Thursday, September 9, 2010

Romans 1:17, Here I Stand.

Ῥωμαίους 1·17 δικαιοσύνη γὰρ θεοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ ἀποκαλύπτεται ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν, καθὼς γέγραπται· ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται.
For in it (the gospel), the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it has been written, “And the righteous will live by means of faith.”  Romans 1:17.
There’s a little history in this verse that really affects how Christianity is viewed today.  I have many Catholic and Protestant friends, so this is NOT a “gotcha” on either side.  It is a matter of history.
Martin Luther read this verse in greek and rebelled against the Catholic church.  That rebellion not only started the Reformation, but it also changed some views within the Catholic church (Counter-Reformation)*. 
ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν (from faith to faith)
ἐκ … εἰς …: (an idiomatic frame, literally ‘from … to …’) a degree of totality emphasizing exclusiveness or the elimination of other possibilities — ‘completely, entirely, exclusively a matter of.’ δικαιοσύνη γὰρ θεοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ ἀποκαλύπτεται ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν ‘for God’s righteousness is revealed in it as exclusively a matter of faith’ or ‘the way God has put people right with himself is revealed in it as a matter of faith from beginning to end’ Ro 1:17; οἷς μὲν ὀσμὴ ἐκ θανάτου εἰς θάνατον, οἷς δὲ ὀσμὴ ἐκ ζωῆς εἰς ζωήν ‘on the one hand, to those (who are being lost) it is a stench which is completely a matter of death, but to those (who are being saved) it is a fragrance which is completely a matter of life’ 2Cor 2:16.” From Louw & Nida Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
A little history on Martin Luther
From, article on Protestant Founders.
Luther entered the Augustinian monastery at Erfurt (he was a law student returning to school after a semester break) after he was caught in a thunderstorm, feared for his life, and realized that he was not sure of his salvation. Though he was apparently a very conscientious monk, his strenuous efforts in the monastery did not reduce his anxiety about God's wrath. Trained as a biblical theologian, he was preparing a lecture on Paul's Letter to the Romans for his university students when he realized that the Greek of Romans 1:17 could mean either "the righteous shall live by faith" or "those who are righteous by faith shall live." The first had been taught by the Catholic Church, and implies that as one strives for righteousness (sinlessness), one is rewarded with faith. The second implies that faith is a gift that one does not strive for, but that brings righteousness with it. Luther believed this to be the intent of Paul, and indeed of the entire Bible. This insight formed the core of his reform.
Here I Stand
Luther's Protestant views were condemned as heretical by Pope Leo X in the bull Exsurge Domine in 1520. Consequently Luther was summoned to either renounce or reaffirm them at the Diet of Worms on 17 April 1521. When he appeared before the assembly, Johann von Eck, by then assistant to the Archbishop of Trier, acted as spokesman for Emperor Charles the Fifth. He presented Luther with a table filled with copies of his writings. Eck asked Luther if he still believed what these works taught. He requested time to think about his answer. Granted an extension, Luther prayed, consulted with friends and mediators and presented himself before the Diet the next day.
When the counselor put the same question to Luther the next day, the reformer apologized for the harsh tone of many of his writings, but said that he could not reject the majority of them or the teachings in them. Luther respectfully but boldly stated, "Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.**"
On May 25, the Emperor issued his Edict of Worms, declaring Martin Luther an outlaw.  

*Thanks to Jimmy Payne for telling me about this.
**My pastor, Shane Brown, quoted this last night.  He didn't know I was writing this up.

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