Paul: Fresh Perspectives (Paul In Fresh Perspective) By N. T. Wright - My Book Notes

Front Cover of Paul: Fresh Perspectives by N. T. Wright

For anybody who is planning on reading some N. T. Wright and want's to know if this book is for them, or if you have read it and want a quick review to keep it fresh, or if you just want to get a quick grip on N. T. Wright's thought, then this post is for you.

If you want to buy the book here is a link (please note that this is an affiliate link, which means that if you do buy the book then I get a little of money from wordery)

My Top Five Takeaways

  1. The importance of Creation and Covenant throughout scripture. - I will never be able to read Psalm 19 in the same way again. What I love about this is the combination both of what God has done and what God is doing; what is taking place within the Church, but also, what God is doing outside of the Church
  2. Jesus is Lord means that Caesar is not - and the associated political ramifications of this. We set up many "Lords" in our life, but there can only be one.
  3. Don't just write off books claiming Pauline authorship as non-pauline. - Wright's explanation of why Ephesians was given the title "non-pauline" is extremely good.
  4. Being "caught up in the air" with Christ does not mean what we think it did. - The image of a people coming out of the city gates to welcome back their Lord and then accompanying him back into the city is much more grounded understanding of Paul's (and the New Testament's) emphasis on the physicality of the new heaven and new earth.
  5. The importance of unity among Christians for Paul. - Until  Wright emphasised the enormous hassle that it would have taken him to bring the offering from the gentile churches to the church in Jerusalem I had never appreciated just how important unity of the Church was for Paul.


Part 1 - Themes
Chapter 1 - Paul's World, Paul's Legacy
Chapter 2 - Creation & Covenant
Chapter 3 - Messiah & Apocalyptic
Chapter 4 -  Gospel & Empire
Part 2 - Structure
Chapter 5 - Rethinking God
Chapter 6 - Reworking God's People
Chapter 7 - Re-imagining God's Future
Chapter 8 - Jesus, Paul, and the Task of the Church

Part 1 - Themes

Chapter 1 - Paul's World, Paul's Legacy

1.1 Introduction

Paul occupies 3 worlds:
  1. Judaism - 2nd temple Judaism; religion, faith, culture and politics.
  2. Hellenistic - permeated most of the eastern Mediterranean world - everybody's second language and assumed framework of thought (culture, philosophy and rhetoric). Read Epictetus and compare to Paul.
  3. Rome - ideology and burgeoning empire cult.
Roman context integrates closely with the other two.

Fourth world - family of the messiah [ecclesia]. Different than all 3 previous worlds.

Symbols - Temple, Torah, Land.

Who are we, where are we, what's wrong, what's the solution, what time is it? the great questions of life.

The four-part analysis of worldviews: 
  1. Story
  2. Symbol
  3. Praxis
  4. Question
Narrative approach - R. B. Hays.

A small allusion to exile, for example, would have been to hold the whole of that narrative in mind.

Return to narrative one of the biggest parts of the New Perspective.

1.2 Fighting Over Paul's Legacy.

Fourfold major themes of discussion in Europe and America over the last 200 years (enlightenment):
  1. History
  2. Theology
  3. Exegesis
  4. Contemporary relevance
What he said about God, the world, the problem of evil and what it means to be human, and how one might be more fully human are the perennial questions in any theology.

Theology, history and exegesis are three separate things (history and theology feed into exegesis).

Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle - the act of observing something changes the thing being observed.

Bultmann - Heidegelion philosophy.

W. D. Davies - turning from neo-paganism and anti-Jewish sentiment.

Wright proposes three things:
  1. There are such things as texts.
  2. There are such things as fresh and compelling readings of texts.
  3. The mysterious unpredictable and usually unseen work of the holy spirit.
Ephesians - Assumed non-pauline authorship in a time of German existentialist Lutheranism (low Christology, anti-Judaism, functional ecclesiology, "nein" (no) natural theology).

Stylistic differences between 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians are bigger than between that of Romans and Ephesians - yet nobody assumes non-Pauline authorship for Corinthians (the textual base is too small to make these assumptions).

The belief that high Christology is later and non-Pauline is brought to the text.

New perspective takes on assumptions of old perspective even though it calls many of these assumptions into question.

Chapter 2 - Creation & Covenant

2.1 Creation and Covenant in the Old Testament

Psalms as initial way in: 

1st: Psalm 19:1-14 - divided into two halves - creation, then covenant (Torah) (the sun in creation giving light, contrasts Torah as light to human soul).

Compare end of Psalm 147:19-20.

2nd: Psalm 74:1-23 - lament. complains pagans lay Israel waste, then invokes covenant God also as creator God to intervene.

Genesis should also be read in this way. The promises to Abraham echo the commands to Adam. Abraham and family must undo problem of Adam, even though they are a part of the problem.

Deuteronomy brings together creation and covenant in terms of the land (Deuteronomy 27-30) - to disobey covenant the land itself will turn against them. c.f. Isaiah 40-55.

Creator is covenant God and vice versa, his word will deliver his people from enemy.

1st - covenant there to solve problems in creation.

2nd - when covenant fails the people turn to God as the creator.

Wisdom of Solomon, Qumran literature, 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra all also testify to creation and covenant as a controlling narrative.

Daniel 7:1-28 as key text.

Sedekah elohim - righteousness, or justice, or covenant faithfulness of God. (dikiosune theo Greek equivalent).

2.2 Paul; Three Central Passages.

a) Colossians 1:15-20
Covenant is hidden presupposition of Jewish literature even when word hardly occurs.

Poem falls into two halves that are equally balanced - creator God is also covenant God - Jesus is seen as one through whom redemption of creation and covenant has come about.

b) 1 Corinthians 15:1-58
Whole passage an appeal to Genesis 1-3 in the light of Jesus.

Paul evokes Genesis 3:1-24 (new creation through Jesus).

Paul invokes Psalm 8:1-9 - itself an evocation of Genesis 1.

What sort of thing will the resurrection body be? Draws on Genesis 1 of plants and seed etc.

c) Romans 1-11
Romans 1:18 - 4:25 - exposition of goodness of God, we have not recognised it.

Answer: covenant theology. problem: covenant theology has indeed failed.

Paul recalls Abraham because it was with him that God established the covenant.

Romans 5-8 develops theme of creation and covenant.

Jesus has done what the covenant was supposed to do. But what becomes of the covenant?

Romans 7:1-25 - Paul is deconstructing end of Psalm 19.

Romans 8:1-39 - expounding Genesis 1-3 as well as exodus narrative.

Covenant renewal appears in new creation.

Romans 9:1-33 like Psalm 74:1-23 - lament. Israel is in trouble by lack of belief.

Paul retells covenant narrative.

Isaac not Ishmael, Jacob not Israel etc.

Romans 10:1-21 expounds Deuteronomy 30:1-20 - return from exile.

2.3 Evil and Grace, Plight and Solution

Solution - beginning a family and promising them a land - shows the problem is the fracturing of human relationships and the fracturing of relationship of humans with the rest of creation - Core of the problem is the failure of humans to trust God.

Humans were made to function in particular ways and worship of God is central to that.

Sarx = translated "flesh", not physical substance (somma). "Flesh = material in the corruptible world and pointing out that it is indeed corruptible.
  1. God made the covenant with Abraham as a means of dealing with evil in creation (humanity).
  2. Family of Abraham share in evil and image-bearing vocation treated call as their own privilege (being an idolatry).
  3. When God fulfills covenant through Jesus and spirit this has effect of fulfilling original covenant purpose and enabling Abraham family to be inclusive and worldwide solution.
Sin and redemption, Israel and gentile inclusion are two sides of the same coin.

2.4 Conclusion

Psalm 19:1-14 - creation summons him to worship, Torah summons him to obedience.
God has done what Torah could not.

Chapter 3 - Messiah and Apocalyptic

3.1 Introduction

Corinthians attesting to Paul speaking of only Christ and Christ crucified does not mean that he did not speak about the resurrection.

Both next chapters are controversial.

Christos not a last name but imbued with meaning for Paul.

Apocalyptic - has many meanings, or understandings.

Christopher Roland and John Collins have challenged a dualistic approach to apocalyptic.

Covenant and apocalyptic do not need to be separated (the Qumran community held them together).

3.2 Jesus As Messiah In Paul

Much of the evidence is heuristic - read Christ as messiah.
  1. We are talking about a royal messiahship - messiah is Israel’s true king and worlds true lord. Paul not interested in priestly messiah.
  2. Messiah will fight the forces of evil and paganism in ultimate battle.
  3. Messiah will rebuild the temple.
  4. Bring Israel’s history to its climax, fulfilling biblical texts and ushering in new world.
  5. Messiah will act as Israel’s representative.
  6. Messiah will also be God's representative to Israel and to the world.
All of these are held in mind when Paul uses term Christ.

Romans 5:9 is indicative of this.

Romans 9:11 - consists of retelling of story of Israel culminating in messiah. (messiah end / goal of the law).

Climax good translation of telos here.

Romans 1:3-4 mentions Jesus specifically as David’s ancestor.
  1. Paul's opening passages are carefully crafted to open what he wants to address in whole letter.
  2. Romans 6-8 draw out the implications of the introduction.
  3. Paul references various biblical passages that are messianic proof text in Qumran.
  4. Paul quotes Isaiah about the root of Jesse later.
Galatians 3-4 - sustained argument involving retelling of story of Israel.

1 Corinthians 15:1 - how Jesus messiah has won great battle against evil and death.

Messianic battle has been redefined, not abandoned.

Must study themes as well as words (not relying on concordances alone).

Colossians 2:14-15 - battle again.

Renewed temple also mentioned (as us).

Romans 8:1-11 close to Ezekiel’s outpouring of Spirit leading to all messianic things above.

Routinely talks of things happening through Jesus, and of being brought into Christ. What is true of him is true of them.

Romans pistis christou - speaking of Christ's faithfulness to the covenant.

Romans 3:2-3 Israel entrusted with God's oracles. Israel had been unfaithful.

Romans 10:2-3 Israel had failed to understand God's covenant purposes.

Romans 3:21-22 God covenant faithfulness operating through the faithfulness of Jesus the messiah.

Jesus is true representative of the covenant people.

Romans 5:12-21 - Adam’s unfaithfulness undone.

God's son - Paul's reference. Always important (Psalm 2:1-12, 2 Samuel 7:1-29 etc.).

Completes full set of messianic claims mentioned earlier (from seed of David, fought the final battle, restored the temple, brought Israel’s history to its climax, done so as Israel’s and God's representative.

Why has this not been clear to exegetes and theologians? - 2 reasons:
  1. As long as they were trying to understand Paul as a missionary to the gentiles who translated Jewish ideas to a gentile audience. Paul would not have used obscure ideas like messiahship to communicate with.
  2. Messiah is political category instead of spiritual one, but Paul was interested in religious stuff, not political stuff.

3.3 Apocalyptic In Paul

Apocalyptic = (within 2nd temple tradition) - what happens to prophecy under certain historic and theological circumstances (under oppression and what God is going to do about it and how), as well as a literary genre, which indicated by its FORM, what it was trying to communicate by its SUBSTANCE. namely the revelation or unveiling of things that were secret.

Daniel = Old Testament's best work of apocalyptic.

Genre depends upon a particular view of the world = created order is divided into two parts - earth/heaven.

Only God and other beings like angels have the ability to reveal to mortals the things in heaven.

Revealing stuff about God, or stuff about things that are going to happen very soon. Often communicated through dreams and visions (often interpreted).

Paul has changed the form of apocalyptic, but it is still there. The full disclosure of God's secret plan has already come about.

Various retellings of story of Israel and beyond.

Convergence of this and covenantal thinking has come about.

Romans - uses term apocalyptic. sees himself writing like an angel revealing apocalyptic. Paul is revealing what God is doing.

For Paul, apocalyptic is what God had always intended.
  1. For Paul, language of coming is potentially misleading (Parousia). Parousia actually means "presence". heaven and earth not separated by a great distance. More like an overlapping and interlocking of dimensions - His personal presence is what matters. Colossians 3:4 - phenero - not when he arrives, but, when he appears. Church will also be unveiled.
  2. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-18 - not predicted as rapture, but comfort of the mourners. those who have died and those alive will come to usher in Christ (an evocation of Daniel 7:1-28 - messiah coming on clouds, and Moses coming down the mountain with law.)
  3. More like an emperor paying a state visit. Citizens come out to meet him and then escort him back to the city. Royal presence of true lord/emperor. Paul's gospel claims to be the reality of what the roman empire is simply a parody.
  4. Some passages in Paul have been taken as apocalypse that are actually not (1 Thessalonians 2:15) - interim judgement on Jerusalem destruction.
2 Thessalonians - young church should not be worried if receiving a letter that the day of the lord had arrived, they would have noticed by themselves if Paul was talking about apocalyptic.

Paul had to plant Jew + gentile churches on gentile soil before event occurred that would cause Jews to blame Christians for letting the side down, and before gentiles sneered at Jews for losing their homeland.

Apocalyptic theology of Paul rooted in and referring to historical events.

Paul held a covenantal and apocalyptic theology.

Justification by faith is something that happens "in the present time" (Romans 3:26) as proper anticipation of the eventual judgment which will be announced on the basis of the whole life lead in the future (Romans 2:1-16).

By hailing Jesus is Lord, Caesar is not.

Chapter 4 - Gospel and Empire

4.1 Introduction

3 things to bear in mind:
  1. We are the children of the enlightenment politically (i.e. left / right). Paul does not belong on our spectrum (but on the one of 2nd temple Judaism).
  2. Separation of state and religion made no sense to Paul.
  3. Allusion and echo behind explicit statements (Richard Hayes - echoes of scripture in the letters of Paul).
  • Was the material knowable in the time.
  • Volume - is there enough volume.
  • Recurrence.
  • Thematic coherence.
  • Historical plausibility (could they have said this?).
  • History of interpretation - have exegetes of the past said this.
  • Satisfaction - does it speak with new coherence and clarity.

4.2 Caesar’s Empire and Its Ideology

Roman empire source of justice and peace.

Augustus hailed as saviour.

Statues, coins, poems and songs all testified to this; seen as the evangelion.

Grand narrative created by Horace, Virgil, Livy etc.

Cross symbol of imperial might.

(Rome system of justice was indeed far superior to local justice system).

Emperor cult fastest growing religion of ancient world.

Emperor claimed "son of god" - as old emperor was considered god.

4.3 Jewish Critique of Pagan Empire

Most formative years of Israel were as slaves in Egypt or exile in Babylon.

Very contradictory opinion (when 3 Jews saved from furnace, or Daniel from lions they are then given top jobs in the government).

Advice to Jews in exile was to seek the welfare of Babylon as long as they were in there.

Wisdom of Solomon - teach the rulers of the world - but justice is coming on those evil rulers.

God wants the world to be ordered.

The rulers are themselves answerable to God.

God is working out a very different purpose involving vindication and judgement.

All this based on a creation monotheism.

No dualism about rulers (either all evil and needing to be overthrown, or to be obeyed unquestionable).

4.4 Paul's Counter Imperial Theology

Jesus as king, lord, saviour, one at whose knee all would bow.

For Paul Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not.

Resurrection key to this. Defeat of death spells to earthly rulers that their game is up (death is their ultimate weapon).

Colossians 2:14-15.
Inauguration of God's new world - new creation.

History, theology, symbol - resurrection.

Romans 13:1-14, Colossians 1:1-29 - powers in earth and heaven are under God and are right to be obeyed.
Also, okay to call them to account when they overstep their boundaries.

Kirios, suta, evangelion, dikiasune

Philippians 3:1-21 - only a minority in Phillipi were Roman citizens, but it was a Roman colony.
Claiming the citizenship of heaven.

Jesus going to heaven is not him being divested of earthly influence but of his being placed as sovereign over the earth (hence caesarific titles).

Philippians 3:17 "imitate him". - example of how they too must hear the call of God in Jesus to set light to their civic status and hail Jesus, not Caesar as lord. Brings to mind Philippians 2:1-30 (Paul probably wrote this poem himself - drawn on work of Pete Oaks).
  1. Paul is drawing on Isaiah 40-55 - classical passage of critique of pagan empire.
  2. Within Jewish monotheism Paul is locating Jesus. Name kirios - a title not a name. in Septuagint kirios translates YHWH. (both political and theology).
  3. Focus of poem is on the death of the cross - the rebirth of a symbol (already a powerful symbol both politically and theologically).
  4. This perspective enables different reading of Philippians 2:12 - not talking about moral good works where salvation is earned. rather urging that if they have a different lord then they have a different salvation. thereby they must work out what this all means.
The appearance of Jesus rather than Caesar - Paul affirms that day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. Mixing of metaphors (thief, woman, drunkenness, armour etc.).

Peace and security is almost a definition of Romes salvation; it is a sham.

Man of lawlessness - Gaius or Caligula maybe? Or him as an archetype.

Corinth prided itself on being more roman than Rome.

What about Romans 13:1-14?
  1. Passage belongs closely to end of Romans 12:1-21 - private vengeance forbidden, but people in political office have power to bring order (a thoroughly Jewish view).
  2. Earthly rulers are subject to one true God (keeps in line with Rome).
  3. Counter imperial hints everywhere mean he must ensure people don't think Christianity is about political revolution.

4.5 Conclusion

More than just echoes of imperial Rome in Paul's letters.

Part 2 - Structures

Chapter 5 - Rethinking God

5.1 Introduction

All sorts of ways have been attempted for classifying Paul’s theology (structure, ordering etc.).

God and God's people (monotheism and election) are the two main concerns for Judaism - followed closely by eschatology (something is surely wrong).
  1. The one God is not only revealed as creator and sustainer but also God of Israel (the electing God).
  2. Election as refocused on Jesus as messiah is personal revelation of one God in action.
  3. Coming end guaranteed because of God as creator and judge.
1st - each of these redefinitions is reached by rereading of Israel’s scripture.
2nd - in each case Paul polemic is not against Judaism but paganism.
3rd - each of the redefined doctrines comes through preaching, prayer and letter writing / teaching.

Paul's epistemology drives his theology.

5.2 Monotheism - The Jewish Roots.

More than one type of monotheism in the ancient world.

Pantheism a kind of monotheism (like that found in Stoicism).

Paul grew up with a specific type of monotheism (creational and covenantal monotheism).

Pantheism has a difficulty sustaining a robust answer to the problem of evil.

Epicureanism has no problem with providing an explanation of evil.

Evil is a far greater problem in pantheism and Epicureanism.

Exile and restoration key themes for dealing with the problem of evil.

Jewish monotheism was never just a theoretical belief but a practical reality.

Paul understands himself as a Jewish monotheist.

5.3 Monotheism and Christology

Romans 3, Galatians 3, Romans 1 & 4, 1 Corinthians 14 - classical monotheism.

Paul is not moving to an ontological deism.

Paul also redefines monotheism around Jesus.

Romans 10:5-13 - Paul is reading Dueteronomy 8 as others had done (obey Torah, blessings result, disobey, curses ensue).

New exodus / covenant renewal has happened through Jesus. - it is strong and high Christology.

Read the passage that Jesus is God over all, blessed forever (when read with Romans 9).

Philippians 2:6-11 - passage where Paul refers to Jesus as God using Kirios in a Septuagint God as lord sense.

The "therefore" of v9 is key to this reading.

1 Corinthians 8:6 - Paul facing question of how to live as a Christian in pagan society (can one eat meat offered to idols). - we are monotheists therefore these pagans are not gods.

Here Paul quotes shemah (from Septuagint) referring to Father and Christ.

Colossians 1:15-20 - classical expression of Jewish style monotheism - Jesus takes role of God's agent.

Title for Jesus used with great force "son of God" - Israel was seen as son of God, messiah seen as son of God (also angels).

Jesus' sacrifice can only be seen as love of God if he is God embodied.

Cross - ultimately shocking and ultimately glorious.

Cross is climactic moment in Paul's redefinition of election.

5.4 Monotheism and The Spirit

Galatians 4:1-7 - God keeps child under tutelage of household slave - the Torah.

Galatians 4 - young son kept under tutors until grown up; we are the same.

Paul here tells story of exodus. Jesus enacts exodus by freeing from law.

God sends Son, and God sends the Spirit of God.

Romans 8 - Paul draws heavily on motif of exodus - people given tabernacling of God's presence guiding them. In Romans 8 God's spirit replaces the shekinah and the Spirit leads them not to heaven but to the renewal of creation.

Here Son and Spirit again being God's agents bringing his promises to bear.

Son and Spirit redefine Jewish monotheism.

1 Thessalonians 1:5 gospel (word) comes in power and spirit.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 when you received word from us but as work of God at work in you who believe.

Paul believed Spirit was at work when the word was announced.

Spirit = Spirit of God, spirit of messiah, spirit of Jesus.

Both messiah and spirit are poles around which Paul has reworked understandings of Jewish messiah.

5.5 Scriptural Roots, Pagan Targets, Practical Work

A full account of Paul's redefined monotheism needs to explore 3 things:
  1. Fresh engagement with Israel’s scriptures.
  2. Articulation of point against paganism.
  3. Way in which this definition played out in day to day.
The law - polemical target of Paul.

Paul has a clear, positive view of Torah, even when it is playing a negative role.

But it cannot give the life that it promised. Rather it points to the Son and to the Spirit of the Son.

Paul’s redefined monotheism gave him a powerful stance over and against the powers of this world.

No clear cut line for Paul between physical powers (government) and spiritual powers. i.e. earthly governments wield death (a spiritual power).

Paul's address to Areopagus corresponds nicely with his letters if we understand his redefinition of Jewish monotheism.

5.6 Conclusion

Justification must be understood in the light of election.

Chapter 6 - Reworking God's People

6.2 Election: Jewish Views of God's People

There were a plurality of Jewish views, but in order to be a plural of something, there must be a singular.

Israel God's chosen people. Narratives told to reinforce this, even in the face of occupying forces and oppression.

One creator God had called Israel to be His special people and had given them a land to live in and the law to live by.

Deuteronomy 7 & 8 chosen because of God's love.

what purpose?

Genesis answer - everything’s gone wrong. Israel to be royal holy priests and light of the world. To see in Israel what it is to be truly human.

Israel is itself part of the problem.

2nd temple period - election closely tied with eschatology.

This involved liberation from enemies. Some envisioned Israel with messiah smashing enemies to pieces.

Some saw a redemption happening to Israel which spread to the nations as well (Hillelites etc.).

In all pictures when God had done with Israel what he was supposed to do the gentiles would then be brought in.

6.3 Election Reshaped Around Jesus

Romans 9:4 - all this stuff belongs to Israel.

Election of Israel affirmed in Paul from patriarchs onwards.

Galatians 2:11-31 - Paul vs Peter - What does it mean to be a member of God's people?

The Christian people in Antioch have been living as the renewed Israel.

We are justified by faith in the messiah not through works of Torah.

Pistis chritou as faith of messiah.

Justified = who belongs to the people of God and how you can tell that at the present.

Works of Torah = works to demonstrate that you are a member of God's people.

"I" - what happens to a Jew who believes in the messiah.

Undergoes a dying and a coming to new life through which a new identity has emerged.

Not I but the messiah lives in me.

Denying that covenant membership should be defined by Torah.

Those who come into the messiah form a single family - this is in turn the single family promised to Abraham.

Everything is turned inside out. restoration of whole of creation.

Straight line to 2 Corinthians 5 and Romans 8.

Not just speaking on individual Christian as new creation but of Christian within a whole new creation.

Colossians 2 - you have already been circumcised, therefore Torah does nothing for you.

Circumcision of the heart (secretly inside) is what matters.

Israel was entrusted with God's oracles.

The unfaithfulness of Israel is unfaithfulness to its commission.

God will keep to his plan of bringing salvation to Israel in spite of the fact that they are part of the problem.

Pistis christou = messiah's faithfulness to God's plan (and obedience) although our faith in the messiah is bound up in this.

Jesus did what Israel was supposed to have done but did not.

Only badge of membership of God's people is faith.

Romans 4 - redefinition of election.

How does justification by faith work?

At end God judges secrets of all hearts.

Justification by faith - judging takes place in present time rather than last day; due to new redefinition the conclusion is based on faith which is in the now.

Justification - that which happens immediately after the call - those who hear the gospel and respond in faith are justified (given the status diakonos in the covenant).

Must equally have an eye on the larger picture. point of covenant is for whole world rescue.

6.4 Election Reworked Around The Spirit

Redefinition in the Spirit not the letter.

The Spirit leads the renewed people to their inheritance.

Spirit helps them to put to death the misdeeds of the body, which Torah could not.

2 Corinthians 3 - Torah given to people with hard hearts and darkened minds.

God has qualified us to be ministers in the new covenant in the Spirit.

Romans 7 - you died to the law through body of messiah so that you can serve in the newness of the spirit not the oldness of the letter.

Renewed call to holiness shows his redefinition of election through spirit (a holiness that comes from the heart).

6.5 Redefinition of Election Rooted In Scripture

Romans 9-11 - messiah hardly mentioned and the Spirit not at all after opening remark - quotation of Joel means Spirit strongly emphasised here. Paul wants to enable the roman church to think through the whole thing from first principles.

Romans 10 - messiah reveals whole covenant plan.

Promise Paul holds out to unbelieving Jews is not that they are okay as they are, but they are not disbarred in virtue of their ethnic origin from coming back into the fold. (based on Romans 10:13).

"All Israel shall be saved" echoing "all who call on the lord will be saved".

Proto-Marcionism - transfer of promises from Jews to gentiles.

6.6 Conclusion

Paul's reworking of election solidifies his stance over paganism. (it is a very Jewish thing).

Chapter 7 - Re-imagining God's Future

7.1 Introduction

3rd part of Paul's reworking and rethinking of Jewish theology (3 parts - monotheism, election, eschatology).

If there is one God (monotheism) and if this God is the God of Israel (election) then God must act to put things right (eschatology).

7.2 Jewish Eschatology in the 1st Century

1st century Jewish eschatology - God will act to defeat pagan deities.

Genesis 3 is reversed and Genesis 2 is to become reality (human over animal).

Minor prophets talk about last day negatively (darkness, earthquakes etc) followed by restoration.

Themes - coming judgement, vindication of Israel, day of YHWH, establishment of God's kingdom, overthrow of paganism, coming of messiah.

Continued exile in spite of geographical concern.

2 key texts for this understanding:
  1. Deuteronomy 30.
  2. Daniel 9.
Deuteronomy 30 part of longer narrative of blessings and cursings (important to stress narrative).

Ultimate curse is exile. then Israel will turn back with whole heart and then be restored.

Ben Sirach is a counter example (also Philo).

Ezra and Nehemiah "we are still slaves". slaves need an exodus.

Daniel 9 - popular text in 1st century - "How long will the exile last for?" not 70 years (Jeremiah) but 70 weeks of years (70x7 - an ultra-year of jubilee). exciting for people in 2nd temple Judaism.

Jesus made potent and cryptic use of this text.

Underlying message of wisdom of Solomon - Israel be comforted, other nation be warned.

7.3 Eschatology Re-imagined Around Messiah

Eschatology reworked around Jesus is central to Paul - it is a thoroughly Jewish understanding based in a high Christology (also in incorporative Christology of election).

Great battle has come and gone and pagan powers have been defeated.

Complex event for which Israel had hoped had already happened through Jesus.

Inaugurated eschatology is characteristic note of Paul's theology.

Justification etc. located between what has happened and what is yet to happen.

Still future judgement to be fulfilled by messiah.

What was expected to happen at the end of time, has happened to Jesus in this time.

Paul places kingdom of messiah in present, and kingdom of God in the future.
New exodus launched through work of Jesus.

Jesus death as moment of new exodus. (Messiah as paschal lamb).

Romans 6 - God's people come through waters. 

Romans 7 - they come to Sinai and find the law cannot do it.

All who are under Torah are under curse (reading from Deuteronomy = exile).
  1. Day of the lord, reworking of the day of YHWH - does not denote the end of the world. (there is another day after it). a great moment of judgment where everything will be different and things will be changed. AD70 - year of four emperors + destruction of Jerusalem - 1 Thessalonians 2:16 - there may be other "days of the lord" - judgment on powers that opposed Jesus and put him on the cross.
  2. Parousia (royal presence) - high Christology enables him to pull in the return of YHWH to Zion. (both pagan and Jewish - emperor returning / YHWH returning) - earth colonial outpost of heaven.
  3. Judgment - major theme in Old Testament and subsequent Jewish literature. Paul envisions a future judgment in accordance with entirety of life led.
  4. Renewal of all creation - one future for one world made and loved by one God.

7.4 Eschatology Reimagined Around The Spirit

1 Corinthians - final statement of God's future is summary of whole letter - if Corinthians will grasp that God's new age has broken in and that they are called to live in it most issues in letter will fall in line.

Galatians 5 - if you are walking by the Spirit then you are part of God’s new age.

1 Corinthians 13 - faith, hope and love (that endure forever) are fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5.
It is through the spirit that all will be raised.

Spirit takes place of shekinah returning the people of God from exile through new covenant.

The two passages on prayer and the spirit are integral to the whole of Romans 8.

7.5 Eschatology In Context

2 angles of vision which slice through:
  1. Paul engaged in dialogue with Old Testament and other 1st century readings of it. Genesis 1-3 lies at heart of Romans 8 and 1 Corinthians 15. Vision of final battle stands in contrast to other visions of 1st Century.
  2. Paul's confrontation with paganism. Not - "here are more rules", but, "because you already live in the new world, you should not act like the pagans anymore". no dualism - creation is good and needs to be redeemed.
3rd sense of apostolic task grew out of his eschatology.

Chapter 8 - Jesus, Paul, and the Task of the Church

8.1 Introduction

Three-fold task - summing up & questions.
  1. How does all this theology work out in Paul's apostolic work?
  2. Jesus and Paul.

8.2. Jesus and Paul

Question of the relation of Jesus to Paul - once put in right framework the problem disappears.
Problem has been posed in apparent mismatch of teaching between Jesus and Paul (Jesus taught about God - Paul taught about Jesus).

Jesus taught wonderful universal message and Paul squished it into justification.
or vice versa.

Problem lies with belief that both Jesus and Paul were teaching theologies that can be compared (like Plato and Aristotle).

Relationship between Jesus and Paul not like a 2nd gen rabbi passing on 1st gen rabbi's teaching - much more like that between a composer and a conductor, or a medical researcher and a doctor - their job is not to do more research, or to write fresh music.

Jesus brought to climax the long story of God and Israel, creator and world.

Drawing onto himself the destiny of God's true servant (and God himself).

Enlightenment is an alternative eschatology.

Paul believed himself to have a unique role: To perform the next unique task in an explicit apocalyptic timetable - to call nations to God.

a) The kingdom of God - why does Jesus say so much and Paul so little?

Within Jesus context this was an exciting prospect and extremely relevant.

Jesus offered radically different construal of what all this meant (as opposed to the revolutionary view).

People had died in recent memory because of this phrase (kingdom of God).

Much of Jesus' kingdom teaching was bound up in the "doing" of the kingdom.

Jesus' endeavor was hugely risky, and parables and symbols were the best way of doing this.

Paul knew about that world but it was not the world he was called to work. announced very Jewish Message but to a world not living by Jewish stories etc.

People in Philippi were not talking about this kind of stuff. but the true gospel of the true lord was something people were interested in.

what about justification by faith? why so important for Paul but not for Jesus?

Justification by faith not about who was saved, but how one could tell who was saved.

Jesus' silence on circumcision shows that the early church did not put things in Jesus’ mouth to fit their needs.

b) Ethics - why does Paul not quote Jesus more?

Answer - context - which Jesus traditions did Paul know?

- Paul wants to teach his churches not just how to behave - but why.

Must not flatten Paul and Jesus out as "teachers of ethics".

8.3 The Work of an Apostle

Focus on intro of Paul’s letter to Romans "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ etc."

a) Servant, apostle, set apart.
For Paul, Jesus himself was the ultimate servant of YHWH.

Paul modelling himself on this (i.e. modelling his servant ministry on the servant songs in Isaiah and earlier Psalms).

Paul saw his apostleship as a royal emissary.

Romans 15:20 - not building on others foundation - pioneer.

"set apart for God's gospel" - Paul mapped out his own vocation.

b) Re-definitions in practice.
Jesus included in Old Testament definitions of God.

Agape to Paul = working out in practical terms how to do more and more for one another.
Imperative part of gospel = unity.

1 Corinthians 5 - exclusion of unrepentant sinner - definition of tolerance and intolerance is too shallow. Paul straddles both in different contexts.

Paul's gift to Jerusalem was of major importance and significance.

Christians living as the new human race.

Paul's eschatological urgency is more to do with fall of Israel and his need to knit together Jew and gentile.

Establishment of unity is a concrete sign in empire of a new humanity at work.

8.4 Conclusion - Paul, and the Task of the Church

Principle of hermeneutics - understanding the great story as a 5-act play, still unfinished:
  • Act 1 - unspoiled creation.
  • Act 2 - the fall.
  • Act 3 - the story of Israel BC.
  • Act 4 - Jesus of Nazareth.
  • Act 5 - begins at Easter, opening scenes = Pentecost.
5th act characterised by two things:
  1. Firm and fixed foundations
  2. Command under spirit to improvise rest of 5th act. Therefore, must know where we are in the structure and must make sense. We are part of the same single movement as Paul's letters (which is not the same as Leviticus or Isaiah etc.).
Accept post-modern critique of modernity, but not its conclusions.
  1. Reconstruction of the self -deconstructed to floating signifiers. We do not want to reconstruct modernist perception of self, but of Paul's "new creation" - I am loved, therefore I am.
  2. Reconstruction of knowing - deconstructed objective knowledge - basic Christian mode of knowing is love. Takes us beyond objective / subjective divide.
  3. Reconstruction of the great story - modernist great story ran out of steam - deconstructed all grand narratives - Paul's grand narrative is that of love.
Power comes with the love, but that power is only perfected in weakness.
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