Transformative justice (Romans 12:9-21)

What does it look like to live the gospel? Romans 12:9-21 translated into life.

I’ve been meditating on Romans 12 as the-gospel-in-practice.

Romans 1–11 explains what the good news is. Romans 12–16 explains what it means to inhabit the world transformed by the gospel under the Messiah as Lord.

Here’s a fresh translation of Romans 12:9-21 from that perspective. The verbs are plural (love, detest, collaborate, etc), so the message is not so much about individual piety as it is about participating in the restoration of the world as the kingdom of God in Christ (the goal of the gospel).

Our sufferings at the hands of evil are transformative for the world, as we participate in the redemption that’s taking place in Christ.

That defines our approach to justice and our response to injustice.

So, see what you think. Any suggestions for a better translation? Any important nuances I’m missing? Any further inspiration you find in this passage? (Comment below.)

Continue reading “Transformative justice (Romans 12:9-21)”

Should Christians go to war? (Romans 13:1-7)

Open Romans 13:1-7.

We discussed what this passage says about the authority of the state. Now we turn to the question of whether God authorizes governments to conduct wars, and whether it authorizes Christians to kill enemies in war.

Romans 13:4 is the crucial verse, and I’m going to argue these points:

  • carrying the sword refers to punishing wrongdoers, not prosecuting war;
  • the New Testament does not instruct the state about war;
  • followers of Jesus must not go to war, because our King forbids it.

Here’s the context:

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Romans: opening and closing theme

The same phrase is the climax of the opening and closing sentences of the Book of Romans. Do you know what it is?

Paul’s letter to the Romans opens with one of the best gospel summaries anywhere. It’s a precis of the whole kingdom story, rising to a key phrase that is the goal of the gospel in Paul’s view. It’s so crucial that the same phrase is the culmination of both the opening sentence and the closing sentence of this remarkable letter. Do you know what it is? Continue reading “Romans: opening and closing theme”