Lectionary Year A
June 16, 2002
(JFC) A. GENRE
The Christian Church is in its infancy as Paul writes the epistle to the
Rome. It is barely a quarter of a century since Christ died. Very few
inhabitants of Rome would be professing faith in Christ as Savior.
Christianity needs to learn the first of basic skills, e.g., how to focus
on God in Christ's revelations and teachings. They need repetitive reminders
that God justifies them, that Christ died for them and that they can rely on
the gift of God's Holy Spirit to bolster them in their attempts to live
lives serving God in Christ and for Christ and with Christ, even and perhaps
especially, when that association (with Christ) brings suffering,
endurance, character and hope. The recipients of this letter need
"Christianity 101". They need to read and hear the content of Christianity's
elemental specifics, on which to build an ethics of faith throughout, even
and especially, the capital of an empire. They need encouragement that they
are God's chosen vessels to build such a faith where relationships might
grow in mutual respect among such a diverse population that inhabited Rome.
They need to feel support that they can withstand any threats to prohibit
or retard such edification.
(JFC) B. PERSONAL INTERACTION
Beginning by declaring that believers receive justification from God, this
emphasizes and re-emphasizes and re-emphasizes again, the rationale for
believers' ability/permission to boast in God's glory. The emphases get
more emphatic, ad seriatim, as the passage crescendos toward its
conclusion. Its second point tells that the justified get peace with God.
Many commentators call this result of justification, "reconciliation". It
gets more such descriptions in 5:9 and II Corinthians 5:18-21. That II
Corinthians 5:18-21 passage includes the cosmic result, that claims, "God
was in Christ reconciling the world to himself". Paul proceeds to explain
how and why we might respond, especially in the midst of suffering.
Declaring that the knowing what suffering, endurance, character and hope do
seems to be an attempt to diagram in order to clarify the nature of hope as
presented in this text.
It ends as it begins, referring to God's great
grace in Jesus' death, a death even for sinners who perpetually sin. The
words and phrases in these verses could be charted, drawn on a graph,
illustrated by stick figures labeled such as suffering, endurance,
character, hope, justification, peace, hope, etc. However, the doctrinal
themes mentioned here escape any attempt to reduce to such expressions
their significance. They seem to report in an almost argumentative style,
what this author considers to be the best of the Best News in the context
of real and/or imagined human weaknesses and problems. They declare Gospel
in one of its fullest attempts to capture some of its majestic mystery in
So, we are justified and we have peace and we obtain access to God's grace in
we stand and we boast in hope and we boast in knowing suffering >>> hope which
doesn't disappoint us BECAUSE God's love fills us up. Are all these
blessings ours sequentially? Does hope we have differ from hope that
doesn't disappoint us? Are they similar to or different from the hope of
sharing God's glory? And, are they the same as or are they different from
the hope that character produces, etc.?
And, we, the weak, are the same as
the ungodly for whom Christ died, are we not? Does verse 8 answer that
question? I certainly hope so. Aren't we always "still weak"? Surely we
are, re: to God's strength revealed in Christ's passion and death. Right?
Does our weakness have anything to do with suffering, endurance,
Isn't any time Christ died for us the "right time"? Is
justification as predominant in this pericope as the study note in the NRSV
indicates? It reads, "5:1-11: Consequences of Justification. . ."
Okay, justified I am. Are we all? Peace I have, most of the time. (Or,
is time irrelevant to God's Peace?)
Into God's grace I have attained, or, at
least, have been given access. All along I have been permitted (expected,
enabled) to be standing in God's grace, in the Lord and in gospel. Now, Paul
tells me I might also boast in it. New Testament boasting, Pauline
boasting, can refer to boasting positively and humbly, surely. Sounds
reasonable. It gets reinforced by the mention of Jesus' death on the
cross. I try it and it works for me. I invite others to try it too. Some
do and some decline. Some receive blessings different from mine. So?
my heart is full, usually, of God's love, which the Holy Spirit gives. All
this because Christ died for me/us = unworthy. So, what this pericope
claims is true, or, at least, it could be. Even for the whole world? Yes!
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