ROMANS, CHAPTER FIVE–FROM THE GREEK TEXT

God proved–showed–demonstrated his love for us, because while we were sinners–unreconciled transgressors–enemies Messiah died for us–Romans 5:8

Every single time I read that verse it almost brings me to my knees.  The entirety of the gospel and the gospel way of life can be summarized in that passage.  It is also the easiest verse to translate in a chapter filled with rather complex grammar and ideas.

Translation Notes:  Many translations prefer the word “rejoice” and “rejoicing” (v. 3, for example), while I think that “boast” is a better rendering for the word.  There is another word for rejoice, and if Paul had intended to mean rejoice, he would have chosen that one.

Transgression is not a common word today, but the options for rendering it (v. 18) are limited.  I could have gone with violation, offense, or even crime.  The word, in my understanding, carries legal weight more than moral weight.  I decided to go with transgression because it feels more theological, but I came very close to choosing, “violation.”

Theological Notes:  Chapter five can boil down to one thought; Adam ruined everything by his one act, Jesus began the process of putting everything back together with his one act.  Most of this chapter is a compare and contrast between these two.  Two questions remain for modern interpreters.  First, is Paul again alluding to a kind of universalism with statements like those in verse 18.  I don’t think so, but it is a rather interesting verse and lends itself to dialogue.  A second question is how metaphorical is this contrast?  In other words, is Paul thinking of a historical Adam or of a type of literary Adam in the Hebrew Bible that gives us insight into what Jesus did?  Before you answer that question, just keep asking yourself why is Eve completely neglected in Paul’s working of the material?  Part of that answer might be that Paul has stylized the material so heavily that he is not thinking of historical figures as much as theological ideas.

Chapter Five
1. Therefore, having been made right by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Messiah,
2. by whom we have had access. We stand in this grace and should boast in the hope of the glory of God.
3. Not only this, but we should boast in afflictions too. We know that afflictions produce patience,
4. and patience produces character, and character, hope.
5. The hope does not let us down, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit he has given us.
6. For at just the right time Messiah died for us who are helpless, the ungodly.
7. Scarcely might someone die for a righteous person, or perhaps for a good person someone would dare to die,
8. but God proves his own love for us, because while we were sinners, Messiah died for us.
9. All the more then, having now been made righteous by his blood we will be saved by him from the wrath.
10. For if we were as enemies reconciled by the death of his son, then how much more after having been reconciled will we be saved by his life?
11. Not only this, but even boasting in God by our Lord Jesus Messiah, through whom we now have received reconciliation.
12. So it is through one man that sin entered the world, and by his sin, death, and from his death it spread to all people, for everyone sinned.
13. Until the law, sin was in the world but it was not counted, being as there was no law.
14. But death reigned from Adam until Moses, even upon those who did not sin the same way as the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
15. The gift is not like the trespass. For if by the trespass of one person many died, how much more will many flourish through the grace of God and the gift of grace from the one man, Jesus Messiah.
16. The gift is not like the one man’s sin either, the one from whom came judgment and condemnation, but the gift is for the many acquitted of trespasses.
17. If death reigned in the one transgression, then how much more will the excesses of grace reign as people receive the gift of life from the one man Jesus Messiah.
18. So then as by one transgression all people enter condemnation, so also through one righteous act all people have the righteousness of life.
19. Indeed, because of the disobedience of the one person, many were made sinners. In contrast, because of the obedience of the one person, many will be made as righteous.
20. But law intruded so that the transgressions might increase, but as the sin increased, grace super-abounded.
21. So that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness in eternal life through Jesus Messiah, our Lord.

Romans Four

Romans Three

Romans Two

Romans One

A TRANSLATION OF THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT

Of late I’ve been working on the Sermon on the Mount from the Greek New Testament.  Jesus’ words never fail to challenge me.  Below is my rendering from the Greek.  I worked to stay as close to the lexical meanings as possible, however on several phrases I chose modern idioms.  A notable ‘change’ I have made to most translations is in the Beatitudes, where I opt for “happy” instead of “blessed” because I think it makes more sense, and it is more in line with common ancient wisdom pronouncements about “the happy life” that people could live if they only do the right things.  In case you’re wondering, “happy” is a very legitimate rendering of the word.  In addition, i smoothed over a lot of the conjunctions and some prepositions. Jesus, as recorded by Matthew, likes to use the words therefore, and, but, and so quite a bit.  These don’t read so well in English.

Matthew 5

a pencil and a yellow legal pad--                  a translators tools
a translator’s tools–pencil and yellow legal pad

1. Seeing the crowds, he went up onto the mountain, and after he sat himself down his disciples came to him.
2. Opening his mouth, he began teaching them, saying,
3. Happy are those who are poor in spirit, because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4. Happy are those mourning, because they will be comforted.
5. Happy are the gentle, because they will inherit the earth.
6. Happy are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, because they will be filled.
7. Happy are the merciful, because they will receive mercy.
8. Happy are those whose hearts are clean, because they will see God.
9. Happy are peacemakers, because they will be called children of God.
10. Happy are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11. Happy are you when they insult you, persecute you, and spread evil lies against you because of me.
12. Rejoice and be glad, because your reward in heaven is greater, for they persecuted the prophets before you the same way.
13. You yourselves are the salt of the earth. If salt becomes tasteless, what use is it? It is not usable, except to be thrown out to be trampled by people.
14. You yourselves are the light of the world. A city sitting on a hillside cannot to be hidden.
15. No one lights a lamp then puts it under a basket, but upon a lampstand, so it shines throughout the house.
16. In the same way let your light shine before people, so that they might see your good works and praise your Father in heaven.
17. Do not assume that I came to nullify The Law and The Prophets. I came not to nullify but to fulfill.
18. Truly I say to you, until heaven and earth disappear, not one dot topping an “I” or a single cross of a “T” will disappear from the law until it all happens.
19. Consequently, if anyone relaxes the least of these commandments and teaches such, he will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but if anyone practices and teaches them, such a person will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20. For I say to you, that if your righteousness doesn’t surpass that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
21. You heard what was said to the ancients, “Do not murder, whoever murders will be guilty at the judgment.”
22. I myself say to you that everyone who gets angry with his brother will be guilty at judgment, and if someone says to his brother, “You are worthless,” he will be guilty before the Sanhedrin, and if someone says “You are as a fool,” he will be guilty at the fiery grave.*
23. Therefore, if you are on your way to offer your gift upon the altar, and there remember your brother has something against you,
24. leave your gift before the altar. Go away and first be reconciled with your brother, then come bring your gift.
25. Make friends with your enemy quickly while you are with him out and about, lest your enemy might give you over to the judge, and the judge gives you to the officer, and the officer throws you in prison.
26. Truly I say to you, you will not escape from there until you repay every last penny.
27. You have heard that it was said, “You will not commit adultery.”
28. I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with desire for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29. If your right eye trips you up, gouge it out and throw it way, because it is better for you to destroy only the body part, and not have your whole body thrown onto the trash heap.
30. If your right hand trips you up, cut it off and throw it away, it is better for you to destroy your body part and not have your whole body go onto the trash heap.
31. Now it was said, “If anyone wants to leave his wife, give her a legal divorce.”
32. I myself say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except by reason of sexual sin, causes her, and anyone she might marry, to commit adultery.
33. Again you heard what was said to the ancients, “Do not break your oaths,” and, “you must keep your oaths to the Lord.”
34. I myself say to you, do not swear at all, neither by heaven because it is God’s throne,
35. nor by the earth because it is the footstool for his feet, and not by Jerusalem because it is the city of the great king.
36. You should not swear by your head either, because you are not able to make a single white hair black.
37. Instead let your word be, “Yes, yes,” or “no, no.” Anything more is excessive, and that is what evil people do.
38. You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye,” and “A tooth for a tooth.”
39. But I myself say to you, do not resist the evildoer. Instead, if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other one to him.
40. If anyone wants to sue you to take your shirt, give him your coat.
41. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go two.
42. Do not turn away the one begging you to give, or the one wishing to borrow from you.
43. You have heard that it was said, “You must love your neighbor,” and “you will hate your enemy.”
44. But I myself say that you must love your enemy and you must pray for those persecuting you.
45. So that you might become children of your Father in heaven, who shines the sun upon the evil and the good, and makes it rain upon the righteous and the unrighteous.
46. If you love those loving you, what have you earned? Don’t the politicians do the same thing?
47. If you greet only your family, have you done anything exceptional? Do not the gentiles do the same thing?
48. Therefore, you yourselves must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 6
1. You should pray, but not with your righteousness paraded before people to be noticed, or else you’ll have no wages from our Father in heaven.
2. Therefore, when you do acts of mercy, do not send a trumpet to announce you as the hypocrites do in the synagogue and in the streets, so that they might be celebrated by the people. Truly I say to you, they have received their wages in full.
3. But when you are doing acts of mercy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand does.
4. For when you do acts of mercy in secret, the Father who sees the secrets things will reward you.
5. Whenever you yourselves pray, do not be like the hypocrites. They love to pray standing in the synagogues, or on the busy street corners where they can be seen by people. Truly I say to you, they have received their wages.
6. Instead, whenever you pray, go into your private room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. Your Father, who sees the secret things, will reward you.
7. Pray not as the gentiles do, babbling about, supposing their wordiness will be heard.
8. Do not become like them, for our Father knows your needs before you ask him.
9. You must pray like this: Our Father, the one in the heavens, whose name is sanctified,
10. Your kingdom come, your will be done, as in heaven, so upon the earth.
11. Give us today our needed bread,
12. and forgive us what we owe just as we forgive those who owe us.
13. Do not lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
14. If you forgive people their trespasses, our Father in heaven forgives yours.
15. But, if you do not forgive people, your Father will not forgive your trespasses.
16. Whenever you fast, do not practice it as the hypocrites do, exaggerating their sad faces so people will notice that they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they receive their wages.
17. But when you are fasting, anoint your head and wash your face,
18. So as not to seem to people that you are fasting. Your Father in secret, your Father who sees into the secret places, he will reward you.
19. Do not store up treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal.
20. Instead you should store up treasure for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21. For where your treasure is, this is where your heart will be too.
22. The eyes are the lamp of the body. Therefore, if your eyes are clear, the whole body will be illuminated.
23. But if your eyes are evil, your whole body will be dark. Therefore, if the light in you goes dark, how great is the darkness!
24. No one can serve two lords, for he will hate one and love the other. He will crave one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and greedy prosperity.**
25. This is what I say to you—do not worry your mind about what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear—is not the inner life greater than food and the body greater than clothing?
26. Would you look at the birds of the heavens? They do not plant a harvest or gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than them?
27. Who among you can worry so much as to add one extra moment to your life?
28. Why do you worry about clothes? Learn the lesson of the lilies of the field, how they grow yet neither work hard nor spin.
29. But I say to you that Solomon, in all his glory, was never as well dressed as one of these.
30. If the grass is in the field today, but is thrown in the oven tomorrow, then how much more will God dress you? What people of little faith?
31. Therefore, you should not worry, saying, “What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?”
32. For the gentiles pursue these things, but your heavenly Father knows everything you need.
33. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.
34. Therefore, you should not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough vexing problems of its own.

Chapter 7
1. You must not judge, so that you will not be judged.
2. For you will be judged by the same rules you used to judge others, and you will be measured by the same standard you used to measured others.
3. How is it you see the splinter in your brother’s eye, but you don’t notice the beam in your own eye?
4. How can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the splinter from your eye,” when you’ve got a beam in yours?
5. Hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, then you will see clearly how to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.
6. Do not give what is holy to dogs, nor throw your pearls before pigs, lest they will trample them under their feet, then turn and tear you to pieces.
7. You ask, and it will be given. You seek, and you will find. You knock, and it will be opened up to you.
8. All those asking receive, all those seeking find, and to all those knocking it will be opened up.
9. What man among you who, if his child asks for bread, will give him a stone?
10. Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?
11. So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those asking him?
12. The way you want people to treat you, treat them; this is the law and the prophets.
13. Go in through the narrow gate, because large and roomy is the road leading to destruction, and many enter by it.
14. How narrow is the gate and compressed the way that leads to life, and few find it.
15. You must be on the lookout for false prophets, such as those coming to you in sheep’s clothing, but on the inside are ravenous wolves.
16. You will recognize them by their fruit. Does anyone ever gather bunches of grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?
17. All healthy trees produce good fruit, but rotten trees produce bad fruit.
18. It is impossible for a healthy tree to produce bad fruit or for a rotten tree to produce good fruit.
19. Every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20. As a result, you will recognize them by their fruit.
21. Not all those who say to me, “Lord, Lord,” will go into the kingdom of heaven, but those doing the will of my Father in heaven.
22. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many powerful things in your name?”
23. And I will confess to them, “I never knew you. Get away from me you workers of wickedness.”
24. Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a thoughtful man who built his home upon the rock.
25. Then the rain fell, the floods came, the wind blew, and it struck the house, but it did not fall, for it was established upon the rock.
26. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a stupid man who builds his house upon the sand.
27. And the rains fell, the floods came, the winds blew, and they beat against his home, and it fell. Great was its collapse.
28. When he finished these words, the crowd was astonished by his teaching,
29. for his teaching had authority, unlike the scribes.

*The word here is Gehenna, and it also used in 5:29 & 30. It was a physical place in Jerusalem, which, in the Hebrew Bible is called The Valley of Hinnom. Gehenna was the place where the inhabitants of Jerusalem dumped their trash, waste, and rotten food. The dead bodies of criminals or the poor would also be thrown there. As with most trash dumps, it was always burning with smoldering fire. If one thought of Gehenna, it would always be the putrid, rotting, maggoty, burning stench that never went away. This was Jesus’ favorite word for hell. It is quite the word picture.

**Mammon is the actual word. Mammon does not translate perfectly as money. Mammon referred to a religious system in which money and wealth were worshiped. It was not too different, in my understanding, of the prosperity gospel preached in heretical churches today. Jesus’ point here is that if what you care about is money, then you will never be able to serve God completely.

WEEK IN REVIEW–WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED

Review of critical facts is often the most important aspect of learning, and learning is what separates competent people from the incompetent.  With that in mind, here are two important facts we’ve learned this week.

1.  We learned that we should never take nude pictures of ourselves on our smartphone.

These pictures will inevitably end up published by thieves and criminals.  We all agree, I think, that these thieves and criminals should be punished to the furthest extent of the law.  I actually would go one step further.  People who view these images on the internet are, in comparison, the same as people who knowingly buy stolen parts for their car at a chop shop.  So, some level of prosecution should go out to these people.  If the feds will go after teenagers who download illegal music, why not go after people who go search out illegally obtained pictures.  These photos are stolen goods, and should be treated accordingly.

However, once the damage is done, once people have seen your southern zones, you can’t put that genie back in the bottle.

Jennifer Lawrence has a right to privacy.
Jennifer Lawrence has a right to privacy.

If you must take naked pictures of yourself (which I strongly recommend against) use an old fashioned Polaroid and hide them in your sock drawer.  Greenbean promises that you’ll never find nude pictures of him on the internet.  Never.

 

2.  We learned that Joel and Victoria Osteen are not theologians.

This really is not news.  However, Victoria highlighted that fact a bit when a video surfaced of her saying this:

When we obey God, we’re not doing it for God…we’re doing it for ourself. Because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. Do good ’cause God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God, really. You’re doing it for yourself because that’s what makes God happy.

Okay, give me a moment to take off the cool Panama Jack hat I’m wearing right now and replace it with the theologian hat.  Good, now I can think straight.  Let’s analyze what is wrong with her statement.  First, she implies that somehow our behavior makes God happy.  The reverse of this would be that our behavior can make God sad.  This kind of talk about the Lord borders on tribal religion where the key task is to determine if the Almighty Reese’s Pieces God is happy today or if we need to appease his unhappiness with libations of milk and offerings of peanut butter.   Is God happy today or sad today?  Let’s find out?  Who brought the holy coconut?

Proper Christian theology teaches us that the Lord exists in perfect trinitarian community:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The Scriptures teach us that the Lord becomes angry at some actions and delights in others, however it is never implied that he is sitting around in Heaven waiting for us to make him happy, as if his happiness depended upon us.

If God is waiting for us to make him happy, then his existence is likely the saddest in all of creation.

The second mistake she makes is that she puts human beings at the center of the worship expression.  That is beyond wrong.  However, it would be difficult to argue that most American Christians practice anything other than a worship experience that ‘makes me happy.’  So, though wrong, Osteen has plenty of company in her idolatrous doctrine of human-centric worship.

Now, here is the twist to what we learned this week.  Osteen, for all her failings, is actually tip-toeing up to something important.  Our lives are happier, better, more enriched when when we follow the Lord and live according to his ways.  I have argued for years that even if there were no such thing as the supernatural, no eternal life, and no spiritual joy, I would still preach that the Jesus way of life is the best way of life because it is.

That doesn’t minimize the supernatural or argue against the power of God or eternity, but it speaks to the power of the ethics and pathos in the life of a Christ-follower.  It would have been better if Osteen had said it that way, because that might have been what she kind of intended.  However, she didn’t, because, neither she nor her husband have taken the time to learn from people smarter than them about actual theology.  They’ve been too busy making an empire and playing a role–the role of superstar celebrity.

 

 

image from cinemablend.com

A SAMPLING OF PROVERBS

Today my daily Bible readings have me in Proverbs.  It has been such a delight to reread these again.  Once upon a time I read a chapter of Proverbs every day as a part of my devotions.  I may pick that practice up again after I complete my reading schedule for this year.  My favorite life-altering Proverb is no doubt Proverbs 3:5-6; today’s were not as serious but certainly memorable.  I thought I would share some of them with you, as well as a little running commentary.

Those with good sense are slow to anger, and it is their glory to overlook an offense. 19:11

Sometimes the best thing is to just let it go.

 

A stupid child is a ruin to a father, and a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.  19:13 

I am so thankful I don’t have either one of those problems, however I know many who suffer from these twin afflictions.

 

Discipline your child while there is hope; do not set your heart on their destruction. 19:18

So many of our societal ills, the apparent destruction of all that is good, could be traced to a lack of will by parents to discipline their children.  It is not a parent’s job to be a child’s friend.  It is a parent’s job to raise children into productive, moral people.

 

What is desirable in a person is loyalty, and it is is better to be poor than a liar. 19:22

Integrity is the most valuable attribute anyone brings to the community or to the marketplace.

 

The lazy person does not plow in season; harvest comes, and there is nothing to be found. 20:4

Yeah.  That pretty much sums it up.

 

An estate quickly acquired in the beginning will not be blessed in the end. 20:21

When success comes too quickly, or it has not be ‘earned’ through hard work and devotion, then it is taken for granted and will be administrated foolishly.  For more information, cross reference Lindsay Lohan.

 

The glory of youths is their strength, but the beauty of the aged is their gray hair.  20:29

Our society does not understand true beauty.

 

If you close your ear to the cry of the poor, you will cry out and not be heard.  21:13

Jesus karma.

 

To watch over mouth and tongue is to keep out of trouble.  21:23

If we can learn to control our mouth much of the pain in life we suffer would fade away.

 

The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.  21:31

We prepare and plan, and that is right and good.  But when the moment comes, it is not our strength or skill that wins the day, it is the Lord.  The way the Lord often chooses to do this is by blessing our planning and preparation.  This passage does not mean don’t get your horse ready for battle.

I’ve got to wrap this blog post up, because I am certain you are already weary.  However, let me leave you with one more.   It came toward the end of my reading today and it is among my favorites.

Do not answer fools according o their folly, or you will be a fool yourself.  Answer fools according to their folly, or they will be wise in their own eyes.  26:4-5

These back to back proverbs have perplexed interpreters for thousands of years.  How can one both answer a fool and not answer a fool?  Which is the right answer.  I think I have the answer (in a heart of wisdom I have gained understanding?) The answer is that the writer of the proverb is saying “Don’t get close enough to a fool to hear his statements because once you start talking to a fool, you can’t win.  His or her foolishness will inevitably rub off on you.”

In summary, today’s blog lesson is stay away from fools, sluggards, and those who would ruin your integrity.