"They Exchanged The Glory Of God For The Likeness Of An Image": Idolatrous Adam And Israel As Representatives In Paul’s Letter To The Romans -- By: A. B. Caneday

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 11:3 (Fall 2007)
Article: "They Exchanged The Glory Of God For The Likeness Of An Image": Idolatrous Adam And Israel As Representatives In Paul’s Letter To The Romans
Author: A. B. Caneday


"They Exchanged The Glory Of God For The Likeness Of An Image": Idolatrous Adam And Israel As Representatives In Paul’s Letter To The Romans

A. B. Caneday

A. B. Caneday is Professor of New Testament Studies and Biblical Theology at Northwestern College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. In addition to numerous journal articles, he is the co-author(with Thomas R. Schreiner) of The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance (InterVarsity,2001). Dr. Caneday is a frequent contributor to The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology.

Introduction

In Rom 3:19–20, Paul delivers the coup de grâce of the closing argument of his indictment of humanity.

And we know that whatever the Law says it says to those in the Law’s jurisdiction, in order that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may be liable to God. For on the basis of deeds required by the law no flesh shall be declared righteous, for through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Of the various significant issues that exegetes address, in this text, one that receives too little attention is the inner logic of verse 19. Given Paul’s claim—“that whatever the Law says it says to those in the Law’s jurisdiction”—how does the Law’s condemnation of Jews stop “every mouth” and hold “all the world. .. liable to God”? Expressed differently, how does the Law’s indictment of Jews stop the mouths of Gentiles also and hold Jews and Gentiles, together, liable before God?

There is no question that, in the tradition of Israel’s prophets, the apostle Paul indicts Gentiles and Jews alike. He expressly says as much (Rom 3:9). His indictment of Gentiles is clear. He grounds his indictment of Gentiles in God’s universal self-revelation, “even though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or offer thanks, but they became futile in their thinking and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom 1:21). Yet, as he closes his universal indictment of humans, Paul claims that the Mosaic Law has a function that somehow extends beyond its evident, restricted covenant jurisdiction—“we know that whatever the Law says it says to those who are in the Law’s jurisdiction” (3:19). The Law condemns Jews, but the same Law silences the whole world of Gentiles also before God’s judgment bar.

How does Paul reach the conclusion that the Law’s indictment of Jews spills over to hold “all the world. .. liable to God”? Generally, commentators propose that Paul uses an a...

You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
Click here to subscribe
visitor : : uid: ()