The Crystal Clarity of Romans – D1

D. Fourth Subsidiary Thesis: (6:14)
Because of their new Identity, Believers have Reason and Motivation to Withstand Sin

Exposition D (5:20-7:6):

Preliminary Comment

Verses 20 and 21 of chapter 5 connect backward to 5:12-19 (continuing the contrast between the old (sin and death) versus the new (grace and life). It is important, however, to see them in their relation to chapter 6, because they are the first part of a repeated rhetorical pattern. The pattern is this:

  • Paul makes an astonishing statement in relation to our redemption in Christ.
  • He imagines an objection that might be put by an interlocutor.
  • He answers the objection.
  • He sums up in a sentence that affirms and even extends his original statement, and this statement then may become the “astonishing statement” that is defended in the next cycle of the pattern.

The following table maps the pattern as it occurs in the passage we are considering.

|Astonishing |Statement |Objection
|Defence |Reaffirmation |
| 5:20-21 – …where sin increased, grace increased …so that… (etc) | 6:1 – What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 6:2-13 | 6:14 – …you are not under the law, but under grace.
| 6:14 – …you are not under the law, but under grace. | 6:15 – What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? 6:16-22 | 6:23 – …the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The First Rhetorical Cycle (5:20-6:14)

νόμος δὲ παρεισῆλθεν ἵνα πλεονάσῃ τὸ παράπτωμα (nomos de pareisēlthen hina pleonasē to paraptōma)–The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase (5:20a, NIV).

  • This fact will become very important when we arrive at chapter 7. By increasing our awareness of our sin, the law increases the culpability of our sin. However, Paul has other issues to deal with first, which he does in chapter 6.

οὗ δὲ ἐπλεόνασεν ἡ ἁμαρτία, ὑπερεπερίσσευσεν ἡ χάρις (hou de epleonasen hē hamatia, hupereperisseusen hē charis)–But where sin increased, grace increased all the more (5:20b, NIV).

  • As stated previously, this is the “astonishing statement”.

ἵνα ὥσπερ ἐβασίλευσεν ἡ ἁμαρτία ἐν τῷ θανάτῳ, οὕτως καὶ ἡ χάρις βασιλεύσῃ διὰ δικαιοσύνης εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον (hina hōsper ebasileusen hē hamatia en tō thanatō, houtws kai hē charis basileusē dia dikaiosunēs eis zoēn aiōnion) – so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life (5:21, NIV).

    • This completes the series of contrasts that began in 5:15.
  • As Paul’s exposition proceeds on into chapter 6, he would have his hearers take with them the sense of victory that the word βασιλεύω (basileuō) gives. He is not expounding a chancy salvation that might, after all, be taken from us if we fail to jump through some hoop or other. Any interpretation of chapter 6 that makes our salvation chancy is, therefore, mistaken. Our eternal life is now as certain as our death was before the work done by Jesus Christ.

ἐπιμένωμεν τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ, ἵνα ἡ χάρις πλεονάσῃ; (epimenōmen tēi hamartia, hina hē charis pleonasē?)–Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? (6:1, NIV)

  • The hypothetical adversarial question

οἵτινες ἀπεθάνομεν τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ, πῶς ἔτι ζήσομεν ἐν αὐτῇ; (hoitenes atethanomen tēi hamartia, pōs eti zēsomen en autēi?)–we who died to sin, how can we still live in it? (6:2).

  • This is Paul’s immediate answer.
  • It will have been obvious to all Paul’s hearers that they were still alive physically (!), and that sin remained a daily possibility. Therefore, they would have immediately understood that Paul’s “how can” refers to the ethical, motivational domain, not to some immediate perfection of one’s character.

ἢ ἀγνοεῖτε ὅτι ὅσοι ἐβαπτίσθημεν εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν εἰς τὸν θάνατον αὐτοῦ ἐβαπτίσθημεν; (hē agnoeite hoti hosoi ebaptisthēmen eis Christon Iesoun ton thatnaton autou ebaptisthēmen?)–Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (6:3, NIV)

  • Perhaps this was part of the standard teaching about baptism that all converts received; perhaps it wasn’t. Or perhaps it was just the hypothetical interlocutor who didn’t know this. Anyway, all hearing Paul know it now. Baptism effects an identification with Christ’s death.
  • Actually, it’s obviously not baptism per se that effects the identification. “Baptism” is serving as a dramatic synecdoche for the whole process that starts with faith and, in ordinary circumstances, ends in baptism. Having asserted earlier that salvation is by faith, Paul is not going to insert an action here as though it were absolutely essential to salvation.
  • Romans 6 is not about baptism. The mention of baptism serves the main point, but is incidental to it.

συνετάφημεν οὖν αὐτῷ διὰ τοῦ βαπτίσματος εἰς τὸν θάνατον, ἵνα ὥσπερ ἠγέρθη Χριστὸς ἐκ νεκρῶν … οὕτως καὶ ἡμεῖς ἐν καινότητι ζωῆς περιπατήσωμεν. Εἰ γὰρ σύμφυτοι γεγόναμεν τῷ ὁμοιώματι τοῦ θανάτου αὐτοῦ, ἀλλὰ καὶ τῆς ἀναστάσεως ἐσόμεθα–We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead … we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his (6:4,5 NIV).

  • We are not identified with Christ in his death but also in his resurrection.
  • Our immediate resurrection is to a new kind of life…
  • but it will ultimately fully match that of Christ.

τοῦτο γινώσκοντες ὅτι ὁ παλαιὸς ἡμῶν ἄνθρωπος συνεσταυρώθη, ἵνα καταργηθῇ τὸ σῶμα τῆς ἁμαρτίαν (tōuto ginōskontes hoti ho palaios hēmōn anthrōpos sunestaurōthē, hina katargēthē to sōma tēs hamartian)–Knowing this, that our old man was with-crucified [with Christ], in order that the body of sin might be stripped of its power (6:6a, my paraphrase).

  • Remember, Paul expected what he was saying would be intelligible to his Roman hearers.
  • Therefore,whatever “body of sin” refers to, katargēthē must not be translated as do the KJV and RSV, “destroyed”. Our physical bodies certainly have not been destroyed, nor has our inner susceptibility to temptation.
  • This is not the place to summarise scholarly studies on the meaning of kartageō. It’s sufficient to say that the ESV’s “brought to nothing”, or my “stripped of power” convey the correct sense.
  • Paul has not yet used “flesh” with a connotation of propensity to sin. (He used the word in 1:3 and 4:1, but with no such implication). Therefore, it is not likely that the Romans would have supplied that meaning for “body of sin”.
  • However, just a few sentences previously, Paul was talking by implication about a corporate body to which all of his hearers had belonged–that of the sin-plagued, death-deserving descendants of Adam.
  • The “body of sin”, therefore, which was in Paul’s own mind, and the one he expected to be in the minds of his hearers, was the whole Adamic system with its power to entice people to sin and so lead them to their death.
  • It is that “body” which has been stripped of its power by our incorporation into Christ, in his death and resurrection.

τοῦ μηκέτι δουλεύειν ἡμᾶς τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ, ὁ γὰρ ἀποθανὼν δεδικαίωται ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίαν (tōu mēketi douleuein hēmas tēi hamatia)–that we should no longer be slaves to sin (6:6b, NIV). ὁ γὰρ ἀποθανὼν δεδικαίωται ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίαν (ho gar apothanōn dedikaiōtai apo tēs hamatian)–for the one who has died has been justified from sin (6:7, my translation)

  • Remember, Paul is explaining why it is unconscionable that we should continue in sin, but not saying that it is impossible.
  • dedikaiōtai literally means “has been justified”. Many translations skate around this, but there is no need to. In an ironic way, it is even true of those outside of Christ that, when they die, they have been justified from sin. If the penalty for sin is death, and you die, the penalty has been discharged. There is no double jeopardy. And, of course, death releases everyone from the power of the old, sin-bound system.
  • Our death with Christ has brought us into a space where, though we are still alive bodily, we are judicially delivered from the consequences of our sin, and where, also, the old system has no authority or power any longer to compel us to continue in its ways.

In verses 8-10, Paul then points out what is already absolutely true concerning Christ’s life now, after his resurrection, concluding with “The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God” (verse 10, NIV).

Paul then urges that those facts about Jesus should transform our own thinking about ourselves. All the quotations below are from the NIV:

  • “…count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (6:11)
  • “…do not let sin reign in your mortal body” (6:12)
  • “…offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life” (6:13).

If it was not clear before, it should be by now, that Paul is not saying that it is impossible for us to go on sinning. If it were impossible, his exhortations would be redundant. What he is showing us in this passage is that the way forward to practical holiness of life, subsequent to our initial coming to faith. Is by reorienting our thinking so it is centred on our new identity in Christ.

This leads to the statement in verse 14 that reaffirms the grace that he had proclaimed in 5:20-21, and which shows that the interlocutor’s concern is unwarranted: “ For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”

  • Here, Paul states it as a matter of fact, not of exhortation: “sin shall no longer be your master”.
  • However, the preceding context has shown that he is not teaching some kind of instant Christian perfectionism. It will have been clear to his Roman hearers, as it should be to us, that work is required on our part, commencing with a fundamental transformation of our thinking.
  • Nevertheless, Paul has made it clear that the way forward is grace-based. He has closed the door against any legalistic approach to sanctification, and anyone who applies the exhortations in Romans 6 in a legalistic way has badly missed the point.

Next: The Second Rhetorical Cycle

Image attribution: Jonas Rogowski [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, from Wikimedia Commons


The Crystal Clarity of Romans – D2

The Second Rhetorical Cycle (6:14-23)

ἁμαρτία γὰρ ὑμῶν οὐ κυριεύσει, οὐ γάρ ἐστε ὑπὸ νόμον ἀλλὰ ὑπὸ χάριν (hamartian gar humōn ōu kurieusei, ōu gar sete hupo nomon alla hupo charin)–For sin shall not lord it over you, because you are not under the law, but under grace (6:14, my translation)

  • The conclusion of the first rhetorical cycle will immediately give rise to a further question and so a further iteration of the cycle.

ἁμαρτήσωμεν ὅτι οὐκ ἐσμὲν ὑπὸ νόμον ἀλλὰ ὑπὸ χάριν; (hamartēsōmen hoti ouk esmen hupo nomon alla hupo charin?)–Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? (6:15, NIV).

  • The second question.

Paul answers this question in a different way. In answering the first question, he encouraged his hearers to consider the soteriological implications of their identification with Christ. Now he will add to that another new way to think: a way that pragmatically compares the old way of life with what is possible in the new. I will quote just some of the key phrases from 6:16-22, as I think that Paul’s meaning is clear and doesn’t call for much discussion.

ἦτε δοῦλοι τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὑπηκούσατε δὲ ἐκ καρδίας εἰς ὃν παρεδόθητε τύπον διδαχῆς (ēte douloi tēs hamartias hupēkousate de ek kardias eis hon paredothēte tupon didachēs)–You were slaves of sin but have obeyed from the heart the pattern of teaching that was handed to you (6:17).

  • The Roman Christians already display a Christian way of life.

τίνα οὖν καρπὸν εἴχετε τότε ἐφ’ οἷς νῦν ἐπαισχύνεσθε; τὸ γὰρ τέλος ἐκείνων θάνατος (tina oun karpon eichete tote eph’ hois nun epaischunesthe? To gar telos ekeinōn thanatos)–What fruit were you getting from those things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things [is] death. (6:21)

  • If ever tempted to regress, consider the fate that awaited those on the old path.

νυνὶ δέ, ἐλευθερωθέντες ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας δουλωθέντες δὲ τῷ θεῷ, ἔχετε τὸν καρπὸν ὑμῶν εἰς ἁγιασμόν, τὸ δὲ τέλος ζωὴν αἰώνιον. (nuni de, eleutherōthentes apo tēs hamartias doulōthentes de tō theō, echete ton karpon humōn eis hagiasmon, to de telos zōēn aiōnion.)–But now, having been freed from sin and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit [that leads] to sanctification, and the end is eternal life (6:22).

If you think at this point that Paul is inserting a condition, adequate growth in holiness, between believers and the ultimate attainment of eternal life, you have not been paying attention to him!

Paul has already emphasised over and over that salvation is by grace, through faith, apart from any human effort, and that God will see it through to its completion (1:16,17; 3:22; 3:24-25; 4:4-5; 5:1-2; 5:10; 6:14). Nevertheless, sinful acts remain a real possibility for believers in this present life, and Paul’s goal here for believers is to equip us with new ways of thinking, the better to reject temptation. The first way is to reflect with amazement on the implications of our identification with Christ (6:3-14), and the second way (6:16-23) is that of recognising the incongruous folly of continuing to follow a way of life that leads unbelievers to their death. Notice that Paul does not say (re-read verse 22 until you see that he doesn’t!) that if believers continue on that behavioural path, they will die. No, they are already through faith (as evidenced by their commitment-in-principle to God) on a path whose destination is realised eternal life. The only variable is how much fruit of holiness they will produce en route. By alerting them to the folly of sinful living, Paul hopes to ensure that the fruit is plentiful, indeed.

And, of course, while instructing and building up the believers in this way, Paul has also gainsaid those who hold that a grace-based salvation is an invitation to licentious living. These are a masterful 23 verses.

τὰ γὰρ ὀψώνια τῆς ἁμαρτίας θάνατος, τὸ δὲ χάρισμα τοῦ θεοῦ ζωὴ αἰώνιος ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τῷ κυρίῳ ἡμῶν. (Ta gar opsōnia tēs hamartias thanatos, to de charisma tou theou zōē aiōnios en Christō Iesou tō kuriō hēmōn)–For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (6:23, NIV)

  • In the context of all that Paul has said before, verse 23 is not a warning (“Go on sinning and you will collect its wage packet”). Instead, it sums up in one memorable epigram the contrast Paul has been making between the old that we have escaped (“The wages of sin is death”) and the new place of grace in which we stand (“The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord).

Postscript to the Second Rhetorical Cycle (7:1-6)

Ἢ ἀγνοεῖτε … ὅτι ὁ νόμος κυριεύει τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐφ’ ὅσον χρόνον ζῇ; (Ē agnoieite … hoti o nomos kurieuei tou anthrōpou eph’ hoson chronon zē?)–Or are you ignorant … that the law rules over a man for [only] as long as he lives? (7:1).

  • The ‘only” is not in the Greek, but is implied by the example Paul gives next: ἡ γὰρ ὕπανδρος γυνὴ τῷ ζῶντι ἀνδρὶ δέδεται νόμῳ· ἐὰν δὲ ἀποθάνῃ ὁ ἀνήρ, κατήργηται ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου τοῦ ἀνδρός (hē gar hupandros gunē tō zōnti andri dedetai nomō ean de apothanē o anēr katērgētai apo tou nomou tōu androu)–For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if the man dies, she is released from (having completed) the law of her husband (6:2).

Ὥστε … καὶ ὑμεῖς ἐθανατώθητε τῷ νόμῳ διὰ τοῦ σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, εἰς τὸ γενέσθαι ὑμᾶς ἑτέρῳ (hōste … kai humeis ethanatōthēte tō nomō dia sōmatos tou Christou, eis to genesthai humans heterō)–In the same way, you died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you might become another’s (6:4a).

  • Paul’s application of the principle is not fully symmetrical with the example. In the latter, the husband dies, and so the still-living wife is set free, but in Paul’s application, it’s we who die because of our identification with Christ’s death. However, the principle is symmetrical: death severs the old relationship. That is all Paul’s hearers needed to agree to for the example to be persuasive.

ὅτε γὰρ ἦμεν ἐν τῇ σαρκί, τὰ παθήματα τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν τὰ διὰ τοῦ νόμου ἐνηργεῖτο ἐν τοῖς μέλεσιν ἡμῶν εἰς τὸ καρποφορῆσαι τῷ θανάτῳ·(hote gar hēmin en tēi sarki, ta pathēmata tōn hamartiōn ta dia tou nomou enērgeito en tois melesin humōn eis to karpophōrēsai tō thanatō)–For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions from the law were working in our members to bear fruit for death (6:5).

  • The mention of fruit ties this section back to 6:21-22. Paul uses the linking theme of fruit to introduce what will be an important point through the remainder of chapter 7, that the knowledge of the law perversely stirs up a will to sin in those who are “in the flesh”.
  • There is nothing in the rhetorical flow to this point that would have made his Roman hearers stumble and wonder what Paul was talking about. All that has gone before has prepared their minds for what he will say next.

νυνὶ δὲ κατηργήθημεν ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου, ἀποθανόντες ἐν ᾧ κατειχόμεθα (nuni de katērgēthēmen apo tou nomou, apothanontes en hō kateichometha)–But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound (6:6a, NASB).

ὥστε δουλεύειν ἡμᾶς ἐν καινότητι πνεύματος καὶ οὐ παλαιότητι γράμματος (hōste douleuein hēmas en kainotēti pneumatos kai ou palaiotēti grammatos)–so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter (6:6b, NASB).

  • Paul closes this section with another memorable epigram.

Next: Fifth Subsidiary Thesis: (7:25b) Law-Based Attempts at Sanctification Must Fail

Image attribution: William Merritt Chase [Public domain]

The Crystal Clarity of Romans – E

E. Fifth Subsidiary Thesis: (7:25b)
Law-Based Attempts at Sanctification Must Fail

Ἄρα οὖν αὐτὸς ἐγὼ τῷ μὲν νοῒ δουλεύω νόμῳ θεοῦ, τῇ δὲ σαρκὶ νόμῳ ἁμαρτίας. (Ara oun egō tō men noi douleuō nomō, tē de sarki nomō hamatias.)–So then, I myself in my mind am a slave of the law of God, but in the flesh of the law of sin (7:25b)

  • This time, Paul does not state his thesis at the start of the section but at the end, leading to it via his defence of the Law.

Exposition E, Part 1 (7:7-12): Knowledge of the Law Provokes Sin

ὁ νόμος ἁμαρτία; μὴ γένοιτο·(ho nomos hamatia? mē genoito)–Is the law sinful? Certainly not! (7:7a, NIV).

  • Paul will not allow his hearers to adopt a contemptuous attitude toward the law.

ἀλλὰ τὴν ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ ἔγνων εἰ μὴ διὰ νόμου (alla tēn hamartian ouk egnōn ei mē dia nomou)–But I [would] not have known sin if not through law (7:7b).

  • As Paul will further explain, the law has a fatal weakness.

τήν τε γὰρ ἐπιθυμίαν οὐκ ᾔδειν εἰ μὴ ὁ νόμος ἔλεγεν· Οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις (tēn te gar epithumian ouk ēdein ei mē o nomos elegen Ouk epithumēseis)–For I would not have been conscious of covetousness if the law had not said, “Do not covet” (7:7c)

  • A specific example

ἡ γὰρ ἁμαρτία ἀφορμὴν λαβοῦσα διὰ τῆς ἐντολῆς ἐξηπάτησέν με καὶ δι’ αὐτῆς ἀπέκτεινεν. (hē gar hamartia aphormēn labousa dia tēs entolēs exēpatēsen me kai di’ authēs apekteinen)–For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment,deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death (7:11, NIV).

  • Verse 11 concludes the example, whose details in verses 8-10 I have skipped over, since they are clear enough.

ὥστε ὁ μὲν νόμος ἅγιος, καὶ ἡ ἐντολὴ ἁγία καὶ δικαία καὶ ἀγαθή.(hōste ho men nomos hagios, kai hē entolē hagia kai dikaia kai agathē)–So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good (7:12, NIV).

  • This is the wider implication of the example; this is the respectful attitude we should continue to have toward the law.

Exposition E, Part 2 (7:13): Sin Itself Ensures this

Τὸ οὖν ἀγαθὸν ἐμοὶ ἐγένετο θάνατος; μὴ γένοιτο·(To oun agathon emoi egeneto thanatos? mē genoito)–Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! (7:13a, NIV)

  • Paul continues to exonerate the law.

ἡ ἁμαρτία, ἵνα φανῇ ἁμαρτία διὰ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ μοι κατεργαζομένη θάνατον· ἵνα γένηται καθ’ ὑπερβολὴν ἁμαρτωλὸς ἡ ἁμαρτία διὰ τῆς ἐντολῆς. (hē hamartia, hina phanē hamartia dia tou agathou moi katergazoumenē thanaton hina genetai kath’ huperboēn hamartōlos hē hamartia dia tēs entolēs)–…in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful (7:13b, NIV).

  • It is the nature of sin itself that makes this perverse result inevitable.

Exposition E, Part 3 (7:14-24a): The Conflict Dramatised

ἐγὼ δὲ σάρκινός εἰμι, πεπραμένος ὑπὸ τὴν ἁμαρτίαν. (egō de sarkinos eimi, pepramenos hupo tēn hamartian)–I am fleshly, having been sold under sin (714b)

  • The perfect participle, having been sold, connects this sentence back to the Adamic fall that Paul had mentioned in chapter 5. This is not an unhappy state that afflicts just some of humankind.
  • The adjective fleshly, however, sets the scene for a differentiation that Paul will make later, between those who are in the flesh and those who are in the Spirit.

οὐ γὰρ ὃ θέλω τοῦτο πράσσω, ἀλλ’ ὃ μισῶ τοῦτο ποιῶ. εἰ δὲ ὃ οὐ θέλω τοῦτο ποιῶ, σύμφημι τῷ νόμῳ ὅτι καλός. (ou gar ho thelō touto prasso, all’ ho misō touto poiō. ei de ho ou thelō touto poiō, sumphēmi tō nomō oti kalos)–For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good (7:15b-16)

  • This is the testimony of someone trying and failing to obey the law.
  • It misses the point of Paul’s argument if we try to closely identify who “I” is. (See my comments in the box below).
  • The defining characteristic of “I” has already been given. He/she is someone trying to obey the law but only with the resources of a human being’s ordinary, fleshly nature. This is the “I” whom the Romans would have understood Paul to be talking about. No more precise identification is necessary for Paul to successfully make his intended point in this passage.
  • Paul here speaks of the law as “kalos”, whereas in verse 12 he had described the commandment as “agathos”. Though there is sometimes in Greek a fine distinction in meaning between the two terms, Paul does not go on to make any point that depends on such a distinction, so I think it is unnecessary to look for one.

συνήδομαι γὰρ τῷ νόμῳ τοῦ θεοῦ κατὰ τὸν ἔσω ἄνθρωπον, βλέπω δὲ ἕτερον νόμον ἐν τοῖς μέλεσίν μου ἀντιστρατευόμενον τῷ νόμῳ τοῦ νοός μου καὶ αἰχμαλωτίζοντά με ἐν τῷ νόμῳ τῆς ἁμαρτίας τῷ ὄντι ἐν τοῖς μέλεσίν μου·(sunēdomai gar tō nomō tou theou kata ton esō anthrōpon, blepō de heteron nomon en tois melesin mou antistrateuomenon tō nomō tou noös mou kai aichmalōtizonta me en tō nomō tēs hamartias tō onti en tois melesin mou)–For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me (7:22-23, NIV)

  • Lest we haven’t got the point yet, Paul restates it.

Why it is Unnecessary to Precisely Identify “I”

● What motivates “me” to want to obey the law is not pertinent to Paul’s point. His point is that (regardless of what motivated “me”), “I” am bound to fail.

● We, with the benefit of having read 1 Corinthians 2:14, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him” (ESV), know that Paul himself would exclude anyone in whom the Spirit had not begun an enlightening pre-conversion work. We do not know that the Romans understood that, but they did not need to for Paul’s point to be seen by them as true.

● Likewise, we know that the wretched, struggling person of Romans 7 does not sound like the self-satisfied Pharisee that Paul depicts himself as in Philippians, and we don’t know if the Romans knew that. However, Paul’s point still stands even if it was not autobiographical, and it still stands if, for reasons hidden from us, it was.

● Anyone hearing Paul’s words who had gone through a phase, before their definitive Christian conversion, of trying to live a moral life will undoubtedly agree with him.

● Anyone who, though truly converted and not self-righteously complacent, is trying to grow in sanctification by minute attention to the “old way of the written code” (7:6, NIV) must also ruefully agree with Paul.

Romans 7:14-24 is not, I believe, intended as a depiction of the normal Christian life. It does, though, serve as a warning to Christians: if you try to attain sanctification by a way that is essentially no different than the “oldness of the letter”, you will fail.

ταλαίπωρος ἐγὼ ἄνθρωπος (talaipōros egō anthrōpos)–Wretched man I am! (7:24a)

  • Indeed! QED.

τίς με ῥύσεται ἐκ τοῦ σώματος τοῦ θανάτου τούτου; χάρις τῷ θεῷ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν.(tis me rhusetai ek tou sWmatos tou thanatou? Charis tō theW dia Iesou Christou tou kuriou hēmōn)–Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (7:24b-25a, ESV)

  • A “trailer” for what’s coming up in chapter 8.

The Thesis that was Proven by the Preceding Argument

Ἄρα οὖν αὐτὸς ἐγὼ τῷ μὲν νοῒ δουλεύω νόμῳ θεοῦ, τῇ δὲ σαρκὶ νόμῳ ἁμαρτίας.–So then, I myself in my mind am a slave of the law of God, but in the flesh of the law of sin (7:25b)

Next: The New Way of the Spirit Replaces the Never-Competent Law

Image attribution: Friend [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

The Crystal Clarity of Romans – F

F. Sixth Subsidiary Thesis: (8:1-2)
The New Way of the Spirit Replaces the Never-Competent Law

Οὐδὲν ἄρα νῦν κατάκριμα τοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ· ὁ γὰρ νόμος τοῦ πνεύματος τῆς ζωῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ἠλευθέρωσέν σε ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου τῆς ἁμαρτίας καὶ τοῦ θανάτου. (Ouden ara nun katakrima tois en Christō Iesou. Ho gar nomos tou pneumatos tēs zōēs en Christō Iesou eleutherōsen se apo tou nomou tēs hamartias kai tou thanatou.)–There is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed you from the law of sin and death (8:1-2).

  • ⇑ The ara (“therefore”) connects back to 7:6, “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” (ESV). Full marks to any Roman hearer who remembered the connection, but, clearly, 7:6 is what 8:1’s “therefore refers to.
  • There is a textual variant in verse 2. Is it “me” or “you” that Paul says has been freed? The question is irrelevant to understanding his message here. Whichever word he used, he obviously intended his point to apply to all Christians, the Romans and himself included.
  • Should we translate 8:2 as does the ESV, “the law of the Spirit of life has set me/you free in Christ Jesus” or as does the RSV, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me/you free”? Whichever, Paul’s main point remains unchanged.

Exposition F, Part 1 (8:3-4): The Walk of the Not-Condemned

τὸ γὰρ ἀδύνατον τοῦ νόμου, ἐν ᾧ ἠσθένει διὰ τῆς σαρκός… (to gar adunaton tou nomou, en hō ēsthenei dia tēs sarkos…)–or what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh… (8:3a, NIV)

  • ⇑ Chapter 7 in a nutshell!

… ὁ θεὸς τὸν ἑαυτοῦ υἱὸν πέμψας ἐν ὁμοιώματι σαρκὸς ἁμαρτίας καὶ περὶ ἁμαρτίας κατέκρινε τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ἐν τῇ σαρκί (…ho theos ton eautou huion pempsas en homoiōmati sarkos hamartias kai peri amartias, katekrine tēn amartian en tē sarki)–…God [did], having sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemn[ing] sin in the flesh (8:3b)

  • ⇑ The “justification” part of our salvation, the removal of condemnation
  • In saying that the Son came “in the likeness of sinful flesh”, Paul is not teaching docetism. As we know from the wider testimony of Scripture, Jesus was truly human. He came in flesh, not just in the likeness of flesh. However, his flesh was sinless, so it was necessary for Paul to say, as he did, “the likeness of sinful flesh”.
  • It wouldn’t have been necessary for his Roman hearers to pause and do the process of reasoning I just did. It would have been clear to them, as it should be to us, that Paul’s teaching at this point was focused on soteriology, not Christology per se. They would have just got on with the business of listening to learn what Paul had to say next.

ἵνα τὸ δικαίωμα τοῦ νόμου πληρωθῇ ἐν ἡμῖν τοῖς μὴ κατὰ σάρκα περιπατοῦσιν ἀλλὰ κατὰ πνεῦμα (hina to dikaiōma tou nomou plērōthē en hēmin tois mē kata sarka peripatousin alla kata pneuma)–in order that the just claim of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (6:4).

  • ⇑ By introducing the word “walk” (paraphrased as “live” in many translations), Paul now tilts the discussion in the direction of the practical effect in the lives of those who, through Jesus Christ, have escaped condemnation.
  • In 7:18, Paul’s fleshly “I” had said, “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (NIV). Now, in the next part of chapter 8, we will find that one who is “according to the Spirit” is not limited in that way.

Exposition F, Part 2 (8:5-11): Two Kinds of People

As Matt Smith’s Dr Who was wont to say, “Pay attention!”. Paul has made it clear, in 8:1 that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. If you come up with an interpretation of 8:5-11 that seems to open up a way for believers to wander back into condemnation, you are wrong. No two ways about it – just plain wrong, and Paul would award you a dunce’s cap.

οἱ γὰρ κατὰ σάρκα ὄντες τὰ τῆς σαρκὸς φρονοῦσιν, οἱ δὲ κατὰ πνεῦμα τὰ τοῦ πνεύματος.(hoi gar kata sarka ontes ta tēs sarkos phronousin, hoi de kata pneuma ta tou pneumatos) – For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who [are] according to the Spirit, on the things of the Spirit (8:5).

  • ⇑ In verse 4, Paul had spoke of those who walk according to the Spirit vs those who walk according to the flesh. In verse 5, he does not say “walk according to”, he says “are according to”, and the difference is important.
  • The NIV and numerous other translations illicitly import the verb “walk” (or its paraphrase, “live”) from 8:4, and therefore give a misleading slant to 8:5.
  • Take that, NIV and other translators! You were not paying attention; you do not understand your Paul! If you had, you would have done what the KJV, ASV, and NASB do, and translated exactly what Paul wrote, “are”.

Paul is not giving us a new criterion for discerning who is “according to the flesh” and who is “according to the Spirit”. He has already told us the distinction. Those who are “according to the Spirit” are those

●     Who have believed (5:1)

●     and, therefore, have had the Holy Spirit given to them (5:5)

●     And, as such, are “in Christ Jesus” (8:1).

Those who are “according to the flesh” are everyone else. There is no intermediate category in Paul’s thinking.

  • Paul has already talked about the change believers need to make in the way they think about themselves (6:11,14), and he will say it again in 12:2. The current verse, 8:5, is an allied verse. Yes, setting one’s mind on the things of the Spirit does admit of degrees (as the wider testimony of Scripture and the verses just cited make plain), but the basic fact is true of all Christians, even the newest and most immature believer in the Roman church – their minds are now set on the things of the Spirit in a way that was not true when they were still “in the flesh”.

τὸ γὰρ φρόνημα τῆς σαρκὸς θάνατος, τὸ δὲ φρόνημα τοῦ πνεύματος ζωὴ καὶ εἰρήνη· διότι τὸ φρόνημα τῆς σαρκὸς ἔχθρα εἰς θεόν, τῷ γὰρ νόμῳ τοῦ θεοῦ οὐχ ὑποτάσσεται, οὐδὲ γὰρ δύναται· –The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. (8:6-7, NIV)

οἱ δὲ ἐν σαρκὶ ὄντες θεῷ ἀρέσαι οὐ δύνανται.(hoi de en sarki ontes theō aresai ou dunantai)–And those who are in the flesh cannot please God (8:8).

  • ⇑ This time the NIV and all standard translations that I checked get it right. It is the ontological state of those who are “in the flesh”, with what that means for their mental processes, that makes it impossible for them to please God, not any variations in behaviour from day to day.

Ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐκ ἐστὲ ἐν σαρκὶ ἀλλὰ ἐν πνεύματι, εἴπερ πνεῦμα θεοῦ οἰκεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν. (Humeis de ouk este en sarki alla en pneumati, eiper pneuma theou oikei en humin)–But you are not in the flesh, if the Spirit of God dwells in you (8:9a).

  • ⇑ And what does Paul believe as regards whether the Spirit of God dwells in the Romans? – see 5:5!

εἰ δέ τις πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ οὐκ ἔχει, οὗτος οὐκ ἔστιν αὐτοῦ. (ei de tis pneuma Christou ouk echei, houtos ouk estin autou)–and if someone does not have the Spirit of Christ, such a one is not his (8:9b).

  • ⇑ There is no grey place here. Either you are Christ’s and therefore indwelt by the Spirit, or you are not. And nothing in Paul’s words, here or elsewhere in Romans, allows for an oscillation in states between “Christ’s” and “not Christ’s”.

εἰ δὲ Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν, τὸ μὲν σῶμα νεκρὸν διὰ ἁμαρτίαν, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ζωὴ διὰ δικαιοσύνην.  εἰ δὲ τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ ἐγείραντος τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐκ νεκρῶν οἰκεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν, ὁ ἐγείρας ἐκ νεκρῶν Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν ζῳοποιήσει καὶ τὰ θνητὰ σώματα ὑμῶν διὰ τὸ ἐνοικοῦν αὐτοῦ πνεῦμα ἐν ὑμῖν.–But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you (8:10-11, NIV)

  • ⇑ Once again, Paul is clear: the gift of the indwelling Spirit of Christ guarantees our ultimate receipt of all that goes with salvation, despite our mortality.

Exposition F, Part 3 (8:12-16): We have a New Status and Obligation

Ἄρα οὖν … ὀφειλέται ἐσμέν, οὐ τῇ σαρκὶ τοῦ κατὰ σάρκα ζῆν, (Ara oun … opheiletai esmen, ōu tē sarki tōu kata sarka zēn)–Therefore, we are under obligation, but not to the flesh to live according to the flesh… (8:12).

  • ⇑ Notice that Paul implies that a believers who are careless of their obligation could indeed live in a fleshly way.

εἰ γὰρ κατὰ σάρκα ζῆτε μέλλετε ἀποθνῄσκειν (ei gar kata sarka zēte mellete apothnēskein) –for if you live according to the flesh, you are on the point of dying (8:13a).

  • ⇑ If you have been paying attention to Paul, you will know that this is not a warning that he is giving to careless believers to threaten them with damnation, but a further, mind-transforming reason why they should make it their business to meet their implied counter-obligation to serve Christ.
  • 8:13 is parallel in its essence to 6:21, which I translated this way: “What fruit were you getting from those things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things [is] death”.
  • Notice the word translated here “live” is exactly that, from zoō, to live. It is not the verb Paul used in 8:4, from peripateō, to walk. It is the person’s life-basis that is in view, not the vagaries of their day-to-day behaviour.
  • Also notice, in corroboration, that Paul nowhere uses the explicit pronoun “you” in 8:13. The “you” is simply contained within the verbs. Paul is generalising, not shining a spotlight on the Roman believers.

εἰ δὲ πνεύματι τὰς πράξεις τοῦ σώματος θανατοῦτε, ζήσεσθε. (ei de pneumati tas praxis tōu sōmatos thanatoute, zēsesthe.)–but if by [the] Spirit you are putting to death the works of the body, you will live (8:13b).

  • ⇑ “Ah,” you say, “present continuous tense,’putting to death’! Doesn’t that mean that a professing believer who slackens off on the putting to death may, after all, not live?”
  • No, no, no! Haven’t you been paying attention at all? 😊
    • Paul already counts the Roman believers as those in whom Christ dwells, who are “according to the Spirit”, for whom there is now no condemnation. (See the discussion above, of 8:1-11).
    • This “putting to death the deeds of the body” is an inevitable marker, present in at least some degree in all those who are Christ’s.
    • It is the presence of the marker, not some supposed minimum level of putting to death, that is the vital criterion. And the Romans have satisfied that criterion!

ὅσοι γὰρ πνεύματι θεοῦ ἄγονται, οὗτοι υἱοί εἰσιν θεοῦ. (hosoi gar pneumati theou agontai, autoi huioi eisin theou.)–For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God (8:14, KJV).

  • ⇑ So, stop following and lose your sonship? No, no, no! The fact that someone is, in whatever degree, following the Spirit, is a visible marker of the inward transformation that happened when they believed in Christ. No minimum amount of following is specified, just the fact.
  • Remember, throughout this chapter Paul is explaining how it is that God has succeeded where the law, weakened by the flesh, disastrously failed. It is not his intention to set out here a whole lot of ways in which (supposedly) God’s solution might fail, too. That would be a rhetorical own-goal. Pay attention! 😊
  • And, of course, Paul has now introduced the fact of our inestimable privilege as the children of God – yet another reason why we must emphatically understand that we owe no obligation to the flesh.

οὐ γὰρ ἐλάβετε πνεῦμα δουλείας πάλιν εἰς φόβον, ἀλλὰ ἐλάβετε πνεῦμα υἱοθεσίας ἐν ᾧ κράζομεν· Αββα ὁ πατήρ·(ōu gar elabete pneuma douleias Palin eis phobon, alla elabete pneuma huiothesias en hō krazomen Abba ho patēr)–For we have not received a spirit of slavery [to bring us] again into fear, but we have received the Spirit of adoption, by which we are crying, “Abba, Father” (8:15).

  • ⇑ The person in Romans 7 who was trying to obey the law in the weakness of the flesh lived in constant fear of failing and displeasing God. The Spirit has brought us into a new kind of relationship with God, that of a child, and such fear is not to be part of it. (That is the force of the palin, “again”, in Paul’s words.)
  • Yet again, Paul’s words show us that he is not here giving us a set of warnings about how we should live the Christian life. Any interpretation of chapter 8 that says that he is, is diametrically mistaken.

αὐτὸ τὸ πνεῦμα συμμαρτυρεῖ τῷ πνεύματι ἡμῶν ὅτι ἐσμὲν τέκνα θεοῦ. (auto to pneuma summarturei tō pneumati hēmōn hoti esmen tēnā theou.)–the Spirit himself is witnessing with our spirit that we are the children of God (8:16).

  • ⇑ 8:16 is a stand-alone sentence, one that has its own finite verb. However, it’s juxtaposition with verse 15 suggests that it is by our very instinct to call God “Abba, Father” that the Spirit first bears his inner testimony to us that we are, indeed, children. Paul’s words don’t limit the Spirit’s testimony to just that, though.

Next: Our Present Frailty and Suffering is not a Contradiction

Image attribution: Louis Comfort Tiffany [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Not the Sister Benedict Option

The Power of God in St Paul’s Letter to the Romans – Part 1

A friend of mine, a Roman Catholic, attended a Catholic boys’ high school. From time to time, he meets some of his old classmates, but my friend is the only one out of them who has continued to believe.

His friends put the blame on Sister Benedict. She was a fierce nun whose disciplinary method was to assure misbehaving boys that damnation awaited them unless they repented and mended their ways. Assailed often by this testimony, all the boys except my friend decided that they were such incorrigible reprobates that there was no point continuing to attend church. Only my friend managed to see past the ferocious sister to the gospel and so continue in faith.

My church study group has just completed a detailed study of the first eight chapters of St Paul’s letter to the Romans. It is plain there that God’s method for encouraging believers to holiness of life differs dramatically from the poor nun’s disastrous scheme. What is more, God guarantees that his way will succeed, and that the well-intentioned sister’s will not, nor any way that is like hers.

Milestone Passages in Romans 1 through 8

There are four passages that serve as milestones in the journey on which St Paul takes his readers in the first eight chapters of Romans. I will quote and comment on them here. (All quotations are from the ESV). If my comments sometimes enlarge on St Paul’s precise words, it is because I am certain that the enlargement accords with St Paul’s prior or subsequent exposition of the topic.

milestone_tr2Milestone 1
at Romans 1:16 marks the start of the journey. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Here (as we will find out when we read on in his letter), St Paul names the themes that will occupy him throughout chapters 1 to 8. We are going to find out that the gospel is about our salvation; that our salvation depends on the power of God; that we lay hold of the gospel’s blessings by faith; and that it’s the same gospel for everyone, Jews and non-Jews alike.

milestone_tr2The second milestone
is Romans 5:1-5. By the time we reach verse 1, we are at the mid-point of our journey. St Paul has proven that justification is by faith apart from works, and so he states what that means for us. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Then, in verse 2, he tells us two more things that flow from our justification, and what that can mean for our state of heart. “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.” Notice the certainty in St Paul’s words!

(i) We stand in a place of grace. We do not oscillate in and out of that place depending on how holy, or not, our behaviour is on a particular day. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who gave and still gives us access, not our success in living a godly life.

(ii) One day we will undoubtedly share in the glory of God. Someone might argue that, by using the word “hope”, St Paul is not asserting here that the glorification of all believers is certain. By the time we have read the final eleven verses of chapter 8, however, it ought to be clear that that is exactly what he does mean. Our hope of glorification is a “sure and certain” hope.

(iii) Because of this double certainty (we stand in a place of grace, and we will ultimately attain to the glory of God), we can live every day of our Christian lives rejoicing.

Verses 3 and 4 then tell us the practical result of living with such certainty. “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” The Sister Benedicts of this world (and there are plenty on the Protestant side of the fence, too) think that Christians need to be kept on the straight and narrow by warnings and threats and reminders of hellfire. The Apostle Paul knows that the true foundation of a vibrant Christian life (as far as it lies with the individual) is the joyful assurance that we stand in a place of irrevocable grace, and that the grace that has seen me safe thus far will indeed see me home.

Verse 5 rounds out the rich content of this milestone passage by introducing the real power that ensures that a believer stays attuned to godliness and makes progress in sanctification, notwithstanding any deviations on the way. “…hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

milestone_tr2The third milestone comes at Romans 8:1-2. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

In verse 1, St Paul repeats in different words what he said in Romans 5:1. “Condemned” is the opposite of “justified”, so “not condemned” has essentially the same meaning as “justified”. This time, though, St Paul doesn’t mention faith. Instead, he says that we are “in Christ”. In those words, he is reminding us of what he taught in chapters 5 and 6: that when we believed the gospel, God in some mysterious way united us with Christ. The only way to enter that state of blessing is to believe the gospel, so to say that someone is “in Christ” carries with it the necessary truth that he or she is a believer.

Verses 2-4 sum up what Paul hinted at in Romans 5:2 and began to teach in detail from that point forward. God will ensure that, as well as grasping hold of the gift of justification, every true believer will take the idea of holiness of life seriously and keep growing in that direction. Notice, too, how in verse 3 this progress is made to depend on the power of God: “God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.

Someone may point out that this progress depends on us walking in the Spirit and not the flesh. Perhaps our glorification is not so certain after all! However, in a later post, God willing, I will show that St Paul includes in the category of those who “walk by the Spirit”, everyone who has been justified by faith, and that this status is not changed even when a believer makes a deviation into fleshly behaviour. His certainty, therefore, is that the Spirit will bring them back on course in due time.

milestone_tr2The final milestone occurs at Romans 8:28-29, and marks the end of this section of the journey. “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” St Paul’s words resonate with the same joy and certainty that we heard in Romans 5:2.The Apostle has not lessened by one iota the certainty to which he encouraged us back then.

Incidentally, verses 38 and 39 are part of St Paul’s answer to the rhetorical question that he posed in verse 35: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” I don’t know if St Paul knew the parable of the sower when he wrote his letter to the Romans, but it is interesting to compare verses 35‑39 with part of what our Lord Jesus Christ said when explaining the parable: “As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.” (Matthew 13:20-21). Paul’s victory cry in Romans 8 shows that no one who has been justified by faith is a “rocky ground” hearer.

Sister Benedict and her fretful cousins, Catholic or Protestant, who beset their charges with scoldings and make them worry about their standing with God, are like Uzzah (2 Samuel 6) who put out his hand to steady the Ark of the Covenant. The triune God has fully under control the sanctification and ultimately the glorification of those who have believed. Yes, there is a place for pastoral and brotherly reminders and warnings. (See, for instance, Galatians 5:21, Galatians 6:7-8, and 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12). Sin can still trip any of us for a time, but such warnings are likely to be fruitless and positively harmful if they are not built on the foundation of the teaching of grace, and if they are not accompanied by the reaffirmation of grace. Passages that show the spirit in which effective correction should be given include these: Galatians 6:1, 1 Corinthians 6:11, 2 Thessalonians 3:15 and Hebrews 10:25

In coming weeks, I hope to add further posts to support this one by summarising the assertions St Paul makes and the proofs he provides in the various logical sections within chapters 1‑8. During that series, or in a post at the end, I will also address the “But what about…?’s” that will probably be asked, citing passages from St Paul himself or the Lord Jesus Christ or other epistles that allegedly contradict what I have said in this post is St Paul’s doctrine. (Spoiler: they don’t).

St Paul wanted us to live rejoicing. Let’s cease doubting and live as he encouraged us!


Main image: By ludger1961 – Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Milstone clipart: canstockphoto40726157.jpg