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Stumbling your brother

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Re: Stumbling your brother

Postby dwight92070 » Sun Sep 03, 2017 5:39 pm

Mattrose,

Thanks for that post. I found it very enlightening and helpful.

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Re: Stumbling your brother

Postby TruthFinder » Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:56 pm

mattrose wrote:
4. I personally think Paul's use of the terms 'strong' and 'weak' in this context are not original to him. We should keep in mind that, though Paul had likely never been to Rome when he wrote this letter, he does seem to be very aware of many of the people in the church and some of their current issues. I think he was made aware of the fact that some (mostly) Gentile Christians were using the 'strong' adjective for themselves and the 'weak' adjective to describe their (mostly) Jewish brothers and sisters. Paul is willing to use their language to enter into that discussion and subvert it away from thinking 'up' or 'down' about each other and toward the theme of other-oriented service to one another.


First of all - wow what an amazing blessing to have a forum like this! I think it might be easy to take that for granted, but there are riches in the experience and wisdom in this group and the ability to communicate in this way that previous generations could never have dreamed of.

I'm not sure if I did the quote right, but I wanted to ask Matt how he developed the opinion he holds about the origin of Paul's weak/strong adjectives? It seems plausible to me, but I suspect Matt may have evidence to support his reasoning that I'm not familiar with. It seems to me that it matters whether Paul considers a group to be weak or if he is simply reusing someone else's adjective. If it is Paul's opinion based on his role as an apostle, then i wouldn't want to remain in a condition he considered weak in faith...that is if it is even within the power of that brother to become stronger. If Paul is using insider terms in a way that I might use air quotes, then it would change the meaning significantly.
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Re: Stumbling your brother

Postby mattrose » Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:11 pm

TruthFinder wrote:I wanted to ask Matt how he developed the opinion he holds about the origin of Paul's weak/strong adjectives? It seems plausible to me, but I suspect Matt may have evidence to support his reasoning that I'm not familiar with. It seems to me that it matters whether Paul considers a group to be weak or if he is simply reusing someone else's adjective. If it is Paul's opinion based on his role as an apostle, then i wouldn't want to remain in a condition he considered weak in faith...that is if it is even within the power of that brother to become stronger. If Paul is using insider terms in a way that I might use air quotes, then it would change the meaning significantly.


My reasons for thinking he may be borrowing someone else's adjectives are threefold, but it is still largely speculative.

1. Contextual reasons... it seems to me Paul's main point, in chapter 14, is that we should not judge brothers and sisters over disputable matters. It seems to me that labeling one party in a disputable matter as 'weak' would come close (at least) to negatively judging them.

2. Parallel context reasons... I see Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 10-12 as nearly equivalent contexts. Many have made the case, in regards to 1 Corinthians 8-10, that Paul borrows the language of some of the Corinthian Christians to the degree that we need to use 'air quotes' for certain phrases (like, 'everything is permissible'). I don't think it is a stretch to suggest that this was a fairly common practice for Paul and especially as he dealt with specific issues in a local church.

3. It seems to me I have run across a commentator or two who suggested that 'weak' and 'strong' may have been borrowed adjectives (I'll check some of my commentaries out on Thursday when I'm in my office to see if I can find an example).

If Paul did borrow the adjectives, though, that doesn't mean (to me) that he didn't essentially agree that the 'no-meat-eating' position was weaker. I doubt he would have borrowed the language if he didn't agree with it, at least to some degree or in some sense. Paul himself plainly states in Romans 14 that he was fully convinced that eating the meat was fine (he states the same in 1 Corinthians 8-10).

What Paul is most concerned about in Romans 14, in my opinion, is that the 'strong' are arrogant toward the 'weak'. The adjectives might be technically accurate, but Paul might wish that they had never been voiced. As soon as we start thinking of ourselves primarily as 'strong' and other believers primarily as 'weak', we have probably made 'love' secondary. What good is being 'strong' in regards to a disputable matter if you are 'weak' where it matters most (love)?

We tend to think of ourselves as 'strong' or 'weak' in our faith, but in reality, it may be that we are 'strong' in certain areas and 'weak' in others. And it may be that the person we consider to be 'weak' in faith is actually 'strong' in areas that we don't even think about. I think Paul wanted everyone in the Church in Rome to humble themselves and be other-oriented... to stop thinking in terms of 'strong' and 'weak' and start thinking in terms of love. What good is being right if you can't be it in love?
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