K:JNWTS 32/1 (May 2017): 23-52
Since we have already delineated Jewett's flat eschatology in the first two parts of our book review on his Romans commentary, we will not lay this out again in great detail. Instead, our rehearsal of Jewett's comments on the text will be more random in nature, commenting on points that seemed interesting to us or which seem to require special attention. However, Jewett clearly continues his flat eschatological program in these chapters as he focuses on the horizontal, to the relative neglect of its grounding in the vertical transcendent kingdom of God, now semi-realized. Thus, in chapter 13, he focuses on our horizontal relationship to the state; in chapter 14, on horizontal relationships within the church; in chapter 15, on the horizontal nature of redemptive history and the mission of Paul; and in chapter 16, on horizontal relationships within the church once again.
In response to this primarily horizontal focus, our own exposition of these chapters will seek to unveil their necessary connection to the greater manifestation of God's righteousness as it has now occurred in Christ. This semi-eschatological fulfillment implies that the present manifestation of the kingdom of God is transcendent in relative contrast to the Jewish economy in which God's kingdom was partially shadowed forth in an earthly arena. In this way, our own exposition of Romans 14-16 will serve as our primary response to Jewett's flat eschatology and overall approach to these chapters. Still, more can be said than we will say on the transcendent nature of the kingdom and its relationship to the life of the church in light of the revelation of the righteousness of God. This is the revelation of the righteousness of God in the arena of heaven— of peace and joy in Christ before his heavenly throne and this is to jointly express itself in the life of the church who are all raised with him in heavenly places. It is this already of the kingdom in the Spirit in union with Christ that gives us the hope for its fullest manifestation in the age to come. This should be kept in mind as we will focus more on how these chapters are connected to the semi-eschatological fulfillment of the prophets in the greater manifestation of the righteousness of God that has now occurred in redemptive history. For the reader and preacher of these chapters, this understanding of this historical manifestation must always be connected to the transcendent life of heaven before God in Christ, whose heavenly glory—righteousness, peace, liberty and joy—have been more fully manifested "now" in Christ.
Also, because of the space needed for this argument, we will not deal in detail with Romans 13. While our review of Jewett ends with this issue, God willing, we will write a separate article on Romans 13 later, showing the implications of manifestation of the righteousness of God for its exposition. In addition, because of the more detailed approach needed to argue our point in these chapters, we will begin our exposition in Romans 15, and show how these insights reflect back on chapter 14, finally concluding with the latter half of Romans 15 and with Romans 16. As a result, we will need to put our own argument for the interpretation of all these chapters together. Thus, we will present chosen points from Jewett's commentary first, one chapter after another (Romans 13, 14, 15, 16), followed by our own interpretation of Romans 14-16. We begin below with some of Jewett's points.
Jewett presents some interesting historical background to this chapter in light of the Roman context. In that context, Romans 13 suggests that Paul is not in favor of various forms of political dissidents. Paul assures the members of the Roman church that are in the Roman government that his mission to Spain is not to be a disruption of their government. According to Jewett, Romans 13 contrasts Paul's view of government to the Roman view. It is God (not Jupiter or Saturn) that has power in the state and establishes the state. Thus, Paul does not have a redemptive view of the state (the messianic Roman view). Paul's state is non-redemptive. Also, Rome does not receive power because of her unique virtue, but by God's appointment. However, Jewett claims that Roman Christians would have only been concerned about the state of their own time, not that of Christians off into the distant future. Thus, Romans 13 does not deal with that. Jewett suggests the following historical context: "By conversing with a fearful believer with a different profile than conversation partners and interlocutors earlier in the letter, Paul appeals to congregations with close ties to the government that harbored concerns that his project would entail public disturbances like those in his earlier career" (793) in Acts (that they would have heard about, 2 Cor. 6:5; 11:25). Paul tells fearful Christians how to avoid confrontation with the authorities. He also wants the assistance of Christians in public office for his mission to Spain. In this, Jewett thinks Paul does not rightly assess the evil potentials of the government—the later Neronian persecutions.
Without accepting this last statement, it is possible to consider Jewett's suggestions for the historical context while nonetheless arguing that Paul's discussion of the state has continuing validity for the church and state today. Since we will argue that the greater manifestation of the righteousness of God (which is significant for the entire semi-eschatological period) provides the context for Romans 13, we believe Paul's statements about the civil authorities continue in force today. We live in the same redemptive-historical period as Paul with respect to our relationship to the state.
Jewett lays out some other interesting historical background. The Spanish paid tributary taxes. Paul's mission has nothing to do with a tax revolt. This would be reassuring to churches containing Roman officials.
Again, Jewett has some interesting historical background for Romans 14 as he points out the context to some of the distinctions between clean and unclean. Commenting on Paul's concern of sinning against the brother and causing the brother to perish for whom Christ died, Jewett says that the verb used is a present imperative, which implies an on-going process rather than a once and for all being lost before God. Of course, Jewett is a Universalist.
The "weak" eat only kosher food. Here Paul is talking about food eaten at a love feast, according to Jewett. Paul also uses a present rather than aorist imperative when he speaks of destroying the weak. Thus, Paul is speaking of a sustained continuous action of ruining someone, that is, to continue to ruin them. Therefore, the idea of eschatological ruin overlooks the tense of the verb and the present effects of violation of conscience. The implication of this is that immortality equals destruction. But does Paul really use it in this way?
"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of…." is used to connect this with previous verses. The kingdom of God is not an unimportant theme in Paul as some assume. The use of a formal thesis in this verse and its similarity to 1 Corinthians 4:20 shows its importance. The kingdom of God is the church realm where Christ reigns, manifesting salvation in the form of the righteousness of God. However, Jewett does not point out that the kingdom is the fruition of the previous chapters—think of chapter 10 "our God reigns". Jewett also misses the broader context when he notes that Paul is countering the superiority claims among the individuals in the church, but he does not point out that this is a result of the mercies of God (chapters 1-11).
For Jewett, the background to not eating meat should consider the following: in Rome, pork was the most usual meat consumed by the poor, often distributed at religious festivals. Since the week eat only kosher food and little meat was available besides unclean pork, they generally ate only vegetables. Jewett is suggesting a background here in which the phrase "eats only vegetables" does not imply that Paul is dealing with meat sacrificed to idols, as in 1 Corinthians 10. On the other hand, Jewett suggests that Daniel's not eating meat was an ascetic practice, based on eschatological dualism (Daniel 10:3; 1:10-16). We think it more likely that the unclean meat (unclean according to the Mosaic law) in Babylon accounted for Daniel's demur. Paul identifies with both the weak and the strong. For Jewett, the weak can now act independently, not just the powerful.
Jewett also claims that the up-building of the church is corporate, not individual. But we ask how can one build up the corporate apart from building up the individuals that make up the corporate group?
For Jewett, when Paul quotes the OT in Romans 15, he is bringing Scripture to bear on the present situation irrespective of its original meaning in the OT. We strongly disagree. While we will not deal with the passages quoted in Romans 15:9-12 in their context (for the sake of space), in giving our own understanding of Romans 14-15 below, we will suggest how other OT passages quoted by Paul in Romans shed light on his message. We believe a comparable evaluation of the passages Paul quotes in Romans 15:9-12 yields similar fruit.
In commenting on Paul's statement "that we might have hope," Jewett suggests that this is the hope in the conversion of the nations—that they may all be saved at the eschaton. But we ask is this not primarily eschatological even if the conversion of the nations may be in anticipation of the eschatological future? On Romans 15:7-13 ("confirm the truth of God"), Jewett shows how many of its themes (truth, promises, faith, etc.) go back earlier in the letter. Here Paul quotes passages from all three divisions of the Hebrew Scriptures. He uses paronomasia to fuse the pericope of peace together. The glory of God goes back to the previous pericope (9a and 9b). Hope also goes back to the previous pericope. These carefully crafted rhetorical devices give it effective eloquence.
Jewett thinks welcoming one another refers to the weak and strong welcoming one another and doing so in the sacramental love feasts. Jewett also states that when Paul says Christ accepted you, he accepted you as his enemies—an echo of the earlier part of the letter. This seems like an interesting insight in lieu of God's mercy—the theme found throughout this book (as seen in Rom. 12:1).
There is no instance of a double meaning in classical Greek and biblical parallels. Thus Jewett says that truth does not equal faithfulness as others claim. We believe this is true, but it is more than that. In the book of Romans, a biblical parallel includes a richness of meaning. But Jewett claims truth cannot have more than one connotation and opts for "establish" saying that the Spanish mission will establish the promises of God to Gentiles. Still, Jewett has at least two meanings—establish and Gentiles.
We think the truth of God has several connotations that intersect. Truth is primarily eschatological. Romans 1 associates truth with eternal life. It includes God's faithfulness to his promises to bring the eschatological salvation (now semi-realized), one in which there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. Thus, it confirms God's promises made to the fathers—salvation to the nations, as Abraham was promised the world (Rom. 4:13).
Jewett claims that the Christological interpretation of Psalm 18:49 ("I will praise you among the Gentiles") is not convincing. He gives the following reasons: First, Christ was in the third person, but now we have the first person used. Second, Christ did not preach to the Gentiles during his lifetime.
Thus, Jewett concludes that "I" is the Christian evangelist (Paul), the same "I" of Romans 15:8-9. We believe Jewett has missed the richness of Paul's identity with Christ here. The "I" here is Paul in union with Christ—Christ who preaches the gospel to the nations in his resurrection (possibly implied in Rom. 10). One may ask, do we see a similarity here to what Geerhardus Vos discusses in the "Eschatology of the Psalter" (Appendix to The Pauline Eschatology) describing the way in which David projects himself into the eschatological future when he calls all nations to come? In this Psalm, Paul identifies himself with the resurrected Christ to come who will call all nations to himself from heaven. And Paul himself thinks of Christ preaching to the Gentiles in 1 Timothy 3:16 (preached among the Gentiles, raised into glory).
Jewett is right to point out that the shoot of David as Messiah is not a form of despotism (we might say Jewish or otherwise) since it refers back to Christ as "servant". Thus, the Gentiles will hope in him (as we see it, not simply fear him with a servile fear). Jewett rightly points out that this could only happen (i.e., hope for the Gentiles and the Spanish mission) if Paul's message is one stripped of Jewish political messianism.
According to Jewett, the kingdom of God joins the church with the whole creation (Rom. 8:25) and joins the church's liturgies with angelic creatures who rejoice and praise around the throne of God, which involves heavenly peace. This seems like a good note, but what does Jewett mean by it? We think Paul has a heavenly orientation to worship, but one that is semi-eschatological and invisible, not one involving liturgies associated with visible glory in worship. We also take issue with Jewett's association of the kingdom with this creation, insofar as he seems to view the kingdom as a bare restitution of the first pristine creation, now universalized. Our arguments later on the justification of God's name in redemptive history imply the transcendent nature of the kingdom.
Jewett has some interesting suggestions as to how Romans 15 reverses Romans 1, as noted in several contrasting phrases. For instance, "full of goodness" reverses "full of envy, murder and strife" (Rom. 1:29). Also, "filled with every kind of knowledge" reverses filled with every manner of evil, greed, etc. (Rom. 1:29). (Jewett also suggested something else is reversed here, i. e., the hierarchical elements of the Greco-Roman world.) This we find interesting, since we do believe that the worship of the Gentiles in Romans 15:8-13 is a reversal of their idolatry in Romans 1:18-32, as we will spell out later.
When Paul says he has a priestly function, Jewett says this is not a recollection of institutional priests. Instead, it accords with Romans 13:6, referring to a public functionary of the city, who provides remuneration without a particular role. Gentiles once in the distance are now brought near to a sacrifice, the priestly offering reminding us of Romans 12:1, the sacrifice acceptable to God
Jewett is right to point out that the "Spirit" is he in whom the exalted Lord is present. Also for Jewett, signs and wonders indicate that Paul is in continuity with the first Exodus. We would add that signs and wonders among the nations authenticate the semi-eschatological age, for Paul is an ambassador to the nations during the semi-eschatological time.
Jewett does some interesting things with geography in this chapter. He uses ancient maps to elucidate Paul's statement "from Jerusalem to Illyricum". Illyricum is on a circle from Jerusalem. The arc encircles the world. In Jerusalem, Paul shared his message (Acts 15). Jewett suggests that Paul was in Illyricum for two months in the summer and fall of 56 A.D. This was after meeting with Titus who is associated with Dalmatia in Illyricum (2 Tim. 4:10) and just before his final winter in Corinth where Romans was written.
What were Paul's hindrances (v. 22)? Jewett suggests that they were several imprisonments and his troubles in the churches (Philemon 14). Paul postponed plans to deliver the Jerusalem offering. He had extensive travel plans such as an abortive trip to Corinth and an anxious trip to Troas to find Titus concerning the Corinthian church. Jewett interestingly connects Paul's hope to go to Spain with his desire to preach the gospel to the uttermost ends of the earth. To substantiate this, he points out that Spain (the Straits of Gibraltar) was considered the ends of the world in the Roman Mediterranean cultures of the time. "Send on my way" (v. 24) is also almost a technical term for provisioning someone at least part of the way on a trip.
We also find Tartessos (Jewett calls this "Tarshish", p. 924), near the Straits of Gibraltar, associated with the ends of the earth. The association of Tarshish near the Straits of Gibraltar with the ends of the earth is also found in Psalm 71:8, 10 in the LXX (72:8, 10, English). "From Euphrates to the end of the earth may kings of Tarshish and the isles give him gifts." Tarshish is also found in Isaiah 66:19 (cf. "offering of the Gentiles", Rom. 15:16).
Jewett presents an interesting reconstruction of Paul's travel plans with the Jerusalem offering, claiming that Paul only had the Macedonian funds when he wrote Romans. For Paul was still waiting for the Achaean funds, which had already been collected. Sometimes one gets the impression that Jewett attributes to Paul almost a post-millennial fervor (which we deny, for this would not fit with the apostle's view of the already and not yet manifestation of the righteousness of God).
According to Jewett, in Romans 15:13 we find the final proof of such a post-millennial (our words, not Jewett's) fervor. The theme he gives this is the conversion of the whole world. For Jewett, Paul's hopes for the Jerusalem offering, visit to Rome, and subsequent mission to Spain remain unfulfilled. However, this is questionable. Though Paul may have been hindered for a time in coming to Spain through his imprisonment in Jerusalem and in Rome, there is every reason to believe that he later made his trip to Spain, returning to the Aegean afterwards—perhaps during the crisis of the church during Nero's persecution. It is at this time that he was beheaded, according to tradition.
As for the term "the God of peace" (16:20), Jewett makes this horizontal only, referring back to Romans 1:6-7 and suggesting that it is simply peace among all believers. While we agree that there is a horizontal element of this peace that has to do with peace among the brethren (Jew and Gentile alike), we think that this once again is centered in the vertical relationship of the people of God to the transcendent kingdom of Christ. As we noted in our previous reviews of Jewett, we believe the transcendent provides the ground and necessity for the horizontal. We are not simply left to the horizontal, as in Jewett's interpretation of Romans. This vertical relationship of peace that we are suggesting in "the God of peace" is further substantiated in Romans 5—we have peace with God. This is vertical primarily and is part and parcel of an eschatological triumph in Christ, now semi-realized. As a result of this, there is peace among those in Christ Jesus, in his church—a peace that brings union between Jew and Gentile alike. Thus, with Paul's semi-eschatological teaching of the justification of God in redemptive history in Christ Jesus and the justification of his people in him now (fully manifested at this time), God has brought about a new peace between Jews and Gentiles in Christ Jesus. (We will expand on this further in our comments on the text below.)
Jewett views Romans 16 as the peroratio. In this we believe he is correct. He also rightly points out that Phoebe is described as a "patroness". According to Jewett, she alone is the patroness of the Spanish mission. As a result, the churches of Rome are not financially burdened. Instead, according to Jewett, the church is to help Phoebe with logistics and translators necessary for the Spanish mission. In this way, the churches are only advisers and supporters of Phoebe and Paul's mission.
As his commentary begins with an intriguing amount of historical material, so it ends with excellent historical sketches of those Paul greets. If anyone doubts this, she should read Jewett's description of Prisca and Aquila. At the same time, many (more knowledgeable than the reviewer on this point) will take issue with Jewett's assessment of Junias—one that is becoming common among NT scholars, especially following Richard Bauckham, who argued that the Greek does not mean highly noted among the apostles. Jewett takes the view that Junias was a female apostle because the Greek word for "among" is used to distinguish one from others of the same class. Along with others, he quotes Chrysostom (who spoke Greek) to the effect that Junias was an apostle. This passage in Romans could possibly use more work in its redemptive-historical context since on this interpretation this text would present a unique instance of a female apostle in the NT and would suggest that there were other apostles besides the twelve and Paul himself. On the other hand, there is no evidence in the historical writings of the NT (the Gospels and Acts) for women apostles. Even when the church elected a new apostle, after the death of Judas, they chose from among men rather than Jesus' female companions. This causes serious problems for the present popular interpretation of Romans 16:7 among NT scholars. And very fine articles exist in response to this interpretation, which the reviewer has not had time to peruse.
Yet even if one were to grant (for the sake of argument) that Junias was an apostle, this would not prove that women should be ordained to the office of teaching elder (as many conclude), any more than the existence of prophetesses during the NT period (Acts 21:9) argues for this point. For Paul's pastoral epistles (which give the responsibility of the office of pastor/elder to men) present us with the form of government for the church to follow from then on and after the close of the apostolic age. (Of course, many in the higher critical gild do not believe that Paul wrote the pastoral epistles and that is one way they get out of this argument.)
Certainly, in the case of prophetesses, it is reasonable to argue that they were unique intrusions of the future heavenly reality where there is no distinction between male and female, just as their supernatural prophetic gifts were unique intrusions of the future. This accords with the fact that the apostolic age was an age of miraculous acts and supernatural revelation, which were intrusions of the future age of resurrection in the present visible arena, in which the resurrection body will reverse all sickness, blindness, lameness, etc. That is, the existence of prophetesses was an intrusion in the visible arena of that which is now true in the church with regard to the invisible inheritance above; there is no distinction between male and female when it comes to possessing this inheritance even now (Gal. 3: 28-29). This could also explain Deborah's role in Judges 5, she being an anticipation of the age to come. Interestingly, the pastoral epistles, which present us with the continuing order of the church, do not discuss the establishment of prophets in the church and in them the language of miracle is notably absent.
The above must be balanced with several other observations. In the gospels, Jesus implied that those having office in the church should not think of their office as one conferring upon them worldly dignity. They are not to rule like the Gentiles who Lord it over their people. Instead, they are servants of the church. As servants, while they are to be treated with dignity, they are not given a status above others in the church, whether women or men. In accord with this, Paul gives special recognition to women in Romans 16, calling on the church to greet more women than men and noting them with honor. They are of equal status with men in Christ Jesus in the church. The thought that women are of less dignity in the church since they are not ordained to office is akin to the mistaken exaltation of the clergy over the laity—according a higher status in Christ to the clergy over against the laity. Since this is not the case, it follows that a class (men), who might be called into the office, certainly have no higher status in Christ than women in Christ. Paul also extols women for their Christian deeds just as much as the men. Paul's very teaching of the peace that God brings in the church calls the church to recognize this and is at odds with all forms of clerical superiority.
Jewett rejects the conclusion of this letter (vv. 25-27) as an addition put in by a later redactor. One theological reason he gives is that in it Paul refers to "all nations" (v. 26) rather than the union of Jew and Gentiles. He thinks the latter option would have been a more fitting conclusion to the earlier issues of the letter. However, our later assessment of the theme of the righteousness of God (and the beginning of this letter) suggests that "all nations" is a fitting conclusion to Romans.
In reflecting back on Jewett's overall approach in his commentary on Romans 13-16, we suggest once again that he focuses too much on the horizontal aspects of the text. This is partially due to the fact that he neglects the vertical manifestation of the kingdom of God in Christ Jesus in the glorification of God's name. He thereby fails to see that even the horizontal elements of the text are grounded in this new semi-eschatological reality. At points Jewett does glimpse the eschatological (and we can appreciate him for what he does give us). Unfortunately, however, he ultimately flattens it to the horizontal dimension. In the light of the history of interpretation of these chapters, it may be right to have some sympathy with him here, as the history of interpretation has not often helped us understand the eschatological dimension of them. We feel our own weakness here as well, but Jewett does not attempt to understand these passages (with the possible exception of some glimmers in his comments on the kingdom of God in Rom. 14) in a way that transcends the earthly and cultural agenda that he supports elsewhere in his commentary. However, we hope to show below that the greater manifestation of the righteousness of God that has now occurred in Christ stands behind all that Paul says in Romans 14-16. It is this semi-eschatological fulfillment of the OT prophetic promises that brings us beyond the former manifestation of God's kingdom in an earthly arena. It thereby reveals the truly transcendent nature of God's kingdom come to its fullest manifestation in redemptive history.
In presenting our own reflections on Romans 14 to 16 in detail, we have decided to expound our argument in a logical rather than chronological sequence. That is, since we presuppose elements of our exegesis in chapter 15 for chapters 14, 13 and 16, we thought it best to lay out things in this order. While we will make occasional references to Romans 13, for the sake of space, a detailed exposition of that chapter will have to await another time outside the confines of our Jewett review. Nonetheless, one will gather from what is said below that that chapter must also be interpreted in the light of the greater manifestation of the righteousness of God that has come with the accomplishment of Christ's work in history, for it sits between Romans 1-12 and 14-16, all of which are dependent on that theme.
It may be wondered, if Paul presupposed chapter 15 in chapters 13 and 14, why did he not present the material in that order? Our answer is that the justification of God's name in redemptive history had already been laid out by Paul in Romans 1-11. It is, therefore, implicit in Romans 13 and especially Romans 14, even though the more explicit language connecting it to Romans 15 is only gradually unfolded in that chapter. This is not unlike Paul's other presentations of eschatology in which some of his central convictions are only progressively unfolded within his epistle. Think of the significant statement in 1 Corinthians 10, that the end of the ages has come upon us (v. 11). Yet, the general eschatological framework of which this is an example is already implicit in chapter 1 and laid out more clearly in chapter 2, where we have the wisdom of the rulers of this age (1 Cor. 2:6, 8) in implicit contrast to the wisdom of the age to come in the cross through the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:7-16).
Here we begin by arguing that Romans 15:7-13 picks up the theme of the justification of God in redemptive history found earlier in this epistle (see our two earlier reviews of Jewett's commentary on Romans). In our discussion of Romans 2, we argued that one of the prophetic backgrounds of Paul's statement "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you" is the prophet Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 36:20ff, God tells Israel that he will take them out of exile and bring them into their promised inheritance forever in order to glorify his name, which has been blasphemed among the nations. When had it been blasphemed among the nations? It would seem that even though some of the nations knew that people were judged because the Lord was disciplining them for their sins, others among the nations believed that the Lord was weak because he could not defend his people and keep them from being oppressed by their enemies. The Lord had attached his own name to his people by way of covenant. He was the God of Israel. The surrounding nations had a similar point of view with respect to their own gods. The glory of their god was attached to the glory of their kingdom. As nations would go to war, their god would go before them, leading them into battle and fighting for them. Thus, it would appear that the nations who conquered worshiped a more powerful god (one who gave them victory) than the nations that they dispossessed. It seemed to the surrounding nations that the Lord God of Israel was not powerful enough to deliver his people. And one who is not powerful enough could not keep his promises. He could provide no justice, peace or hope for his people. This brought shame upon the name of God as the children of Israel were scattered among the nations.
Thus, God had determined to reverse the situation and bring glory to his name forever, as the God above all gods, finally victorious with an eschatological triumph that was irreversible. In order to do this, we suggested that God had resolved an apparent dilemma. On the one hand, he had to judge the sin of his people. On the other hand, he had to do this in such a way that they would not be vanquished by their enemies, but possess their heavenly inheritance forever. It was necessary for God to judge the sins of his people and the exile was a visible display of God's justice even to the righteous among Israel. (While the apostates in Israel were truly under God's curse, saints such as Daniel were externally [though not truly] under the curses of the covenant, as Daniel remarks in Daniel 9.) How would God resolve this dilemma and glorify his name among the nations forever? Paul found this answer in the death of Christ who bore the curse of the law in its entirety and, having satisfied it, was justified in his resurrection. Now his people would live in the promised inheritance of the Spirit forever. And even though this awaited its full manifestation in the general resurrection to come, it was manifested even now in the union of God's people with Christ in heaven. The resurrection of Christ in the giving forth of his Spirit at Pentecost is therefore truly a fulfillment of what was prophesied in Ezekiel 36. And even though saints like Paul are cast out among the nations and suffer under the hands of evil men, in Christ they may bear this suffering, not as a sign of God's curse, but in assurance that they are so firmly participants in the heavenly inheritance that nothing men do to them can take them from it.
Paul had already presented this fulfillment as a result of God being true to his promises. We argued that Romans 2:7-8 presents "truth" with eschatological overtones, indicating that even in natural revelation we have a display of the eschatological end of creation (Rom. 1:18, 25). In redemption God will bring the eschatological truth which the nations have rejected. Thus, when we find Paul saying, "let God be found true, though every man a liar," we have good reason to see in this eschatological overtones, those in which God is faithful (Rom. 3:3) to his promises. The background for this is already presented in Romans 2:24 with the quotation from Ezekiel 36:20ff and Isaiah 52:5. Thus, we have reason to interpret Paul's quotation of Psalm 116:11 (Rom. 3:4) in light of this. Even though God was judged by the nations and his name was put to shame, he has now prevailed in Jesus Christ. Therefore, he has been justified in his words. This is the semi-eschatological display of the truth of God. And it will reverse all the lying words of men (Rom. 3:13, 14), so that they will worship God for his glory which he has now revealed among the nations.
This connects us to Romans 15:7-13. For there, Christ has become a servant on behalf of the truth of God to confirm God's promises. And these promises to the fathers were expanded in the prophets as Paul's quotations from the Psalms and Isaiah make clear in Romans 15:9-12 ("as it is written", 15:9). Thus, we have here a fulfillment of the prophetic promises to which Paul implicitly alludes in Romans 2 and 3 and which frames this epistle (Rom. 1:2 and 16:26). This involves the display of God's righteousness (Rom. 3:25-26; 1:17) in which God has justified his name among the Gentiles. That is, he has done this so that he might be just and display his justice (Rom. 3:26). And in the display of this justice, his people have been justified in him in Jesus Christ (3:26). This has resulted in the Gentiles being equally called the people of God (Rom. 3:29) in a way that they were not called his people under the old covenant. Thus, God is now the God of Gentiles equally with the God of the Jews, whereas under the old covenant he was only considered most fully the God of the Jews. This was the case notwithstanding the privileges of aliens and strangers and the occasional inclusion of some Gentiles in the Jewish line (i.e., Ruth) as a foretaste of the age to come. Thus, in redemptive history, God has manifested his justice more fully in the actual accomplishment of Christ's work, and he has more fully manifested justification of his people as a result.
In this way, God has accomplished what he promised to the prophets (including Ezekiel and Isaiah). He has displayed his justice finally in fullness in history in Christ. Thus, he has satisfied the curse which his people justly deserved. He has raised them to the heavenly land forevermore. This should bring praise and honor to his name among the Gentiles, for now they are truly impelled to confess: "what god among the nations is like the Lord, almighty and victorious forevermore?" Thus, by the grace of God they sing praises to his great name (Rom. 15:9), and rejoice in him (Rom. 15:10) as he rules over them (15:12, a nice reversal of the nations ruling over his people in exile).
A key way in which Paul describes God (insofar as he has justified his name among the nations) is "the God of hope". This phrase is clearly connected with the glorification of God in Christ found in 15:9-12. Paul indicates this connection by the use of God (who is to be glorified, 15:9) with "rejoice", the response of the Gentiles (15:10). This is followed by the parallel "God of hope" with "joy" (15:13). Paul implies that when God justifies his name the Gentiles rejoice. Thus, Paul wishes for the Romans that this same "God of hope" may fill them with joy. As a result, Paul uses the phrase "God of hope" in parallel with God, insofar as he has justified his name in Christ. It is this glorification of God that provides hope for the future of his people.
But why does Paul use the phrase "God of hope" to describe this? Why not simply say the God who gives hope? We believe this "God of" language reflects a covenant relationship. It expresses the greater manifestation of God's covenant relationship with his people now that the prophecies of Isaiah and Ezekiel have been fulfilled semi-eschatologically.
To spell this out, we now consider this ascription that ties together the various sections of Romans 15 and 16. In each case (Rom. 15:5, 13, 33; 16:20), it is not the same ascription applied to God, but the same kind of phrase is used. It is the "God of x" where some ascription of God is plugged in the x spot. Thus, we find "the God of perseverance and comfort" (15:5), "the God of hope" (15:13), and "the God of peace" (15:33; 16:20). We believe this is similar to what we have when God says, "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Ex. 3:6; 1 Kg. 18:36). In this statement, God describes himself as the one who is in covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This fits with Jesus' interpretation of this expression. From this "God of" language, Jesus argues that God is not the God of the dead but of the living (Matt. 22:32). In this way, he makes it clear that this phrase describes the relationship God has with those whom he redeems and that relationship is described in terms of the covenant. Paul himself uses this language of the covenant relationship between God and his people in Romans 3:29, "or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes of Gentiles also." Even though the italicized words in this translation (NASB) are an insertion, they truly represent the sense of the text. This can even be seen by an English reader. When we take away the italicized words the same sense essentially remains. It is the language of covenant.
Again, my suggestion is that when God describes himself as the "God of comfort", the "God of hope", and the "God of peace", he is expressing his relationship to his people insofar as he is related to them in these last days. That is, in their fullest import these phrases describe God insofar as he is related to his people in the new covenant. He has become to us a God of comfort, a God of hope and a God of peace in a new way at this point in redemptive history. In this way, he gives his people semi-eschatological comfort, hope and peace as a result of fulfilling the prophetic promises of the OT. As we will see, these things result from God justifying his name in redemptive history. In this, he has become their righteousness, comfort, perseverance, hope and peace. He is the eschatological refuge for his people and he has now most fully revealed that in redemptive history. For Paul, no less than for Hebrews, God himself and his arena is the source, life and goal of the eschatological hope, now semi-realized.
The covenant relationship between God and his people that lies behind this "God of" language fitly expresses the fulfillment of God's covenant promises. It is this fulfillment which forms the backdrop of the justification of God's name in redemptive history. In this way, this "God of" language is appropriately tied to the fact that God justified his name in the death and resurrection of Christ.
This connection to Christ's resurrection is further unfolded in the other "God of" language found in Romans 15:6. Here God is described as the "God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ". We find in this language that God is the "God . . . of" Jesus Christ in his Lordship. While this language ultimately has reference to the fact that God the Father has eternally been the Father of the Son, we believe that Paul is here suggesting that Christ's relationship as Son to the Father has been more fully revealed in his resurrection. This is suggested by the way in which Paul elsewhere uses the "God of" language in this chapter, as we have described above. It also fits with the manifestation of Christ's sonship in his resurrection at the beginning of Romans (1:4).
This expresses the covenant relationship God the Father has with the resurrected Christ, as mediator. That is, he refers to Christ, insofar as he has been "declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead" (Rom. 1:4). When Paul here refers to "Lord Jesus Christ", he is thinking of Jesus Christ in his resurrected state. He is the Lord Jesus Christ in a new way. Paul has made this connection between the Lordship of Christ and his resurrection earlier in Romans 10:9. He speaks about confessing with your mouth Jesus as Lord. This is sandwiched in between a discussion of Christ's resurrection in Romans 10:6-8 and the words "God raised him from the dead" (10:9). This suggests that for Paul the confession of Jesus as Lord is most fully associated with (though not exhausted in) Christ's resurrection. The mediator has become "Lord" now in greater fullness than he was in his earthly state. Just as Jesus Christ has become Lord in a new way, so God has entered into greater covenant communion with the mediator in his resurrection state. God has become the "God of" our Lord Jesus Christ—God has entered into a fuller covenant relationship with the mediator in his resurrection. It is through the resurrection of Christ that God is the "God of peace" and the "God of hope" and the "God of comfort" to believers, because in the resurrection God has become the God of the resurrected Christ. He has become the Father of the resurrected Christ in a new way. Therefore, he gives those who believe the comfort and the hope and the peace that comes from the resurrection of their Savior.
The covenant associations of this phrase "God of hope" also present us with a relative contrast to the exilic period. During that time, the fact that God was a God of hope to his people was somewhat eclipsed by the fact that the people had gone into exile and were separated from the land of promise. Even leading up to the exile, Isaiah could speak about Israel's sin (Isa. 58:1) leading to the loss of hope (59:9, 11). The righteous Isaiah also identifies with the people ("our transgression . . . and our sins testify against us," 59:12), implying that he experiences this situation as less than the full revelation of God's provision of hope.
The nations also taunted that God does not appear to be all-powerful. As a result, how is he able to provide hope for his people? How can he give them hope for the future? Now that God has justified his name in redemptive history and manifested his great power in the resurrection of Christ, he has provided the historical proof and ground for everlasting hope. He has demonstrated that he (not the gods of the nations) is the God of hope. He (as the God of his people) is the God of hope. In covenant with his people, he gives them eschatological hope.
As for the Gentiles, they were not his people and were without hope in the world. They were completely cut off from the presence of God. Now their situation has been absolutely reversed in this exultation of God's name among the nations. As a result, God has given all Gentiles who believe in him eternal hope.
It is this language ("God of hope" and "God of peace") which implicitly casts its light upon Romans 14 (and from there Rom. 12-13) that helps us to see how even these chapters are to some extent governed by the theme of the justification of God's name in redemptive history. This should not be surprising to us since chapters 12-16 are introduced with the phrase "I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God" (12:1). In other words, we are to view chapters 12-16 as flowing out of the mercy of God insofar as it has been revealed in chapters 1-11. And a central theme of those chapters was the "righteousness of God", also found in the thesis statement of this letter (1:17).
When we come to Romans 14, we hope to show how the language of the "God of hope" and "God of peace" casts its shadow back on that chapter. But before we do that, we need to set the stage more fully. We will do so by considering two things. First, we have mentioned Isaiah above together with Ezekiel, and some readers may be questioning the prominence of the righteousness of God as we have interpreted it because they recognize that Isaiah is quoted far more often in Romans than Ezekiel. Thus, we hope to show that Isaiah understood the righteousness of God in a similar way to Ezekiel. This also sets us up for Paul's quote from Isaiah in Romans 14:11. Second, we will expand the redemptive historical significance of Paul's use of "accept" and "acceptable" in Romans and its connection to the righteousness of God in Romans 15. This will help us see further how the righteousness of God forms the background for Paul's discussion in Romans 14.
We have elucidated the justification of God in redemptive history in terms of the book of Ezekiel (Ezek. 36:20-32) in part 1 of our review of Jewett, as the quotation from Romans 2:24 may be taken from there. While it is true that Ezekiel 20:8-9, 13-14 and 21-22 indicates that God poured out his wrath on Israel for his own name sake, it is also clear Ezekiel 36:22 and 32 indicates that God will reverse Israel's exile for his own name sake. The book of Isaiah presents a similar theme, but from Isaiah's point of view. Being more prominent in Romans, Isaiah probably serves as the primary background for Paul's recognition of eschatological fulfillment in Christ. Isaiah 52 and the beginning of Isaiah 53 are clearly prominent in Romans, indicated by the quotations Paul makes from this section of Isaiah (Isa. 52:5 in Rom. 2:24; Isa. 52:7 in Rom. 10:15; Isa. 52:15 in Rom. 15:21; and Isa. 53:1 in Rom. 10:16). In Isaiah 52, we find a similar theme to that of Ezekiel 36:21-32 in which God's name is blasphemed among the nations (v. 5). What is explicit in Ezekiel 36:22 and 32, that God will save his people for his own name sake, is at the very least implicit in the next verse (Isa. 52:6). In it God says, "therefore my people shall know my name; therefore in that day I am the one who is speaking, ‘Here I am'". Isaiah 52:9-10 clearly makes this ("my people shall know my name") an eschatological projection in which God will implicitly save his people for his own glory. There God will redeem his people from slavery to their enemies by redeeming Jerusalem and thereby comforting his people (52:9). In this way, the Lord will "bare his holy arm in the sight of all nations" so that "all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God" (52:10). In baring his holy arm before all nations, Isaiah is suggesting that this will resound to the glory of God among the nations of the earth. Isaiah then asks, "To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" (53:1). That is, the arm of the Lord is the power of God revealed in the saving work. This is revealed in the message of the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16)—to the ends of the earth (Isa. 52:10). As a result, by quoting Isaiah 52:7, Paul suggests that the message of the good news is that "your God reigns!" (Isa. 52:7 in Rom. 10:15). Thus, Isaiah suggests the same theme of the justification of God's name among the nations as Ezekiel, the name that had been "continually blasphemed all day long" (Isa. 52:5) is now exalted in that the Lord "has bared his holy arm in the sight of all nations" (52:10), resulting in the triumph of God—"your God reigns!"(52:7). In this is fulfilled the prophecy that they will "know my name" (Isa. 52:6).
Appropriately then, Paul quotes this section of Isaiah twice in Romans 10:15-16 after discussing the corresponding new manifestation of justification taking place in the new era—an era in which there is no distinction between Jew and Greek now in Christ (Rom. 10:3-13; note especially verse 12). In the same context of Romans, Paul also quotes Isaiah 28:16 in Romans 10:11, "whoever believes in him will not be disappointed." This statement is especially significant in Romans 10:1-10 as it brackets the whole section, also being quoted by Paul in Romans 9:33. Chapter 28 of Isaiah (from which this quote is taken) is more difficult than chapter 52. However, Isaiah does seem to speak of a salvation that will come to the people of God who trust in him in the midst of his judgment and will therefore not be put to shame. This appears to be a reversal of captivity so that "in that day the Lord of hosts will become a beautiful crown and a glorious diadem to the remnant of his people" (Isa. 28:5).
Isaiah also records the story of God's deliverance of Jerusalem in the days of Hezekiah when the Assyrian Rabshakeh taunted saying, "Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their land from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?" (Isa. 36:20). In this, Rabshakeh presents this attempted siege as a battle between the gods of Assyria and the God of Israel. It appears that the God of the nation who is victorious is more powerful than the God of those who are vanquished. This is a direct affront to the glory of the name of the God of Israel and his power. However, in this case God shows his power over the Assyrian gods by sending Rabshakeh away to his death (cf. 2 Chr. 32:21). In this, he shows his own glory in anticipation of the day in which he will bring eschatological deliverance to his people and so glorify his name. In this instance, God has delayed the exile of his people. (It will not be Assyria who vanquishes them but Babylon.) And the salvation anticipates the day in which God will redeem Israel for his own name sake, vanquishing the gods of the nations. This holding back of God's wrath may also anticipate the exile of God's people in which he restrains the full outpouring of his wrath so as not to destroy them in order that they may be redeemed (for his name sake). This appears to be the case in Isaiah 48:9 and 11, where God says, "for the sake of my name I delay my wrath, and for my praise I restrain it for you, in order not to cut you off"; and once again "for my own sake, for my own sake, I will act; for how can my name be profaned? And my glory I will not give to another". Here he ultimately looks ahead to the new Exodus, indicated by the words "go forth from Babylon! Flee from the Chaldeans! Declare with the sound of joyful shouting, proclaim this, send it out to the end of the earth; say, ‘The Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob'" (Isa. 48:20). God will bring about this new Exodus for the glory of his name. The justification of God's name is found in other chapters of Isaiah, especially in Isaiah 45, which we will examine later in connection with Paul's quotation of it in Romans 14:11.
As we have seen, this justification of God's name in redemptive history brings mercy to the Gentiles so that they have become acceptable to God (Rom. 15:16). Paul states in Romans 15:7, "wherefore accept one another just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God". What is this? Why does God's acceptance of us bring him glory? One answer that can be given to this is the theme of the justification of God's name in redemptive history. We have already seen how this central theme in Romans has backgrounds in Isaiah and Ezekiel. God has made his people semi-eschatologically acceptable. That is, he has reversed the situation of the exile in which his people were cast off overshadowing the full display of God's acceptance of his people. They had been cast aside. However, the prophets predicted that God would reverse the situation and bring his people into his inheritance forever and ever. He would show his people to be fully acceptable in his sight by bringing them into the everlasting inheritance. There they would be brought close to the Lord. During the exile, the people of God were cast from the promised land and this land was a sign of God's presence with his people. The visible display of God's curses in the external aspect of the Mosaic covenant dampened the full revelation of his acceptance of his people. They were separated from his presence in the land and the temple that had been destroyed. God will reverse this situation in the eschatological future, in which he will bring his people into the glory land forever and manifest most fully his acceptance of them in the historical accomplishment of the work of Christ. Thus, God will justify his name by manifesting that his people are most fully acceptable in his sight. By bringing his people into their heavenly inheritance, God reverses his display of curse upon the covenant people. He thereby manifests most fully his acceptance of them as possessors of the eschatological inheritance, now semi-realized.
The point is when the people of God were cast from the land under a visible display of the curses of the covenant, this display of curse was a display of non-acceptance. We do not say that this was essentially true of the elect people of God in exile such as Daniel. However, Daniel was covenantally tied by blood to the Jewish people as the visible people of God, many of whom were apostate. To the degree that the curse was manifested upon the covenant people as a whole, their non-acceptance before God was manifested. To put it another way, the full revelation of God's acceptance of them had not yet been fully displayed in redemptive history. This would only come about with the historical death and resurrection of Christ when their present possession of the eternal inheritance above in Christ would be more fully manifested. At that time, their possession of the inheritance would not be clouded with the visible curses of the covenant keeping them from the promised land on earth—a sign of God's disfavor. In this, their experience would differ from the OT saints who, although possessing heavenly inheritance by faith even then (Heb. 11), did not experience the full display of the revelation of this glory while in exile.
Ezekiel and Isaiah had promised that in the future God would justify his own name by bringing his people into the everlasting land. He would do this for the sake of his own name, not for their sake. Thus, when God more fully manifests his acceptance of his people; he justifies his name. As such, God's acceptance of his people at this time in redemptive history manifests the glory of God. He accepts his people for his glory. This fits with what Paul says in Romans 15:7, "accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God". From there Paul goes on to describe the truth of God (15:8) to confirm the promises given to the father's with the justification of God's own name. In this, the Gentiles glorified God for his mercy at this period in redemptive history.
Another indication within the book of Romans that the term "accepted" or "acceptable" is connected to the mercy of God as a revelation of the justification of God's own name in redemptive history is found in the usage Paul makes of it in Romans 12:1. This verse is written in response to the righteousness of God in chapters 1-11. It is written in terms of that righteousness revealed in the mercy of God in the previous chapters. "I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." It is in light of God's mercies revealed in the fullness of the times that we are able to offer up ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God. In other words, in light of the revelation of God's righteousness interconnected with his mercy, we are made acceptable to God in Jesus Christ. This connection between the mercy of God and the language of acceptance is found earlier in Romans 11:15 and its connection with Romans 11:32. Here we have a description of the absolute acceptance of God for those who are reconciled to him in Jesus Christ. And the chapter concludes with this summary—God shutting up "all in disobedience that he might show mercy to all" (11:32). In having mercy, he accepts his people in Jesus Christ. Thus, Romans 12:1 essentially says in light of God's mercy, present your bodies a living sacrifice, acceptable to God. We suggest that if acceptance can be used to describe the mercy of God absolutely (11:15), it can also be used to describe the greater manifestation of mercy found in this new era of redemptive history. Paul had used language of God's mercy in Romans 9 to describe the new Exodus in Christ Jesus, which brought a mercy that was absolute to the Gentiles and a relatively greater manifestation of God's mercy in redemptive history to the Jews. In this new Exodus, he says, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy" (9:15). Then he speaks of making known the riches of his glory upon the "vessels of mercy" (9:23) and uses the prophecy from Hosea to describe this. The language of Hosea 2:23 and 1:10 is that of an eschatological projection looking ahead to the coming age of the kingdom. Its backdrop is Israel's rebellion against God in which she is cast from the land and, relatively speaking, considered "not my people" (Hos. 2:23). God's covenant with her has not been essentially broken off; however, its manifestation has been overshadowed to the point where she has been called "not my people" (Hos. 2:23; Rom. 9:25). Thus, Hosea's eschatological projection of a new day in which those who are not my people would be called my people indicates the new and final eschatological manifestation of God's covenant union with his people come to its own in Christ. That is, there will be a future day in which the people of God will not be cast out from his presence, in which he will bring them into an everlasting land forever—an arena in which they will always be called "my people". This prophecy also relates to the Gentiles in the future insofar as Israel in exile had been identified with the Gentiles who were "not my people". Both together in the future (through a new Exodus) would be "my people". This new Exodus has now been semi-eschatologically revealed through the historical death and resurrection of Christ and the calling of the Gentiles to faith (Rom. 9:25). In this way, the mercy of God in Hosea and Paul describes both an absolute transformation of Gentiles from complete darkness to light as well as a relatively new manifestation of God's mercy to the Jewish people (even the elect among them) in which his mercy would be manifested in a greater way in the future kingdom of God. Thus, Paul can present the mercy of God in terms of a relative newness in redemptive history. As the terms "acceptance", "acceptable" and "accepted by God" are the result of God's mercy, they may also express something relatively new in the history of redemption. We believe this is the case in Romans 12-15 where acceptance refers both to the absolute acceptance of God's people in Christ and the greater manifestation of that acceptance in the new age. Just as the mercy of God in Romans 9 revealed his faithfulness to his word (9:6) and his justice (9:14), so also the acceptance of God in Romans 12-15 is dependent upon the fulfillment of the truth of God (Rom. 15:8) and upon the revelation of God's righteousness in Christ Jesus related to it. And just as the mercy of God in Romans 9 is the result of his power in the new Exodus (9:15, 17), so also the power of God who is able (Rom. 16:25) brings salvation in the power of signs and wonders in the power of the Spirit (15:19).
This brings us back to Romans 15. There we also find that the language of accept and mercy is put together by Paul in Romans 15:7-9 where "accept one another just as Christ accepted us to the glory of God" is then connected with "for the Gentiles to glorify God for his mercy" (15:9). Notice how glory also unites these two verses—accepted us for the glory of God in order to glorify God for his mercy. In this way, we can see that in Romans 15:7 the indicative of the justification of God's name in redemptive history grounds the imperative to accept one another. Accept one another just as God has accepted you for his eschatological glory. Thus, the righteousness of God in the gospel in Christ Jesus (in light of God's mercy, Rom. 12:1) is the ground for the imperatives in Romans 12-16.
This includes the imperative that begins in Romans 12, "present your bodies a living sacrifice" (v. 1). That is, present yourself a living sacrifice in Christ Jesus, the final sacrifice. In this you are presenting yourselves as suffering servants. And this is only possible because God has made us "acceptable" (Rom. 12:1) through his righteousness manifested in Christ. It is because God has more fully manifested his righteousness in redemptive history and semi-eschatologically justified his people that they are not under the curses of the Mosaic covenant in their suffering (even while they may be under God's discipline for a time). As such, in their sufferings for the sake of Christ, it is now more fully manifested that they are acceptable to God. Thus, while we will not comment much on it in this review, it is always to be remembered that it is this manifestation of the righteousness of God that grounds the church's union with the sufferings of Christ. Unlike Christ's own sufferings on earth, the church's resurrection and justification in Christ always precedes sacrificial suffering acceptable to God. It is because of our acceptance in Christ that Christ's sufferings are mirrored in us. This relationship of suffering to acceptance is also implied in Romans 15. "Bear the weaknesses" (v. 1) seems to refer back to Romans 12:1-2, present your bodies as a living sacrifice. That is, bear one another's burdens, which implies some form of suffering. And he connects this suffering with God's acceptance mirrored in us at the end of this section. "Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God" (Rom. 15:7).
The way in which God's righteousness stands behind his acceptance helps us better understand Romans 14. Paul says, "now accept the one who is weak in faith" (v. 1). Once again the exhortation is to accept one another. Thus, the perspective that we have seen in Romans 15 in which the justification of God's name in redemptive history grounds the imperative to accept one another throws its light back upon Romans 14. This is especially seen in Romans 14:3 which says not to judge your brother "because God has accepted him". And Romans 14:18 says he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God. Thus, in chapter 14, Paul encourages us to accept one another (14:1), i.e., the weak in faith especially, and not judge him who eats "for God has accepted him". The note is both on we accepting one another and God accepting him. The acceptance of the brother is grounded in the justification of God's name in Christ and his semi-eschatological justification in him. Thus, the imperative to accept him is grounded in God's righteousness now manifested in Christ.
The justification of God's name in redemptive history can also be seen implicitly in chapter 14 with that chapter's emphasis on the Lordship of Christ. Romans 15:6 will connect the Lordship of Christ with the glorification of God's name which involves God's acceptance. In other words, you are to "be of the same mind" (15:5, i.e., accept one another) so that with "one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (15:6). And this glorification springs from the manifestation of God's righteousness. We have already seen in this context that God is the God of the Lord Jesus Christ in his resurrection. We have also suggested that the implicit "God of" language here is connected to the justification of God's name. In chapter 15, this new reality encourages the unity of the saints (i.e., accepting one another). It also encourages them to glorify the God of Christ the Lord in his resurrection. So the prominence of Christ's Lordship is not surprising in a chapter (14) that is grounded in the revelation of the righteousness of God (Rom. 1-11). Thus, the Lordship of Christ is intimately connected with the justification of God in redemptive history as its background. This connection of Christ's Lordship with the justification of God's name in Romans 14 is reinforced by the significance of the Lordship of Christ in accepting one another. (Of course, we have already noted above the theme of accepting one another in chapter 14.) Christ's Lordship itself is emphasized in 14:9 that Christ "died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living". The Lordship of Christ is also found in that we are not to judge the servant of another (14:4) because to his own master he stands or falls. It is the Lord who is able to make him stand and thus is his master. Thus, Christ's Lordship as the exalted resurrection Lord is the ground for the exhortation not to judge another. So also in 14:6, the one who "observes the day, observes it to the Lord, and he who eats does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God, etc." Once again, the Lordship of Christ grounds Christian liberty and the freedom of the saint not to be tyrannized by the conscience of another in things that are morally indifferent. Romans 14:8 also speaks of us either living or dying and in both cases doing it to and for the Lord. In either case, "we are the Lord's" (14:8) and Paul culminates this with the statement "for to this end Christ died and lived again that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living"(14:9). It is for this reason that you are not to judge your brother.
If there are any doubts, there are several indications that Paul connects this theme of the Lordship of Christ with the new reality in redemptive history. First, we will look to more subtle allusions. Romans 14:6 notes that he who eats does so for the Lord, "for he gives thanks to God"; and the one who does not eat "gives thanks to God". The giving of thanks here indicates the reversal of Romans 1:21, where the pagans did not give thanks to God. In this way, Romans 14 is similar to Romans 15, in which the praise of the Gentiles is a reversal of their idolatry in Romans 1:18-32. And their praise is a result of the glorification of God's name in redemptive history. Also, Romans 14:8, "if we live we live to the Lord" reminds us of Romans 6:10, "but the life that he lives, he lives to God". While Romans 6:10 is about Christ, Paul says in the next verse "even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (6:11). In Romans 6, Paul has been speaking about the new age in Christ Jesus "so that we too might walk in newness of life" (6:4). This is also indicated in Romans 6:14, "for sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace". We have argued in part 1 of our review of Jewett's commentary that this verse connects us back to the redemptive historical perspective on the law that Paul has in Romans 5:20-21. So also, we are to see that Romans 14:8 ("if we live, we live to the Lord") comes to its most full flowering in the present time, resulting from the fact that the historical death and resurrection have actually been accomplished in redemptive history—"that he might be the Lord both of the dead and living" (14:9). Perhaps the most obvious verse in Romans 14 showing that the Lordship of Christ displays the newness of this age is verse 14. There Paul makes it clear that he is convinced "in the Lord Jesus" that "nothing is unclean in itself". This is a statement that he could not fully make in the same way if he were living under the OT economy, where there was a distinction between clean and unclean foods. The revelation to Peter in Acts (10:9-16; 11:5-11) that God had made all Gentile foods clean (10:15; 11:9) was an indication that he also could eat and drink with Gentiles in that God has now fully accepted them in the new age, assuming they trust in him with godly fear (10:35). Paul takes the same perspective when he rebukes Peter for failing to eat with Gentile Christians in Galatians 2:12-14 and grounding it in the semi-eschatological manifestation of justification (Gal. 2:16-21), which he will expound in Galatians 3:6-4:11. Thus, the statement that nothing is unclean in itself is something that Paul is fully convinced of in the new age in the Lord Jesus, in light of his resurrection.
This new redemptive historical perspective delineated in 14:14 casts its shadow back on the rest of the chapter. There we have the issue of eating foods and not judging your brother in respect to them "for God has accepted him" (14:3). We also have the issue of respecting "one day above another", which had a parallel in the old covenant to clean or unclean foods, both having ceremonial overtones. However, at this time, in contrast to the old covenant era, we are not to judge a brother with regard to the observance of one day above another. Romans 14:6 puts these two things together—the observance of days and the eating foods. Thus, we clearly see that there is something new in redemptive history going on earlier in the chapter. And this continues later on in 14:15. The issue of food is brought up once again—that you not destroy your brother for the sake of food. And it is brought to a crescendo by the fact that the kingdom of God "is not eating and drinking" (v. 17). Therefore, once again something new has occurred in redemptive history. You are not to tear down this new work of God for the sake of food (14:20). And Paul mentions eating once again in 14:21 and 23. All of these are declared from the perspective of this era in the history of redemption—the full manifestation of the kingdom of God, in which there is no distinction between clean or unclean. The Lord has accepted both the eater and abstainer of the once unclean. He has made them both acceptable and in this has justified his own name in redemptive history.
Romans 14:17 states "for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit". From what does this righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit result? The justification of God's name in redemptive history. The parallel of peace and joy in the Holy Spirit with what follows in Romans 15:13 is evident. There we find the "God of hope" was to fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the eschatological gift of the Spirit arises from the "God of hope", language describing the justification of God's name in redemptive history. Just as the prophets foretold, God has justified his name by bringing his people into the eschatological inheritance forever. And the fruit of this is everlasting joy and peace. This manifestation of God's justice has brought the kingdom of God. The kingdom that Paul proclaims is the greater manifestation of God's kingdom that has arrived through the life, death and resurrection of Christ. It reminds us of Romans 1:3-4, in which Jesus is born the son of David and raised in power. This is the kingdom of the son of David raised in power through his resurrection from the dead. The newness of the kingdom is emphasized once again by the fact that the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, which places it in relative contrast to the old covenant administration. For, as we have seen, the context has to do with something new in redemptive history where "in the Lord Jesus" there is "nothing unclean in itself". For even if there is an allusion in Romans 14 to meat sacrificed to idols (like 1 Cor. 10:14-33), Paul's instruction flows out of this new era in the history of redemption in which there is no distinction between clean and unclean (Rom. 14:14). Thus, to judge those who eat or do not eat is to act as if the ground of Paul's imperative did not exist—to act as if we have not come to the new era in Christ.
The peace of the kingdom (also found in Rom. 15:13) also looks ahead to the "God of peace" (Rom. 15:33; 16:20). This once again shows us how it sets the stage for the justification of God's name in redemptive history, which is implicit in this verse. We also find that those who serve Christ in this way of the kingdom are "acceptable to God" (14:18). This is in accord with the fact that God justifies his name by making his people acceptable to him through the enthroned Messiah. This brings glory to God (15:7) and his kingdom. This peace of the kingdom is then connected to the building up of one another (14:19). Just as God has accepted his people (and by implication built them up in this) so they also are to make for peace in union with Christ and build one another up. In this way, the work of God in Romans 15:20 is what God has done in justifying his name by making his people acceptable in his sight (i.e., fully revealing and unfolding their acceptance in redemptive history). As a result, if one were to go backward in redemptive history by living by the clean and unclean laws of the OT, one would be tearing down the work of God for the sake of food (14:20). Thus, Paul reiterates his statement that all things are clean in accordance with a new era. At the same time, he shows that the spirit of this new reality is primarily that of love. This involves a recognition of a liberty of conscience that accords with love for the brothers and building them up in this new reality. This is opposed to a tearing down in which "they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense" (14:20). In other words, "whatever is not from faith is sin" (14:23). That is, all things must be done in accordance with the age of the greater manifestation of faith that is in Christ Jesus. This faith lays hold of the fullness of the revelation of God's justifying work in Christ. It thereby lays hold of the fullness of that invisible kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, fostering it in the church.
All must be done in the spirit of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit—a life oriented to the kingdom of God by faith. As such, this perspective calls Christians not to tear down this glorious work of God for the sake of food (14:20). That is, "do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died" (14:15). At the same time, Paul acknowledges that this building up of the kingdom is the work of God in Christ in such a way that "the Lord is able to make him stand" (14:4). Those who live in this way are living out of faith in the justification of God's name in Christ and of their semi-eschatological justification in him.
We will begin by noting how this theme permeates Romans 14, suggesting its connection to another theme—the exhortation not to destroy (Rom. 14:15, 20). For us to judge (in matters now indifferent) is to destroy, but for Christ to judge his people is to build them up. The implied and explicit negative imperatives spoken of in this chapter are not to judge your brother (14:1, 3, 10, 13) and not to destroy your brother (14:15, 20). The imperatives "not" to "judge him who eats" or "him who does not eat" (14:3) are parallel to "do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food" (14:20).
This connection between judging a brother and destroying or tearing down the work of God can also be seen from the movement of Romans 14:13-20. Paul says in Romans 14:13, "therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine not to put an obstacle or stumbling block in a brother's way". In this verse, he presents an alternative—judging one another is placed in opposition to not putting a stumbling block in a brother's way. That is, if we put a stumbling block in a brother's way, we are judging the brother. This subject of Romans 14:13 leads naturally into Romans 14:15 (do not destroy), suggesting that to judge and put a stumbling block is parallel with "to destroy". Judging the brother is therefore played out as further tearing down the work of God (14:20)—tearing down the semi-eschatological building of God—his heavenly kingdom as it expresses itself now in joy and peace in the life of the church. As such, the work of God is a result of God's justification of his name in redemptive history. This is opposed to our judging our brother. That is, insofar as God has justified his name in redemptive history, he has manifested the justification of his people semi-eschatologically. They are not to be judged by men, including their brothers. Instead, God has justified his name in Christ Jesus, therefore exalting Christ as the judge. God is justified after having been judged by men. Having manifested his justice in redemptive history, he shows himself to be that just judge who judges rightly and fulfills his promises. As the all-powerful fulfiller of his promises, he shows that he can guarantee his future justice as the all-powerful judge of heaven and earth. The Son of God raised from the dead is declared to be the judge of the living and the dead—the justification of God's name is found in him. Thus, the Lord alone can judge the brother. And the Lord's judgment has both an already and not yet vector. He has passed judgment on his sins, justifying him in Christ's resurrection. Thereby, God has accepted him (Rom. 14:3). So presently "to his own master he stands or falls" (Rom. 14:4). As for the future, we shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10).
We may be reminded of Acts 17:31 where Christ is exulted in his resurrection as the judge of the living and dead, which includes the fact that God will judge the world through him. In this, once again, we spell out the possible connections to the justification of God's name in redemptive history. God is just and has manifested his justice in redemptive history. Christ the God-man is just and has manifested his justice. He has also been declared just as the mediator in his resurrection, having fully satisfied God's wrath. Thus, Christ is now fully manifested as just in his resurrection life.
This reasoning appears to be parallel to what may lie behind Acts 17:31. For with respect to Acts 17 one might ask why Christ's resurrection is a proof to all men that he will judge the world in righteousness. How would all men (who do not all have special revelation) know this simply from his resurrection? Perhaps their reasoning goes something like this, ‘if he were a sinner he would have remained in death. But since he was raised forever we know he was not a sinner, but died only for others. This is confirmed by the fact that his resurrection is not grounded in someone else's resurrection (as a sinner's future resurrection is grounded upon Christ's resurrection). In this way, Christ has been shown to be just by his resurrection. And since he is just, he can justly judge others. While sinners know they are further condemned by approving the sinful deeds of others, he alone as just must fully do the opposite in time by judging them for their sins.' Such might be the reasoning (as gleaned from Paul's other statements) that makes Christ's resurrection a proof to all men that God will judge the world in righteousness through him. Nonetheless, those who are dead in their sins will also suppress this truth in unrighteousness until they are transformed by the Spirit of Christ. As John also says, "for everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" (John 3:20). Whatever might be said about this, it is clear that Acts 17:31 presents Christ as judge as a result of his resurrection. This is also the case in Romans 14 insofar as Paul grounded Christ's authority as judge in his resurrection Lordship.
In Romans 14, Paul clearly traces out this theme of Christ as judge in relationship to the theme of Christ as Lord. It is intricately connected with those verses that refer to Christ as Lord in this passage, that is, resurrected Lord. This exhortation not to judge is put within an inclusio bracketed by the word "accept"—"now accept the one who is weak in faith" (14:1) . . . "for God has accepted him" (14:3). In between these two notes of acceptance (exhortation and God's acceptance) are found the notes of passing judgment. "Not for the purpose of passing judgment" (14:1) and "let not him who does not eat judge him who eats" (14:3). (Is this a chiasm?) We have suggested that God's acceptance is connected to the manifestation of his justice and the justification of his name in redemptive history. Thus, Romans 14:3 appears to find its background in God's justification of his own glory. From this, it follows that the exhortation of accepting the one who is weak (Rom. 14:1) is an imperative grounded in the indicative so described. That is, the exhortations not to judge are found folded within this redemptive historical manifestation of God's justification of his name by which he has accepted his people. He has accepted them; he has most fully manifested their justification now in Christ Jesus. Therefore, the imperative not to pass judgment upon them flows from our identification with God's justification of his name in Christ.
This justification of God's name in redemptive history is intimately connected with the resurrection Lordship of Christ in the verses that follow (Rom. 14:4-9). Christ is set forth as Lord and Lord of his people. For this reason, we are not to judge one another. This suggests that Christ as Lord is the judge, not we. Verse 4 begins with "who are you to judge the servant of another?" This lays out once again the theme not to judge. It is followed by "to his own master he stands or falls" (14:4, emphasis added). This note on the Lordship of Christ is found again at the end of 14:9. Christ is the Lord both of the dead and the living in his resurrection. What we will see below is that it is contrasted with a brother judging another brother. Christ alone is the Lord and judge. This follows after the theme of "God has accepted him", which we believe is connected to the justification of God's name in redemptive history. This also suggests once again that the resurrection Lordship of Christ is interconnected with this manifestation of God's justice. this time in redemptive history. Thus, Christ's Lordship results in the reversal of Romans 1:18-32. In a similar way, the justification of God's name in redemptive history brings the reversal of Romans 1 in Romans 15:7-13. What do we mean by this? The praise of the Gentiles in Romans 15:9-12 seems to be a reversal of their idolatry in Romans 1:18-32. The truth of God in redemptive history (15:8) has reversed their rebellion against the truth of God revealed in natural revelation (1:18). So also it appears that "give thanks to God" repeated twice in Romans 14:6 is a reversal of the Gentiles failure to give thanks to God in Romans 1:21 (in which the Jews are also implicated, Rom. 1:18-2:29). The nations rejected God's Lordship in natural revelation as the giver of all gifts and the one to whom they are to give account (Rom. 1:32). Now he has saved them by the manifestation of his Lordship in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, in all things, they now worship God so revealed. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord. This threefold repetition of observing or doing things "for the Lord" in Romans 14:6 is connected to "giving "thanks to God". Whereas they rebelled against him in all things in Romans 1:18-32, now they worship the Lord in all things through the revelation of his righteousness in Christ Jesus. And God's acceptance of them is connected to it. This theme of doing things "for the Lord" is so central to Paul in these verses that it is repeated twice again in 14:8, just as the Lordship of Christ is repeated earlier.
In accordance with the semi-eschatological nature of the kingdom, the same Christ who is now Lord and judge of his people will be manifested before the eyes of all in the future eschatological judgment (Rom. 14:11). In this way, the implicit justification of Christ in his resurrection becomes the ground for his future judgment as well (as in Acts 17:31).
Paul's quotation from Isaiah 45 (Rom. 14:11) suggests another connection to the justification of God in redemptive history, which is repeatedly foretold in Isaiah 45 (vv. 5-6, 14, 21, 24). We will look at this theme in Isaiah 45 more fully below. However, let us first raise this question (assuming that Isaiah 45 does refer to the eschatological justification of God's name)—"By quoting Isaiah 45 with reference to Christ's future judgment, does Paul imply that God's righteousness will only be revealed at Christ's return?" In other words, is it wrong to conclude anything about Christ's present resurrection life as judge from this quotation? Put more positively, if by this quote Paul suggests that God will justify his name in the future resurrection, does he also thereby suggest that the present life of Christ as judge has its background in the already of God's justification? We think so, for does not semi-realized eschatology possess the same essential nature as future eschatology? In other words, does not the essential nature of future eschatology intrude into the present in semi-realized eschatology, although it only does so in a semi-realized fashion? Therefore, if Paul quotes a passage from Isaiah 45 to describe the nature of Christ's future life as judge, does not the justification of God which forms the background for this intrude itself in a semi-realized fashion in Christ's present life as Lord/Judge? This would fit with how Paul elsewhere in Romans finds the nature of future eschatology intimately related to the nature of its present intrusion. For instance, Paul finds our future "adoption as sons" (Rom. 8:23) semi-realized in our present "adoption as sons" (Rom. 8:15). Thus, when Paul implicitly connects Christ's future life as judge to the coming justification of God's name, there is every reason to believe that he connects Christ's present life as judge to the already of God's justification.
Let us take a brief look at Isaiah 45 to reinforce our claim that the justification of God's name is prominent in it. In this chapter, God uses Cyrus (Isa. 45:1) to deliver his people from exile (Isa. 45:13). However, Isaiah's prophecy also looks beyond the immediate temporal deliverance of Israel. This prophecy ultimately looks ahead to the eschatological reversal of exile. In this eschatological deliverance, God's people will be brought to their inheritance forever. This deliverance will never be undone. God's people will never be cast from their inheritance again as Israel was in the exile. This eschatological note is especially indicated in Isaiah 45:17, "Israel has been saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation; you will not be put to shame or humiliated to all eternity." In this eschatological reversal of exile, God displays his righteousness, justifying his name above all other gods. In delivering his people from the nations, he shows that the gods of the nations (idols) have no power or existence. And having justified his name, he justifies his people in him (Isa. 45:25). This theme of the revelation of God's righteousness and glory above all gods in his eschatological salvation is clearly found in Isa. 45:5-6, 14, 21, 24. It is reinforced by what we have already noted—Israel's eschatological justification in him (Isa. 45:25, 17), which is the eschatological reversal of their exile and it's shame (45:13, 17). That God's righteousness is manifested above all gods in this eschatological exodus is shown by the words surrounding those Paul quotes from Isaiah 45:23. "There is no other God besides me, a righteous God and a Savior" (Isa. 45:21); and "they will say of me ‘Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength'" (Isa. 45:24). God promised to manifest his righteousness forever by showing himself all-powerful in delivering his people from exile for eternity. And so they would never be put to shame, justified forevermore in his righteousness. For Paul, this has been fulfilled semi-eschatologically in Christ's death and resurrection and our semi-eschatological justification in him. In this, we have the revelation of God's righteousness and power above all gods prophesied by Isaiah. Paul even shows this by the way he structures his epistle, from the idolatry of the nations (Rom. 1:18-32) to their praise of the God of hope (Rom. 15: 9-13), who is "the only wise God" (Rom. 16:27).
Yes, there is good reason to believe that Isaiah 45 forms a background to Paul's claim that this manifestation of God's righteousness has now been fulfilled in Christ—who has already brought his people to the eschatological inheritance, semi-eschatologically. Thus, even in Romans 14, we find the theme of the kingdom of God and its joy and peace. And leading up to this chapter, Paul lives out of this new exodus, for he is not ashamed to all eternity (Rom. 1:16). This eschatological reversal of exilic shame then leads to the union of Jew and Gentile in Christ (Rom. 10:11-12; 9:33), which forms an essential backdrop to the exhortations of Romans 14—Do not judge one another's dietary practices. Therefore, as we have seen, there are numerous factors in Romans 14 suggesting that the new manifestation of God's righteousness in Christ stands behind it.
Now we will return to the latter half of Romans 15 and from there continue our comments to the end of the letter. In this, we hope to show how the righteousness of God also forms the backdrop for the rest of this epistle. Romans 15:14-33 deals with Paul's proposed travel plans. Many scholars recognize, as we have noted with Jewett, that Paul probably sends this letter to the Romans, partially in hope of receiving their assistance for his mission in Spain. How then is the theme of the righteousness of God, the justification of God's name in redemptive history and the semi-eschatological justification of his people in Christ related to this theme of Paul's mission to Spain?
We believe that Paul intentionally has the note of his mission to Spain follow upon his discussion of the truth of God and, therefore, upon the manifestation of God's righteousness in redemptive history found in Romans 15:7-13. His mission is in accordance with this revelation in which he wishes his "offering of the Gentiles might become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit" (15:16). His ministry is so that the offering of the Gentiles might become acceptable. This certainly reminds us of Romans 12:1, in which we are to give ourselves as a living sacrifice, acceptable to God. As we have suggested, God has manifested his righteousness in making his people acceptable in his sight. That is, he has manifested his righteousness more fully now that he has more fully manifested the justification and acceptance of his people before his throne. This results in praise among the nations and thus the justification of the Gentiles, making them acceptable through faith as well. Therefore, it seems appropriate for Paul to proclaim the righteousness of God as a suitable message to encourage the Roman church to support him in his mission to Spain, in which he seeks to identify with God's own redemptive historical act in Jesus Christ and the manifestation of God's own righteousness in redemptive history.
Since the Gentiles will only be an acceptable offering to God in Christ (Rom. 15:16-17; like 12:1) and be sanctified by the eschatological Spirit, Paul can also boast in the things pertaining to God (Rom. 15:17). This is parallel to Romans 3. Just as in Romans 3:25-27, the justification of God's name in redemptive history and the corresponding justification of the Gentiles in Christ (Rom. 15:8-13) results in the boasting of God (Rom. 15:17). For Romans 3:27, after describing the fuller demonstration of God's righteousness that has occurred with the historical accomplishment of Christ's death and the semi-eschatological justification of those who have faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:25-26), Paul asks the question, "Where then is boasting?" A similar connection is found in Romans 5. "Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (v. 1). In the fullest sense, Paul speaks here of the semi-eschatological peace that has arrived with the resurrection of Christ. This can be seen in the greater hope that has been given us through the semi-eschatological gift of the Spirit, a theme that begins and ends this section of Romans (e.g. Rom. 5:5; 8: 23, 31-39). This arises from semi-eschatological justification (Rom. 5:1, 8:33). Again, it results in boasting in God alone—"we exult in hope of the glory of God" (5:2). This is followed by Romans 5:11, "we exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ". The pattern of justification excluding boasting in men elsewhere in Romans reinforces our suggestion that Paul's boasting in God (Rom. 15:17) is preceded by justification—both the justification of God's name and the semi-eschatological justification of Jews and Gentiles in him.
Next, Paul discusses his own ministry in preaching the gospel in the power of the Spirit. This has some similarities to Romans 10, in which the greater revelation of the righteousness of God (10:3-4) and in which there is now no distinction between Jew and Greek (10:12) as there was in the old covenant order, is followed by the mission of the preaching of the gospel (10:14-15). And that preaching of the gospel is shown forth as the good news of the kingdom of God through the quotation from Isaiah 52:7, which in context says "our God reigns". Thus, Paul speaks there of the preaching of the kingdom of God, the age in which there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, in which the righteousness of God has been more fully revealed. So also here in Romans 15, it is spoken of the righteousness of God by which the Gentiles might call God the "God of hope" and be acceptable to him through the Holy Spirit. And so he speaks of his ministry of the gospel to the nations. He also ends it with a quote from Isaiah 52, now verse 15. Thus, in both these chapters of Romans, the newness of the revelation of the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ and of the coming of the kingdom (of which Paul is a great herald) ushers forth in the mission of the good news of Jesus Christ to the nations.
Now that that mission has been accomplished in these regions, Paul has reasons to travel on to Rome and then to Spain in the same mission, bringing with him the fullness "of the blessing of Christ". In this section, he is also asking the church to help him in his mission to Jerusalem, in giving material things to the Jews in Judea just as the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things. This expresses the fact that God has accepted both Jew and Gentile together in the new era in Christ Jesus in accordance with Romans 11. This is now expressed in the mission of Paul to Jerusalem by which this union is expressed through the giving of alms to the church there. This is also an expression of union and life with the righteousness of God more fully revealed now. For in it, Jew and Gentile have been equally semi-eschatologically justified in Christ Jesus and made acceptable in his sight. Thus, as Paul had earlier urged the church to accept one another in union with the God who accepted them (14:1-3), now he hopes that his service for Jerusalem in this offering may be "acceptable to the saints", that is, the Jewish saints in Jerusalem. This living out of God's acceptance of his people—living in revelation of the manifestation of the righteousness of God—is a process in this semi-eschatological era. Therefore, it is necessary for the church to pray to God that the apostle may be delivered to carry out his message and that his service would be acceptable to the saints in Jerusalem (15:30-31). This is life in the kingdom of God, in which there is joy (14:17; 15:10, 13); and so Paul wishes to come to Rome and the Roman Christians in joy by the "will of God". (Does this bring us back to the "will of God" in 12:2?) Thus, this section closes (15:32). That this section finds its background in the justification of God in redemptive history is confirmed by the conclusion in 15:33 where Paul uses the "God of" language once again. "Now may the God of peace be with you all. Amen." This brings us back to Romans 15:13 "now may the God of hope", followed by joy and peace. And we have joy followed by peace in 15:32-33. This "God of" language with joy and peace (15:13 and 15:33) appears to form an inclusio. Such language does express the revelation of the righteousness of God in redemptive history and the joy and peace that results. It is thus connected to his kingdom. So that which falls in between is once again related to this revelation of the righteousness of God in redemptive history.
We will not comment much on the greetings in chapter 16. However, we believe that they are an indication of the acceptance that God has made of his people. We are called in Christ to accept one another, and so Paul is revealing his acceptance of the saints in Rome, his joy and peace in them reflecting the revelation of the righteousness of God. Thus he greets those in the church in Rome, expressing in many cases words of appreciation for each of them. That is, his words describing the other saints are words of encouragement building them up in Christ, just as he had exhorted the church to build up and not tear down the work of God in Romans 14. It has also been noted that many who are greeted here are women, and thus Paul has given them a high standing—the standing they deserve in Christ, a standing which they did not have in the Roman Empire.
In chapter 16, the greeting section (16:1-16) is followed by the exhortation to avoid those who "cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you have learned" (16:17). This suggests that the greetings have to do positively with the teaching Paul has given to the church already of the union of Jew and Gentile in Christ. This is further reinforced by the fact that the section beginning 16:17 ends with 16:20, the "God of peace". In this way Romans 16:1-16 presents the positive presentation of greeting the saints because of their union in Christ contrasted with the opposite, causing dissensions (16:17-20). Therefore the positive section and its negative counterpart are enclosed within the note of "the God of peace" (15:33; 16:20). This indicates that they are to be understood within the context of the justification of God's name in redemptive history insofar as he has manifested himself more fully now as the God of peace and will therefore manifest himself in that way in the future eschatological resurrection. Thus, Romans 15:33 presents us with the already of the God of peace while 16:20 presents us with the fact that God who is now a God of peace will manifest this even more fully in the day when he crushes Satan under the feet of the church in Christ. The present manifestation of the righteousness of God in Christ is a semi-eschatological intrusion of the future manifestation of God's righteousness at the end of the world. And on the flip side, the manifestation of God's righteousness that has now occurred in redemptive history works itself out in the already and the not yet. The life of the church in union with Christ and one another is enclosed within God as he has manifested himself as the God of peace in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Even the greetings that Paul gives from his fellow workers are folded within the glorification of God's name (16:21-23) as they are enclosed within the justification of God's name in redemptive history (16:20; 16:25-27).
The closing verses of this letter (16:25-27) are a fitting conclusion to this epistle, giving us additional theological reason to believe they are not added by a later redactor. They unveil the revelation of the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus and sum it up. In so doing, they often bring us all the way back to the introduction of this epistle and its themes—themes drawn out throughout this letter that are central to the end.
Behind Romans 16:25-27 stands the revelation of the righteousness of God and the justification of his people in Christ now fully manifest in the last days. This is seen by the unveiling of the power of God which begins and ends this section. "Power of God" had been connected to the "righteousness of God" in the thesis of this letter—"for I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, for in it the righteousness of God is revealed" (Rom. 1:16-17). Paul speaks forth the power of God in the conclusion of his letter when he says, "to him who is able to establish you according to my gospel" (16:25). "To him who is able" displays God's power. "To establish you" brings us back also to Romans 1: "that you may be established" (v. 11). The power and greatness of God is also revealed at the end of this conclusion, showing his greatness above all other gods, who are only so-called gods. Thus, Paul says "to the only wise God" (16:27). He has shown himself in redemptive history to be the only wise God. While the nations taunted God as weak and therefore (by implication) not wise in his dealings, God has now shown himself to be the only wise God through Jesus Christ. That is why to him alone belongs "glory for ever more" (16:27). This wisdom of God was displayed in the entirety of his mercy revealed in Romans 1-11, while nonetheless still remaining unfathomable and awe-inspiring. "Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and unfathomable his ways!" (11:33). And this mercy in Romans 1-11 is connected to God's righteousness. Thus, the wisdom of God is mysteriously displayed in the righteous mercy of God which is central to this letter. It shows him to be most wise over all for "who became his counselor?" (11:34). It shows him to be the beginning and end both of creation and of grace in contrast to the idols of the nations in Romans 1:18-32. "For from him and through him and to him are all things" (Rom. 11:36). Thus, one is to give thanks to him alone, the provider of all things not to idols, in contrast to Romans 1:21. Here Paul says "to him be the glory forever. Amen" (Rom. 11:36), very similarly to Romans 16:27. In this, he reverses the rebellious reversal, in which the nations had "exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God" for idols (Rom. 1:23). God has undone the gods of the nations through Jesus Christ. Our suggestion for Romans 16:27 is that God has shown himself in redemptive history to be the most wise God in the demonstration of his righteousness. Here we are suggesting that the parallel of Romans 11:33-36, which is a crescendo of the righteousness of God, further supports this.
In between the revelation of the power and wisdom of God in Romans 16:25 and 27 is found the gospel of Christ—put in redemptive historical terms, leading to the obedience of faith among all the nations (16:26). Thus, the fact that God is the only wise God has caused the nations to praise and glorify him and throw away their idols. That is, the fact that God has manifested himself in redemptive history as the only wise God made him known to all the nations as such, leading to the obedience of faith.
The redemptive historical focus here is clearly seen in the "revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested" (16:25-26). This reminds us of the "but now" of Romans 3:21 and places the power and wisdom of God and its manifestation within a redemptive historical context. Thus reiterates our suggestion that the revelation of the righteousness of God in Christ is a further manifestation of God's own righteousness which is connected to his power. Behind this also is the semi-eschatological justification (now common in Christ) as the ground for Paul of the union of Jew and Gentile alike in Christ, so that the nations come to the obedience of faith.
Paul's reference to the "Scriptures of the prophets" (v. 26) also reminds us of the beginning of this epistle "which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures" (Rom. 1:2). Again it is the gospel promised by the prophets—therefore the revelation of the good news as it has been more fully manifested now at this time in redemptive history in fulfillment of the prophetic promises. This is the gospel of the good news of the kingdom of God. As such, it is according to his Son, the descendant of King David (Rom. 1:3). And here again, as with the conclusion of this letter, we find that this leads to the "obedience of faith among all the nations" (Rom. 1:5). It also is "for his name's sake" (1:5) just like Romans 16:27—to his "glory". Here it is not only the righteousness of God revealed that brings the obedience of faith among the nations; but also, his supernatural power is necessary for their regeneration and justification—leading to the praise of his righteousness, glory and power in their salvation.
In both the beginning and end of this epistle, we have the gospel (1:1; 16:25) with its redemptive historical orientation. This again reinforces the fact that the gospel of which Paul is not ashamed (1:16, Paul's thesis) is the fullness of the revelation of the power and righteousness of God. All of this is focused on the actual accomplishment in redemptive history of Christ's incarnation (born of the seed of David), life (Rom. 5), death and resurrection. And it is also manifested in the continual reign of God through the heralds of the kingdom by the power of the Spirit leading to the obedience of faith among all the nations. It further looks ahead to the fullness of good news in the glorification of the saints (Rom. 8). In this way, God displays his power—keeping his people with him in Christ in the Spirit—eschatologically secure in his own life for evermore—he surely shows himself to be the glorious God. He displays his glory as the one who is all-powerful, all-righteous, and all-truth in his promises. In this, he unveils heaven itself, the abode of his eternal power, righteousness, wisdom and knowledge and invites his church into this glory forevermore. They may now know him and live in his power and righteousness—eschatologically justified in Christ Jesus their risen King forevermore.
While we do not have space to deal adequately with Romans 13, let us make a few parting comments with respect to it, understood in its context. Romans 13 must be interpreted in the light of the greater manifestation of the righteousness of God at this point in redemptive history because it stands between Romans 1-12 and 14-16, all of which are grounded in the righteousness of God. Romans 13 is also preceded by the words of Romans 12:17-18, "respect what is right in the sight of all men" and "be at peace with all men". In this way, the theme of "peace" also surrounds the chapter. It would appear that one way in which Christians are to live out their lives in the kingdom of peace (Rom. 14:17) and in that peace (Rom. 15:13) which accords with the "God of peace" (Rom. 15:33) is to live at peace with all men as far as they are able.
Some Christians (not Jewett) argue that Romans 13 supports the idea that the state as a minister of God (Rom. 13:4) must execute all the penalties of the Mosaic covenant. This is at odds with the context of this passage. To insist that the state impose the unique penalties of the Mosaic covenant in the new covenant era is to insist that Christians are under the curse of the law. If the state places Christians under the curse of the law, they are not working as ministers of God—the God who has now brought the greater (semi-eschatological) manifestation of justification in redemptive history. However, if the state were to recognize the semi-eschatological justification of Christians and exempt them from the unique penalties of the Mosaic covenant, but were still to enforce those penalties on their non-Christian neighbors, Christians would never be at peace with all men. This would create a form of injustice in which a non-Christian would be executed for committing adultery, but a Christian would not. This would be obvious to non-Christians and would create an environment in which peace between Christians and non-Christians would be structurally impossible. Therefore, if Christians are exempt from the curse of the law (and therefore its unique penalties), something of this must extend to their non-Christian neighbors if they are to live at peace with them. In the external arena of the state, these non-Christians must be exempted from the unique penalties of the Mosaic covenant. However, they are truly under the curse of God and will experience the unleashing of his wrath at the end of the world if they do not repent. The only way they experience God's wrath through the state now is when they commit crimes for which Christians would also be punished. Thus, if they do evil to a Christian (Rom. 12:17, persecute?) by physically injuring or killing him/her, they can be punished by the state (Rom. 12:19; 13:4), but only because all physical assault and murder is punishable by the law, no matter who commits it.
While we briefly summarized Jewett's thoughts on Romans 13-16 in this third part of our review, we have admittedly spent more time considering the reviewer's own reflections on these chapters. Nonetheless, in this way, we have indirectly criticized Jewett's overall flat eschatology, oriented towards the present world. In this, he follows a very contemporary cultural agenda. We have suggested an alternative eschatological perspective we think is more in keeping with the message of the apostle Paul.
But this does not distract entirely from the usefulness of this commentary, especially in terms of some of the structural and rhetorical suggestions that Jewett makes along with some of the very helpful historical background that he provides. In fact, if we were to critique our own suggestions on Romans 13-16, it would be that we have not done these justice. Thus, we believe that in the spirit of mining out gold among dross and purifying what others have done before us (which hopefully even later readers will do with this reviewer's own reflections on this epistle), ministers of the gospel (with accrued critical reflection of Jewett's own critical methods) may gain new insights and stimulation in their own reflections upon the text. While we fear that Jewett's flat eschatology will simply reinforce and extend the horizontal cultural agenda of this age, we pray (by the power of him who has justified his name) that its benefits rather than shortcomings will finally be most influential upon the church.
Robert Jewett, Romans: A Commentary. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2006. 1140pp. Cloth. ISBN: 978-0-8006-6084-0. $90.00.
This third part is a continuation of Scott F. Sanborn, A Review of Robert Jewett on Romans, Part 1: Romans 1-8, K:JNWTS 29/3 (Dec 2014):17-42 (http://kerux.com/doc/2903A6.asp) and Scott F. Sanborn, A Review of Robert Jewett on Romans, Part 2: Romans 9-12, K:JNWTS 30/3 (Dec 2015):24-43 (http://kerux.com/doc/3003A4.asp).
This and the point about NT prophetesses was suggested to me by M. M. Kline.
When parceled out, this was essentially true of the apostates, but not essentially true of the regenerate elect.
 Not that these things can be done in a morally neutral way; they are either done to the glory of God or not. Nonetheless, whether to eat or not to eat—that of itself is not a decision that involves a question of right or wrong, as long as it is done by faith and not against conscience. Both may be done to the glory of God and in giving him thanks.
If Jewett is correct, then the basic background to Romans 14 is the fact that the primary meat available to the poor in Rome was pork. If so, it would seem that the reason the "weak" eats only vegetables (Rom.14:2) may not be related to the same issue of meat sacrificed to idols, but only to their desire to keep kosher according to the OT law. At the same time, Jewett notes the fact that this pork was distributed during religious festivals; so there may still be a tie in with 1 Corinthians 10.
In this connection, we may ask whether those who judge those who eat and those who judge those who do not eat are both going backward in redemptive history. You may say, it seems plausible that the one who judges him who eats is like a Jew returning to the OT dietary laws and judging Gentiles who eat. But what about those who judge those who do not eat? How is this a reversion in redemptive history? We suggest that they may be like Gentiles who judged God's people in the former era for refusing to eat certain (unclean) foods. (For instance, in 2 and 4 Maccabees, Gentiles forced Jews to eat pork or die.) If this is implied, this may be another connection to the justification of God's name in which the judgment of the Gentiles against God's people is now reversed in Christ. Thus, Christ's righteous judgment of his people takes place in the light of his resurrection—in the light of the justification of God's name and the semi-eschatological justification of his people in him. On the other hand, sinful judgment of others is opposed to this insofar as it is a reversion in redemptive history.
Which is further confirmed for the readers of this article in Romans 1:32.
Are we arguing that rulers in the state are only serving Christians in this way when they are self-consciously aware that they are doing so? No. As long as they are making and enforcing laws within a framework that is basically consistent with the Christian's semi-eschatological justification, they are serving the Christian.
The penalty of execution for murder is not unique to the Mosaic covenant, but was found previously in Genesis 9:6.