I’M STARTING TO GET AFRAID of the Bible book of Romans.
As I’ve been paraphrasing the letters of Paul for the Casual English Bible, I’ve been saving that letter to Christians of Rome for last. I’ve got to work myself up to that book.
I love paraphrasing Paul when he’s telling a story. But when he gets into abstract theology, he drives me nuts.
He’s not only hard to understand. Sometimes he’s absolutely impossible to understand.
Maybe part of the problem is that he’s never writing to us. He’s always writing to someone else. And those folks to whom he’s writing have a back story. They have a context we don’t know a thing about.
Still, I’m betting they were sometimes stumped by him, too.
At the moment, I’m into a heavy-duty theological swath of his letter to Christians in Corinth.
I spent the better part of the day trying to figure out how to paraphrase the following few verses, which are still in a preliminary, beta form.
“There’s a schedule for raising the dead. The Messiah was resurrected first. His people will get resurrected next, when he comes back.
After that, it’s all over—life as we used to know it. The Messiah will defeat all the rulers, officials, and powers hostile to God. Then he’ll present the Kingdom of God to the Father.
Meanwhile, the Messiah will rule until he has finished overpowering all of his enemies.
Death is the last enemy he’ll defeat.
The Bible talks about this. “You [God] have made him boss over everything.” Let me make it clear that “everything” doesn’t include God. After all, it was God who put the Messiah in charge.
After everyone finally gives way to the Son, the Son will give way to the one who made everyone give way. When that happens, everyone will finally embrace God as the ruler who is everything to them. 1 Corinthians 15:23-28 Casual English Bible
Take a deep breath
Once I finished paraphrasing that, I literally took a deep breath.
You gotta have a footnote when you’re talking about Jesus giving the Kingdom of God to God, as though the Kingdom of God had never been God’s kingdom.
Most scholars I read didn’t seem to want to talk about that. They just kind of pretended it wasn’t there. I can’t do that.
After the deep breath, I looked at the next verse I needed to paraphrase.
“What will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?” (1 Corinthians 15:29 NASB).
From what I can tell, Bible scholars offer about 30 theories to explain what’s going on with that.
But I get one shot at paraphrasing it. I can assure you that I’ll be adding a whopper of a footnote.
That’s for another day.
 15:24. It’s unclear what Paul means when he says the Messiah will give the Kingdom of God to God the Father, since the Kingdom of God has always belonged to God. Perhaps Paul has in mind the Kingdom of God on earth, made up of people who have become followers of Jesus.
 15:27. Psalm 8:6.