Monday, August 28, 2006

Brick by Brick (Romans № 10)

Let's consider three exhortations from the Apostle Paul as we begin chapter five of his letter to the Romans.

"Since we have been given right standing with God through faith, then let us continue enjoying peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have an introduction through faith into this state of God's favor, in which we safely stand; and let us continue exulting in the hope of enjoying the glorious presence of God. And not only that, but this too: let us continue exulting in our sufferings, for we know that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, tested character, and tested character, hope," (Rom 5.1-4 WmsNT)

There is a textual question in Romans 5.1. It all comes down to one Greek letter! The phrase in differing Greek manuscripts is either:

εχωμεν [present active subjunctive] προς τον θεον--"let us have peace with God"


εχoμεν [present active indicative] προς τον θεον--"we have peace with God"

The difference is between ω (Omega) and o (Omicron).

The translators of several different versions have chosen "we have peace with God" as the primary reading. I've read different scholarly argumentations to support this textual conclusion. However, I will defer to A. T. Robertson, the greatest Greek grammarian of the 20th Century. He chooses "let us have peace with God", adding that "[t]his is the correct text beyond a doubt...It is curious how perverse many real scholars have been on this word and phrase here." (Word Pictures)

I'll confess this textual/manuscript issue is beyond me but I will adopt Robertson's view. This is why I have quoted from Charles B. Williams' New Testament translation; while it isn't as "literal" a translation in some respects as I would care for, it advocates the same position of Robertson.

With our Greek lesson over let's look at Paul's three exhortations:

1. "let us continue enjoying peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"

Paul's Christians have enjoyed peace with God and he wanted them to continue doing so. As a Wesleyan I believe that a Christian can fall away from the Faith and cease to live at peace with God.

2. "let us continue exulting in the hope of enjoying the glorious presence of God"

Let us live consciously in this God-soaked universe. The Triune God is here in his Spirit; we are never alone. Let us joyfully seek the Day when faith becomes sight and we live before our God continually in heaven.

3. "let us continue exulting in our sufferings"

Why should we glory in sufferings? Notice his chain:

sufferings → endurance
endurance → tested character
tested character → hope

A person won't feel secure in his relationship with God if he hasn't developed endurance which gives way to character that, in turn, becomes hope. Using suffering to learn endurance, learning endurance to develop character and developing character to result in hope doesn't happen overnight. It is built brick by brick. It is a lifetime of making the right decisions, choices and priorities.

This leads to Christian hope, the surety of his salvation.