Is Romans 12 and 13 A Medley of Proverbs?

At our congregation we are working through Proverbs in our midweek prayer meetings. I’ve been aware for some time that the the famous “If your enemy in hungry, feed him” in the middle of Romans 12 is a direct quote from Proverbs 25:21. But I started to notice more and more passages that seem to be evocative of Romans 12 & 13 (or vice versa).

Did Paul take the very this-worldly Proverbs and arranged them into a punchy medley about the radical love of Jesus and Christians being a living sacrifice? It almost seems like he might!

Below I list Proverbs match to Romans 12/13. I asterisk those passages that don’t seem to have a close Proverbs passage. But, if I missed one, please let me know. Brackets enclose my commentary. Enjoy.

Romans 12:9 Pr 8:7 For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. Pr 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil… {But maybe Paul was thinking of Amos?} Am 5:15 Hate the evil, and love the good…

Romans 12:10 *

Romans 12:11 Pr 22:29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand {serve?} before kings {King of Kings? Clever Paul!}…

Romans 12:12 Pr 10:28 The hope of the righteous shall be gladness…

Romans 12:13 Pr 31:20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

Romans 12:14 Pr 24:29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me…

*15 Ecc 3:4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; or…Pr 24:17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth;

Romans 12:16 Pr 16:19 ¶ Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly… Pr 3:7 ¶ Be not wise in thine own eyes…

Romans 12:17 Pr 24:29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me; Pr 20:22 ¶ Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee…

Romans 12:18 Pr 3:30 Strive not with a man without cause…

Romans 12:19 Pr 24:29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work; Pr 20:22 ¶ Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.

Romans 12:20  Pr 25:21 ¶ If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: Pr 25:22 For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.

*21 Pr 16:32 ¶ He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; Pr 19:11 ¶ The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression

Romans 13:1 Pr 8:15 By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. Pr 8:16 By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.

Romans 13:2 Pr 20:2 ¶ The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul.; Pr 16:14 ¶ The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it.

Romans 13:3 Pr 24:21 ¶ My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change: Pr 24:22 For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both? Pr 14:35 ¶ The king’s favour is toward a wise servant: but his wrath is against him that causeth shame.




Romans 13:7 Pr 3:27 ¶ Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.


According to Fundamentalists: Will the World Be Destroyed at Jesus’ Return?

I’ve been reading the The Fundamentals, the essays that form the backbone of the fundamentalist movement, (incidentally at the same time as I read the Complete Writings of Menno Simons for some interesting contrast) and was surprised to read the answer to question: Will the World Be Destroyed at Jesus’ Return? The short answer: No. A bit longer reason why not? Because the millennial reign requires an earth. Read the quotes below from essay 85 on “The Return of Christ” by Charles R. Erdman, D. D. (Princeton Theological Seminary): He first outlines the problem:

The great objection to the Pre-Millennial position is the apparent prediction of 2 Peter 3, that at the coming of Christ, in “the day of the Lord,” the earth will be destroyed; there could then be no place for a millennium. 18212

Notice that pre-millennial Erdman notes that “the earth shall be burned with fervent heat” is not literal:

The predictions of fiery judgments and consequent “new heavens and new earth” must be read in connection with Isaiah 65 and 66, from which Peter is quoting. It will then be seen that these expressions are in-so-far figurative that the earth still continues with its life, its nations, its progress, after these judgments are over. Terrific convulsions, and governmental, social and cosmic changes, only introduce a new and better age. 18218

Other passages indicate the world is still here, the Nile is flowing, etc.

So, too, “the day of the Lord” is a familiar phrase, and as we read Zechariah 14 we see that while, in that day, the Lord comes amidst appalling portents, His coming and the day itself are followed by a scene of great blessedness on this same earth; the Nile is still flowing in its course and the nations are going up to Jerusalem to worship. (Note also that in 2Pe 3:10 the most ancient manuscripts do not read “burned up” but “discovered.”) 18221

And this one is quoteable:

According to our Lord Himself His return is to bring “the regeneration,” not the destruction of the world (Mat 19:28; Luk 22:28-30). 18231

According to Peter, “seasons of refreshing” and “the restitution of all things,” not annihilation of the globe, will come with the return of Christ (Act 3:19-21). 18233

Even so Come, Lord Jesus!

If the Spirit is leading Christians, why are Paul’s commands needed?

John Piper, in his thesis on “Enemy Love” covers an interesting question: “If the Spirit is leading Christians and yielding fruit, why does Paul and the early Christian tradition with him think it necessary to command them specifically and repeatedly to love their enemy?” Piper’s answer is below:

“If the almighty Spirit of Christ is leading the Christians and yielding fruit, why does Paul and the early Christian tradition with him think it necessary to command them specifically and repeatedly to love their enemy? The presupposition underlying this question is that the leading of the Holy Spirit takes place through a private communion with the divine in which the Christian is informed of the right and motivated to do it apart from human influences. This, however, was not Paul’s understanding of the way the Spirit worked. This may be illustrated first from II Cor 5:20. Here we find the well-known imperative, ‘Be reconciled to God!’ Nevertheless, it is a clear element of Paul’s theology that a man’s reconciling himself to God is the work of the Spirit (I Thess 1:5); it happens only when the creator ‘shines in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ’ (II Cor 4:6; cf II Cor 4:16,17; Rom 9:16; Eph 2:8). From a false preconception of how the Spirit of God works one could theoretically deny the need for the imperative ‘Be reconciled to God!’ on the ground, namely, that God is great enough to accomplish our salvation without humans stepping in to inform us of our need and God’s offer. This objection fails to see that man does not merely step in; he is called in, indeed he is drawn in even before his birth (Gal 1:15). He is made an ambassador of the risen Christ (ὑπὲρ ριστοῦ οῦν πρεσβεύομεν, II Cor 5:20), and thus speaks on Christ’s behalf (δεόμεθα ὑπὲρ χριστοῦ). “Indeed, it is not merely man but God who says, ‘Be reconciled.’ In other words God has chosen not to do his saving work privately with an individual; rather he makes his appeal through men (ὼς τοῦ θεοῦ παρακαλοῦντος δἰ ἡμῶν). Here we do not see a conflict between a human imperative and God’s work in the heart. Rather we see a single working of God, from one side, making his appeal through men and, from the other side, enlightening the heart (II Cor 4:6). The fact that God’s speaking is here called παρακαλοῦντος (II Cor 5:20) suggests that this same pattern may characterize the παράκλησις in general.

The point at which this divine word meets the believer effectively is in the ‘body of Christ.’ The paradoxes of Christian ethics find their practical solution in the local community of believers. This is suggested by the following observations. For the Christian ‘all things are permitted.’28 This does not mean for Paul that the question of sin no longer exists for the Christian. The question of good and evil still exists but is answered not by referring the Christian to legal codes or to his own private experience of the Holy Spirit, but rather by placing him in the body of Christ. ‘All things are permitted but not all things συμφἐρεῖ (I Cor 6:12). But in the body of Christ ‘each is given the manifestation of the Spirit πρὸς τὸ συμφἐρον’ (12:7). ‘All things are permitted but not all οἰκοδομεῖ. But in the body of Christ ‘the one who prophesies speaks to men οἰκοδομήν’ (14:3), indeed ‘all things are to be done for the οἰκοδομήν’ (14:26). In other words, the ethical question for the completely free man is answered not with a legal code which specifies what is permitted, nor by mere private communion with the Spirit, but rather with his incorporation into the body of Christ in which the Spirit of Christ ‘leads’ his people through the apostolic paraenesis, the prophetic utterance and the enlightenment of the heart.”

Its interesting to hear Piper put it that way. The Christian alternative to “legal code” is not mere private communion with the Spirit, but being incorporated into the body of Christ in which the Spirit of Christ ‘leads’ his people through:

  • Apostolic paraenesis
  • Prophetic utterance
  • Enlightenment of the heart

I think not to different from historic Anabaptist pulling together of community & Spirit.

Is The Lord’s Prayer Based on 1 Chronicles 29?

Is the Lord’s Prayer based on David’s prayer in 1 Chronicles 29? It’s hard to miss the similarity of the doxology at the end: “Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty…” (1Chron 29:10) and the rest has interesting similarities & parallels. Below is a comparison with common ideas & themes from 1 Chronicles 29 following the Lord’s Prayer with verses noted in parenthesis.

Our father which art in heaven | Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our Father… (10) …thou art exalted as head above all. (10)

“Our Father” who is above All.

Hallowed be thy name | Blessed be thou, Lord God ; O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. (10) …We…praise thy glorious Name. (13) …thine holy Name cometh of thine hand…(16)

“Thy Name”, like “Our Father” is also holy, blessed, exalted & glorious. His Name is exalted & unlike (holy/hagios) any other name (Philippians 2:9) and comes entirely from Himself.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven | Thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. (12) …all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom… (11)

“Thy Kingdom” will come because God’s reigns over everything. Thine is the Kingdom.

Give us this day our daily bread | all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. (14) …Both riches and honor come of Thee…(12)

Everything comes from God from the daily necessity to “riches & honor”.

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors | For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers (15)

Debtors & Strangers: This might be the theme that is the most tentative. But remember that God persistently reminds us to treat the stranger as we would want to be treated. Why? Because we are also a stranger. The rationale that one ought treat someone who is in an disadvantaged state  well because they also are or were in that same disadvantaged state. See Exodus 22:21 “You shall not wrong a [debtor/stranger]… for you were [debtors/stranger]…”

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil | (17-19) …Thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness… prepare their heart unto thee… And give unto Solomon my son a perfect heart, to keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, and thy statutes

“Temptation” & “Deliverance”. Temptation is a test. God “tests” the heart. God searches the…heart. (Revelation 2:23).  God tries the reigns & heart.” (Jeremiah 11:20) And God delivers from every test & trouble (Psalm 34:19), that is, “gives…a perfect heart”.

For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever. | Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty… (11) …for ever and ever. (10)

“Thine is the Kingdom” needs no comment as it is essentially identical.

The contextual parallels are also interesting.

  • A Son is looking forward to building the great “Temple of God”
  • A Son establishing the eternal Kingdom of God on earth
  • A Son who would soon sit on the throne
  • A prayer to prepare a People to build God’s Temple & Kingdom

What Evangelicals Won’t Tell You About Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Sermon on the Mount

According to Bonhoeffer “Everything changed” when  he discovered the Sermon on the Mount:

I was lacking in humility…terribly ambitious…alone…then something happened…for the first time I discovered the Bible…Then the Bible freed me from that, in particular the Sermon on the Mount. Since then everything has changed. I have felt this plainly, and so have other people around me. –Ferdinand Schlingensiepen,  Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance pg.95

Bonhoeffer scholar Ferdinand Schlingensiepen says the influence of Jean Lasserre was influential in Bonhoeffer’s transition from theologian to Christian:

Bonhoeffer’s ‘transition from theologian to Christian’ …was induced by Bonhoeffer’s experience in the USA, particularly his conversations with Jean Lasserre (A Christian pacifist who believed Christians should live the Sermon on the Mount today) –Ferdinand Schlingensiepen,  Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance pg.94

In 1935 Bonhoeffer still believed the Sermon on the Mount was the hope of the church:

The restoration of the church must surely depend on a new kind of monasticism, which has nothing in common with the old but a life of uncompromising discipleship, follow Christ according to the Sermon on the Mount. I believe the time as come to gather people together and do this” (Bonhoeffer in letter to his brother in 1935) –Ferdinand Schlingensiepen,  Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance pg.175

How should the Church celebrate Memorial Day? Some thoughts from Bonhoeffer’s 1932 Memorial Day sermon:

The demons rise up. It is a rebellion against Christ. And one great power of this uprising is called war! …

“What does faithfulness of the church-community of Christ mean here other than calling out into this furious raging [of war] again and again – unto exhaustion, unto humiliation, unto martyrdom – the words of Christ that there should be peace, that there should be love, that there should be blessing, and that he is our peace, and that God is a God of peace?

“And the more they rage, the more we should call out. And the more we call out, the more wildly they will rage. For wherever the word of Christ is truly spoken, the world senses that it is either ruinous madness or ruinous truth, which endangers its very life. Where peace is really spoken, war must rage twice as hard, for it senses that it is about to be driven out. Christ intends to be its death.” —The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (editor: Isabel Best) via TGC

What did Bonhoeffer think was necessary to destroy Nazism? Assassination? Living the Sermon on the Mount?

I would only achieve true inner clarity & honesty by really starting to take the Sermon on the Mount seriously. Here alone lies the force that can blow all this hocu pocus [of Nazism] sky high – like fireworks, leaving only a few burnt-out shells behind…  (Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a letter to his brother Karl) –Ferdinand Schlingensiepen,  Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance

Bonhoeffer has well documented his confidence in living the Sermon on the Mount in “The Cost of Discipleship” (in which Bonhoeffer is more radical about cheap grace & the living the Sermon on the Mount than many Mennonites I have met!) . I have scoured his later “Ethics” to find any trace of a reversing of his earlier strongly held beliefs and I can find none.

The Apostles Favorite Bible Passage & Ascension Day: Why Have Christians Forgotten Both?

The loss of perception that Jesus (really) is Lord & has all power in heaven and earth now and that this conviction was a supreme, animating force for early Christians and should also be for Christians today is no more apparent than in the loss of the supremacy of the Psalm 110 event in the imagination of the Christian church and the corresponding loss of recognition & observance of Ascension Day.

Today the majority of Christians in the USA celebrate July the 4th but, according to my informal survey in Lancaster Pennsylvania, have no clue when or what Ascension Day even is. We call people who don’t have a basic knowledge about the country they are citizens of irresponsible at best and scandalously ignorant at worst. The Ascension of Christ to rule the world is basic knowledge about the Kingdom of God and I’ll let you draw your conclusions about what this says about Christians of our day.

Many American Christians are quite unaware that the writers of the New Testament had a favorite passage and that it is Psalm 110. Depending on how you figure it ties with references to the 10 Commandments & the Shema (Love God with your all), but by most counts, references & allusions to Psalm 110 far surpasses those other passages. And these references to Psalm 110 are not just incidental comments, but points of high theological significance: A riddle by Jesus that permanently silenced the Jewish rulers, the answer to Pilate’s most important question at Jesus’ trial, the Jewish ruler’s reason for Jesus’ death, the clinching point of Peter’s sermon on Pentecost and more. The scandalous thing is that most Christians haven’t heard about Psalm 110 and even if you tell them the passage they have no idea what it contains. Clearly the NT writers and our emphasis has shifted! Not to keep you in suspense, lets look at Psalm 110:

The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool...Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek… –Psalm 110:1,4

The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries. He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.

We won’t take time to explain the whole passage here (even though it is well worth the time) but just want to cover some of the most important ideas:

  • Jesus Has All Power in the World Now
  • Jesus is now King of the World
  • Jesus’ Kingship is Characterized by Peace & Justice

Jesus Has All Power

For the first Christians something shocking had happened to the earth: It had received a new King. The world had a new President. This was staggering news that shook the world. It made the stars of world that then was fall from the sky. The importance & power of Roman emperors who were always headline news were suddenly eclipsed by a blinding light from heaven & a new reality: Jesus of Nazareth had become the supreme ruler of the world. Paul in Philippians 2 talked about this earth shattering fact in this way: “God hath highly exalted Jesus and given him a name which is above every name…which the whole world will worship…”

Jesus Has All Power Now

When is Jesus Lord, when is Jesus King, and when is Jesus all powerful? Now. All Power is given Me in heaven and earth. (Mt 28:18)In Paul’s day already Jesus had been given a name that is above every name. (Ph 2) And Psalm 110 notes this would happen while enemies are still being subdued. Contrary to common conceptions it seems Jesus can have all power while allowing enemies, which demonstrates that Jesus’ power is of a similar nature to God’s power & nature who is all powerful but at the same time allows human choosing.

Jesus Now Has All Power on Earth

Many are fine saying “Jesus is Lord”, and that Jesus has all power in heaven, but get a little uneasy to make the claim which Mt 28:18 does, which is to say Jesus has all power on earth. How we account for Jesus having all power on earth while He is still “conquering”? I think the key is how God & Jesus wield “All Power”. Which brings us to the last point…

Jesus Now Has All Power On Earth…And It Looks Like Justice & Peace

Who is this Melchizedek guy which Jesus’ rule would be “ordered after”? He holds the key to what kind of rule the all power Christ has and which will inevitably conquer the world. He is the king of Peace. He is the one whose name means king of Justice. (Melek=king; tsadeq=justice) He is the priest of the “most High God”. He brings “bread & wine” which is incredibly hard not to associate with the broken body & shed blood of Christ. After Abraham’s communion with the king of Justice & Peace he adamantly refuses to benefit from war in any way. Some writers note that after Abraham’s meeting with the king of Justice & Peace he saves those in the city by pleading with God instead of killing the enemy.

Why have Christians lost an awareness that Jesus is Lord? Perhaps because we have lost the emphasis that is now sitting at the right hand of God and that Jesus is now truly Lord of the World? Perhaps because we are not convinced that Jesus has All Power, That Jesus has all power Now, That Jesus has all power now in heaven & In Earth. And that Jesus’ all power, now, in heaven & earth looks like Melek of Tsadeq & Shalom and that this power is conquering the world even as we speak. And as Psalm 110 describes, Christ will not stop until there is total victory. If we are really convinced of this, taking a special day to commemorate & worship this ascended Lord seems a very appropiate (if strange to our culture) thing to do.