Sometimes we read or teach at a rapid pace. In Narrative we need to keep the story’s internal momentum intact, so excessive discussion of the meaning of seven stones or the weight of Goliath’s spear only encumbers the drama in data. However, some passages deserve a reflective slow read.
I was switching gears from Advent/Christmas to Romans 12 for 2012. This was inspired by New Years day being on a Sunday. Now it was possible to bust up that chapter into 5 or 6 weeks. Or it was possible to take Chapters 12 to 15 in that same time frame. But as I was reading the text, it became obvious that I was hurrying it and missing the details.
Romans 1-11 is the doctrinal/theological foundation of the book, and chapters 12 to 15 are the application passages – though one has to be careful with those distinctions. One can apply all along the way in Romans 1-8 in particular. And the application has to be clearly connected to the doctrinal. (see “Therefore” in Romans 12:1).
It will be a good time for us to take a new year, and a new phase of the churches ministry (having tied up a major building project) and ask what it is we ought to be doing with this gift of righteousness discussed in the earlier chapters.
Romans 12 is as close as Paul comes to Wisdom Literature – the verses have a proverbial quality, a number of phrases are rich for reflection and connection to life. Consider “Love must be sincere” and “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”
John Stott pointed out in his book on Romans the many allusions in this chapter to the teachings of Jesus. (Romans; God’s Good News for the World, IVP, p. 317-319) This is interesting for those who say Paul took Jesus and turned him into Christ (i.e. he dogmatized a spiritually fluid tradition.)
So this is what we will be Freshly Reading for the next two months.