Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 1 Study # 5
5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
1901 ASV Translation:
5 through whom we received grace and apostleship, unto obedience of faith among all the nations, for his name's sake;
There are no textual differences between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26. There are some differences between the translations of the ASV and the KJV. The "by" of the KJV is altered to "through" in the ASV because the Greek text uses a form that indicates mediated instrumentality and the English "through" does a better job of carrying that idea across from Greek into English. The "have received" of the KJV is altered in the ASV to the simple "received" because the verb is a simple Aorist and the KJV translation muddies the waters by making the verb appear to be a possible Perfect. The "for" of the KJV is altered to "unto" by the ASV. Either translation easily fits into the conceptual idea of the sentence. The "to the" of the KJV is altered by the ASV to "of". The ASV is easily the better translation because Paul's idea is emphatic and focuses on obedience that arises out of conviction (faith). The KJV omits the definite article "the" before "nations" and the ASV includes it. It exists in the Greek text, so the ASV is a better rendition of Paul's meaning. The ASV adds the word "sake" after "name's" because the "for" is a term that typically carries the idea of "for the sake of". The KJV's "for his name" is, therefore, omitting a part of Paul's terminology.
February 24, 2004
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- 1. Paul's method of expressing the mediated instrumentality of his reception of grace has already been expressed in 1:2 of this paragraph where God's promise was mediated through "His prophets". The most obvious implication is that God gave Paul both grace and apostleship, but He did it through the mediation of Jesus Christ. This is fundamental Gospel: God never gives anyone grace except through Jesus because it was Jesus Who satisfied Justice so that Grace could be extended. God is the Giver. Jesus Christ is the Mediator of the Gift. Paul is the recipient. In effect, God gives the gift to Jesus to be transferred to the recipient and Jesus then gives the received gift to the intended recipient. The clearest example of this that comes immediately to mind is Revelation 1:1: The revelation which God gave to Jesus to give to His bondservants...
- 2. Depending upon one's concept of "grace", the "and apostleship" will be translated as an "addition" to grace, or as an epexegetical expression of "grace". Both notions are biblically sound because Paul teaches a "grace upon grace" concept in which individual expressions of grace come one upon the heels of another in the sense that "forgiveness" is a "grace gift" and then "Body-assignment" (the gift(s) that are to be used for the sake of the Body) is another "grace gift" ("grace upon grace"). However, if we understand that the essential notion of Grace is "God doing for man what He requires of man", then the grace given to Paul was in the form of "apostleship" because this, according to verse 1, was Paul's "calling". Since he was a "called apostle", he had a task to accomplish that had been assigned by God. Given that assignment, "grace" was given in the form of "apostleship" so that "grace" would accomplish for Paul what was required of Paul by God. It is my conclusion that Paul should be understood to be saying, "...through Whom I received grace, even apostleship, unto...".
- 3. If we, then, understand God's "gift" through Jesus to Paul as the stewardship of apostleship, what we have is God, through Jesus, and then through Paul, addressing "all of the nations". God is the One addressing the nations. The validity and integrity of the words of His "address" is not compromised one iota by the fact that those words are "third hand" (passed from the Father to the Son and then to Paul and then to the nations). Then, if we include the additional mediator of "writing", the words to the Romans become "fourth hand" (God gives the words to Jesus, who gives them to Paul, who commits them to written form, which then becomes the agent of "speech" to the readers). All of this "passing on" is, of necessity, error free lest the "words" lose their integrity. Interestingly, the biblical doctrine is that the Holy Spirit actually empowers and guides the very process of writing so that it is, in fact, God addressing men with words He has, in effect, written. Thus, the inspiration of Scripture translates into the inspiration of apostles as the mediators of the written words of God. But, what of the "preachers" of the apostolic words? Experience dictates that we do not credit the "preachers" with infallible communication of God's words, nor do we have "hearers" who infallibly grasp the truth of the preaching. How does it help to have "inspiration" down to the level of written words, but not beyond them? Why do we not have two more additional steps: "inspiration of the preacher" and "inspiration of the hearer" so that the recipient has an error free grasp of God's meaning as He has expressed it? How is it that the recipient's understanding is sufficiently accurate to be "trustworthy" so that the recipient can live "by faith"? One solution is to eliminate one step: the "preacher". This would put the "hearer" in direct contact with what is, in fact, infallibly inspired. And, actually, the biblical mandate for personal study of the Bible does do this. Then, one further issue is that the Holy Spirit actually is the actively present Teacher of the fallible student. So, what we have is the reality that God (in the Person of the Holy Spirit) is in direct contact with the "hearer" so that the "hearer" can come to the kind of conviction that allows for a life by "faith". If, then, we actually have God-in-direct-communication-with-men, why do we have mediated steps (God to Son to apostle to writings to readers through two more corrupted instruments -- hearts and minds)? The biblical answer is that God intends to share His life with others by means of the inclusion of them into the processes of sharing His life with others. Everyone involved in any of the mediated steps becomes a participant in the life of God when that involvement is a deliberate act of love. Unloving mediators are useful to God as mediators of the message, but there is no life for the unloving.
- 4. Now we come to the "objective" of the stewardship of apostleship: obedience. There is more than one issue here. First, there is the concept of the word translated "obedience". The concept in this word is that people act out of what they submit themselves to hear. Paul used this very term in Romans 6:16 where he teaches that "obedience" arises naturally out of what people "submit to" in terms of "hearing". Then, there is the issue of Paul's targeting "obedience". Obviously, for Paul, "believing" is not the end. It is the means to another means to the end. The ultimate "end" is "life". Life can not be had while engaging in evil. Therefore, something has to be done to stop the activities of evil. The cessation of the activities of evil is, however, not the only thing involved for "life"; there is the opposite, and necessary, corollary of engaging in good. The question is: how does one cease from evil and engage in good? The answer is: by "faith". People act according to what they believe. The Spirit of God is free to produce the fruit of life when people "believe". Therefore, "faith", for Paul, never was an "end" in itself. It was the means of producing the kinds of behavior that produce "life". Any time the links between "faith" and "behavior" and "behavior" and "life" are broken, "life" is destroyed, as is the very nature of "faith" itself since the essence of "faith" is "the type of conviction that determines how one will behave". When one "believes" something that makes no difference to that one's choices and actions, the "faith" that is being exercised is nothing more than "an agreeable attitude toward the concept that has been presented". The problem with "agreeable attitudes" is that they can rapidly change into disagreeable attitudes once the consequences become a bit painful or, at least, are not as productive as they were anticipated to be. This is not faith of the biblical kind.
- 5. Then there is the scope of Paul's commission: all of the nations. God's plan includes some from among every kindred, tongue, nation, and tribe.
- 6. "For His name's sake": is this "obedience" for His name's sake, or is this "grace/apostleship" for His name's sake? It is not grammatically possible to tell. It is possible, however, to make a decision here. The question is: what does "for His name's sake" mean? Literally the text means "on behalf of His name". If we take this to mean that something is being done "on Christ's behalf" in the sense that He is not here to do it so that what is done is being done by someone else on His behalf, then the issue is that Paul received his apostleship to labor among the nations in the stead of Christ and on behalf of the Father's plans for Christ as identified by His name. This seems to be the only way to take Paul's words: he was granted "grace" because Christ wanted him to be His surrogate among the nations to proclaim the words of truth that, being believed, would turn those nations from death to life.