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Faith of A Mustard Seed

by Barbara Woods-Washington
Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

 “… set apart for the gospel of God which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among the nations, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ;”  (Romans 1:1-6).  Again, the first occurrence of ‘Christ/faith’ in Paul’s Letter, To The Romans.

Never quite heard or read it stated, but, I think that Paul’s true contribution to the Church’s foundation is his ‘Christology’.  God chose Paul, a Jewish scholar, who had studied under ‘Raban Gamaliel’— the title of which was borne only by presidents of the highest religious council, of which Gamaliel was the first to receive this title.  Paul identifies with a teacher who is the descendant head of the ‘Bet Hillel’ School;  who served as president of the Great Sanhedrin of Jerusalem;  whose writings are numerous reflecting his work as a lawmaker; among them ‘The Epistle to Galilee’ and ‘The Letter to the Jews in Diaspora’.  Even Acts identifies him as a “teacher of the law, held in honor by all the people”.  In The Sotah, it is written of Gamaliel: “when he died the honor of the Torah ceased, and purity and piety became extinct”.

God chose Paul; and Paul received God’s call ‘to architect’, ‘to blueprint’ the meaning of his ‘Christ Experience’ on the Road To Damascus.  With no known ‘Jesus Experience’ (as The Twelve had), Paul’s point of reference for this ‘Gospel of God for which he was set apart’— IS CHRIST!  The ‘euaggelion theou’, this ‘Gospel of God’ is Paul’s whole life— he believes he is set apart for it.

I continue to wrestle with the meaning of ‘education’ and how the quote/unquote ‘lack of education’ effect… generations.  First, as I search The Text for the word I find that the word is not biblical… not scriptural.  What I find in the text is the word ‘Knowledge’ and how the lack of Knowledge destroys a people!  One very consistent definition of knowledge is “Experience”.  With all of Paul’s education received from the School of Bet Hilel, it is his “Damascus Road Experience” that changes and now has dominion over his life of faith.

 ‘Euaggelion’, then, in secular Greek is a technical term which brings ‘news of victory’ and is closely associated with war.  The term is very rarely used in Old Testament and never in the religious sense.  By the time Paul uses this ‘news of God’s victory’ he is so certain about it that most all of the uses of this term in New Testament are to be found in his letters.  While the Gospels speak of the ‘Kingdom of God’, Paul, in no uncertain terms speak of the ‘Gospel of God’.  Unlike the secular uses of ‘news of victory’ which bears witness to salvation and deliverance, Paul speaks of ‘news of God’s victory’ in Christ that IS salvation and deliverance.  It is promise; it is power; it is resurrection; it is grace; it is faith.

Friedrich says of Paul’s use of ‘euaggelion theou’: “… it is related to human reality and proves itself to be living power.  It breaks into the life of man, refashions it and creates communities”.  Karl Barth writes: “Paul is authorized to deliver the Gospel of God.  He is commissioned to hand over to men something quite new and unprecedented, joyful and good,— the truth of God. …It is a communication which presumes faith in the living God, and which creates that which it presumes.”

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