The Arrabon

And hope will not disappoint since the love of God is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given us. (Rom. 5.5)

In the previous context of Rom. 5.5, Paul established that Abraham was justified by faith while still uncircumcised and without the Mosaic Law (ch. 4). Paul transitions in chapter 5 to speak about the blessings of those who are justified by faith, like Abraham. He mentions the fact of peace with God through faith in Christ (vs.1). This “peace” is a legal cessation of hostilities rather than a serene and composed feeling. It is the New Covenant, a treaty-cut by the sacrifice of Jesus. In the ancient Levant, treaties were ratified by the parties walking between a severed animal. This pregnant symbol indicated, if either party broke the agreed terms, they could expect renewed hostilities resulting in the cruelties of war pictured by the severed animal: Those who have violated my covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces (Jer. 34.18 NIV; see also Gen. 15. 9-21 where God made a unilateral covenant with Abraham-essentially swearing by Himself since Abraham didn’t walk between the severed animals). The New Covenant has this latter unilateral aspect by the sacrifice of Jesus. It resembles our modern-day idea of a testament as seen in the section of the book of Hebrews dealing with the New Covenant: In the case of a will,  it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood (Heb. 9.16-18 NIV).

Sometimes, immature Christians are doubtful whether God really saved them, since they don’t always experience feelings of blessedness and peace. However, there are many reasons for the feelings of a person, but they are not a good indicator of relational standing. Walking with God in faith and obedience to Him results in the Spirit-filled life described in Gal. 5. 22-23 (the fruits of the Spirit). Justification (dikaiothentes), is a determination from God, the righteous Judge. What Paul was previously talking about in Romans chapter 4, is the means of right standing with God. He has accepted Christ’s sacrifice of His righteous life for our stead, a legal exchange. Therefore, we are free from God’s wrath and now free to serve Him in grace.

These realizations in Rom. 5 cause the Paul and his followers to rejoice in “hope of the glory of God” (vs. 2). The New Covenant has come and ensured its members of the ultimate hope of entering the eternal Kingdom of God. Paul could also rejoice in suffering (vs.3). This ability to rejoice in hard times comes from steady walk and faith in God. He keeps bringing us through to victory; therefore, we anticipate future deliverance from the temporal trials. Eventually, the Christian develops steadfastness as a result of seeing His handiwork. Also, a solid character will soon be evident in the growing believer. The final state is a confident expectation of Christ’s Kingdom (vs. 4). Paul then asserts this hope will not be frustrated since we have the confirming fruit and presence of God in the Holy Spirit (vs. 5).

The Arrabon

What Paul speaks about in Rom. 5.5 is conceptually the same thing as a deposit (earnest money), in 2Cor. 1.22, …and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (NIV). The word Paul uses in 2Cor. is arrabon which was the ancient conceptual equivalent of earnest money. God gives the Holy Spirit and pours love into our heart to assure us of our expectant hope. Paul repeats this claim in 2Cor. 5.5, Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (NIV).

Paul writes what can be considered a probable circular letter to churches in the province of Asia in what we have in the bible labeled “Ephesians.” Without bogging down to show the general nature of this letter, it is sufficient to observe no personal greetings in this letter, a place where Paul spent nearly three years in total. Notice how, in Acts 20, the tender exchange between the Ephesian Elders and Paul on the beach at Miletus (Acts 20.17ff.). If Paul were really writing to Ephesus, he would have been much more personable as he is in all his letters to those whom he knew and ministered to in person.

What Paul wrote to the Romans and the Corinthians, he wants to share this same concept with the Christians of the province of Asia, specifically, churches in the cities of Hierapolis, Laodicea, and Colossae. Colossians and Ephesians were meant as circular letters for Christians everywhere as seen by Paul’s direction in Col. 4.16: After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea (NIV). The Apostle Peter also read Paul’s letters and counted them as scripture (2Pet. 3.15-16). The fact of Peter reading Paul and the Colossian instruction to share the letters shows the widespread dissemination of Paul’s apostolic teaching in the first-century church.

Again, Paul uses the term arrabon which the NIV has translated as “guarantee” in Eph. 1.14 to comfort and encourage the letter’s recipients: …were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

This New Covenant concept of a “deposit” of the Spirit is explicated elsewhere in the N.T. such as Jn. 14.16-17a: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth (NIV). Other, numerous, instances of Jesus sending the Spirit to His believers can be found in Chapters 14-17 in John’s Gospel. Additionally, 1Jn. 2.20,27 speaks of “the anointing” all Christian possess enabling them to know God personally and be taught by Him. The idea of not needing other teachers in an ultimate sense, indicates fulfillment of Jer. 31.33b-34a which promises the New Covenant: I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me (NIV).