Do not live like the gentiles (Eph. 4:17)

“Now this I affirm!

I testify

In the Lord!

You must no longer live

As the gentiles do,

In the futility

Of their minds!”

Τοῦτο οὖν λέγω καὶ μαρτύρομαι ἐν Κυρίῳ, μηκέτι ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν καθὼς καὶ τὰ ἔθνη περιπατεῖ ἐν ματαιότητι τοῦ νοὸς αὐτῶν,

Paul said, “Now this I affirm (Τοῦτο οὖν λέγω)!  I testify (καὶ μαρτύρομαι) in the Lord (ἐν Κυρίῳ)!  You must no longer live or walk (μηκέτι ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν) as the gentiles do or walk (καὶ τὰ ἔθνη περιπατεῖ), in the futility (ματαιότητι) of their minds (τοῦ νοὸς αὐτῶν).”  Only the Pauline letters used this word ματαιότητι, that means vanity, emptiness, unreality, purposelessness, ineffectiveness, or instability.  Paul now turned to the behavior and lifestyle of the gentiles.  He clearly affirmed and testified before the Lord.  He did not want them to live or walk around the way that the gentiles do.  They were empty minded with useless minds.  Paul was not going to let the new gentile Christians fall back into their previous gentile ignorance and bad behavior.  Do you have an empty useless mind?

Paul’s apostolic defense (chapter 10)

Paul defended himself and his ministry.  He was not two faced.  He would not be judged by human standards. Although he lived in the world, he was waging a war, but not with worldly weapons.  Divine power destroys arguments, not with his words, but with his obedience to Christ.  He would punish disobedience, but accept obedience to God.

Seek the good of your neighbor (chapter 10)

Paul said that all things are lawful, but not all things are helpful or build up.  Let no one seek their own advantage, but the good of their neighbor.  Eat the meat from the market without any questions.  Everything belongs to God.  If you are at diner at an unbeliever’s house, consider the other person and the role of conscience.  Why should anyone be denounced?

Only one God (1 Cor. 8:4)

“Hence,

As to the eating of food

Offered to idols,

We know that

‘An idol

Has no real existence.

There is no God

But one.’”

Περὶ τῆς βρώσεως οὖν τῶν εἰδωλοθύτων οἴδαμεν ὅτι οὐδὲν εἴδωλον ἐν κόσμῳ, καὶ ὅτι οὐδεὶς Θεὸς εἰ μὴ εἷς.

Paul said that as to the eating of food (Περὶ τῆς βρώσεως) offered to idols (οὖν τῶν εἰδωλοθύτων), we know (οἴδαμεν) that an idol has no real existence in this world (εἴδωλον ἐν κόσμῳ).  There is no God but one (καὶ ὅτι οὐδεὶς Θεὸς εἰ μὴ εἷς).  Paul indicated that pagan idols have no real existence in this world, since they are manmade images, not the real God who is the only God.  What were they to do about the food that was offered as a sacrifice to these pagan idols?  Jews had avoided these foods sacrificed to idols.  The concept of a monotheistic God was part of the Jewish Hebrew tradition.  Thus, he wanted the Christians in Corinth to be against idolatry and polytheism.  There was only one God, not a series of gods. These idols were useless human false images.  Have you ever seen a false pagan idol?

It is not a sin to marry (1 Cor. 7:36)

“If anyone thinks

That some one

Is not behaving properly

Toward his betrothed virgin,

If she is old enough,

And it has to be,

Let him do

As he wishes.

Let them marry!

It is no sin.”

Εἰ δέ τις ἀσχημονεῖν ἐπὶ τὴν παρθένον αὐτοῦ νομίζει, ἐὰν ᾖ ὑπέρακμος, καὶ οὕτως ὀφείλει γίνεσθαι, ὃ θέλει ποιείτω· οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει· γαμείτωσαν.

Paul said that if anyone thinks or supposes (νομίζει) that someone is not behaving properly (Εἰ δέ τις ἀσχημονεῖν) toward his betrothed virgin (ἐπὶ τὴν παρθένον αὐτοῦ), if she is old enough (ἐὰν ᾖ ὑπέρακμος), then it ought to be (οὕτως ὀφείλει γίνεσθαι).  Let him do as he wishes (ὃ θέλει ποιείτω).  Let them marry (γαμείτωσαν)!  It is no sin (οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει).  Only the Pauline letters used this word ἀσχημονεῖν, that means act unbecomingly, act improperly, or unseemly, and the word ὑπέρακμος, that means past the bloom of youth or of full age.  Paul said that it was no sin to marry, even if the groom to be and his intended virgin wife might behave improperly.  If she was old enough or the proper age, then let the wedding take place between these two, fiancé and his fiancée, since they were engaged to be married.  There would be no sin there.  Paul seemed to indicated that engaged couples could be involved in sex before the actual marriage.  Do you think that it is a sin to have sex outside of marriage?

Men should not touch women (1 Cor. 7:1)

“Now concerning the matters

About which you wrote.

‘It is well for a man

Not to touch a woman.’”

Περὶ δὲ ὧν ἐγράψατε, καλὸν ἀνθρώπῳ γυναικὸς μὴ ἅπτεσθαι·

Paul turned to the questions addressed to him by the Christian Corinthians.  “Now concerning the matters about which you wrote (Περὶ δὲ ὧν ἐγράψατε).”  Then he used another Corinthian saying “It is well for a man not to touch a woman (καλὸν ἀνθρώπῳ γυναικὸς μὴ ἅπτεσθαι).”  Apparently, they wanted Paul to weigh in on some problems they were having in Corinth.  Thus, they had written a now lost letter to Paul.  Paul referred to this non-extant letter a few times later in chapters 7:25, 8:1, 12:1, and 16:1.  Paul used another Corinthian saying about men staying away from women by not touching them, which was a euphemism for sexual relations.  There may have been an ascetic group in Greek Corinth that did not believe in marriage.  What do you think about how men should relate to women?

They did not understand the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 2:8)

“None of the rulers

Of this age

Understood this.

If they had known this,

They would not have crucified

The Lord of glory.”

ἣν οὐδεὶς τῶν ἀρχόντων τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου ἔγνωκεν· εἰ γὰρ ἔγνωσαν, οὐκ ἂν τὸν Κύριον τῆς δόξης ἐσταύρωσαν·

Paul said that none (ἣν οὐδεὶς) of the rulers of this age (τῶν ἀρχόντων τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου) understood (ἔγνωκεν) this.  If they had known this (εἰ γὰρ ἔγνωσαν), they would not have (οὐκ ἂν) crucified (ἐσταύρωσαν) the Lord of glory (τὸν Κύριον τῆς δόξης).  Paul indicated that the contemporary rulers at that time did not understand the role of God or Jesus in salvation history.  Otherwise, they would not have crucified Jesus, the Lord of glory.  Paul put the blame on both the Jewish leaders and the Roman officials for the crucifixion that took place some twenty years prior.  Do you understand the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ?

Not human wisdom (1 Cor. 2:5)

“Thus,

Your faith

Does not rest

On human wisdom,

But on the power of God.”

ἵνα ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν μὴ ᾖ ἐν σοφίᾳ ἀνθρώπων ἀλλ’ ἐν δυνάμει Θεοῦ.

Paul thus said that their faith (ἵνα ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν) does not (μὴ ᾖ) rest on human wisdom (ἐν σοφίᾳ ἀνθρώπων), but on the power of God (ἀλλ’ ἐν δυνάμει Θεοῦ).  Paul made it clear that their faith was not based on his weak ineffective human words.  The power of God is what made their faith strong, not his words.  Do you recognize the power of God in your life?

The value of Romans

For the German reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546), this Epistle to the Romans was the principal and most excellent part of the New Testament, the pure gospel.  Is this a summary to prove that a man is justified by faith only?  Paul also set forth the whole nature of man as poisoned and corrupt.  For others, it is a valuable attempt to understand the role of justification, salvation, and redemption.  Is justification by faith only valid so long as it is combined with obedient cooperation with the Holy Spirit?  Is this about personal salvation?  Above all, it is an important letter of the apostle Paul to the Christian community of believers in the great empire city of Rome in the mid-first century, some twenty-five years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.