Total Depravity in Romans 1-2

My last post was in reference to reading the letter of Romans through a reconciliation paradigm, rather than a complete exposition of the gospel. I want to play this out through a few passages, for my own sake, but hopefully, also for yours. The last half of chapter one (vv. 18-32) is the passage in which total depravity or universal sinfulness is derived. Paul surely covers all his bases in these passages. If we see this through a Jewish perspective, that is, that the Jews are pure and holy, the chosen people of God, v. 18 would seem to be directed at Gentiles. Thus, the wrath of God is coming down against the godless ones (a.k.a. the Gentiles  or non-Jews). So, by the end of this whole section, the Jews in the church must be feeling pretty good about themselves. Paul has just demonstrated how defiled Gentiles really are. But then comes chapter 2, in which Paul directs his attention to Jews. V. 1 captures Paul’s thought: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” Then, Paul goes on to discuss that the same wrath that is being revealed to the Gentiles is also being revealed to the Jews. In vv. 9-10, Paul says that all that there will be trouble for all who do evil (both Jew and Gentile) and there will be glory, honor, and peace for all who do good (both Jew and Gentile once again). V. 7 summarizes the entire section: “For God does not show favoritism.” In God’s eyes, Jews and Gentiles are the same. Neither holds a privileged position in the kingdom of God. Neither are deserving. Maybe Paul begins with this foundation for reconciliation so that neither Jew nor Gentile would cling to an ethnic heritage or pride in general. In God’s eyes, they are one and the same. By establishing this common ground, Paul is able to move towards reconciliation.

This entry was posted in Paul. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s