Monday, March 05, 2007

a one-line autobiography I have a guest blogger today who has been studying the book of Romans recently. I'll let him take care of the introductions: Let me introduce myself. I am Amanda’s Dad. That’s important to me: simple, short and concise. I am proud of my three kids, and every time I get the opportunity I routinely assert, "My oldest daughter is a college professor in Taiwan, my baby girl is a victim’s assistance counselor with the Arlington Police Department, and my 13 year old son is a miracle birth." I love the subtle simplicity of Paul’s masterful introduction of himself in Romans 1:1. He identified himself as an instrument invited to be immersed in a mission with a message. Or as the English Standard Version states it, "Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God." Actually, our English translations of Paul’s first sentence covers seven verses, but what we call verse one, I call "a one-line autobiography" or a "masterful introduction." Think about it for a moment, how we usually introduce ourselves. We use our vocation or personal significance, what we do or who we are, as the central statement of "this is who I am." I am a plumber, pastor, mommy, single, divorcee, etc. Prior to most speeches by a guest speaker, some chosen individual recites a litany of the speaker’s accomplishments to set forth the identity of the speaker and the authority their message carries. The beauty of Saul/Paul’s introduction to Romans is found in a closer look at the words he used. Notice the name that Paul chose to go by. He was born "Saul, of Tarsus," but he chose to use his Gentile name, "Paul." Paul was formerly a Hebrew religious zealot; his new identity is that of one who seeks to identify with the audience he wants to reach, Gentiles. He chooses one simple word, a name of identity to say, "I, too, am like you." Now notice the second phrase he uses, "a servant of Christ Jesus." Actually the original word he used was doulos (slave). Writing to an audience in an Empire that was highly populated with slaves; he classified himself as an instrument of the Redeemer. Slaves came in all sizes, shapes and varying degrees of expertise. Many slaves in the Roman Empire were of notable education and culture. It was with great pride that some could say, "I am a slave of the Emperor." With humble gratitude, Paul could say that his will was consumed in bound servitude to Messiah Savior, the Redeemer. Kletos apostolos, that is the next identifier, “called to be an apostle.” The Greek New Testament uses two different words for "called." Kletos is about invitation rather than election. "Would you like to come over for dinner,” now that is an invitation. ‘Called to be an apostle," that is an invitation to be a messenger. Paul also says that he is "set apart" (separated) for the gospel of God....

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