For Pastors Only - Romans 7:4
The epistle for Pentecost 4 (Series A) is Romans 7:1-13 which I see in a new light. I translate it thus:
"You likewise, my brothers, have died to the Law through the body of Christ so that you might belong to Another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God!"
Lutherans almost always think of the word nomos / law in terms of the Decalogue. It is used that way sometimes by Paul, Romans 7:7 being a good example. But more often than not when Paul uses nomos / law he means the Old Testament's way of salvation, that of sacrifical rites which are no longer functional since Christ has appeared.
As St. Paul writes in Romans 10:4 "Christ is the telos (terminal point) of nomos / law for all who believe." That is to say the entirety of the Old Testament terminates in Christ who is its fullness. As there is no such thing as January 32nd, beyond Christ there is nothing. He is all in all!
That is what Paul says in this verse: that the nomos / law terminates in Christ so that the baptized need no longer be concerned with the Old Testament means of the forgiveness of sins. They no longer need to be circumcised (a prophecy of baptism), or follow its dietary prescriptions (a prophecy of the Lord's Supper), or make the prescribed Old Testament sacrfices to obtain absolution (types of the death of God's Lamb on the cross). All terminates in the "soma" / body of Christ. By it Jew and Gentile alike are set free from all previous nomos / law just as a man or woman is set free of their marriage obligations upon the death of the spouse.
But "somatos tou Christou" / "body of Christ" should not be limited only to the event of the cross, but the Christian should also hear "body of Christ" as it is received in Holy Communion. The Blessed Sacrament is not only a re-presenting of the once for all sacrifice of Christ (and the giving of its benefits). But it is the eating of the sacrifice as well; a necessary part of Old Testament redemption. Eating.
But there is more than a concept here. The eating of the sacrficial meal is also the "Wedding Feast of the Lamb" and so we can also think of verses 1-4 in matrimonial terms.
The woman, the church, has now been freed from her former marriage so that she might belong to Another. Christ. The true and perfect Bridegoom. And, as marriage is not an end in itself, but is given for the purpose of procreation: even so the Church, who is the "mother of us all" continually conceives and gives birth to new children for God for heaven.
She "provides" as it were the wedding guests (Mt. 22:1 ff) for an ever expanding humanity who will commune with God in Christ eternally. At this point we might do well to reconsider God's promise to Abraham, fulfilled in Christ, that "your descendants will be as numerous as the stars of the sky, and the grains of sand on the sea shore" (which is the church). Is it possible that each star is representative of each of the redeemed who will "shine like the stars forever" per Daniel 12:3.
Scientists speak of an ever-expanding universe. Perhaps they are right, that God is yet continuing to make room by way of ever-expanding heavens now lifeless, but that will one day will be transformed and teeming with the lives of all the redeemed.
Now the words of Sunday's Gradual begin to make sense: Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever."