Lectionary Year B
June 15, 2003
Trinity Sunday
Romans 8:12-17

Step IV: Cross-Section

A. Primitive Christianity

(JFC) Boring, Berger and Cole (Hellenistic Commentary to the NT) note a "similar contrast" in I Corinthians 15: 47-49. Commentators mention such other passages as Galatians 6:7f referring to the differences between living in/sowing in the flesh as opposed to living in/sowing in the Spirit, Galatians 4:6 quoting God's children crying, "Abba, Father", and Hebrews 1:2 identifying Jesus as God's "appointed heir of all things". Sanday and Headlam (ICC) suggest that "St. Paul seems here to be reminding his hearers of a current Christian saying: cf. II Timothy 2:11 . . .", "If we have died with Him we shall live with Him." Galatians 5:18 claims, "If we are led by the Spirit we are no longer subject to the Law" and the 24th verse of that chapter seems to assure us that, "And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." II Timothy 1:7 reminds us that God gave not a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline." Then that classical saying in I John 4:18 declares, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love." Galatians 4:4f states that God sent Jesus "to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children." Jesus uses the address, "Abba, Father" in His prayer in Gethsemane in Mark 14:36. I John 3:1 believes, "See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called the children of God; and that is what we are. . ." Galatians 3:29 states, "And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise." I Peter 4:13 calls believers to "rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed." Peter claims (in I P 5:1f) to be "an elder myself and a witness to the sufferings of Christ , as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed I exhort the elders among you to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, . . . "

B. Old Testament and Judaism

(JFC) Flesh (sarkx) is used of humanity in Genesis 2:3, 7:21, Job 19:26 and Psalm 136:25. The derogatoriness of life in the flesh in the Old Testament gets described in Job 7:5 and Psalm 78:39. The image of "children of God" occurs frequently throughout the Old Testament, for example Deuteronomy 14:1 and Leviticus 19:2. Jeremiah 49:1 laments the possible lack of heirs, they are of the utmost importance in those eras, materially. Spiritually, being heirs of God's gifts, jointly with Christ is of ultimate import. Then, from the first century CE we get a fragment from the Apocryphon of Ezekiel conversant with several elements in this pericope, "Repent, house of Israel from your lawlessness. I say to the children of my people, 'If your sins reach from the earth to heaven, and if they are redder than scarlet or blacker than sackcloth and you turn back to me, with your whole heart and say, "Father," I will heed you as my people."

C. Hellenistic World

(JFC) Philo's Moralia, "Who is the Heir of Divine Things" 57 (15BCE - 50CE) says, "[Exposition of Lev 17:14 and Gen 2:7:] So we have two kinds of men, one that of those who live by [Gk. dative] reason, the divine inbreathing, the other of those who live by [Gk. dative] blood and the pleasure of the flesh. This last model clod of earth, the other is the faithful impress of the divine image." These aristocratic sages would surely appreciate the several distinctions throughout this lection, perhaps most especially the differences between slavery and needlessness for fearing. And, adoption (ui`oqesi,a), of course, is an idea that would warm the hearts of these thinkers. ICC notes, "No word is more common in Greek inscriptions of the Hellenistic time: the idea, like the word, is native to Greek." Certainly they would welcome any references to being heirs, too.

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