Jesus vs. Caesar

Hello everyone. We’ve had a week of various other topics so tonight, we’re going to get back to our main focus, the doctrine of the Trinity. Last we left, we were in the book of Romans. We’re going to be in chapter 10 tonight. Keep this blog in mind as tomorrow will continue what is being discussed here tonight. Our main verse is going to be Romans 10:9, but I want my readers to be sure of the context of the passage so we’re going to start at verse 5:

5Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.” 6But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7“or ‘Who will descend into the deep?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

In this passage, Paul is further describing the way of salvation and how one can be saved. He points out that God is not distant to the people. He is right there in their midst. Yet in describing this righteousness, he sees it all focused in Christ. You don’t have to climb the mountain to Heaven and bring Christ down in order to be righteous. You don’t have to go down to the realm of the dead and bring Christ up in order to be righteous. Christ has come and we can be righteous in him. He did not remain in Heaven and he did not remain in the empty tomb.

What is the way of salvation? It is to believe that Jesus is Lord and confess that. What does that mean? Well the idea is that Jesus is kurios, which is the way the name of YHWH was translated when the Septuagint was being written. Here is the contrast that the Christian community had.

No Jew would say “Jesus is Kurios.” That was the position that was reserved for YHWH. To say that would be considered blasphemy. On the other hand, neither would a Greek say that. Why? Because you had one kurios and that was Caesar. If you said Jesus is Kurios, you would be guilty of treason.

The Christians were making a strong claim and this is the claim that got them in trouble with the Romans and set them apart from the Jews. Worship God? Sure. Okay. The Romans could tolerate that. To claim another person was God and that that one was Lord alone? No. Not at all. That was infringing upon the rule of Caesar. The Romans thus saw the Christians as a threat, especially since the one they were preaching spoke often about his kingdom.

And yet, they made the claim. Why? Because they believed it was true. This claim was most likely made at baptism where they were identifying themselves with Christ and saying he was their Lord instead of Caesar. This didn’t mean they were insurrectionists wanting to overthrow Rome. They weren’t. The Romans didn’t know any better however and weren’t wanting to take any chances.

However, as was said, the Christians made the claim and they survived. They ideology never changed. They always knew what they were confessing. Jesus is Lord and God. It was a claim they were willing to die for. Are we willing to do such today?

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