Thursday, 10 October 2013

"Where then is boasting?", asks St.Paul

I had the desire to write this post from a long long time but never really had the leisure to write it due to my hectic work profile. Of all the Romans which I have read this is the part I love the most.

Rom 3:25-28: What God foreordained as a reconciliation through faith in his blood to demonstrate righteousness through his forgiveness of previous sins in the forbearance of God, was done to demonstrate his righteousness in the present time (for he himself is just, and justifies the one from faith in Jesus). Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what law? The law of works? No - but through the law of faith. For we reason that a person(anthropos) is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

Valentinian Interpretation of the passage- From Gnostic Paul by Elaine Pagels.

From such passages as these, Valentinian exegetes infer that Paul intends his allegory of "Jews" and "Greeks" to characterize two distinct. The psychics being "under sin" (3:19) are bound to the "law of works". To escape the penalty of death for sins, they do need faith, but theirs is specially faith "in Jesus" (3:26), in the psychic son of the demiurge. Those who repent and believe in him recieve forgiveness, and are required to do "good works". The process of their salvation depends upon their choice and their own authority; it operates according to what Paul calls the "law of works" (3:27) 
          The pneumatics, on the other hand, are of the elect: they receive redemption according to the "law of faith" - faith not in the psychic Jesus but in the pneumatic Christ. Unlike the works - salvation of the psychics the pneumatic redemption excludes all human effort (and hence all boasting): it depends entirely upon "what God foreordained" (3:25) in election. Paul says of this in 3:28, "we reason that the anthropos (the pneumatic) is justified by faith apart from the works of the law".

Rom 12:3-6: I say, through the grace given to me, to every one among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think wisely, as God has measured to each the measure of faith. For as in one body we have many members, and not all members have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and each of us members of each other, having different gifts of grace (charismata) according to the grace given to us ....

Valentinian Interpretation of the passage- From Gnostic Paul by Elaine Pagels.

The initiated reader might see in 12:3 Paul's instruction to every believer , whether psychic or pneumatic, to evaluate himself and others according to "the measure of grace" given to him, the psychic "not thinking of lofty things, but led by humble things" (12:16) and the pneumatic putting aside any spiritual pride in the recognition that God has given to him "the measure of faith" he possesses. The author of Interpretation of the Gnosis uses Paul's metaphor of the church as the "one body" to remind all "members of the body" that they all mutually participate in it through the "grace and gift" of Christ. He urges each "member" to share his gift(charismata) freely with the others, accepting the diversity of gifts with gratitude, in harmony with all the members.

Rom 14:1-15:1 As for the one weak in faith, welcome him, but not into dispute over opinions. For one believes that he can eat anything, but the weak eats only vegetables. Let the one who eats not despise the one who abstains, and the one who abstains not judge the one who eats, for God has welcomed him, who are you to judge one who belongs to another? One stands or falls before his own Lord .... One man observes certain days; another considers every day the same. Let each be fully persuaded in his own mind. Whoever observes the day observes it to the lord and whoever eats, eats to the Lord, but gives thanks to God... I know .... that nothing is unclean in itself; but if anyone considers it unclean, for him it is unclean .... The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself for what he approves. But the one who doubts is condemned if he eats because it is not from faith. Whatever is not from faith is sin. We who are strong should bear with the weaknesses of the weak....

Valentinian Interpretation of the passage- From Gnostic Paul by Elaine Pagels.

In closing he advices the "strong" to keep their faith a secret "between yourself and God" (14:22), not offending the psychics, so that "together you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ". For he acknowledges to the "Gentiles" whom he praises and blesses that "you yourselves are full of goodness, having been filled with all gnosis, and are fully capable of admonishing others" (15:14). He praises the "grace" through which he has come to preach "the gospel of God" (15:16), the pneumatic gospel, adding that "I know that when I come to you I shall come in the fullness(pleroma) of Christ's blessing (15:29)". Finally, he commends them "to the one Wise God, through Jesus Christ, among the "aions"(16:27).