the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

The Epistle

The Epistle for this Sunday is the first seven verses of Paul's letter to the Romans. Essentially this is his greetings and an explanation of his credentials as an apostle. But in this short passage, we fiind a clear and concise statement of what Paul believed about Jesus and his mission on earth. When reading Paul, we must always remember that his writings are the only Christian documents that are extant from the period before the Roman war and the destruction of the Temple. All of the Gospels, in their final form that we have today, were written after, and many years after, the destruction of the Temple. Paul is writing in a time when Christianity was just another of the variations on the Jewish faith. It is here in his writings that we can find a glimpse of the traditions about Jesus that predate the gospel stories themselves.

There are several points in this text that relate to this week's Gospel message. They will become obvious as I outline what I believe to be Paul's own personal statement of faith.
  • The coming of Jesus was foretold by the prophets, a claim made by both Matthew and Luke.
  • Paul believed that Jesus was a decendant of the line of David as claimed in both Matthew and Luke, and foretold by the prophets.
  • That Jesus was, in fact, the Son of God is attested to by his resurrection from the dead. This resurrection from the dead could only be accomplished because of Jesus' spirit of holiness.
  • Through Jesus, the Christ, we have grace. Grace in Paul is always the blessing of God that is given by the divine in spite of man's condition of estrangement from the divine.
  • Paul also believed that the giving of Grace by God demanded a certain obedient behavior by those who are the recipients of this Grace. That obedient behavior is the mission to spread the good news of Jesus to all those who have not heard.


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