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Living Romans 12

Alan Knox has reposted a series on how the church can live Romans 12:9-21 along with some current thoughts. He points out that Romans 1-11 are theological, but starting with Romans 12, Paul begins to speak about how the church can live out the theology of the first chapters.

This all reminded me of one of my complaints about my biblical training, both undergraduate and graduate. While an undergraduate, I took Exegesis of Romans in Greek, a one quarter course designed to make sure that those of us with two years of Greek didn’t just stop there. It was wildly unsuccessful at that task, as the assignments that forced one to actually read Romans in Greek were minimal. But my greater complaint was that we didn’t follow a schedule and thus only got through Romans 8 in class.

This did allow the very Arminian professor, also an advocate of the moral influence view of the atonement, to avoid some difficult passages in Romans 9-11, but it also meant that we stayed in the theological portions of the book.

I was further disappointed when I took an exegesis class in Galatians in seminary. I was disappointed that it was done from the English text, but because of the graduate school/seminary agreement (I was in the grad school), I had to take on an extra assignment, and the professor agreed that I could simply do all of my work from the Greek text. (The value of two years of Greek after which one doesn’t actually study the New Testament from the Greek text largely escapes me.) But again I was disappointed, as we only completed through Galatians 4.

Now I know that both professors would say that they were just trying to cover the text that they did cover in depth. I know this because I asked, and they did say that. But the risk here is that one gets an extremely skewed view of Paul–Paul the theologian, when he was really much more pastoral. His theology was the foundation for his practical teaching.

I’m no expert on Paul. My primary study was in the Hebrew Scriptures and other ancient near eastern literature. But I am a firm advocate in all cases of studying whole pieces of literature and putting the appropriate weight on all portions. I can’t imagine Paul being happy when we read about salvation by faith and then miss Galatians 5:13 which tells us the results.

How does your church and your life measure up to the practical, active portions of Paul’s epistles? What difference might it make in the way other people view Christians if we did so?

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