bible blog 1998

ROMANS 5: 9-end

If now, in his blood, we have been made into just people, how much more shall we be rescued by him from God’s anger! For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his son, so much more now we shall be rescued by his life.Not only that, even our self-advertisement is now in God through our Lord Jesus Messiah, by means of whom we received reconciliation. So we may say, that just as sin came into the world through one man, and through sin, death which spread to all human beings because they all sinned –img_0121

(prior to the Jewish Law, there was sin in the world, but sin is not counted when there is no Law. Yet death held sway from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sin was not like the commandment- breaking of Adam. He is the negative image of the One To Come. But the favour is not to be compared with the wrongdoing. For if death came to many through the wrongdoing of one man, God’s favour to so many as a gift through the one man Jesus Messiah, has done much more. Nor is the gift to be compared with the result of the one man’s sin. For the judgement after one wrong action was condemnation, but the favour after many wrong actions makes wrongdoers into just people. Because of one man’s wrongdoing death ruled through that one man; but those who receive God’s overflowing favour and saving justice will rule much more powerfully in life)

– One man’s wrongdoing brought condemnation on all humanity but one man’s just action brings a just life to all. By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, but by one man’s obedience many will be made just. When the Jewish Law arrived, it multiplied the wrongdoing, but where sin increased, God’s favour was superabundant, so that as sin ruled in death, God’s favour would also rule through the  rescuing justice that offers eternal life through Jesus Messiah, our Lord.

A worker inspects the Christ the Redeemer statue which was damaged during lightning storms in Rio de Janeiro

In his blood” is a shorthand way of referring to the longer phrase “God set him out publicly as the place of his merciful presence for those who trust in his blood” (chapter 3) which depicts Jesus as the sacrificial victim whose blood is scattered on the lid of the covenant box in the ceremony of atonement which had two purposes:

1. Forgiveness of the people’s sin

2. Reconstitution of the people as the holy people of God.

Paul is asserting that Jesus’ execution has the same effects. But how?

One strand of Paul’s theology of Jesus’ death and resurrection is his  notion that Jesus Messiah is faithful to God’s call to Israel to be the bearer of blessing to the whole world. In Isaiah’s prophecy he read the radical vision of how Israel might as God’s servant, do this, by suffering the cruelty of the powers of the world without retaliatory violence or denunciation. This would be a victory in that the servant would utterly refuse the way of power. Paul sees Jesus’ as the one true servant, utterly faithful to God’s goodness, offering his life to break the hard hearts of human beings and reconcile them to God. 

At the same time his dying conquers the spiritual powers of evil, which could not make him relinquish his service to God either by offering worldly power to one who was content to be weak, or by threatening death to one who was ready to die. Jesus’ resurrection is therefore a confirmation of the victory already won by his death and of the liveliness of his love. It is also God’s declaration that his suffering servant is the Just Person and that those who unite themsleves with his death, will also share his living justice.

In all this he is a contrast to the architypical human being Adam, who desired power and disobeyed the beneficial commandment of God only to become a slave of the worldly powers.

This story contains mythic elements but it is grounded in reality by historical events:img_0122

1. The announcement of the joyful news of what God has done in Jesus by the Emissaries of God, including Paul.

2. The formation of the Assemblies of believers in which human beings are united by shared trust and partnership with Jesus.

3. The experience of the Holy Spirit which links the mutual belonging of believers with the evolution of the universe in God’s wisdom.

4. The promise of eternal life which links the human life of the believer with the undying life of God, which is modelled for the Assemblies by the powerless and fearless life of the Emissaries.

All of these are considered by Paul to be elements in God’s blessing on all peoples promised to Abraham and fulfilled in  Jesus the one faithful descendant of Abraham. God’s victory over the opposition of humanity-in -Adam, is won by the excess of his/ her goodness, by its lavishness, in comparison with the ultimate pettiness of evil.

 

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