This little picture is the first insert and it would have been superimposed over Paul’s earlier letters. His features are based on some legends and early historical writings. First century writings describe Paul as a slight Jewish man who was bald.
In this first illustration Paul is young and vigorous (his hairline is just starting to recede). He’s just getting on with his journeys. Paul is wearing a travel cloak with a sack of scrolls. In the remainder of the series the scrolls represents “The Good News”. In particular “The Good News” as we pass it on from one to another. More on that later….
Paul is hunched over writing on a hunk of papyrus with a reed pen. Those were the tools of the time region. His face is intense with purpose and concentration. Concern is etched there. The mission drives, and weighs heavily upon him. I always imagine Paul with intense, penetrating eyes; laser like but not with the same weight as Jesus. When I draw Christ I try to put gravity on the figure. I feel that His footfalls would be solid, balanced and unshakable. I think of Paul as more fragile: like a paper airplane directed and blown in the wind. If the wind is interpreted as The Spirit, it is that implied Triune relationship that gives Paul meaning, purpose and direction.
Editor’s direction to artist:
Paul’s theme in Romans is the Gospel of Christ. It is a systematic presentation of Christian doctrine: sin, salvation, grace, faith, righteousness, justification, sanctification, redemption, death, and resurrection. Living sacrifices and submission to the government are key themes.
Romans 3:24, 25
“(We) being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God publicly displayed as propitiation…
(English – propitiation or in the Greek: hilasmos = atonement, hilaseron = an atoning victim or the lid of the Ark of the Covenant: The Mercy Seat)
…in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed…”
Romans 5: 19
“For as through the one man’s (Adam’s) disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One (Jesus) the many will be made righteous.”
Romans 6: 6, 7, 8
“-our old self was crucified with (Jesus), in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slave to sin for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall live with Christ.”
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subject of futility, not willingly but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole of creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.”
Romans 11: 17, 18
“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive (gentile), were grafted among them (Jews) and became partakers with them of the rich root of the olive tree (Jesus), do not be arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.”
About the Picture
This picture is symbolically all about the Fall and the Cross. In the foreground I have a bitten, rotten, wormy apple. It’s Adam’s disobedience that affects all of his children. Around the apple are round things that could at first be taken for more apples, but they’re actually 10 stones. The symbols of the stones were introduced in my first picture re-guarding the Gospel of Mark; the Rocks of the Law. Paul states that the Law defines sin and convicts us, therefore, the stones are about the apple and yet are in contrast to the apple. I also had it in my mind that one could be stoned to death for breaking the Law. Indeed Paul himself was stoned by a crowd and managed to survive…somehow.
As for the tree, Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. He sought for his own life and lost his and ours as he was the father of all humanity. The Cross, intended for wicked purposes of punishment (like or unlike the stones?) becomes for us, a Tree of Life.
On the tree Jesus hangs. I kept Him in shadow. The crucified man is a horrible and gory thing. I did not want Paul’s points would be missed.
That and I got a bit squeamish while studying the true ordeal. The crucified figure in the shadow is the best I could do without grossing myself out.
The bad choice that caused the Fall happened. We and creation are subject to that Fall. Note the trees in the background; they are desolate and twisted but reaching out and crying in reference to Romans 8: 18-22. They are shaped as trees to make us think of nature, but they are a little humanesque in posture to emphasize the situation that we find ourselves. The law surrounds sin and calls it for what it is, but lies at the foot of a truly living tree. Tree bares a paradox. A death has brought about new life. It is by the One who chose to die for His creation that the tree lives. Not only does the tree live and thrive, but those thought completely lostcan be grafted into the tree and become a part of that tree. A new thing has been done, and what was considered dead now can live again.
"We Will Rise With Christ"
1 Corinthians 15:50, 54-56
“Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. –When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death; where is your sting?’”
(The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.)
1 Corinthians 12:12-14
“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by the One Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slave or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.
The Corinthians: Arguing, factions, confused about Christian living.
Remember Christ crucified.
Indwelling Spirit gives the deep wisdom of God
It changes your living
Can’t tolerate sin in the church
Changes our behavior (in marriage and how we act publicly)
Love is king of new behavior
Love guides knowledge
Supreme over all Spiritual gifts
Edifies the Church
What is imperfect dies and then what is perfect remains
As Jesus is, so shall we be.
As in Romans, we died with Christ and that sacrifice has the power to destroy sin and death, so in 1st Corinthians the Resurrection has the power to change who we are right now! We hope in the glory to come by changing our minds and believing. We take that knowledge into ourselves and open the door for the resurrected Spirit of Jesus. That Holy Spirit comes into the new believer and stars the change…now! You can block the Spirit, harass, deny and ignore the Spirit…but you cannot unknow what you have known. You cannot unhear what you have heard and still be honest. All that Jesus is, He shares now with His own people. What we have been previously becomes dead and buried, in God’s mind.
We now gather into the body, the Church. We change our living and we experience gifts of the Spirit. We now begin to understand the profundity of Love through the person of Jesus and the power of His resurrection. We are reborn. God starts us on the path of becoming not only His own but our true selves. Funny; Adam tried to take his own identity and lost it. In Jesus we give up all of our ownership and amazingly, God gives abundant identity and freedom.
About the Picture
In this illustration I’ve tried to capture Resurrection, the One Body, and the idea of becoming REAL through Jesus. I strongly believe that it is this relationship with Jesus and rebirth in Him that makes sense of all the Christian living text. For this picture I’m going to keep the main thing the Main Thing, and expand on Christian living in future pictures (as Paul does in his letters).
The cross is in the background. Don’t forget that it came first and had to happen. The sunrise image here has been and will be shown in other illustrations (you’ve already seen it in “The Good Shepherd”). The sunrise represents the dawning of the new day, and is a symbol for resurrection. Creation is being restored as God manifests His Victory in Heaven and on Earth. Jesus is coming out of the tomb, rolling away the stone with one hand and holding a torch in the other. The torch is a new symbol for “The Word”…I’m thinking of how we tell Good News as the Church. We preach, write, draw, act out and just plain tell the stories. The root is Jesus’ saying “I am the light” and after all, He IS the Word. In previous pictures you saw this as a burst of light in stars or from Christ’s body, then as tongues of flame at Pentecost. The vehicle of the torch was chosen because it has to be held up or it will go out. You have to hold it up so you can see where you’re going. It has to be maintained, cared for and passed on. The fire has a life of its own, but rather than consuming and destroying, it illumines and gives truth and life where it shines. We dare not hide it.
Coming out of the tomb are a variety of people of different ages, races, and sexes. This is the encompassing of scope of the empty grave. The Church (and I’m talking about the incorruptible heavenly form that stands ever before God…not an Earthly denomination) consists of many colors, languages, talents, and levels of faith as have responded to Christ’s call. Note also that the further in the grave the more transparent or ghostly the person is. As they exit out of the tomb and into the garden the more solid and real they become. By the way, Jesus isn’t transparent. He is ultimate reality. It’s the people that are changing.* This thought will be built upon later as the text allows.
*Yup! I’ve read just about everything C.S. Lewis ever wrote…if your sensing an influence here you’d be soooooo right!