6 December 2012

Romans 13:11-14

"Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers." (v. 11)


In this passage we catch a beautiful snippet of Paul's (the author of the letter to the Romans) theology and the reason for his hope. Paul, and it seems the early Church, is quite clear that Jesus would return again and it would be soon!

Paul shared an apocalyptic sense of the coming of Jesus as both judge and king. The return will be such a devastating affair that all of humanity needs to prepare for it and Christians, in particular, have no excuse for not understanding the significance of the events to come.

From this passage we can see how Paul understood both the 'coming to' faith and the result of it. As a believer in Jesus, salvation is both a present reality and a future promise. So salvation is experienced in the here and now ('I know that I am saved') and in the future to come ('I know that I will be saved'). It makes sense of the once-in-a-life-time decisive act of God in the death of Jesus on the cross and still allows room for a new world to come. Paul's hope is born out of his present experience of the risen, living Jesus and longs for the day when that experience is an everyday truth throughout the world - when Jesus comes again.

That is why Paul can speak of the salvation being nearer now for the first Christians than when they first believed. It is also why he can exhort his readers to get ready: to live their lives with an expectant urgency; to put aside anything that might be seen as sin (that which gets in the way of a relationship between humanity and God) and to put on Christ (live the ideal that Jesus longs for all humanity)! In that way when Jesus does come again the believers will be ready, they will all ready be living under the rules of the new world, the kingdom of God, where Jesus will be king, ruler, the anointed one, Messiah, Christ.

To Ponder

  • What are the things you do that you might need to 'lay aside' to be ready for the coming kingdom?
  • What are the things you can do this advent to help you 'put on Christ' and live as he longs for you to do?
  • What do you think about the future coming of Jesus? Is it true? Has it happened? Is it going to happen?

Bible notes author

The Revd Simon Sutcliffe

Simon Sutcliffe is an ordained minister in the Methodist Church currently working part time as the tutor for evangelism and church growth at Queen's Foundation, Birmingham and part time as a pioneer minister with Venture FX establishing new forms of Christian community in the Chester and Stoke-on-Trent District. Simon has four children who help to keep him grounded and in a constant cycle of tidying up(!), and is deeply disappointed that none of them support Bradford City..