Total Pageviews

Saturday, March 7, 2015


1 Corinthians 6 will be our Sunday Schol text this weekend. Paul upbraids the Christians for taking each other to court (something that is still going on, sadly). Paul thinks it unthinkable. His reasoning includes the destiny of Christians to judge angels! We do not submit to pagans for wisdom, he says. This leads to the statement "do you not know the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?"

When was the last time you used this expression? My guess is, if you are like me, those words were translated in your unconscious mind almost immediately as "won't go to heaven"... But I want to offer another option. The Greek word translated as 'inherit' is a compound word ("a lot/portion" and "law") which means to get something 'by lots.' Now the Jewishness of the statement is more obvious. When Israel entered the Promised Land, those Hebrew slaves took the land and it was divided up among the people 'by lots.' In fact, the Hebrew word for "inherit" nachala occurs 224 times in the Bible. Numbers and Deuteronomy use it over 30x each. So it is a key concept and connected to God's salvation (in Moses) of bringing His People out of slavery and delivering them the land promised to Abraham (and his descendents). The land God rules...
One of the first is Exodus 15:7, the Song of Moses (recall the Hebrew in this song is more ancient than the rest of the text---like someone quoting Chaucer in an English paper, it would be obvious to us) speaks of Israel being planted on the Mount of [God's] inheritance.

"Inheriting the Kingdom" is to be part of God's People, to have a share or portion in the land He rules. Paul's vision is no doubt shaped by his Bible--and his Bible is made up of the books of the Jewish Testament. This is the vision we run across repeatedly, IF we have eyes to see.

Paul's list of the "unrighteous" includes the usual suspects, with a special focus on porneia (sexual sins). In a word, Paul says it is a sin against one's own body and a desecration of God's Temple! You are a dwelling place of God, he emphasizes. It is a good thought to ponder in Lent. We are His children, His beloved and He lives in us. It isn't about guilt and shame and fear---it is all about living and being what we are!

This is why, even if the Gentiles are 'free of the law' ("all things are lawful" is probably a quote by Paul of his Corinthian adversaries) that freedom is not for sin. Slogan Christianity appears to have been around since the beginning. Paul, a faithful Jew who believes in Jesus, was well aware of the grace of salvation (rescue) and the expectations of the covenant (If...then). In Jesus, he declares, God's promise to draw all nations into the "family" or better "blessings" of Abraham has been realized. Our task is to be faith-filled in response to this grace (good news) and that response includes living a life worthy of the call.

Lent is a time to root out the weeds of sin and death. Happy gardening. 

No comments:

Post a Comment