The Letter to the Romans

God is righteous. He has published his righteousness to all. The pronouncement of the righteousness of God has come to Rome. It has arrived in the heart of the unrighteous idolatry of Caesar, the ruler who has set himself up over the whole world. Justice (dikaiosyne), or righteousness, is the goal of life, and it is the subject of all political philosophy. The aim is that each of us gets what belongs to us, what is just and right for us and all others. The man who is just (righteous) is the one who has his righteousness given to him by God who alone is righteous. Righteousness means nothing other than being rightly related to God, covered by God.

1. Righteousness
God is righteous. He has published his righteousness to all. The pronouncement of the righteousness of God has come to Rome. It has arrived in the heart of the unrighteous idolatry of Caesar, the ruler who has set himself up over the whole world. Justice (dikaiosyne), or righteousness, is the goal of life, and it is the subject of all political philosophy. The aim is that each of us gets what belongs to us, what is just and right for us and all others. The man who is just (righteous) is the one who has his righteousness given to him by God who alone is righteous. Righteousness means nothing other than being rightly related to God, covered by God.

God gives. But what he gives we have not yet taken. We have not recognised him as the one who gives us all things, and so have not given him the recognition due to him. We have not taken from his hands the justice and righteousness he intends us to receive from him. We have put ourselves outside his protection. We have set ourselves up in opposition to him. In doing so we have mistaken the game we are in. The game is not that he gives us his righteousness and we take it, keep it and use it for all sorts of projects of our own. He does not give us his righteousness for our own self-aggrandisement, or in order that we fortify our own position against him. As soon as we snatch it, it is no longer righteousness, but unrighteousness. The game is two fold. It is first that God gives his righteousness, we take and give it back to him in praise, and he gives it back to us again with praise, and we take this too and return it to him. And secondly it is that he gives it and we pass it to those who are our dependents around us: we give them justice, and they pass it on, give their dependents justice, and so on. Two sorts of circulation are set up, one a direct alternation of recognition that runs from God to us and back, and another that runs from God through us, through others, through others again, without limit. In these two forms the game consists in a spreading of gratefulness for the righteousness of God.

But instead of this, we have taken what we have received and held on to it. We have withheld it from those for whom it was also intended. We have taken things into our own hands. We have seized power. We have employed others as the resources for the project of building of our own undefined selfhood, and used them as the material with which to build ourselves an empire. We have taken what we were not given, and dug our claws into the unprotected. God sent us gifts and embassies, intending to establish relationship with us. The whole end of these was that we receive his Son as our lord protector and as the proper receptive audience for our selfhood, its criterion and guarantor. But we have turned back his advances; we have refused all God’s wooing. We have attempted to make ourselves gods. But far from becoming gods, more just and more gracious, we are becoming beasts, less just and less able to recognise anything beyond ourselves.

We are unrighteous rulers, wicked tenants, rulers who ourselves can tolerate no rule and impose no rule on ourselves. We have lived off the weakest. We are usurpers and criminals. In trying to escape any limit, and to secure ourselves against death we attempt to climb from the bottom to the top of the ladder of being. We are scaling the universe to reach the top and secure ourselves there. We make this climb by treading down all others. By this action we tear a gap between the top and the bottom, and created two tiers. We are driven by fear of the bottom, where extinction and death is. The cosmological dualism is the result of the effort of each of us to escape from the lower levels, driven by our fear of being extinguished, becoming nameless, fear of becoming nothing, of death at the bottom of the cosmos. Only when we admit that we have exercised an illegitimate authority can we also admit that we are then also in another sense the poor, because we are those who have been found out, exposed and uncovered.

God has released his anger over us. The anger of God was first the anger of man. It was composed of the unheard complaints and protests of all those who did not receive any good thing from those set over them. The anger of all those who have never been given a hearing became a single storm-cloud of distress. This cloud is composed of the mass of things we started but couldn’t finish. We released this excess of speech-acts over finished-acts, that turned into this trouble massing over our heads, and then into the flood that overwhelmed us. After enduring for a long time the nagging of the poor of the earth, this world of distress becomes the fury of God in action. His anger surges against all those leaders who failed to give the poor what they begged for.

We were in our first school, set to learn our first lesson. But we did not learn the lesson of primary school. We became delinquent, not learning ourselves but hanging around to threaten the younger children. Now the shutters have come down. The has been a reversal of evolution. We are being busted from a higher to a lower degree of development and responsibility. In order to limit the damage we are able to do to one another we are corralled into a smaller place. Here what we can remember of the law is disappearing. We are having the law removed from us. Our minds are being emptied. We are suffering an increasing disorientation and mindlessness. The effect of the publication of the righteousness of God is our exclusion and expulsion, exile and death. It is death by degrees under the unlimited licensed savagery of the lordless powers that makes still more fierce the competition of people against people.

Now we are held under the very lowest lesson, the simplest, dumbest aeon. We have been returned to the wilderness to eat grass like Nebuchanezzar. We are humiliated here until we give up our rebellion. We are held in detention. There will be no resumption of this course of education until we have got to this point of surrender and public confession of what we have become. We must confess both of what we have made ourselves, and what God has made of us. What we now suffer represents a demotion, from primary school to the remand and to the remedial class, the lowest aeon. We are in disgrace.

The false creations
This cosmos is at first threatened by rival buildings and jurisdictions. All the other claimants attempt to raise some part of the whole creation around themselves, offering alternative centres of power and setting up counterfeit local mini-creations which (2 Thessalonians 2) deceive those who are perishing. But the (2 Thessalonians 2.8) lawless one… the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth 2.9 in accordance with the work of Satan, displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders. There are many alternative kingdoms and regimes. There are counterfeit local mini-creations. They deceive those who are perishing …God sends them a powerful delusion – so that they will believe the lie. This powerful delusion is the delusion that the part they know is all there is to know, that the part they know is the whole. this delusion is an anaesthetic and it is an amnesic – it wipes their memory. They are demoted in the order of being, and returned to a simpler more animal nature. Now very much less is expected of them. They will be a small creature in a small world, a little local environment. The world they understand will be a small sub-world. A huge part in the completion of the world was originally assigned to them, but now parts have been re-assigned, and they given a very much more modest part. Now they have a walk-on part, not a speaking role. They will inhabit a much more circumscribed place, a tiny microcosm. They have been given over to the regard of a small part of the whole. They will respect and obey the limits of this – their desire will be satisfied by what – their desires and appetites will be satisfied by what – they will not pine for more. They will no longer know how to be demanding, they will not know how to pray, they will not know how to address or worship anything or anyone beyond what is knowable within the sub-world assigned to them.

2. Paideia
God has published his righteousness. He has given his words to men. This word is the Law. The Law is instruction. It is the internal education and the external rails and barriers within which man can receive the gift of the righteousness of God. It is the syllabus for our upbringing, the agenda of God for the project he has set himself. His agenda is the creation of a people who can take what he gives with thanksgiving. He has given his syllabus to one people. Israel is the appointed teaching body, the elite cadre that will instruct and lead the nations of the world. Israel is that teacher and an officer. Now comes the question. Can the teacher teach this lesson? Has the teacher himself really been taught and really learned it? Or is the teacher the one most urgently in need of the lesson, and most adamantly refusing to take it?

What is the lesson? The lesson is in the righteousness of God. We are to learn to return recognition to God and to one another. But we have failed to give honour to one another, have withheld recognition and being from one another. Intending his people to deal with each other with the generosity that they received from him, God gave them a share in this work of exercising care over his sheep. He set the older over the younger, and gave those with more the task of providing for those with less. But we have failed to father, to teach and bring one another up, and have failed to be obedient sons, to accept such discipline, to be taught and brought up. Each has attempted to hold on to honour, when he should pass it on, has not given recognition to anyone else. Each has tried to place themselves at the top of the hierarchy of being, the one place at which they are not liable to give recognition, respect and being to anyone else. They have not allowed that there is anyone above them. Each has failed to understand that seniority involves leadership, and leadership involve taking the role of a servant status. A parent must suffer, a parent is made to wait by their children. The teacher also has to bear and suffer his pupils, and is therefore inescapably a servant, a servant precisely because he is a master.

Many men in opposing one another, oppose God. In opposing one another they are opposing those God intends to make his own and already regards as his own. Our offence is that no one is prepared to be brought up, because no one is prepared to be under discipline, to receive discipline from God. Instead they have put themselves under all sorts of less generous and less competent masters. This refusal to perform the work of bringing one another up to the fullness of human being set before us by God. This work of bringing up we may call instruction, or paideia or Torah.

God is fair. If a Gentile does a right and righteous thing, he receives credit for it. To pass judgment on someone is to set yourself apart from him, exalt yourself over him. You decide whether he has passed the course. You decide whether he may be admitted to the small band to which you give approval.

Each of us is to be under discipline, being a disciple, a student, a learner, a son of the Father. This is what circumcision means, to be under discipline. To be a man is to be a son, and to be a son requires that you are the son of the big man, you deliver to him what he wants, the recognition he is due, and you are a father to your own people, and pick up the bill for all the little people around you. Everyone knows that. The Greeks with their mock-Torah know that. The people of God who have had the Torah, the truth of God and the world, put into their hands, know that. Even the mock Torah of the Greeks will condemn us. The circumcision is the surgery that produces only sons who are righteous, and who produce righteous sons. Righteous sons obey their father, love and remember their father and their mother; they nurture and hand on the tradition of their fathers. The real circumcision certainly includes the letter, because it is total: it is corrective surgery on the whole man, or as Paul says, the heart.

The proverbial wisdom shared by Jews and Gentiles is that the big man honours those who honour him. He fathers his people. He supports and supplies them. All cultures know this. It is what the educated of all cultures have in common. To get ahead you have to produce the behaviour that will please the big man. You have to give him glory, praise him as your father from whom all good things come, and produce yourself the behaviour of the generous man, be a father to your people, so they praise you as their father. All cultures know the imperative of advancement, the struggle for recognition (and all education is education into advancement), ambition, reciprocity, getting on, winning glory, gaining the praise of the big man. The Greeks know it and the Jews know it. The Jews know that they have to please God by keeping the whole people of Israel in good health. But even the mini-Torah of the Greeks lists some those elements of the real Torah of God, about pursuing recognition, winning public acclaim by putting in a good performance, at being a man and a father, producing a flourishing household and society.

We let people down. No one is satisfied with the amount of being that we pay them. They are all able to make this charge against us. It is the same charge that God that makes against us on behalf of them. Inasmuch as they are able to make this charge against us, it is true. We have failed to pay them the being that God intends for them. This failure we call sin. Sin is identifiable only through the law. It is only because the project has been published, given as the Torah to the elect people, that it is possible to say that we are not yet what according to the syllabus we will be. But inasmuch as we are all open this accusation we are also fingered as withholders of being, and therefore as sinners.

The gospel identifies two groups, the top and the bottom, exploiting and the exploited. There are two classes: the lawless leaderless rabble, and those who are under law and who to lead them and show them what it is to be well-ruled. There are the educated and uneducated, the civilised law-abiding liberal civil intellectuals and educators, and those who are ruled only by their passions.

The man who observes the law is the man who has the fullness of being. He is the most manly of men. He is courageous and charismatic; he is a natural leader, a father and not only of his own people, he excels at generosity; he is a teacher and a model. He is perfectly in control of himself, and is therefore able to lead others. But there is no such man. But there is no one who has finished his education in manhood, and has perfect self-control, such that he has no wants, is never roused and driven by passion, but who considers everyone and everything to belong to him and thus have no need to compete with others and to do them down. There has been no such man – until now. Now he has appeared.

These two classes are those within the law, who have had the law taught them and thus know about the imperative of leadership and fatherhood, and the lawless, those not under discipline. The accusation made against the ruling classes is that they have not led and shepherded these people. They have not ruled. They have left them as a leaderless mass. It is their fault that the poor are a rabble, are without discipline and self-discipline. The pitiful condition of the masses is the sin of their leaders. That there is a rabble is demonstration that the educated and righteous have not led or exercised righteousness where it is needed. They are shown to be not under discipline, not education, unrighteous.

Romans works on a dual anthropology. Men are not uniform. They are at least two sorts of men. There are the rich and the poor, the disciplined and the undisciplined, those prepared and those without a clue. Those at the top are better ordered and have more being. Those at the bottom of the pile obviously suffer from an ontological deficiency that is reflected in a lack of righteousness. None of their relationships is complete or right or well-ordered. But this is the fault of those at the top who would seem to be better off, to exist in better ordered lives, greater rightness and righteousness. The poor are the standing rebuke to the rich man.

3. God is righteous.
Paul has taught that there is a way for the uneducated and lawless to gain admission to the house of God. He has been slanderously understood to teach that it does not matter whether you have been educated or not, are under the law or not, as though all that education has been in vain and is now to be discarded. He has been understood to teach that the Jews are not any better than the Gentiles, the lawless, sinners. But Paul insists the Law and the prophets testify to God’s act of righteousness.

But both Jews and Gentiles are now traumatised by their own position. They have been pitched together into a last ditch attempt to fend off the act of God’s self-vindication. While God made their position ever more impossible, they wove skeins of self-justification, that attempted to make their situation seem workable and defensible. They falsified the truth. They made themselves victims of their own propaganda, in defiance of reality, barricaded themselves against the arrival of the truth of God. But the truth of God has arrived.

God is righteousness in himself. He is all proper relationship and relatedness in himself. He does not need to come into relationship with what is not God to be made complete. He is the criterion of rightness. He is not made more or less right by association with us, nor by comparison with us. God’s rightness is neither threatened nor enhanced by the contrast with anyone else’s rightness or lack of it. It is untouched, undiminished and not added to by man. It is not increased or amplified by whether we do or do not render what is due to him or give the right.

God has demonstrated his righteousness by main force. His righteousness makes him stronger than all the rival gods, and he has broken their power. The law, the proclamation of the righteousness of God, has been publicly vindicated in the act of God.

4. Justification and the speech-act of God
God provides for his people. He looks after those who look to him. What we lacked he provided. What we required he credited to our account. God spoke and it was so. He said we were his, and suddenly we were his, swivelled about so we were no longer against him but with him, no longer either matching against him nor running from him but now following him, members of his train. We have been co-opted and annexed. This is the act and righteousness of one man, the one sent from God to be the public righteousness of God. He opposed us and halted us. He seized us and made us his. He acted unilaterally. Who could stop him? We hated him and fought him but he overcame us and turned us. He turned us into his own troops. He accepts our company. Where is our dignity in this? He gave us to his troops, who took us and bathed and cared for us. They gave us a new uniform and dressed us in it. They armed us as they were armed and then we are members of his troop just as though we had always been members of it. All this is done on God’s say-so, and as though our assent to this was understood. God called an Israelite and the Israelite heard him. This relationship and righteousness between them was complete. This Israelite didn’t ask to see any credentials, or ask what God’s purposes were, or enquire into the time-frame. He simply took it that things were as God said, and that he could look forward to what God forecast. To Abraham it didn’t occur that it would be any other way. He was a hearer of the Word, where hearer means not merely hearer but doer also.

5. Christ died.
Christ opposed us and carried us. Christ died for the ungodly. While we were in active rebellion against him, intending to put him to death, Christ came against us. He halted our rebellion against him, and he did so by spending his forces against us. If he was kind to us when we were his enemies, will he not be kinder now he has made us his friends?

We need two definitions of ourselves, one as the aggressors who receive judgment, one as those who are saved, one in which we are the unrighteous kings who are holding (he kills us), and one in which we are their victims, so we are rescued and made alive.

The word ‘dying’ summarises the whole act of man, all that takes place between any and all men, their long term effect on each other. They cannot sustain one another but wear each other out until there is nothing left of them. All their acts amount to separation, individuation and isolation until they are scattered and lost. The limits imposed on man he has swallowed and internalised until he has become a creature of barriers and gaps, comprehensively balkanised and able to reproduce only the same divisions. Dying is what man does before God. Man fails to sustain the relationship, but God sustains the relationship. Man is imposing death, and himself dying. But God is life and brings to life. He replaces the dying action of man with the living and life-renewing action of God.

We died. Christ has killed us by taking our victims away from us.
Our rebellion, and God’s compassion for those we have been consuming, has turned God into a warrior. The complaints of all those who have been left out have been heard. He no longer holds back to see if we will act on them. He intervenes for them, and against us. The kings have been defeated and so have their people, and now the one is to be removed from the other. The act of forcing this knowledge and admission onto them is an intrinsic part of this defeat of theirs. He has announced and displayed this news publicly, to defeated kings and to the world now released from them. He has published it in the exposed body of his Servant. The body on the cross displays the exposure and defeat of the gentile rebel leaders. The Son shows us the kings of the earth dangling up there isolated, deserted by their men and helpless. This is what their rebellion has brought them. All who followed them can see that their power is broken, that they are without resource or support. Who will remain loyal to the old rulers with this evidence of their powerlessness? The world must know that it has been defeated, body and head, on the ground and in their own minds.
The Son displays the outcome of the act of our kings until our nerve fails and we desert them, and until the reality of surrender and capture fills every last hideout, and there are no more rebellious corners, no more unwillingness. The Son has closed down our local headquarters, ending our autonomy and replacing it with his direct rule. We have suffered a collapse of mind and leadership. Now our bodies will receive their orders not from our mind, but from outside, from the Spirit.

We did not die: Christ died. He has raised from us the death that was killing us. He has separated us from those who were living off our life and denying life to us. he has freed us from our vicious masters. He has broken their power.

Christ did not die, but was raised. He killed the rulers who were taking our life. We were at war, each of us against all the others. God intervened on the part of the losers in this war. It took this war to be directed against himself. He stepped in. He took us on, so we are now directed against him. He lets us have the violence we have committed, and the consequences of all our acts. The God of Israel acts to end this war and put down this rebellion. He moved against the two opposing armies of all the kings of earth. He does so in the form of a single servant of God, one unaccompanied warrior. This single Israelite suffers alone the contradiction and resistance of the whole world. Their enmity is the cup he drinks out and the baptism he undergoes. While we were shooting at him Christ acted towards us as a friend; his friendliness exhausted us and broke our resistance. Man extended to God, the form of his Servant, his product of refusal of relationship, rebellion and separation.

We put all our resources into putting him down and throwing him out. But the death we imposed on him could not hold him. He has more resources than we do, so our acts fail to hold against his; the resurrection is his overthrow of the crucifixion, the bond we intended to hold him by. He is now free and we are now the bound – bound by him with the bonds we had imposed on him as on one another.

We die ‘for’, that is to say as a result of our sins. Our deficiencies catch up with us eventually. But he is not under the same logic. He has no deficiencies of his own. He is impervious to our deficiencies. He can be overwhelmed by nothing. He gave his life, that is to say, he gave himself entirely, to the labour of extricating people from the consequences of their actions. He finished those actions for them, supplying endings to these actions that no one else could. What we promised but could not deliver, he delivered. He can release me from you, and you from me. He can me alive by your death, and he can release you by putting me to death to you. I don’t know how to reach you. You are out of my reach. I don’t know even that there is a you or that it is only in reaching out for you that I will come into existence as me. I am dead to you, you are dead to me.

Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures. The righteous did this for the unrighteous, the valuable for the worthless, the functioning for defunct, the active for the passive. He bought us up, out, he bought us up, our worthless shares for his good stock, at par. He bought them with his blood. He can extend his stock without diluting because the Spirit can extend himself without being divided. He bought all the smaller firms out with his own stock issue, giving them his stock, making them his shareholders. They now hold their wealth in him. all their being is sourced from him. Those who took the deal hold everything they had in this new stock, while those who held out against the deal are left with nothing.

We have now been justified by his blood. The blood by which we are now justified is the blood he spent on us, the prophets and transmitters of warnings he sent, the troops he threw against us. Their death is on our bill. The effect of their being sent is that we have been captured and put on his side and our account is now his account, and he bears this cost. This is the blood of his saints that got spilled in the course of extracting us from the clutches of those who held us.

Sometimes people are willing to die in the attempt to rescue a child (who has no sin on its own account). But no one is ready to die to rescue someone who is now actively trying to kill them. In trying to kill someone, this person is himself under the compulsion of death, and may be said to be himself dying. He needs to be stopped from his course of action and to be rescued from the compulsion he is under. In attacking Christ, we were (unknown to ourselves) about to die, but he took this death himself. He suffered the death that we imposed on him in order that we should not suffer the death consequent on our act of rebellion. He took our act from us, and took it away from us in order that it should not rebound on us and make an end of us. Having saved us while we were trying to kill him, having clearly put us on his side, he will not now let us die, but continue to pass his life into us.

All men kill, die and fail to sustain one another in life. Death is what they do in failing to sustain one another in life. We let one another fall, out of mind and out of circulation. We wear each other out until there is nothing left. Dying is also what happens when God comes to man. Man fails to sustain the relationship, but God sustains the relationship. Man is dying, dying to God. Man firmly believes that God he can hold God off and wear him down. He believes that he is able to subject God to the logic to which he himself is subject, that of being brought to an end. Dying is what happens when God’s Son is given to men – but it is their dying – and his rejection of this dying. Man dies. Man imposes death. But God is life and brings to life.

The Son sketches two ways for us. The Son comes to throw the irresponsible tenants out. But instead of annihilating them, he plays out their annihilation himself. On the cross the Son plays both armies. He plays the righteous Servant of God. And he plays the unrighteous rulers who unwisely lay hands on this servant. He displays these two roles and outcomes. He shows us our death, but no longer rushing towards us, but halted and suspended. Now we can see that it is now no longer ours by necessity. It is not inevitable. But that corpse is our future unless something else happens.

Sin cascaded through the world, from the beginning and increasingly. In the same way, and from the new beginning, grace is rolling through the world, everywhere rolling back sin and increasingly. One flood is being driven back by another much more powerful flood. Grace entered the world through one man. But grace did not progress as sin did, passed on slowly by heredity, slowly cramping the freedom of movement, creating increasing fragmentation and division. Grace crashed into the world and engulfed it. It rolled back sin and drove it out, not serially, but all at once, everywhere instantaneously. It cut off every sin from every other, everywhere isolating sin, cutting it off from its root, so it could not multiply, and rolling back the barriers and partitions that it had served to replicate everywhere, breaking down those dividing walls that we call death.

Then there was a change of protagonist. It was no longer Adam who was the subject of this history. Now it was sin. Sin took Adam’s life and replicated it. It made each generation its vehicle. Sin was doing the driving; man was its vehicle. Adam failed to marshal any resistance to sin, failed to unify his will against it. So the undisciplined, untutored will was coming to be the truth of man, the will that showed no willpower, that wanted everything and could decide on nothing. The autonomous disconnected will turned out to proliferate shambles. Far from exercising his will, independently and autonomously, Adam failed to exercise any will at all. He gave his will away. The unified individual turned out not to be man at all, but sin. Sin was the real protagonist of this history. Sin achieved and defended its unity in man, employing many men to establish its integrity and reproduction (losing and preventing their individuality, particularity and integrity). Will (sin) was exercising man, not man exercising will. It could never choose and be content, wanted at every moment to choose again, and so became unable to make any definitive choice. Neurotic indeterminate ‘Choice’ was exercising man, not man exercising choice. Adam #1 will turn out to have been not really the first Adam. Adam #2 will turn out to have been the first. Adam #1 turned out to be not Adam 1. Old Adam will turn out to have been much less than the full Adam. Christ is the new name for Adam, is the name for the full 100% Adam.

The Law is the Word of God that has created this simplified mode for us, the mode of Scripture (writing) by which we can always refer, check and be reassured by the record of previous conversations God has held with his people. Now by the Spirit we have not only the word but the speaking voice himself. More than that: the voice is not only addressing us live now, but the voice produces the answering thanksgiving that emerges from us that is the confirmation of our proper hearing of this Word.

The gift of God halted and rolled back the ‘gift’ of Adam, the unravelling of man, or of death. It halted and reversed the flood. Now it is not an unravelling and dissolving flood, but a flood that relates and attaches. It is not a movement of disconnection but of connection. When it has disconnected everything the movement of disconnection will have run out of things to disconnect, and it will be over. But the movement of connection will not run out of creative connective power and invention. It will be a perpetual motion machine for as long as it is fuelled by the generosity of the righteous God. The gift is not like the trespass. The provision of God is not like what is missing. The gift is like the trespass in that the trespass rolled out one way, and the gift rolled the trespass back up the other way. But the gift is not equivalent to the trespass, in that it was very much more powerful than the trespass. Righteousness increased. Massing outside the corral in which we are held, is the whole company of God, representing a flood of good acts. It is they who keep us here, bit by bit enlarging the corral until it can be taken away and we can be exposed with them to the whole glory of God.

6. We were baptised into his death
The war or struggle continuing – revealed to us in slow-motion. The struggles of the landed fish.
We were buried with him through baptism into death. God has seized the act of man and make it the act of God. He has turned the (‘human’) act of opposing God into God’s act of coming to man. There are therefore two acts of circumcision. There is the baptism of the whole world by the cross, and the baptism of each individual by the act of baptism. The interior and exteriors world are immersed and united by this flood to become one world. Immersed in the Holy Spirit, the world has become a single life-support system that delivers the indivisible Spirit of God to each body at once externally and internally. No flesh is a barrier to the Spirit. We can no longer breathe unaided, and are no longer allowed to do so now we can breathe the Spirit supplied directly into us. The Spirit delivers himself to every part of us. He enters through every pore to soak all parts of every body. The Spirit is both head and body, the unity of head with body, of master with the servant, of the top with the bottom. The Spirit re-engineers our metabolism, so each baptised body can pick up this fuel from all points of the baptised world. Each single drop of this mixture is indivisibly head and body, and the Spirit is a flow of indivisible units that are at once head-and-body, instructions-and fuel. The head becomes spread through the body, his character and attributes shared across it, his functions devolved to all parts. Then every part contains and is filled by the indivisible continuum of head and the body in obedient mutual service, all in all.

We are doused in his victory. His victory is his overcoming of our previous ‘life’. Sin does not bring about grace: we do not release more supplies of grace by continuing to sin. There are two opposed sorts of life – Adam’s, that we shall call ‘death’, and Christ’s, that we shall call life. We are not free to go on reproducing the acts of the old life. These acts are not our acts, but Adam’s. They are Adam attempting to continue to live through us. Indeed Adam now lives. We are him. It is not that Adam has died and gone. Rather Adam is dyingness. The life and mode we name ‘Adam’ is a derivative life. It is the life given by God, but not taken, not taken up. It became an offer never taken up. It never grew because he never knew how to take from the one source from which it could come. It could not become expansive, could not pass itself on or sustain anything not itself. It is just that Adam’s life has this staccato, serial form: it produces us in order to reproduce itself and survive for a little whole before exhausting us and killing us off. It splits us up and when we can no longer hang on to each other, we drop off individually and are lost. We die. Death is what we call it when this process of separation has become terminal, irreversible. It continues in this mode of our division and destruction. In the one process it splits the body, to create many bodies and continues splitting them until they are entirely fragmented and atomised. Adam represents this process of fragmentation. But this disintegration and implosion is now halted and sent into reverse.

The Christian’s being cut off from and killed to his former masters is his being raised and made alive. His death to his former masters is his life, the life he receives from his new master. He is emptied of the old fuel as he is filled with the new fuel. It is the invasion of the new fuel that drives out the old fuel. There is no empty space or intermediate state. We have no present life. We do not possess and command the presence of our life, our presence. It is not present to us in the sense that we can command, and it is present to us on command. Our life now (between his resurrection and ours) Now we have only life delivered to us from the future, or rather we are supplied with ourselves by the future. The future makes our present life past – it tears it out of our hands and shoves it away from us, where it cannot reach us and we cannot reach it. It is only the future that makes (our) present past and gone, irretrievable. Our resurrection is his resurrection of us: it is his being-raised being supplied finally as the only truth about us. our present life is not present to us (not possessable or commandable to us) but future to us, because it is his act, the act he can keep aloof from (future to) us. nothing (else) can now come between the (entirely future) resurrected One and the people to whom he now supplies a future (his future) piece-meal, piece by piece, present by present. They have no other present than the present he supplies to them, his presence and presence, entirely future to them, which makes their other life increasingly and entirely past to them. there is no empty space in theological conceptuality – everything that is, is a spirit and a space.

The Christians breathe only and exist only in the atmosphere created by the breath of Jesus. This is the atmosphere that Jesus breathes out and creates for them. They live from his expirations. They are a species that can exist only in this biosphere. What he expires we call ‘life’. Other environments and forms of life the Christians call ‘death’. We cannot live in them.
6.13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin. That the Christian community can be told to do what it can now do and to live up to what it now is. All this mutual telling and encouraging, reinforcing and speaking up for one another, and to one another intervening (praying) for one another. All this is evidence that as the word dwells in us we can now begin to exercise choice, we can tell what is to be done and can do it. As long as the mind of Christ possesses us we have a mind of our own.

7. We are dying
We are dying. We are being killed off. We are dying to what once bound us (7.6). Slowly the last gasps of the old alien, pagan life is leaving us. The old gods are being evicted from us.

There are two sorts of life – Adam’s, and Christ’s. They are in opposition to each other. Adam’s we shall call ‘death’, and Christ’s we shall call ‘life’. Adam was intended to live from the conversation of God. But he did not take this conversation from God. At first he preferred something less demanding. He tried to exercise his own life in independence, but the moment he did this he resorted to all sorts of offers of aid and conversation from unknown sources, and after inviting them in as guests, he was in short order thoroughly colonised by these other forces. He had no existence of his own; all his existence was now theirs. They charged extortionate rates of interest, so quickly took over everything that had been Adam’s and took Adam’s life as continued payment. He was a bonded labourer to those who before he had invited into his own house. Adam could not even look forward to working off his debt to these masters. They are gangsters. They don’t intend to let him go. Adam’s life was thoroughly colonised and taken over by all sorts of gods. It had long since ceased to be Adam’s in anything but name. Nevertheless we can call it Adam’s life. Adam was a bankrupt firm that carries on trading (as a front) for its (bandit) ‘creditors’. Now at last God has declared this business bankrupt. He has taken away Adam’s name and stopped the demons from trading in this name.

We are not free to go reproducing Adam’s act. We may no longer reproduce any part of the act by which he turned from the living God to serve the myriad forces. These acts are not our acts. They are Adam’s acts, are Adam, living through us, a sinister afterlife, convulsions, that look like life, but are not. We are not Adam’s now. We have been snatched away from that business, and. The old Adam has been revealed as fraudulent. The real Adam is here, and in him we can live securely because we no longer live at our own expense.

The gospel of the cross is not simply information which an autonomous mind may then process to accept or refuse. The gospel is the sound of the bailiffs crashing through the door, setting the dogs on us. We have been evicted. Now the rebellious autonomous mind is without a home. The door has been sealed against it so this rebellion can gain no re-admission to us.

We are shooed away from one direction into another. It is the closing of one space, and opening of another, a binding and a loosing. We are being re-engineered with and against our will. And the Son opens another way, into the procession of his captives.

Giving them the conceptual machinery of the law, the syllabus, has served to make them more sophisticated at identifying new margins and advantages and giving more sophisticated justifications for the status quo, economic rationality, has made them better at withholding (taxing) the poor, widening the gulf between the haves and have-nots, those with and without a legal, political and financial education, those who do and those who do not have the means to defend themselves and make others pay. They have learned how to entrench injustice with the very legal system designed specifically to bring justice. The means given by which to call the kings of the earth to account has been purloined by the kings themselves, and is even delivered to them by Israelites.

8. We are revived (we are being born into life)
We are made alive by God. His life inhabits us. His life makes itself at home in us. We are invaded and possessed. We are vivified and animated by God. We are resuscitated by the Spirit. The Spirit is our resuscitation. He blows into our lungs. You are controlled by Spirit (8.9). We have the life of Jesus being lived through us – ‘our present sufferings’ – are the gasps and cries of the forces leaving us (exorcism), sent back to their proper places, and the groaning of those kept waiting for justice.

These chapters are a prolonged discussion of death, understood as the act of God. Death means one life (or organism or project) being ‘cut off’ by the in-rushing of another stronger life (that cannot be interrupted, that is impervious, Spirit).

The Son is not simply leader, but also servant. He is not simply head. He is the body. He is the whole act, body and force of God for us. With his company the Spirit he is unity of the head and the body, the mind and the members, the brains and the labour and labourer. Under Christ, the whole body is head. The Church is the head of the body of the world. It must feed it and lead it until it is filled and directed by Christ. This head is not simply at the top, but at both top and bottom. The Son considers the bottom of the hall no more strange to him than the high table. By starting at bottom and establishing the proper differentiation between all places and ranks he has opened all the room, creating a circulation and an economy. All the disordered forces of the world will take their lead from the Church gathered around its head, from whom all order and peace expand. Then the disordered forces of the body without the head, the modern mind, now all turn to this single centre.
The body grows from the head and is replenished from it. The body is now no autonomous packet, but joined by the Spirit to the source of the fullness of being. Each is a headless corpse, brain signals to which are fed into to it from an external headquarters. The head of the body stands over it supervising the work of resuscitation that proceeds by Spirit’s provision of a dosed supply of new being. The body is not a whole, but a part of the whole, but wholeness is piped into its every part, so in every part the whole is fully present.

The Word of God does not halt before the mind to seek its permission before proceeding to address the whole person. The Word of God blasts across every synapse and propels every limb, so the Word of God extends himself through the movement of these members of the body, every limb possessed and driven by the speech-act of God. In this Spiritual body every word is an act, every act is accompanied by its rationale and the dichotomy of word and act (and of word and sacrament) is overcome.

The Lord is the Spirit. God makes us a spiritual body which cannot be penetrated or split up by such forces. The Spirit is one, and can hold together and keep as one this community against all attempts to isolate and pick off its members. All the gifts of the Spirit serve to make his community impregnable. He gives the instruction and insight that allows the body to identify the threats, and maintain the discipline that will keep the ranks of the troop unbroken against the threats of dilution and division by other spirits from outside.

9 God’s election
God’s calling and election is sure. Israel is the elect people of God. God’s word went out to Israel and will not return to him empty. In Christ it has not returned to him empty. Israel is never abandoned. Israel is hung out to dry, to die publicly, like Christ on the cross. She shows us ourselves. the present state of Israel is the portrait of Christ on the cross which is the portrait of what we would have been. Israel is the mirror.

10 The harvest
The Son is the glory of Israel, and Israel is the glory of the Son. Israel made the Son and handed him on to us. The Son does not found a new community on the Gentiles. He opens the existing community, of Israel, to let the Gentiles in. We are not a new community. We are the arrival of the missing second half that completes the existing community of Israel. All earlier members of this community of God planted us, and we are the harvest they have been waiting for. Others have done the hard work; we are the result of their labour. Those who have died before us will go before us in the procession and will take a higher place, because they are of greater honour. They worked but have not yet seen their reward. They have died, but they died in the course of the victory of God against the assault of all the disordered gentile forces. They were the cost God paid to bring our uprising to an end. With their bodies they took the heat out of our agitation until the fever was brought down and the revolt subsided.

The righteous of Israel came first. They bore the heat of the day. We came later, have not borne the heat of the day, and will take a lower place. Righteous Israel has sowed and the Gentiles are the reaping. It is our belated arrival that completes Israel and makes Israel comprehend the world in a single community. The Lord has ascended. In his train is a great company including the shambling figures of all the vanquished overlords, and the demolished ideological constructions built against, and conceptual forces once used against, the Son.

How is this work of the Son is received? It is received by the Father with an approval made public by the resurrection. But how is it received by the whole people of God? Israel was the people conscripted to the army of the God of hosts. It was all Israel’s job to do what only this one Israelite has done. But the Son acted alone. Now it is the job of the Spirit to reconcile the Son to his people, and to make them see that in him all Israel has triumphed. The defeat of the gentile world that opposed her is Israel’s vindication, but to receive it Israel must accept the victory handed to her by accepting these children. The gospel is the gospel of Israel’s vindication and she must pass this news on to the Gentiles. The news is that they are her prize. The world must come to Israel as the loser to winner. This must be accepted by both parties. The Church is the form in which the gentile world is bundled up by the Son, receives the approval of the Father, and is now presented to Israel, as her own. It is the inheritance promised. The prize of the Son is the world, first in the form of his own people, the people of Israel, and then in the form of the people presented to Israel, the world of the gentiles, in the form of the Church.

Confess your Lord. Disown the old lords. Make them homeless. Though the battle is then won, resistance continues. Knots of rebels turn and make a stand. They must be commanded to throw over their old leaders and change sides. This continuing trial of strength takes place in every public assembly. The new troops of the king are to confront every leader in the hearing of his own people. The Christian witnesses are to read out the accusation of God against each leader who lays hands on them, and give him one chance to confess the God of Israel.

11 Israel the parent
To be Israel she must be the light and the teacher, and to be the teacher she must be the servant, and follow the Servant to receive the Son and sonship. In this she is not different from the Gentiles. Israel, in the form of the patriarchs of the Old Testament, is the root from which the world-king has come, and is the crowd who is to receive and welcome him, to cheer and refresh him and power him on. Israel is his parents, his home town. The salvation of the world is waiting until his world tour comes back to his home-town. Then his work will be complete, and the people of Israel will be the crowd who gather around the Father as the Father receives the Son.

12 Service
The gospel is the announcement about being put into service. We are being given the life of a servant. It takes a long time for the realisation to sink in. The Christians have been taken and co-opted into service. They have been put into service. Now they are not their own, but someone else’s. They have not been set above the world, but placed at its feet, and placed at its disposal. They have been kidnapped and pressed, as it were, into someone else’s power, the power of the high God. The gospel is that they have been made slaves – again. They have been seized and made prisoner, and are now being set to work, sent out into the field. They are not people of leisure, for the whole prospect ahead is of work. We are in the labour camp. For us there is nothing beyond the task we have been given. We are under the eye of the supervisor. We have foregone the status of masters and now are manual labourers. We serve with our hands. The new Christians are given a servant. The apostle describes himself in terms of his servanthood. He boasts about it. His hearers will realise that this is also their own status: the truth about him, is now to be the truth about them. They belong to this foreign Lord, and he will give them away (as he has given Paul) to others, whom they do not yet know, and they will have to serve them, take the part of servants, with all the misery that entails.

The Romans have a former chief enemy of Christ (Paul the persecutor, a defeated general) to serve them. An enemy king sits at their feet and serves them, and he does this by telling them of his capture, and by telling them what a servant he is for them – until they realise that they too are such a servant, of those others, their own (future) children in the faith. 2 Corinthians 7 and 8 is to teach the Corinthians what service is, that they have in Paul a servant, a servant who will serve them well, and who has a reliable and indeed better idea than they themselves what it means to serve them well. The servant boasts in his master, who is his protector. He can taunt the world, telling it that it cannot touch him, because he is under the protection of his master, that he is inviolate, immune. The Corinthians have a servant in Paul. They are his master in that they are the beneficiaries of his service, which is service to the Master, the Lord, Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has sent them a servant, his own servant. All this discussion of service is discussion of the life set out for the Christians: their life is the service of their master. So we may illustrate the life-is-(cultic) service theme in Romans with these chapters of 2 Corinthians. Children are brought up to become parents, who are to produce children, children who produce children. This is the meaning of (obedient) sonship. You are linking this to an ontology of reception and transmission, of taking and passing on, of (subordinate) parenting. Some of what we receive from God we return to him in the form of public praise – and that this praise is public means that it is addressed to the world, captive to lesser names, and holding captive. It drives out all other would-be rival claimants. It is exorcism. Praise of God is proper boasting. It is good for the world – that the voices of grateful water the world with the interjections of God. what the Christians receive, they split – half they return (as public praise to God) and the rest they pass on (transmit). We are manumitted.

We also rejoice in our sufferings (5.3). We are not suffering for our salvation, but for other’ people’s salvation (as others have suffered for us, and have suffered us, our resistance, and God’s has paid their lives in order to win us). our suffering rather resist is the means by which the crud is shaken off us, by which the remains of this world are scoured off us.

13 Life in the troop
He has snatched us from all corners of the world, and collected us to form his assembly. We have been called out of the people of the world, and gathered together to make a new and distinct people, the beginning of the regeneration of the old creation, and the first batch of the new. In this gathering God is creating a new species, the holy species, made out of everything the world held to be incompatible, but which God now makes compatible within this single body. As such this whole people, taken together as one unit, is priestly. The freedom exercised by the Son has become an imperative for his community. The phalanx forms behind the Son, the new body growing from its head. Its task is to portray to the world to world the victory and invincibility of the God of Israel, and the new world that is forming up before him as a result of this victory.
Those pressed into this force have been given a work. They must hold the line. Each must grasp those on either side of him in the line. They must not let the buffeting of the forces coming against them loosen their grasp of one another. No member can oppose the forces tugging against him without every other. The other members are the gift given to each, and the responsibility each must bear. Each member must hold on to all other members seize; in this way the whole defence stays intact. They must also grasp whoever they can reach, and pull them out of the world and into the Christian body. They may no longer treat anyone as a strangers, but as gift and responsibility.
In this body there is order and therefore hierarchy. There must be differences among you. For the body as a whole there are two modes of duty, whole-body duty and domestic duty. There are those who are in holy war mode, man the perimeter walls and watch for enemy and the returning master. And there are those off-duty, who must take care of their households, and of the weaker and vulnerable. For each member there are two simultaneous modes of interaction with the body. The body is present to me as those who are more experienced than I am, the Christian on my right in the line of battle, my servant because my teacher and protector. And the Christian body is present to me as all those who are even less experienced than I am, and to whom I am to be the servant and head.

14 The strong and the weak – covering for one another.
The Christian community is a single loaf. This community must demonstrate what it is, and so it holds us a loaf to the world and says this is what we are. Then it says that this loaf is Christ, and then it bites in to this single loaf, because the Christians say, that Christ has bitten into them and bids them bite into him and hang on to him. This loaf and its eating is a publicly enacted parable. The loaf is pure, so it is too hard to break open unaided. The community must look back at its giver and ask him to open it. Then they may break it open and eat it, and its strength will flood into the Christian body, and after many meals, into the Christian mind too. Then this body will become aware of all those around it, floundering and exhausted, that it can feed from the same loaf. In breaking this loaf open for others the Christian body learns the action of the Son. It learns first to take, then to thank, then to open, then to give, and by this four-fold action of his, to pass on what they received from him.
When the inexperienced Christian is left too near to the perimeter the whole body is threatened. The inexperienced member wants to drink from the cup of the Lord, but doesn’t know how to wait, so takes a sip out of the first cup he is offered. Not yet single-minded, he will drink from any cup; if he does he will be slowly poisoning himself on all the various incompatible drinks. He is the weak point through which all these mixtures find their way in to Israel’s body. Israel must try to spot him before the outside forces do. When first encouragement, and then warnings have not succeeded, it must throw him out and fill his place, so no gap is opened by which the enemy can come in. If the enemy sword finds an Israelite in the rank who is contaminated with gentileness, who has internalised the food, teaching and practices of the Gentiles, the Gentiles can touch him. Their blows will not bounce off the Christian body, but bite into the whole body through him. He will be subject to that same decay that the gentiles intrinsically are. By his death he will have joined them, and finally have become one of them. They will claim him and that Israelite will fall.
Standing in for one another is the Christian task. Discerning the body means knowing when every member of the body is present. This means recollecting the last and least, and not beginning to celebrate until they arrive. When they do not arrive, it means going to find the individual who has been separated from the troop and bringing him back. This involves taking the census, counting the sheep and going after the one missing. And it means covering for him, by doing for him what he cannot do for himself. The community may not start celebrating the feast without last member brought in to safely. To start before the last arrives would indicate that such a member, who comes after everyone else, and is lowest on the social ladder, is not a vital part of the body. It would be to claim that the body is whole without him. But every last member must be brought in before the body is whole and present. The body that eats before this moment, swallows division and weakness and condemnation. Until we bring him in, Christ is absent because he is precisely that member who is in debt, sick, cannot afford clothes (Matthew 25.42-3) and so unable to appear in the assembly.

15 Buying out of one economy and into another.
Christ gives us his own proper action, the action of bailing one another out and covering for one another. He gave them the outcome of his action, and finally he gave them the action itself, transforming them from victims to subjects with a proper subordinate creaturely, priestly and redemptive action.

The priestly work given to the Christian community is to swallow the trouble dished out by the predatory economy. The Christians take in abuse and they issue kind words, good news, gifts of insight and instruction. They buy up notices of redundancy and closure and issue notices of new employment. The Christian community has to buy up all the poor out of the exploitative relationships in which they are held. The further up the pyramid, the more reluctant they are to release those they hold, and to be released themselves from the unjust relationships they enforce on each other.

The Son is raised by the whole company of heaven. He is accompanied by the whole company of patriarchs, prophets and people of righteous Israel.