A taste of 1 Peter

The following little excerpt is from a brief study on the Roman ‘household codes’ during the time of the New Testament writers. Aristotelian models were shaped primary by three social building blocks, or relationships which acted like glue for the Roman empire. They were Slave-Master, Husband-Wife and Parent-Children. Paul, as well as Peter both pick up on these themes in their letters, as a new entity, the church, wrestled both with its inherited Judaism, as well as a Hellenistic world that pressed upon it various social norms. With Rome in particular, history shows just how fiercely it responded to various uprisings that attempted to usurp these structures (e.g. Spartacus).

In the case of woman in their submissive roles to men, this was also something that early believers could not simply throw off without significant recourse. As with slaves and their masters, woman were to honor the patriarch in many interesting ways, including worship of the family god(s), participating in official Roman pagan celebrations. When the husband would come to Christ, the family, including those associated under his authority, would follow suit and become Christians (at least on the outside!). Those without power however or under Rome’s structural authority, like a woman or slave, if they came to Christ, they did not have the same freedoms and might suffer significant consequences from the authorities if they bucked the system, considered themselves free apart from the social norms.

All of this is difficult for our western minds, so used to freedom and independence. 1 Peter picks up with some real problems. Believers are experiencing some issues, and many of the social norms are being challenged, and beyond just suffering for their faith, they are experiencing the results of rebellion against the state. The last thing Jesus intended was for believers to be persecuted for the wrong things, He suffered justly, by being loving, He did not sin. These believers however were struggling with many forms of sin, against once another and also within the home obviously, as Peter dedicates chapter two specifically for guiding the home structure in the midst of a turbulent time.

My little notes below (I have to stay below 300 words or I get penalized, so thus explanation above).

Peter addresses the Christians composed of both Jewish and Gentile believers as aliens in exile (1:1), but in a metaphoric sense (Achtemeier 2001,518). Born again into a living hope (1:3), through the blood of Christ (1:19) and resurrected Savior (1:21) they now collectively represent God’s holy people among the nations (2:9). As such, believers need to live into this reality, ridding themselves of all that would compromise their witness before an opposing world. 

After encouraging a general submission to worldly authorities (2:13-14), he turns his attention to the Greco-Roman household codes. Peter roots the need for cultural adaptation among the believers, not using their freedom in Christ for evil (2:16) but as an opportunity to participate in the suffering nature of Jesus, following in his steps (2:21-25). They were obviously experiencing suffering, but for the right things? 

Peter reveals the difficult issues within “sect and society” (Bauman-Martin 2004, 264). As believers, their “commitment to the lordship of Jesus Christ have led to transformed attitudes and behaviors that place them on the margins of respectable society” (Achtemeier 2001, 518). Not attending Roman sponsored religious activities, or managing their homes in accordance with Greco-Roman household codes, would undoubtedly spur “social ostracism and other forms of harassment” (520) and be “viewed as a threat to the glue of the empire itself” (524). Chistian communities adapted the Roman codes (524) to other scriptural mandates such as mutual submission (Eph 5:21). If not mitigated wisely, believers would be exposed to additional, and perhaps unnecessary suffering. 

Peter encourages them that “suffering serves rather as proof of their identification with Jesus” (527) and though they live in a new reality, they must continue to live in a world shaped by old realities (527). Peter elevates unity and love among them all (3:8), which if practiced would continue to promote “nonconformity rather than in a context of assimilation” (Bauman-Martin 2004, 268) and ensure the gospels powerful witness. 


References:

Achtemeier, P., J. Green, and M. Meye Thompson. 2001. Introducing the New Testament: Its Literature and Theology. Eerdmans: Grand Rapids. 

Women on the Edge: New Perspectives on Women in the Petrine Haustafel Author(s): Betsy J. Bauman-Martin Source: Journal of Biblical Literature,Vol. 123, No. 2 (Summer, 2004), pp. 253-279 URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3267945

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Taste of Colossians

We had to, in less than 300 words, give our best answer to the question, “What is Paul’s connection between the sufficiency and supremacy of Jesus in in Col. chapter 2?

Here was my stab, along with my incredibly messy worksheet.

Within the introductory greeting (1:1-12), Paul gives the reader a hint of the letter’s theme, that they “may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (1:9). Before he plainly tells the Colossian church of the true nature of God’s wisdom (2:2), Paul first unpacks the divine nature of Jesus (1:14-20). He begins by stating the results of the supremacy of Christ, that Jesus has already rescued the believers from the power of darkness, they now safely reside in Jesus kingdom (1:13). Paul then seems to back up, demonstrating the expansive dominion reign of the resurrected Christ, including a hymn rich with comparisons and contrasts to drive home the point (1:14-18).

Paul moves from a theological tone and elaborates on his own biographical participation as an Apostle, a suffering distributor of this most glorious mystery (1:14-2:3). He then returns to the theme of Christ’s supremacy, expanding on the means of His efficacy (2:9-15), giving evidence through the nature of circumcision (2:11), baptism (2:12) and commandments (2:14).

Based on the reality of Christ’s supremacy and sufficiency, Paul instructs the believers against the temptations that seek to undermine their prize (2:16-23).

Paul is affirming the supremacy of Christ before the Colossian church in order to remind them of the Gospel they had already heard (2:6). Jesus wasn’t just a wise teacher, or prophet, He was God incarnate, the fount of wisdom itself. The death that Christ died, and the subsequent resurrected life of Jesus is therefor sufficient to “make us alive together with Him” (2:13), the one who rules over reality (2:15). Human ritual, possession of knowledge, and other elemental rules may appear useful, but add nothing to the gift of sharing in His sufficient Life.

This week I have learned to appreciate the Apostle’s multi-dimensional capacity to build an apologetic defense using logic, hymn/poetry, and other literary tools. Because I don’t speak or understand the Greek language, I’m intrigued at the amount of literary resourcefulness Paul employs without even knowing it as an English reader. In any case, I’m learning to appreciate how the Spirit touched the early disciples, encouraging them to fight the good fight, write these letters in the first place, then preserve them for us in the canon of scripture. As letters, I have a much deeper appreciation for not quite knowing what Paul was actually addressing, in terms of previous letters, issues, and relationships already in place. Paul felt strongly, obviously, that Christ needed to be set forth in unquestionable superiority over all that is seen and unseen.

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Feb 2021

My heart is full, and mind is overflowing with learning this past season. I haven’t time to post. I’m in my final stretch with Fuller. I’m currently in a New Testament class and Vocational Formation course. The reading has been by far the most intense of my journey. Reading through the NT in 10 weeks along with dense, thick books, videos, online interaction with classmates tackling chapters, ideas, contexts. It’s wonderful learning, and unlearning, but a bit like standing in a dust-storm at the moment!

For posterity, I do want to share a few personal notes, as I’ve invested +13 yrs into this blog! Gracious, what will I think looking back, if I get a chance to read it over again. I think I will see mercy, God’s deep patience and love over our family as we journey in this thing called calling, vocation, the narrowing focused life towards a race run. Imperfect, forming, and at times pretty fun! I’m reading this book now on vocation through history , through the lens of the first 4 centuries, the middle ages, reformation, and to present. Each context had widely different views on what a calling was, what it looked like, and how we navigate hearing the voice of God and living out our faith in context. History is so wonderful, it truly grids us.

So its snowy, winter decided to slam us here in February with several weeks of white beauty. We weren’t sure if we would get winter this year. Our skate rink has sat without ice for two years now – it’s hard to judge if making it is worth it when its only now in Feb that we have decent ice making weather. Will it warm up next week and all our work is for naught? I think so, therefor we’ll wait for next year. We need at least a solid month of sub zero to make the work worth it – plus I’m getting old!

Our cafe is open, but business is slow. Quarantine measures are still sort of in play, but not really. Sometimes I stop in and the cafe is full of life, so it’s a joy to keep it warm just in case folks do venture out into the slippery roads. Vanya, our staff-orphan grad is doing well, he’s learning english now and paying for lessons himself. Anya is managing the cafe more, we’re down to just two full time staff and Natasha oversees them and the logistics. We have more folks using the studio, Dima is actually making some money now each month providing extra lessons, and also some folks coming from outside Rz (and within) to record. He wants to expand this, we’re thinking the basement of the mission building could have better space for recording and generally making a lot of noise!

We are expecting our first grandbaby next month, or April, I don’t know the dates exactly. It’s a boy, Broderic and Kristin are pretty nervous, excited and all those things that come with having your first child! Deb will be planning to go, I am planning to stay and watch the kids. It’s hard to think I won’t get to hold him, but I don’t really feel great about leaving our little girls here without a parent just yet. Perhaps if the weather was all nice – we still have the house electricity go out sometimes, and our gas as well, I want to keep them all cozy and fed.

Bron is in a new college course for design. She is doing some really amazing illustrations and 3D prep work for folks. Brent is now trying to figure out what his next steps are in Florida. He wants college, but also needs to pay the bills. Real life yeah? Proud of them all. Tucker is researching Art courses as well, he’s very good with logo/art stuff, and doing a lot for me personally and for our ministries (razomGo at the moment).

Battery dying, thanks for checking in. Whomever that may be:)

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Who is the “I” in Romans 7?

There are three primary views.

1. Israel’s Relationship With Torah: Paul takes on a first person Jewish Torah observer. He does this to reveal the true nature of the Law as a sin revealing and guilt producing instrument.

My primary reason for holding this view is related to the overarching flow of Romans, “since understanding any part of it depends on understanding its entire sweep” (Achtemeier et al. 2001, 325). In 1:2-5 and 1:16-17, Paul’s focus is upon the unifying, universal nature of the Gospel, “understood in terms of its history in God’s activity with the Jews” (308). Topics of circumcision, the Prophets, Abraham, David and Mosaic commandments show us Paul’s trajectory as a representative Jewish believer in relationship with the Torah (2:11-16, 2:17, 3:21, 4:1, 7:7-9) a privilege given to Jews only (3:1), and the works of the Law (3:28-29) as Israel’s failed attempts at observing them before a watching Gentile world (2:24). Torah-works (4:4) becomes a complimentary theme in building Paul’s argument of Abraham’s single family promise through faith in Genesis 15 (Wright 2013, 209). This promise is fulfilled only as believers, including the Jewish community, trust inwardly in God’s righteousness and see the Torah through the proper lens as an instrument of justice rendering guilt (6:12, 20).

By taking on the “I” of a representative Israelite, Paul reveals exactly how the Law works to imprison and kill rather than liberate (7:23). Righteousness is not a primarily a personal theme for Paul but related to re-interpreting of Jewish relationship to Torah, which is a lynch pin for mending a Jewish-Gentile division. Who are God’s people? “Being counted right with God was a communal problem” (Thiselton 2010, 97).  This view best holds the original argument of Paul, that Jewish believers need no longer require Gentiles to observe the law to be in fellowship with them, which we know was causing division in the church at Rome. At the same time, as the Jewish community questions the faithfulness of God as the Gospel now grows freely among the Gentiles, Paul is able to move from Chapters 7 into 9-11 and expound on the mysterious, and glorious way in which God has in Christ revealed mercy to the non-Jewish world, albeit through their hardness and rejection of God’s mercy, bringing an end to the Law and uniting all parties in Christ (10:4). Now grafted in to the olive tree, the Gentile believers should not boast, but recognize the roots of God’s covenant with Abraham (11:17-20), participating in the blessing of God’s righteousness not by merit, but implicit trust as Abraham did when he looked to the stars and believed God would make him the father of many nations.

It’s that trust, now in Jesus resurrection that secures our place as God’s united covenant people – first to the Jew, then the Gentile.

Lastly, Chapters 14-15, in keeping with Hellenistic letter writing convention affirm Paul’s original focus on unity in Christ among Jewish and Gentile believers (Achtemeier et al. 2001, 276). With Torah rightly understood, “Jews and Gentiles can now belong to another, namely Christ, instead to sin” (317). 

2. Autobiographical: Paul is expressing the inner turmoil of his own Jewish experience as someone who failed to keep the Torah inwardly. “The first person style strongly implies some degree of autobiographical reference also” (Moo 1986, 122). 

3. Universal Humanity: Paul is representing the plight of the human race under the principles of Adam’s sin (Rom 5:12-18).

References: 

Achtemeier, P., J. Green, and M. Meye Thompson. 2001. Introducing the New Testament: Its Literature and Theology. Eerdmans: Grand Rapids. 

Moo, Douglas J., 1986. New Testament Studies: Israel and Paul in Romans 7:7-12. Article: p. 122-135. Issued: 1/13/2019. URL: http://journals.cambridge.org.fuller.idm.oclc.org/action/displayBackIssues?jid=NTS (Links to an external site.)

Thiselton, Anthony C. 2010. The Living Paul : An Introduction to the Apostle’s Life and Thought, InterVarsity Press. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/fuller/detail.action?docID=2030875 (Links to an external site.) 

Wright, N.T., 2013. Paul and the Patriarch: The Role of Abraham in Romans 4. Journal for the Study of the New Testament. Sage Publications. URL: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav 

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