Eschatology And Ethics The Future Of Israel And The Nations In Romans 15:1-13 -- By: Scott Hafemann
TynBul 51:2 (2000) p. 161
Eschatology And Ethics
The Future Of Israel And The Nations In Romans 15:1-13*
[*The core of this essay was given as the Tyndale Lecture, Tyndale House, Cambridge, July 6th, 1999. I am especially grateful to Brett Burrowes for his serious interaction with my paper, which helped clarify my thinking.]
This essay takes as its starting point the working hypothesis that Paul’s argument in Romans 15:1-3, with its doxological focus, is determined by the Scripture cited therein, interpreted within its own canonical context. Rather than reinterpreting these texts christologically or ecclesiologically, the combination and sequence of quotes in 15:9-12 is shown to provide an outline of Paul’s eschatology in which the future redemption of Israel and judgement of the nations is the content of the Church’s hope and the foundation of her ethic of mutual acceptance.
Romans 15:7-13 is not only the climax of 14:1-15:13, but also the ‘climax of the entire epistle’.1 Nevertheless, scholarship has often overlooked this text, most likely because of its location in the ‘merely’ hortatory section of Paul’s epistle. And in spite of the fact that Paul ‘clearly has saved his clinchers for the end’,2 the reigning conviction that 15:1-13 makes one, fairly obvious point, with one, even more obvious Scriptural support for it, has bolstered the benign neglect of this passage. When all is said and done, Paul calls the ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ to accept one another because of the unity that Christ has created in the church by accepting them, in fulfilment of
TynBul 51:2 (2000) p. 162
the Scriptures’ vision of the Gentiles’ joining Israel in the worship of the one true God.
Read in this way, Paul’s use of Scripture in 15:9-12, based on the catch-word ἔθνη,3 was controlled by his conviction that the ‘climax of the covenant’ with Israel had taken place in Christ (cf. 15:3-4, 7-9),4 so that, in line with an ‘ecclesiocentric’ hermeneutic, the church, made up of Jews and Gentiles...
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