HOW PAUL DEMONSTRATES HIS JEWISHNESS IN ROMANS 8
HowPaul Demonstrate His Jewishness In Romans
HowPaul Demonstrate His Jewishness In Romans
ApostlePaul has a vast historical background , especially that which relatesto his journey to various parts of the world to spread the gospel ofChrist. Since his conversion from the person who persecutedChristians, there arises a lot of probes as to whether Paul wasactually a Hebrew or just Christian. Many scholars have looked intothe issue deriving varied conclusions. Some have claimed that he musthave been a Jewish Christian others claim he was a Christian Jewwhile others conclude the he was not Jewish at all. Contention arisesin that Paul in his epistles expresses varied standings as to wherehe was affiliated to. One thing that is certain is that Paul was adetermined Christian who was devoted to ensuring that all peopleregardless of their origin and cultural background benefited fromChristianity. This paper takes a non-judgmental approach. It looks atthe scriptures, in Paul’s letter to the Romans that are suggestiveof his Jewishness.
Aniconic monotheism and divine agents
Jewin the second temple Judaism held to the belief that there existedonly one Supreme Being: God. Judaist held onto the Torah thatacknowledged the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as their creator andruler. This was regardless of the pantheistic influence by the Romanrule. Judaists worshipped in synagogues and used the Ten Commandmentsas their guiding tool. However, Judaism was against the idea ofChristianity especially on the issue of The Holy Trinity. Paulcompletely agrees with the monotheistic approach of the God of theirancestors but also uses the argument to advance his argument of Godas a trinity. He differs from Judaism in that it rejected Yashua asGod.
“Whatthen will we say that Abraham, our forefather, has found according tothe flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something toboast about, but not toward God. For what does the Scripture say?"Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him forrighteousness." Now to him who works, the reward is not countedas grace, but as debt. But to him who doesn`t work, but believes inhim who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted forrighteousness. Even as David also pronounces blessing on the man towhom God counts righteousness apart from works,” (Romans 4: 1 – 6)
Inthe scripture above, Paul talks about how Abraham found favor in Godthrough his righteousness. From the statement, one is able to deducethat Paul recognizes that there was God not two, not three, but oneGod. He then alludes to the story of Abraham – the father of faith– explaining that righteousness would set things straight with God.Throughout his Letters, Paul recognizes God of his ancestors andhence is one way of demonstrating his Jewishness.2)Stereotypesof Gentiles
Jewsand Gentiles were incompatible, at least as far as the Jews wereconcerned. There were many practices that Judaism abhorred, besidesidolatry. Judaism was against sexual immorality such as fornication,adultery and homosexuality, murder, covetousness, slander andbackbiting among others. There reproof from such habits was guidedand influence by Torah. In this light, they viewed the Gentiles asthe ones who had condoned and accommodated these evil practices intotheir lives. It was, therefore, wrong for a Jew to interact withGentiles.
“Because,knowing God, they didn`t glorify him as God, neither gave thanks, butbecame vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart wasdarkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, andtraded the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of animage of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed animals, andcreeping things. Therefore God also gave them up in the lusts oftheir hearts to uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonoredamong themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, andworshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who isblessed forever. Amen.
Forthis reason, God gave them up to vile passions. For their womenchanged the natural function into that which is against nature.Likewise also the men, leaving the natural function of the woman,burned in their lust toward one another, men doing what isinappropriate with men, and receiving in themselves the due penaltyof their error. Even as they refused to have God in their knowledge,God gave them up to a reprobate mind, to do those things which arenot fitting being filled with all unrighteousness, sexualimmorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness full of envy,murder, strife, deceit, evil habits, secret slanderers, backbiters,hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evilthings, disobedient to parents, without understanding,covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unforgiving,unmerciful who, knowing the ordinance of God, that those whopractice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, butalso approve of those who practice them.” (Romans 1: 21 – 32)
Paulexpresses his concern about the aforementioned issues. However, histone leads one to conclude that he is relying on stereotypesregarding Gentile behavior. Just like a Jew would do, Paul speaks ofwhat the Gentiles’ negligence to worship God has brought to them.He explains that since they (Gentiles) have failed to worship God andhave opted to seek their own knowledge since they think they arewise, God has unleashed punishment on them He has given them up toreprobate mind. From this text, Paul once again proves that he isJewish in his mind. 3)Understandingof Torah
Judaismis established on the teachings of Torah. The Mosaic Law is thegoverning tool in the religion and cultural beliefs. For one toqualify as a Jew, all the Laws of Moses have to be adhered to. Torahacknowledges the role played by prophets and other divine agents suchas the founding fathers. Torah is taught and enforceable by theteachers of the law and the Judaism community in general.Christianity did not come to eliminate the Mosaic Law nor was itmeant to defy it.
“Whatshall we say then? Is the law sin? May it never be! However, Iwouldn`t have known sin, except through the law. For I wouldn`t haveknown coveting, unless the law had said, "You shall not covet."But sin, finding occasion through the commandment, produced in me allkinds of coveting. For apart from the law, sin is dead. I was aliveapart from the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived,and I died. The commandment, which was for life, this I found to befor death for sin, finding occasion through the commandment,deceived me, and through it killed me. Therefore the law indeed isholy, and the commandment holy, and righteous, and good.” (Romans7: 7 – 12)
“Nowwe know that whatever things the law says, it speaks to those who areunder the law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world maybe brought under the judgment of God. Because by the works of thelaw, no flesh will be justified in his sight. For through the lawcomes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the law, arighteousness of God has been revealed, being testified by the lawand the prophets” (Romans 3: 19 – 21).
Paulin the above scriptures expresses his recognition for the Mosaic Law.He explains that the law (Torah) has helped him identify sin. He goesahead to describe the importance of the law. He definitely agrees tothe fact that the Law of Moses was sound and should remain unchangedas it has facilitated soundness and order in the Jewish community. Inthe second scripture, Paul explains that the law is enforceable byGod. His inclination to the support of the Mosaic Law again explainsthat he is Jewish.
4)Electionof Israel, Covenant, and Redemption
Jewshave a set of promises that God has promised to bring to them. Thereare covenants that God agreed with their fore fathers. God alsopromised the Jews of redemption from the rule of Gentiles. Paulvisits the topic in the scripture below.
“ForI don`t desire, brothers,to have you ignorant of this mystery, so that you won`t be wise inyour own conceits, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel,until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, and so all Israelwill be saved. Even as it is written,
"Therewill come out of Zion the Deliverer,      Andhe will turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
Thisis my covenant to them,      WhenI will take away their sins."
Concerningthe Gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But concerning theelection, they are beloved for the fathers` sake. For the gifts andthe calling of God are irrevocable. For as you in time past weredisobedient to God, but now have obtained mercy by theirdisobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that bythe mercy shown to you they may also obtain mercy. For God has shutup all to disobedience, that he might have mercy on all.” (Romans11: 25-32)
Paulwants to convey the message that Gentiles are not a threat toJudaism. He explains that the conversion of Gentiles into the faithof believing in God and His son Jesus was a measure to make the JewsJealous and cross over. Paul conveys his mindfulness of his fellowJews and that he wouldn’t want them to be left out of salvation.Just like any other Jew, Paul also is concerned about politicalliberation when he talks about the election of Israel.
5)How do Gentiles fit into the concept of final redemption at the endof the age?
Jewshold to the belief that all ungodliness shall be punished by thewrath of God. They believe that there is adequate punishment forevery sin committed in this world and that faith is the ultimatedeterminant of an individual’s relationship with God. The samesentiments are echoed by Paul in the following scriptures:
Forin it is revealed God`s righteousness from faith to faith. As it iswritten, "But the righteous shall live by faith." For thewrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness andunrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,because that which is known of God is revealed in them, for Godrevealed it to them. (Romans 1: 17-19)
Becauseby the works of the law, no flesh will be justified in his sight. Forthrough the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from thelaw, a righteousness of God has been revealed, being testified by thelaw and the prophets even the righteousness of God through faith inJesus Christ to all and on all those who believe. For there is nodistinction, for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of Godbeing justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is inChrist Jesus. (Romans 3: 20 – 24)
Paulargues that the law of God has been passed to the people throughprophets and that it is the duty of every person to shun theunrighteous ways so as to avoid punishment from God. This is the fateof every sinner and so is the fate for Gentiles who reject God’scommands. In the end, for anyone to be exonerated from sin andconsequential punishment, they have to be set free by the grace ofJesus Christ.
Awitness.org,.(2014). TheBible – Romans.Retrieved 2 December 2014, fromhttp://www.awitness.org/biblehtm/ro.htm