Romans 3:23-5:1 debate

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Dr. Walter, Aug 23, 2011.

  1. Dr. Walter

    Dr. Walter
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    Some of you interpret justification in Romans 3:23-5:1 to be inclusive of works produced through your own personal life by means of God's grace. In the following debate over this section of scripture I will attempt to demonstrate that such a definition is absolutely false. Instead, I will attempt to clearly show that the developmental and contextual argument of Paul is that justification before God has its sole basis in the works of another Person distinct and separate from ourselves but in the life of a representative/substitutionary person. That it is the "ungodly" sinner that is justified by faith and such faith is subsequently evidenced as genuine by good works produced through the believer by God's grace or in the words of Apostle Paul to the Ephesians we are first the "workmanship of God created in Christ Jesus" secondly "UNTO good works" which follow. Hence, there is a cause and effect relationship between justification by faith due to Christ's works and good works produced through us by grace. The other position simply reverses the Biblical order of cause and effect putting the cart before the horse, which error, is precisely what Paul condemned as "another gospel" in the book of Galatians.

    In this debate I will start with Romans 3:22 as the basis provided by Paul to establish the for justification before God.
     
    #1 Dr. Walter, Aug 23, 2011
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  2. Dr. Walter

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    Rom. 3:22-23 ....for there is no difference:
    For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;


    The proper understanding of this text is absolutely essential if we are going to rightly divide the following context and understand the following context.


    1. There is a denial - "for there is no difference"

    Here Paul exposes and condemns the very root error held by some on this forum. Some on this forum demand such a “difference” between Jews and Gentiles is the basis of their whole interpretation of Romans 3:27-5:1 in regard to the terms “law” and “sin” and “works.”
    Some interpret the term “law” in this context in such a way to demand that such a “difference” between Jews and Gentiles must be acknowledged. They define “law” in this context as something unique and distinct to Jews only thus making a “difference” between Jews and Gentiles in regard to the very thing that determines and defines another word – “sin.” They they proceed on this imagined “difference” to demand another “difference” in the meaning of “works of the law”.
    However, Romans 3:9, 19-20 will not sustain such a “difference” as it is the same “law” (the law of God) regardless if it is written on stones or on the human conscience that defines what “sin” is and it is this same law that stops “every mouth” not merely the Jewish mouth and condemns “all the world” and not merely the jewish world and defines what is “sin” to both not merely to the Jew. Hence, there is no difference between the “law” and “sin” and therefore there is no difference between either Jew or Gentile in attempting to do “the works of the law” or the “deeds of the law” – meaning attempting to do, satisfy by their own works what God’s law demands whether written on stone or on conscience. In principle it is the same law – God’s law – and in principle it demands the same thing – works of obedience and “there is no difference for all have sinned and come short” of God’s righteousness which is reflected on stone and conscience.
    However, such a manufactured “difference” in separating Jews from Gentiles on the meaning and application of the contextual terms “law” and “sin” and “works of the law” is the ultimate refuge upon which the whole interpretative position of my opponents build their denial of justification by grace through faith without works.


    Here is the root of error exposed and condemned by Paul of those who interpret Romans 3:27-5:1 so as to make a "difference" in the definitons of "law" and "sin" and "works" between Jews and Gentiles.


    2. There is a UNIVERSAL verdict - "ALL" not some have "sinned".

    He did not say that simply "JEWS" have sinned and that this is merely a restricted ethnic problem or a problem relating only to a restricted kind of Jewish law but that this is the universal verdict inclusive of Gentiles (see verse 9) and therefore of ALL HUMANITY whether Jew or Gentile so that there is "NONE righteous, NO, NOT ONE" regardless of ethnic identity.

    The condemnation is universal because the basis for condemnation is universal (vv. 19-20). The Law of God is the UNIVERSAL BASIS for condemnation in verses 19-20 so that "every mouth" not merely Jewish mouths and "all the world" are condemned not merely Jews.


    3. There is a standard set that all have come short of attaining - "come short of the glory of God”

    Consider for a moment what is “the glory” of God??? Remember it is something that sin causes a person to “come short of”! Hence, it is the opposite of sin! The glory of God is his moral holiness or absolute righteousness that is reflected in His law whether written on stone or on conscience. It is to fail in “one point” of God’s law so that “sin” can be ascribed to you!
    Hence, it does not matter if you have sinned against God’s law as it is revealed to your conscience or God’s law as it is revealed on stone – “for there is no difference for all have sinned and COME SHORT of the glory of God.


    CONCLUSION: My opponents will have to make a "difference" between Jew and Gentile in regard to "sin" because they will have to make a difference in regard to how they define "law" in this context in order to limit "the works of" that law or the "deeds" of that law to merely Jews. That is precisely how they get around Paul's condemnation of their doctrine of justification by works in Romans 3:27-31 and that is precisely how they get around Paul's clear teaching in Romans 4 that justificaiton is "without works."
     
  3. Dr. Walter

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    "For there is NO DIFFERENCE for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

    My opponents base their whole interpretation of Romans 3:27-5:1 on making a "difference" in what defines sin - "the law" and thus "the deeds" of that law.

    However, notice in Romans 3:19 it does not use the PLURAL "laws" but the singular "law" and says that the "all the world" and "every mouth" is condemned due to being "under the law" singular because the law can only condemn those "under the law" and to be "under the law" is to be "under sin" or the condemnation of that law:

    Romans 3:9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;


    Hence, "THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE" as "both" are "under sin"


    19 ¶ Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law:...."

    Hence, if the Gentiles were not under this same SINGULAR "Law" then "every mouth" could not be stopped by the law and "ALL" the world could not be condemned by this Law. However, "every mouth" is stopped by this same SINGULAR Law and "all the world" is condemned by this same SINGULAR law and therefore both Jews and Gentiles are "under the law" and thus "under sin.


    Hence, "THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE as "both" are "under the law" - the same singular law.


    Now this same singular law is "the law of God" or God's Law written on stone and written on conscience:

    Rom. 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
    15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)


    The meaning of Paul is quite simple. Jews have the law written on stone but the Gentiles were not given THE LAW written on stone. However, what is written in their hearts - meaning that aspect called "conscience" is "THE LAW" the very same law in moral principle as written on stone.

    Remember the law written on stone in principle can be summarized into two commandments - love God and love your fellow man as yourself.

    Remember the law written on stone in principle can be summerized in only one word - Love.

    It is this same law in principle written upon the conscience of the Gentile.

    God is Love and love is the MORAL EXCELLENCY of God that is His righteousness manifested and put into practice and therefore His Holiness and Glory that is without sin. Sin comes short of God's glory.


    Hence "THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE FOR ALL HAVE SINNED AND COME SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD"


    that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
    20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.


    There is no difference in "the law" between Jews and Gentiles as to the "glory of God".

    There is no difference in "sin" between the Jews and Gentiles as to the "glory of God."

    There is therefore no difference in "works" in regard to this same law as "no flesh" can be justified "by the deeds of the law". The "works" that the Gentile attempts in response to the condemnation of "the law" in his conscience is no better than the "works" attempted by the Jew in response to the condemnation of "the law on stone and in his conscience.
     
  4. Dr. Walter

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    This thread is a challenge to those who view justification by the Roman Catholic interpretation. It is a challenge to deal with Romans 3:22-5:1 objectively, honestly and in keeping with the immediate context.

    1. No pitting scripture against scripture as an answer.

    2. No jumping outside the immediate context in order to define a text contrary to the definition supplied by the context.

    3. No use of a supposed cultural setting to overturn what the text and context defines it to mean.

    4. No speculative philsophical answers to overturn the contextual definitons given.

    Simply be honest with each word in each text in keeping with the immediate context.
     
  5. Matt Black

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    I can't engage unless you drop #1, #2, and #3 of your pre-conditions, otherwise we are just engaging in an utterly sterile exercise of brutally prising a Scripture out of its context with the grave danger of leading us down the wrong epistemological path. "A text without a context is a pre-text for a proof text"!

    Or, if you do want to play that silly game, then let's also talk about Matt 27:5b+Luke 10:37b taken together out of their contexts.
     
  6. Dr. Walter

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    Surely you are jesting? You cannot be serious? Are you telling me that you want to engage on the condition you can respond by pitting scriptures against scritpures???????? Comparing scripture to scripture is one thing, pitting scripture against scripture is quite another thing? You can't jump around until at least you attempt to deal with the text contextually! You have got to be kidding, right?

    Are you telling me that you want to define contextual terms contrary to the definition supplied by its own context? Surely you must be jesting?

    Are you telling me that you want to redefine contextually terms by unproven cultural theories????

    Are you telling me that you think that these standard rules of hermeneutics are nothing but a "silly game" to you? Surely you are jesting, you can't be seriours?

    If you are serious, then the answer is no, as that is to stray from sound hermeneutics into absolute eisgetical rediculousness!
     
  7. Matt Black

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    I'm not talking about 'pitting Scripture against Scripture', but putting the individual passage you want to discuss in its proper Scriptural and exegetical context as any sound Biblical scholar would wish to do, rather than attempting to view it in 'splendid' isolation, which is what you seem to be wanting to do. If if have misunderstood you, then I shall be delighted to be corrected but otherwise I am absolutely serious: I have seen far too much damage done both to individuals and sound doctrine by eisegetically cherry-picking Scriptures in the way you are attempting to do.
     
  8. Dr. Walter

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    What I have seen on this forum is what I call a "merry go round" eisgetical practice. In order to avoid exegetical proven definitions in a passage that is more comprehensive and more explicit in regard to a given subject, they go to another text that is less comprehensive and more subject to debate and ASSUME AN INTERPRETATIVE position for the purpose to overthrow the greater by the lessor. Why? In order to avoid contextual based evidence that would expose the ASSUMPTIVE interpretation of the lessor text and in order to avoid dealing with the more comprehensive and focused greater text.

    Hence, they attempt to interpret the major by the minor or interpret the more comprehensive by the less comprehensive or the more explicit by the less explicit or the more debatable by the less debatable. This is a major eisgetical error.

    Therefore, since we are explicitly dealing with the meaning of Romans 3-5 which is thee chapters in length and which is given by Paul to explicitly define the nature of justification "BEFORE GOD" in a book that the first twelve chapters is given explicitly to deal with the subject of soteriology - that is a MAJOR not a MINOR portion of scripture, therefore, it should take preeminience in our investigation over any and all other minor portions of scripture that are found in books that are not so explicitly dedicated to that subject in specific or to soteriology overall. The major should be the basis to interpret the minor and not vice versa ESPECIALLY when the minor is being used to overthrow explicit contextual definitions of terms found in the major.

    To reverse this and proceed from the minor to the major or to interpret the major by the minor is an eisgetical fallacy and it is illogical and the only reason for that approach is a predisposed agenda that really fits the idea of using a proof text as a pretext to overthrow greater and more comprehensive context.
     
  9. Dr. Walter

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    The major eisgetical fallacy of my oppoents in their approach to Romans 3-4 is their presumptions that the phrase "the deeds of the law" as found in Romans 3:19-20 refers to only and merely Mosaic Law and then make the conclusion that Paul is only and merely denying one must become Jewish in order to be saved. This false conclusion is absolutely necessary to defend their soteriological views against the Pauline doctrine of justification by grace before God as expounded in Romans 3:23-5:1.

    Such a conclusion contradicts every aspect of the context beginning with the very text in which the phrase is found and then contrary to the whole developmental argument by Paul both IMMEDIATELY preceding and following that text. This is why they wiill flee to lesser and more debatable portions of scripture where they PRESUME an equally eisgetical false interpretation to pit against the clear and explicit teaching by Paul in Romans 3-5 and Galatians 3-5 which are explicitly given to define and defend Paul's doctrine of justification before God against the very eisgetical views of my opponents. They wish to use the unclear to interpret the clear, the less comprehensive to interpret the more comphrensive.

    For example, take note of the contextual factors found in Romans 3:19-20 that make their interpretation utterly impossible.

    1. The singular rather than a plural use of "law"
    2. The inclusion of the debated phrase "deeds of the law" synonmyous with "works of the law" in the same context.
    3. The universal terms - "no flesh" - "all the world" - "every mouth"
    4. The explicit statement of universal condition "under the law"
    5. The comprehensive demand "by the law is the knowledge of sin"
    6. The explicit comprehensive denial - "no flesh shall be justified by the law"

    These things utterly defy any interpretation that Paul is only and merely defining JEWISHNESS or that "deeds of the law" is synoynomous with JEWISHNESS. However, this is exactly the interpretation forced upon Paul here by my opponents. They intepret not only this passage but the entire passage of Romans 3-5 to be only and merely a denial that one must become a Jew in order to be justified and that "works of the law" or "deeds of the law" means obedience to MOSAIC LAW.

    Not only do these two verses defy such an interpretation but the entire context does IF one follows the contextual development of thought.
     
    #9 Dr. Walter, Aug 25, 2011
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  10. Matt Black

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    But you still have to fit this greater context within the still greater context of the Pauline corpus as a whole which in turn has to be read within the still greater context of the whole NT and in particular the Gospels; God gave us the whole Bible, not just a couple of chapters of it...
     
  11. Dr. Walter

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    That is not the question. The question is where does one start in the overall Pauline context? Do they start with the minor or the major? Do they start with the major explicit and specific portions or the minor? Here is where a major error occurs! Here is where either exegesis or eisgesis begins.
     
  12. Dr. Walter

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    I think it should be obvious that you start with scriptures that not only devote the most information to a particular theme but that are by design explictily dedicated to defining that theme/subject against false ideas and repudiating false ideas. This is exactly what Romans 3-5 and Galatians 1-5 are by design. Why in the world would one start anywhere else?????
     
  13. Matt Black

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    Because you don't know whether you're putting the cart before the horse or not. The point is that you - from what you are saying - have decided what the major theme is in advance and picked your Scriptures based on this, rather than the other way around. You may be right in that - but equally you may not be.
     
  14. Matt Black

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    For example:
    How does one determine (and indeed who does the determining!) what's minor and what's major?

    Because you might, for example, apply different criteria for assessing what's major and what's minor, such as which of Paul's letters were written first and whether his subsequent letters contain an element of explanation and expansion on the earlier, whether they represent a development in the nature of progressive revelation on the earlier, or whether they reflect different contextual problems he had to deal with...or a bit of everything. If it's the first, for example, then one should to a degree read Romans and Galatians in the light of I Thessalonians and (if one accepts, as I do, Paul's authorship of these epistles), Ephesians and Colossians. It can be like the Irish route directions: "I wouldn't start from here if I were you."
     
    #14 Matt Black, Aug 25, 2011
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  15. Dr. Walter

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    1. Explicit committment to the very subject in question
    2. Polemic by purposeful design
    3. Bulk of information for the above two essentials

    Romans 3-5 is explicitly committed to the very subject in question. It is by design intended to define and defend justification from false ideas. It has the bulk of information in regard to these essentials.
     
  16. Doubting Thomas

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    However, this doesn't preclude one from bringing certain presuppositions to this passage (ie justification is simply a one time, once for all event; 'once justified always justified', etc) which may color one's reading of that passage, thus increasing the risk one might be misreading that passage, particularly when one considers (or ignores) what else is said about justification/salvation in the wider Pauline corpus and the rest of the NT.
     
  17. Dr. Walter

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    It does prevent one from bringing certain presuppositions to this passage IF you allow the grammar and developmental argument in the passage be the final authority for such presuppositions. If the grammar and context will not support and/or demand such presuppositions then the text provides no right to assert such or claim any basis for such.
     
  18. Dr. Walter

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    I invite you to bring your presuppositions with you to Romans 3-5 and let us see if Romans 3-5 will support your presuppositions. If Romans 3-5 condemns your presuppositions it means your presuppositions are based upon pure eisgesis of whatever proof text you may attempt to draw them from elsewhere in the scriptures. Truth harmonizes and any theory that will not harmonize is not truth.

    So, come on in, the water is fine. Let us see whose presuppositons will stand the test of Romans 3-5.

    I am ready and willing to prove that Paul's denial that no flesh can be justified by "the deeds" or "works of the law" does not mean he is merely denying that one must become Jewish to be justified. That is your contention and that is the contention of all who reject justification by grace without works as they are forced to redefine works as merely works under Mosaic covenant legislation.

    So come on in, and test the waters and see if your presupposition will stand up to this text.
     
  19. Doubting Thomas

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    I am not sure if you are addressing this to me, but I don't disagree with that statement in bold. Certainly Paul is addressing the controversy of the Judaizers in more than one of his epistles (as this is the historical context the early church found itself and the apostles had to face), but he shows why the Judaizers are wrong by pointing to the bigger picture, that no one can merit salvation by his deeds. He did this by pointing out that the Law was to show how we all fall short (Jew and Gentile) and is a school master to lead people to faith in Christ, the one by whose merits we can actually be reckoned righteous before God. In other words, the Judaizers thought the Gentiles had to become Jews to be saved, but Paul taught why that thinking was fundamentally flawed. The Law was not salvific but was diagnostic--for Gentile AND Jew--and it pointed to the real cure (Christ).

    However, one is still left with how to deal with that pesky passage in James 2, in which it is stated that a man is justified by works and not by faith only (2:24). Proper interpretation means properly reconciling both without distorting either. When one considers all of Paul's statements, as well as the wider NT teaching, this harmonization can be accomplished in which violence is done neither to Romans 3-5 or James 2.
     
  20. Dr. Walter

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    Very well said!!!

    I do not have any problems with harmonizing James 2 with Romans 3-5. However, I would not want to deal with that on this thread as this thread deals with Romans 3-5 and if I started here to deal with James 2 it would side track this thread.

    I will open up another thread on the supposed james 2 problem.
     

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