Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Paul's Letter To Rome, That Caesar was not Lord

Romans 1:1-6 (NIV)
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

I have been reading elsewhere that the Caesar in Rome had servants who he would send out as apostles or messengers of his good news. Paul claims a similar role here.

The Caesar in Rome claimed to be the son of God. The Caesar's ancestors were deified. The son of God Paul refers to is linked to the Jewish king David, but His resurrection proves his deity.

The Caesar in Rome claimed to be Lord and the savior of the world. Those who pledged allegiance to him would live under his rule.

Paul is urging those in Rome to belong to Jesus the Jewish Messiah. Paul bring good news about the the Son of God, the ruler of the world, the savior of the world. Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah, is Lord!

A message like this would start a revolution, it will be in opposition to the good news of Caesar. But Paul will not keep silent.

Rom 1:16 (NIV)
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile."

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Frank said...

Not much has changed then!
The current Emperor who sits on the throne of the Caesars, is of course Pope Benedict. It is also a fact that he is still venerated and proclaimed as God and the Son of God.
Additionally, in the not too distant, past if anyone denied the Pope he would be put to death.

This may sound a little extreme but it can all be easily verified by a quick search -even on Catholic sites.

Incidentally, 2Thes2v1-12 is regarded by many as a description of the emergence of the Roman Papal system from the Roman Empirical system.

Because Paul did not wish to be accused of sedition, he approached the particular subject which he had already spoken of (v5) very circumspectly.
((v6) and now you know what restrains (Emperor Claudius etc.)
(v7) ......he that hinders will continue to hinder until he is removed (Claudius)
(v8) ....then shall that wicked one be revealed (the long line of Popes)
The rest of the chapter well describes the papal system at work.
Many believe that the hinderer is the Holy Spirit, but this makes no sense because Paul would want to be clear on such a thing as indeed he is elsewhere.

In 1Thes. he is very obtuse, and we need to ask why. The answer is because it would be extremely dangerous to talk of a time when the Caesars would be removed and replaced by another. Paul's head would not last long if he wrote such things for circulation.

The Pope has retained all the attributes and titles of the Caesars, even if under wraps.

Jonathan said...

Thanks Frank for the info. I'll have to take a look at the 2 Thes passage with this lens. God bless!

Like a Mustard Seed said...

I have a hard time seeing how Paul could be said to have refrained from saying anything that would've put his life in danger.... The reason he spent so much time in chains, and was ultimately killed, was because he would not be silent about the Gospel!

(I'm not in any way defending the papacy though...)

I'm just saying I think it's a bit much to say that the Bible clearly depicts the Pope as "one who now holds it back", and who "will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way"...

If the Pope is an/the embodiment of the Anti-Christ (and I believe that's true), then why would the "lawless one" be holding back the "lawless one"? Why would the spirit of the anti-Christ be holding himself back, until God takes himself out of his own way?


Frank said...

Thanks LMS. I shall try to answer.
"Like a Mustard Seed said...
I have a hard time seeing how Paul could be said to have refrained from saying anything that would've put his life in danger.... "

You are absolutely right, Paul was fearless, but also wise, and did not take unnecessary risks. This is evident in the book of Acts when Paul obviously left various cities in a hurry out of wisdom not fear. Initially escaping Damascus over the wall, hardly the route of a normal departure! ThenThessalonica Berea Ephesus, all these places Paul left discretely because of trouble. None of which makes him fearful.

"If the Pope is an/the embodiment of the Anti-Christ (and I believe that's true), then why would the "lawless one" be holding back the "lawless one"? Why would the spirit of the anti-Christ be holding himself back, until God takes himself out of his own way?"

This is not what I was saying. It is the Roman Empirical system with the Caesar on the throne which was restraining the emergence of the Papal system of government. There would come a time when the Papal system would take over the empire and the church.
2Thes2v4 Who opposes and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped so that he AS GOD sits in the temple of God showing himself that he is God.
Not long after this was written, the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. Therefore Paul could not mean that building. That only leaves the temple of the Body of Christ. This is the specific sphere of declared Papal authority, which marks the difference between it and the previous Roman system.
The Emperor was always regarded as a god like the Pope, but prior to the event spoken of by Paul, he had power over the pagan worshippers but didn't have influence over the church. That all changed.

Like a Mustard Seed said...


So from that view, then there has been a "throne of the anti-Christ" in Rome for the last millenium and a half (or so)?

I guess that does make sense, and it does present an interesting alternative perspective, in that the "restraining force" holding back the anti-Christ, is actually a pagan ruler, instead of some form of Godly restrainer, like the Holy Spirit, or angels, or whatever...

In the very least, I think it is always a good thing to be able to question our assumptions about things. The scriptures don't say anything that would indicate the "restrainer" couldn't actually be a pagan/non-believing person/organization...

Jonathan said...

Hi, I've appreciated this discussion. Interesting perspective.

Personally I don't know what I think about most Anti-christ theories. What you are saying here Frank may fit better than most theories I've heard.

When I hear the word Anti-christ I usually make a connection with predictions of the end times. However when I look up verses about the antichrist, I see evidence that there was more than one anitichrist, and that they existed in the days of the early church. So in this sense, the Caesars and Popes may well have been anti-christs... but not necessarily play a role in some future super anti-christ end of the world prediction. Does that make sense?

2 John 1:7 (NIV)

Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.

But I'm glad you brought this up. Thanks guys.

I hope the point of my original post made sense too. What stuck out to me with this passage was how closely it lined up with the good news message of the kingdom of God that Jesus preached. I hadn't noticed before the connection this passage had with the good news that Jesus is King/Lord.

Thanks guys for the discussion. God bless!