A Biblical Oxymoron?

Posted on July 16, 2019

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By David Ettinger

Definition
You’ve no doubt heard an oxymoron, but may be unfamiliar with the term. An oxymoron is a figure of speech containing words which seem to contradict each other. Examples include “deafening silence,” “jumbo shrimp,” “random order,” and “small crowd.”

Biblical Example?
Recently, I came across a short sentence which appears to be an oxymoron. Though I have read it dozens of times, it never struck me until now. The phrase is the first part of Romans 16:20: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”

Do you see the seeming contradiction? The action of “crushing” doesn’t mesh with One associated with peace. And yet, here it is: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”

The Context
This seeming contradiction comes at the end of the Book of Romans. The apostle Paul was addressing the issue of false teachers, those who were causing “divisions and [putting] obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned” (v. 17).

These false teachers were pervasive in the early Church, and continue to be today. Paul promised that one day – at Christ’s return – Jesus will rid the Church of all false teachers who wreak havoc among the body of believers.

That Jesus will “crush” these false teachers tells us what He thinks of these scourges. The day is coming when He will wipe them off the face of the Earth, no longer to curse His people again. This “crushing” will come when Jesus pours out His wrath upon the Earth – that time when “With justice he judges and wages war” (Revelation 19:11).

The God of Peace?
But what of the title Paul bestows upon Jesus, “the God of peace”? Would not another moniker – such as “Our Great Warrior” or “Our Strong Deliverer” – be better suited for this context? Why “God of peace” in relation to crushing Satan?

I believe Paul was referencing the Lord’s multi-faceted nature. Jesus is love, but He is also punisher. He is longsuffering, but also the One who judges. He is the God of great compassion, but also a God of justice. He is the God of comfort, but also the God of vengeance. He is the God of peace, but also the God who crushes.

This era of human history will be followed by two distinct eras: The Millennial (1,000-year) Kingdom, followed by eternity. There will be several judgments before the eternal state begins where Jesus must try, judge, and even “crush” those who have rejected Him.

But once the final judgment – “The Great White Throne Judgment” of Revelation 20:11-15 – is completed, all evil will have been banished. Peace will be the eternal norm, and Jesus will reign as the God of Peace.

An Oxymoron?
Is Romans 16:20 a biblical oxymoron? No. It speaks of our multifaceted God who must now crush evil, but will soon be our eternal God of Peace who will shepherd His flock for endless eternity. And in that day, there will no need for crushing!

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