Exposition of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Firmly accept your new identity in Christ

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Since he has raised the issue of the worlds ways penetrating the church in Corinth (1 Cor. 6:1-8), Paul negatively describes the future awaiting wrongdoers, those whose behavior matches that of the world (1 Cor. 6:9): they will not inherit the kingdom of God. After describing the types of wrongdoers he is talking about (1 Cor. 6:9b-10), Paul then tries to restore the Corinthian believers to a proper understanding of their identity in Christ (1 Cor. 6:11).

It is easy to overlook Pauls command: Do not be deceived (1 Cor. 6:9). History and experience amply demonstrate that Christians have taken too casual an attitude toward sin in their own lives. This is especially tragic since God has given us the Holy Spirit, who enables us to refuse sins overtures (Rom. 6:1-14).

Paul presents a list of ten practices, five of which are sexual and five of which are not (1 Cor. 6:9b-10). Kenneth Bailey reminds us, Idolatrous worship in Corinth involved sacred prostitution with the priestesses of Aphrodite/Venus, and thus idolatry in Corinth involved fornication.[1] Still, if you are counting the list as translated by the NIV, you may come up with only four sinful practices in 1 Cor. 6:9. However, the phrase translated as nor men who have sex with men actually includes two Greek nouns. Ben Witherington explains, The two terms refer respectively, then, to the leading and following partners in a homosexual [encounter].[2] In other words, either role is unacceptable to God.

The five sexual sins are not said to be any more repugnant to God than the five non-sexual sins listed in 1 Cor. 6:10. All ten are part of the problems in Corinth and are discussed in different parts of the letter.

In 1 Cor. 6:11, a heavy emphasis lies on the first verb translated were. It is a common Greek verb whose form refers to continuous action in past time. What time is that? The remainder of the sentence makes it plain that the time of such behavior was prior to making a commitment of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul looks back on their conversion and probably puts the verb washed first for literary reasons; they have been washed clean of the ten sins listed above.

Far too many Christians look upon their conversion to Christ as being related solely to avoidance of eternal punishment; perhaps they add to that an expectation of heaven. But such a conception leaves out all the time between trusting Christ and going to heaven. Gordon Fee tells us, For Paul there is to be the closest possible relationship between the experience of grace and ones behavior that evidences that experience of grace.[3] The Holy Spirit transforms us to live for Christ until he comes!

Pauls closing emphasis on Christian identity in verse 11 has an implicit command: Therefore, live out this new life in Christ and stop being like the wicked.[4]

Copyright 2013 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

 


[1] Kenneth E. Bailey, Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 2011) 178.

[2] Ben Witherington III, Conflict & Community in Corinth (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995) 166.

[3] Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987) 248.

[4] Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, 245.

Exposition of 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 Grace and a test by fire

1 Corinthians 3:10-15

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved even though only as one escaping through the flames.

Paul consistently gives credit to God, but he does not hesitate to speak about the responsibility God has placed on him. When Paul mentions the grace God has given me (1 Cor. 3:10), Fee says, it would refer especially to his apostolic task of founding churches.[1] The updated NIV says Pauls role was builder, but most other translations say master builder (ESV, NET, HCSB, CEB, NASB, NAB, RSV, NEB, KJV) for the Greek architekt?n, a combination of recognized skill and project oversight.[2] In matters of identity, details matter because it is God who has given us our identity in Christ. In relation to the Corinthians, Paul was not merely a wandering teacher, he was the God-appointed master builder.

Paul changes from the metaphor of the church as a field (verses 6-9) to the church as a building. What makes him a skilled master builder is that he laid the foundation of Christ crucified (1 Cor. 3:11). Now others are building on that foundation, but with what skill? Each one should build with care (1 Cor. 3:10).

Ben Witherington makes the notable point that Pauls work could be harmed either by the Corinthians tinkering with the foundation and changing it or by the Corinthians building the wrong sort of superstructure on the right foundation.[3] The reason to build carefully is based on the certainty that a fiery day of testing is coming to test the quality of each persons work (1 Cor. 3:13). Garland pointedly says, Whether ones work will endure awaits more than the test of time; it awaits the test of the end time.[4]

Whether or not the Corinthians have concern for Pauls opinion, the Day (1 Cor. 3:13) is coming when the fire will test the quality of each persons work. David Garland says, The day refers to the end-time judgment (cf. Rom. 13:12; 1 Cor. 1:8, 5:5; 2 Cor. 1:14; Phil. 1:6, 10; 2:16; 1 Thess. 5:2, 4; 2 Thess. 2:2). The more fully expanded name is the Day of the Lord, an Old Testament term that Paul converted into the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:8).

Verse 14 seems plain enough — if what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward — and yet it has produced controversy. Gordon Fee says: The theme of reward harks back to v. 8, and suggests that appropriate pay will be given for appropriate labor. For some this has been a difficult idea to reconcile with Pauls doctrine of grace [Gods kindness toward us in Jesus Christ] . . . . How can grace receive pay?[5]

Your understanding of grace — Gods kindness — will be greatly enhanced if you pay attention to what it says about God rather than what is says about us. Out of a heart of love, God sent his Son to die for the sins of the world (John 3:16). This act had nothing to do with obligation and everything to do with the merciful nature of God. On this basis of Christ crucified, this gift of grace, God made it possible for us to accept the amnesty he offered and be saved from eternal judgment.

In a similar way, God was not obligated to offer reward for faithful service, but it pleased him to do so. Jesus expressly taught his disciples that he expected their faithful stewardship until he returned and that they would receive reward commensurate with that service, some more than others. See Luke 19:12-27, Matt. 25:14-28 and Matt. 24:45-51 for the details.

There will be some whose work is consumed by the fire of judgment (1 Cor. 3:15), and yet their salvation will stand. Garland aptly summarizes both outcomes by saying, Brilliant work does not earn salvation; lackluster work does not lose it.[6]

Copyright 2012 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

 


[1] Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987) 137138.

[2] Anthony Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William. B. Eerdmans publishing Company, 2000) 308.

[3] Ben Witherington III, Conflict & Community in Corinth (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995) 133134.

[4] David E. Garland, 1 Corinthians, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003)117.

[5] Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, 143.

[6] Garland, 1 Corinthians, 118.

Exposition of 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 Unity under the cross of Christ

1 Corinthians 1:10-17

10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Verse 10 marks the sharp transition from prior thanksgiving into issues within the Corinthian church. Paul states from the outset that a problem within the church demands resolution in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:10). Hidden within the English translations is a threefold repetition of the word for same all say the same thing (1 Cor. 1:10, NET Bible margin) . . . be restored with the same mind and the same purpose (1 Cor. 1:10b, Common English Bible).

The Greek verb Paul employs for agree (1 Cor. 1:10) is colorful. It is used in Mark 1:19 for mending a torn fishing net; it also was used to describe setting a broken bone.[1] The restoration of unity in relation to witness, mind and purpose would satisfy the appeal that there be no divisions among you (1 Cor. 1:10). We do best in applying these ideas when we stress Pauls solution — a thorough pursuit of unity — rather than entering into speculation about the exact nature of the disagreements in the Corinthian church.

In calling the Corinthians brothers and sisters (1 Cor. 1:11), Paul speaks as no Roman would speak except to a blood relative. He is emphasizing their unity in Christ. Paul has had word of actual quarrels in the church that involve people taking different sides. Paul identifies these groups by using the names Paul, Apollos, Cephas (Peter), and Christ (1 Cor. 1:12). The best explanation appears to be that Paul made up the slogans (e.g. I am of Apollos) to be put-downs of such petty bickering rather than actual self-designations by the groups involved. He presents a childish caricature to illustrate the presence of radical individuality in the church.[2]

It is likely that the final clause I follow Christ is a sample of Pauls sarcasm,[3] yet it has a literary purpose in that it allows Paul to simultaneously lampoon the divisions while gathering all of the Corinthian Christians under the banner of Christ as he develops his argument.

In 1 Cor. 1:13, Paul resorts to shocking language to make his point. The question Is Christ divided? expects the answer yes! By their disunity, it is as if Christ has been torn into parts! Greek grammar next signals that the following two questions (Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?) expect the answer no. It is absurd to put Paul on the level of Christ, who alone went to the cross for our sins. Equally foolish is the idea that anyone would have been baptized into union with Paul — no!

Almost as an aside, Paul mentions baptizing Crispus and Gaius (1 Cor. 1:14). We learn in Acts 18:8 that Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord. They were among the first to believe Pauls preaching in Corinth. Another who trusted in Christ was Titius Justus, a Gentile whose large house stood next to the synagogue (Acts 18:7). When Paul mentions in Rom. 16:23 Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, many believe his full name is Gaius Titius Justus.[4]

Paul returns to the subject of 1 Cor. 1:1, his sending by Christ. He was sent to preach the good news with plain speech about the cross of Christ (1 Cor. 1:17) because those persuaded by clever rhetoric would not experience the power of Christs death and resurrection. No one, then or now, is won by clever speech; we gain salvation only by trusting in Jesus, who died for us on the cross and rose again to a new life for God.

Copyright 2012 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

 


[1] David E. Garland, 1 Corinthians, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003) 43.

[2] Garland, 1 Corinthians, 48.

[3] Garland, 1 Corinthians, 49.

[4] Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987) 62, footnote 71.

Exposition of Romans 5:17: One man has done it all

What kind of legacy do you want to leave? How would you like it for people to say about you “death reigned through that one man”? Surely no one even wants to think about having that role.

But one man could rightly hear those words: Adam. It is fair to say that no man ever had more and did less with it than Adam. Adolf Hitler killed fewer than he did.

But God had an answer for Adam and all the harm he did. The answer was Jesus — one man above all others!

(ESV) Romans 5:17  For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

In some ways Romans 5:17 acts as a summary of this section of Romans. Paul is contrasting Adam and Christ, and C.E.B Cranfield notes the limits of this comparison: “The one real point of likeness between Christ and Adam [is] the fact of one man’s action being determinative of the existence of the many.”[1] Adam affects all related to him by infecting them with sin and death; Jesus affects all related to him — by faith! — by giving them the free gift of righteousness and an abundance of grace.

Note carefully the two uses of the verb “reign” (Greek basileu?). Death reigned through Adam, because of his sinful act. But notice who reigns in the contrasting clause: those who “receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness.” That was unexpected! What would have been expected was for life to reign, but God had a better idea.

Adam sinned and caused the unraveling of humanity made in God’s image. As Genesis 1:27–28 demonstrate, humanity was designed to rule on earth under God. But Adam’s sin led to the rule of sin and death instead. Through Jesus, believing people are restored to reign as was originally intended. So, we find that death reigned over us through Adam, but we reign in life through Jesus Christ.

Douglas Moo draws attention to a qualification: “The reign of life  is experienced through choice and personal decision; it is for those who ‘receive’ the gift. The importance of this qualification can hardly be overemphasized.”[2]

Paul uses the future tense “will … reign” to describe the effect of believing in Christ. While this may be a reference to the Age To Come, the interpretive structure of salvation history leads me to think it begins with our salvation (“already”) and reaches full development when we are finally with Christ in the Age To Come (“not yet”). If you have no idea what I am talking about, read the material on salvation history in the Introduction.  :-)

Your legacy

We all start out like Adam; we are spreaders of sin and death. But God graciously gives us the chance to take advantage of what the man from heaven, Jesus, did. If we give Jesus our allegiance, we can become spreaders of his life.

1. What events or influences in your life moved you toward spreading death like Adam? Which ones still present problems for you?

2. What events or influences in your life moved you toward spreading life like Christ? What would it take for you to become more effective in doing so?

God gave you a chance to make a living legacy. Even if you have chosen life through faith in Christ, you still have a chance to expand your legacy by helping others find him. What kind of legacy do you want to leave?

Copyright 2012 by Barry Applewhite. Materials originally prepared for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] C.E.B. Cranfield, The Epistle to the Romans, The International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark Limited, 1975) 287.

[2] Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1996)  340.

Exposition of Romans 5:9-10 God offers amnesty by Christ’s death

If the Bible shows us anything about humanity, it demonstrates humankind in rebellion against God. Disobedience was the tragic story in Eden (Gen. 3), and violence led to the destruction of the world by the great flood (Gen. 68). Even after God saved them from slavery in Egypt (Exod. 1214), the Israelites rebelled against God (Num. 14) and perished in the wilderness during 40 years of wandering. Nor did the story change from that point forward.

Will wrath be Gods last word to a rebellious creation? What will he do to his enemies?

(ESV) Romans 5:910 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

We are all accustomed to reading certain formats of information. For example, a dictionary arranges word meanings in the format of alphabetic order. A cookbook briefly describes the dish, lists the ingredients, and provides a step-by-step process for preparing the food.

In Romans 5:9-10, Paul uses a format familiar to rabbinic scholars for analysis of the Old Testament. This is the way Paul had been trained by Gamaliel, the greatly respected teacher of the Mosaic law (see Acts 22:3 and 5:34). A common format was called light and heavy — arguing from the greater to the lesser or the reverse. If someone completes medical training (the harder thing), then we may argue they will certainly begin to practice medicine (the easier thing).

With the above facts in mind, Douglas Moo summarizes Romans 5:910:

The argument proceeds from the major to the minor: if God has already done the most difficult thing — reconcile and justify unworthy sinners — how much more can he be depended on to accomplish the easier thing — save from eschatological [end-time] wrath those who have been brought into such relationship with him.[1]

Verses 9 and 10 each independently follow the major-to-minor argument described above. We will look at these verses in turn.

In Romans 5:9a, the harder thing is described as follows: Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood. The fact that believers in Jesus have been declared righteous by faith is presented as already accomplished by his blood (5:9a). This last phrase is a figure of speech called metonymy, in which a part stands for the whole. Jesus shed blood represents his death.[2] An example of metonymy in contemporary life is when we call an automobile someones wheels.

The difficulty of declaring us righteous should not be understated; it took nothing less than the death of the Son of God to allow a just God to justify the ungodly (4:5).

So, if the justification of the helpless, ungodly sinners was the harder part, what is the easier part? Paul says . . . much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God (5:9b). Why is this easier? C.E.B. Cranfield says that God will save from his wrath at the last those who are already righteous in his sight.[3] Wrath was never meant for the righteous!

Moo ably discusses how Paul uses the Greek verb sozo(save) in 5:9b:

While he sometimes uses the verb to denote the deliverance from the penalty of sin that comes at conversion (e.g., Rom. 8:24; Eph. 2:5, 8), he more often uses the word . . . to depict the final deliverance of the Christian from the power of sin, the evils of this life, and, especially, judgment (e.g., 1 Cor. 3:15; 5:5; Phil. 2:12).[4]

So, salvation in Romans 5:9 becomes an example of the already — not yet pattern of NT fulfillment. We now (already) have some benefits from our salvation, but many other benefits will come later (not yet).

In Romans 5:10, the harder thing is described as follows: For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son. First, the language of reconciliation was shocking to those from Greco-Roman culture. Osborne points out, Cranfield says reconciliation language was never used in the religious language of the Hellenistic [Greek] world because it was too deeply personal, but Paul (Rom. 5:10, 11; 11:15; 2 Cor. 5:1820) uses it to show the new personal relationship established by Gods justification.[5]

Did you get that? No other ancient religion imagined God having or wanting a personal relationship with anyone, so they never used reconciliation language. The Greek verb katallasso here (5:10) means: the exchange of hostility for a friendly relationship, reconcile.[6]

Christianity is fundamentally different because God has provided the basis for his enemies to become members of his own family (Rom. 8:1417). Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism-Taoism (the predominant religion of China), and atheism offer no such idea of a personal relationship to God.

Recall that reconciliation by the death of his Son (5:10a) was the harder task; the easier sequel is described as much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life (5:10b).

How shall we be saved by his life (5:10b)? Thomas Schreiner has the right idea when he says, Believers are assured that they will escape condemnation since for their sake Christ died, was raised from the dead, and intercedes. . . . Christs death and resurrection are inseparable in effecting salvation.[7] We will be saved in the end because the one appointed the Son-of-God-in-power (1:4, NET) will stand up for us!

God has built a bridge for our return to him

God has done the harder part of salvation and will do the easier part at judgment, but only for those who have accepted the reconciliation he offers through Christ.

1. Read 2 Cor. 5:1920. How and when have you taken advantage of Gods reconciliation through faith in Christ?

2. If you have taken the reconciliation God offers, how are you extending this chance at amnesty to others?

The church father Origen (185254 AD) said, Christs death brought death to the enmity which existed between us and God and ushered in reconciliation.[8] For a little while longer, Gods amnesty is still available. Do not miss the last call!

Copyright 2012 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

 


[1] Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1996) 310.

[2] Moo, Romans, 310, confirms this analysis.

[3] C.E.B. Cranfield, The Epistle to the Romans, The International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark Limited, 1975) 266.

[4] Moo, Romans, 310-311, footnote 91.

[5] Grant R. Osborne, Romans, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004) 135, citing Cranfield, Romans, 267.

[6] BDAG-3, katallasso, reconcile, q.v.

[7] Thomas R. Schreiner, Romans, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998) 264.

[8] Gerald Bray, ed., Romans, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998) 133.

Exposition of Romans 5:6-8 Love and Death — Christ Gave Both

Part of the problem in being a twenty-first century American is that the idea that God loves us has been around for a long time. Indeed, that is by far the most popular theological idea even among people who do not think Jesus is anyone special.

The amazing thing is that reasonably intelligent, well-informed people, who read the newspaper and know a little history, would find it next to impossible to give you one good reason why God should not hate humankind in view of how we have behaved!

(NET) Romans 5:6-8 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 (For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person perhaps someone might possibly dare to die.) 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Commentary

This group of three verses is remarkable by any standard. First, Paul uses three words to describe our condition before Christ took action: we were helpless, ungodly sinners. Second, we are told that God responded to our desperate situation with love and death. Indeed, each of the three Greek sentences ends with the same Greek verb for death (ἀποθνῄσκω) — clearly intentional.

From a theological viewpoint — something you should definitely strive to develop — it is vital to see that before we trusted in Christ we were helpless (5:6) to save ourselves from Gods wrath. Osborne says, “This does not mean that human beings are incapable of good — John Calvin, the Protestant reformer, called this ‘common grace,’ the ability of the natural person to do good since all are made in the image of God –but it conveys that they can do nothing that will make them right with God.”[1]

In relation to the word translated “ungodly” (5:6), the Greek adjective ἀσεβής here means “pertaining to violating norms for a proper relation to deity, irreverent, impious, ungodly.”[2] It is more than sad that contemporary American society is filled with such people, who pay no attention whatever to God. Secularism marginalizes God more now than at any time in a thousand years.

We have looked at the bad-news part of Romans 5:6, but the good news utterly overwhelms the bad news: “at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (5:6b). C.E.B. Cranfield says, “For Christ’s death on behalf of sinners compare . . . 3:25; 4:25; 6:10; 7:4; 8:32; 14:15 (in the last two of these passages [the Greek preposition] huper is used, as it is here [5:6] and also in a good many other NT passages dealing with the same subject).”[3] Next we will discuss why that is important.

Huper — meaning “for, in behalf of, for the sake of”[4] — is one of the few Greek words that every serious student of the New Testament should know about because it stresses that Jesus died as our substitute. See also 2 Cor. 5:14, Gal. 3:13 and John 11:50. The preposition also occurs three more times in Romans 5:7-8.

Romans 5:7 is a comparative verse in which Paul presents the absolute most you can expect in terms of human love. Rarely, one person might dare to die for some other deserving person, described as either righteous or good. Such behavior is rare enough that we widely honor the sacrifice it requires. Think of the firemen rushing into the burning World Trade Center to help others during the 9/11 attack.

But God has done so much more in “his own love” (5:8) than the greatest acts of human love. Christ, the beloved Son of God, keeps on demonstrating God’s love toward us in that he died for the helpless, ungodly sinners — the very ones also called God’s enemies (5:8). Seeing the desperate plight of sinful, lost humanity, God did not sit in heaven feeling affection for us and yet doing nothing. Christ came among us to suffer and die for us.

Grant Osborne rightly says:

This is the primary point Paul is making. Christ did not die for righteous people or for friends; he died for sinful human beings in all their degrading depravity, for those who “suppress the truth by their wickedness” (1:18) and do “not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God (1:28), who are “filled with every kind of wickedness, evil greed and depravity” (1:29). Therefore we deserved to experience the wrath of God and eternal judgment, but Christ took our punishment upon himself and paid the penalty in our place, thereby procuring redemption on our behalf (3:21-26).[5]

Gods love brings death and offers life

An ancient church father known as Ambrosiaster once said: “If Christ gave himself up to death at the right time for those who were unbelievers and enemies of God . . . how much more will he protect us with his help if we believe in him!”[6]

1. We will take a moment to review: (1) the penalty for sin is death (Rom. 1:32), and (2) you may pay the penalty either with your own death or use the death of Jesus instead (Rom. 5:8). Which will you choose? Keep in mind that not to decide is a decision in itself; you are not in a fail-safe position if you have never trusted in Christ!

2. Why do you think Christ was willing to die in your place? How does the extent of God’s love for you, expressed in Christ’s death, make you feel?

Each day’s lesson begins with a six-word theme. Here is another one:
Jesus Christ died in your place. Praise God forever!

Copyright 2012 Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

 


[1] Grant R. Osborne, Romans, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004) 132.

[2] BDAG-3, ἀσεβής, ungodly, q.v.

[3] C.E.B. Cranfield, The Epistle to the Romans, The International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark Limited, 1975) 264.

[4] BDAG-3, huper, on behalf of, q.v.

[5] Osborne, Romans, 134.

[6] Gerald Bray, ed., Romans, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998) 131.

Exposition of Romans 5:1-2 You are standing on home base

There is serenity in seeing a child standing on home base and bragging to the other children about being safe during a game of tag. Many of us spent happy hours dealing with the pretend-risks of playing tag during childhood.

But childhood is over, and the path to safety is blocked by our sins. How can we reach home base now?

(ESV) Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

The beginning of Romans 5 marks the boundary of a major division in the book. The key sentence of Romans 1-8 occurs in Romans 1:17b, which C.E.B.Cranfield translates as He who is righteous by faith shall live.[1] Cranfield outlines Romans 1:18-4:25 as The revelation of the righteousness which is from God by faith alone —He who is righteous by faith expounded; he also outlines Romans 5:1-8:39 as The life promised for those who are righteous by faith shall live expounded.[2] I accept Cranfields placement of Romans 5 with chapters 6-8, joining Douglas Moo, Thomas Schreiner and Grant Osborne.

Romans 5 also serves as a transitional chapter with strong links to what has preceded. We see that immediately with the opening clause Therefore, since we have been justified by faith (5:1), looking back to the theological arguments of Romans 3-4. Before we leave this backward-looking summary, we should clarify some issues of word choice.

The Greek verb dikaia? here (5:1) means be acquitted, be pronounced and treated as righteous.[3] This is terminology of a law court and is sometimes called forensic language. Some Bible translations prefer forensic language for Romans 5:1; NET and HCSB say declared righteous by faith. Other translators like to boil it down to one word that has the same general force but is a bit less legal in nuance; so, ESV and NIV say justified by faith. Justified has the sense vindicated. Either way is acceptable so long as you remember that declared righteous and justified are saying the same thing. For precision, declared righteous is probably the better choice, as the standard lexicon suggests.

(ESV) Romans 5:1b we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Since all of us had been lacking Gods approval (3:23) and expecting his wrath (1:18) because of our universal domination by sin (3:9), the statement that we have peace with God (5:1) provides terrific relief. This change in our condition is described by Paul in Colossians 1:13 by saying, For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son (NLT).

The word peace is a good example of how Greek and English do not enjoy a one-to-one relationship. For English speakers, peace is primarily freedom from war or a stopping of war.[4] Here (5:1) the Greek noun eir?n? means a state of well-being, peace.[5] According to theologian Herman Ridderbos, peace refers to the all-embracing gift of salvation, the condition of shalom, which God will again bring to unrestricted dominion.[6] Bring it on!

As for the phrase through our Lord Jesus Christ (5:1), Douglas Moo says, That all God has for us is to be found in or through Jesus Christ our Lord is a persistent motif in Rom. 5-8.[7] I am reminded of Pauls clause in Col. 3:11b: Christ is all and in all (NET), a fitting summary of life in Christ! Actually, I prefer a more literal translation: All and in all –Christ!

(ESV) Romans 5:2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Christ is the him (5:2) who provided us the life-giving access into grace. Greek grammar authority Daniel Wallace states that the two Greek perfect-tense verbs in this verse as stress our current status: we currently have access and stand in the realm of grace.[8] We stand in the safety of this grace through Jesus.

This amounts to an astonishing change in status; we have moved from being under sin (3:9) to standing in grace (5:2)! When you consider that is the difference between heaven and hell, the significance becomes more apparent.

The dramatic change of status makes it all the more puzzling that translators throttle back on Pauls word selection in the remainder of Romans 5:2. The Greek verb kauchaomai means to take pride in something, boast, glory, pride oneself, brag.[9] The lexicon specifically suggests the verb should be translated boast in something in Rom. 5:2 due to combination with the Greek preposition epi. What is worth boasting about? ESV says the hope of the glory of God (5:2).

There is a big difference between boasting and rejoicing. Dunn explains Pauls bold use of the word boast, which has been used negatively prior to this point in Romans:

Not by accident Paul picks up again language (boast) which he has used only pejoratively [i.e. as something to avoid] so far (2:17, 23; 3:27; 4:2). Since boasting epitomized Jewish pride in Israels privileged status among the nations, so Paul deliberately inserts the equivalent note into this conclusion of his argument so far. . . . Paul does not condemn boasting per se; on the contrary, it should be a natural and proper response to the wonderful favor of this divine patron.[10]

So far, we have said that boast is superior to rejoice in Romans 5:2b, but improvements have not been exhausted. You will recall that the Greek phrase underlying the glory of God also occurred in Romans 3:23. Concerning that verse, Cranfield reluctantly admits, Taken by itself, [the Greek phrase translated the glory of God] h? doxa tou theou could, of course, mean the approbation [approval] of God, as it does in John 12:43 (cf. John 5:44), and it is so understood here by some.[11] Using that meaning, I recommended that Romans 3:23 be translated For all have sinned and lack Gods approval.

The same Greek phrase occurs in Romans 5:2, and the same translation applies here as well. The standard Greek lexicon also offers divine approval of a person as one translation alternative in 5:2.[12] After all, justification by faith is all about our becoming acceptable to God.

So, to sum up, I believe the best translation of Romans 5:2 would be: Through him we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we boast in expectation of Gods approval. The only way we can stand securely in grace is because Jesus won our access through his death.

Standing in grace

Through Jesus Christ our Lord we have not only gained well-being before God but also the right to stand in the realm of grace. This is what you may expect when God approves of you through faith in Jesus Christ.

1. What does having peace with God do to stabilize your Christian life? How does having peace with God undercut the idea that we must use good works to maintain a status of salvation?

2. How does knowing you already stand in the sphere of grace affect your motivation to live for Christ?

Stand where God has placed you, with grace and peace surrounding you because of Christ.

Copyright 2012 Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

 


[1] C.E.B. Cranfield, The Epistle to the Romans, The International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark Limited, 1975) 27.

[2] Cranfield, Romans, 28.

[3] BDAG-3, dikaia?, be acquitted, q.v.

[4] peace, Websters New World Dictionary, Fourth Edition, Michael Agnes, Ed. in Chief (New York: McMillan, 1999).

[5] BDAG-3, eir?n?, well-being, q.v.

[6] Herman Ridderbos, Paul, Trans. John Richard De Witt (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1975) 184.

[7] Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1996) 300.

[8] Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996) 576.

[9] BDAG-3, kauchaomai, boast, q.v.

[10] James D.G. Dunn, Romans 1-8, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word Books, 1988) 264.

[11] Cranfield, Romans, 204.

[12] BDAG-3, doxa, approval (meaning 3), q.v.