God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

To the Jew First and Also to the Greek - Romans 1:17

Read Romans 1 – ESV, The Message
I am continuing my discussion of Romans 1:16-17.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith.” (ESV)
One of the troubling parts of this letter – and why many people do not wish to see Romans in the 21st Century as Churched vs. Unchurched – is that Paul does not fit easily into a quick summary. Those who are “Churched” want to summarize Romans as everyone is an evil person, the church is the way out and only those who are part of a church can be saved. Unfortunately, this is an oversimplification of Paul’s message to the church in Rome. Verse 17 challenges that summary.
Another troubling part of scripture.

To the Jew First and Also to the Greek

As I stated in previous posts, God still has a special place for the Jews. This is why Paul first went into the synagogue to teach the Gospel (read Acts) and why he states that salvation is for the Jews first. Paul is not, as some theologians want, throwing the Jews out on the curb to be taken out with the trash.

That God’s salvation extends to the Greek (or non-Jews) is what makes this statement important. Salvation was not and continues not to be for those who obey God’s written law only. God’s salvation comes to those who obey God’s moral law. More on that later.

21st Century

God continues to have a special place for those who are part of a church. Regardless of how faithful a church has been to God’s moral law He still has an important place for them. This is why I have decided to remain in my Churched background. As much as the church frustrates me, disappoints me and turns me off I still want to say, as Paul said, that salvation is for the Churched first and also to the Unchurched. I am grateful that my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were Christians and passed our tradition down to my generation.

Salvation is not limited to those of your church. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, so I will punt this discussion to a later date.

Revealed From Faith For Faith

God revealed His righteousness to the Jews so they would know that He is the Lord of lords. At the same time, though, this wondrous love was to be revealed to the Gentiles. This is why Paul states that God’s righteousness was revealed from faith for faith. It was revealed to the Jews so they would tell the nations to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8. Unfortunately, they skipped this part – preferring to bask in the glory that is being God’s people and not praising that glory to the nations.

21st Century

God has revealed His righteousness, His trustworthiness, His faithfulness to those who are Churched so that they would take that good news – the Gospel – to the world. This is God’s purpose for the church – not a repository of the righteous but a light for the nations. Until we realize our purpose as a church is to go out and spread the news of the righteousness of God by word and deed we will continue to grow smaller while we wait for people to visit our church buildings.