Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, Put on the Last Adam: The Background of Paul’s Ethical Instructions in Romans 13:11-14 -- By: Annang Asumang

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 04:1 (Mar 2007)
Article: Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, Put on the Last Adam: The Background of Paul’s Ethical Instructions in Romans 13:11-14
Author: Annang Asumang


Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, Put on the Last Adam: The Background of Paul’s Ethical Instructions in Romans 13:11-141

Annang Asumang2

Abstract

The background of Paul’s ethical instructions in Rom 13:11–14, that, in view of the imminent return of Christ, Christians should eschew sinful behaviour and instead live righteously, have been assumed by several commentators to have derived from a cluster of disparate images. This approach however results in an irregular and unsatisfactory appreciation of the powerful rhetorical effects of the passage. In this paper, by exploring elements of Paul’s doctrine of the “Last Adam” and its associations, especially the “Divine Warrior” motif, I propose that the images in the passage are derived from this Last Adam doctrine. Christians must be motivated to live godly lives because they will imminently inherit the incorruptible and glorious nature of the Last Adam by sharing in the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1. Introduction

One of the crucial features of Paul’s strategies in all of his exhortations was to generate very strong and potent imageries in the minds of his hearers and readers. These images were intended to stimulate and invigorate the spiritual imagination of the people and so rouse them to put the exhortations into practice. His use of language, according to Carol Poster, “stirs the movement of the soul” (2001:23) so that readers are driven to adopt the desired worldview, change behaviour and act in certain particular moral ways fitting their faith in Jesus. This strategy certainly agreed with Aristotle’s instructions to ancient rhetoricians, that to successfully persuade the hearer, he or she “must be made to see things” (Rhetoric 3.11). The moral instructions of Paul must therefore not just be analysed and explained in a cold and calculated manner, but the pastoral and emotional stimulations that they covey(ed) and which are embedded in the metaphors and images that he employed must also be emphasised along with them. Without adequate understanding of the background and associations of the imageries that undergird Paul’s exhortations, we, his modern interpreters, may not be sufficiently moved to put the instructions into practice.

The ethical instruction in Romans 13:11–14 is one such example of Paul’s stirring of the spiritual imagination of the reader. Interposed between his paranaesis on love as the fulfilment of the law in Romans 13:8–10

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