Baptized For The Dead

Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all?  Why then are they baptized for the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:29).

These words are a part of a greater context.  Some were teaching that there is no resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:12).  Paul, in response to this, reasoned with these Christians: (1) God either has the power to raise the dead, or He does not.  If God does not have the power to raise the dead, then Christ is risen (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).  However, hundreds can testify to the resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-11).  Christ is risen from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20a).  Therefore, do not think that it is impossible for God to raise the dead.  (2) God not only raised Christ, He will raise those who are in Christ to a better existence (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, 50-58).  “Therefore… be steadfast, immoveable always abounding in the word of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).  (3) Have you considered the implications of not believing that we will be raised?  If the dead are not raised, then why be baptized for the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:29).  If the dead are not raised, why stand in jeopardy every hour? (1 Corinthians 15:30).  Why endure the things that we do?  “If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me?  If the dead do not rise, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!'” (1 Corinthians 15:32).

What is baptism for the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:29).  (1) Some have understood this to refer to vicarious or proxy baptism by the living for those already dead.  The Mormons so teach (this is one of the reasons that Mormons maintain the largest genealogical library in the world).  However, there are some difficulties with this view: (a) Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15, was not writing to introduce a new kind of baptism.  Instead, he was reasoning from an existing practice.  Where is proxy baptism clearly instructed in the New Testament?  Where is the clear New Testament example of anyone being baptized for another?  (b) This view denies that there is a great gulf fixed at death which cannot be passed over (Luke 16:26; Hebrews 9:27).  (c) This view undermines personal responsibility (Ezekiel 18:20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 17:30; Romans 12:1; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:13).  (d) New Testament baptism, for the remission of sins, involves – personal belief (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 8:36-37; Acts 18:8); repentance (Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19); and, confession (Acts 8:36-38).  (e) It seems to violate the Book of Mormon which reads, “For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked” (Alma 34:35).  (f) The third person plural pronouns “their” and “those” appear several times in this chapter.  The reference is at times to the dead or those who had died (e.g. 1 Corinthians 15:18, 23, 35 cf. 15:29).  Some believe that this is asking “What will they (the dead) do who are baptized for the dead (on behalf of their dead selves), if the dead do not rise at all?”

(2) Some have suggested that Paul was referring to an existing practice, without endorsing the practice.  Gary Workman explains that some see this as “an argumentum ad hominem – an appeal to something that was being practiced even though one does not agree with it (see, for example, Matthew 12:27).  Paul would therefore not be condoning proxy baptism any more than Jesus believed that the Jews were actually casting out demons” (Workman, Baptism For The Dead, The Restorer, January 1992).  Two obvious difficulties exist with this view.  (a) Wayne Jackson expresses one difficulty, saying, “Why would Paul mention, even in an ad hominem fashion, this practice of proxy baptism, without any censor, when such a practice is so patently foreign to the New Testament teaching regarding the nature of baptism?  Does it make sense that the apostle would rebuke one error (no resurrection), and yet pass over in silence an equally false view (proxy baptism)?  (Jackson, Mormon Doctrine: Baptism For The Dead, http://www.christiancourier.com). (b) Jim McGuiggan expresses a second difficulty, saying,  “You can show your opponent is inconsistent for practicing something which logically implies the resurrection of the dead if he denies the resurrection of the dead but you can’t establish the truth of the resurrection of the dead by basing your argument on their erroneous practice” (McGuiggan, The Book of 1 Corinthians, pp. 196-197).  There is an additional consideration,  (c) Gary workman explains, ” There is no evidence that any such proxy baptism occurred in the first century. The earliest known practice of it among Christians was by the followers of Cerinthus and by Marcionites, two heretical groups in the second century. But these groups may have derived their practice from a misinterpretation of this very practice” (Workman, ibid). Admittedly, this could have been practiced by some earlier, though the historical evidence is lacking.

(3) Some believe that this refers to New Testament baptism in water for the remission of sins.  It is believed that the sinner is baptized for the dead.  (a) Some understand “the dead” to refer to Christ; that is, they were baptized for Christ, who died for them.  However, this cannot be for “the dead” is plural (literally the dead ones).  (b) Others believe that “the dead” refers to the future state of these people.  They are baptized in preparation for the afterlife.  The word “for” (huper) can mean “on behalf of,” or “for the sake of,” or “concerning,” or “with reference to” (see 2 Thessalonians 1:4; Romans 9:27).  I have no strong objection to this view.

(4) Some believe that this refers to these brethren baptizing others for the dead.  Wayne Jackson explains, “Some scholars suggest that the preposition huper – “for…” can signify “in place of,”  or “instead of” (cf. Arndt and Gingrich, 1967, 846).  This might reflect the meaning that those being baptized were doing so to ‘take the place of’ the dead.  James MacKnight refers to an ancient Greek writer who describes the replacement of soldiers who died in battle: ‘They decreed to enlist other soldiers in place of [huper] those who had died in war’ (1954, 203).  The meaning of the passage might thus be: ‘If, as some of you argue, there will be no resurrection, why do you continue to baptize folks to take the place of your comrades who have died in defense of their faith?  If there is to be no resurrection, why replenish the church?'” (Jackson, Mormon Doctrine: Baptism For The Dead, ibid).  Why do you continue to baptize people to replace others who have died for the faith? I have no strong objection to this view.  However, this seems, at best, remotely related to the subject of the resurrection.

(5) I believe that the context best fits the baptism (overwhelming) of suffering [Matthew 20:22-23 (cf. Matthew 26:39; Hebrews 2:9); Luke 12:50].  Consider the words of Foy Wallace Jr., “Have you ever observed carefully the context of that passage (1 Corinthians 15:29 – B.H.)?  The very next verse says, “And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?’ (1 Corinthians 15:30 B.H.)  And in the verse after that the apostle says, ‘I die daily’ (1 Corinthians 15:31 B.H.).  They were living in ‘jeopardy’ as Christians in the constant liability of death.  Some had ‘fallen asleep’ – martyrs who had died for believing and testifying to the resurrection. Those who had not died were baptized, immersed in the sufferings referred to by Paul.  They were in the daily peril of death, their lives ‘in jeopardy every hour.’… why should those who had died, be baptized in their sufferings, immersed in sorrow and death, ‘for the dead’… Hence, what shall they do, who like Jesus were baptized in suffering, if there is no resurrection of the dead?  And why should we who live ‘stand in jeopardy every hour,’ live in daily peril of death, as though ‘ appointed to death’ (1 Corinthians 4:9 B.H.), if there is no resurrection of the dead?  What is the gain?  What is the inducement to be baptized in such suffering if there is no resurrection?  In verse 32 the apostle refers to his own experience in Ephesus when he withstood opposition as though he had ‘fought with beasts,’ and he asked, ‘What advantageth it me, if the dead rise not?  It appears clear to me that the baptism of 1 Corinthians 15:29 is not a baptism in water, but a baptism in sufferings, which all endure for the resurrection of the dead” (Wallace, God’s Prophetic Word, pp. 281-282).  I think that this best fits the context.

A word of caution: While there may be a few possible meanings to this difficult passage, which do not contradict what is plainly taught elsewhere in scripture, one should reject any interpretation which goes against what is plainly taught elsewhere in scripture.  Moreover, one should be cautious not to build an entirely new doctrine out of a passage with dubious meaning. Clear passages should be used to help interpret difficult passages and not the other way around. Difficult passages should be harmonized with clear passages.

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Jesus Chic

(written in 2004)   
On Monday, May 10, 2004, Fox News ran a piece on “Jesus Chic is Latest Fashion Trend.”  They reported that since the release of “The Passion of the Christ,” L.A. boutiques have been “jumping on the Jesus bandwagon.”  Belt buckles, T-shirts, belts, caps, you name it, are being marketed with Jesus slogans.  One L.A. company is making a shirt that says, “Jesus is my homeboy,” and another that says, “Mary is my homegirl.”  Madonna has been seen sporting both.  Pamela Anderson and Lara Flynn Boyle has been seen in the Jesus shirt.  Ashton Kutcher has been seen with the Jesus ballcap on.
What the world really needs to see more than a Jesus t-shirt on our body is Jesus living in our lives today (1 Peter 3:3-4).  Christ needs to be formed in us (Galatians 4:19).  We need to have His mind (Philippians 2:5).  We need to follow His example (1 Peter 2:21).  He needs to live within us (Galatians 2:20).
Putting on of a Jesus t-shirt will not overcome a corrupt heart (Matthew 23:27-28).  Let us be clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27; Romans 13:14).
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Peace Series: Let The Peace of God Rule

But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:14-15).

Three things are essential to congregational peace.  First, love is “the bond of perfection” (NKJV) or “the bond of unity” (NASB).  Christians are to “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another…  but above all these things put on love.  James Burton Coffman comments, “The thought here appears to be not that of adding love as an additional Christian grace, but rather that of making love the cement that holds everything else in place” (studylight.org).  John Kackelman Jr. differs a bit commenting, “‘Above all’ could be rendered ‘on the top of all.’  Using the clothing metaphor we find that love is the final piece of clothing to be put on.  It is to be like the ‘belt’ or ‘girdle’ which bound the loose flowing robes of the first century dress.  The only way that the other seven articles of clothing can be secured on the believer’s person is by the binding of them with the girdle of love.  Love completes the dress of the believer.” (Kackelman, Studies in Colossians, pp. 111-112).  Both commentators understand love to be that which holds the other traits (tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering:bearing and forgiving) in place.

Second, the peace of God is to rule the hearts.  The message of the gospel is called “the gospel of peace” (Romans 10:15; Ephesians 6:15).  God’s word must have rule in our hearts.  The word “rule” (brabeuo) means: “to act as an umpire” (Vine’s); “to be an umpire; to decide, determine; to direct, control, rule” (Thayer).  Alan Adams comments, “Much of the turmoil which plagues individual Christians, and consequently the ‘one body,’ come as a result of people deciding to call their own balls and strikes, fouls and fairs” (ed. Garland Robinson, The Church at Colosse, p. 151).  God’s word should be regarded as our objective standard (not merely “I feel,” or “I think”).  It teaches peace (e.g. Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18; 14:19; 2 Timothy 2:22; Hebrews 12:14, etc.).  It instructs us how to deal with issues between brethren (e.g. Matthew 5:23-24; 6:14-15; 18:15-17; 18:21-35; Luke 17:3-4; Romans 14:14-23; 16:17; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 8:1-13; 10:23-33; 2 Corinthians 2:6-11; Titus 3:10, etc.). It is to be our standard and rule book.

Third, thankfulness is needed.  The word “thanks” appears in some form in every chapter of Colossians, a total of six times in the book (Colossians 1:3; 1:12; 2:7; 3:15; 3:17; 4:2).  An attitude of gratitude and appreciation will go far in maintaining peace.  We should be thankful to God (e.g. Colossians 1:12-14; 1 Timothy 1:12).  We should be thankful to others (e.g. Romans 16:3-4).  Consider the following words: “Gratitude puts situations into perspective.  When we see the good as well as the bad, it becomes more difficult to complain and stay stuck.  Gratitude helps us realize what we have.  This can lessen our need for wanting more all the time.  Gratitude strengthen relationships, improves health, reduces stress, and in general makes us happier… When Mark Twain said ‘I can live two months on a good compliment,’ he only told half the story.  While the person who receives the praise enjoys feeling notices and valued (and is motivated to do more of the same), the giver can bask in the connection.  With every compliment given, a bond is strengthened, trust is built and conversation encouraged.  Potent stuff!” (unstuck.com). “And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).

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Peace Series: Peace Surpassing Understanding

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts, and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Life is not always easy.  The wording “be anxious” (merimnao) refers to having “a distracted care” (Vine’s).  The root word (merizo) means “to draw in different directions, distract” (Vine’s).  There are difficulties in life which can distract us from what is spiritually important.

We need to stay focused (Matthew 6:33).  It is important that we continue to trust in God.  Solomon instructed, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Job said, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him” (Job 13:15). Paul said, “For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach,  because we trust in the living God…”(1 Timothy 4:10)

Those who trust Him have certain characteristics.  (1) They continue to pray (Philippians 4:6).  No, God does not always grant their petition (2 Corinthians  12:7-9).  They trust His wisdom.  They know that God is able to deliver them, and choose to serve Him whether He does or not (cf. Daniel 3:17-18).  (2)  They have an inner peace that the world does not understand (Philippians 4:7).  This peace of God guards their hearts and minds.  Remember that Paul was in prison at this time.  The ESV Study Bible comments, “Paul’s use of ‘guard’ may reflect his own imprisonment or the status of Philippi as a Roman colony with a military garrison.  In either case, it is not Roman soldiers who guard believers – it is the peace of God almighty.  Because God is sovereign and in control,  Christians can entrust all their difficulties to him, who rules over all creation and who is wise and loving in all His ways (Romans 8:31-39).  An attitude of thanksgiving contributes directly to this inward peace” (ESV Study Bible, p. 2287).

When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea-billows roll; what ever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul’” (Song: It Is Well With My Soul by Horatio G. Spafford).

The man who wrote this song knew personal loss.  In 1871, The Great Chicago fire destroyed nearly all of his material possessions.  In 1873, his wife and their four children were on the passenger ship Ville Du Havre, when it collided with another ship and sank.  His wife survived, but all four children died.  Horatio Spafford wrote this song in 1876, despite these tragedies.

The original second verse of the song read, “Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control.  The Christ has regarded my helpless estate and hath shed His own blood for my soul” (Max Wheeler, Reflections on our Hymns, p. 10).  If one is right with God, all will be OK.  “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

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Peace Series: Not Food and Drink

The Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).

The context concerns the eating of clean and unclean food (Romans 14:14).  The church at Rome was composed of Jews (Romans 16:3 cf. Acts 18:2-3; Romans 16:7; Romans 16:11a cf. Romans 11:1) and Gentiles (Romans 1:13; Romans 11:13).  This was a transitional time for the Jews.  Many were still struggling with their old Jewish practices.  They were not comfortable eating certain things.  The Gentiles did not have the same history of dietary practices.

The Old Testament contained certain dietary laws (see Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14).  When Paul wrote the letter to the church at Rome, these dietary laws were no longer in force (Acts 10:9-16; Romans 14:14a; more would be written later – 2 Timothy 4:4-5).

However, not all Jews were convinced.  They had not arrived at personal faith (conviction) that it was permissible for them to eat.  Moreover, it is a sin to do anything – if one cannot do that thing in faith or a good conscience before God (Romans 14:23; 1 Corinthians 8:7, 9-13).

How should the Gentiles handle the scruples of these Jews?  Should they mock and ridicule them?  No.  Should they pressure and tempt them to violate their consciences?  No.  Loving consideration should be given to others (Romans 14:14-15).  In optional matters, that is – in things that do not have to be done to be pleasing to God (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:8), it is wise to ask: (1) Will this edify and help save others? (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:23-24).  (2) Will this unnecessarily offend or cause others to stumble?  (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:32-33; 1 Corinthians  8:13; Romans 14:21).  (3) Will this help maintain peace?  (cf. Romans 14:19).  (4) Will this help bring glory to God?  (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:31).

It is important for Christians to remember, and be able to distinguish between  what things are important, and what things are  not.  The Kingdom of God (the church) is not about individuals pursuing their preferences in food and drink. Here are some things which are important: (1) The Kingdom of God is about righteousness.  The word is used in different ways in the Bible.  It is used of right doing (e.g. Acts 10:34-35), salvation and the plan of salvation (e.g. Galatians 2:21; Romans 4:1-8; Romans 10:1-3), and a right standing before God (e.g. Luke 1:6; Romans 4:3 cf. Genesis 15:6; Philippians 3:8-9).  Christians should be focused on doing God’s will, maintaining a right relationship with God, and helping to save others.  (2) The Kingdom of God is about peace.  Christians should make great efforts to live peaceably with others  (cf. Romans 12:18; Romans 14:19; Hebrews 12:14).  (3) The Kingdom of God is about joy.  Christians have hope.  We can “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).  We also should want others to have this same joy and hope.  Let us remember and distinguish between what things are important, and what things are not.  Paul wrote, “If food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, least I make my brother stumble” (1 Corinthians 8:13).

Therefore, let us pursue the things which makes for peace and things by which one may edify another” (Romans 14:19).

The word “pursue” (dioko) means “hasten, run, press on… strive for, seek after, pursue… strive for, seek after, aspire to something” (B-A-G); “to run swiftly in order to catch some person or thing, to run after… to pursue i.e. to seek eagerly, earnestly endeavor”; “literally ‘pursuing’ (as one would a calling)…” (Vine’s).

Christians should, in optional matters, follow the course which makes for peace and leads to edification.  Robin Haley remarks, “Here is every member’s duty with the Kingdom of Christ.  The Lord’s church does not need ‘freedom fighters’ because our brother’s soul is much more important than my freedoms” (Haley, A Commentary on the Book of Romans, pp. 246-247).  Remember that we are speaking of optional matters. This is not speaking of accepting sinful practices or compromising on obligatory matters for the sake of peace.

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Peace Series: Peace Through Jesus

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).

Jesus made possible peace with God.  It is through Jesus: (1) Man can be justified.  Justification may be defined as: the state of one who has been declared to be, or counted as, just or righteous.  Man is justified by the blood of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:9).  (2) Man can enter a state of grace.  The reference is to the state of having received forgiveness of sins (cf. Ephesians 1:7).  (3) Man can have a heavenly hope.  In one sense, He is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1; Colossians 1:27).  He is the basis of our hope.  Christians can joyously live anticipating “the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

Man accesses this peace conditionally.  (1) He is justified by faith (Romans 5:1). He must trust God and His plan for salvation (Romans 1:16).  Saving faith is obedient faith (Hebrews 11).  It is not a mere mental assent (James 2:24).  Obedience is required (Hebrews 5:9).   (2) He accesses grace by the faith (Romans 5:2).  The definite article is present in the original language.  The reference is to the message of the New Testament (cf. Acts 6:7; Galatians 1:23; Jude 3).  Personal faith should be based on the objective system of faith, the word of God (cf. Romans 10:17).

“He Himself is our peace, who has made both one and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity” (Ephesians 2:14-16).

He (Jesus Christ) is our (this includes Jew and Gentile) peace.  (1) He provides peace between God and man (Ephesians 2:16).  He through the cross reconciles both (Jew and Gentile) to God.  This reconciliation occurs in one body (church cf. Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4; 5:23).  The plan was not to reconcile Jew and Gentile in different bodies, but in one body.  (2) He provides peace between man and man (Ephesians 2:14-15).  He has made both (Jew and Gentile) one (cf. Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11).  He has broken down the middle wall of separation.  This is speaking of the religious distinction between Jew and Gentile.  Wayne Jackson comments, “The imagery possibly was taken from the four-and-a-half-foot wall in the temple are that separated the court of the Gentiles from the sacred area reserved for Jews.  It had death warnings posted at intervals (two of which have been found), forbidding Gentiles to pass beyond (cf. Acts 21:28-29).  The barrier was literally broken with the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70.  In principle, it was broken down with the abolition of the Mosaic system at Calvary.  Others see the symbolism as a reference to the rending of the temple veil at the time of Jesus’ death (Matthew 27:51).  Whatever the background, the language symbolized the fact that the religious wall separating Jews from Gentiles was gone” (Jackson, A New Testament Commentary, pp. 389-390).  Furthermore, He has abolished the enmity.  Thayer comments “by meton(ymy) i.q. cause of enmity.”  He abolished the law of Moses (which separated Jew and Gentile) through the cross.

And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.  For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:17-18).

Jesus preached peace.  He preached it to both those who were afar off (Gentiles cf. Ephesians 2:11-13), and those near (Jews).  Jesus earthly mission was not focused on the Gentiles (Matthew 15:24; Matthew 10:5-6).  However, He did commission the apostles to go make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:20).  It is because of this He can be said to have preached peace to both.

Both (Jew and Gentile) have access to the Father through Jesus.  This access is available by the Spirit.  What does this mean?  Compare Ephesians 2:18, 20 with Ephesians 3:3-6.  Ephesians 2:18, 20 reads, “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father… having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.”  Ephesians 3:3-6 reads, “how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)… it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.”  The Holy Spirit revealed the saving message of the gospel of Christ.  The Holy Spirit revealed that this message is for both Jew and Gentile.  We with joy should say, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

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Peace Series: Glory, Honor, Peace

Who (God – B.H.) ‘will render to each one according to his deeds’: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness – indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek for there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:6-11).

Judgment is in view.  There is coming a day “When God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ” (Romans 2:16; John 5:22; Acts 17:31; 2 Corinthians 5:10).  Judgment will be fair, without partiality, according to each one’s works (Romans 2:6, 11; Acts 10:34-35; 1 Peter 1:17).

Those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth will be punished.  They “shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

Those who live a life doing good and seeking the things above will be rewarded.  They will find: (1) glory (1 Corinthians 2:7; Philippians 3:20-21); (2) honor (John 12:27); (3) immortality [Roy Deaver points out – “Certainly, Paul does not say that if one seeks for one thing God will give him something else.  Rather, God will give him that for which he seeks.  Therefore, glory, honor, incorruption, and peace are constituent elements of eternal life” (Deaver, Romans: God’s Plan For Man’s Righteousness, p. 76).  The Biblical use of “eternal life” includes more than immortality.  It refers to an eternal quality of life]; (4) Peace [Man today can have peace with God through Jesus (Romans 5:1, 9; Ephesians 2:17-18)].  Notice that it is a manner of life which is being described.  It is speaking of those “who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality” (Romans 2:7).  “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).

Garland Elkins summarized the impartiality of God, noting: (1) He declared all under sin (Romans 3:23).  (2) He provided a common Savior for all (John 3:16; Hebrews 2:9).  (3) The same invitation is extended to all (Matthew 11:28-30; Revelation 22:17).  (4) The same conditions of pardon are required of all (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 17:30).  (5) There is one standard of conduct for all (Acts 10:34-35).  (6) There is one common church for all (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4; 5:23); (7) In the manner of judging, He will be impartial (1 Peter 1:17).  God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34-35), nevertheless He is a respecter of character (1 Peter 3:12) – [ed. Dub McClish, Studies in Romans, Denton Lectures, pp. 69-70].

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans  8:5-6).

There are two types of people in view.  Some people let their fleshly, carnal appetites and desires dominate their thinking and guide their lives (cf. Ephesians 4:17, 19-20).  Other people have their minds upon spiritual things, and they allow the teachings of the Holy Spirit to guide their lives (cf. Colossians 3:1-2; Psalm 119:104-105, 128).  Roy Deaver comments, “To ‘walk after the flesh’ is to be concerned about, to be mindful of, desirous of fleshly things, temporal things – with no real concern about spiritual things, things of God.  To ‘walk after the Spirit’ is to be concerned about, to be mindful of, desirous of, spiritual things, things of God, things sacred, divine, eternal…” (Deaver, Romans: God’s Plan for Man’s Righteousness, pp. 259-260).

Do you want peace with God?  Then, set your mind of spiritual things.  Decide to live according to His will, and not your on fleshly desires.  Make Him King and not self.

“There’s a great day coming, A great day coming, There’s a great day coming by and by; When the saints and the sinners shall be parted right and left, Are you ready for that day to come?” (song: There’s a Great Day Coming by Will L. Thompson).

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