Category: Romans (page 1 of 5)
Those who have seen The Sixth Sense will recall that bombshell moment, when everything we thought we “saw” was wrong, and we realized we would have to re-watch – or at least re-think – the entire movie. Suddenly, scenes that “clearly” communicated one thing are revealed to communicate another. A silent meal between husband and wife, on first viewing appeared to reveal marital conflict, but when re-watched becomes something else entirely. Matthew Theissen in Paul and the Gentile Problem recognizes that our reading of Scripture can be similar. We all have the same data, but changing one’s presuppositions, or sometimes simply the details of a single interpretation, may require a re-reading of the whole. This is seen clearly in the Old and New Perspectives on Paul, where the same texts are used to reach different conclusions. However, Thiessen believes both viewpoints are faulty! In fact, they are both faulty in the same way: both the Old and New “believe that Paul’s letters contain substantial criticisms of Judaism” (p8). In contrast, Thiessen believes Paul did not reject Judaism as legalistic (Old) or ethnocentric (New), but as “the wrong solution to the gentile problem” (p14). But what of Paul’s criticisms of the Law? This is where the movie needs to be re-watched, so to speak. When we recognize that Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, and as such, wrote specifically to Gentiles, all becomes clear. Paul’s polemical words regarding the Law are not a critique about the Law itself, but about the Law applied to Gentiles.
Joshua Jipp’s Christ is King has garnered much discussion and rightfully so: he argues against a common dismissal of Christ as being a royal title, by comparing ancient royal discourse (Jewish and Greco-Roman) to the writings of Paul. Along the way, he also presents some unique exegetical insights. In this post I want to present one of these insights that potentially unravels a very knotty problem: to what does Paul refer when he speaks of “The Law of Christ” (Gal 6:2; 1 Cor 9:22)?
This is the final post surveying Romans 7. This series has helped me in shaping my own view of the passage. I’m still working it out, but have a few thoughts that I’ll share on this post.
We have looked at the three views presented in Perspectives of Our Struggle with Sin but that book doesn’t exhaust all the options. I just picked up William Dumbrell’s hard-to-get Romans commentary (available only in Australia; thanks to my cousin for sending it over!) and thought I should share his view. Dumbrell argues that Paul’s focus is squarely on national Israel in the past and present.
Perhaps Romans 7 is not about believers or unbelievers after all; what if Paul is trying to say something entirely different? In Perspectives of Our Struggle with Sin, Mark Seifrid argues that Paul’s focus is on the human being confronted with the Law.