Future Vindication

future vindication (2)

b) Rom 10:11–12: In these verses, Paul expounded upon what he had just written (Rom 10:8–10), proving from Old Testament (OT) texts that those who place their trust in Christ for salvation shall experience vindication in the coming judgment.[1]

The apostle wrote, “For the Scriptures say, ‘Everyone who believes in him shall not be put to shame.”

After citing the Greek translation of Isa 28:16 in Rom 9:33,[2] here Paul quoted a portion of it, with the addition of the word “everyone.”[3]

Note that the context of Isa 28:14–18 involves a pact which the rulers of Israel made with the underworld (Sheol). By importing this reference into his letter, Paul joined Peter in identifying Jesus as the metaphorical stone from Isaiah (1 Pet 2:6–8).[4]

Israel’s culture focused upon the avoidance of shame, unlike our guilt-based Western society. Indeed, the Lord’s covenant with Israel included promises to protect them from shame but bring it upon their enemies (Deut 28:13–14; Ps 40:14–15; Ps 78:65–66). This emphasis upon evading shame continued into the Greco-Roman era, where a loss of honor usually involved public rebuke.[6]

According to the New Testament, the Lord brings shame upon people, usually in the context of judgment.[7]

Since “all of us must be exposed before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor 5:10), the promise that we shall not be put to shame when God reveals all our secrets brings great comfort (Rom 2:12–16).

During his crucifixion, Jesus bore all of the sin and shame of those who trust him (Isa 53:1–6, 11–12; Col 2:13–14). Since God nailed the charges against us to the cross, we need not fear humiliation when Christ returns (Matt 10:27–33; 1 John 2:28).[8]

Why would Paul mention that “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for he is Lord of all” here?

The greetings in Rom 16:3–15 imply the existence of a network of house churches comprised of people from across the social spectrum. They ranged from slaves to aristocrats,[9] both Jew and Gentile (Phil 4:22).

The origin of the Roman church remains obscure. However, by the time Christianity came to Rome, approximately fifty thousand Jews lived in the city. Many Gentiles had converted to Judaism. This created strong tensions between ethnic Jews and the polytheistic high-ranking Gentiles who resided in the capital. That friction seeped into the church.[10]

The vast majority of Rome’s one million residents experienced great difficulty. Low-income citizens, foreigners, slaves, and freed slaves comprised most of the city’s inhabitants. Landlords charged high rents in the poorly-constructed and overcrowded tenements. Fires and building collapses occurred frequently in these slums. Nearly everyone lived with poor sanitation and difficulties obtaining food.[11]

In AD 49, the emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome.[12]

Suetonius (ca. 69–130/140), a Roman historian, wrote, “He banished from Rome all the Jews, who were continually making disturbances at the instigation of one Chrestus.”[13]

Most likely, this refers to the preaching of the gospel by Jewish believers.[14]

As a result, the church became composed entirely of Gentiles until the automatic repeal of the edict upon Claudius’s death in AD 54 (Cf. Acts 18:2; Rom 16:3).[15] Paul appears to have written his letter within five years after the exile ended.[16]

Due to the return of Jewish followers of Christ into purely Gentile congregations, conflict erupted over the differing practices of the two factions. Paul sought to mediate their disputes.[17] Consequently, the major themes of this letter touch upon that tension.

Paul reminded them that God views Jew and Gentile as equally guilty, needing his pardon (Rom 1:16–3:31). Spiritual affiliation with Abraham—rather than ethnic descent—leads to salvation (Rom 4:1–25; Rom 9:1–33), for ultimately Adam’s sin taints everyone (Rom 5:12–21).

Since God granted salvation to the Gentiles, they had no reason to boast about their grafting into Judaism (Rom 11:1–32). Therefore, Paul exhorted them to respect the existing cultural differences (Rom 14:1–23). As a representative of the Lord, he recognized the necessity of racial accord and unity within the body of Christ (Rom 15:1–33).[18]

In sum, the church required a fresh understanding of the radical nature of the gospel before they could put the practical implications of what they learned into practice.[19]

Paul announced, “The same [Lord is] Lord of all” (Deut 4:37–40; Rom 3:29–30; 1 Cor 12:4–6).

The gospel offers salvation to all people regardless of their cultural or religious backgrounds.[20] Furthermore, both Jews and Gentiles come to Christ on the same basis:[21] everyone stands on equal footing before the cross (Rom 3:21–24).[22]

Israel had incorporated individual Gentiles into their nation for many years (Num 12:1; Josh 6:25; Ruth 1:4–5, 16; 2 Ki 5:17–19). However, after the resurrection of Christ, Gentiles began participating in the covenant made to Abraham without converting to Judaism (Gen 12:1–3; Acts 15:1–11; Gal 3:13–14, 26–29; Eph 2:11–22).[23]

Consequently, people can no longer consider the Lord merely the God of Israel.[24] Neither can those of Jewish descent claim a relationship with God based upon their ancestry (Matt 3:4–10; Matt 11:20–24).[25]

The religious milieu no longer divides Jew and Gentile. Instead, the distinction falls between those who have called upon Christ to save them and those who remain outside of the Christian community (Hos 2:23).[26]

Not only does Christ demand allegiance from all people, he responds to those with faith by “abounding in riches to all who call upon him.” Paul often used the metaphor of spiritual wealth to speak of the unlimited resources which God makes available to believers.[27]

These include God’s love, kindness and glory (Eph 3:14–21; 2 Cor 8:9; Col 1:25–28).[28]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

Read Rom 10:11–12. Why can those who trust in Christ have confidence on the day of judgment? What created the friction between Jewish and Gentile believers in the Roman churches? How has Christ abolished the distinction between Jews and Gentiles? In light of this, how should you relate to others?

 

 

 

 

 

Go to Salvation for All Who Call

 

[Related posts include Confession and Belief (Rom 10:8–10); Salvation for All Who Call (Rom 10:13); Worshiping the Lord (Gen 4:26); Effects of the Fall Reversed (Rom 5:12–21 and Rom 16:1–12); Blessings from the Father (Eph 1:3–4); Our Certificate of Debt (Col 2:13–14); Ancient Literature; and Greek Translation of the Old Testament]

[Click here to go to Chapter 3: Calling on the Name of the Lord (Genesis 4:25–26)]

 

[1]Moo, Romans, 332.

[2]Moo, Romans, 332.

[3]Dunn, Romans 9–16, 609.

[4]Moo, Romans, 332.

[5]Timothy C. Tennant, Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think About and Discuss Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 83–4, 87.

[6]Rudolf Bultmann, “αἰσχυνω, καταισχυνω” (aischunō, kataischunō), TDNT 1:189–91, 189.

[7]Witherington and Hyatt,  Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 263.

[8]Brian M. Rapske, “Rome and Roman Christianity,” in Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments (ed. Ralph P. Martin and Peter H. Davids; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 1063–7, 1064.

[9]Keener, “Rome’s Jewish Community,” IVPBBCNT, Rom.

[10]Rapske, “Rome and Roman Christianity,” DLNT, 1064.

[11]James D. G. Dunn, “Romans, Letter to the,” DPL, 838–50, 839.

[12]C. Tranquillus Suetonius, “Divus Claudius,” in Suetonius: The Lives of the Twelve Caesars; an English Translation, Augmented with the Biographies of Contemporary Statesmen, Orators, Poets, and Other Associates (ed. J. Eugene Reed; trans. Alexander Thomson; Philadelphia: Gebbie, 1889), 25.4, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0132%3Alife%3Dcl.%3Achapter%3D25.

[13]Dunn, “Romans, Letter to the,” DPL, 852–3.

[14]F. F. Bruce, “Christianity Under Claudius,” BJRL 44, no. 2 (1 March 1962): 309–26, 318, https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/bjrl/claudius_bruce.pdf.

[15]Kruse, Paul’s Letter to the Romans, 13.

[16]Charles D. Myers Jr., “Romans, Epistle to the,” ABD 5:816–26, 817.

[17]Keener, “Romans Theme,” IVPBBCNT, Rom.

[18]Dunn, “Romans, Letter to the,” DPL, 840.

[19]Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 659.

[20]Moo, Romans, 333.

[21]Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 659.

[22]Dunn, Romans 9–16, 610.

[23]Dunn, Romans 9–16, 618.

[24]Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2:531.

[25]Elmer A. Martens, “The People of God,” in Central Themes in Biblical Theology: Mapping Unity in Diversity (ed. Scott J. Hafemann and Paul R. House; Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 235.

[26]Dunn, Romans 9–16, 610.

[27]Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2:532.