Lectionary Year A
June 16, 2002
(JFC) B. OLD TESTAMENT AND JUDAISM
Possibly Paul alludes (in 5:1) to Isaiah 32:17, "The effects of
righteous will be peace". Doubtlessly, new initiates/converts to
Christianity need peace. Psalm 23:6 and/or Isaiah 28:16 might be the bases
for Romans 5:5. The image of God's pouring out divine mercy on the
faithful might come from the Sirach 18:11 passage mentioned in the margin
of the Nestle-Aland text. The whole 5th chapter of our text reiterates the
unworthiness of recipients of such blessings the Old Testament mentions
frequently as justification, peace, glory, hope, the ungodly, and love. Paul
admittedly (1:16) addresses first the Jews and then the Greeks. He is
familiar with the data of their faith and seems to know their paganism as
well. Romans 5 puts some new clothes on Jewish peace, hope and evidence of
God's love. Our text colors peace, hope and evidence of Gods love (in
Christ's sacrificial death) in new shades. It brightens the hews of the
panorama of sinners' needs being met in god's grace, expressed in Christ.
These new hues make a decided difference which will require major trans
formation on the parts of many a citizen in Rome.
(JFC) C. HELLENISTIC WORLD
By emphasizing justification's bringing faith to life, Paul seems to be
both Jewish and Hellenistic religious understandings and practice. He never
mentions the Law in this pericope, so, the Hellenists might listen to these
ideas Paul presents here. He puts no conditions or requirements on humans
to gain them this justification. It is stated as factual. To Paul it was
so. With Hellenists, it probably could get an argument. Hellenists
customarily boasted in their own intellects. To boast in a hope of sharing
God's glory could address them in familiar terms and it could be considered
by them to be a done deal. They might have believed that they already had
attained such heights on their own.
When Paul focuses on the God whom and as
Jesus Christ reveals, the Hellenists must have felt on shaky ground.
Therefore, Paul attempts to cover as many bases in an argumentative style
as possible in this epistle. If the Hellenistic World, ever though,
expanded in the direction of Christianity, Paul's Epistle to the Romans
will get much of the credit. Its style of debating humanly concocted
theories surely could have arrested the attention of the Hellenists.
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