Sunday, October 17, 2010

Apostle's Impartation

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you — 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I want you to know, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. Romans 1:8-15 ESV
Paul commends the Romans for their faith. At the same time, he addresses their need for an apostolic impartation of the power of the Holy Spirit. According to Wesley's Explanatory Notes, all of the other churches where Paul and Peter had visited experienced the laying on of hands by the apostles. By known events of the history of the church, at that time the Romans had not yet experienced this blessing.

In verse 11, the words "spiritual gift" refer to a supernatural endowment according to Strong's Concordance. In Greek, pneumatikos is the word for spiritual, and is related to the word used for the Holy Spirit, pneuma. So clearly this impartation that Paul desires to give them has to do with the power of the Holy Spirit. They have faith, but they need the Holy Spirit to strengthen and establish them for the proclamation of the gospel in their region.

Paul at this time was so overwhelmed with the responsibilities of ministering to other churches (verses 13-14) that he didn't have time to be there in person to strengthen and encourage the Romans. So, like we do when we call ahead to reserve seating at a fancy establishment, he had to send them a letter as sort of a precursor to his visit. Maybe it didn't take the place of the apostolic blessing, but it certainly prepared them for it.

In closing, this passage ties in with the book of Acts and of the apostles' practice of laying on of hands. Does this practice apply today? Do we need  a current apostolic impartation of the power of the Holy Spirit? Or, as in Ephesians 2:20, are we living on the foundation set by the apostles and prophets of the first century? What is Paul really saying here?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Obedience to the Faith

1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, 7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:1-7 ESV
So begins the book of Romans. We did some commentary reads on this passage and observed some great summaries of what Paul is saying from the beginning of his letter. For one, there's a fabulously succinct synopsis of the gospel in two verses. Secondly, the words Paul uses to describe himself, the church, and Christ reflect his perspective on how the gospel affects our relationship with God. But what really drew our attention was some conflicting views of verse 5 both in the commentaries and in different translations - so we dove a little deeper into the text.

Via Strong's Concordance, we looked up the words "obedience" and "faith" to determine what is specifically meant in this context. We're not Bible scholars and can't read the Bible in straight up Greek, so this resource will be very valuable. Obedience is hupakoē in Greek, and means attentive hearkening, that is, (by implication) compliance or submission. Faith is pistis, and means persuasion, that is, credence; moral conviction, especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; by extension the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself: - assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity. It said more than that, but we cut out the superfluous words.

What is Paul summarizing here? We know from previous study that Romans deals heavily with the idea of the Law vs. grace through Christ. In this verse, Paul states that he is called "to bring about the obedience of faith" - is he talking about an obedience to a set of rules, i.e. Law? Or is our faith in Christ something different? Strong's makes it pretty clear - the "system of religious truth" is a credence, an assurance, a belief. Doesn't sound like rules to us, at least.

The point, we both agree, is that Paul is establishing right from the start the entire proposition of the book of Romans, i.e. salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. After his summary of the gospel, Paul makes a deliberate choice of words to direct the readers to the gist of his argument. We are called to be obedient to faith. Not to the Law. Obedience to faith is our submission to the reliance upon Christ for salvation.

There's more we could draw out of this passage, but I think you get the point.

Resources: Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary, Matthew Henry's Commentary, Wesley's Explanatory Notes, Strong's Concordance, Bible Gateway (Bible translations)

Saturday, October 9, 2010


This is the "Genesis" of our blogging career. Leah and I have been talking about doing a blog for a while now. But with life being,, we have not had time to start it up until now. We also needed an idea, a theme of sorts. We could have just started some random blog like most people do. You know, the ones where they go on and on about me, myself and I. But we wanted to be "different", to make an "impact" with our writing. It's more than just the random thoughts in our brains. It's what God is speaking to us through His Word, but more simple than that - what God wants everyone to know. That is the way He wrote the Bible; anyone can read it and get the point. So we are looking for the point.

We are gonna start with the Epistles of the Apostle Paul. Paul is trying to communicate "the point" of the Gospel. Why did Jesus come? What did He do? What does that mean for us? Why is it so important for everyone to know?

We want this to be more than just our ramblings about the things we are reading. For one, we want to read commentaries and what other people have written/spoken on the subject. Secondly, we want this to be a conversation. We don't have all the answers, but then neither do you. We want to take the Bible at face value. We're not trying to be culturally relevant. We want truth! So comment, but stick to the point :)

We believe in the three rules of proper Bible reading and teaching: CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT. We'll start with the text, and then use Scripture to interpret. Easy, right?

We plan to start tomorrow with the first chapter of the book of Romans. Join us in our journey...if you dare! :-P