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I am a debtor ..... both to the wise and the foolish. ..... I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God .....  Romans 1: 14-16
 

A debtor, eh? (See above) A debtor both to the wise and to the foolish?

 

He must be a banker. After all, banks are debtors to those of their customers who are in credit and banks today have both wise customers and foolish customers. On the other hand, he may be a banker to the bankers. After all, the banks seem to be wise – and foolish.

 

A debtor, eh? Few people like being debtors. Even fewer boast about being debtors. We all boast about our wealth; we take pleasure in how much our bank owes to us, not in how much we owe it.

 

A debtor, eh? It is sometimes exceedingly difficult to get a person to acknowledge that he or she is a debtor. One has to obtain a Court Judgment in some cases because the debt is denied.

 

But this writer is volunteering that he’s a debtor. And volunteering that he’s in debt to both wise people and foolish people.

 

One might take exception to that. If he was speaking to me, I might look him straight in the eye, furrow my brow and phrase a question to him to establish which of the two he might think I am – wise or foolish.

 

Not included above are words that this debtor used in addition to ‘wise’ and ‘foolish’. The words are ‘Hellen’ and ‘barbaros’ – that is, ‘Greeks’ and ‘barbarians’.

 

Writing in the First Century AD, this debtor would have been very well aware of the tremendous debt he and the rest of the world then owed to Greek culture and its intelligent thought. The thoughts of folk like Epicurus the founder of the Epicurean movement (351-270BC), Zeno who founded the Stoic school (334-262BC) and Archimedes the mathematician (287-212BC), were well known to him.

 
How was he a debtor to ‘barbarians’? What’s a barbarian? The origin of the word is undoubtedly Greek and it most likely originated as a way to mock folk who spoke a foreign language that sounded like “baa – baa”. But in this debtor’s day, it merely referred to foreigners, without any disparaging intent. He was a debtor, also then, to folk who did not speak his language.

 

Many Jersey folk today say deep-down, “I wish I wasn’t in debt”. This man wrote that he was in debt – in debt to the wise; in debt to the foolish; in debt to highly-educated Greeks; in debt to those who spoke languages not his own.

 

What did he owe to all these people? (See above) He owed them the ‘gospel’. The Greek word means ‘good news’. He owed them the ‘good news’ that is the power of God for ...... (The sentence goes on to state concisely what this good news of the power of God is actually directed towards – and achieves).

 

The book of Romans is the concise Report of this debtor (Paul, a Jew, a Pharisee, a Roman citizen) to all these people. Today it would be called a Global Report. It was written to Christians in Rome about 25 years after the death and rising from the dead of Jesus Christ of Nazareth in AD 33.

 
Because this debtor was so learned he wrote about global and national problems and the startling effect that Jesus Christ would have on individual identity, behaviour and destiny.

 

You are warmly invited to either of two informal reading groups that will review this Report and its 21st Century Jersey application.

 

The Reading Groups will meet at Tesson Chapel (by kind permission), St Peter’s Valley, on Monday evenings at 1930 (from 5 October) and on Wednesday mornings at 1000 (from 7 October). 2 Hours maximum – tea/coffee to start.

 

You see, I’m also a debtor.

 

 
‘I had greatly longed to understand Paul’s letter to the Romans ... but .... (later)... these sentences in Romans became to me a gateway into heaven.’ (Martin Luther, Bible translator, 1483-1546)
 
‘There is no saying what may happen when people begin to study the letter to the Romans. You have been warned.’ (F F Bruce, Biblical Professor, 1910-1990)
 
Richard SyvretRSVP (acceptances only) to syvret@trinityjersey.com or 735260

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