Friday, July 22, 2016

A Triperspectival Study of Romans 12:19

Paul’s epistles are known to consist of distinct doctrinal and hortatory or practical sections. The doctrinal section contains fundamental Christian beliefs such as justification by faith, election, Christology and eschatology. The practical section is a call-to-action exhorting Christians to live in light of what he has taught in the doctrinal section. However, there have not been many studies that link specific commands in the practical section with the doctrinal section in a particular epistle. This paper attempts to establish a relationship between the command not to take revenge in Romans 12:19[1] with the doctrinal section of the epistle in chapters 1 to 11. The command in 12:19 is an integral part of 12:14 and 17-21. It consists of a negative prohibition in the form of imperatival participle[2] μὴ ἑαυτοὺς ἐκδικοῦντες followed by a positive command in imperative form δότε τόπον τῇ ὀργῇ. Paul then adds a partial quotation from Deuteronomy 32:35, ἐμοὶ ἐκδίκησις, ἐγὼ ἀνταποδώσω. It appears that he uses both the OT manuscript[3] and the LXX[4] in this verse; ἐμοὶ ἐκδίκησις is taken from the original Hebrew לִי נָקָם while ἀνταποδώσω is taken from the LXX.
There are at least three topics related to this verse that scholars have been debating on. First, whose wrath is Paul taking about? He only says, “Give place to the wrath.” Smothers goes through the history of exegesis on this subject that boils down to two options: God’s wrath or the enemy’s wrath with the conclusion that the former is the majority view.[5] The latter view is proposed in light of Paul’s allusion to Jesus’ teaching from the Sermon on the Mount. If 12:14 teaches us to bless our persecutors that seems to allude to Matthew 5:44 (also Luke 6:28),[6] then “give place to the wrath” in 12:19 resembles the command to turn to the other check in Matthew 5:39. However, if this is indeed the case, what is Paul’s point of quoting Deuteronomy 32:35, whose context is God’s judgment against the enemies of his people and connecting it with δότε τόπον τῇ ὀργῇ using the conjunction γάρ instead of quoting Jesus’ non-retaliatory verses in his Sermon on the Mount? The purpose of 12:19 is to balance 12:14 and 12:17. The believers’ responsibility is to do good to their persecutors. This doesn’t mean that their wrongdoing will go unpunished, but it is God’s prerogative to assume the role of a judge.[7], [8] For this reason I agree with the majority view that the wrath Paul refers to is God’s wrath.
Second, does “wrath” ὀργή refer to eschatological punishment or does it include the present execution of divine judgment? Schreiner believes that the use of this word in Pauline epistles is usually eschatological in nature including in 12:19.[9] Others like Dunn, Bruce and Moo[10] think that the word also includes the present judgment. In the OT God’s wrath is not reserved for the end-time only but is displayed in the destruction of pagan nations and even his own people for their disobedience. The uses of שִׁלֵּם in the context of present judgment include Isaiah 34:8 where retribution is associated with the destruction of Edom and Hosea 9:7 where God’s retribution is directed against Israel. שִׁלֵּם is also implied in Ezekiel 25:8-11, 12-14, 15-17 and 26:1-21 that speaks of the Lord’s repaying the evil that pagan nations had done to his people. The uses of נָקָם in the context of the present judgment include Ezekiel 24:8 speaking of the judgment against Jerusalem and Isaiah 63:4 also speaking of the judgment against Edom. Furthermore, ὀργὴ θεοῦ in 1:18 is spoken of as αποκαλύπτεται, being revealed through the litany of sins that follows in 1:21-31 which suggests that the wrath of God is a present reality. With these passages in mind, there is no compelling reason why Paul intends to limit the scope of God’s wrath to the eschaton only in 12:19.
Third, who is the object of God’s wrath, which is related to who the persecutors διώκοντας are that Paul speaks of in 12:14? Are these individuals within or outside the Christian community i.e., the church? Some tend to go with the latter option[11] but Yinger, drawing from the OT and extra-biblical Jewish sources concludes that the persecutors are “persons within the fellowship.”[12] To support his claim, he argues that the entire chapter 12 is written for Christians. Otherwise, if 12:14-21 is about believers’ relationship with those outside the church, why does Paul insert 12:15-16 that seem to interrupt his flow of thoughts on this subject since these two verses talk about relationships within the church? I think the distinction should not be between those inside and outside the visible church, but between Christians and non-Christians, between the regenerates and the unregenerates.[13]  This is evident from the fact that the word ἐχθρός in 12:20 referring the object of God’s wrath in 12:19 and its cognates (8:7, 11:28) are used in Romans only for the unregenerates. The vengeance that the Lord is going to carry out in Deuteronomy 32:35 is against the unbelieving enemies of Israel. But the verse does not apply strictly to non-Israelis because there are Jewish proselytes from pagan nations such as Rahab, Ruth and Naaman where the verse does not apply in their case. There are obvious non-Christians outside the church who are hostile towards Christians such as the Jews in Paul’s days, Nero and other Roman imperial regimes known as some of the greatest persecutors of the followers of Christ. Then there are individuals who appear to be “members” of the church such as Judas Iscariot and Demas (2 Timothy 4:10) but in the end are proven to be unbelievers. Therefore, it is unlikely that 12:19 speaks about relationships with fellow Christians if this is what Yinger implies, but the non-Christians in 12:19 are not necessarily outside the visible church.
With the three issues above settled, we can now turn to the relationship between 12:19 to the doctrinal section of Romans divided into three parts: with respect to the persecutors, the believers and God. These three links to the doctrinal section can be fit into the situational, existential and normative elements, respectively of Frame’s Triperspectivalism.[14] With respect to the persecutors against whom Paul prohibits believers to take revenge, chapter 1 and 5:12 give us a perspective on why unbelievers hate Christians. It is rooted in the noetic effect of the original sin that fatally incapacitates fallen man from having a favorable view of God. The gradual progression that gravitates to hatred towards Christians is described in 1:18-32. Fallen man suppresses the truth because of their depraved morality as evident from the use of the words “ungodliness” and “unrighteousness” in 1:18. Suppressing the truth doesn’t imply lack of knowledge of the truth but prevention of the truth from bringing the positive effects it ought to bring particularly in the moral and religious realms.[15] It begins with the denial of God’s existence despite clear evidence in general revelation through creation and providence (1:19-20). The problem of unbelief then, is not an intellectual but moral problem. Deep down in the unbeliever’s conscience (2:14-15), they know that God exists but refuse to express this acknowledgement in worship because by nature they hate God as alluded in the use of the word ἔχθρα; enmity or hostile in 8:7. The next stage in the progression of sin is the stage of idolatry. If God’s existence is not acknowledged, something else has to take his place as the object of worship as described in 1:21-23.
These fundamental theological errors[16] inevitably lead to fundamental anthropological errors beginning with one’s view of self that results in the defilement of his or her body (1:24-25) and the body of others through illicit heterosexual and homosexual relationships (1:24, 26 and 28). The sexual sins are followed by other sins associated with one’s relationships with his or her fellow human beings summarized in 1:29a: unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice.[17] This general list and the more specific list given in 1:29b-31 are not specifically directed towards Christians. Nevertheless, there appears to be a peculiar hatred that increases the level of intensity of these sins towards Christians due to unbelievers’ hatred toward God and therefore, his people as well. Jesus affirms this reality as he reminds his disciples proleptically in John 15:18-21.

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you: “A servant is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

Hatred towards Christians is not merely expressed by blatantly pagan groups of people past and present,[18] but surprisingly by Jews as well, a people supposedly endowed by and embraced the true knowledge of God through special revelation (2:17-23).[19] Paul was a living testimony of the latter since he was a Jewish persecutor of Christians before becoming a believer (Acts 8:1, 9:1-2) and he himself was persecuted by Jews as a follower of Christ (e.g., Acts 9:23). Why is this the case? Paul connects the challenge to his fellow Jews in 2:17-29, the fact that mere knowledge of God’s special revelation in the Mosaic Law without perfect obedience to it will not save them, to 9:32 and 10:3-5. The Jews want to justify themselves by relying on their own merit to gain God’s acceptance. Paul’s gospel that insists on the absolute necessity to rely on the perfect righteousness and obedience of Christ to be saved offends the Jewish pride by exposing their soteriological error. This error uncovers a subtle connection between Jewish self-justification and self-idolatry that ultimately boils down to self-glorification in 1:21-23 (cf. Luke 18:11-12) leading to the same downward path of sins in 1:24-32. Therefore, Paul rightly concludes that “both Jews and Greeks are under sins” (3:9).[20]
The relationship between 12:19 to chapters 1 and 2 discussed above focuses on the persecutors, the reason behind their shameful treatment of Christians and their fellow human beings in general, namely it is a natural consequence in the degenerative process of sin as a result of their depraved morality. We should also note the divine role highlighted in the word παραδίδωμι used three times in chapter 1 (1:24, 26 and 28). This word is used to support the fact that God’s wrath is a present reality in what Moo calls the sin-retribution pattern.[21] The successive sins after the initial sin of atheism and idolatry are expressions of God’s wrath in the withdrawal of his exercise of common grace that restrains more depraved expressions of sins: the sexual sins (1:24, 26-27) and the sins that affect one’s neighbors in a greater way (1:29-31). Therefore the unbelievers’ persecution against Christians that 12:14-21 speaks of and included in 1:29-31 is both sin and God’s judgment of their prior sins.
Moo then brings up a further question about the nature of God’s wrath through his judgment; whether it be reformative or destructive. He cites Chrysostom who leans towards the former view, “the depth of sin in which the idolater is plunged is designed to awaken the sinner to the awful seriousness of his or her situation.” On the other hand, Moo acknowledges that this is not always the case, as “both biblical and secular history afford us many examples in which such punishment has not led to spiritual reformation.”[22] My response to this question is there is no definite answer based on Paul’s coverage of God’s sovereign election in chapter 9. Although chapters 9-11 are primarily concerned with the status of the Jews as God’s elect in Paul’s day in light of their apparent wholesale rejection of the gospel, Paul’s answer to this question in chapter 9  incorporates the doctrine of God’s sovereign election that applies to non-Jews as well (9:16-33). The question whether or not God’s judgment on sinners in chapter 1 has reformative purpose is his hidden decree which may or may not be revealed at the present time.
In the case of Pharaoh, God’s repeated judgment in the end was intended to destroy him. Pharaoh and multitudes in his army are God’s object of vengeance, his vessels of wrath “prepared for destruction” (9:17 and 22). It is easy to see that Paul uses 9:17 and 22 to explain the ultimate reason why unbelieving Jews reject the gospel which can be extrapolated to Gentiles from nations other than Egypt. But Paul reminds the readers that there are Gentiles who are also God’s vessels of mercy (9:24-26) just like the elect Jews. For elect Jews of all ages, God’s judgment was also an expression of his wrath and in some way his retribution of not necessarily their sins, but the sins of their nation’s leadership. The difference is that this judgment is his means to lead them to repentance. They are vessels of mercy, “prepared beforehand for glory (9:23). Although this is only implicit in chapter 9, there is more explicit evidence in the Old Testament. For example, Isaiah 10:20-22[23] has in view the return of Israel's remnant after the end of their exile under Assyria. But this return is not merely a return to their homeland but more importantly highlights that the exile, i.e., God’s judgment brings about a genuine repentance and faith. The word בֶּאֱמֶת,”in truth” in verse 20 is used to convey the idea that Israel's turning from sin and to the Lord is real. Their spiritual gesture of leaning on God alone as their only hope of salvation is genuine.
Just as there is a dynamic involved in 11:11-32 in the interactions between Jews and Gentiles where God uses the conversion of Gentiles to bring about the conversion among the Jews throughout the ages, God may do the same in 12:19 in the context of persecution of believers in 12:14-21. No one knows what God’s decree is in regards to a person’s eternal status whether he be an elect or a reprobate, but 12:14-21 implicitly encourage us to assume the former case. Believers are encouraged to treat their enemies with kindness (12:14, 20-21) with the hope that this gesture represents God’s kindness that he would use to lead them to repentance (2:4).
It is incorrect to conclude that 12:19 is concerned only with God and the unbelieving persecutors as discussed above without having anything to say about the persecuted believers.[24] Paul uses the word “beloved” to remind his brothers and sisters that despite the suffering they go through in the hands of those who hate them, they are beloved by God.[25] Therefore, there is an existential element in 12:19 where they can reap benefit from the persecution they experience. We can elaborate this existential element implied in the word “beloved” by discerning a relationship with the justification and sanctification sections in chapters 1-5 and 5-11, respectively of the epistle under the overarching heading of 8:28. As beloved of God, believers can rest assured that God has sovereignly ordained only those events intended for the good of his people including the suffering as a result of persecution by unbelievers. But what specific good does God bring about?
First, the reality of unbelief and belief reinforces the nature of biblical justification, namely by God’s grace through faith. Faith itself is a gift and therefore an integral part of special grace that God bestows to the elect (4:2-8). Believers are reminded that there is nothing in them that makes them inherently better than their persecutors. Calvin warns of the danger of the manifestation of the spirit of “inordinate love of self and innate pride, which makes us very indulgent to our own faults and inexorable to those of others”[26] in the exercise of personal revenge. Believers ought to acknowledge and be reminded always that what makes a positive difference in their lives is God’s grace in granting them faith to believe his promise in the gospel through which they are justified (3:28, 30, 4:5). Before coming to faith, every believer was like Abraham that 4:5 characterizes as ungodly ἀσεβής and therefore, not different from every unbeliever who lives by the flesh and by nature hates God (cf. the same cognate ἀσέβειαν used in 1:18 and ἔχθρα in 8:7). Such a realization not only leads to humility but also encourages believers to use the interaction with their enemies to display the grace of Christ in order that they too may repent and follow him.[27]
Second, suffering of which persecution is a subset brings about greater sanctification. Paul sets himself as an example of rejoicing[28] in his suffering (cf. 8:36) in 5:3-5 for the benefits it produces: endurance, character and hope. The three qualities in 5:3-4 suggest a firmness in resolution to follow God and in devotion to him despite severe hardship along the way most wonderfully emphasized by the word “endurance” ὑπομονή, a cognate of ὑπομένω, which meansto bear up under difficult circumstances.”[29] The word δοκιμή, a cognate of δοκιμάζω (to test) translated as “character” in ESV means “evidence, proof of genuineness.”[30] One benefit that suffering produces is it exposes that one is a genuine Christian through the evidence of refusing to forsake Christ in order to be relieved from suffering. For Christians, there is nothing more important than Christ. This priority is demonstrated by the sincerity of their faith in clinging to him to the end regardless of the circumstances. Last but not least, suffering reinforces Christian hope.[31] It intensifies the longing for the glorification of the saints, the righteous rule of Christ over all in the world to come where there is no more evil and suffering. It makes the things of this world “grow strangely dim,” progressively less appealing in the light of his glory and grace as the hymn says. It is God’s means to loosen believers’ attachment to things that would have hindered them from being sanctified or conformed to the image of his Son (8:29) in a greater way. And 5:5 assures them ἡ δὲ ἐλπὶς οὐ καταισχύνει that their hope will not put them to shame for its failure to deliver what it promises. Christian hope is not something that may or may not happen in the future. It is something guaranteed to be fulfilled on the basis of God’s promise in his Word rooted in his love for his people.
Third, suffering motivates believers to cherish their union with Christ more and his sovereign rule over all for his glory (11:33-36) and for their benefit (8:31-32). In other words, when viewed rightly from Scripture, the believers’ suffering ought to lead to a greater praise to God. They are secure in Christ despite all the enemies’ attempts to ruin them. The ground of this security is their union with Christ in 8:31-38. The question naturally asked during a time of distress is “Where is God? Does he still love us?” summarized well in 8:35a, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” He then lists the hardship that believers are exposed to, alluding back to 8:17 that union with Christ involves suffering with him. Although Paul has suffering in general in mind in 8:35b, he narrows the scope down to the shameful treatment believers like himself receive from their enemies in 8:36.[32] His response to 8:35a in 8:37 is a resounding “No!” with an elaboration. He not only affirms the love of God to his people in 8:37b, but also says something more. Through Christ they “conquer” all this hardship in the sense that they not only defeat all these causes of suffering and the evil intention of their enemies by preventing them from accomplishing their malicious goal, but also make them slaves to bring the ultimate good instead in the end for God’s people.[33] One example that 8:36-37 alludes to is Genesis 50:20 where Joseph explains that the evil that God ordained through his brothers is intended to bring blessing to Joseph and his family in the long run.
As a summary, we see that the relationship between 12:19 to the doctrinal section of the epistle from divine, believers’ and their persecutors’ point of view is distinct yet interrelated. Unbelievers’ fallen nature that is hostile to God inevitably results in hostility towards their fellow human beings particularly those who have a special relationship to him because of his grace in Christ. The believers and unbelievers as well as the persecution itself are an integral part of divine sovereign purpose. Some of those responsible for the wrong done to believers are without excuse although ultimately they were ordained as vessels of wrath, objects of divine vengeance at the present time and at the consummation. Others like Paul, a former hater of Christ and his followers, repented, turned to him and thus were proven as vessels of divine mercy. God’s vengeance is still executed in this case except it was directed to and absorbed by Christ on the cross. From believers’ perspective, they can be confident of their security in Christ by virtue of their union with him despite the harm brought upon them by their enemies. All the malice intended to ruin God’s people is not only frustrated in the end but also overruled by divine providence to bring a greater praise to him and the ultimate blessing for them.[34]

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me.
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand.
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

1.      John Calvin, Commentary on Romans (Grand Rapids: Christian Classic Ethereal Library, 1974).

2.      James D.G. Dunn, Romans 9-16 Word Biblical Commentary volume 38b (Dallas: Word Books, 1982).

3.      Frederick. F. Bruce, Romans (TNTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985).

4.      Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996).

5.      Thomas R. Schreiner, Romans. (BECNT; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998).

6.      Luke T. Johnson, Reading Romans: A Literary and Theological Commentary (Macon: Smyth and Helwys, 2001).

7.      Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basic (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996).

8.      J.P Louw and E.A. Nida, Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains vol.1 (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition) (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996).

9.      John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life (Philipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2008).

10.  Edgar S. Smothers, “Give Place to the Wrath (Rom 12:19): An Essay in Verbal Exegesis,” CBQ 6 (1944): 205-215.

11.  Krister Stendahl, “Hate, Non-Retaliation , and Love: I QS x, 17-20 and Rom 12:19-21,” HTR 52 (1962): 343-355.

12.  Kent L. Yinger, “Romans 12:14-21 and Non-Retaliation in Second Temple Judaism: Addressing Persecution within the Community,” CBQ 60 (1998): 74-96.

[1] μὴ ἑαυτοὺς ἐκδικοῦντες, ἀγαπητοί, ἀλλὰ δότε τόπον τῇ ὀργῇ, γέγραπται γάρ· ἐμοὶ ἐκδίκησις, ἐγὼ ἀνταποδώσω, λέγει κύριος.

[2] Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basic (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 650-652. Paul uses plural nominative active and middle-passive participles as commandments many times in chapter 12 such as ἀποστυγοῦντες, κολλώμενοι (12:9),  προηγούμενοι (12:10), ζέοντες, δουλεύοντες (12:11), χαίροντες, ὑπομένοντες, προσκαρτεροῦντες (12:12), κοινωνοῦντες, διώκοντες (12:13) φρονοῦντες, συναπαγόμενοι (12:16) ἀποδιδόντες, προνοούμενοι (12:17)· εἰρηνεύοντες (12:18).

[3] לִי נָקָם וְשִׁלֵּם

[4] ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ἐκδικήσεως ἀνταποδώσω: In (the) day of vengeance I will repay. The LXX author turns the noun שִׁלֵּם (recompense, retribution, an act. of just repayment negative or positive) in the original Hebrew into its equivalent future-tense verb of ἀνταποδίδωμι.

[5] Edgar S. Smothers, “Give Place to the Wrath (Rom 12:19): An Essay in Verbal Exegesis,” CBQ 6 (1944) 207-209. Another minority view is God’s wrath working through governmental authority, see Luke T. Johnson, Reading Romans: A Literary and Theological Commentary (Macon: Smyth and Helwys, 2001), 200. Moo suggests 13:4 as a candidate to support Johnson’s view while he himself believes that wrath refers to God’s wrath. Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 78. Calvin agrees with Moo (John Calvin, Commentary on Romans (Grand Rapids: Christian Classic Ethereal Library, 1974), 411).

[6] James D.G. Dunn, Romans 9-16 Word Biblical Commentary volume 38b (Dallas: Word Books, 1992), 745.

[7] Krister Stendahl, “Hate, Non-Retaliation and Love: I QS x, 17-20 and Rom 12:19-21,” HTR 52 (1962) 346. Stendahl aptly states that Paul advocates a policy of deference (to God), not indifference, citing 1 Peter 2:23 as a supporting reference, 346.

[8] Calvin, Commentary on Romans, 412, “… it belongs not to use to revenge, except we would assume to ourselves the office of God.”

[9] Thomas R. Schreiner, Romans. (BECNT; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 673.

[10] Dunn, Romans 9-16, 749-750. Frederick. F. Bruce, Romans (TNTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), 217. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 99-103.

[11] Dunn, Romans 9-16, 738, 749, and Stendahl, “Hate, Non-Retaliation and Love,”345. Schreiner only mentions that 12:14, 17-21 speak of “attitude that believers have for those who persecute and oppress them,” but he implicitly agrees that the persecutors are those outside the church since on 12:15 he remarks, “Verse 15 appears to return to relations in the community” (Schreiner, Romans, 667).

[12] Kent L. Yinger, “Romans 12:14-21 and Non-Retaliation in Second Temple Judaism: Addressing Persecution within the Community,” CBQ 60 (1998) 74-96.

[13] In agreement with Moo (Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 780).

[14] John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life (Philipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2008), 131-384. Triperspectivalism is a Christian framework used to analyze a topic from the normative, situational and existential point of view.  The situational perspective defines what the problem is, which in this case is the persecution, the wrong that the believers suffer in the hands of their persecutors. It then asks what the means are in this particular circumstance to accomplish God’s purpose. The answer to these questions should be guided by the normative perspective that asks what God’s Word says. The existential perspective asks how we should respond when confronted by a holy God and his will in his Word in light of the situation we are facing.

[15] Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 103.

[16] The word “error” “often denotes sins of unbelievers in the NT” (Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 116).

[17] Calvin, Commentary on Romans, 57-58, “Unrighteousness: the violation of justice among men by not rendering to each his due. Maliciousness is that depravity and obliquity of mind which leads us to do harm to our neighbor.”

[18] The Jews and the Romans particularly the Roman imperial regimes were the earliest persecutors of Christians. Present persecutions of Christians that still occur today are perpetrated by for example ISIS and Islamic and communist governments that are hostile to Christianity such as Iran, China and North Korea.

[19] It is true that Jews received God’s special revelation in the Old Testament. The problem is they reject the fuller revelation that OT revelation points to, namely Christ.

[20] Needless to say that here Greeks represent all the Gentile nations.

[21] “Like a judge, who hands over a prisoner to the punishment his crime has earned, God hands over the sinner to the terrible cycle of ever-increasing sin,” (Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 111). While I agree with the sin-retribution pattern in chapter 1 that Moo discerns, I hesitate to agree with his view that God has a more active role in this degenerative cycle of sin beyond the withdrawal of his divine influence because this sounds dangerously like active reprobation that may potentially lead to the conclusion that God is the author of sin.

[22] Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 111.

[23] Paul quotes verse 22 in 9:27.

[24] Dunn contradicts himself when he initially says that in 12:14-21 Paul “urges a policy of living quietly and of non-response to provocation” while latter he remarks that 12:20 calls “for a positive response to hostility (by meeting it with acts of kindness) and not simply as a passive response (leave it to God). Dunn, Romans 9-16, 738, 751.

[25] Schreiner, Romans, 672. “Even though believers are severely mistreated by others, they should never forget that they are dearly loved by God and chosen to be his own. Rejection by others is a deep wound, but the salve of God’s love for us is the best healing for it.”

[26] Calvin, Commentary on Romans, 410. He continues, “As then this disease (of self-love and pride) begets almost in all men a furious passion for revenge, whenever they are in the least degree touched, he commands here, that however grievously we may be injured, we are not to seek revenge, but to commit it to the Lord.”

[27] Stendahl demonstrates a lack of balance when he concludes that 12:19 and 12:14-21 in general are all about God’s vengeance on behalf of his people and there is no element of compassion in believer’s response suggested by Paul. Stendahl writes, “The non-retaliation is undoubtedly based (on) and motivated by the deference to God’s impending vengeance. It is not deduced from a principle of love or from within the Wisdom tradition. Neither Qumran nor Paul speak about love for the enemies. The issue is rather how to act when all attempts to avoid conflict with the enemies of God and his church have failed,“ 354.

[28] ESV translate καυχάομαι as “to rejoice” but further, the word means “to express an unusually high degree of confidence in someone or something being exceptionally noteworthy” (J.P Louw and E.A. Nida, Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains vol.1 (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition) (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996).

[29] J.P Louw and E.A. Nida, Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament.

[30] δοκιμή : that which causes something to be known as true or genuine, in the sense of being what it appears to be evidence, proof of genuineness (J.P Louw and E.A. Nida, Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament).
[31] ἐλπίς to look forward with confidence to that which is good and beneficial (J.P Louw and E.A. Nida, Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament).

[32] Calvin, Commentary on Romans, 284, “It is no new thing for the Lord to permit his saints to be undeservedly exposed to the cruelty of the ungodly.”

[33] Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 544.

[34] K. Getty and S. Townend, “In Christ Alone," Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music.

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