Thursday, April 12, 2012

Apostle Paul on classical Romans (and us)

Roman noble woman
Tempera on wood.
Scuderie del Quirinale

First century AD Romans living at the time of emperors Caligula, Claudius and Nero were probably more ethical and healthy then many of us modern post-Christian westerners used to all kinds of  debauchery, cruelty and adultery Hollywood and Bollywood style.

It is true that apostle Paul gives a not-so-nice picture of his contemporaries in Italy in the Letter to the Romans dated some years later than the rule of Caligula 37-41 AD either Claudius (41-54 AD) or more likely Nero (54-68).

But note that here the focus of Saint Paul is on the heart, on religion and the pagan worship of the created instead of the God Creator. From this misplaced worship follows the debauchery and evil as God abandons such people in His just wrath - as if saying "this is not what I wanted when I created man and woman in my image".

Paul not only describes the human condition but the key content of his letter is the answer of God to this wretched situation Romans have led themselves, faith in Christ.

And today the city of Rome is something entirely different than it was in the time of Caligula.

... or is it?

Apostle Paul, servant of God
so, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the Gospel to you also who are at Rome.

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written: "The just shall live by faith."

Fresco Hawwara, Egypt, ref
For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness, because that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God hath shown it unto them.

For from the creation of the world the invisible things of Him are clearly seen, being understood through the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.

For when they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God, nor were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and to birds and fourfooted beasts and creeping things.

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies among themselves.

Oil on wood. Fayyoum, Egypt (ref)

They changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature.

And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men, working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense for their error which was meet.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind to do those things which are not fitting, being filled with
all unrighteousness,
full of envy,

Me as old Adam
They are whisperers,
haters of God,
inventors of evil things,
disobedient to parents,
without understanding,
covenant breakers,
without natural affections,

And knowing the judgment of God, that those who commit such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but have pleasure in those who do them.
Romans 1:15-23 KJ21

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