All the world is Egypt. For the second cycle of Romans, Paul moves from Initiation to Delegation, from Genesis motifs to those of the Exodus.
The Apostle is notorious for his long sentences, but it seems that when they are understood as strands of “literary DNA” his logic is made plain. The veiled allusions he makes to the Old Testament and the ministry of Christ do not obscure his plain meanings at all, but anchor them in the unfathomable depths of the mind of God. Most pleasing is the fact that some of the most neglected, obscure and embarrassing members of the canon were in the room all the time, breathing down the necks of timid Bible scholars who hide themselves among the trees of Paul’s epistles as if they provided a safe space for respectable academics. The Bible Matrix renders them naked and ashamed.
Moreover, I do not want, (Ark of the Testimony)
you to be ignorant, (Veil)
brothers, (Bronze Altar & Golden Table)
that many times, (Lampstand)
I purposed to come to you (Incense Altar)
but was hindered (Laver & Mediators)
until the present, (Shekinah)
- The initial stanza seems to highlight the Tabernacle sequence of the matrix pattern.
- The Exodus/Delegation theme begins with its Initiation in Paul’s desire to visit the Church at Rome. His use of the Bible Matrix architecture established in the Old Testament gives every word a spiritual spin — or rather, a symbolic significance — based on its position in the structure. Ignorance is a Veil; these brothers are a Firstfruits; the “times” are the governing lights of the heavens which decide the affairs of men; Paul is ministering to them as a prophet and a martyr; his journey to Rome is a spiritual pilgrimage like that of Israel to Canaan, that is, an overcoming; his appearance is that of a representative of Christ who comes to collect a harvest from the nations at Booths.
that some fruit I might have, (Creation)
also among you, (Division)
as even among the other Gentiles, (Ascension)
so I am eager also to you in Rome (Conquest)
to preach the Gospel. (Glorification)
- The Gospel came to the Jews first that they might be made Passover lambs to the Gentiles.
- The first line in this stanza ties the themes of Creation and Hierarchy. At Division, Paul is not looking for the fruit of the womb but the fruits of faith. At its heart, the term “Christian” is not a cultural term but a gathering of individuals according to cultus. It concerns personal circumcision of heart, not flesh. Paul divides the Romans as Jacob was divided from Esau — according to faith. Any claim to the contrary is a serious error, and a wilful misunderstanding of the character of the New Covenant. The irony, of course, is that those who claimed salvation based upon their Jewish heritage were not Jacobs but Esaus. Faith made both circumcision and uncircumcision redundant. That explains Paul’s purpose in the contents of the Ethics section of the stanza.
- The believers of the other churches now appear at Firstfruits/Ascension. His mention of cultured Greeks and uncultured Barbarians (those outside of Hellenistic culture and language) is explained by its position at the Pentecost step of the stanza: the miraculous tongues were a sign of ministry to every language group in the world via the spiritual esperanto of the Gospel of Christ.1For more discussion, see Cosmic Language – Part 2. Paul then ties the Trumpets/Maturity themes of wisdom and money together in a wonderful expression of his humility as an apostle.
- Again, his visit to the saints in Rome is regarded as a kind of homecoming, a Vindication of his promise, and his preaching of the Gospel as a holy and legal Representation of Jesus.
ETHICS: PRIESTHOOD (Presentation/Firstfruits)
I am not ashamed (Delegation)
of the Gospel. (Presentation)
to everyone believing (Vindication)
to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Representation)
- Whereas the “Levitical” stanza in Cycle 1 was a Tabernacle (house/altar), here it follows the pattern of sacrifice (occupant/offspring). Ascension describes the lifting up of the Lamb as a firstfruits. For Joseph, Daniel, and Jesus in Revelation, this speaks of “opening the mystery” before Gentile rulers. Jew and Gentile are listed in the final line, at Booths.
ETHICS: KINGDOM (Purification/Pentecost)
- At the centre of this Cycle is the righteousness of God is made “incarnate” in believing priest-kings for whom the Word is a light to their path. God hides Himself that Man might shine. Paul uses the Tabernacle sequence to describe the saints as a bead-covered tent wandering in the wilderness, a rainbow serpent robe upon a corporate Joseph, the true king of Egypt, the Adam who wears the head of the serpent as a crown of wisdom.
- The expression “from faith to faith” describes an increase, like the phrase “from glory to glory.” Architecturally, it describes the ascent of the resurrected Firstfruits from death upon the Bronze Altar up into heaven to be presented at the Table of God as a living sacrifice. God is a wiser father than Isaac, the man whose god became his belly through spiritual blindness.
ETHICS: PROPHECY (Transformation/Trumpets)
Is revealed indeed, (Genesis)
the wrath of God from heaven, (Exodus)
upon all ungodliness (Leviticus)
and unrighteousness of men
because the knowledge of God (Joshua)
is manifest among them. (Judges)
- The Prophecy stanza moves the discussion from righteousness to unrighteousness, from the revealing of God’s righteousness in the faithful to a revelation of His wrath upon the wicked. Architecturally-speaking, the “smoke” here is sulfur rather than fragrant incense — a different kind of smoke “going up forever” before heaven as a testimony to the veracity of the Word.
- Paul’s apparent allusion to the Heptateuch reminds us of the power of Moses and Elijah, the two legal witnesses with power to bring death via the waters below and the waters above, the Law and the Prophets, whose power now resided in the Apostolic witness, the “testimony of Jesus” against Jerusalem and her co-conspirators (Matthew 17:1-13; Revelation 11:1-14).
- Notice the doubling of the Firstfruits line, describing all ungodliness as a false altar, and the unrighteousness of men as the “sacrifices” upon it (such as the murder of Abel), which God cannot accept.
God indeed (Creation)
to them has revealed it, (Division)
indeed, his invisible qualities, (Ascension)
are clearly seen, (Conquest)
both his eternal power and godhood. (Glorification)
- Stanza 6 naturally alludes to Day 6 and Adam’s role as the first “Great Priest.” Initially, there was no “veil of flesh” between God and Creation except Adam himself. Although God Himself is invisible He is easily known by His visible works. God veiled in flesh (Hebrews 10:20) was also known by His works.
- Although the physical Firmament remains a “closed veil” until the last day, the “very good” Creation itself is a ceaseless, open testimony that calls us to approach the Creator based upon His own goodness. The Gentiles were given less light than the Jews, but their spiritual darkness was still a veil of their own making.
- The final stanza ties Adam to Pharaoh, the man who would voluntarily risk his own firstborn in order to maintain a kingdom in defiance of heaven.
- The stanza works through the pattern of sacrifice but each line is a “double witness” against Adams and Eves for their idolatry, arranged in a manner similar to the 2 column x 5 line architecture of the Ten Commandments,2See God-In-A-Box. one column for the Priesthood (in this case, the Jews) and one for the people (in this case, the Gentiles).
- Like the Ten Commandments, the sequence works from above (God), to beside (man), to below (the animals), an allusion initially to the ark of Noah but especially to Exodus 20:4. The “below” is supposed to be Adam’s household, his offspring and ultimately the nations, but in this case it is those earthly “angels” over which Adam was intended to take dominion, creatures such as the serpent, the “gods” worshiped by the house of Pharaoh.
- The final line is threefold, highlighting an absence of Adam and Eve, the two “tablets” slain under the Law for failing to be living epistles, leaving only the idols that they worshiped.
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