Monday, June 14, 2010

The New Testament in a Year: Acts 27-28 and Romans 1-3

For my own personal study, I am using a combination of tools. These include listening to an audio version of the Bible (TNIV) and a series of commentaries in addition to the text itself. I recognize that not everyone will have access to these materials. I can at least provide a link to the Biblical text itself. For this purpose, I've found that is a very useful tool. Not only does it include the TNIV, which enables me to link to the same text as what I'm listening to with the audio version, but one can easily switch to another translation (if one so desires) simply by using the drop-down menus. I hope that this is helpful.

This week, I am working through Acts, chapters 27-28 and Romans, chapters 1-3.

Chapter 27

  • Verse 3 - Paul may be a prisoner, but it seems that at no point do the Romans act particularly concerned that he might try to escape.
  • Verse 9 - Apparently, the Day of Atonement fell in what would now be the first week of October, and  "among the ancients the dangerous season for sailing was defined as extending from September to no later than early November... after which all but the most urgent navigation on the open sea came to an end until the following spring."1
  • Verse 11 - Luke is obviously keen to play up the "they should have listened to the man of God" angle (and again in verse 21), but let's be honest, why should the centurion have taken the word of a prisoner over that of both the pilot and the owner of the ship?
  • Verses 24 and 31 - At first, Paul seems to unconditionally guarantee the lives of the rest of the crew, then he suggests that their well-being is contingent upon not only doing what he says, but doing something very counter-intuitive.
Chapter 28
  • Verses 3-6 - The section of the gospel of Mark that promises that Christians could pick up snakes safely is not in the earliest manuscripts.  Still, the fact that Paul has this experience would seem to lend credence to that promise.
  • Verses 25-27 - Jesus used this same passage from Isaiah when describing why he taught in parables.
Chapter 1
  • Verses 11-15 - At the end of Acts, Paul has been in Rome for quite some time.  It is clear from these verses that, when Paul is writing this letter to the Romans, he has not yet been there, but nonetheless knows of a group of Christians there (a fact barely alluded to in Acts).
  • Verses 18-32 - Much has been made of the list of sins included here, and yet it seems that many miss the point.  Paul is describing the basic human condition here, and all people have sinned.  "If 1.18-32 does indeed declare the truth about all men, then it really does follow from it that the man who sets himself up as a judge of his fellows is without excuse."2  This is not intended to be a list whereby Christians can judge non-Christians (or other Christians!) as outside of God's will, and yet this passage is used in precisely that way all too often.  God will be the judge.
Chapter 2
  • Verses 1-6 - The need not to pass judgment upon others is not to negate the need for repentance.  It is rather to suggest that the Christian must attend to his/her own need for repentance.
  • Verses 12-24 - A large portion of Romans will deal with the interrelations between sin and the law.  If the Christian is no longer to be bound by the law, how is the Christian to know what behaviors are acceptable or not?  Answers will be provided by the letter, but they can be argued to be both simpler than following the Jewish law and more complicated....
Chapter 3
  • Verses 9-18 - A litany of Psalms (and one bit from Isaiah) are used here.  Why so much from the Psalms, in particular, as opposed to other Old Testament teachings?
1David J. Williams, Acts (New International Bible Commentary), Hendrickson, 1990, p. 429.
2C.E.B. Cranfield, Romans: A Shorter Commentary, Eerdmans, 1985, p. 28.

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