur, and believers have been called by the gospel…As such they are his beloved, and they are holy, placed on God’s side and separated from the world. Just as the name ‘church’…takes the place of Israel as the historical people of God…And all this because of the gracious character of God’s election and because of Christ, who is the seed of Abraham as well as the second Adam: the one in whom the whole church [Jews/Gentiles], has become one body and one new man.” Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology, p 333, 361.

 “A second striking feature of Paul's talk of the gospel of Jesus Christ is his concern to insist that this gospel was not an unexpected turn in God's purposes. Quite the contrary. His opening statement in Romans immediately defines "the gospel of God" as that "which was promised beforehand through his [God's] prophets in the holy scriptures" (Rom. 1.1)...the final catena of scriptures (15.9-12) was for Paul no doubt the most fitting way to round off his whole argument… Of course, Paul speaks throughout not only as a theologian, but as an apostle, as a missionary. And his preaching was not simply the impartation of information ("knowledge") that his hearers were spiritual beings who only needed to know the facts for their destiny to be secure. Paul preached for a decision, "with a view to the obedience of faith among all the nations" (Rom. 1.5)…the preacher must be sent to preach so that the hearers may believe (10.14-17)…the ambassador must plead on behalf of Christ,” Dunn, Apostle Paul, p 169, 324.

Romans 15

4 “For whatever was written in former days [i.e., in the OT] was written for our instruction [i.e., us Christians].” [NOTE: the LXX is scripture!]

7 Therefore welcome one another, as Christ also welcomed you, to the glory of God.

8 I maintain that Messiah became a diakonos of the circumcision [Jews] to show God’s truth, the God who guarantees the promises He made to their forefathers.

9 He also came so that the nations could praise God for His mercy, as Scripture says,

“Therefore I will praise you among the nations; I will sing praises to your name.”

10 And also: “Nations, celebrate with His people!”

11 And again: “All you nations, praise the Lord; let all peoples [laoi] praise him.” [LXX, Ps 116.1]

12 And again, Isaiah says, “Jesse’s descendant will come to rule the nations, and place their hope in him.” [Isa 11.10, LXX; cp. “descendant of David”, Rom 1.3]

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [faith], that you may overflow in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

·       Paul’s favorite prophet: 80+ throughout his letters; almost 20 in Romans [Bible Exposition Commentary: Prophets, p 13; Moyise, Menken, Isaiah in the NT, p 117f.].

·       Nation [ethnos] used 6 times; in this case means all nations in distinction from Christians [v.11], “the true Israel of God…according to the spirit” [Gal 6.16; cp. “true circumcision”, Phil 3.3].

LXX references:
1.     v. 3 [Ps 68.9];

2.     v. 8-9 [2Sam 22.50; Ps 17.49-50, David’s song of praise for conquering the nations];

3.     v. 10 [“son of Moses”, Deut. 32.43; cp. Ps 67.3,5];

Rejoice with him, you heavens, and let all of the sons of God [gods, ESV] worship him [NLT following LXX]; Praise [Worship, proskyneo] his people, O you nations [RSV; cp. DRB; “about His people”, CJB], and let all angels of God [NLT] strengthen themselves in him...”

“For the Greek turned the triumphalist Hebrew ("Praise his people, O you nations" — RSV) into something much more to Paul's point: "Rejoice, nations, with his people." The "with" provides just the note of integration which Paul evidently sought.” Dunn, Apostle Paul, p 530. 

4.     v. 11 [Ps 116.1, nations will worship];

5.     v. 12 [Isa 11.10, Davidic descendant rules the nations];

6.     v. 21 [Isa 52.15, suffering servant will be exalted/victorious over the nations].

Why the LXX?
Scattered Jewish-Christians preferred it because it retained its Hebrew flavor and the common [Koine] Greek was easy to understand. Thus, it appeals to both literate and illiterate classes.

The OT theme “alludes to the fact that David will praise the Lord in the presence of the defeated nations when they, as his subjects, bring their tribute payments. Ideally God’s chosen king was to testify to the nations of God’s greatness.” [NET Bible]

“Paul returns to the theme in what is in fact the climactic statement of the gospel and theology expounded in the letter.” Dunn, Apostle Paul, p 529-530.

“Paul takes OT language, which might more naturally hold out hope of (now dispersed [v.9]) Israel’s ultimate dominance over the Gentiles (under the royal Messiah, [v.12]), in fulfillment of God’s covenant faithfulness (v.11), and acknowledged (submissively) by the nations (v.10)… [transforming] it into an expression of [an ideal humanity] (Gentile and Jew) united in worship of the same God and by hope in the same Christ.” WBC, Romans 15.7-13.

·       The Jewishness of Jesus, the Davidic Messiah, is most prominent [v.12]. Why?

“…it means that God’s promises to the fathers are likewise still in place, still secure, even if complete fulfillment is not yet; And the promises of God thus confirmed to Israel were precisely the promises that Abraham would be ‘heir of the world’ and ‘father of many nations’…”

WBC, Romans 15.7-13.

Isa 10.20-34
·       Isa 10.20: an individual foreign [Assyrian?] dictator [antichrist?].

·       Isa 10.22: typical “good news [remnant], bad news [destruction for most]” prophecy; cp. Rom. 9:27–28 using LXX.

·       vv.27-34: The Assyrians on the march towards Zion. [They eventually would destroy Samaria & Northern Israel, c. 720s BC.].

NOTE: context calls for a near fulfillment [“in yet a little while”, vv.25-26].

The theme: “When kings rule by the guidelines of their own ambition and power, God’s purposes are thwarted and judgment awaits.” WBC, Isaiah 11.1-10.

Isa 11
·       v. 1 [cp. v.10]: “root of Jesse” “root of David”; that is, the descendant [WBC, vol. 52, Part 1]; “stump” descriptive of a broken/cut off dynasty recognizing the severely reduced status of the Davidic throne.

·       vv. 2-5: skills needed to reign: “wisdom/understanding, counsel-strategy/heroism-might [cp. el-gibbor, cp. Isa 9.6] and fear/obedience” [basic terms for faith]. A lack of knowledge is a grave sin [Isa 1.3; cp. Hos 4.6]

NOTE: The Assyrian claimed these for himself [power/strength, wisdom/understanding, mighty/valiant one, 10.13].

The theme is one of unbiased justice and rule!

·       vv. 6-9: once fierce creatures [wolf, leopard, cobra], symbolizing the nations, at peace with the saints [lamb]; cp. Dan 7. As well as the restored/re-created world of Eden, from “royal/holy Mount Zion/Jerusalem” to the rest of the world [“waters cover the sea”].

·       v. 10, 12 Messiah as “the signal flag/banner [glory] for all nations to seek”.

“These verses remain among the most beautiful examples of monarchic ritual and poetry in Messianic literature. They shine as a luminous light. The problems come from the generations, including our own, that ‘do not know, do not understand’, who have ‘eyes but do not see, ears but do not hear’, with whom God has to work to reach these goals.” WBC

·       vv. 13-16 God uses the nations to inaugurate the rule of them by His people. The reunification of Israel miraculously removes natural barriers [sea/streams dry up].

NOTE: “That day” 10.20, 27; 11.10-11; Heb. “in the end of the days” [Isa 2.2] yet undetermined future!

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