Paul is not ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16). We psychologize: Some might be embarrassed to preach a crucified Christ, but not Paul. He glories in the shame.
That’s true enough, but Paul’s emphasis lies elsewhere, according to Neil Elliott (The Arrogance of Nations: Reading Romans in the Shadow of Empire (Paul in Critical Context) (Paul in Critical Contexts)): “The revelation of the justice of God is an occasion of power, a power that empowers [Paul's] defiant refusal to be ‘put to shame.’ Because shame is a social reality, we should regard the revelation of God’s justice that empowers Paul’s ‘shamelessness,’ too, as a social, indeed . . . a public reality. But this means that the revelation of God’s wrath that manifests God’s justice also must be a public revelation – not . . . a private matter of the convicted heart.”
In Scripture, shame is associated with defeat. Confident of God’s triumph, in the public history of Israel and the nations, Paul knows that he will not be ashamed. Like the Christ he serves, he will be vindicated.
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Thursday, July 28, 2011 at 4:23 am
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