by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 4 Study # 14 October 5, 2004 Lincolnton, N.C.
(066)Thesis:Man's predispositions are rooted in envy and are manifest by a "win at all cost" set of methods.
Introduction:Whenever we get into "grocery lists", it is rather easy to get lost in the flow of the words because there are so many that the definitions can get confused. To try to resolve that, we have taken a big-picture look at what Paul was writing about when he wrote of man's condition of "having been filled" with four major characteristics. We "put" the characteristic of "unrighteousness" in the place of strong opposition to Jesus as the Lion of Judah Who, as the Lion, is the Preserver of Righteousness so that the souls of men might have rest. We then "put" what our text calls "wickedness" in the place of strong opposition to Jesus as the Bull of Joseph Who, as the Bull, is the Essential Servant so that the spirits of men might have contentment through service. We then "put" what our text calls "greed" in the place of strong opposition to Jesus as the Man of God Who, as the Man, is the Committed Kinsman so that men as physical creatures might be satisfied with the promise of redemption and might take on the focus upon man in the place of a focus upon "stuff". Then, we took what our text calls "evil" and "put" it in the place of strong oppostion to Jesus as the Eagle of Heaven Who, as the Eagle, is the Destroyer of Death so that The Issue before man might be clear: Life. This organization brings us to this construct: Life is what is at stake and it can be aggressively attacked by the performance of unrighteousnesses, the rejection of the servant mentality, and the replacement of man in the priority scheme with "stuff".
Now, we come to another portion of what I have called "the grocery list". The second portion is contained in the second half of Romans 1:29 if we drop off the last three words ("they are gossips"). The reason we are dropping off the last phrase is that there is a shift in Paul's description of man's condition at this last phrase. The list that follows "full of" is a group of five nouns in what is called "the genitive case". Beginning with "gossips", Paul switches over to a list of words that are in what is called "the accusative case" that goes down to "boastful". At that point Paul switches again to a couple of phrases that stand out...and so goes his linguistic structure. At any rate, we have another "set" of descriptors that further reveal the condition of man under the judgment of God in which He turned them over to non-think minds, degrading passions, and the cess pool of uncleanness. So, let us consider this next set of characterizations.
I. The "Fullness".
A. Paul uses a different word to describe this "fullness" than he used at the beginning of the verse.
1. The secular dictionary reveals that the word Paul first used means "to fill up" as a cup that is full to the rim and the second word Paul used means "to overcrowd" a given container as, perhaps, a venue that has 80,000 seats and 90,000 tickets were sold.
2. It seems, therefore, that Paul pictured man as "filled to the rim" with his potent opposition to Life and its Threefold Points of Focus so that he is now "overcrowded" with "envy" and its consequences.
B. Paul is intensifying his statement of man's condition.
II. The Primacy of Envy.
A. In the list of five nouns in the genitive case, "envy" is the only one that describes an internal attitude.
B. This implies that "envy" is to be understood as the overarching "attitude" that drives the subsequent "behaviors".
C. The rationale seems to be this...
1. Man, as a creature, has a very basic commitment built into him to seek "life".
a. The "do not eat or you will die" was not addressed to a minor desire.
b. The "you shall not die" was not addressed to a minor desire.
2. Man, in turning from the God of Life, found himself shut out of life while yet having an insatiable desire to live.
3. Thus, Man "envies" everyone who seems to have "a better life" than he does.
a. In his on-going non-think methods, he "believes" that life is to be had by being healthy, wealthy, and superior to others.
b. Thus, he finds himself "overcrowded with" attitudes of envy when faced with those who possess greater health, wealth, and status than he possesses.
III. The "Following Four".
1. By definition, "murder" is taking the physical life of someone for no legitimate cause.
2. By definition, "murder" is aggression against the physical life of another.
3. This makes "murder" an act of aggression against the physical body of another.
1. By definition, "strife" is contending against another person for some restricted commodity (where there is superfluity, there is no strife).
2. By definition, "strife" is aggression against another at a different level than the physical life.
3. This makes "strife" an act of aggression against either the soul, or the spirit of another.
1. By definition, "deceit" is the attempt to persuade a person to move in a direction that will stymie that person's ability to "succeed".
2. Typically, "deceit" only works when the attempt to create an impression of "love" has been accomplished.
3. Generally, "deceit" is not necessary in the case where one is superior to the one who is being "deceived".
4. Thus, I conclude that "deceit" is a tactic aimed at a superior...making it an attack upon the spirit of man in order to bring him down so that the aggressor may be exalted.
5. This conclusion implies that "strife" ought to be seen as an attack against the soul of another in order to rob him/her of "rest".
1. This word is rare in the New Testament.
2. It derives from a concept where the "evil" of Paul's first set of descriptors is made into a "typical pattern".
3. This brings the idea of "overcrowding" to the fore because, by this word, Paul is saying that man "typically" opposes life in others.
4. And, by so saying, Paul once again "summarizes" man's character. Murder, strife, and deceit are various weapons to serve man's "overcrowding commitment to opposing life for others".
A. Paul has, again, broached the issue of man's three-fold attack upon Life with a second presentation of man's "maliciousness".
B. This time, he introduces it by asserting man's incurable jealousy because of his thirst for life while being shut out from it, and he concludes it by making man's general "evil" a "typical pattern"...in other words, Man is extremely hostile toward any who seem to have a better experience of life than he has.