New Testament Introduction - Lesson 16

Principles of Rhetoric

Understanding the structure of rhetoric can help you understand scripture better and preach more effectively.

Ben Witherington
New Testament Introduction
Lesson 16
Watching Now
Principles of Rhetoric

Principles of Rhetoric

I. Three Species of Rhetoric

A. Forensic rhetoric

B. Deliberative rhetoric

C. Apodictic rhetoric

II. The Parts of a Speech

A. Exhortium

B. Narratio

C. Proposition

D. Provatio

E. Peroration

F. Romans as an example

1. Comparison of Adam and Christ

2. Life in the Spirit now (Romans chapter 8)

3. Ethical remarks

4. List of greetings

5. Paul's tone in Romans

  • When reading the Bible, there is a danger of reading our own ideas into the text and assuming they are there. A text without a context is a pretext for whatever you want it to mean.

  • Dr. Witherington continues the discussion on the importance of using context in interpretation and walks through the different types of context.

  • Matthew, Mark and John are like ancient biographies. Luke-Acts is more like an ancient historical monograph.

  • The terms “Son of Man” and  “kingdom of God” appear often in Matthew and Mark. The kingdom of God is the divine saving activity of God breaking into human history.

  • Luke uses Mark as a primary source. He organizes his material geographically “to” Jerusalem, while Acts is organized “from” Jerusalem.  Luke emphasizes apologetics to make his case that Christianity should be considered a legal religion in the Roman Empire. The divinity of Jesus is more vividly portrayed in the gospel of John than in the synoptics.

  • There was great animosity between the Jews and Samaritans that went back hundreds of years.  In telling the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus was not only challenging stereotypes but shaming a man who thought he was a righteous Jew. It’s unacceptable to use your orthodoxy as a tool to justify your prejudices against other kinds of people.

  • Jesus teaches that there is not always a direct correlation between sickness and sin. The religious officials often thought that Jesus did not measure up to what they thought a prophet should be. All of Jesus’ miracles are acts of compassion, not primarily to prove that he is the messiah.

  • Salvation according to the gnostics is a self-help program for those with inside knowledge. The gnostic gospels were never on any of the canon lists of the early church. The church recognized the canon, they didn’t form the canon. God has revealed enough about the future to give us hope, but not so much that we don’t have to live by faith each day.

  • Apocalyptic literature arises when justice is deferred. It develops the ideas of the “other world” and the “afterlife.” God is being worshipped for what he is about to do to transform the world into his kingdom. Dispensational theology supports the teaching of a rapture.

  • A genuine prophecy was intended to be understood and it was spoken in known languages. Apocalyptic literature was often written during periods of exile.  Worship is not about giving people what they want, it’s about giving God what he desires and requires. True worship requires that we are in the Spirit and give our whole selves to God.

  • In times of exile, people didn’t see God carrying out justice in their lifetime so they thought it must happen later by God raising them from the dead. Your behavior in this life affects the eternal outcome. When we die, our spirit goes to be with God, our body decays and eventually God gives us a heavenly body that will be everlasting like our spirit.

  • Parable comes from a word meaning figurative or metaphorical speech of any kind. They are analogies and part of wisdom literature. Jesus purposefully spoke in public in figurative ways to challenge people to think about the ideas he was presenting. He gives us insights into God’s character and the relationship between him and God the Father.

  • Parables are intended to tease your mind into active thought about God. You can tell the character of a person by what they do when they think nobody is watching. The parables have both justice and mercy, righteousness and compassion.

  • The first missionary journey started in Antioch. Paul, Barnabas and John Mark worked together. Paul shames his detractors by boasting about things that most people thought were shameful. Paul’s letters were written as conversations in context, not as theological tracts.

  • In the Old Testament, “hesed” refers to the love God promised to give to the people to whom he betrothed himself (i.e., Jews). The paradigm of “agape” is God in Christ. On the cross, Christ gave with no thought of return. Paul’s letters were meant to be read in a public discourse setting as an act of worship. An effective rhetorical presentation appeals to both the mind and the emotions of people.

  • Understanding the structure of rhetoric can help you understand scripture better and preach more effectively.

  • When Jesus came to earth, he accepted a slave’s position and willingly suffered a slave’s death. Jesus “emptied himself” by giving up his divine prerogatives. Jesus assumes the role of “Lord” (God) at resurrection and thereafter. Christ doesn’t reflect God’s glory, he radiates it.

This course is will help you begin to weave yourself through the maze of NT studies. During the course we will be exploring several major subject areas: 1) the history of the period in which the NT was written; 2) the social and cultural milieu in which early Christians lived; 3) the practice of the scholarly study of the NT (source, form, redaction, genre, rhetorical criticism et al.); 4) questions of introduction about the books of the NT (authorship, date, audience, structure, purpose); 5) the practice of exegesis and hermeneutics.

There are three different species of rhetoric. Three different species of rhetoric. Forensic, deliberative and epideictic, and each of these species of rhetoric is intended for a different [inaudible][00:57], a different situation in life.

The forensic rhetoric is the rhetoric of the law court. Deliberative rhetoric is the rhetoric of the democratic assembly, the Ecclesia, and epideictic rhetoric is the rhetoric of funeral orations or public ceremonies, that sort of stuff. It’s ornamental rhetoric. Each type of rhetoric has a different function and a different purpose. Each deals with different situations but the form of the discourse is basically the same in each case.

[inaudible][01:38] The skeletal outline that you follow in doing the preaching, doing the proclaiming, doing the rhetorizing. It’s the same in each case. So the form is flexible, the content is specific. Let's talk about forensic rhetoric. It is indeed the rhetoric of the law court. It’s the rhetoric of attack and defense.

It was, in the first century A.D., the most common type of rhetoric and let me tell you why. Democracy had had its demise. The rhetoric that arose in the Greek assemblies of Athens and Corinth and elsewhere had long since gone by the wayside because there were no more democracies in the Roman Empire, there was an empire.

Democracy was not encouraged. So the dominant kind of rhetoric which you’re gonna find for example in Quintilian, first century A.D. Latin orator and teacher of rhetoric, is forensic rhetoric. In his institutions of oration, he’s going to be talking about forensic rhetoric because it’s the dominant form of rhetoric people heard, saw or participated in.

And that is because the Roman Empire, up until the time of modern America, was the most litigious so--society on earth. They had the sue me, sue you blues. I mean, there were just people going to court all the time.

Dr. Ben: So the rhetoric of the law court was important. Now this is the rhetoric of attack and defense. It's the rhetoric of prosecution and defending. That’s what it is. The focus, temporal focus, of this rhetoric is on the past. I mean, you’re not very often gonna be prosecuted for something you haven’t yet done.

That doesn’t usually happen. What usually happens at a law court is you are being prosecuted for something you believe to have already done. Right? So the focus of forensic rhetoric is on the past, on your behavior in the past. The goal of forensic rhetoric, if you’re the defense attorney, is to defend someone charged with a crime or to convict someone charged of a crime, if you’re the prosecuting attorney.

Now Paul definitely does use this rhetoric. He uses it in a variety of settings but let me remind you that we don’t have any Paul on letters written to non-Christians. All of his letters are written to Christians. Now I-- I cannot emphasize this enough.

So what his rhetoric would have looked like to a non-Christian audience, the only place you get a clue about that, is there are a few hints in his letters to Christians but we-- what we have is speech summaries in Acts of Paul addressing a synagogue audience or the Areopagus or this pagan audience or that pagan audience. So we have some samples in Acts of what the speech-- what of-- what the rhetoric would have looked like outside of the context of the church by a Christian proclaimer.

And we definitely have some forensic rhetoric. Guess where it shows up? In the trial before Festus and Felix. Forensic rhetoric, it's a courtroom, he is on trial, and the rhetoric of attack in defense is going to be important. And let me just say to you that in forensic rhetoric you honestly need the appeal to the emotions as much as you need anything else.

If you want to see some good rhetoric, watch the summation speeches of Sam Waterston in some of the old episodes of “Law and Order.” He’s good. He knows how to bring it home. He knows how to give the peroration. The peroration is when you address the jury or the judge. Right? You make the emotional appeal or the final summation of the evidence and hope to bring it home so that the verdict will be good.

Do we have some forensic rhetoric in Paul's letters? Yes, we do. 2 Corinthians 10-13 is just full of forensic rhetorical techniques. We went over this last night, remember Mark boasting, remember the Mark boasting? “I’ve had far more trials, far more shipwrecks,” etcetera. These are not the things that you brag about on your tombstone. In an honor and shame culture, these are not far more whippings, far more [inaudible][06:26] the rods, far more stonings, the-- these are shameful things. Right?

So what Paul is doing is he is imploding the boasting of his opponents by Mark boasting about his weaknesses. This is a typical forensic technique. It’s satire, it’s satire, that’s what it is. It’s supposed to make the audience ashamed of having listened to the improper boasting of others, you see. Or in the law court, make them ashamed of having believed the prosecuting attorney about this poor little old soul that's being prosecuted.

So if you want to see a good example of invective, and satire, and irony, and Mark boasting and the kind of things that you normally do in a forensic argument, look at 2 Corinthians 10-13. You'll get a good taste of the fact that Paul can lay down the lumber if he needs to, you know, he’s perfectly capable of that. Deliberative rhetoric is the rhetoric of the democratic assembly, the Ecclesia.

Now I have a theory. It is just a theory. The question becomes why does Paul call his church meetings in homes Ecclesia? Why does he use this term? There are plenty of other terms he could have used for the community meeting. Why does he pick a word which in places like Corinth or Philippi would instantly resonate with the history of Greece and the whole idea of a democratic assembly?

Well, it's because, dear friends, that the church is seen by Paul as a voluntary society. Now we’re gonna let that sink in for a minute. In the church, you would do far better to persuade people than to try to order them around. You would do far better and Paul says, to Philemon, “Though I could command you, I would rather persuade you.” You see, if you persuade a person, then they freely respond. If you order a person, if you give them an ultimatum, that's not gonna work in a voluntary society.

You know, that's like one Civitan saying to another Civitan, “I am demanding that you make the speech after lunch next week,” and you are going, “I'll go join another Civitan group. I don’t have to put up with this. Who died and left him boss?” Now the church is supposed to work like a voluntary society. It doesn’t always work by persuasion but it ought to, and I would just say to you again there is a difference between persuasion and hardcore manipulation. Ministers can be big time manipulators.

They can call in their markers on people that are indebted to them for pastoral counseling. There are so many ways a minister can be an arm-twister and a manipulator, and you know it would be far better if they were just persuaders. But because of the tyranny of the urgent, sometimes persuasion gives way to straight manipulation. We’ve all been hit by the tyranny of the urgent.

Paul is very careful, and he would prefer to use this kind of rhetoric. The dominant rhetoric that you find in Paul's letters is deliberative, overwhelmingly so. Galatians, deliberative rhetoric; 1 Corinthians, deliberative rhetoric; Romans, deliberative rhetoric; Philippians, deliberative rhetoric; I could go on. Colossians, deliberative rhetoric.

The other dominant form of rhetoric he does, he uses epideictic rhetoric and we’ll get to that next. Deliberative rhetoric is the rhetoric of advice and consent in its original setting in the assembly or imagine congress for a minute. You're going to debate policy decisions that will result in a change in course in the near future. It's called policy decisions, called laws.

The rhetoric of advice and consent. It’s the job of the pastor to work for consent amongst the believing and give them good advice to persuade them about their future courses of action. Indeed, it’s intended to help them follow a particular course of action through persuasion and dissuasion. Now Galatians’ basic function, though it has many different flavors of argumentation, basic function of Galatians is to prevent to head off a disaster. The basic function of Galatians is to try to prevent the Galatians from listening to Judaizers and getting them self-circumcised and then having to keep 613 commandments. That’s a lot of commandments.

You notice, I didn’t say, “613 opinions.” I said, “613 commandments.” Paul says, “You really don’t want to go back to Egypt.” Let's not go there. And so Galatians, all of the arguments in Galatians, both the arguments for and the arguments against, are intended to head off a change in lifestyle amongst the Galatian converts. He doesn’t want them to get themselves circumcised and keep the Mosaic Covenant.

“Stop the train, get off now,” says Paul. “Don’t go there.” Deliberative rhetoric. The focus of deliberative rhetoric, unlike forensic rhetoric, is on the future. The focus of forensic rhetoric is on the past. And that only leaves us with one other kind which is epideictic rhetoric. This is the rhetoric of entertainment and encomiums. Now it can be serious or it can be frivolous. There’s a famous ode of Cicero for the marketplace entertainment, an ode to a flea.

“I think that I shall never see a thing as noble as a flea.” It kind of goes like that, you know, it's kind of like Ogden Nash. “I never saw a purple cow. I never hope to see one. But all the same, I’d rather see a purple cow than be one.” That's epideictic rhetoric. It’s the rhetoric of entertainment. It’s a rhetoric of poetry.

It's also the rhetoric of funeral addresses, and funeral addresses could be important. “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I'm not here to praise Caesar but to bury Caesar. And to honor those who are here, honorable men, Brutus, Cassius, Longinus, as we are all honorable men.” Now this is a funeral oration given by Mark Anthony reproduced in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar which indeed is doing just the opposite of what it says it is doing. He is there to praise the murdered Caesar and he is there to blame Brutus, Cassius and Longinus. He is going to condemn them with faint praise and he is going to resurrect Caesar with greater praise. So that everybody there feels shameful about what happened.

The rhetoric of encomiums, funeral orations can be very important. This is the rhetoric of praise or blame, praise or blame of some person, praise or blame of some subject. As you might imagine, this kind of rhetoric is often very hyperbolic. It's very flowerly, it’s often ornate. It often uses 25 dollar words when 5 dollar words would do. It often results in very long sentences and yes, we certainly have it in Paul. Ephesians is one honking long example of epideictic rhetoric in praise of the church. Jew and Gentile united in Christ.

It's a powerful piece of rhetoric.

Another good example from Paul of epideictic rhetoric would be 1 Corinthians 13, just this one chapter. You can have a digression. You need to signal the digression but you can have a digression that morphs into another mode of rhetoric. We certainly have that in 1 Corinthians. Paul says at the beginning, “Let me show you a more excellent way.” Now that may not sound like much to you. Let me show you a more excellent, a more praise-worthy manner, but right off the bat that’s signaling he is going into epideictic rhetoric of praise and blame, and so what's following this is an encomium in praise of real love.

How appropriate, for tomorrow here it is, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but have not have loved, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but don’t have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possessed to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but have no love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others,” you hear all this language about honor and boasting?

It really is a very clear example of epideictic rhetoric about praising. “Does not dishonor others, it’s not self-seeking, it’s not easily angered.” I like this bit, “It keeps no record of wrongdoing.” That's a tough one. Now you’ve been married 30 plus years, I'm working on 33, you know, keep no record of wrongdoing, there is this long track record, right? That's a tough one.

“It's not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongdoing. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, it always trusts, it always hopes, it always perseveres. Love, agape, not eros, never fails.” So this is not about eros or storge or philia or []philios.

Is this text appropriate to preach on at a wedding? To talk about marital love? Not unless what you’re talking about is the love of God that binds these two people together. If you’re talking about ordinary marital love or sex, this is not the text for you. Problem again is English is monolithic when it comes to love.

There’s one word for everything. “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease. Where there are tongues, they will be stilled. Where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, what is in part disappears.” Just a footnote, there are some protestant traditions that think the word perfection there refers to the canon. So that when the canon came, we didn’t need spiritual gifts anymore, particularly speaking in tongues and prophecy.

Uh, no. He’s not talking about the canon and his poor Corinthians could never have understood him to mean the canon of the New Testament. There was no canon of the New Testament. He couldn’t allude to it. It didn’t exist yet. So that's not what this is about. This is about when the Eskaton comes and the proof of that is what he says here at the end. “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became a man, I put childish ways behind me, for now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” It's a wonderful, wonderful ode to love. And it's not an accident that we’ve recognized that this is one of the most poetic purple passages in all of Paul.

P, P, P. It is. But you see, that’s the way epideictic rhetoric is supposed to be formed. It's supposed to be the most eloquent of rhetoric. It's supposed to be the most flowery of rhetoric, the most poetic of rhetoric. And if you read Ephesians in the Greek, you have a 26-line long sentence in the first chapter.

He goes on effervescently in praise of what God has done for the church. It's the rhetoric of praise but also blame. In a dyadic culture where you have honor, you have shame, where you have praise, you have blame, it's almost de rigueur that you mention what's blame-worthy so that they have something, a boundary line to co-- contrast with what's being praised.

So they know how far to go and how far not to go and that's right. There is a whole treatise that Paul follows the rules of on inoffensive self praise. It's an interesting treatise. It’s a rhetorical treatise that Plutarch gives us. And Paul is following it to the letter in 2 Corinthians 10-13. And you remember when he praises all his weakness and his foibles and all of that? That's called inoffensive self praise.

It’s self praise with the humility out-front. It's Plutarch's tract on inoffensive self praise. How to praise yourself without looking arrogant, rude, boastful or stupid? You will notice that Paul doesn’t have any problem with certain kinds of boasting. See, somewhere along the line in Christian history, we got the impression boasting, all bad, eating humble pie, all good. Right?

We need to talk about humility and we will, but let me just say that if Christ is the ultimate example of humility, and he is, what he is an example of is a strong person stepping down and serving others. Humility is not feelings of low self-worth. It's not poor-mouthing yourself. “Poor little old me. I'm just not capable.” Humility doesn’t have anything to do with those things. Humility is the posture of a strong person who chooses to self-sacrificially serve others. ‘Cause Christ is the example of humility.

So what I'm saying is there is a place for inoffensive boasting. There is a place for inoffensive praise, both of yourself and others. You have to be real about yourself. If God has done a good work in you, why should you call it junk? You see, that's not humility, that’s offensive self humiliation. That’s a whole different ball game. And it's not a good thing. Each person is a person of sacred worth created in the image of God and renewed in the image of Christ.

You should get your emo-- ego strength from that. God don’t make no junk and he certainly don’t renew anybody in Christ to be a piece of junk. And therefore, there is such a thing as false humility. You need to avoid the Scylla and Charybdis of false humility on the one end of the spectrum and false pride on the other end of the spectrum.

You need to plow a furrow between those two beasts. Blessed is the person who knows themselves for who they are and knows when God has said about their work, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Now if God has said, “Well done, good and faithful servant” about something you’ve done, then should you trash it? No. You should not. So learning inoffensive self praise, it’s a good thing. It’s a good thing. Rhetoric can teach you some of that.

Now let's talk about the parts of a speech. The beginning of the speech is called the exordium. It begins to make the audience receptive to what follows and favorably dispose towards the speacher-- speaker. So Paul does this in two places, he uses the epistolary prescript sometimes and he uses the thanksgiving prayer sometimes to serve the function of a rhetorical exordium, to set up the discourse that’s going to follow. This is part one of the speech. Part two, the narratio. Now I need to tell you that in terms of the structural outline, sometimes the narratio will come before the proposition, sometimes it will come after the proposition and that’s okay.

Narratio, not always required in a rhetorical speech. The narratio is the narration of pertinent facts which produced this discourse, or the necessity for this discourse. It’s like Joe Friday in the old Dragnet series, “Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.” He's going to rehearse facts that are relevant to the discourse that follows and that are necessary to make the argument work.

Now sometimes in an epideictic piece of rhetoric, you don’t need to be listing facts. There is no narratio in Ephesians. He’s just going to praise all kinds of good things. Hallelujah. But in forensic rhetoric a narration of pertinent facts is required and normally in deliberative rhetoric, there is a narration of relevant facts needed to make an important decision.

Sometimes, in a epideictic encomium or funeral oration, there will be a narration of the accomplishment of the deceased. I mean, you've heard funerals like this, right? Uncle Joe, he did X, he did Y. Okay, that's the narratio, the narration of pertinent facts about the life of this person, and that’s a good thing.

So you have the exordium, you have the narratio and-- You know, this, if you don’t get everything about the skeletal outline of an ancient discourse, the two parts I really wish you would get the most, to understand Paul's documents better, are the proposition and the peroration. Exordium, the epistolary prescript, thanksgiving prayer sucking up and then we go right to the proposition. The narratio actually comes after the proposition in 1 Corinthians and that's fine.

Here’s what Paul says, this is the proposition. “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions amongst you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” What is the aim of this discourse? To build harmony, unity, concordia in a many-splintered church.

We got house church versus house church, one leader versus another leader, we got a mess in Corinth. So the function of all the arguments that follow in 1 Corinthians are to produce unity in the body in Corinth. This is why we have, for example, the extended metaphor about the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12.

This is why we have the epideictic digression on love which binds together whereas hubris tears apart. Love builds up, pride puffs up and so on. All of the arguments in 1 Corinthians are intended to unite the body of Christ in Corinth. This is the proposition. Proposition is the thesis statement that indicates what the author is going to be talking about.

Let's take some other examples of propositions from Paul. Let's go to Romans. Now the propositions need to be succinct and to the point. They’re not huge, long things. Listen to this one. This is Romans 1:16, 17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed. A righteousness that is from the faithful one to those of faith just as it is written, the righteous shall live by faith.” What's the proposition of this document? “The righteousness of God” and “the righteous shall live by faith.”

That’s what this whole discourse is going to be about. Now the righteousness of God can involve both salvation and wrath, so the very first argument is about the wrath of God against all unrighteousness. Romans 1:18-32. All of the arguments in Romans are about the righteousness of God and this-- the making right of human beings in relationship with God.

You get to Romans 9 and the argument is about, if God is a righteous God, why does it appear He has abandoned His first chosen people? Does He renege on His promises? Paul has to answer that question because God is righteous. And he is going to talk about how God will do right. Righteousness is the subject of this discourse. So proposition, if you find it, you're well on the way to understanding the discourse.

Now let's take another example, we looked at Romans, we looked at 1 Corinthians, let's take another really good example. How about Galatians? Listen to the end of Galatians 2. Now Galatians has a very long narratio. Paul narrates the story of his conversion where he got his apostolic authority, how he met the Jerusalem church leaders, what he did after that. There is a long narration of relevant facts in the beginning of Galatians.

Because he thought that was necessary so they would know that he did not get his gospel from the Jerusalem church. He got it from God. So then he comes to the climax wanting to give the proposition and this is what he says, “We,” this is beginning with verse 15, “who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not set right by observing the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.”

So we too have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be set right by the faithfulness of Christ and not by observing the law. Because by observing the law no one will be set right. But if in seeking to be set right in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also amongst the sinners. Doesn't that mean that Christ promotes sin? “Me genoito!” Now this is one of the phrases in Paul that is very hard to translate with full force.

A weak version would be, “Absolutely not!” It's closer to, “Hell no.” It's a very strong vituperative phrase. But that won't preach either, you know, don't try that translation from the pulpit, okay? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroy then I really would be a lawbreaker, “For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ. It's no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me, the life I now live in the body I live by the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if right standing, righteousness, could be had through the law, Christ died for nothing.” Now this is an emphatic, emotional, exclamation point filled proposition statement.

You got your salvation, you got your right standing, you got your righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ not through keeping the Mosaic Law. Hint, hint. You don't need to go keeping it now. The proposition for Galatians for a very polemical discourse. Now I'd like to say something about the difference between polemics and forensic rhetoric.

One of the problems in analyzing ancient rhetoric is mistaking pure polemics for forensics. Yes, lawyers lose-- use polemics. If you've gone to a courtroom trial, you're going to probably hear some polemics, right? People are angry, that's okay. But polemics, rhetoric with the volume turned up can be used in any form of rhetoric. It can be used in deliberative rhetoric, it can be used in epideictic rhetoric, it can be used in forensic rhetoric.

It's not particular choice, particular species of rhetoric. What we have in Galatians is deliberative rhetoric arguing for a verdict, arguing for them to not get themselves circumcised. And he’s so in earnest about making sure they don't do that that he uses a lot of polemics. He pulls out all the stops and uses a lot of polemics. But it's not a forensic argument. He is not defending his apostleship. He's not using the rhetoric of attack and defense. He's using deliberative rhetoric with polemics that's a different thing.

Okay, I could look at more propositions, that's enough of the sample. We'll have a chance to look at more. But what follows the proposition or a thesis statement is in the first instance, arguments for your case, the probatio, pro and what is following the probatio is the refutatio, arguments against.

Now I want you to think about the psychology of this. You're trying to convince somebody of something? Make your positive case first. Don't lead with arguments for why not doing something else. I mean, this is just good psychology. You start with the positive and then you do the refutation. In another words you need to build up your case before you tear down other people's case.

Some preaching goes wrong by simply focusing on tearing down other arguments before getting to the main positive point. And then it comes across with too negative a tone. See, the ancient rhetoricians knew this. You attract far more flies with honey than with gall. Why start with the gall? Arguments for, then arguments against. If there are gonna be arguments against, make them later.

Arguments for first, arguments against later. Galatians would be another good example. He is making his arguments for right standing by grace through faith. He is using his positive examples of Abraham and so on. And then only at the end of that point period of argumentation does he get to allegory of Sarah and Hagar. What an allegory it is. Sarah and Hagar would not have recognized themselves in this retelling of the story.

And this is the refutation of what the Judaizers were saying to the Galatians. But he has saved for last because this is what happens when you make a new case for something, right? In church you make a new case for something, there'll be this objection in the back of people's minds but what about-- what about we've never done it like that before? What about X, what about Y? The smart move psychologically is you make your positive case for and then you dismantle the objections.

That's exactly what Paul does. That's his normal emo. That's the way he operates, that's the way ancient rhetoricians operate. Well, after the whole theories of arguments, there is the peroration. The emotional appeal, the appeal to the deeper emotions. Now there is about three different way-- forms a peroration can take.

A peroration can sum up the previous arguments. This is not always true. This is called [inaudible][38.14]. The recapitulation of your major headings, your major topics. So a peroration can simply sum up the major arguments made before that's a normal peroration. But even if you do that, you've still got to appeal to their deeper emotions to embrace the case that you're making. The second kind of peroration is one that focuses just on the last argument you make, because as it turns out this last argument is the most crucial one, it's the climactic one, and so you use the emotional cash value of the peroration to reinforce the last argument. That's the second kind of peroration. The third kind of a peroration is a more general emotional appeal. Appeal to deeper emotions but a more general emotional appeal. Let me give you an example of some perorations. This one you get to sing along with. Now remember Ephesians is the rhetoric of praise and blame. He reserves the blame bit and the warning bit after all of the sweetness and light in Ephesians 1-4.

For when he gets to Ephesians 5 and then he turns to military rhetoric, Chapter 6, the last Chapter. The passage that is the peroration is Ephesians 6 beginning with the 10th verse. It carries onto at least verse 17, 10 through 17. Now the background of this as I imagine it is [inaudible][39.51]. So here's what I need you to do.


We need a drum.


The emotional appeal with the big music in the background. So here we go. This is your part, I'm gonna get you started but you have to keep going 'cause I'm reading this peroration.


And repeat.


Okay, are you ready? Here we go. Carry on. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the vows of the devil for our struggle is not with flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark and evil age, against the forces of darkness in the heavenly realms.

Well, you get the point, right? It's rhetoric with the volume turned up. It's an emotional appeal and, you know, he's grabbing your little heart and stopping that sucker flat at the end. It’s he's just getting you in the gut and saying, “There's mean gnarly things out there. Put on the full armor of Christ and be prepared to stand.” Now what's makes this an epideictic peroration is he's not appealing for them to advance or to attack.

He's appealing for them to continue to stand in the virtues they already embrace: faith, hope and love, etcetera. He's not asking them to make a change, he's asking them to make a stand. And that is so different. This is not justification for starting all kinds of deliverance ministries where you go on the attack against the forces of darkness. That's not what this says, it says put on your heavy overcoat ‘cause there is some gnarly weather out there. So you can stand and withstand the onslaughts of the powers of darkness.

So this is not about you becoming sort of Batman and taking on the Joker, you know. This is about putting on the full armor of Christ so that you have sufficient protection against the bewitching, the bewildering of the powers of darkness. And the good news is you have sufficient armor. You need to put it on. You need to wear it well and you need to stand. That's a emotional, peroration epideictic style. The peroration in a deliberative style is gonna look a little more sedate and less emotional. So let's listen to the peroration in Philippians. Now notice the emotional difference in the tone. This is far more eloquent, less sort of dramatic. Here we go.

Paul says, in Philippians 4 beginning with the 8th verse. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. And whatever you've learned or received or heard from me or seen in me, put it into practice. God of peace be with you all.” You know, that's just gentle because he doesn't need to put the hammer down with the Philippians. He doesn't need to turn the volume up with the Philippians, they already get it. Whatever is noble and pure and good keep thinking about these things and the God of peace will be with you. Now that's not Ephesians 6, that's gentle.

It's a peroration, it appeals to their core values. What are your core values? What are you emotionally attached to in here? What's really good? It's still a peroration. It's a summation of the things he's been appealing to throughout the discourse and the things that they should recognize and embrace.

All right. Now let me give you one example of the full thing in the form of an epistle, okay. So we're gonna look at Romans just for a minute to give you a flavor of how this works. We have an epistolary opening in chapters 1, 1 through 7 and this is a rather long epistolary opening. There’s actually a creedal fragment in verses 3 and 4 of this epistolary opening. So it seems likely that Paul feels like he's got to do more preparation to address an audience that he’s never addressed before.

He needs to do more establishing a rapport than he might otherwise have to do with his own converts. So the prescript is longer and then on top of the long prescript 1 through 7, we have this longer wish prayer. We have verses 8 through 10 and that still doesn't bring us to the proposition, then we have a narration of relevant facts.

“I haven't been able to come see you yet, I'm sorry about that. I'm planning on coming, this is sort of preparatory for that. I'm looking forward to your receiving me and sending me on my way to Spain.” He is priming the pump but he has a lot to tell them. So we've read the proposition about the righteousness of God and the right standing of human beings. Romans 1:16 and 17 that leads us to a whole long string of arguments about the righteousness of God

Argument one, the bankruptcy of, and God's judgment on pagan religious experience. The wrath of God against Gentile wickedness. But just when the Jews and the audience are saying, “Yeah, baby, let those pagans have it. What's he gonna do? Well, he's going to critique first.

Judgmental Gentiles, who looked down their noses at Jews in Chapter 2:1-16, and then he's gonna turn around and censor a censorious Jewish teacher. He's gonna have a-- what's called a diatribe, a debate with a Jewish teacher saying, “Who made you special? You know what? Sin is the great leveler.”

“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” Paul is gonna say and therefore Jew and Gentile both need the righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ. They both need this. So he’s gonna be really careful about this argument. He’s gonna cre-- he’s gonna be an equal opportunity critiquer of Gentiles and Jews. The real reason for his approach of dealing with Gentiles first is A, the congregation is largely Gentile. He says so in Romans 11, I'm talking to you Gentiles, he says.

But, you see, here is the real problem in Rome. The Gentile Christians are not even meeting with the Jewish Christians. They’re not in the same house churches. And in fact, the Jewish Christians have only recently come back to Rome after they were banished by Claudius. He's got to rehabilitate the Jewish Christians in the eyes of the snobby Gentile Christians. So he's got to take the Gentile Christians down a peg or two.

He's got to level the playing field at the foot of the cross, that's what he's got to do and that's what he does. And so to make his case as clear as it can be, we have a second proposition. He's got to reiterate what's the main thing here. Because this is gonna be a really long discourse, it's 16 chapters. So we have a expansion of the proposition and let me read you that now.

This is Romans 3, it will be familiar to you, 21-31. Romans 3:21-31. “But now apart from the law, the righteousness of God,” Ah-ha! What's the theme of this reemphasis and an expansion of the proposition? Again, the righteousness of God. Here we go again, but now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known to which the law and the prophets simply testify.

This is the righteousness that is given through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ to all who believe. But there's no difference between Jew and Gentile, “All have sinned and fallen short the glory of God” and so on. So we have the expansion of the proposition there and then we have a third argument and we have the story that Abraham is the forefather of a universal religion involving both Jew and Gentile. And that he is the original foreshadowing of salvation by grace through faith.

He is the original foreshadowing of right standing through grace, by grace through faith. Now I need to say a couple of things about this argument in Romans 4 just for a minute. This is not about the imputed righteousness of Christ. It's not about exchanging Christ's righteousness for our lack there of.

If you look at the argument, what Paul says, quoting Genesis 15 and 12 is, Abraham's faith was credited as Abraham's righteousness. And by the way, this is not forensic language. It's not the language of the courtroom, it’s the language of the ledger, of the CPA, of the accountant, credits and debits, you with me now? Abraham's faith is credited, reckoned as Abraham's righteousness.

The exchange is not between Christ’s righteousness and ours, the exchange is between faith of Abraham and righteousness of Abraham. Abraham's faith is credited as right standing with God. And that's exactly what he argues about us. Our faith is what establishes our right standing with God. God pardons our sins on the basis of grace through faith. It's not about imputing Christ's righteousness to us. What Paul does say is that the whole basis for our being able to have faith in Christ is the faithfulness of Christ. That is, His death on the cross. Now we'll see more about that when we look at the Christological hymns this afternoon.

But for now, what I want to say is that there are two components to this. There is the objective basis of our salvation and there's the subjective basis of our salvation. The objective basis of our salvation is the faithfulness of Christ. The subjective basis of our salvation is our faith in Christ. But in other way, the objective basis of our salvation is what Christ did on the cross, not what Moses did in the law. The subjective basis of our salvation is faith in Christ.

So Paul is not talking about just our faith in Christ saving us, he's talking about the faithfulness of Christ saving us. And he uses a particular phrase to indicate this. Now if you were very alert and paying close attention, I translated the proposition statement in Galatians 2 with the phrase “the faithfulness of Christ” and I just translated this bit in regard to the faithfulness of Christ. Here is the Greek, “Pistis Christou.” Literally, this Greek phrase transliterated, Pistis Christou, literally this Greek phrase means “the faith of Christ.” Now that's the literal Greek, the faith of Christ.

The question is, is it an objective genitive or is it a subjective genitive? If it's an objective genitive, it would be faith in Christ. If it's a subjective genitive, then it would be the faith or faithfulness of Christ. In the Greek, there’s no grammatical preference here. A genitive phrase like this could be either subjective or objective. There is no percentages in this. It can be either one.

I'm saying that despite Martin Luther, this phrase should not be translated “faith in Christ” and we have various English translations that do translate it that way. I'm saying that this phrase should be “the faithfulness of Christ” and that is his shorthand for talking about Christ's death on the cross. He was faithful, he said, says Paul in Philippians 2, even unto death on the cross. He was obedient even unto death on the cross. This phrase is about what Christ has done for you. It's not about what you do in relationship to Christ.

And here's where I want to stress the importance of the objective means of salvation being primary and the subjective means of salvation being secondary. You have been saved by God's gracious act in Jesus Christ. You have appropriated that salvation through faith. The primary thing is what God has done for you. The primary thing is not how you responded to God. You get the point? Grace is primary, faith is secondary. So the faithfulness of Christ, of Christ on the cross is the objective means of your salvation. Your faith in Christ is the subjective means by which you appropriate the benefits of that salvation. You need them both.

It's not an either or proposition. You need them both, but one of the great problems in Protestantism is that since the reformation we have so stressed, “You're saved by faith, you're saved by faith,” that what that sounds like in a voluntaristic culture and in a democracy like America is that we save ourselves. And this is a huge mistake. Paul would've been going, []“Oy vey, what are you doing to my Gospel? This is not what I said. Get it right!” I'm saying that there are about seven places in Paul's letters where sometimes you will have the translation “faith in Christ,” but you ought not to have that translation. The translation ought to be “the faithfulness of Christ.”

And it’s very important that we get that right. I'll just give you one example and we'll have a chance to talk more about this. Chapter 3 of Romans verse 22, we've just been dealing with this. “This righteousness is given to us through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ to all who believe.” It does not read “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” That's redundant. You don’t need to say, to all who believe, to all who believe. You don’t need to say that twice. Now he's going to talk to both about the objective means of our salvation and the subjective means. So let me read it to you one more time.

Listen up, verse 22 of Romans 3, “This righteousness is given through pistis Christou, through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ to those who believe.” He didn't leave your faith out. That's the end of the sentence. The middle and the meat of the sentence is what Jesus has done for you. Pistis Christou, the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. That's one example. I could give you six more. I think it's a bad translation to translate “pistis Christou” faith in Jesus Christ. I don't think it's helpful. This affects Galatians. Let me go back just for a minute to the proposition in Galatians, word up about Galatians. Listen to Galatians 2 here.

This is part of the proposition statement again “for through the law, I died to the law.” I'm reading beginning with verse 19, “that I might live for God. I've been crucified with Christ. No longer I, but Christ who lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by the faithfulness of the Son of God.” Now there the phrase is a little different. Instead of the faith of Jesus Christ, it's the faithfulness of the Son of God. “The life I live, I live by the faithfulness of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” That phrase is not about what we are doing for God. The final phrase is the modifier of the previous phrase and the final phrase says, “Who loved me and gave Himself for me.” It's about Christ's work for us. It’s not about our response to Christ.

All right, we need to press on argument 4. Here's something really interesting. The first four chapters of Romans arguments against curmudgeonly Gentiles, arguments against curmudgeonly Jews, then finally in argument 4 we get to a straightforward Christian preaching. It's not an accident that Romans 5:1-11 is often used by Christians in revival meaning to address Christians. He stopped arguing with imaginary Jewish or Gentile opponents and he's now addressing the choir. He’s now addressing the Christian congregation. And so Romans 5:1-5 says, “Here are the consequences for all those who have been set right by grace through faith.” Here are the blessed consequences, love and joy and peace and patience and kindness in the Holy Spirit and all that good sort of stuff. But then, there's a bigger argument. There's the first Adam, there's the last Adam.

First Adam went wrong. He's the forefather of universal sin, suffering and death. The last Adam is the origin of universal grace, salvation and life. We have what is called a syncrisis, a rhetorical comparison. This guy compared to this guy. Mano a mano. What were the consequences of this person's action and what were the consequences of this person's action? A comparison can be a comparison of two good examples, two bad examples or it can be a comparison by contrast between a bad example and a good example. Which kind of syncrisis is this one? Bad and good. It's primarily a comparison by contrast, that's exactly what Romans 5:12-21 is. And here's where I say, if you don't have a concept of corporate identity, you're not gonna get this.

Let's consider the concept of federal headship for a minute. Let's suppose, this morning, in his radio address, President Obama says “We have decided to declare war on Monaco. I'm making an executive order. We'd like to take over all those beach resorts, we've got plenty of military hardware, Monaco has no army, it has no navy, barely has a coastguard. I'm thinking this is easy pickings. Let's go get them.” Now if President Obama declares war on Monaco, are American citizens at war with Monaco, whether they had any choice about it or not? Yes or no?

Yes, they are. The decision of one man, who is the head of state, affects all of those who are a part of the state. That’s federal headship. If you don't understand that, you're not going to understand this argument. For Paul says “When Adam sneezed, we all caught cold. When Adam sinned, we all inherited the consequences.” And likewise, when Christ saved, if we are in Him, we get His frequent flier miles. See where I'm going with this. Christ is the head of the body, the body gets the benefits of what comes down from the head.

Christ is Adam gone right, the founder of a new race of people, a third race, neither Jew nor Gentile, but Christian. First Adam, Adam gone wrong, the first Adam made a mistake at a tree. The last Adam set things right on a tree. First Adam, tempted to partake of the tree, the last Adam, tempted to avoid the tree. I can keep going down this road with a nice little allegory about the first and the last Adam and it will preach. This is a syncrisis encouraged by Paul himself, a comparison by contrast and he likes it so much that he’s already used it in 1 Corinthians 15.

The first Adam was a human being and he passed on to us humanity. The last Adam is a life-giving spirit, says Paul. And he passed on to us the resurrection power. Hallelujah. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of being numbered in the race of the first Adam, when I ought to be counted in the race of the last one. And this contrast is powerful. It’s a powerful contrast. Now the similarities need to be taken []into account as well. You have two corporate heads who were real human beings, both of whom had effect on all of their progeny. That’s the only similarity between the first and the last Adam. Otherwise, not so much, otherwise, it’s a contrast. But you do have to have this sense and understanding that we have inherited the sin nature from Adam.

You know the first sentence that Adam spoke to Eve was a palindrome? Did you know that? He said “Madam, I'm Adam,” which is the same forward or backwards. Madam, I'm Adam. Then the fall came. He lost all his poetry and hip hop sense. When Paul has introduced the argument about the first and the last Adam, he is trying to set up the discussion in Romans 6 and Romans 7, leading to the climax in Romans 8.

If you don't understand what's going on in Romans 5, you're not going to understand Romans 6 and 7, because Romans 7 is going to be a description of all those who are in Adam and not in Christ. And Romans 8 is going to be a description of all those who are in Christ and no longer in Adam. That’s where this is going. Now it's easier to see the latter part. Romans 8:1 “There is now no condemnation for all those who are in Christ Jesus.” Because, why? The law of the spirit of life has set you free from being in that first Adam. You ain't in that first Adam anymore, stop giving him too much street cred. “Just stop,” says Paul.

So Romans 7 is a Christian description of life in the first Adam. And at the heart of that description is that you may know better, but you can't do better. You may know the good, but you can't do the good because you are in the bondage of sin. Life outside Christ is bondage to sin. Life in Christ, for freedom, Christ has set you free. Why would you want to go back to slavery? Romans 7 is not a description of the Christian life. I'm sorry, Martin Luther, but no. Romans 7 is not even the description of a backsliding Christian life. Of any Christian it must be said, greater is He who is in you than any of these temptations and forces in the world. Of every Christian it must be said, as Paul does in 1 Corinthians 10, “No temptation has overcome you that is not common to humanity such that with the temptation God will provide an adequate means of escape. You have no excuses for your sin.”

You have freedom in Christ. Roman 7 is not about the Christian life. The Christian is not at the same time the old Adam and the new Adam as if they were chained together in some schizophrenic cage match. The Christian used to be in the old Adam and is now in the new Adam. You're no longer in bondage. Now I want to show you another powerful rhetorical device in Romans 7 just for a minute. And if you don't know rhetoric, you're gonna totally miss this, which by the way, Martin Luther didn't like rhetoric. Melanchthon, his Lutheran buddy, did a whole commentary on Romans based on rhetoric. Luther, not so much. You know, he was an Augustinian and he-- Luther had some problems. He had issues. Shall we just say he had issues? And he reacted strongly against a lot of what he had been taught.

Listen to this, this is a personification, or called in rhetoric an impersonation. Now listen closely. In order to get this, you need to hear the two verses that precede this impersonation. “So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ that you might belong to another to Him who was raised from the dead in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were controlled by our flesh [inaudible] [1:08:02], the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us so they bore fruit for death.” Notice the verb “were”. He’s talking about the past of the Christians, not the present of the Christians.

“But now,” he always-- he often does this contrast what we were and then now, right? “But now by dying to what once bound us, we have been released.” He doesn't say we may be released, we could be released, we hope to be released. Like Mandela when he walked off Robins Island, when he came off Robins Island, he was released. “We have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” It could hardly be clearer. We have been freed from the flesh and we have been freed from obeying the Mosaic Law. We ain't there, no more, no more. The Spirit has set us free. That’s the Christian condition.

Now he’s going to describe, listen closely to the story of Adam told in the first person. The “I” here is Adam and he makes the right rhetorical signals so the audience would know that, because only 2 minutes before you had Romans 5:12-21. Remember, this is being heard. They heard Romans 5:12-21 before they got to Romans 7, 2 minutes later. This is what they heard. “What shall we say then? Is the law sinful? Well, of course not. Nevertheless, I would not have known sin for what it is hadn't it been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had said ‘Thou shall not covet.’” Here you need to know a little bit about early Jewish debate.

The rabbis debated, what was the commandment from amongst the ten that God gave to Adam? They assumed it had to be one of the Ten Commandments. God wouldn't have given Adam a commandment that wasn’t one of the Ten Commandments. It had to be one of the big ten. They all agreed that the commandment given to Adam was some form of the commandment “thou shall not covet.” You need to know early Judaism to know this. That’s part of the argument, okay? So where I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said to me, “you shall not covet,” but sin seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, who is the only person who was given the one commandment? That would be Adam.

And sin is the personification for the snake. So let me re-read this little allegory substituting the word snake for sin. But snake seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment produced in me every kind of covetousness. For apart from the law, snake was dead. But once I was alive apart from the law. Now who is the only person who existed before there were any commandments? Again, that’s Adam. He says “Once I was alive before the law.” That’s Adam. Once I was alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came to me, the snake sprang into action and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.

What was the wages of sin? What was Adam told were the wages of sin? Death. “For sin,” the snake, “seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment deceived me.” This word just in. Everywhere Paul uses the word “deceived,” he’s always talking about the Genesis story. Whether he’s talking about Adam or Eve, the word “deceived” only comes up in the Pauline Epistles when he’s thinking of that aboriginal story. “For sin seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment deceived me and through the commandment put me to death. So then the law is holy and the commandment is holy, righteousness and good.” But the good thing was used to kill me. This is a re-telling of the story of the first Adam. The rest of the chapter is the tale of woe about all those who are in and remain in the first Adam.

Now we get down towards the end of that chapter and it's right to raise the question at the end of Romans 7. Okay, he’s talking about people outside of Christ, but is he talking about a particular group of people outside of the Christ because they seem to know the law? This has led some people to say “Oh, he’s talking about Jews in the bondage to sin outside of Christ.” Which is possible, but you have to remember Romans 2. In Romans 2, what does Paul say about the Gentile? The law was written where? On the heart of the Gentile which is just a cipher for the mind. It's one and the same thing in Paul's theological vocabulary.

So this could be simply a general reference to all those outside of Christ who are fallen. Yes, they know better but can they do better? No. Because their will is still in the bondage to sin. Romans 7 is not about the Christian life. It's about the pre-Christian life from a Christian point of view. Paul is telling the tale from an outsider’s point of view, from a Christian point of view. So we have the argument about grace and sin and the law that goes on all the way through chapter 7. And then finally, we get to the good news.

Life in the Spirit, now life in Christ in glory and a concluding doxological praise. Powerful, very powerful. And at that point, lots of people have been prepared to say “Hallelujah, Amen.” It's amazing how many people who preached the Romans never get past Romans 8. This was not Martyn Lloyd-Jones' problem. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the famous pulpitarian in London, preached for 7 straight years on Romans, starting with the first verse and working his way to the last verse of chapter 16. And he produced, you know, six volumes of sermons on Romans. That’s what you call the inchworm approach. Little by little, piece by piece, day by day, hour by hour, thought by thought, passage by passage, you know, there were members of his congregation who must have been saying “I'm not going to live long to hear the end of this, long enough to hear the end of this sermon.” That’s what you call expository preaching.

Now all of that Romans 1 through 8 is the probatio, right? The argument for his case. What has he got to do in Romans 9 through 11? He's got to turn around and make the argument against. And it's an argument against the Gentiles who want to say God has replaced His first chosen people with us. It's so good to be me. I am now God's chosen, frozen person. So what he’s got to do is he's got to deconstruct the theology of hubris of Gentile Christians in Rome. And you need to understand that he’s fighting against the severe Roman undercurrent of anti-Semitism. Romans did not like Jews. Romans thought Jews were contemptible. They thought that the idea of having only one God was ridiculous, you know. “What a lack of imagination! What a limited perspective! We believe in pluralism.” Hmm, where have you read this argument before?

You could learn a lot from the Romans and their arguments for pluralism when it comes to religion. You could see what Paul was up against. So what has to happen in Romans 9 through 11 is he's got to take them down a peg or two. He’s got to tell the Gentile Christians, first of all, God has not reneged on His promises to Israel. Second, He’s not done with them yet. And thirdly, you were grafted in to the olive tree of the people of God as wild olive branches. And I do mean wild. And God who grafted them in can just as easily lop you right back off. He's gonna argue in Romans 11.

And he says “And God can re-graft then the original branches.” And that’s where this argument is going, because at the end of Romans 11 he’s going to argue that “in the same manner, by grace through faith, that you have become part of the body of Christ, so God will graft the Jews back in by grace through faith, by the mercies of God when Christ returns. And so all Israel will be saved,” he says in Romans 11:25. So in his view God's not done with the Jews yet. But their future is not independent of the church. It's in Christ. That’s where this argument is going. He is taking the Gentiles down a peg by saying God's not through with the Jews. And by the way, the only way you got saved was by grafting-- re-grafting into the Jewish Messiah and the Jewish family tree, if you will. So he’s got to take them down a peg.

Now as if that weren't enough, I mean 11 chapters of Romans, who's not ready for him to stop now, right? As if that were not enough, he's going, “I have a few ethical remarks to add here.” So now we get to the paraenesis, don't we? We get to Romans 12 through 15 where he’s going argue for a unifying practice and religion for Gentiles and Jews in Christ. He's gonna talk about true worship and true love in 12:1-21, he’s gonna talk about a uniform witness to the world by respecting governing authorities, paying your debts, paying your taxes. A timely message that you should offer if you are preaching right before April 15.

And then he’s going to talk about not being judgmental of other Christians who are maybe weaker in faith or don't have the same views about the Sabbath or food laws as you do. He's talking about Jewish Christians. He's saying, you Gentile Christians, you need to stop judging the Jewish Christians because they happen to still be keeping a Sabbath or keeping food laws. It's none of your business. You need to love them as brothers and sisters in Christ and accept them. And then we have the concluding doxology in the end of our units and then you have this whopping, long letter of greetings. At the end, he's gonna greet every single Jewish Christian he knows in Rome and a few of the Gentile Christians he knows in Rome, and the impression that you get is that there are now a lot of Jewish Christians he knows in Rome, not the least of which are Priscilla and Aquila and Junia and he's sending Phoebe their way and so on and so on. This is Paul's masterpiece.

It’s a discourse that he had to do carefully because he's not addressing his own converts. Therefore, he has to be a little gentler and he has to be more persuasive, because he can't assume they're going to accept these arguments if he goes, “I am your apostle.” So he has to take an approach that is called in record, in rhetorician books, “insinuatio,” from which we get the word “insinuation”. What is an insinuation? It's when you imply something, right. The rhetorical technique of insinuatio is that there is a bone of contention you’ve got to deal with. But you're only going to imply something about that at the beginning of your oration, which you're gonna save it for way into the discourse to actually deal with the bone of contention.

Romans 9 through 11 is dealing with the bone of contention. Romans 14 and 15 is dealing with the practical implications of the bone of contention of Gentiles not being reconciled to Jewish Christians in Rome. He’s trying to deal with all of those problems, a powerful rhetorical discourse. And then we have a peroration in Romans 15:14-21. It’s a recapitulation, it's an [inaudible] [1.21.25], it’s a recapitulation. So let me just read for you this wonderful peroration in Romans.

Paul says this, “I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, you're filled with knowledge, you're competent to instruct one another. Yet, I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I glory in Christ Jesus and my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God, by what I have said and done by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum,” which by the way, is Yugoslavia, the west coast of what is north of Greece. ”I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.” Now if that’s not boasting I don't know what it is. “I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ and it has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not build on someone else's foundation, rather as the Scriptures say in Isaiah, ‘Those who were not told about him will see. And those who have not heard will understand.’ This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.” It’s a nice, quiet peroration. It reiterates some of the themes that have come before, especially from the first chapter.