In Romans 9, Paul, the spokesperson for Jesus to the developing churches around the Mediterranean shores, writes a stream of letters to remind evolving Christians that they receive God's love through grace. Although they are a rebellious, unruly people, God bestows glory on them out of love for people who are not truly "beloved." Morrison's epigraph,
or introductory citation, is a fitting opening for a novel about grace, love, and forgiveness. The epigraph sets the tone for the opening chapter, in which a willful ghost destroys the peace of Sethe's home — a home that is free of slavery but still laden with servitude's emotional freight. Paul's words, wrathful and forbidding in certain respects, also contain a promise: "For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth." In layman's language, either shape up or ship out, because God is coming back for the true believers, gathering them up, and taking them to heaven with speed and finality.