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At-one-ment in Romans (25)
Christopher B. Harbin
Paul has been a celebrated Biblical author from the beginning of Christianity. His writings were the first circulated in the early church, as he was the first of the apostles writing churches with whom he was not in direct contact otherwise. This is only to be expected, since his was an itinerant ministry among a string of scattered locations. The problem we often have with Paul, however, is that we are not First Century Jews, nor converts to Christianity from among the Gentiles of the First Century. We are not looking at his words from those perspectives and wrestling with the same issues he was addressing.
On writing Romans, we find Paul essentially defending the heart of his teaching, but directed to answer the basic conflicts stemming from conversations between Jewish Christians and Gentile converts to Christianity. He wanted to be sure that his audience in Rome understood well the rationale for his positions with which Jews often took offense. In the early chapters of the letter, he lays out a series of arguments designed to lay to rest any dependence upon legal observance and following the law as a means to approach and be assured of God's favor.
Paul begins describing how sin operates to separate us from God, but that faith, or a relationship of trust, moves to bridge that gap. He goes on to describe how humanity as a whole had departed from the will and purposes of Yahweh. Paul describes how no one has standing to cast aspersion upon others, for we are all equally guilty of creating distance between ourselves and our Creator. He then goes on to specifically demonstrate how Jews are equally guilty before God as are Gentiles. In that regard, there is simply no advantage to being a Jew, although there is a knowledge of God's revealed will. Even so, however, that knowledge on its own simply guarantees that one who possesses it is more guilty for not acting upon that kno ...
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