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Love, for the Day is Near May 15, 2011

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Romans 13:8-14.

Summary: Paul begins by encouraging his readers to let none of their debts go unpaid – except for the debt of love, which cannot be paid off; our continual duty is to love our neighbor as ourselves, which actually fulfills God’s law. Indeed, all of our social responsibilities are encapsulated by the command to love each other as ourselves. Note that 1) love desires the happiness of its object and 2) God’s law is designed to promote the welfare of our neighbors; therefore, loving our neighbor as ourselves is equivalent to fulfilling the law’s obligations. Paul encourages his readers in this regard, as they should be mindful of the significance of the present age; they must shun lethargy and be diligent in their love for each other, as their salvation – along with its blessings – is near. The sins and sorrows that are inherent to this life are almost over, while the joy and gladness that is inherent to our salvation is near; thus, believers must curtail those actions that would put them to shame, and they must act in ways that allow them to battle against sin and evil. In this way they would be able to avoid intemperance, impurity and discord. Paul concludes by exhorting his readers to be Christ-like in their actions and to avoid indulging their sinful nature.

Thoughts: In verse 11, the phrase “because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” has been interpreted in at least three distinct ways. One interpretation states that the time when the Gentile believers would be blessed – while their Jewish oppressors would be punished – was at hand. A second interpretation states that the second coming of Christ was near – and would occur before the generation corresponding to Paul’s readers passed away. Hodge states the third interpretation as follows:

…Paul simply meant to remind his hearers that the time of deliverance was near, that the difficulties and sins with which they had to contend would soon be dispersed as the shades and mists of night before the rising day. Therefore the salvation intended here is the consummation of the work of Christ in their deliverance from this present evil world, and their introduction into the purity and blessedness of heaven. Eternity is almost here.

I must admit that lately I have been thinking more about the end times, especially as various theories in that regard are debated in the mass media. While only the Father knows the exact “time of deliverance,” it is encouraging to know that a time of blessedness and freedom from sin and sorrow definitely lies in the future. Unfortunately I have a difficult time comprehending the concept of “eternity,” so I hope for God’s grace to help me overcome this stumbling block in my mind.

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