G-d’s wrath is motivated by love and its purpose is to bring humanity to Salvation
An examination of Romans 1
Before we examine the text itself, let’s take a look at the Composer, Historical/Cultural context and the approximate time of writing.
Many of Israel’s prophets and kings dictated their teachings to scribes, this practice was not uncommon. Perhaps in dictating ones thoughts there is less likelihood of confusing what is being said. Sometimes the act of writing can in itself be a distraction. Therefore it is possible that this technique offered room for the Ruach Ha-Kodesh to unify the thoughts and words of the inspired Scriptural composition of Romans.
I have also wondered whether it is possible that Paul was unable to write as a result of injuries obtained from the beatings, whippings, shipwrecks and near death stoning he had undergone. Perhaps his fingers or hands were damaged and ill repaired following these events. Paul speaks of a thorn that G-d had not taken from him, while many conjecture otherwise, perhaps that thorn is a physical disability—there is no way of knowing this side of the Olam Haba.
With the book of Romans, as in the case of many of Paul’s letters, a scribe recorded what Paul dictated. In the case of Romans Tertios—third—was the scribe. (Romans 16:22) Hence my use of the term composer to describe Paul as the human being who, inspired by the Ruach Ha-Kodesh--Holy Spirit, gave us the words of the letter to the Romans.
The Composer: Shaul (Saul)/Paul
Shaul means, inquirer. Paul’s Hebrew namesake king Shaul of Israel inquired of G-d but G-d didn’t answer him because he had willfully turned away from G-d.
In Paul--Shaul—the apostle’s case, on the other hand, G-d inquired of him and he repented/turned to G-d who had appeared to him in the person of Yeshua the King of Kings.
Shaul the king dishonored his tribe Benyamin and desecrated Israel, he persecuted G-d’s chosen king David and sort the death of his followers.
In a similar way Paul--Shaul—the apostle also persecuted the followers of David’s greater Son Yeshua—King of Israel. On the road to Damascus Yeshua himself appeared to Shaul and said, “It is I Yeshua whom you persecute.” As a result of this encounter G-d redeemed Shaul and gave him an additional name—Paul—according to the ministry he would have in Messiah.
Esther—a heroine of Israel; see Ha-Megilah, the book of Esther—had previously and physically completed the task Shaul the king of Israel had left undone—that is the destruction of the Amalekites, thus redeeming Benyamin’s honor on earth.
Now in Shaul/Paul the apostle G-d redeems the tribe of Benyamin spiritually. Through the salvation--Yeshua—of this one man an entire tribe is reconciled to HaShem. It is fitting that this be the premise for Paul’s Gospel mission to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Why? Because ours is a ministry of reconciliation.
Shaul is Paul’s Hebrew name, it always will be.
Paul is an additional name, worn by Shaul as an emblem representing his ministry to the nations, many of whom were Greek speakers. Hence the Greek name Paulos meaning, to desist, stop, restrain—perhaps in reference to the fact that Shaul had ceased to persecute followers of Ha-Derakh—the Way, or in respect for the fact that he had found rest/Shabbat in Messiah: the Hebrew equivalent of Paulos in this case should be Shabbat—rest, desist, stop, seventh, cease.
We also know the following about Paul:
Fourteen of the twenty-seven books in the Brit Ha-Chadashah--New Testament--have traditionally been attributed to Paul, and approximately half of Acts deals with Paul's life and works.
· A Jew/Israelite
· Of the tribe of Benyamin—son of my people
· A Hebrew of Hebrews
· A Perush—Pharisee—separated, set apart one
· Born in Tarsus in Cilicia, south-central Turkey approx. 5 C.E.
· Circumcised on the eighth day
· Citizen of Rome
· Sent to Jerusalem at a young age to study under the great Rabbi Gamaliel
· Dramatically brought to faith in Messiah on the road to Damascus
· Went on three major missionary journeys
· Made a habit of returning to Jerusalem for important Aliyah--going up, pilgrimage--festivals
· The most prolific minister, teacher, church planter and preacher of the Gospel among the dispersed Jews and the nations on behalf of the early Church
· Thought to have died at the hands of Rome in 67 C.E.
Philippians 3:4-6 4 Though I also have reason for confidence in my ethnicity. If any other man thinks he has reason for confidence in his being Jewish, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benyamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the Torah a Perush—Pharisee, 6 as to zeal a persecutor of the ecclesia—followers of Messiah, the Way, as to righteousness under the Torah, blameless.
Historical/Cultural Context: Time of Composition
Most scholars agree that the letter to the Roman believers was written after Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and at the end of Paul’s third missionary Journey. This puts the estimated date of Romans at 57 C.E.
Paul had not yet brought the Gospel to Rome, though he clearly had a fierce desire to do so. He was writing to a group of believers of whom he knew only a select few. The believers in Rome were most likely born of the Jewish contingent returning from the Shavuot festival where the Ruach Ha-Kodesh was poured out. Many Jews from all over the known world were reconciled to Messiah on this wonderful occasion. Jews from Rome are specifically mentioned in the Acts 2 account.
Initially this would have meant that the followers of the Way in Rome consisted largely of Jewish followers of Messiah Yeshua and G-d fearing Greeks who had been attracted to the religion of Israel.
Later in the Roman ecclesia’s development things changed dramatically. In 49 C.E. Emperor Claudius, annoyed by the conflict that was developing between traditional Jews and the members of the Way, expelled all Jews from Rome. This meant that the Roman community of believers lost their Jewish contingent for a number of years. We know, due to Paul’s mentioning Jewish friends like Aquila and Priscilla in Romans 16: that the Messianic Jews had returned by the time the letter to the Roman ecclesia was being penned.
The Messianic Jews returned to the Roman community of believers in approximately 54 C.E. and found a tragically different practice of worship amongst them. It is clear from Paul’s letter to the Roman community that the Greek believers were beginning to become disconnected from the Jewish roots of their faith and that the Jewish believers were now in the minority.
We can conclude therefore that the Roman community of believers was largely Greek with a minority Jewish contingent at the time Paul composed his Letter to the Roman ecclesia—body of believers. All of this illuminates our understanding of the text and enables us to journey through the eyes of Paul and listen with the ears of the Roman ecclesia.
Shaul/Paul: Theological Journey
Before beginning our examination of Romans we should also consider the theological changes that Shaul has undergone from the time of his salvation in approx. 31-36 C.E. until the time of the composition of the Roman letter in approx. 57 C.E.
It is clear from Paul’s writings that he maintained a strong Pharisaical life style and taught in a Pharisaical style. He had formed his progressive theology of Messiah and Israel and therefore G-d’s plan for the nations based on the unity of his upbringing and the inception of belief in the Messiah Yeshua as revealed to him by the Ruach Ha-Kodesh. Paul has had some 25 years since his personal meeting with Yeshua, to consolidate his thoughts and experiences of HaShem. It is from this developed theological position that Paul crafts a thoughtful Midrash on the Scripture of the Tanakh, specifically the quoted text of Habakkuk 2 in Romans 1, among others.
From the beginning of this letter Paul makes it clear that he is presenting nothing new. He shows from the first verses that the Gospel of G-d is explained throughout the Tanakh and that it is from these teachings, joined in the revelation of the resurrection of Messiah and the Ruach Ha-Kodesh, that he will present to the Roman ecclesia the Good News of Messiah Yeshua.
There are those who from the outset will want to interpret Paul’s letter to the Romans retrospectively as a systematic theology or an apologetic against works based religion, this is a mistake. If this letter is systematic it is not systematic in any linear sense, on the contrary, it spirals upward through spherical loops of thought and then comes crashing down to earth to taste the soil of Israel. Romans is as systematic as cloud formation, it is a beautiful view of the world from outside of the bubble of time and space.
Romans is not a letter of doctrine so much as it is a letter of cultural—spiritual reconciliation. A reconciliation born from above that disperses into the world like air blown into a deflated balloon. Paul is not favoring Faith over works—as some suggest, nor is he advocating partiality with regard to the Jews—his own people.
Rather than presenting Faith and works as opposing forces, Paul is seeking to help Greek thinkers understand the unity of parts within Messianic belief. Faith and works are no more opposed to one another than the lungs and the heart, in fact one cannot function or survive without the other. While the Greeks seek linear solutions, the Hebrew—Paul—seeks to share a spherical Hebraic way of thinking about faith. The Gospel it seems, is a group of parts functioning as a body. Paul wants to remind the predominantly Greco Roman ecclesia that she was born of Hebrew parents for the purpose of freedom in Messiah.
It is with all this in mind that we now approach the text itself.
1:1 Paul, a servant/slave/bond servant of Yeshua Mashiyach—Jesus the Christ,
This opening salutation is both utterly humble and appropriately honoring. Paulos—restraint, desist, stop—rather than promote himself—as was his right—as a learned rabbi of the Perushim—Pharisees, chooses to offer himself to his readers as a humble and willing slave/servant of Yeshua. In addition, those among the audience for this letter who know the Tanakh—Old Testament—also know that the title “Servant of HaShem—YHVH—“is an honorary title reserved for G-d’s prophets and kings.
A Roman citizen would never consider willfully becoming a slave. The very essence of Roman citizenship is in personal freedom and a self-sustaining lifestyle. Slaves were rarely Romans, they were usual taken from lands conquered by Rome. Paul however was born a Roman Citizen and willfully submits himself as a slave to Messiah.
From a Roman perspective this simple statement also reads as an affront to Caesar whose citizens called themselves his servants. Anyone claiming to be the servant of another authority or King was effectively making a proclamation of rebellion against Caesar’s authority. Paul is the first century C.E. equivalent of a dangerous 21st century activist. The pen is, after all, mightier than the sword.
Called to be an apostle—sent one, set apart—separated, Perush, Pharisee, for the gospel of G-d
‘Called’ here is more than just a request for service, it is an appointment to a vocation—latin vocātiō. Paul is essentially saying, “My calling is to be sent as a Pharisee for the gospel of G-d.” This is the first reference to the Good News: 1. the Good News of G-d.
2 which He promised beforehand through his prophets in the Tanakh, 3 the gospel concerning his Son,
All this was promised from the beginning and written in the Holy text of the Jewish people, which explains the Gospel of His Son. This is the second reference to the Good News: 2. the Good News of His Son.
Who was descended from David according to ethnicity.
The prophets, mentioned previously, say that the Mashiyach will be a descendant of David. Yeshua is indeed David’s greater son, the promised eternal King of Israel Who will sit on David’s throne and reign forever. Both His father Joseph and His mother Miriyam were direct descendants of King David. Yeshua is a human being.
4 and designated Son of God in power according to the Ruach Shel Kadosh by His resurrection from the dead, Yeshua Mashiyach our Lord,
The prophets also predicted that He would be called “Mighty G-d, Everlasting Father, and Immanuel.” The fact that Yeshua is G-d is affirmed in His resurrection. While the Kings of the nations and in particular the Caesars of Rome were venerated as gods after they had died, Yeshua proved to be G-d Himself through His resurrection from the dead. What other king has ever lived who could claim the power of resurrection? In just four brief verses Paul has openly resisted the ethos of Rome and her rulers and has proclaimed a new King, not just a king of Rome but the King of nations, Yeshua Ha-Mashiyach. This is a courageous opening paragraph born of a man who has met Yeshua face to face and lived.
5 through whom we have received chesed—loving kindness, grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith—trust—for the sake of his name--Yeshua Mashiyach—among all the nations--ethnos, ethnicities, 6 including yourselves who are called--vocation, a way of life—to belong to Yeshua Mashiyach;
Notice that Paul says that the believers have received chesed—loving kindness. They didn’t earn it but were offered it as a gift and those who were willing received it along with the directive to be sent out so that others among the ethnicities of the world could become obedient to that same faith and trust in G-d through the Name of Yeshua. All this because the recipients of the Gospel in Rome had been called to belong to Yeshua in the first place: having originally heard the Gospel from Jews like Shaul/Paul who had believed Messiah and received the Ruach Ha-Kodesh.
7 To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be Kedushav—Holy/set apart ones, saints:
Paul is saying that through Messiah all may be called holy regardless of ethnicity. This doesn’t negate the special physical and spiritual calling of Israel. Just as the name Paul is added to Shaul, so too the nations can be added to Israel’s commonwealth.
Chesed—loving kindness—Grace to you and Shalom—peace—from G-d our Father and the Lord Yeshua Mashiyach.
Some believe that the use of Grace here is significant because it is a common Greek greeting and that in combination with the Hebrew greeting Shalom is meant to signify a unifying of the two ethnicities. While this may be the case I believe there is also a strong case for the Hebrew equivalent chesed to be used to affirm the fact that Loving kindness and Peace are pillars of Hebrew spirituality and that in Messiah these pillars are offered to the Jews first and also to the Greeks.
8 First, I thank my G-d through Jesus Christ for all of you,
“My G-d,” is an important distinction that must be understood by Paul’s hearers. It is the G-d of Israel as G-d alone, unique among gods that Paul is thanking. He is wanting to make clear to the Greeks of the Roman congregation that G-d is not a universal monotheistic deity, He is the G-d of Shaul of the tribe of Benyamin, the Israelite, the Perush, and the Hebrew of Hebrews. Paul says this through his Mashiyach—also Jewish, Israelite, the Hebrew of Hebrews. Make no mistake, Paul begins and ends his letter with the zeal, thinking and passion of a Jewish teacher. He is not presenting Gnostic or stoic arguments as some mistakenly conclude.
Because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.
The Roman ecclesia are known throughout the Greco-Roman world for their strong and it seems, evangelical faith in Mashiyach as members of the Way. Notice that Paul never addresses the congregation in Rome using the term Christian. Even thirty years after the death and resurrection of Mashiyach Yeshua the Ecclesia were still known as the Jewish sect or followers of Ha-Derakh—the way.
9 For G-d is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son,
Paul is openly accountable before G-d. Here we have the third mention of the Good News: 3. The Good News of G-d’s Son.
That without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers,
This is not the only time we are told of prayer without ceasing in the Brit Ha-Chaddashah—New Testament. How is this possible? It is only possible if prayer is understood as an eternal conversation which G-d began with us before the creation of the universe.
10 asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.
Paul clearly aches for an opportunity to teach the Roman ecclesia. Perhaps in part—given the evidence of this letter in particular—to guide them into a future faith reconnected to its Jewish roots. It also may be that the few Roman believers he knows personally are dear friends. To this we add Paul’s fierce fervor for the Good News and its spread among the nations and we can understand Paul’s desperation as he begins this letter.
11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you a certain spiritual gift to strengthen you,
Most English translations render the Greek tis as some. There has validity however if we translate this Greek word as certain—an equally valid translation--I believe we gain continuity in what Paul is saying regarding the Gospel itself. This translation also supports his desire to impart an authentic faith to his readers. If this rendering is correct then I believe the certain spiritual gift being offered is the unadulterated Good News as received directly from Yeshua. The following verse affirms this reading.
12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
In humility Paul expresses his desire to receive teaching from the Roman ecclesia. This is consistent with the Talmudic teaching that says, “If you want to become a rabbi find yourself a talmid—student—and become his pupil.”
13 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the other ethnicities.
Some ask, “What prevented him from coming to Rome? Was it illness, Satan, a word from G-d?” The answer is that, “G-d is over all things so whatever prevented a rightly motivated man from pursuing his mission was allowed for the sake of the kingdom by G-d Himself.” Elsewhere Paul has said that Satan had blocked his way, this doesn’t mean that Satan had any kind of control over Paul’s journey, after all the Tanakh speaks of G-d sending Satan to sway David’s judgment regarding a census over Israel. Even Satan is under G-d’s control. HaShem will have His way, the Way--Ha-Derakh!
14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to non-Greeks, both to the wise and to the foolish: 15 so I am eager to preach the good news to you also who are in Rome.
Some dislike the word obligation here: the Greek opheiletēs means to be indebted. Some would prefer that this indebtedness belong to Paul alone and therefore read it as oppressive law. However the truth is that if Paul has an obligation to pass on his faith to the nations then those who, like him receive that faith, also have an obligation. This is understood as Torah—instruction, discipline and not as Law.
When we embrace the chesed—loving kindness—Grace of G-d we must not forget that the lungs and heart work together, they do not oppose one another. Freedom and obligation stand hand in hand. A married man is obligated to honor his wife and in doing so is freed from sexual sin, an adulterer on the other hand refuses his obligation, seeing himself as one who is utterly free and yet he is imprisoned by sexual sin.
The common Hebrew literary tool of doubling is used here to show the width and breadth of the Gospel’s reach. Greeks were educated, thus they are matched to the wise, non-Greeks were considered uneducated, thus they are coupled to the foolish. Paul is saying that his desire is to preach the gospel to every person regardless of education or social standing, specifically he is eager to share the gospel in all its fullness with the Roman ecclesia.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for Yeshua—salvation—to everyone who has faith—trust, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness--Tzadek, the Righteous One—of G-d is revealed through faith for faith;
Why does Paul say he is not ashamed? Perhaps he has met Jewish believers who have felt the need to hide their new found faith from family members who might reject them for their beliefs? Maybe he has heard that there are those in Rome who are fearful?
Most likely he is aware that his claim to be a servant of Yeshua is a dangerous one and that his readers may be nervous about his letter getting into the wrong hands. He is assuring his readers that he will not be silent, or ashamed or embarrassed about his message of hope in Mashiyach. Why is he not ashamed? Because, “the gospel is the power of G-d for salvation to everyone who has faith,” and he has met that very Power Himself, the risen Mashiyach Yeshua. This has birthed in him eternal confidence. Notice here the fourth Good News reference: 4. The Good News is The Power of G-d for Salvation—Yeshua
Salvation--Yeshua—is first for the Jew historically, chronologically and perpetually. It is also for the Greeks/nations as ones born of the Gospel that comes from the Jews. Yeshua Himself, speaking of Himself said, “Salvation--Yeshua—comes from the Jews.” This is as true today as it was in 57 C.E. when Paul composed this letter to the Roman ecclesia.
Paul specifically uses the Greek word Hellen—Greek—rather than the Greek word ethnos—ethnicity, nation, why is that? It is because he has already declared in the preceding verse that the Gospel is the power of G-d for the salvation of all who believe—all nations. He now targets the Roman ecclesia specifically knowing that they are made up of Jews and educated Greeks.
The righteousness of G-d is revealed first—soon we will read of the revelation of the wrath of G-d. The righteousness of G-d is a gift of faith that is received from G-d and returned to G-d in faith.
As it is written, “The righteous one will live by faith.”
Here Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 with the intention that it be understood that he is referencing the entire passage according to rabbinical tradition. Why does he do this? Firstly he quotes these specific words to solidify the point he is making about faith itself. Once faith is received as a gift it must be lived by. The text here can refer to any Israelite and his decision to stand firm in faith in the face of adversity. It can also be read to refer specifically to the Messiah, the Tzadek--righteous one--who lives by faith. This is also consistent to the Hebrew doubling device and the teaching that faith is both a gift and an obligation.
The wider text of Habakkuk 2 is almost identical in theme to Romans 1:17-32. In fact Paul is writing a Midrash—illuminating commentary—on Habakkuk. In doing so he is reminding the Jewish believers in Rome of the Tanakh and redirecting the Greek believers so as to return them to the Jewish roots of their faith. He is also saying that from creation until this point nothing has really changed, humanity is still sinful and in need of a Redeemer and that Redeemer is The Tzadek—Righteous One Who lived by Faith.
18 For the wrath of G-d is revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness and wickedness of humanity who by their wickedness suppress the truth.
What is the wrath of G-d revealed against? It is revealed against the sinful actions of humanity. His love is for human beings but His wrath is against sin.
Why is His wrath revealed? Because by the sinful actions of humanity the truth is suppressed, covered up, so that human beings fail to receive it and are in danger of being utterly lost. Therefore G-d’s wrath is motivated by love and its purpose is to bring humanity to salvation--Yeshua. This is why He first revealed His righteousness through the Faithful One Yeshua our Mashiyach.
19 For what can be known about G-d is plain to them, because G-d has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature, namely, His eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse;
Who are they? They are all humanity living in rebellion toward G-d. Why are they without excuse? Because everyone has an opportunity to enjoy creation and recognize the order, continuity and design of a higher intelligence, G-d Himself. Apparently it takes an intentional act of the will to deny G-d’s existence. Therefore all humanity is without excuse.
21 for although they knew G-d they did not honor Him as G-d or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.
If we believe as the Scripture says, that “In Him all things exist and have their being,” then we must also agree that all things are in some way aware of G-d. Hence the words, “although they knew G-d they did not honor Him as G-d.”
As a result of our refusal to acknowledge the obvious and honor G-d we have been left without purpose, we have become futile, our own thoughts frustrate us and our minds refuse the light of HaShem. We have purchased our own darkness through rebellion.
22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal G-d for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.
Notice the doublets here that link back to verse 14. It is the wise who are now the fools and the glory—wisdom—they might have enjoyed in G-d has been exchanged for worthless dead images.
In this we also see the hope seeded in verse 14. After all, Paul’s—and our—obligation is to preach the Gospel to both the wise and the foolish.
24 Therefore G-d gave them up to the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,
G-d neither gave up on them nor abandoned them, rather He allowed them the free will to pursue their own sinful lust. We should note that the dishonor they receive is at their own hands. G-d does not dishonor them, He loves them and seeks to honor them.
25 because they exchanged the truth about G-d for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
The truth about G-d was already in view for these people or else how could they have exchanged it? Therefore the truth about G-d is even today still seen in creation and even today humanity both individually and corporately is intentionally refusing that truth and in exchange accepting the lie that creation itself is god, that we are god. This is the root of all sin, idolatry, the sin that caused the fall of Satan.
G-d can be seen in everything because everything exists in Him. That doesn’t mean that everything is G-d. G-d is light but light is not G-d. A hamburger exists in G-d but G-d is not a hamburger.
26 For this reason G-d gave them up to dishonorable passions.
Again, G-d simply allowed them to exercise free will, to pursue their own self destruction. This is the second giving up. There is a progression here, at each step of the way and at any time a person might repent, turn back to G-d. Likewise at each step of the way a person may choose to rebel further.
Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
The Bible is clear regarding Lesbian and homosexual acts. The Torah calls these sexual acts abominations and issues the penalty of death against them. However Paul is saying here that the practice of these perverse sexual acts bring about their own penalty regardless of the punishment of law or lack thereof.
While homosexuality is beyond the scope of this study, suffice to say that many of those who enter this life style were initially seeking to fulfill a legitimate need for wholesome male relationships—Father, brother, close platonic male friend—but without access to positive manifestations of these relationships they have been seduced by a lie and have entered into darkness.
It is important to remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood, we are called to love the lost. Like Paul we seek the salvation of those who are trapped in sin. G-d’s wrath is revealed against the evil actions of humanity and not against humanity itself. It is Satan who seeks our demise, not G-d.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge G-d, G-d gave them up to a depraved mind and to improper conduct. 29 They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, and haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.
Four the third and final time G-d gives them up to their sinful path. At this point their minds are depraved to such depths that the light is a distant memory. Therefore all forms of evil begin to manifest in their lives. Evil itself becomes so familiar to them that it seems normal: good becomes bad, evil becomes good, righteousness is mocked and deviousness is celebrated. This creates a society where evil perpetuates evil and honors those who practice perversity. This was the world that the followers of the Way lived in. This is the world that we live in.
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.