As I begin this section, I want to emphasize the importance of the Jewish influences in Ancient Church History and Ancient Church Theology. A review seems appropriate, so if the reader becomes annoyed or confused, please revisit Ancient Church History and Ancient Church Theology up to this section for greater detail and Bible references.
I must state emphatically, the Book of Acts makes it clear that the Ancient Church was in no way against the Law of Moses. The Ancient Church debated circumcision and the Law of Moses then determined that the Gentile Believers did not have to be circumcised or keep the Law of Moses to be saved. However, that Ancient Church expected Gentile Believers to continue associating with fellow Jewish Believers because both Jew and Gentile Believers attended synagogue where both Jew and Gentile learned from the Law of Moses.
The Ancient Church determined the Gentile’s situational accountability to the Law of Moses. Yet, that same Ancient Church supported the Law of Moses for the Jews. This is seen in several important ways.
One, the Council of Jerusalem said nothing negating the Jews and their accountability to the Law of Moses. Two, Saul, as discussed in detail, defended his ministry and that he was not against the Law of Moses. Three, James told Saul to perform a vow at the temple to prove that Saul himself walked orderly keeping the Law of Moses. Four, James told Saul that there were thousands of believing Jews zealous for the Law of Moses.
From just those four events in the Book of Acts, we KNOW that the Ancient Church was in no way telling the Jewish Believer to forsake Moses. In fact, quite the opposite took place – a Jew could believe in Jesus and STILL follow the Law of Moses.
To more fully understand the Theology of Saul and his Epistle to the Romans, I must introduce the concept of Jeo-Centric Theology. Jeo-Centric Theology is – as far as I know – a term coined by me. Jeo-Centric Theology considers the history and theology of the Ancient Jewish Church, which has been discussed in specific detail up to this point. Jeo-Centric Theology takes into account:
This means that these first First Century Believers, being Jew, contemplated the world being reconciled around a Jewish system – a system that gave the World the Messiah.
In the First Century, thousands of Jews fervently believed that Jesus was the Promised One for Israel, and those Jews used the Law and the Prophets to teach such. When the “church” started, “Christians” didn’t even exist – apostles and disciples of Jesus existed. “Christians” came into existence in Acts Eleven, and the modern concept of Christianity came into existence in the late Fourth Century (AD/CE 300s) – ancient I know, but still much later than the First Century.
In modern day, Jews and Christians are seemingly at odds, almost divergent, mostly unwilling to speak with each other. There is much that could be discussed about the history and tension between these two groups; however, I remain focused on the First Century. For those First Century Believing Jews, the world was to be reconciled to God through Messiah – Christ – given first to the Jews.
The reality is that Saul, Barnabas, James, Peter, Thomas, et al. were culturally, socially, religiously, and theologically Jews. They served the Promised One of God for Israel, and processed the Messiah through a Jeo-Centric Theology. That Jeo-Centric Theology took the Messiah to and welcomed in the Gentiles (the other Nations), but in the scope of their Jeo-Centric Theology, the world rotated around Israel. As such, Jeo-Centric Theology is crucial for understanding Saul.
There is one other crucial element to grasp, while Saul advocated the Jewish Messiah, he never insinuated that the Gentiles (the nations) have to become Jeo-Centric to be saved, the Nations simply need to believe in Jesus, and study the Scriptures that testify to the Jewish Messiah. Yet, even though Saul never pushed Gentiles to “look” Jewish, Saul’s theology is soundly based in Jeo-Centric Theology – reconciling the world to God through Israel’s Messiah – to miss this is to miss Saul.
The Epistle to the Romans
I know that Paul wrote Romans (Romans 1.1), but Paul had Tertius help him (Romans 16.22). However, as I have up to this point, I will continue to refer to Paul as Saul. Previously, I gave my purpose for this. In short, Saul is a Pharisaic Jew who became a Pharisaic Jew who believed in Jesus and I want to maintain this truth in our minds.
For us to see Saul’s points, I am compelled to use the term “Gentile” so that my fellow Believers can understand my statements. And yes, I know that in Jesus Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile (as Saul aptly taught, Romans 10.12). But, the Gentile, ancient or modern, cannot begin to understand the Jew until the Gentile – yes the Gentile – adopts the Jew’s mindset in order to understand Israel’s relationship to God through Moses and Messiah.
I state emphatically, the Gentile, ancient or modern, cannot truly feel the anguish of the Jew who has been told to forsake Moses to believe in Jesus. Telling the Jew to forsake Moses for Jesus is telling the Jew to forsake God Himself, because the Law of Moses is FROM GOD. So that my fellow Gentile Believers can understand that statement, it would be like a Jew telling the Gentile to forsake Jesus for Moses – it can’t be done.
Since, the Law of Moses testifies to Messiah, as do the Prophets, then the Gentile must learn to appreciate this unique and special relationship that God has with Israel through the Law of Moses. There is one thing that I am absolutely confident about: every Jew, whether ancient or modern, is concerned about Moses; for a Jew not to be concerned about Moses would demonstrate the Jew unfaithful to God.
Very briefly, in Romans Saul reasons the Law of Moses’ relationship to the Believer. Saul’s concern was for the Jewish Believer to see the relevance of “dying” to following the Letter of the Law, in order to “rise up” and follow the Spirit of the Law in Messiah. Saul then explained the Gentiles’ responsibility to help the Jew and the unique spiritual bond between Israel and Gentile Believers. Saul also discusses the concept of Believers fulfilling the Law of Moses. With these things in mind, we will see Saul’s Jewish influences in his letter to the Roman Church, which consisted of both Jew and Gentile.
In the Epistle of Romans, as with the Book of Acts, I will highlight some comments that show the Jewish thoughts in the text. This will be accomplished as the chapter seems to dictate – in some chapters I will put KJV verses in a bullet list, at the beginning of the chapter discussion; in other chapters I will make references discussing the chapter.
I will also identify passages where Saul is referring to or quoting his Holy Scriptures (Romans 1.2), which are known as the OT to modern Christians.
I will bring to the forefront Saul’s Jeo-Centric Theology by inserting phrases like “[of Moses]” into the KJV text. Saul himself knew to which law he was referring and sometimes provides word plays for the word law for comparison/contrast purposes. In many instances, the word law is simply a contracted way to refer to the Law of Moses. As such, I insert bracketed phrases to clarify where I believe Saul’s context indicates things like the Law of Moses.
I will also underline specific terminology that identifies Jeo-Centric Theology, terms like: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Israel, David, circumcision, Jew, and law.
Time will be given to all sixteen chapters of Saul’s Epistle to the Romans.
Romans Chapter One
In Romans Chapter One we see, at least four things. Saul said the Gospel and the Messiah were promised in the Holy Scriptures. Again, for Saul the Holy Scriptures are what Christians have come to call the OT. Thus, for Saul the Holy Scriptures would have been the Hebrew Bible (arranged Genesis to Chronicles) or the Hebrew Bible translated into Greek (arranged Genesis to Malachi).
Saul referred to Jesus as the seed of David, this is only known through the lineage found in Saul’s Holy Scriptures. The first First Century Church would have had to look up the lineage in the Holy Scriptures, because it had yet to be recorded in the Gospel of Matthew or Luke’s record.
Saul made it clear that the Gospel and the Messiah of Israel are to be given first to the Jew. And then Saul stated, “the just shall live by faith” a reference to a Prophet (Habakkuk 2.4). As we can see Saul began his Epistle Jeo-Centric, claiming that the Gentiles are second in line and the Gentiles at Rome would have the Gospel, the Good News from the Jews.
From there, Saul went into a lengthy discussion about humanity learning about God and knowing God, and what humanity does with that knowledge (Romans 1.18-32). Saul will present his conclusion to that discussion in Chapter Two.
Romans Chapter Two
Like almost every chapter in Romans, Chapter Two continues the thoughts from the previous chapter. As such, I ask my readers, if you arrive here first, please go begin at Chapter One. We know that Chapter Two continues Chapter One, because Chapter Two opens with the word Therefore which indicates a conclusion to previous statements.
As such, Romans Two continues Saul’s Jeo-Centric discussion where Saul talked specifically about Jews and their relationship to the Law of Moses and the Gentile Believers. In Chapter One, Saul mentioned the centricity of the Jew first idea and furthers this centricity in Chapter Two by saying, whether anguish or glory it is to the Jew first (Romans 2.9). Then Saul discussed Jew and Gentile positioning to the Law of Moses, discussing the framework of the Law of Moses, and the notion that it is the doers of the Law of Moses who are justified (Romans 2.12-13).
In this section of discussion, Saul is not relegating the doers of the Law of Moses to those outside of Messiah. This is known because Saul wrote this Epistle to a congregation in Rome made up of both Jewish and Gentile Believers. Thus, to think “doers” means non-believing Jews, or believing Jews teaching salvation by keeping the Law of Moses, actually violates the context of Romans.
It seems necessary to mention that later in Chapter Three, Saul will say that Believers are justified by faith (Romans 3.28). In that same chapter, Saul will state a puzzling idea – faith does not negate the Law of Moses, to the contrary, faith establishes the Law of Moses (Romans 3.31). So, in just one letter, Saul presented the perplexing issue of justified by actions (Romans 2.13) and justified by faith (Romans 3.28). I offer these thoughts, not to resolve this particular tension, but to reveal that in Saul’s Jeo-Centric Theology he must give attention to the reality of the Law of Moses and its purpose for Believers, both Jew and Gentile.
Interestingly, Saul stated that while it is true that the Gentiles exist without (outside) the Law of Moses, they really are not without law or outside of law (Romans 2.14-15). The Gentiles have law; their law is just not the Law of Moses. Saul reasoned that whether Jew or Gentile, each have a law. The Jew has the Law of Moses. The Gentile has the law of the heart/conscience – what I term the Law of Conscience. As such, whether Jew or Gentile, each have law.
Saul’s unstated idea is: the Jewish Law – the Law of Moses – is an oracle from God; the Gentile Law is not divinely revealed. Yet, Saul did state that while the Gentile Law – the Law of Conscience – is not an oracle, it could find itself in agreement with the Law of Moses (Romans 2.14) – an interesting paradox.
As Saul made his way through his discussion, he discussed the Jews behavior regarding the Law of Moses (Romans 2.17-24). Unfortunately, it seems many have interpreted this discussion as strictly negative toward the Jews. However, this is not the case. In this passage Saul is admitting the strengths of being Jew (cf. Romans 3.1), but this particular passage (Romans 2.17-24) is a critique about how those strengths become weaknesses.
Saul stated that the Roman Jewish Believers rested (as in took comfort in and strength from) the Law of Moses (Romans 2.17). Because of this, the Jews of the Roman Church had greater confidence about God because they knew about God and what God expected (Romans 2.18). This is because, through the Law of Moses, God had instructed the Jews of the Roman Church.
Knowing that, Saul insinuated that the Jews of the Roman Church had the ability to teach and train other individuals and Gentiles (Nations) (Romans 2.19-20). This is important, this means that Saul is not deriding these Jewish Believers, per se. Saul is identifying the strength and ability to train others in the righteousness found in the Law of Moses; but Saul will draw a major distinction.
The distinction is made when the Roman Jews boast in the Law of Moses, then turn around and violate instructions found in the Law of Moses (Romans 2.21-22). Because of this behavior, God’s Name, God’s Reputation, means nothing to the Gentiles (Romans 2.23-24). Saul then went on to argue that such behavior nullifies the very concept of being Jew, in effect – spiritually negating a Jew’s physical circumcision (Romans 2.25). Thus, Saul reasoned that a Gentile, while physically uncircumcised, could through their behavior become spiritually circumcised and that inward man reveals how Jewish the Gentile really is (Romans 2.26-29).
These ideas and arguments are completely Jeo-Centric. Saul focused on concepts that are very Jeo-Centric:
Saul argued that while Gentile Believers do NOT wear the mark, a Gentile could spiritually keep (fulfill) the Law of Moses and yet never be like a Jew – circumcised. Saul also argued that a Jew could have the physicals, but fail to keep the Law of Moses by missing the spiritual applications.
Knowing that, Saul argued that physical circumcision is not the issue; instead spiritual circumcision is. In essence, keeping physical requirements does not automatically equate to keeping spiritual requirements of the Law of Moses. These concepts are completely Jeo-Centric Theology, concepts about keeping the spiritual circumcision of the heart (Romans 2.29) are found in Deuteronomy, the Law of Moses itself originating the concept of being circumcised of heart (Deuteronomy 10.16, 30.6)
At this point, what I want to identify is that Saul effectively argued the two major issues brought before the Council of Jerusalem, circumcision and keeping the Law of Moses. Saul effectively argued that the Law of Moses has purpose for Believers, both Jew and Gentile. Saul argued that while Gentiles have the Law of Conscience they can fulfill the Law of Moses. Then, Saul argued that physical circumcision is important, but spiritual circumcision, the circumcision of the heart, is what matters to God.
These two issues consternated the First Century Church, which gave rise to the Council of Jerusalem. The Council of Jerusalem gave the decision; Saul presented the Jeo-Centric Theology reconciling the problem. The physical issues have their importance and matter, but spiritual application – spiritual keeping – is what matters to God. Interestingly, Saul now has to answer the question begged from his argument: Does the Jew have any advantage? Saul will answer this question in Chapter Three.
Romans Chapter Three
Like almost every chapter in Romans, Chapter Three continues the thoughts from the previous chapter. As such, I ask my readers, if you arrive here first, please go begin at Chapter Two.
I want to point out that Saul continued his Jeo-Centric Theology because when Saul discussed the world being reconciled to God, he asked “What advantage has the Jew?” (Romans 3.1) Saul began with the Jew, not the Gentile. Second, Saul said that all are under sin, both Jews and Gentiles (Romans 3.9), again Saul began with the Jew.
Third, as Saul worked his way through his discussion, toward his conclusion, he asked: Is God the God of the Jews only? Saul said, No, God is also God of the Gentiles. Thus Saul said, by faith God will justify the circumcision (the Jews) and the uncircumcision (the Gentiles). Saul’s presentation of these ideas is every time Jeo-Centric, always mentioning the Jew first, then the Gentile. Recognizing this theological orientation is critical.
Knowing Saul’s Jeo-Centric Theology, one can now see the validity of Saul’s question: “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?” But, Saul’s answer really becomes important. Saul said the Jew had the advantage in every way, but primarily because the advantage was that the Jews were given the Oracles, the Words, of God (Romans 3.2). By association, Saul is saying that through faith in Messiah – Christ, Gentiles have access to this advantage, access to the Oracles of God. Thus, Saul insinuates that Gentile Believers should read and study the Oracles of God, learn from the Oracles and know what the Jews know.
In Chapter Three, to support his discussion, Saul referred to many passages from his Holy Scriptures, mostly from Psalms but he included one Prophet. In Romans 3.4, Saul referred to Psalm 51.4. in his support that all are under sin, Saul in:
However, in Romans 3.17, Saul referred to the Prophet Isaiah 59.7-8.
To support his theology, Saul used copious passages from the Hebrew Bible (arranged Genesis to Chronicles). However, some say that Romans 3.14 referred to the Greek Bible (the Septuagint – the Hebrew Bible translated into Greek, arranged Genesis to Malachi). It seems then, Saul used the only Bibles available to him, the Hebrew and the Greek translation of the Hebrew.
Saul moved into a discussion that the Law of Moses speaks to those who are under the Law of Moses (Romans 3.19). According to Ancient Church History, this would be Israel, the Jew, and the Proselyte. But, importantly, Saul said the Law of Moses finds people guilty, because the Law of Moses provides people with the knowledge of sin (Romans 3.20). As such, something outside of the Law of Moses has to provide justification with God, and interestingly the Law of Moses and the Prophets testified to this very concept (Romans 3.21) – the same concept that Jesus said testified about him (John 5.39, 5.46).
Saul moved from there into a discussion of Jesus and justification (Romans 3.22-26), which Saul then asked: How can humanity boast? Can humanity boast by doing the deeds of the Law of Moses? Saul answered: No (Romans 3.27). However, humanity can boast by the law of faith, believing in Jesus as the redemptive sacrifice (Romans 3.27-28).
Knowing that, Saul said both Jew and Gentile are reconciled to God through faith in Messiah. Saul argued that Jesus is testified and witnessed by the Law of Moses and the Prophets. As such, the testimony itself establishes the purpose and need for the Law of Moses.
Again, Saul has complete Jeo-Centric Theology. Saul reasons that both Jew and Gentile need the Law of Moses because without Moses and the Prophets there is no Messiah – thus no written way for God to instruct and save humanity. Saul made that argument so well, that it seems like the Law of Moses is that powerful. So, almost as if to counterbalance his own argument, Saul moved his discussion to the power of Abraham, which will be seen in Chapter Four.
Romans Chapter Four
Like almost every chapter in Romans, Chapter Four continues the thoughts from the previous chapter. As such, I ask my readers, if you arrive here first, please go begin at Chapter Three. We know that Chapter Four continues the thoughts of Chapter Three because Chapter Four opens with the phrase, “What shall we say then” – these words help us understand that Saul is about to draw a distinction from his previous thoughts.
It is difficult to limit the number of verses from Chapter Four because Saul’s Theology is so Jeo-Centric it is difficult to narrow, but to demonstrate the Jeo-centricity, we simply have to work through verse seventeen. In Chapter Three, Saul ended pretty strongly saying that the Law of Moses is established because of faith in Jesus, both by the Jew and the Gentile. So in Chapter Four, Saul will present the truth of Abraham.
Without Abraham, Israel (circumcision and Jews) and the Messiah could not be. However, Saul strongly reasoned that because Abraham believed God, it was counted to Abraham as righteousness (Romans 4.3). Saul supported that idea by appealing to Genesis 15.6 – the chapter in Genesis where Abraham received promises from God, at least thirteen years before Isaac’s birth. Saul argued that Abraham’s reckoning is by God’s grace and Saul used David for support (Romans 4.6-8), appealing to Psalm 32.1-2.
From there we can really see Saul’s Jeo-Centric Theology because Saul reasons God, reckoning by faith not only for the circumcision but also for the uncircumcision. It is important to see that Saul mentions the mark of the Jew first then refers to the Nations; while both groups are included, the statement is completely Jeo-Centric. Now while Saul’s statement is certainly Jeo-Centric, his reasoning shows the uncircumcised condition of Abraham – in essence Abraham was “Gentile” before becoming “Jew” – because of this Biblical truth, Abraham becomes the father of all (Romans 4.9-12).
Saul then goes on to reason that while the Law of Moses is important, the promises did not originate in the Law of Moses, but came from God prior to the Law of Moses being given at Mount Sinai (Romans 4.13). Thus, whether Jew or Gentile heirship is not via the Law of Moses, but “through the righteousness of faith” because Abraham pre-existed the Law of Moses, thus salvation is by God’s grace. This gracious promise of God is for both those under the Law of Moses (Jews) and those who are not (Romans 4.14-17), with Saul appealing to Genesis 17.5.
At this point, I want to make a difficult theological truth prominent. While Genesis is part of the Law of Moses, Genesis is not Law. In another epistle Saul said that God’s promises to Abraham were given 430 years before Sinai (Galatians 3.17). Mount Sinai is where the Law of Moses was given, not any location nor anytime sooner. Irrespective of argumentative mathematical calculations, Saul’s point is quite clear: the Law of Moses does not exist during Abraham’s lifetime. To which I add, the Law of Moses did not exist during the first 80 years of Moses’ life. As such, Genesis Chapter One through Exodus Eighteen is Pre-Law of Moses. In other words, everything from Adam to Mount Sinai exists pre-Law of Moses, understanding that helps us understand Saul’s argument.
Returning to Romans, Saul went on to argue the strength of Abraham and Sarah’s faith in order to conceive based upon God’s promise (Romans 4.18-22). And because Abraham was able to act in faith, it was accredited to him for righteousness (Romans 4.22); in essence Abraham showed his faith by his “work”. Saul conveyed that it is this type of faith that allows both Jew and Gentile to be reconciled to God when believing that God “raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4.23-25).
However, in Chapter Four, what I want to identify is that Saul’s faith reasoning is completely Jeo-Centric. Saul not only appealed to the Grandfather of Israel (Abraham), but also to King David. By, appealing to the authority of these two men, Saul was appealing to the origination point of the Israelite nation and the great and beloved king of Israel. Jeo-Centric Theology at its finest, not just for Israel, but for the Nations. In Chapter Five, Saul will take this centricity directly over to Jesus.
Romans Chapter Five
Like almost every chapter in Romans, Chapter Five continues the thoughts from the previous chapter. As such, I ask my readers, if you arrive here first, please go begin at Chapter Four. We know that Chapter Five continues the thoughts of Chapter Four because Chapter Five opens with the word, Therefore – this word tells us that Saul is drawing a conclusion from his previous thoughts.
With the first eleven verses of Chapter Five, Saul argues justification to God and atonement to God through faith in Messiah’s blood sacrifice which gives Believers patience, experience, hope with no shame, being saved from God’s wrath, and being saved by Jesus’ life. However, we must recall: without Abraham, there would be no Israel; without Israel there would be no Messiah. This is because Messiah must come from Abraham and Israel, another completely Jeo-Centric Theological position.
Instead of offering verses from Moses, Saul makes a general reference to the opening chapters of Genesis (recall my theological truth about the Book of Genesis in Chapter Four). Thus, Saul made a theological correlation between Adam and Jesus. Saul maintained his Jeo-Centric Theology by referring to the first man mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as a type of spiritual allegory. Saul argued that since the sin in the world is the result of that one man, Adam, then the righteousness in the world is the result of one man, that man being Jesus.
It is important to see that even here in Chapter Five, Saul never strayed from the Books of Moses to make his theological arguments. This may seem evident and overly simplistic, but I want to continue emphasizing that Saul used the Hebrew Bible to prove Jesus and to reconcile the faith of the Jew and Gentile in Messiah. To do that, Saul utilized the Hebrew Bible and its various nationalities of men establishing faith corollaries. Saul’s argument seems to be that prior to Jesus, God worked with both Jew and Gentile, and in Jesus both Jew and Gentile are fully reconciled to God.
Also in Chapter Five, Saul reasoned that until the revealing of the Messiah, sin reigned from Adam to Moses, not Moses the man, but the Law of Moses (Romans 5.14). Saul argued that life comes through belief in Messiah (Romans 5.18). Chapter Five closes with Saul conveying the idea that the Law of Moses reveals what God considers to be personal, social and religious behavior at odds with a holy sovereign (i.e. sin). However, we must recall what Saul had previously presented about the Law of Moses:
I recalled some of Saul’s thoughts to keep contextual elements in our minds. But also, we need to keep forefront Saul’s Jeo-Centric Theology. In Chapter Six, Saul will show that Messiah Jesus gives new life.
Romans Chapter Six
Like almost every chapter in Romans, Chapter Six continues the thoughts from the previous chapter. As such, I ask my readers, if you arrive here first, please go begin at Chapter Five. We know that Chapter Six continues the thoughts of Chapter Five because Chapter Six opens with the phrase, “What shall we say then” – these words help us understand that Saul is about to draw an important conclusion from his previous thoughts.
Now in Chapter Six, I have compiled only one set of verses. This is because Chapter Six has Saul taking all the discussion from Chapters One through Five and making a transition in thought. Saul’s transition is found in him asking: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” (Romans 6.1). From this question Saul will reason a new life found in the belief that God raised Jesus from death to walk in newness of life.
In this new life, Saul reasons that Believers, both Jew and Gentile, should rise up in the newness of life because they buried their old life with Messiah in the waters of baptism (Romans 6.1-17). Now that the Believer is in that new life, the Believer, whether Jew or Gentile should render themselves to serve God as “servants of righteousness” (Romans 6.18).
However, it seems some want to interpret Chapter Six as Saul burying the Law of Moses in the water of baptism. That interpretation is anything but true. If Saul truly buried the Law of Moses, then Saul is disrupting his own context and thus contradicting himself. As seen in the Book of Acts, Saul testified that he was for and kept the Law of Moses. As such, Saul would not get rid of Moses by burying the Law. Also, as we have already seen in Romans, Saul demonstrated that for the New Covenant, the Law of Moses still has purpose, even claiming that Believers establish the Law of Moses (Romans 3.31).
Yet, Saul does have a perplexing statement here in Chapter Six: “for ye are not under the law [of Moses], but under grace” (Romans 6.14) The KJV translates Saul’s answer to his question as: “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law [of Moses], but under grace? God forbid” (Romans 6.15). It seems that Saul is indicating this idea for the New Covenant: while the Law of Moses doesn’t influence or control the flesh as it once did, Jesus’ fulfillment of the Law of Moses does not give Believers permission to sin against God through Messiah’s grace.
Knowing that, it becomes clear why Saul went on to argue that Believers should forego sin and fully become servants of righteousness (Romans 6.18). Chapter Six concludes with Saul arguing that Believers should serve God which leads to eternal life because sin leads to death (Romans 6.18-23).
As we will see in Chapter Seven, Saul will continue to argue for the Law of Moses by showing it has paradoxical benefits for the Believer.
Romans Chapter Seven
Like almost every chapter in Romans, Chapter Seven continues the thoughts from the previous chapter. As such, I ask my readers, if you arrive here first, please go begin at Chapter Six. We know that Chapter Seven continues the thoughts of Chapter Six because Chapter Seven opens with the phrase, “Know ye not brethren”. These words might seem to indicate that Chapter Seven stands independent of Chapter Six, but such is not the case. Chapter Seven connects to Chapter Six, because Chapter Seven argues from the Law of Moses why Israel can theologically be wedded to Messiah Jesus, who was the topic of discussion in Chapter Six.
Chapter Seven is perhaps the most complicated portion of Saul’s Epistle to the Romans. We must keep in mind that Saul has Jeo-Centric Theology, accepting that theological position is about the only way we see what Saul is saying here in Chapter Seven. Remember Saul, in the Book of Acts, defended and demonstrated that he walked orderly and kept the Law of Moses, thus no letter of Saul’s can “do away with the Law of Moses” when Saul himself proved that he “kept the Law of Moses”.
Chapter Seven continues Saul’s presentation in Chapter Six. In Chapter Six, Saul reasoned a new life in Christ, but in Chapter Seven Saul gives Law of Moses support for this new life in Christ. As such, Chapter Seven begins with a very specific application to the Law of Moses, so specific that Saul told his Roman audience that he was primarily talking to only those who knew the Law of Moses (Romans 7.1).
Those in the Roman Church who knew the Law of Moses would have been Jews and Proselytes, and any others who were studying Moses. So, one has to go through the Law of Moses topic by topic, but specifically regarding things pertaining to the husband/wife relationship, in order to see what Saul is saying (Romans 7.1b-2). In their day, it may have taken days or weeks to find in Moses a topic that would give Saul’s basis. However, today, with tools like e-Sword, all one has to do is look up the word husband and start searching.
An application for the husband/wife relationship can be found in the Book of Numbers. I will forgo quoting Numbers Chapter Thirty and summarize. Numbers Thirty contains, in part, “the statutes, which the LORD commanded Moses, between a man and his wife” (Numbers 30.16). Much can be discussed in Numbers Thirty, but the particular passage that can establish a foundation for Saul’s argument is: “But every vow of a widow, and of her that is divorced, wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against her” (Numbers 30.9). That statute makes it quite clear that since the wife had become a widow upon her husband’s death his ability to “rule” over her was lost. Because she is now a widow, any vow she makes is her own because her husband is unable to negate her vow. This shows that the law of her husband lasted only as long as her husband lived.
Saul established that the husband has authority over his wife as long as the husband remains living, but Saul moved from discussing death of the wife’s husband (Romans 7.1-2), to the wife’s faithfulness to her husband while her husband lives (Romans 7.3). If the wife is found unfaithful when her husband is living, then she is by the Law of Moses, unfaithful to her husband (i.e. an adulteress). But, if she was married, and her husband dies, she is legally freed from her husband and has the liberty to find another husband.
In Romans 7.4, Saul takes this marital-bond-broken-by-death parable and makes application to Jesus and the Law-of-Moses-following-Jesus-Believer (e.g. Jew, Proselyte). Being an Israelite from the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews (2 Corinthians 11.22; Philippians 3.5), Saul knew that Israelites (Jews) know they are married to God because Jeremiah made it clear: “my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto then, saith the LORD:” (Jeremiah 31.32). That passage from Jeremiah is even more relevant to Saul’s discussion when we accept that Jeremiah 31.31-34 speaks of the New Covenant and has the Law of Moses as part of it. But, let me return our discussion to Romans Seven.
The entire issue with Israel, since the Exodus, has been one of faithfulness or unfaithfulness to God, Israel’s husband. Sometimes she – as a bride – was faithful, other times she was not, either way God called her out on it. The faithful keeping-the-Law-of-Moses-Jew knows that they simply cannot break that covenant with God; they have to have Divine authority to alter their relationship to God otherwise they would be considered adulterous.
Saul reasoned Jesus took sin (transgressions, iniquity), the actions of the flesh, to the cross (Romans 6.6, 6.10). Thus, the Jew has died to the fleshly sin revealed through the Law of Moses, in order to rise up to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6.4) and to “serve in newness of spirit” (Romans 7.6). This is critical because in Chapter Six Saul reasoned that the Believer rose up in the newness of life to be a servant of righteousness.
Knowing that, Saul claimed that Messiah Jesus permits the Israelite/Jewish Believer to die to the identification of sin found in the Law of Moses, which allowed the Israelite/Jew to rise up and do the righteousness of the Law of Moses in Messiah. Thus the Israelite through Messiah is able to attain that which was unattainable pre-Messiah: complete righteousness before God through Messiah’s atonement giving the Jew newness and freshness of life to serve God. As such, they – we – “should serve in newness of spirit” (Romans 7.6).
Without doubt, Saul’s argument is complex; but Saul argued a very sensitive and touchy aspect of the Law of Moses. While the written Law of Moses is holy, good, just and spiritual (Romans 7.12, 7.14, 7.16) thus beneficial, sourced in and from God, the Law of Moses cannot accomplish what Messiah accomplished. In essence, the written Law of Moses can only accomplish so much, thus it is “weak” and we need Messiah, as Saul will discuss in Chapter Eight. But, this strength found in Messiah Jesus does not abrogate or annul the Law of Moses. For the Israelite, through Jesus justification is achieved and the Law of Moses becomes do-able in the spirit; thus the spirit surpasses the written.
Again, in no way did Saul annul the Law of Moses. Saul simply said avoiding sin no longer plagues the Israelite/Jew; the Israelites are now free to live righteously because Messiah took sin, iniquity and death to the cross, rose up and conquered fear of sin and death. Saul established this reality from the beginning of his Epistle, and Chapters Six and Seven strengthen Saul’s argument. But living in the spirit of the Law of Moses versus the letter of the Law of Moses (Romans 7.6) creates two critical and vital questions. Saul answers those questions in the remainder of Chapter Seven; both answers reveal that the Law of Moses is still good and healthy for the Believer.
In Romans 7.5, Saul’s application to the Law of Moses is very specific: how the Law of Moses reveals sin and brings death to the person. As we will discuss later in Chapter Seven, Saul will reason that the Law of Moses is not sinful and the Law of Moses should not be dead to the person. However, in effect, the Law of Moses does bring a certain type of death to the person, a death of innocence about what God expects (Romans 7.7-11), this is a portion of Saul’s first answer. God, through the Law of Moses, enumerates the behavior He considers contrary to Holiness.
Yet, the Law of Moses does provide insight into what is sinful (Romans 7.7b). When we learn what God considers sin, we struggle; this is Saul’s exact point (Romans 7.8-11). When unaware of sin, we live honestly, openly, conscience clear; but as awareness of sin increases, our conscience struggles to get the body in line with God.
Just because we struggle with sin does not mean the Law of Moses itself is sin. To the contrary, like Saul testified, “the law [of Moses] is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7.12). The Law of Moses has good beneficial purpose for the Christian and the Church, both Jew and Gentile.
In light of the context: for the one who knows the Law of Moses and had died to the Law of Moses, Saul is asking: has that which is good [the Law of Moses and the commandment (cf. Romans 7.12)] become a dead letter? In the KJV Saul said, “God forbid” (Romans 7.13).
In my words, the question is difficult to understand, but having given time to context and Jeo-Centric Theology it helps explain the idea behind Saul’s question, his question is clear. Saul asked: Has the Law of Moses, and the commandment found therein, become dead (as in abrogated, annulled, useless, unneeded) for the Christian and the Church? In my words – capturing the core of Saul, to think the Law of Moses is annulled or abrogated or “nailed to the cross” is totally ridiculous. To think so, violates Saul’s context and Saul’s Jeo-Centric Theology.
We can know with absolute certainty that the Law of Moses is not dead, because to interpret the Law of Moses as dead violates Saul’s literary context of the book of Romans and his defense and keeping of the Law of Moses in the book of Acts. Following his question, Saul went on to say that the Law of Moses is spiritual (Romans 7.14). Nothing spiritual dies because a spirit cannot die. Going further, Saul stated: “I [Saul] consent unto the law [of Moses] that it is good.” Again, Saul espoused his Jeo-Centric Theology, powerful. Again, the Law of Moses has good beneficial purpose for the Christian and the Church, both Jew and Gentile.
Saul ended Chapter Seven with another powerful Jeo-Centric Theological positioning. A war within: The fleshly carnal side that wants to sin versus the inward man, the mind that wants to serve God (Romans 7.17-25). Saul concluded that while the struggle will continue, “I [Saul] delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Romans 7.22) “So then with the mind, I [Saul] myself serve the Law of God” (Romans 7.25). Yet, and all the while, Saul was thankful for Jesus who delivers from death. To truly understand Saul, we must accept that the phrase Law of God is simply another way for Saul to identify the Law of Moses.
Again, in no way did Saul do away with the Law of Moses. We can encapsulate the power of Saul’s argument in this fashion: Was the Law of Moses nailed to the cross being the redemptive propitiation for the people? No. Messiah Jesus was nailed to the cross and Jesus became the redemptive propitiation. Thus, the Law of Moses remains – serving as a witness to Jesus and is still “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3.16-17).
So Saul, serving the Law of God (the Law of Moses) with the inner man and the mind, will begin in Chapter Eight to express the concept that Believers should fulfill the Law of Moses.
Romans Chapter Eight
Like almost every chapter in Romans, Chapter Eight continues the thoughts from the previous chapter. As such, I ask my readers, if you arrive here first, please go begin at Chapter Seven. We know that Chapter Eight continues the thoughts of Chapter Seven because Chapter Eight opens with the phrase, “There is therefore” – these words help us understand that Saul is about to draw a conclusion based on his previous statements.
Yes, there are many various things that one can discuss from the Epistle to the Romans, but due to sheer length, I am compelled to remain focused on the limited topic of Saul’s Jeo-Centric Theology and his defense of the Law of Moses. We must read Chapter Eight as a conclusion to Chapters One through Seven. To read Chapter Eight independent of Saul’s presentation about the Law of Moses will miss Saul’s point, especially in the first few verses of Chapter Eight.
In Romans 8.2, Saul indicates that the Believers are free from “the law of sin and death” it seems common that many interpret that phrase to mean that Believers are free from the Law of Moses. Considering Saul’s difficult presentation in Romans Seven, it might seem quite natural to think that the “law of sin and death” equals the Law of Moses. But, Saul provided clarity in Chapter Seven that the Law of Moses is not sin (Romans 7.7), and the Law of Moses is not supposed to be “dead” to the Believer (Romans 7.13), as Saul will bring into focus here in Chapter Eight.
In Romans 8.3, Saul made a strong statement about the Law of Moses having a weakness. According to Saul, the weakness of the Law of Moses is the flesh – the person, who sought to do the Law of Moses – simply could not find it possible to accomplish the task of becoming righteous. Saul discussed this fleshly weakness in a major portion of Chapter Seven:
This weakness is not a weakness of the Law of Moses, per se; this weakness really is more a weakness of humanity or flesh.
Saul reasoned that because of the weakness of flesh, Jesus lived in the flesh, so Jesus in the flesh could carry the fleshly weakness of the Law of Moses to the cross “condemning sin in the flesh” (Romans 8.3). As such, Saul did not teach Jesus’ nailing the Law of Moses itself to the cross. We can be certain of this because of Chapter Seven.
We know sin was nailed to the Cross of Calvary, and Saul said the Law of Moses was not sin (Romans 7.7). Thus, the Law of Moses, being without sin, cannot be nailed to the Cross. Additionally, Saul said, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I [Saul] myself serve the law of God” (Romans 7.25). Thus, Saul made it perfectly clear that he believed in Jesus as Messiah, yet still served God by following the Law of Moses.
In Romans 8.4, Saul said “That the righteousness of the law [of Moses] might be fulfilled in us”. The KJV does use the word might which implies that the righteousness of the Law of Moses might not be fulfilled in Believers, but Saul’s argument seems clear. Because of Jesus Christ, Believers, being in Jesus, have the ability to fulfill the Law of Moses. As such, this is another way Saul advocates the continued influence of the Law of Moses on the Christian. So, to interpret Saul as making the Law of Moses “dead” opposes Saul himself.
Saul’s argument is very strong Jeo-Centric Theology, everything revolves around the Law of Moses, even the Messiah. For Saul, what was once unattainable in the flesh through Moses is completely attainable in the spirit through Messiah, fulfillment of the intention of the Law of Moses. In essence, Jesus took away the weakness of the Law of Moses and through the strength of Christ Jesus, fulfilling the Law of Moses is attainable. This is important to understand Saul’s statements following verse four.
The evidence from the Book of Acts and this evidence in Romans prove that Saul should not be interpreted, in Romans or in any other Epistle, as abrogating the Law of Moses. From this point forward, Saul is certain that the Law of Moses has purpose in Messiah, and through Messiah all Believers can attain the righteousness found in the Law of Moses, the same Law of Moses which testifies to the Messiah Jesus. While I hesitate to jump ahead, it seems necessary here – later in Chapter Thirteen, Saul will present the theology of fulfilling the Law of Moses.
Here in Chapter Eight, from what I can tell, Saul has only one appeal to his Holy Scriptures. In Romans 8.36, Saul refers to Psalm 44.22. I would like to provide one additional thought regarding Chapter Eight. In Romans 8.34, Saul speaks about Christ’s death and resurrection and intercession. For Saul, it is Christ who died on the Cross of Calvary not the Law of Moses. According to Saul, the Law of Moses is spiritual, holy, just and good but cannot make intercession for humanity; it is Christ who makes intercession for humanity. For Saul, it is not the Law of Moses at God’s right hand, but Messiah, God’s strong right arm. Yet, in another Epistle, Saul said the Law of Moses is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3.16-17).
With Chapter Eight, Saul made it clear that the Believer should seek to fulfill the spirit of the Law of Moses in Messiah. Grasping that thought is crucial to see Saul’s thoughts regarding the remainder of Israel – those who do not believe Jesus is the Messiah, and to see Saul’s thoughts about the relationship the Believing Gentiles have to Israel herself.
Romans Chapter Nine
At this point, we have covered half of Romans, and Saul’s Jeo-Centric Theology will simply become more prevalent. Saul spent the first half of Romans speaking about the Law of Moses in relation to the Believer, both Jew and Gentile. The next three or four chapters is Saul speaking about Israel and her situation before God and the Gentile Believers’ responsibility to help Israel.
In particular, Chapters Nine, Ten, and Eleven speak about Olive Tree/Branch Theology. I discussed this theological interpretation in my book: Theology: My Assessment of Six Theological Viewpoints. As such, I will truly limit my discussion of Chapters Nine, Ten and Eleven. However, I am still compelled to highlight Saul’s Jeo-Centric Theology.
Romans Nine and Ten is Saul’s massive appeal to save Israel. Gentiles – the Nations – have been included in the New Covenant, and yet not all of Israel believes Jesus is Messiah. Unfortunately, some seem to interpret Saul’s statement about non-believing Israelites as “all” of Israel failing to believe in Jesus as Messiah, this misunderstanding promotes an unfavorable disposition toward Israel. As I showed from the Book of Acts, the truth is that thousands of Jews believed Jesus was the Messiah. The truth about the First Century is that while Gentiles were coming to have faith in Jesus, many Gentiles did believe in Jesus, yet many more Gentiles did not believe Jesus to be Messiah – the same holds true today.
I simply aim to be fair to both Jew and Gentile. There will always be those who do not believe, whether Jew or Gentile – it makes little difference. Using Saul’s statements to justify negative attitude’s toward Israel is unfounded, because Saul will reason in Chapter Eleven that Believing Gentiles should bring non-believing Israelites to jealousy so that they would come to believe in Jesus as Messiah. For Gentile Believers to harbor animosity, or judgmentalism, or simple ambivalence against Israel or a Jew violates the very essence of Jesus and violates the essence of Saul’s Epistle to the Romans – the Gentiles should help Israel.
I will state it again, Saul has very Jeo-Centric Theology throughout his presentation. This theological perspective is seen in Romans 9.24, “Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles” and again in Romans 10.12, “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him”. Saul’s statements are completely Jeo-Centric, as has been Saul’s habit the entire letter, Saul mentions the Jews first then adds the Gentiles. Everything revolves around Israel. This is why Saul wants Israel to be saved.
This may seem unsettling to the Gentile Believer, but it really is like arguing who is needed first, Adam or Eve. While Eve is from Adam, all subsequent males cannot exist without Eve. So what’s the point? While Abraham was uncircumcised, he became circumcised; thus circumcision comes from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) and Messiah comes from Israel. So, irrespective of origination point, the uncircumcised Believers should want to help the circumcision – to stylize Saul: to the circumcised first, then the uncircumcised.
In Chapter Nine, Saul presents item after item, quote after quote to prove his attitude toward Israel, and how the Gentile should respond. While Saul is applying New Testament spirituality to this chasm, the thoughts are not New Testament. Saul’s thoughts originate in his Holy Scriptures, the Hebrew Bible (arranged Genesis to Chronicles) and/or the Greek Translation of that Hebrew Bible (arranged Genesis to Malachi).
Saul referred to items in the Books of Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Hosea, and Malachi (I encourage my readers to confer with a study Bible to see the quantity of referencing that Saul did). Appealing to these writings themselves alone proves Saul’s Jeo-Centric Theology. But, in Chapter Nine, Saul speaks of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob who is Israel, Moses, Hosea (KJV-Osee), Isaiah, Israelites and Jews as a people, and also the Gentiles as people.
Chapter Nine, in keeping with Saul’s Jeo-Centric Theology, discussed Israelite and Jewish issues. Consider that in Romans 9.4, Saul spoke of the covenants (with Noah, with Abraham, with the Children of Israel mediated through Moses, with David, among others). In the same verse, Saul mentioned the promises, which is understood to be at least the promises given to Abraham in Genesis 15. But in that same verse in Romans, Saul spoke of the giving of the Law of Moses, which all lead to Messiah who is over everyone, both Jew and Gentile. But with Romans 9.24, Saul moved his orientation to the Gentiles and then quoted Hosea and Isaiah. Saul referred to those two Prophets of the Jewish people, but made it clear that those Prophets said that God would incorporate the Gentiles in order to stir Israel.
With Romans 9.30, Saul asked, “What shall we say then?” This is important. Saul wanted his Roman audience to consider the situation, and consider the reality of the moment. True, Gentiles did not have the advantage of the Jews, yet by belief attained “the righteousness which is of faith”. However, some of Israel – who had the advantage: the Law of Moses, the Prophets, the promises, the covenants, et.al. – missed “the righteousness which is of faith” because they stumbled (Romans 9.32-33). I ask what group of people hasn’t stumbled? All stumble, both Jew and Gentile, and this is where Chapter Nine ends and we have to move to Chapter Ten to continue with Saul’s thoughts.
Romans Chapter Ten
It is unfortunate that Chapter Ten interrupts Saul’s thoughts from Chapter Nine, because the Chapter division puts an artificial break in Saul’s thoughts. So, if a reader begins here at Chapter Ten, please back up to Chapter Nine and see that discussion.
Since some of Israel stumbled and did not attain the “righteousness which is of faith” (Romans 9.30) Saul stated quite clearly, “[M]y heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved” (Romans 10.1). From there Saul went on to discuss issues like zeal and knowledge, and why certain ones failed to attain what they sought (Romans 10.2-3).
In Romans 10.4, Saul made this statement, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” My church experience tells me that this verse is always used as proof to show why the Law of Moses is done away and annulled – I have yet to hear different. But, Saul speaks differently.
Now, I have spent a great deal of time in Romans Chapters One through Nine and the book of Acts demonstrating that Saul, in no way, annulled the Law of Moses. Saul specifically stated in Romans 8.4 KJV “the righteousness of the law [of Moses] might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” So, my question is rather simple. How does Saul expect Believers to fulfill the Law of Moses if, as some teach, Saul annulled the Law of Moses? Simple answer – if the Law of Moses is annulled, fulfillment cannot be done. This poses a problem.
Some will rush to the Greek word behind the English word end located in Romans 10.4 attempting to defend annulment. I, however, simply ask: What has been Saul’s literary context? I answer simply: The Law of Moses has purpose for the Believer, both Jew and Gentile.
Knowing that, when Jesus went to his cross at Calvary, the Law of Moses did NOT end – as in being annulled, voided, or canceled. Jesus voided the punishment for sin. Jesus did not void the Law of Moses that instructs against sin. Jesus canceled the debt sinners owe God for sinning. Jesus did not cancel the Law of Moses and the directives given about what God considers righteous.
Saul’s point, while stated with complexity, is the same thing Jesus taught: the Law of Moses and the Scriptures testify about Jesus (John 5.39). Saul reasons that when this application of Scripture is understood, salvation can be found when one believes in the heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, confessing Jesus as Lord/Master (Romans 10.9). From this point, Saul continues on saying Jeo-Centricly that with the confession there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, but people cannot make the confession if there is not one sent to preach – and how beautiful the feet are of those who preach (Romans 10.14-15).
Again, in Chapter Ten, Saul appealed to his Holy Scriptures by referring to the Books of Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Isaiah and Joel. We see some of these when Saul said things like:
Again, I encourage my readers to confer with a study Bible to see the quantity of referencing that Saul did. However, in Romans 10.20-21 Saul did appeal directly to a Prophet. Saul said, “Isaiah is very bold and saith” referring to Isaiah 65.1-2. And this is where Chapter Ten ends, Saul quoting the Prophet Isaiah. We have to move to Chapter Eleven to continue with Saul’s thoughts.
Romans Chapter Eleven
It is unfortunate that Chapter Eleven interrupts Saul’s thoughts from Chapter Ten, because the Chapter division puts an artificial break in Saul’s thoughts. So, if a reader begins here at Chapter Eleven, please back up to Chapter Nine then continue into Chapter Ten.
Chapter Eleven begins with Saul asking a very important question about Israel: “Hath God cast away his people?” This is a very strong question – because Saul’s question challenges the supposition of Supersession (Replacement) Theology.
Saul provided a very direct answer, the same direct answer he gave when answering the question: Is the Law of Moses sin? (Romans 7.7) and the same direct answer he gave when answering: is the Law of Moses made dead? (Romans 7.13), “God forbid.” If that was unclear, that God has not cast away his people, Saul makes it very certain in Romans 11.2, “God has not cast away his people which he foreknew.”
In Romans 11.3-4, to support his answer, Saul appealed to Scripture that speaks about Elijah and God telling Elijah that there was a remnant of 7000 (1 Kings 19). In Romans 11.5, Saul said about Israel and the Gospel, “even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace”. My question: At what time in history has God not had a remnant of Israel? My answer: Never. Now some might try to defend Supercession Theology by saying that the church became the remnant, but that interpretation is NOT what Saul said.
In Romans 11.9-10, supporting his Jeo-Centric Theology, Saul once again appealed to Scripture and to King David (Psalm 69.22-23). Then in Romans 11.13-25, Saul gave his attention to the Gentiles, and the power of the Gentiles to help this remnant of Israel. The manner in which the Gentiles relate to and help Israel is not through Supercession Theology, but by Saul’s own description of Olive Tree/Branch Theology – which I discuss in much greater detail in my book: Theology: My Assessment of Six Theological Viewpoints.
In Romans 11.26-27, Saul appealed to Isaiah and Saul went on to discuss the situation with all of Israel and the role of the covenant. In Romans 11.28-32, Saul discussed issues about Israel and the Gospel, part of which includes this: “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11.29). This means that Israel is a gift and has a calling that cannot ever be superceded by anything, even the church. Abraham begat Isaac; Isaac begat Jacob; God renamed Jacob Israel; God through Israel begat the Messiah; God cannot repent of this decision.
Romans Eleven ends very Jeo-Centricly. Saul praises God, not Jesus, for his awesomeness. This might sound awkward, but for the Jewish mindset, this is completely valid. In keeping with The Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one” (Deuteronomy 6.4). As such, God alone receives the adoration and praise. As an interesting side note, Jesus, in declaring the Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22.37-40), began by quoting The Shema. Here is Saul’s adoration and praise to God:
Romans Chapter Twelve
Like so many Chapters in Romans, Chapter Twelve opens up with a conclusion from Saul. In the KJV Saul said, “I beseech you therefore”, consequently Chapter Twelve is not a “new” chapter, but Saul concluding his thoughts from Chapter Nine, Ten and Eleven. Hence my statement back in Chapter Nine, “The next three or four chapters is Saul speaking about Israel and her situation before God and the Gentile Believers’ responsibility to help Israel.” So, if a reader begins here at Chapter Twelve, please back up to Chapter Nine then continue into Chapter Ten and Eleven.
It is pretty easy to preach from Romans Twelve to the end of the Romans because Saul moved from theological discussion into very practical admonition. But, that admonition must be understood from his Jeo-Centric Theology that defended the Law of Moses. As such, I will highlight a few items.
To see more of Saul’s Jeo-Centric Theology, consider Romans 12.1. Saul knows that the Law of Moses repeatedly speaks of sacrifice. I need not go into detail regarding all the sacrifices enumerated in the Law of Moses, however the Hebrew writer gives additional help in clarifying the Believer’s arrangement in this “new” sacrificial system. However, here in Romans, Saul makes one simple statement, “ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God”. In light of Saul defending the Law of Moses and Saul’s Jeo-Centric Theology, this statement carries “new found” weight.
In the Law of Moses, the sacrifices involved the physical death of an animal to give spiritual life to the person. In essence, a non-human sacrifices their life for the cost of human sin. Thus, sacrifices were performed as often as necessary, with some sacrifices demanded yearly. While an animal’s life is important and valuable, no quantity of animals adequately cover the cost of a person’s soul, let alone cost of the souls of the world’s population.
In Romans Chapter Six, Saul reasoned that Jesus “died unto sin once” (Romans 6.10). So, Messiah died to redeem the entire world. But Saul went on to say that “but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God” (Romans 6.10) and thus Messiah’s resurrection gives life to the world. So Saul’s reasoning (based upon Chapter Six and Twelve) is that a Believer has been baptized into Jesus’ death to rise up into a living sacrifice, resembling Jesus.
With Romans 12.1, Saul applied the spirit of Jesus’ willing sacrifice to the Believer. Jesus said, “I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10.15) thus we know that Jesus went willingly to his cross at Calvary. No one killed Jesus, not any Jew, not any Gentile. Jesus gave himself to the need, Jesus himself said, “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down” (John 10.18). Thus, for the New Covenant, the Believer has been bought with a price far greater than any animal sacrifice. As such, the disciple is to follow his master – be willing; be willing to die to self and sin in the waters of baptism, rise up in the newness of spiritual life, live a physical existence as a spiritual sacrifice unto God – a sacrifice worthy of the cost paid for redemption.
So from that thought, Saul went into the abilities that each person brings to the body of Christ: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhorting, giving, ruling, and mercy (Romans 12.6-8). But, I want to address the teaching in Romans 12.7. As we saw back in Chapter Two, the Jews of the Roman Church knew the Law of Moses and used the Law of Moses to instruct people inside and outside the Church at Rome (Romans 2.17-20). Saul’s main contention with them was not that the Jews used the Law of Moses for instruction (teaching) but that they seemed to not live what they taught (Romans 2.21-24). So, Romans 12.7 harkens all the way back to Romans Two, and while not specifically stated, it is implied that the Law of Moses will be used to teach the church. We know this because Saul never removed the Law of Moses from influencing himself, the Jewish Believers, or the Church (for more information on this subject, please see Ancient Church Theology – Part 1).
Now in Romans 12.16, Saul admonished the Jew and Gentile Church at Rome to have “the same mind one toward another”. This must have been difficult. But, at some point, the Gentiles, as seen in the Book of Acts, were bound situationally to the Law of Moses. When Saul wrote the Epistle to the Romans, all the Roman Church had for Scripture was the Hebrew Bible (arranged Genesis to Chronicles) and the Hebrew Bible translated into Greek (arranged Genesis to Malachi), because NT Scripture was in the process of being written.
No one knows for certain how many years the Epistle to the Romans remained with the Roman Church before it was circulated among other churches. Nor does anyone know for certain the number of years that passed before the Roman Epistle was accepted as NT Canon. Speculations abound, but specifics are difficult. However, my point is rather simple. When the Church at Rome received Saul’s Epistle and for the Roman Church to be of one mind, they – both Jew and Gentile – had to learn how to live together as one in Christ, with love, and learn how to fulfill the spiritual intent of the Law of Moses. That idea pretty much encapsulates Saul’s entire Epistle to the Roman Church.
With that in mind, Romans 12.18-19 becomes somewhat more significant. In those verses Saul said, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” Saul admonishes them to learn how to live peaceably and not to take vengeance into their own hands (an appeal to Deuteronomy, part of Saul’s Holy Scriptures).
Saul made an elegant theological treatise about the Law of Moses and the Believer – both Jew and Gentile. Then Saul presented a very powerful truth about the relationship of the Gentile Believers with Israel herself. Then, Saul took all of that theology and made several applications, and those applications will continue into Chapter Thirteen.
Romans Chapter Thirteen
Like almost every chapter in Romans, Chapter Thirteen opens by continuing the thoughts from the previous chapter. As such, I ask my readers, if you arrive here first, please go begin at Chapter Twelve.
In Romans 13.1-7, Saul admonished the Church at Rome – both Jew and Gentile – to submit to governing authorities. While much time could be spent discussing those concepts, my goal is different. We need to remain focused on Saul defending the Law of Moses and Saul’s Jeo-Centric Theology.
In Romans 13.8, Saul stated, “owe no man anything” while a powerful thought in and of itself and having validity in many applications, stripping that statement from the rest of Saul’s statement, again, only gives proof-texted doctrine. Saul made it clear that the only thing Christians – both Jew and Gentile – should owe anyone is love. Forget about financial indebtedness, because while caution against debt is an application of Saul, that is not Saul’s point.
Saul’s point is that love fulfills the Law of Moses. We must keep in mind that Saul’s entire Epistle has been about the Believers’ relationship to the Law of Moses in Messiah. Thus, Saul is not teaching fulfilling the Law of Christ. To the contrary, according to Saul’s Jeo-Centric Theology, Saul is teaching fulfilling the Law of Moses. This is known with absolute certainty. Consider Saul’s next statement.
In Romans 13.9, Saul appealed to the Law of Moses and the Ten Commandments, which are found in two locations in the Law of Moses. Here are Saul’s five direct appeals to the Ten Commandments and their associated verses:
Interestingly Saul reordered murder and adultery, placing adultery as the first “thou shalt not” in his list, which probably means that to Saul adultery needed greater emphasis. However, Saul does not limit the Law of Moses on the Believer by itemizing only five specifics from the Ten Commands.
In Romans 13.9, Saul did a broad-spectrum inclusion of the Law of Moses on Believers when he said: “if there be any other commandment”. This is Saul referring to the entire body of the Law of Moses. So in six statements, five shall nots, and one “any other commandment” – whether positive or negative – Saul just brought the entire body of the Law of Moses to the Church.
That was a difficult truth for me when I first learned it. This is because I was taught that the only OT I need is any OT that is quoted by the NT. Such thinking comes from poor reading of the NT, and misguided and/or misinformed interpretation. But, contrary to popular teachings, Saul is very inclusive about the Law of Moses with the phrase “any other commandment”. Thus, it behooves us to see what Saul means.
Saul’s “any other commandment” is stated fully, in the KJV, as: “if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” In the similitude of Jesus, Saul appealed to Leviticus 19.18.
Jesus said the Greatest Commandment was:
Jesus quoted Deuteromony 6.4-5, known to Jews as The Shema and then Jesus quoted Leviticus 19.18b, however, Jesus did not stop there. Jesus said that the ENTIRE Law of Moses and the Prophets was suspended by those two principle commandments.
Thus, Saul is in agreement with Jesus. As such, the disciple follows the Master, thus both Apostle and Messiah teach the exact same thing. Both in harmony, as it has to be – one in thought, one in body, one in spirit.
Jesus did embody and teach love. This fundamental element of the Messiah cannot be missed. Jesus the Christ lived the Law of Moses, perfectly embodying what the Law of Moses intended. Yet, Jesus went above and beyond the Law of Moses by willingly sacrificing himself for the redemption of his fellow Jews and the entire body of Gentiles. Thus, Saul’s conclusion about the Believer’s relationship to the Law of Moses describes the essence of Messiah: “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law [of Moses].”
Knowing that, the Law of Moses has purpose for the Believer – both Jew and Gentile. The Law of Moses teaches, by specific instructions, how God expects His people to show love for each other and to the rest of the world. This is why Saul said to Timothy, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3.16-17).
Chapter Thirteen is the last time that Saul will specifically teach the purpose of the Law of Moses. At this time, I bring to my readers something that was pointed out to me – it is quite interesting that both First Corinthians and Romans talk about love in Chapter Thirteen. Messiah embodied Moses, including living out love by dying for us. Saul taught the Believer is the body of Messiah, learning and living Moses, thus loving and dying for each other and the world. Knowing that should help us better see the final thought from Chapter Thirteen, Saul said: “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”
Knowing that, let us consider the doctrinal challenges of Chapter Fourteen.
Romans Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fourteen is no more a standalone chapter than any other chapter in Romans. As such, I ask my readers, if you arrive here first, please go begin at Chapter Thirteen.
As far as I can tell, Saul has one reference to his Holy Scriptures in Chapter Fourteen; it is found in verse eleven, referring to Isaiah 45.23. However, Saul, in Messiah, is trying to reconcile the tension between Jew and Gentile, regarding things like the observances of holy days and dietary constraints.
Knowing that, we must recall the Council of Jerusalem and their decision (see Ancient Church Theology – Part 1 for far greater detail). Their decision was that the Gentile Believers were to abstain from only four things:
Much discussion could be given to the specific application of those four things. However, in Ancient Church Theology – Part 1, I showed that by purview of situation, the Gentile Believers still learned from the Law of Moses because those Gentiles gathered with Jewish Believers and with the other Jews at Synagogue on Sabbath – the place and time the Law of Moses and the Prophets were taught.
That known, and as such, Gentiles were NOT to abstain from the Law of Moses. However, in Messiah Gentiles did NOT have to undergo circumcision or keep the Law of Moses to be saved. But, the Council of Jerusalem never stated that the Gentile Believers should abstain from the Law of Moses, nor did the Council ever insinuate such.
Knowing that, two things guide the Gentile Believer with respect to the Law of Moses:
These two principles come into play as Saul discusses doctrinal accountability in Chapter Fourteen.
The entirety of Chapter Fourteen is reconciling different religious faith structures. The Jewish Believer, who grew up with the Law of Moses (holy day observances, dietary food concerns, and other Law of Moses specific issues) would be highly concerned about being faithful to those teachings found in Moses, even though the Jewish Believer was in Messiah. However, the Gentile Believer, unless associated with the Jews at synagogue, would most likely enter into a whole new arena of doctrine – somewhat at variance with the way in which they lived.
For instance, some Jews simply will not eat pork. If one wants to, they can call that Jew weak in faith. But, I will not say such – I say that Jew is being faithful to God, in Messiah, by the teachings of Moses. That is not weakness of faith. To eat pork would violate the conscience of the Jew. So for me, I will not eat pork, nor encourage the Jewish Believer to eat pork. Why? Because Saul taught:
A Jew simply does not have to eat pork to show faith in Messiah Jesus. Furthermore, to interpret Peter’s vision in the Book of Acts as proving pork products okay misses the entire literary and spiritual context of Acts Ten and Eleven. At that time, the Jews interpreted Gentiles like pork – to be avoided. The vision was to show Peter that the Gentiles are clean, not that pork was clean. When the Jew is compelled or forced to eat pork such an atrocity violates both Messiah’s and Saul’s teachings about love. However, reconciling both Jew and Gentile to God through Messiah was easy compared to reconciling the practices of faith.
In Romans 14.3, Saul taught “Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.” Thus, each Jew and Gentile Believer is accepted by God, yet both consume different food products. With that reality, what does one do?
In Romans 14.4, Saul asked, to me somewhat rhetorically, “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant?” then Saul answered his own question, and provided the solution to the dilemma, “to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.” So, whether Jew or Gentile, each has to answer to the Master Jesus, and each is held up by God, and only God can permit the Jew or Gentile to have the power to stand.
In Romans 14.5-6, Saul went on to reason that each person – whether Jew or Gentile – does what they do with God in mind. In light of that truth, in Romans 14.7, Saul went on to say that whether Jew or Gentile, no one lives life in a bubble, we have to interact with each other, and either way we each belong to God and Messiah (Romans 14-8-9). Yet, there is an unfortunate truth – the reality that we assess each other, trying to determine who is “more righteous”.
In Romans 14.10, Saul addressed that very delicate issue by asking two questions: “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother?” Without even answering his own question, Saul’s point should be quite clear: Who do we think we are to judge another? And, Why do we despise each other treating each other with contempt? I have witnessed this behavior first hand. Whether Jew or Gentile Believer in Messiah, the behavior is reprehensible and unloving. By appealing to Scripture (Isaiah), Saul made it very clear that every person will have to give an account to God (Romans 14.11-12). As such, the insinuation seems to be: Who wants to give an account for being judgmental against a brother and/or despising each other?
Beginning with Romans 14.13, Saul went on to show how both Jew and Gentile Believer should act toward each other. The first thing each has to do is stop judging each other and find a way not to cause each other to stumble in Messiah. In Romans 14.14, Saul does make a difficult statement about all things being clean. Other than Saul saying that he had been “persuaded by the Lord Jesus,” Saul offered no other personal or scriptural reasoning for this conclusion. So anything I, or anyone else, offer would be mere speculation. However, identifying clean and unclean creates tension, it always has, and it always will.
So, whether Jew or Gentile, if the Believer believes something is unclean, it is unclean, period. And the opposite is also true: whether Jew or Gentile, if the Believer believes something is clean it is clean, period. Thus, in Romans 14.15, Saul said the brother who sees clean should not grieve the brother who sees unclean, because doing so violates the essence of love and brings Messiah’s work to nothing. This is tremendously difficult to achieve.
It was next to impossible in Saul’s day to achieve unity in Messiah, and now with almost 2000 years since the establishment of the Church, and with so many different flavors (i.e. denominations, non-denominations, etc.) of Christianity, who is right? The reasoning of humanity says, “My interpretation is right. They have to give. They have to mature.”
Here in Chapter Fourteen, Saul never identified the “weak in the faith”. Was the “weak in the faith” the Jewish Believer? Or was the “weak in the faith” the Gentile Believer? Or was the “weak in the faith” both the Jew and the Gentile Believer, just on different issues? I say both. We all have to mature.
To me, this seems to be an important reason for Romans 14.22, where Saul said, “Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.” However, in Romans 14.23, Saul conveyed the idea that the one who doubts lacks faith, as such Saul said, “whatsoever is not of faith is sin”.
As I close out Chapter Fourteen, I want to express the uncomfortable reality. It seems quite apparent, and more than probable, that Romans Fourteen permits Believers in Messiah Jesus to study the Bible, draw their own conclusions about “doctrine” and then practice that interpretation. Personally, that sits uncomfortable with me. But more to the point, I have yet to find a disciple (name the affiliation) who doesn’t want their particular flavor of practicing their interpretation to be the only way to interpret the Scriptures.
Experience has shown me that many Believers seem to reach a point of being unable to reconcile why this paradox exists and simply live unable to reconcile why there are so many variations of Believers. In the United States, it’s almost like restaurants, there are so many different styles, but all serve the same thing – food.
While there are some things that are clearly wrong, before God there is latitude to learn more of the truth. The sticky point is that experience informs me that while Believers study their Bible, not one single person, or group has a perfect or even a “most accurate” understanding of God’s Word. Unfortunately, instead of dialoging for maturation and better understanding, we debate what we think we understand. Doing such violates Saul’s admonition to love each other, yet walk your own faith.
With that we have reached the end of Chapter Fourteen. In Chapter Fifteen, Saul will continue his discussion about how to have unity.
Romans Chapter Fifteen
In the KJV, Chapter Fifteen begins with Saul, saying, “We then”. These two words indicate that Chapter Fifteen is directly connected to Chapter Fourteen. As such, Chapter Fifteen functions, in part, as a conclusion to Chapter Fourteen. Knowing this, I ask my readers, if you arrive here first, please go begin at Chapter Fourteen.
The first seven verses of Chapter Fifteen are the conclusion to Chapter Fourteen. So, I begin there. Again, Saul never specifies who the “strong” brethren or who the “weak” brethren are, Saul simply admonishes the stronger to help the weaker and appeals to Scripture (Psalms 69.9) to show why.
Saul says that the “strong” should not make themselves happy, but instead make their neighbor happy to their good and edification. That is a difficult task to accomplish. Depending on the topic, and spiritual growth, there will always be one that is “strong” and another that is “weak”. While Saul states that the “strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak” the challenge has always been to remove “weakness”.
Some may rush to defend the “weak” saying the “weak” need to be handled gently, and such is true. But, while true this does not mean that the “weak” never receive instructions in righteousness. Thus, it seems that Saul’s presentation makes the appeal that the “strong” are not supposed to train the “weak”.
To the contrary, the “strong” serve the “weak” by allowing God, in Messiah, through the Law of Moses to train the “weak”. In Romans 15,3 Saul supported his position by appealing to Jesus and referred to Scripture (Isaiah 69.9). It should be well accepted that Jesus was strong and helped the weak. As such, Jesus did not seek to please himself, but God and humanity.
This means that the “strong” disciples do not actively train the “weak” disciples. God, in Messiah, through the Law of Moses along with the Holy Spirit does the active training. In doing such, the weakness of humanity is removed in the “strong” disciple. To support this concept, Saul appeals to the power of Holy Scripture. Remember, the Hebrew Bible (arranged Genesis to Chronicles) and the Hebrew Bible translated into Greek (arranged Genesis to Malachi) were the only Scriptures available to the First Century Church.
Yes, those things were written before the NT, but those Scriptures still serve as the tool by which we, the Modern Church, learn. Unfortunately, the Modern Church too often believes and teaches that the church does not need the OT. But, Saul spoke contrary to that interpretation. In Romans 15.4, Saul made it plain that those Scriptures are needed because through the OT we learn, have patience, receive comfort, and hope. When the Modern Church lives solely on the pages of the NT, the Church is underfed and undernourished.
So, In Romans 15.7, Saul stated the conclusion of the tension between Jew and Gentile Believers in Messiah: “Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.” Saul made it clear that the Jew and Gentile need to get along, because Christ redeemed both Jew and Gentile to God.
Beginning with Romans 15.8, we can once again see Saul’s Jeo-Centric Theology because Saul will address the Jews first. In Romans 15.8, Saul stated, “I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers”. This should not be interpreted as Jesus serving only the Jews, because Jesus also served Gentiles. Jesus ministered to the Jews about the truth of God with that truth being found in the Law of Moses. It is also the Law of Moses where the promises to the Israelite fathers are found, and not just the fathers of Israel, but also the fathers of those Gentiles who believe Jesus is the Messiah.
After Saul addressed Israel, Saul’s Jeo-Centricism continued with him addressing the Gentiles. In Romans 15.9-12, Saul referred to 2 Samuel, Psalms 17 and 18, Deuteronomy, and Isaiah, supporting why Saul expects the Gentile Believers to glorify God, because the Hebrew Scriptures proclaim such. In Romans 15.13-14, Saul admonished the Church at Rome.
In Romans 15.15-21, Saul spoke of his ministry to the Gentiles. In part, saying in Romans 15.16 that he “should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.” Later, in Romans 15.18, Saul stated that his aim was “to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed”. This is powerful.
While many will argue the concepts that I have set forth in this book through Ancient Church History and Ancient Church Theology, one thing is certain – Saul wanted the Gentiles to be obedient in word and deed to God. To reiterate, the Council of Jerusalem stated the Gentiles did not have to be circumcised or keep the Law of Moses to be saved, but the Council of Jerusalem never expected the Gentiles to divorce themselves from the teachings found in the Law of Moses and the Prophets.
When the Council of Jerusalem made its decision, the Gentiles still gathered in the synagogue with Jews, but after the course of two millennia the Church seems to have fully separated itself from the Jews, becoming almost singularly focused on the NT. There are some churches and Christians working to rectify this situation, some have better understanding than others. But one thing is certain neither Jesus nor Saul wanted this type of split.
In Romans 15.22-32, Saul went on to speak about why he preaches where he preaches and then discusses his plans of travel and his hope to arrive at Rome. In the KJV, Chapter Fifteen concludes with Saul saying, “Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.” We now move to our final chapter.
Romans Chapter Sixteen
Romans Sixteen seems to be about the only stand-alone chapter in Romans. Romans 16.1-16 has Saul sending greetings and encouragement to many different people. That section is concluded with Saul saying, “Salute one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.”
In the KJV, Romans 16.17-18 has Saul giving a warning saying, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” Through Church History many have been marked, some properly, some not.
So, I know that some will argue that I am the one causing division. To their charge, I respond: search the scriptures, both OT and NT, study the history, the culture, the society, and the theology. See if what I am saying is true – be a Berean. Test me to see if I am serving my own belly. I seek not to deceive the hearts. I seek the truth of the First Century Church. I seek the True Truth. I seek God’s original intent. It seems quite obvious that much that is preached is not as it was intended.
Romans 16.19-24, Saul praised certain individuals, beginning with the Church at Rome. It is within these verses that we find out that Tertius helped Saul write the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 16.22). Saul ends that section saying, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
Saul closed his Epistle with another Jeo-Centric doxology:
Even as Saul closed his Epistle, it cannot be missed. Saul praised God alone, again in keeping with Deuteronomy 6.4, known as The Shema. But also notice Saul’s appeal to the Law of Moses referred to as “the commandment of the everlasting God” and the Prophets by saying, “the scriptures of the prophets”.
I should also point out that Saul’s doxology is arranged in a chiastic poetic structure. This type of structure is found throughout the OT. The arrangement is from the church, to Saul, to Jesus, to the Mystery of Messiah – which is the center, then from the prophets, then to God’s commandments but not Moses (because while Moses is important, God’s commandments are more important than Moses). Then Saul ends the doxology with praise to God through Messiah.
Ancient Church Theology, Conclusion
In many ways, I hesitate to offer my conclusion to Ancient Church Theology because throughout this work, I have offered conclusive thoughts. As such, I really wanted to forgo any official encapsulation providing specific conclusions, my reasons being quite personal.
I know how some readers read – they begin at the conclusion. Then, without ever actually examining my thought process, they retort with “I don’t agree”. Well, how can they agree, if they never took the time to consider the totality of my words and thoughts? Worse yet, some want to tell me where I am wrong and where I am destined.
So, I ask: Why should I dialogue with these types? Especially, when so few of them seem to give efforts to meditate upon my work before they engage me in debate to prove me wrong? To these, I respond: sit down and study something other than material that supports preconceived conclusions; seek True Truth.
While we live in a crunch-time culture, saying, “Just give me the headline.” or “Bottom line it for me.” I encourage readers to move away from this conclusion. Begin with my start point at my answer to the question: “why?” but maybe all the way back at book one of this trilogy.
Knowing that, I encourage everyone to read my documents, see them in context. Do your research. Learn. Continue to ask, seek and knock (A.S.K.). I am aware that I challenge current interpretation, at least within certain segments of my religious heritage. I, however, cannot waver from that which God has helped me to see and understand. Yet, I hope God will continue maturing my clarity and understanding.
Jesus had many people come to him. They came to him for healing. They came to him to argue with him. They came to him to ask questions.
One came to Jesus and asked, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Here is Jesus’ answer, “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”
That question and answer is found in Matthew Nineteen, and Matthew records Jesus going on to enumerate six specific commandments. However, we should not interpret Jesus telling disciples to follow only six commandments. We know this because in Matthew Twenty-Two Jesus said the entire Law of Moses and the Prophets hangs upon two primary commandments. Jesus always upheld the validity of the Law of Moses.
It has become so often stated that Christians follow the Law of Christ that John’s above statement is misunderstood. John did NOT say, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep [Jesus’] commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep [Jesus’] commandments: and [Jesus’] commandments are not grievous.” Interpreting John in such fashion, totally misunderstands the Apostle John.
John’s statement is very clear. Some may attempt to argue that the pronoun “his” refers to Jesus, but grammatically such cannot be true. When John used the pronoun “his” the antecedent – the noun that the pronoun refers to – is God. John tells Believers to keep God’s commandments and those commandments are found in the Law of Moses. Thus, like Saul, John is Jeo-Centric, everything revolves around the Law of Moses, even the Messiah, even the Believers in Messiah.
I referred briefly to Jesus, John, and James because Saul/Paul seems so commonly interpreted as doing away with the Law of Moses that few question that teaching. The Apostle Peter himself knew that Saul was difficult to read, saying “our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. ” (2 Peter 3.15-16)
Time has been given to lengthy discourse revealing that Saul defended the Law of Moses, and even more time spent with Saul’s Epistle to the Romans showing Saul describing the Law of Moses’ relationship to the Believer – both Jew and Gentile. I know some will label me as one that is “unlearned and unstable” twisting and perverting Saul and the remainder of Scripture. Again, this is why I included references to Jesus, John and James.
To the Jewish Believer of the First Century Church, the words: commandment, commandments, law, law of Moses, the law of liberty, the royal law, word of God, oracles of God – depending on context, all refer to the exact same thing – the first five books of the Bible, known as the Pentateuch. So, I ask:
The evidence, while challenging, is available throughout the NT Scripture. Saul is not doing away with the Law of Moses.
However, neither the Council of Jerusalem, nor the Apostles, nor Saul taught Gentile Believers to abstain from the Law of Moses. Yet, through time, some have come to interpret the Council of Jerusalem’s decision and the Apostle Saul’s Epistles as teaching Jew and Gentile Believers, alike, to abstain from the Law of Moses. As demonstrated, such interpretation fails to remain congruent with the Book of Acts, and Saul’s Epistle to the Romans.
Saul argues against “doing the deeds of the Law of Moses” for justification.
I am certain that the above is Saul’s positional arguments because of Galatians 2.16. In quoting Saul, I will supply bracketed information to bring forefront Saul’s argument, because while Saul did not speak the bracketed information, the bracketed information is included in his thought. Here is Galatians 2.16 (KJV):
While Saul argued for “faith believing that God would provide a redeemer – Jesus,” Saul NEVER taught Jewish or Gentile Believers to ignore the Law of Moses, or to consider the Law of Moses dead, or to consider the New Covenant a new law.
However, Saul did argue that those who believe in Jesus as the Promised Messiah and Risen One negate their justification with God when those Believers seek to be justified by doing the works of the Law of Moses (Galatians 2.16, 3.11, 5.4). As such, it seems that ever since Saul’s ministry, the religious tension is involved with the idea of “justification”.
In Messiah, both Jew and Gentile are justified to God through the Believer’s faith in God’s gracious gift offered through Jesus, who willingly gave of himself to be the price-paid for redemption.
For example: in Messiah, Jewish Believers can freely continue observing the Holy Days of the LORD. In Messiah, Jewish Believers have the freedom to do such, as long as Jewish Believers maintain focus that justification with God is through Jesus. This is known with certainty, when we know that Timothy the Evangelist had Jewish Ancestry, and Saul told him:
Saul’s instructions to Timothy are clear: Timothy was to continue doing the things Timothy had learned (like observing Holy Days) because he had known those things since his childhood, which pre-date Timothy’s faith in Jesus. Additionally, Saul in his instructions to Timothy, told Timothy that the Scriptures, the OT, would make Timothy WISE “unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Furthermore, Saul told Timothy that the Scriptures, the OT, were profitable. Those truths were applicable to Timothy; those truths have relevance to the Modern Disciple.
Using the same example about Holy Days. In Messiah, Gentiles are NOT bound to observe the Holy Days, because those observances are established in the Law of Moses. However, based on Romans Two, and because Gentile Believers are lead by the Law of Conscience (as I discussed in Chapter Fourteen): if a Gentile Believer’s conscience is pierced, and that Gentile Believer believes they need to honor part or the entirety of the Law of Moses, that is their choice. In Messiah, the Gentile Believer has the freedom to do such, as long as that Gentile Believer maintains focus that justification with God is through Jesus.
However, by purview of Acts Fifteen, Jewish Believers cannot compel Gentile Believers to be circumcised or keep the Law of Moses.
However, again, by purview of Acts Twenty-One, Gentile Believers cannot compel Jewish Believers to forsake circumcision or keeping the Law of Moses.
However, a third time, by purview of the Ancient Church and the Apostles and Epistle writers of the NT Scriptures, Gentile Believers should feel compelled to associate with the Law of Moses, that association is accomplished by reading and studying the Law of Moses. Thus, Gentile Believers should feel compelled to admire and respect the Law of Moses even though Gentile Believers do not have to be circumcised or keep the Law of Moses to be saved.
However, a fourth time, by purview of Romans Two, Gentile Believers have a law outside the Law of Moses; I termed this the Law of Conscience in Chapter Two. As such, if a Gentile Believer, by necessity of conscience, needs to make their conscience at peace with God by practicing something in the Law of Moses, then that Gentile Believer has the freedom in Jesus Christ to perform deeds as their conscience leads. As long as, and this is the caveat, the Gentile Believer does not seek justification with God by doing something found in the Law of Moses.
However, a fifth time, by purview of Romans Fourteen, both Jewish and Gentile Believers have to be persuaded in their own minds how to serve God. Paradoxical as it may sound, as Saul presented in Romans Fourteen, the Jewish and Gentile Believer can be at odds with each other. However, each Believer serves God through Messiah. Ultimately each Believer – both Jew and Gentile – are to fulfill Jesus’ Greatest Commandment: to love the LORD our God, with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and love our neighbor as ourselves. As such, each should seek the others’ benefit and well being in Messiah.
In my next section Comparative Theology, I will offer additional thoughts answering the question: “Why?”
Blessings and Shalom to all of God’s children.
To my brethren in Messiah, I quote Saul: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.