Tonight we are gathering to discuss Romans 2:12-3:31. If you have the opportunity today, please read over this passage and the attached commentary by N.T. Wright.
Over the past several years, I have begun reading the Bible through the eyes of the antagonist. So when the prophets speak out against the powerful or Jesus speaks out against the Pharisees, I try to see the message through the eyes of the powerful or the Pharisees. I have found that reading the Scriptures from this perspective provides a contrasting background to the message of the speaker, making that message clearer, bolder, and more personal. Therefore, as you prepare for this evening’s reading, think through the mindset of the Jewish teacher that Paul is haranguing.
This Jewish teacher would have learned the Scriptures from a young age. He would have been taught that God personally wrote the Ten Commandments, including the commandment to not work on the Sabbath. He would have known of the other 603 laws God spoke to Noah, Abraham, and Moses, governing everything from murder to dietary restrictions to sexual matters. He would have studied the oral Torah interpreting these laws. Most likely, he knew that he needed to believe in and have a love for God and that his obedience to God’s commands came out of this belief and love. For him, the outward sign that he was in a covenantal relationship with God was physical circumcision.
The teacher believed that Jesus was the Messiah. The teacher was maybe perplexed, but happy, that the Gentiles were coming to have faith in God, as the prophets had foretold. But he would have expected the Gentiles to obey God’s laws the same as he always had. He would have expected the Gentiles to be circumcised since they had now come within the covenant. And the teacher could not have understood how a Gentile that did not obey the Law and was not circumcised could become part of God’s church.
For tonight, think through the argument against Paul’s argument. Think through the position of the Jewish teacher he writes against. Where does the teacher place his trust? What makes him right before God? Why would it have been difficult for the teacher to give up his obedience to the Law?
Dinner is at 6. The menu is chicken cheesesteaks. Discussion at 6:45. Hope to see you here.
See, you shall call nations that you do not know,Isaiah 55:5-7
and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.
Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.