Thursday, June 29, 2006

Who is this?

In the latter part of Romans Chapter 7, Paul makes a number of "I" statements that many commentators attribute to Paul taking on a persona to flesh out his argument about the believer's relationship to the law. Suggestions to this persona's identity have included: Adam, Paul in his pre-Christian state, even an anonymous "carnal Christian", the general idea being that Paul, in his mature state, could not have such a difficult struggle with sin. Below are some characteristics I've noted about the figure, which lead me to think Paul is describing himself at the time of his writing. If you think differently, what leads you to that conclusion?

Characteristics of the figure in Romans 7:7—8:4
7:7 would not have known what sin was except through the law.
7b would not have know what coveting was if the law hadn’t said don’t.
8 experienced covetous desire as a result of sin taking opportunity of law
9 was once alive apart from the law
9b died when sin sprang to life
10 discovered that the law actually produced death
11 was deceived by sin (again taking advantage of the law) and died
13 wrestles with implications of the law
14 considers self unspiritual, sold to sin as a slave
15 can’t figure out why he does the things he does
15b hates the things he does
16 agrees the law is good, even when doing that which contrary to desires
17 believes that sin is living in him, making him do things contrary to his desires
18 believes that nothing good resides within him, that is within flesh/sin nature
18b desires to do good, but can’t
19 instead of doing what he believes to be good, instead discovers himself doing evil that he doesn’t like; indeed is unable to cease
20 realizes that if he is acting contrary to will, there must be an outside force at work
21 postulates conclusion that evil takes residence in the presence of a desire to do good
22 in his inner being, delights in God’s law
23 observes another law at work in his body, one at odds with his mind;
24 feels and expresses deep dissatisfaction with self
24b cries out for rescue from plight
25 realizes Jesus is the answer to his dilemma
25b concludes that an active dichotomy is at work in his inner being
8:2 believes that he has been freed from the law of sin and death
8:3 posits that this freeing couldn’t have been accomplished by the law, but was accomplished by God sending Jesus
8:3-4 posits that the substitutionary offering of Christ’s life coupled with living “according to the Spirit” satisfies the righteous requirements of the law in him and others (“might be fully met in us, who” Romans 8:4 NIV)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Manifest Uncertainty

The idea for this blog is to explore ideas, concepts and statements found in the Bible that for whatever reason are not easily understood or whose meaning is not readily agreed upon.

For example, I'm currently preaching through Romans and am about to cover chapter 7. At the beginning of the chapter, Paul cites the death of a woman's husband as grounds for her freedom to marry another. Is Paul creating a) an illustration; b) an analogy; or c) an allegory? If you have this figured out, what is the connection between the modern believer, the woman and her dead husband?

Your thoughts?