posted on Sep, 27 2019 @ 05:07 PM
The text of this chapter is complicated by two passages which are really in parenthesis. As I have been showing, the argument does not need them, and
flows down on either side of them.
The first passage (vv3-8) is attached to the assurance that the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.
Paul quotes and tries to deal with quibbling arguments trying to show that the Jews should not be blamed for falling away from God.
“If they have been faithless, if they have broken off their relationship with God, does that rebut the belief in God’s faithfulness?”
Not at all; he would remain true even if every man was false.
The objection continues, on behalf of the faithless ones;
“It is said that our wickedness serves to show the justice of God. In that case, it is having a beneficial effect, surely, and so it could be argued
that God cannot justly punish us for it.”
Paul’s response is that what God does must be considered just, since otherwise he could not judge the world.
The objector then repeats the argument in slightly different words;
“If through my falsehood God’s truthfulness abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?
For that matter, would it not be good for us to increase our sin, so that God would be glorified even more?”
Without actually answering this last point, Paul complains that some people are falsely accusing his own followers of taking this line. These
slanderers are justly condemned.
The second passage (vv24-26) is a summary of Paul’s teaching on the gospel.
Now in these chapters, Paul is slowly and carefully introducing his potential Jewish readers to the gospel as a new teaching.
So any kind of summary is out of place at this point. It belongs, if anywhere, at the end of the argument.
Furthermore the summary is expressed in condensed technical language, making it more appropriate for a different readership, people who already know
what Paul is talking about.
The summary goes like this;
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God- that is, the image of God, in which they were created.
They are justified by his grace as a gift (“grace” has not yet been explained).
Through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus (“redemption” has not yet been explained).
Christ was put forward by God as the HILASTERION, or “thing that deals with sin” (translated as “expiation” or “propitiation”, according
to taste). This is another concept which is introduced without explanation.
This works through faith in his blood. That is to say, through faith in the fact that he died.
Previously, God has been exercising patience and taking no notice of the sins of the world. As Paul
told the Athenians, “The times of ignorance God overlooked” (Acts ch17 v30).
But this forbearance is not acceptable in the long term, because it denies his righteousness.
So now, finally, he vindicates his righteousness by justifying those who have faith in Christ.
This passage is one way of summarising the gospel, but it would have been a very unhelpful and confusing detour in the middle of a simple
How did these “supplementary” passages get into this chapter and other Pauline chapters?
My theory goes back to the time when Paul’s letters were first collected and “published”. Something of the kind must have happened, anyway. I
believe the event inspired the writing of the other letters of the New Testament, which are directed more generally.
I premise that supplementary additions would have been made in the process of collecting the letters.
Sometimes, perhaps, Paul added later notes to what he had written originally.
Sometimes extracts from letters which were not being included in the collection might be “saved”, by getting inserted into the text of the
published letters. That could account for the second passage mentioned in this post.
There are two interesting points which may throw light on the first passage.
On the one hand, Paul’s immediate response to the self-defensive case made by the “faithless” party is rather lame and perfunctory.
On the other hand, the raising of these topics looks like a foretaste of the more elaborate discussion which we find in ch6 and ch9.
Putting those two points together, I surmise that we have been gifted with some of Paul’s preliminary notes for the writing of those later chapters,
which survived long enough to be incorporated into the published version.