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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Romans 15:13 – The Benediction

A lot can be said in a few words. Paul here is not expressing merely a wish, nor is he only saying a prayer. A benediction is more than a wish because a wish can be meaningless. It is more than a prayer because sometimes a suitable petition can be refused by God because he knows another answer would be better. A benediction is a statement based on certainties that the person knows God has promised to provide if his people are dedicated to him. So here we have a description of what the Christian life can be like.
It will help us appreciate the possibilities if we look at the two verbs in the benediction. One is the word ‘fill’ and the other is the word ‘abound’ – both these words indicate that Paul has the idea of plenty in mind. So he is not suggesting that Christians should be content with a little of what he is describing. There may be other things in life, such as possessions, of which they have little. In contrast, they can have a lot of what he mentions here.
Notice the way he describes God – he is the God of hope. The definite article stresses that he is the only divine being that can be described in this way, a reminder by Paul to his readers not to pay any attention to the claims of the Romans that their gods could do great things for them. Moreover, the word ‘hope’ is a term that deals with the future, with something that is coming because it is guaranteed. Paul here says that God will provide a great future experience. Of course, he can do this because he has sovereignly planned it. Yet Paul’s emphasis is that God’s plan for the future has wonderful consequences for his people now.
One consequence is that Christians can have a great amount of joy and peace because they are believers in Jesus. Why can they have those blessings? Clearly, because they have been forgiven and have been brought into the family of God. These are the two greatest blessings a sinner could receive.

The other consequence is that Christians will have great expectations about the future when this world is over. This outlook is brought about in their souls by the power of the Spirit, who obviously wants them to have it. And we can say that we should have it because, after all, it is a divinely conveyed blessing.

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