Roman Emperor

The Imperial Cult And The Resurrection Of The Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:3-4)

Introduction

In 1987, I was participating in the “Who is the Pharaoh of the Exodus?” conference in Memphis, TN. During one of our lunch breaks, a group of us, who were alumni of the Institute of Holy Land Studies in Jerusalem, went to a local eatery. Sitting opposite me was Bishop Mesrob Mutafyan, a bishop of the Armenian Church in Istanbul, Turkey. (He has since been elevated to one of five Patriarchs in the Armenian Church). During our conversation, the subject of liturgy and creeds came up. Since I was from a non-liturgical church I asked him why they repeated the liturgy and creeds over and over again. His answer was very helpful. He said that historically, many people in the churches had never learned to read. When they repeated the liturgy (which is mostly Scripture verses) over and over again, it helped them memorize the Word of God. By repeating the creeds, the participants became grounded in the doctrinal truths of their faith.

One creed that the Western Church recites is the so-called Apostle’s Creed. While it was not composed by the early apostles, one church historian described it as “by far the best popular summary of the Christian faith ever made within so brief a space,” and went on to say “It is not a word of God to men, but a word of men to God, in response to His revelation” (Schaff 1990:1:15, 16). It is solid theology in a concise creed. I believe that Romans 1:3-4 was one of the original creeds concerning the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Literary Structure

The creed in Romans 1:3-4 is composed of two lines with three clauses in each line and a summary statement at the end. It was formulated by either the Apostolic Church in Jerusalem, or by the great Hebraic minds of the apostle’s Peter (cf. Matt. 16:16) or Paul, based on the prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures (Romans 1:2).

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