Please submit your credentials

23 Jun

Good Morning,

We will begin at the beginning of Romans.  This is a really formal letter that was sent to the community of Christians who were living in Rome.  Roman had long been the seat of power for the civilized world and I think Paul wanted to be impressive in his writing of this letter.

Yet this is more than a letter.  In it Paul has set out a strong biblical and theological foundation for Christianity.  Since Christianity was still a very young faith among ancient beliefs systems such as Judaism and Roman gods, Paul wanted to be clear that this new faith was God-inspired and powerful.  Many of the great theologians of our world has said that Romans is the most important book for understanding the Christian faith.

Notice that the first six verses of this chapter are one sentence!  Paul begins the letter by reciting his credentials as a servant of God.  He wants those to whom he is writing to know that this new faith is a fulfillment of the old faith of Judaism AND it is a faith open to the Gentiles as well.  This was huge!!  Judaism had always drawn strict lines about who was a part of God’s people and who was not.  And although there were people who converted to Judaism at this time it was rare.  Mostly, who had to be born a Jew.    Here, in one sentence Paul has summarize Christianity and included both Jews and Gentles in the faith community.  They are all saints.

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name,including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our entrance into the book of Romans has included two sentences.   I think it is enough.

Here is something that has been bouncing around in my head.  Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan wrote a book called, The Last Week.  In it they explore the Roman practice of calling Caesar the Son of God.  So, when Jesus was called Son of God it was to point out the fact that Caesar was not the one with power, it was Jesus.  Even this first century reality, I wonder if the term Son of God would not have been used for Jesus if it was not being used for Caesar.  I wonder if we would use Messiah or Son of Man more, as was done in the Hebrew Scripture?   I also wonder how it would change our concept of Jesus?

These are the kinds of things that bounce around in my brain – it is a scary place.

Peace, Mary


One Response to “Please submit your credentials”

  1. Phyllis Terwilliger June 23, 2015 at 8:18 pm #

    Mary, I am thrilled you are embarking on the book of Romans; it is one of my favorites. Your theological reflection and insight will be helpful to all. Thanks for allowing your theological reflection to be made public through this blog. Yeah, Mary!

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