Summary: Year A. 1st Sunday of Advent - December 2nd, 2001 Romans 13: 11-14 Title: “Awareness of Christ’s internal presence removes the urgency of His second coming.”
Year A. 1st Sunday of Advent - December 2nd, 2001 Romans 13: 11-14
Title: “Awareness of Christ’s internal presence removes the urgency of His second coming.”
Beginning with chapter twelve, we are in the practical, exhortatory section of Paul’s letter. He has spoken of the different ways the one Spirit of Christ manifests himself for the good of his “body,” the church. He has given examples of what the one reality-Christian love- looks like and acts like in different circumstances, including a Christian’s relationship to a pagan government, maintaining that Christian love fulfills all the requirements of the old law and then some.
In today’s reading, Paul tells his readers why it is so important for them- individually and communally- to do these things, that is, to live a life of love, and to do them enthusiastically. It is because the Parousia is nearer than ever. Paul no longer believes the Parousia, Christ’s full and final return, will happen in his lifetime, before he physically dies, as he wrote in 1Thes 4: 15-17. He has come to realize that he and all Christians will “meet Christ,” in that dramatic and visible way at the time of personal physical death Phil 1: 21-23. But he also realizes that these two “ages”- the old and the new- have already “met,” in Christ. Paul tells us that we as Christians are already living in the end, the new age, and the new creation and that the Parousia has a dual character to it. It is “not yet,” in the chronological future. Yet, it is “already,” present in the ontological sense. In our text he will fluctuate between these two dimensions, using earthbound words to express heavenly realities, stretching their meaning to the point of seeming absurd and illogical to an unbeliever.
Verse eleven, and do this because you know the time: The word for “time,” here is kairos in Greek, not chronos. “Chronos,” time, chronology, is earthbound, tick-tock time, historical time, that relentless undulation of one minute into the next. Paul is not talking about the Parousia, the full and final coming and presence of Christ at the end of some time frame. He uses kairos, opportune time, opportunity time, decision time, carpe diem time. If chronos is “time,” kairos is “timing.”When announcing the kingdom’s coming Jesus used this word when he said “The time is near.” Paul has the inner experience of this presence of Christ already being within him and all Christians. The awareness of this presence removes none of the urgency he spoke of in his earlier writings. It translates it into a higher key, one of enthusiasm and energetic purposefulness. One’s chronological time is, in fact, short by any calculation, but one’s “opportunity time,” is better described as “ripe,” ready to be tapped, picked or whatever metaphor one finds compelling.
It is the hour now: “Hour” is John’s favorite word to point out the “timing,” of Christ’s death. Paul may be using the word in the same sense here. The translation has “now,” but the Greek has “already.” The sense would be that the “hour,” the time of Christ’s death, has already occurred, giving Christians the opportunity, timing time, to act with that power and in the light of that accomplished fact.