The faithlessness of Gentiles & Jews in Romans 1:18—3:20 leads to a discussion of God’s faithfulness to His covenant promise to Abraham as it is found in the Lord Jesus (3:21—5:11).

Then comes a summary in 5:12-21 of sinful human history as seen in Adam and God’s response to that in another “Adam” (5:14 and 1 Corinthians 15:45). In being sinful sons and daughters of sinful Adam we chose alienation from our source of fullness of life and found death—his history becomes ours. When by God’s grace we (Jew & Gentile) reject that Adamic history and by God’s grace choose Christ’s history as ours we experience reconciliation, forgiveness and life (5:17-21).

But in the course of that summary Paul says (5:21) the (Mosaic covenant) law entered and instead of curbing Adamic Sin, matters were worse—Sin increased, was seen as a vaster issue and more sinful (7:13, exceedingly). But the good news Paul had to offer was that the augmenting of Sin resulted in a more glorious expression of God’s grace and, of course, that brings more glory to God.

But that led to a possible protest. “If the more we sin the more glory comes to God for being more gracious. If that were true and since humans (Jews & Gentiles) exist only to bring God glory then we should sin more and get Him more glory.”

That leads to 6:1—8:17 (and see 3:3-8) where Paul develops and defends his understanding of the law, and particularly the Mosaic covenant Law and why it did not take care of the Sin problem. And note the summary remark in 8:12 in response to 6:1.

He then returns in 8:17—39 to God’s covenant promise invested in Abraham which was interrupted by the discussion about the Law. You might think it helpful if you read 4:9-25 and then began with 8:17—39.

What happened to the Abrahamic promise that he and his children would “inherit the world” (4:13)? If God’s faithfulness/righteousness is seen in Jesus how is it that the blessings have not been fulfilled? How is it that the creation/world and the followers of Jesus continue to experience suffering and death and all that goes with the human condition?

Paul insists that the creation (the world) and the sons and daughters of God must go through the same experience Jesus went through—suffering and glory to follow. The entire section 8:17-39 is about just that and 8:29 says that those embraced in God’s overarching purpose were to be “conformed to the image of His Son that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” In that text Paul is not talking about moral behavior (he dealt with that at length in 6:1-11)—here it has to do with living in hope like Jesus and all the faithful did (see Acts 2:25-28; Hebrews 11:39-40).

And so he lists all the possible experiences or realities that would dispute God’s faithfulness or God’s powerlessness to fulfill His promises and ends with that glorious “No! In all these things we are more than conquerors…I am persuaded that…nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Among the things he lists as possible God-deniers is “life” Not only hunger, physical pain, disease, abuse, persecution, death, invisible powers—life.

That also? Is life itself a threat? I wonder what he might have had in mind.

This entry was posted in REFLECTIONS ON THIS AND THAT on by .

About Jim McGuiggan

Jim McGuiggan was Ethel's husband for fifty-three years. They have three children and eight grandchildren. Ethel went to be with Christ on Easter Sunday, 2009 at the close of a gallant life. He has written some books including: Celebrating the Wrath of God; Heading Home with God; Life on the Ash Heap; Jesus: Hero of Thy Soul; The God of the Towel, The Scarlet Letter; and The Dragon Slayer.

2 thoughts on “THAT ALSO? I WONDER…..

  1. Ryan Simpson

    Good timing on this subject, Jim. I was in a class just this morning where the teacher (a retired ACU bible professor) teaching on James spent a lot of time in Romans trying to make the distinction between James and Romans – in Romans Paul was trying to say that your works do not earn your salvation vs James where he’s speaking to folks who have been Christian for a while and whose works should reflect who they are in Christ. The teacher spoke of Dikaiosune Theou, but interpreted it as our righteousness in living uprightly. He did not speak of it as God’s righteousness. When I asked him about it after class (briefly since others were trying to speak to him as well) he acknowledged that it also speaks of God’s righteousness, but then he went on about how we have broken the law, etc, etc.

    Anyway…just wanted to say your email was timely and helpful in clearing up some of what I heard this morning.


    Sent from my iPhone



    1. Jim McGuiggan Post author

      Thanks for dropping in Ryan. It’s interesting isn’t it, that both Paul and James use the same text to say that Abraham was justified by faith (Romans 4:3 and James 2:23 and both addressing two different occasions and two different events. We might begin to think that one’s relationship with God is not a static juridical pronouncement but a dynamic relationship. God bless.



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