Paul the Apostle, His Life, Letters and Thought—Part Forty Five


p. 662— Spirit of God and Spirit of Christ are interchangeable. Rom. 8 is the great chapter of indwelling and participation.

p. 663— He sees no distinction between the Spirit is in the believer and Christ is except, the former phrase begins in Paul’s first letter whereas ‘Christ in you’ develops more slowly. With the terminology of indwelling comes the terminology of union conformed to the image, transform the body of our humiliation conformed in Rom. 8.29 is same word as in Phil. 3.21.

p. 664—the dying like Christ language then becomes dying with him, and finally dying and rising with him sharing in his sufferings and therefore in his resurrection. He comforts his converts by defining suffering as sharing Christ’s sufferings.

p.665– Rom. 8 is not just the conclusion to Rom. 7, it’s the conclusion to the whole first half of Romans. Rom. 1-4 shows the importance of righteousness by faith, and Rom. 5,6, 8 shows the importance of union with Christ. Righteousness by faith cures sins as transgression, union with Christ cures sin as bondage.

p. 666- if righteousness by faith is the heart of Paul’s theology, why is it missing from Rom. 8, the most important chapter on how Christ saves from sin. The heart of Paul’s soteriology is participation in Christ, that is why it concludes his arguments.

p.667— Paul tends to push things to extremes [to emphasis his point?] hence the totally bleak picture in Rom. 7 fully reversed in Rom. 8. Paul is a debater and an extremist.

p. 668— Because Paul believed in real transformation, he is shocked and appalled when there is serious sin in Corinth (1 Cor. 5). Cranfield is wrong says Sanders— the Christian is not simultaneously Rom. 7 and Rom 8— these chapters and these states are sequential in Paul’s view.

p. 669– Lightfoot thought that when Paul went to Arabia to Mt. Sinai and he sorted out his view of the Law and developed the theology of Romans before he began his missionary work. No says Sanders, he’s still struggling with the Law when he writes Romans.

p. 672— Paul’s take on theodicy focuses on the question of Israel’s election. Was God being fair when he chose Israel, gave her the covenant and promises, and then decided to save the world without regard to the covenant. He doesn’t ask why evil is in the world, but, given evil in the world, does God judge people fairly.

p. 676— Sanders does not admire the Pauline argument in Rom. 9 because it appears to convey the notion that God is partial, that he has a right to pick and choose among humanity as he likes, since he made us in the first place. [Sanders is forgetting that since in Paul’s view in this very letter all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, then if God chooses ANY he is being more than fair, he is being merciful. What would be mere justice or fairness is if sinners were all judged for their sins. Justice is when you get what you deserve, and no sinner deserves to be chosen or elect or saved by God. It’s a matter of grace and mercy, not a justice issue. Nor do we know that Paul thought God’s choices were purely arbitrary. According to Rom. 8.28ff. God justifies, sanctifies and glorifies and calls ‘those who love God’. If so, that is hardly arbitrary].

p. 678— What Paul actually says in Rom. 9.31 is that Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness (not righteousness by law or law keeping) did not obtain law. This is contrasted with righteousness based on faith. Sanders punts and says we don’t know for sure what a law of righteousness is. If he means righteousness derived from law, he could have been clearer. [But Paul talking about himself in Phil. 3 says that he had been blameless and speaks of a righteousness or righteous status that comes from keeping the law. Nevertheless, Paul is probably not arguing about ‘works righteousness here’].

p. 679— Sanders, like D. Campbell in The Deliverance of God (2009) [N.B. one of the rare citations of a recent work on Paul in this book] thinks 9.30-32 is too ambiguous to base much on it.

p. 680— “One of the outstanding errors of those who wish to create theological dogma out of Paul’s letters is to pick an appealing sentence or phrase out of the midst of an argument, and to rely on that sentence or phrase as providing the core of Paul’s thought, while ignoring the conclusion to which Paul himself came.”

This is a very good observation, and from a rhetorical point of view, it is always right to hear out a whole argument and see where it is leading and how it concludes before judging individuals parts or specific assertions along the way.

p. 681— Sanders adds, Paul is not accusing Jews here of being petty legalists, or trying to obtain salvation by law keeping. The fault he finds with them is the rejection of faith in Christ. Rom. 10.1-10 says they are seeking their own righteousness, as opposed to the God given one that comes through faith in Christ. ‘Their own righteousness’ must be the ordinary sort which requires obedience to the law and when one sins, repentance and perhaps sacrifice. But Christ is the end of the law, and so the end of that sort of righteousness. ‘Their own righteousness’ is not self-righteousness says Sanders, but righteousness that comes from keeping the Law and is limited to those who do so, where as the other righteousness is available to all through faith in Christ.

p. 682— Sanders thinks he finds a contrast with Rom. 8.29-30 here in stating that a human response of confessing and believing Jesus is risen Lord, But Rom. 8.28 goes with 8.29-30 and it speaks of humans responding to God in love ‘those who love God and are called according to choice’ is how Chrysostom translated it [the word ‘his’ is not in the Greek so it does not read ‘his purpose’]

p. 683— As Sanders notes, even the Stoics thought you could have it both ways, both divine predetermination viewed as still allowing freedom of choice.

p. 684— the thrust of 11.5-7 is that most Jews were not chosen by God to obtain faith in Christ. No Jew was trying to obtain the superior righteousness/faith in Christ by works. “The notion that a huge number of Jews was trying, trying to obtain Christian righteousness, using means that were inappropriate to the goal, lacks cogency.”

p. 685— Paul offers explanations for Israel’s rejection of Jesus, for example some texts seem to reflect voluntary rejection they heard the Gospel and rejected it, some seem to reflect divine predetermination, God partially hardened or hardened a part of Israel for a time. He affirms a certain amount of ‘salvation by jealousy’ due to the many Gentiles being saved.

p. 686— “Thus Paul is imagining that his trip to deliver the collection to the saints in Jerusalem will prefigure a vast stream of gentiles turning to worship the God of Israel. That would prove beyond doubt that the last days are near [see Is. 2.2-3;Mic. 4.1-4]. Many Jews will accept this sign and will be jealous lest the gentiles get in ahead of them.”

p.687— faith in Christ is the sine qua non for being ‘in’ the Christian community, whether one is Jew or Gentile. Paul warns in 11.15-17 that while some Jews have been broken off from the people of God so Gentiles can be grafted in, those Gentiles could be broken off if they fall from grace, and those Jews can be grafted back in if they affirm faith in Christ. It is not too late for unbelieving Jews to come to faith in Christ (11.23-24).

p. 688-89— Sanders thinks Rom. 11.32 is more universalistic than Gal. 3.22 where salvation is said to happen to those who have faith in Christ. Now it’s just a matter of God having mercy on all Jews. He denies that this requires faith in Jesus, or at least he says we don’t know if this means they will accept Christ. [This totally ignores the precise words of Paul— when Christ returns from heavenly Zion, he will turn away the impiety of Jacob. They will repent and believe the Gospel, because of God’s mercy on them. There is no point in talking about turning away impiety unless they are turning to something as well. Repentance leads to faith in this text. It is not an affirmation of universal salvation regardless of what one affirms about Christ].

p. 690— Paul regularly offers admonitions and recommendations near the conclusion of his letters— see 1 Cor. 16.2, 10-21; 2 Cor. 13.5,11-13; Gal. 6.1-10; Phil. 3.1;4.4-9, 21-23; 1 Thess. 5.12-28.