The apostle Paul writes,
“5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” (Rom. 14:5-9, emphasis mine)
The more that I read through portions of the NT, specifically Paul’s writings, the more I see that in the minds of many early Christians, there was a huge clash between two ideas. One idea suggested that the center of the universe revolved around a man known as Caesar, the Roman emperor. The other suggested that the center of the universe revolved around a man named Jesus who lived in the land of Palestine. So it would seem that many early Christians saw, at the heart of this conflict, a significant difference in world-view. One saw a mere man who appeared to have all the power of the known world, and the other saw a unique God-man who did have all the power in the known world.
At any rate, Romans 14:9 sums up Paul’s flow of thought in the passage. The “for” is the Greek conjunction gar, which is known as a “linking” word because it links the cause and effect in Paul’s argument. This is why taking texts in context is important. If we don’t, we easily miss the actual flow and overall point of the passage! Here in Romans 14, Paul basically acknowledges in verses 5-6 the ways in which people are living out the concept that Caesar is not Lord, Jesus is. They are observing certain days and eating certain foods in order to demonstrate that Jesus is Lord of their lives. This is where understanding how words function comes in handy. There are several conjunctions (gar) in the text (v.7-8). We’re looking specifically at verse 9 though. How are we to understand this conjunction? Simple. Christ died and lived again (cause) so that we are not our own, we are His and He is our Lord (effect). The conjunction helps us understand how these ideas flow together.
It seems that in Romans 14, Paul sums up Christ’s death and the Resurrection by reminding us that Caesar is not our Lord, Christ is; regardless of whether we are dead, or alive… and this is the reason Christ died and lived again!
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.