Pastor David B. Curtis


Knowing the Time

Romans 13:11-14

Delivered 11/04/2012

In Romans 12 and 13 Paul has been calling on believers to love; love each other, love their enemies, love everybody. The call to love our neighbor as ourselves ups the ante of living as a Christian. It calls for modeling our relationship to others in the way that Christ has related to us. So we forgive those who wrong us and ignore us and mistreat us. We accept those who are unlovely and unwanted even as Christ did us. We serve those who are helpless even as Christ served us in our helplessness.

In our text for this morning Paul is motivating this love by the fact that it won't be long until the Lord returns and puts an end to Judaism. So he is telling the believing Gentiles to do all they can to reach the elect Jews before judgment falls. Remember what Paul said in chapter 11 when he was speaking of the Jews:

Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! Romans 11:12 NASB

"Fulfillment"—is from the Greek word pleroma, which means: "completeness or totality." Paul wants all the elect Jews brought to Christ. So the Gentiles are to love the unsaved Jews that they would be receptive to the Gospel.

Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. Romans 13:11 NASB

"Do this"—this phrase "do this," or simply "and this," in the Greek, points us back to loving our neighbor as ourselves. Chapter 12:9: "Let love be genuine." Verse 10: "Love one another with brotherly affection." Verse 14: "Bless those who persecute you." Verse 17: "Repay no one evil for evil." Verse 19: "Beloved, never avenge yourselves." Verse 20: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him." Chapter 13:8: "Owe no one anything, except to love each other. And now I say, do all this, love like this—because you know the time"

Do you think that a Gentile believer would have trouble loving a non-believing Jew from the synagogue? This Jew who knew Torah should have seen that Yeshua was the Christ. But they didn't, and they no doubt gave the Christians a difficult time for believing in Yeshua, but they were to love them for the sake of evangelism. This would be hard, but Paul motivates them by saying:

"Knowing the time"—as Schreiner puts it, "The eschatological dimension of the text surfaces with these words." The word for "time" has nothing to do with chronological time or calendars. It's the Greek term kairos that points to an event or an epoch or a significant happening, as in 12:2: "do not be conformed to this age," or as the Jews would say,"'the 'olam hazeh" Paul expects them to be familiar with the idea of the old age, which is passing away, and the new age, which is dawning. They know the time.

John Piper writes, "You know the time. Every Christian was taught that Christ was coming back to earth from heaven, and that it could be soon." Where is it ever said in the New Testament that the coming of Christ "could be" soon? That's like the song "Jesus Is Coming Again" It says, "Coming again, Coming again, May be morning and ma ybe noon, Maybe evening and maybe soon." There are no modal auxiliary verbs "could be" or "maybe" with the word soon in the New Testament. The modal auxiliary verb used with "soon" is "must" or "will":

And he said to me, "These words are faithful and true"; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place. Revelation 22:6 NASB

It is emphatically stated that it will be soon! Thanks to teaching like Piper's, most Christians today don't know the time! And because of this, they fall prey to the continual date setting of the end of the world. The Mayan calendar predicts that the earth will end on December 21, 2012; are you ready? If we know the time we are living in, we will be able to interpret Scripture correctly and not be affected by these end time predictions.

"It is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep"—Paul says that it is already the hour, in the first century, and he uses the definite article here "the hour," to refer to something specific.

"Awaken from sleep"—what is Paul saying here? The predominant understanding here is that Paul is not talking about literal sleep, but rather the sluggish, dulled, hypnotic, and almost trance-like state that the world lulls us into. Most see this as a calling for believers to wake up from dulled state. But everything in this verse and the first part of the next verse is eschatological.

The word, Sleep is a euphemism for death:

Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2 NASB
For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. 1 Corinthians 11:30 NASB

I think Paul is using "sleep" here for death. He is not telling the believers what they are to do, but that it is the hour for them to be raised from death. Young's Literal puts it this way, "And this, knowing the time, that for us, the hour already is to be aroused out of sleep..." Young's helps us to see that it is something done to them.

The Greek word used here for "awaken" is the aorist infinitive passive of egeiro. The meaning of the aorist infinitive passive is "to have something done to one," which here has the meaning of "being raised." If Paul was talking about something they were to do, he would have used the aorist infinitive active, which means: "to do something." The other four uses of egeiro in the aorist infinitive passive in the New Testament all speak of Christ being raised from the dead. Look at one of its other uses in:

From that time Yeshua began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised [egeiro] up on the third day. Matthew 16:21 NASB

So he is not telling them to wake up. He is telling them that it is the hour for them to be raised from the dead. Paul uses this word egeiro nine times in Romans and the other eight all speak of "Christ being raised from the dead." Notice Romans 6:

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised [egeiro] from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, Romans 6:4-5 NASB

"Raised" here in verse 4 is also egeiro in the aorist infinitive passive, but here it is a third person singular. The third person is someone they are talking about. Paul goes on to say that we were united to Him in the "likeness of His death." We were not physically with Him in death. I think we all understand that, and neither is our union in the "likeness of His resurrection" physical.

So Paul is telling the first century Roman believers that it is the hour for them to be raised from the dead. I believe that Paul is talking about the resurrection of the body of Christ that we saw in chapter 8:

And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. Romans 8:23 NASB

The "redemption of our body" is a reference to the resurrection. The body talked about here is not our individual physical bodies. The "our" is plural and "body" is singular. This is referring to the corporate body of Christ. "Our body" is the body of Christ, which when Paul wrote had not yet been redeemed, but has now been redeemed! Redemption is tied to the destruction of Jerusalem that happened in A.D. 70. In the context of speaking of Jerusalem's destruction, Yeshua says:

But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. Luke 21:28 NASB

Romans 13:11 is eschatological. Paul talks about knowing the time, he says it is already the hour, then he talks about the resurrection, and then he says:

"Now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed"—"salvation" here designates a future salvation that is not yet the possession of Paul's audience. The first thing we must understand here is that the "us" and "we" of this text is not "you" and "me," it was Paul and his first century audience in Rome.

Paul is saying here that salvation was not completed at the cross. Christ died for man's sins in A.D. 30, but Paul says here that "salvation is nearer." Paul probably wrote Romans in A.D.55 or 56. So 25 years after Christ died Paul says that they are still waiting for salvation. How do the Futurists deal with this aspect of salvation being future?

John MacArthur writes:

"There are three components in salvation, three dimensions...past, present and future. Past salvation has already occurred and that occurred, of course, when you put your trust in Yeshua Christ. Present salvation is going on all the time as we are being kept saved, as God continually forgives our sin so that there is nothing accumulated against our account before God that could damn us. So there is a past aspect and a present continual aspect of salvation, and there is a future aspect of salvation, that is the salvation of our body in Romans 8, when we are fully redeemed and fully delivered. The first is justification, the middle is sanctification and the future is glorification."

This is pretty standard in Futurist eschatology. John MacArthur goes on to say:

"So what he is saying is you're nearer to your glorification than you've ever been. We as Christians are nearer to the return of Jesus Christ than when we believed. And we're 2,000 years or so nearer than when this was written. And if there was a sense of urgency then, there should certainly be a greater sense of urgency now."

Paul is not writing to "us," he is writing to the Romans in the first century, and he says that the return of Christ that brings salvation is nearer to them then when they believed. To make it be still near 2,000 years later is ridiculous.

John Piper writes, "Christ is the Savior from this evil age and the blazing center o f the Age to come. He has come. He will come. We live in the time between these two comings." So he is saying that we live in the transition period. He goes on to say, "The key thing to say about the time in which we live is that we live in the overlap between the present sinful age and the coming age of righteousness. We live in the overlap between this age and the kingdom of God. We live in the overlap of these two ages."

N.T. Wright says, "Christians live in the interval between the early signs of dawn and the sunrise itself." p. 727.

Thomas Schreiner writes, "Believers live during the era of the night, although that period will soon expire. The "night" refers to this present evil age."

These guys don't know what time it is. They see all of us as living in the transition period waiting for the completion of salvation. We must understand that Paul lived in what the Bible calls the "last days"—they were the last days of the Old Covenant. Those "last days" began at the time of Christ and ended at A.D. 70 when the Jewish Temple was destroyed. We now live in what the Bible calls, "the age to come," which is the New Covenant Age. The forty year period from Pentecost to Holocaust was a time of transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. In this transition period the New Covenant had been inaugurated, but not consummated. It was a time of "ALREADY BUT NOT YET." But it was only a forty year period, not a 2,000 plus year period.

Salvation was not a completed event in the lives of the first century believers, it was their hope, they looked forward to its soon arrival. In this same way, "eternal life" was not a present possession, but a hope. Eternal life was something that was to come to them at the Second Coming, in the "age to come":

but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. Mark 10:30 NASB

Eternal life was a condition of the age to come! The Bible only speaks of two ages: "this age" and "the age to come." The New Testament writers lived in the age that they called "this age." To the New Testament writers the "age to come" was future, but it was very near, because "this age" was about to end:

Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10:11 NASB

Paul said very plainly that the end of the ages was coming upon "them," the first century saints. "This age" was about to end:

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. Hebrews 1:1-2 NASB

Yeshua was speaking in the last days. What last days? The last days of the Bible's "this age"—the Old Covenant age.

Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Hebrews 9:26 NASB

When was it that Yeshua appeared? He was born, not at the beginning, but at the end of the ages. To suppose that he meant that Yeshua's incarnation came near the end of the world, would be to make His statement false. The world has already lasted longer since the incarnation than the whole duration of the Mosaic economy, from the exodus to the destruction of the Temple. Yeshua was manifest at the end of the Jewish age. Peter says the same thing:

For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 1 Peter 1:20 NASB

Yeshua came during the last days of the age that was the Old Covenant age, the Jewish age. That age came to an end with the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. All the things prophesied by Yeshua in Matthew 24 occurred at the end of that age. Alright, so the New Testament writers lived in what the Bible calls "this age."

We now live in what was to the first century saints the "age to come." When most Christians read in the New Testament and see the words "the age to come," they think of a yet future (to us) age. But the New Testament writers were referring to the Christian age. We live in what was to them the "age to come," the New Covenant age.

N.T. Wright says, "Paul does not say, as many of his interpreters have supposed that he said, that the final end of which He speaks in Romans 8, 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians 4-5, and elsewhere, will certainly come with a generation; but He knows that it might well do so." Yes He does:

Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Matthew 24:34 NASB

Yeshua clearly said that within a generation, forty years, everything that He prophesied would come to pass. All of it!

The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:12 NASB

"The night is almost gone, and the day is near"in the Second Temple period the Jews distinguish between two types of olam: olam hazeh (this world) and Olam Haba ("the world to come"). The "olam hazeh" or "this world" is characterized by darkness, wickedness, sin, and death. It is called "night." The "Olam Haba," or "the world to come," as it was called by the rabbis, was known as a time of joy, peace, light, eternity; it is known as "day."

He equates their salvation with the "day," which is referring to the New Covenant; the Old Covenant was night and it was about to pass away. The rabbis connected the olam haba and the resurrection. The night is the time when they were sleeping. The day is when they are raised.

John Piper writes, "The night is far gone; the day is at hand. This is a word of hope to suffering Christians." How did it give Paul's audience hope if it wasn't going to happen for some 2,000 plus years? That would have been a false hope if He did not return soon.

John MacArthur writes, "The night is almost gone..." What that tells me, at least, is that when Paul wrote this some 2,000 years ago, we were past the half-way point. In other words, there was less left than had already passed of time, or he wouldn't have said "it's almost gone." So again, what did it mean to Paul's audience then?

Ray Steadman writes,"You say, 'Wait a minute. Paul wrote this letter 1900 years ago, and he said it was nearly over then. How can we say that it is nearly over now?

How could it be nearly over then, when 1900 years have gone by?" When you look at it from that point of view, it is difficult to understand. But there is a sense here in which these words are always true of every one of us. I am sure this is the way the apostle meant them for himself.'" Really, Ray? So the day is always near to each of us, but it never comes? So how is it near?

"Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness"—therefore, in light of the nearness of the end of the age, the Rresurrection and Second Coming, therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness. The believing Gentiles in the synagogue must live righteously if they want respect for their claims of having turned from idolatry to the worship of the One God:

Therefore justice is far from us, And righteousness does not overtake us; We hope for light, but behold, darkness, For brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope along the wall like blind men, We grope like those who have no eyes; We stumble at midday as in the twilight, Among those who are vigorous we are like dead men. Isaiah 59:9-10 NASB

Isaiah speaks of captive Israel being in darkness and knowing nothing of justice. Paul follows this theme urging his readers not to fall into the same sins that Israel fell into on her pilgrimage (Isa 59:2-8, 12-15; cf. 1 Cor 10:1-13) when she involved herself in orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality, debauchery, dissension, and jealousy. Paul used very similar language in 1 Cor 10:6ff., when he warned the Corinthians that God could act to discipline them as He had disciplined the children of Israel.

"Put on the armor of light"—"the verb "put on" is ordinarily used of putting on clothes. I see putting on the armor of light as the same thing as putting on Christ, so we'll discuss that in a minute:

Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. Romans 13:13 NASB

"Behave properly"to Jews this meant Gentiles living by the "Seven Laws of Noah" or, "Noahide Code." This code is a set of moral imperatives that, according to the Talmud, were given by God as a binding set of laws for the "children of Noah"—that is all of mankind. According to religious Judaism, any non-Jew who lives according to these laws is regarded as a "righteous Gentile," and is assured of a place in the world to come (Olam Haba), the final reward of the righteous. And were welcomed in the synagogue in the first century.

The seven"Noachide Laws" were basically connected to the prevention of the worship of idols. There were Jews in the churches who loathed idolatry. They hated it because Israel's own history was filled with that sort of failure, and they suffered for it. Everything about idolatry made them ill.

The issue here was not a question of whether these Laws were necessary for salvation. It was whether they were necessary for fellowship in common. Refraining from these things would greatly reduce the cultural tensions which existed between Jews and Gentiles.

Our text specifies six particular "deeds of darkness" that the believer should put off. The first is "carousing" from the Greek word komos (ko-mos). Originally this word was used for public parties given in honor of someone who had won a great victory. Later the word referred to all-night parties that included drunkenness, sorcery, drug use, and every form of sexual immorality—including adultery, fornication, homosexuality, pedophilia, and pornography.

"Drunkenness"—is elsewhere in Scripture described as one of the works of the flesh. While Christians may differ as to whether a Christian can drink alcohol, the Scriptures precisely forbid drunkenness:

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18 NASB

Here Paul describes drunkenness as dissipation, which means: "wastefulness." Getting drunk is a waste; for certain, the Holy Spirit never led anyone into drunkenness! We are to be controlled by the Spirit, not by alcohol. Our culture addresses drunkenness as an addiction, which is the result of the disease of alcoholism. God's Word calls it a sin, not a disease.

"Sexual promiscuity and sensuality"—sexual promiscuity is from the Greek word koite, which means: "a bed." It's talking about illicit sexual activity, adultery, fornication; basically any sex out of marriage is sin.

The fourth deed of darkness is called "sensuality." Scholars call this one of the ugliest words in the Greek language. It refers to brazen, shameless sin. The word is aselgeia.

"Strife and jealousy"—strife is the Greek word eris, which conveys the idea of quarreling, discord, or contention. Eris is the name of a Greek goddess who was also called Discordia. She is the goddess of discord and strife.

"Jealousy"—is the Greek word zelos that is sometimes used in a positive sense, as for being zealous for something good. But here, clearly, the connotation is wrong. Jealousy refers to: "someone who wants what other people have." It was this spirit which characterized Joseph's brothers so that they sold him into slavery. Timothy George expressed its meaning well when he wrote: "At the root of all sentiments of jealousy is the basic posture of ingratitude to God, a failure to accept one's life as a gift from God. To envy what someone else has is to fling one's own gifts before God in unthankful rebellion and spite."

Doing any of these things is not loving your neighbor:

But put on the Lord Yeshua Ha'Moshiach, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. Romans 13:14 NASB

"Put on the Lord Yeshua Ha'Moshiach"this is the heart of Paul's exhortation, this sums up all he has said from 12:1 thru 13:13. What does Paul mean by "put on Christ"? "Put on" is from the Greek enduo, which means: "to put on clothes," or "envelope in." It has the idea of a garment which is wrapped around oneself, and the Greek word is used literally this way in a number of places in the New Testament. "A literary parallel to this use of 'put on' is quoted from Dionysius of Halicarnassus' Roman Antiquities 11.5, where 'to put on Tarquin' means: "to play the part of Tarquin." Bruce, p. 229.

Enduo here is an aorist imperative middle. An aorist imperative calls for a specific, definite, decisive choice: "Do this now, at once, once for all." The middle voice indicates the subject performs an action upon himself or herself. So believers are called to once and for all put Christ on as a garment, to play the part of Yeshua. Paul is saying, "Become like Yeshua Christ, act like Him. Put on Yeshua Ha'Moshiach when you get up in the morning. Make Him a part of your life that day."

Notice what Paul says in Galatians:

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3:27 NASB

"Clothed" here is also enduo , but here is an aorist indicative middle, which simply states a thing as being a FACT. Believers have clothed themselves in Christ at salvation.

How can Romans 13:14 say to believers to put on Christ when Galatians 3:27 says that we have put on Christ at salvation? I believe that Galations is talking about our position, where Romans is talking about practice. At salvation every believer puts on Christ in the sense that we receive His righteousnes:

But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, Romans 4:5 NASB
For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19 NASB

When you trusted in Christ, you received His righteousness. God declared you righteous in Christ because positionally you are in Christ. You became united with Christ and share all He is and has.

In Romans 13:14, Paul is talking to believers, he is not telling them to get saved and put on Christ's righteousness in a positional sense. In this text putting on Christ is an exhortation. Those who are postionally righteous are to practically act like it. We are to play the part of Christ. You are to live like Him, act like Him, put Him on. Many believers do not look like Christ, but we are supposed to. When the world looks at you, they should see Him. How can we do this? By spending time in the Word of God and submitting to its teaching in dependance on the Spirit.

Putting on the Lord Yeshua Ha'Moshiach is the positive, then Paul gives the negative:

"Make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts"—as believers, we are to make no provision for the flesh. Believers are not in the flesh:

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Romans 8:9 NASB

Paul assures the believers that they "are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit"— meaning that they are not in Adam, but in Christ. This is positional! And because of their new standing in Christ, they are to make no provision for the flesh, they are to live righteously. Paul followed the Hebrew understanding when using the term "flesh." He made use of its wide variety of meanings and applied the term in differing contexts to support what he was teaching. He made particular use of the term when writing of the frailty of man as well as of his solidarity to his representative head, Adam.

The Roman believers have died to their relationship with Adam. They are no longer part of the Adamic community. They have died to the solidarity of sin and are now alive in a new solidarity of righteousness, which has Christ as its head. So they are to put on Christ and make no provision for the flesh.

What Paul says here is very similar to what he told the Ephesians:

that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Ephesians 4:22-24 NASB

The NASB translates anthrpos as "old self" but anthrpos is "man," not self. The expressions "old man" and "new man" occur in basically four places in Paul's letters: Romans 6:6; Ephesians 2:15; 4:22-24; and Colossians 3:9-11. If you examine these texts you will see that the "old man" refers to people in solidarity with Adam under the old age of sin, death, and judgment. It is corporate in focus. Thus, the "old man" is not a sinful nature, but a cooperate identity. The "new man" refers to people in solidarity with Christ under the New Covenant. The believer, having been decisively removed from that community, is not to live as if he still belonged there. Thus the "old man" must be continually be put off.

The Roman believers have died to their relationship with Adam. They are no longer part of the Adamic community. They have died to the solidarity of sin and are now alive in a new solidarity of righteousness, which has Christ as its head. So they are to put on Christ and make no provision for the flesh. They are to love the Jews in their synagogue as Christ loved them. The end was coming soon, and they were to do all they could to reach their Jewish brothers. Again, we see Paul's strong emphasis on evangelism.

Romans 13:13-14 is the passage that Augustine, the great early Church Father, was exposed to and came to faith in YeshuaHa'Moshiach through. Augustine had a mother by the name of Monica who was a Christian, and she had prayed often for him, and when he was in his 30s he was a learned municipal teacher of Rhetoric in the city of Milano in Italy. He was very troubled and disturbed over the condition of his soul. He speaks of, as he describes his conversion in his confession, "...pouring out a mighty rain of tears." He was living in a house with a man by the name of Olympius and very much concerned over his soul. He said that one day he went off from Olympius, he left the Bible, the "Apostle" as he called it, back where Olympius was, and he went off by himself, and he got down before the Lord God, and he just poured out his soul before the Lord God.

And he said, "Oh, and thou oh Lord, how long, how long, oh Lord, wilt thou be angry? Unto the end? Remember not our former iniquities." And while he was weeping and praying, he said off in the distance in a neighboring house he heard a little child cry out, "Tolle, lege. Tolle, lege," which in Latin means: "take, read, take, read." He afterward said he never remembered any game in which anyone ever shouted out these words, but it was obvious what was meant: "Take it. Read it. Take it. Read it." And so he got up and he went back to where Olympius was, he said, and he opened up the Bible believing that wherever he opened up the "Apostle" he was to read it. So he opened it up and as he read it this is what he read. "Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk decently, as in the day; and put ye on the Lord Yeshua Ha'Moshiach and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil its lusts." This is the passage that the great Augustine came to faith reading.

So Paul in this text is speaking to the Gentile believers, he is calling them to live righteously that they may be effective witnesses to the Jews in the synagogue. He motivates them to love by reminding them that judgment was to soon fall on the unbelieving Jews. They were to do all they could to witness of Christ the Jewish Messiah.

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