I apologize for not posting in a few weeks. It has been very busy in the Murray family. Between attending Moody Pastor’s Conference in Chicago, doing a wedding, then celebrating my father’s 60th birthday, then my 4th wedding anniversary I have been driving all around Illinois and Michigan. But, it was worth it.
Right now I am starting my read through of Romans in the Greek in my Read the Greek New Testament plan developed by Dr. Daniel Wallace of Dallas Theological Seminary. There are a lot of new vocabulary words, and words which I have forgotten since my Moody days, so reading it takes a little bit of time. I am finding though that my familiarity with the book is almost a hindrance at times though. I have read it so many times in the English that I am not forcing myself to really look into verb tenses and the flow of the grammar as much as I should. Keep me accountable to that!
Well, this post is not going to be a super long post, but there are a few verses that are sticking in my head. Romans 1:22 and Romans 2:4.
“Claiming to be wise, they became fools”
“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”
The context of Romans 1 is an introduction to Paul’s ministry in the form of a formal greeting to the Romans(1:1-6) then his relationship with the Romans (vv 7-13), his love and hope of the gospel (13-17), then a discussion of the flip side of the Gospel- what happens when you/ if you reject God (18-32). Romans 2 continues with the discussion of how God is righteous in judging those who reject Him- whether Jew or Gentile, since He offers righteousness to those who accept it (cf 1:16-17).
So, what about these verses caused me to “re-evaluate” and reconsider the book of Romans?
Well, quite simply, these passages confront my view of God. They make me ask,
- Am I making God into a weak, simple, genie in a bottle who acts upon my whims and desires?
- Where do I get my theology?
- Why do I view God as I view Him?
- How do I perceive his movements and actions?
- Do my proclamations of wisdom prove me to be otherwise?
A lot of us, if we are honest, have a few issues with what Paul is saying– especially in Romans 1:18-32. He says that we make idols for ourselves (1:23), and that we should be able to understand big truths of God (1:19-20). But, all too often, we twist and distort what we know to be true, and what we have read declared by God, and then come up with our own truth. We then think we are pretty cool. Yet, this very act shows us to be fools.
Let me give you a translation of the text which brings out a few more nuances and is a little more colorful.
“Through an affirmation to be called wise, they are declared morons.”
In the Greek of the text, verse 22 starts off with a participle, which acts as describing the circumstances related to the next regular verb. That next regular verb is not a very nice one. Here is the transliteration (what the word sounds like) into English of that verb
εμωρανθησαν – Eh- moh- ran- thay- san
Do you see that word made out of the second and third syllables? Mow + Ran = Moron
That is not a word which is nice to call people. If I were to hear one of my athletes call another athlete a moron, I would give that athlete a stern talking. Yet, how does Paul get away with this?
Well, he gets away with it by the fact that He is calling attention to a greater truth than what we like to acknowledge. When we oppose God, we are opposing truth and reality. This makes us out to be fools. The verb is also used in Matthew 5:13; Luke 14:34; and 1 Corinthians 1:20. In the two Gospel references, it is the declaration that a salt without a saltiness is worthless because its value is in its taste. In 1 Corinthians it is used in a very long word play showing that God flips the wisdom of the world on its head and makes it into utter foolishness in light of the power displayed upon the Cross of Calvary.
So, back to Romans 1:22 and 2:4.
My challenge to you, which is the same challenge I am giving to myself: re-evaluate your own personal “wisdom” in light of Scripture. Is it actually wisdom, or does it oppose what God reveals to be truth. Secondly, re-evaluate your view of God. Does it align to Scripture, or does it align to what you desire or what some person has said to be true?
The truths of Scripture and the God of Scripture are infinitely better, more beautiful, and more beneficial to know than anything we can create.