February 25, 2009
Here's another entry from the Greg Marquez Commentary on scripture.
The love of God, not the love for God, is shed abroad in our hearts. This is a regular theme of Paul's. We are a new man, a new creature, made in the likeness of God. Part of that new creation includes God's very own love. We have God's love in our heart. That is why Paul does not set us up a bunch of rules telling us how we should live or walk. We don't need rules for walking in love we have God's love in us. What we need is to let God's love rule in our lives.
The rest of the scripture seems to make very little sense. It's difficult to understand a direct connection between "not ashamed" and God's love being shed abroad in our hearts. As a result some modern translations have translated, "not ashamed" as "does not disappoint". Which still doesn't make much sense if you're expecting a logical connection between, "does not disappoint" and the love of God being shed abroad in our hearts.
I think if we look at the context though we can see what Paul is saying, and it's pretty powerful stuff. First let's look at the phrase, "not ashamed'. which according to Thayer's consists of two words:
Not: is the Greek word "ou" which has the meaning: the absolute negative
Ashamed: is the Greek word, "kataischuno" which has the meaning: 1) to dishonor, disgrace
2) to put to shame, make ashamed 2a) to be ashamed, blush with shame 2b) one is said to be put to shame who suffers a repulse, or whom some hope has deceived.
Part of the difficulty of interpretation is, I think, related to the fact that we see the phrase, "not ashamed" as referring to some sort of neutral position, i.e. a position somewhere between ashamed and its opposite. But the absolute negative of ashamed is not some neutral state but the opposite of ashamed, i.e. bold. (I think probably the Jewish word "chutzpah" would be pretty accurate here and once you see the context I think you'll agree.) If we rework the phrase into modern English slang I think, "ashamed… not", like the kids say, would be pretty accurate. But let's leave it at "bold" and see how that works with the context.
Romans 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed bold; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
What is the connection between God's love in our heart and our boldness? Or why does having the love of God in our hearts make us bold? Well, let's look at the beginning of this passage of scripture.
Romans 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
Now the words "rejoice" in verse 2 and "glory" in verse 3 are the first clues to what Paul is talking about, both words are translated from the same Greek word, "kaucometha", which, according to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (You might have to scroll around a little to see the entry.) means:
Thayer translates it:
"1) to glory (whether with reason or without) 2) to glory on account of a thing 3) to glory in a thing."
Most of the translations stick with "glory" but they mean "glory" in this sense from Merriam-Websters Dictionary:
: to rejoice proudly —used with in
Or from my Apple Computer Dictionary:
take great pride or pleasure in : they were individuals who gloried in their independence.
• exult in unpleasantly or boastfully : readers tended to defend their paper or even to glory in its bias.
So, "boast" would be a good translation. This is the word the NRSV translation uses here. So let's look at those scriptures that way:
Romans 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice boast in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory boast in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
There is actually a third "boast" in this passage of scripture. The word "joy" in verse 11 should also be translated boast
Romans 5:11 And not only so, but we also joy boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
These three boasts mark off Paul's points. 1. We boast about the glory of God we expect to be manifested in and through us 2. we boast in tribulations also, and 3. we boast in God. What causes a bit of the confusion with this passage is that Paul only uses one line for boasting about the glory of God and one for boasting in God, but he uses verses 3 through 10 to deal with our boasting in tribulations. Once you realize this it becomes clear what Paul is saying. So here's the entire passage:
Romans 5:3 And not only so, but we glory boast in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed bold; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Our boldness comes from the fact that we have God's love shed abroad in our heart. Not the love for God but His love, His quality of love, His kind of love, His love nature is now in us. This love that is in us, if we will listen to it, if we will heed it, if we will obey it, will show us what God's love is like. It, God's love in us, will cause us to know what God's love toward us will do for us. Paul now continues by describing that love of God.
6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die:
Very few people would ever die to save even a righteous man. Here "righteous" is paralleled with "good"
yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
The failure to recognize the parallel also causes confusion in the interpretation. The righteous man and the good man are the same person or same type of person. His point is that even if you could find someone who would die for a righteous/good man, God's love is so much more than that because:
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Here's the good part. The part which will cause you to be bold in tribulations, in troubles, in the narrow places… the hard places of life. The part which will cause you to boast in tribulations. Some people get mad at us Word of Faith guys because we're so boastful, but boastfulness is a natural consequence of understanding what God will do for you. If we will learn to listen to the love of God which is shed abroad in our hearts this is what that love will tell us:
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
If when we were his enemies… if when we were giving God the finger… if when were were yet sinners Christ died for us. Much More Then… Much More Then… Much More Then… Much More Then… Much More Then… Much More Then… Much More Then… Much More Then… Much More Then… Much More Then…
I want to say it a million times so that you'll hear it from your heart just like I'm hearing it. Much more then shall we be saved from wrath through him. Not some kind of end time wrath or judgment or consignment to eternal damnation but the same wrath that he was talking about in verse 2, only there he called it tribulation. Can you see why we boast in tribulation? Can you see why the love of God shed abroad in our heart makes us not ashamed? Because the love of God that God has put in us lets us know what God will do for us. What will he do for us? If when we were His enemies He sent His son to die for us, we can be certain that now, that we have been reconciled to Him, He will save us out of all our tribulations, trials, and tests. HALLELUJAH!
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
"Saved" here, not in the "escape to heaven" sense which evangelicals focus on, but saved in the rescued, delivered and set free sense of the Word. God is a good God. God is a good God. God is a good God. See, there I go boasting again