Thursday, September 25, 2014

Just a few more thoughts on Paul's clever transition

Have a couple minutes here on my lunch break.  So I thought I'd cover some more of my thoughts on Paul's transition from chapter 1 to chapter 2.

#1 The connection with Rom. 1:18

I never noticed this before, but the fact that people are giving approval to others (1:32) for their sin continues the theme of how people are attempting to suppress the truth in unrighteousness.  If you can get a horde of others to do the same thing as you, it can look pretty well like it's the right thing to do.  I think this theme climaxes (in this section anyways) at the end of 1:18-3:20 in 3:1-8 where Paul says "let God be true and every man a liar".  Men try to suppress the truth by approving of the lies in the lives of everyone.  But judgment is coming, and God will be justified in the end.

#2 Jewish thought

A lot of ink is spilled over getting to the heart of what the real salvivic theories existed in second temple Judaism.  What was the soteriology of the first century Jew?  I mean, this is one of the main things that got people to listen to E.P. Sanders in his "Paul and Palestinian Judaism".

[His idea was that Jews basically were covenental nomists: they thought they were automatically chosen to enter in to the kingdom and that they just had to perform basic religious rites to stay in the covenant. He (and his followers) developed his theory by examining many of the intertestamental and secondary first century (mainly Dead Sea Scrolls) sources.]

I think, if we can reverse engineer Paul's conception of their world from his comments in 2:1-3:8, I think we can determine that they acknowledged their own moral shortcomings (Paul assumes they know that they "practice the same things"), but were relying on their observance of the ritualism of the Mosaic law to shield them from the wrath of the coming judgment of God.

Consequently, this chapter provides us a chilling account of what goes on inside the mind of the religious person.  I look forward to going through it.  It should be highly profitable for understanding religion qua religion (not religion qua Christianity), how to watch out for it, and how to respond to it when we find it creeping into our own lives.

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