Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 1 Study # 8
7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1901 ASV Translation:
7 To all that are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
There are no differences between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26, and the translations vary only in the way the translators treat the "to be" verb "that be/that are".
March 9, 2004
- 1. We have the same problem in this verse with the reference to "calling" that we had in verses 1 and 6. The word translated "called" is not a verb; it is an adjective. According to Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, there is such a thing as a "verbal adjective", but that seems to me to be a stretch. Thus, the "called saints" is not to be understood as "called to be saints", but as "saints who are such by the divine call". For more detail, see the previous set of notes on verse 6.
- 2. In this text, Paul identifies his readers as residents of Rome, objects of God's love, and saints as a consequence of God's calling. The "big" issues here are the latter two: God's love and calling.
- a. In respect to the issue of God's love, we must understand that, though God's personal love is infinite, all pervasive, and inclusive without exception [He loves even His enemies] and without condition [obviously, if He loves enemies, there must not be any "conditions" -- He loves because He is love, not because we somehow generate a normally absentee love within Him by some endearing activity(ies)], being "beloved of God", as a characteristic that is specially revealed, is not a generic reality that equally fits all of God's creation [though He would/has sacrifice(d) Himself for His "beloved" -- giving all the same status in respect to Himself -- He will not eternally sacrifice others who are loving for the sake of others who are not loving: at some point the loving are going to be established in a kingdom of love and the unloving are going to be removed from any possibility of influence on that kingdom]. Since God does not create vanity, all that He creates has positive value in His system of values. But, He does not place the same magnitude of value upon every element of His creation. He did not sacrifice His Son to keep the grass and trees and animal kingdom from perishing, nor did He offer such sacrifice for the angels whom He created. Since love is invariably measured by the degree of sacrifice involved, we can say that humankind stands highest in His values. However, even humankind is not equally loved. "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated" is not an idle statement, nor are the several revelations of God's hatred of the wicked [1Samuel 2:30; Psalm 53:5; Psalm 11:5, etc.]. Then, too, there is this reality: God does not equally sacrifice for each individual. For Saul of Tarsus, He specially confronted him in grace, but there were countless other antagonistic Pharisees whom He did not go out of His way to confront. Thus, to be "beloved of God" is no small characteristic. It immediately sets one apart from the vast majority of all of creation which shall be destroyed by fire: those whom He preserves are those whom He loves most. And, among those that are preserved, there also exists a distinction in the degree of love: there is no equality in the levels of blessedness that are granted to the "beloved". And here is a great temptation: to lust after the status of "most beloved" when the kingdom is made of those who focus upon loving rather than being loved. The conundrum is this: we are to grasp our identity as the "beloved" so that we will be motivated to love, but if we seek to be "beloved", we will turn from being loving. It is, perhaps, the fault in man that he must "be loved" before he is willing to "be loving". In an ideal world, one would "love" with no regard for whether he was "loved". But, we are not in an ideal world and Paul, knowing this, writes to the Romans that they are the "beloved of God".
- 1) The bottom line that we must understand the significance of the definition of love.
- a) To "love" means, by definition, to "assign greater status to another than one assigns to oneself" in particular respect to the question of who receives the good of life. This is why the highest illustration of love is that of the sacrifice of life for the life of another.
- b) The chief significance of "love", then, is that the "beloved" will be extended the benefits of life at the expense of the "lover".
- 2) One of the points, here, is that we simply must be convinced that we are beloved so that we do not trouble ourselves any longer about it.
- a) If we remain unconvinced of our status as the "beloved" we will, by virtue of the Law of Sin in our members, strive to acquire that status.
- b) If we strive to be beloved, we will kill our relationships and make the status impossible: one cannot kill relationships and be held in high esteem in view of a position of responsibility in a kingdom of love.
- 3) A second point is that Paul clearly seeks to make is that there can be only one point of reference for this entire question: God. It is His love alone that is ours without qualification and it is His love alone that extends status to us and it is His love alone that imparts freedom from the Law of Sin in our members and none of this works without our believing it is true. This is a case of faith actually being the difference between having status and not having it.
- b. Then he identifies them as "called saints".
- 1) The term translated "saints" is another adjective used elliptically ["holy ones"]. It is better translated as it is in Mark 1:24.
- 2) The meaning of the term is fundamentally "participating in absolute dedication", i.e. being so totally committed to a given objective that no variation from it is accepted"..."God is light and in Him is no darkness at all...the Father of Lights with whom there is no variableness, nor shadow of turning (from)..." The idea develops that a "holy one" is one who is absolutely identified with dedication that knows no hesitation or vacillation. There is simply no conflict between the objective and the pursuer of it.
- 3) That they are "called" simply fulfills the Romans 8 characterization that The Called are justified, sanctified, and glorified and there is not a single tone of discord at all anywhere. This is all by the calling of God Who initiates the process in human history and brings it to final realization in the eschaton in the post-resurrection glory.
- 4) The reason for this identity is not delusion: the "saints" are not very "saintly" in action or attitude. Rather, the identity is "hopeful": the destiny of the saints is an incontrovertible future reality that is to be depended upon and used as the basis for choices now. There are lusts that war against our souls, but they will not win and, being thus impoverished in power, are to be treated like the pitiful opponents of omnipotence that they actually are. The "saints" can be as "saintly" as their "hope" permits. To the degree that our hope is denigrated we are enslaved by delusion; to the degree that we recognize our identity as "the holy ones of God" we are established in freedom.