Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Reading Paul with Michael Gorman 5
In the Fullness of Time
Paul believed that the God of Israel has a plan for this world; he had the conviction that the climax of this great plan, a plan rooted in Israel’s prophets, was at hand. In light of the misery they were facing, the prophets saw that God was going to do something new. God was going to make a new creation, new exodus and new covenant. This great time of worship and justice would be for all people. The apocalyptic visionaries called Israel to align themselves with the purposes of God over and against Satan and his minions.
Jesus had an apocalyptic perspective. This is seen in his message that, “the reign of God is breaking into history now – that is, in and through Jesus’ own ministry of calling twelve to reconstitute Israel, preaching to the poor and to all, exorcising demons and defeating Satan, forgiving sins, liberating the oppressed, challenging the religious leaders, and eventually dying and rising.”
This apocalyptic event takes place in two parts. God has inaugurated the new age yet it overlaps with the present evil age; when Jesus appears for the second time he will end the present age and will bring the age-to-come to its fullness. Believers currently live in the overlap of the ages. This new life happens “in Christ”, a personal and corporate experience. It is a bifocal life that is characterized by looking back at what God has done in Christ and looking forward to what is to come.
If one wants to understand Paul it is essential to have a good grasp on his apocalyptic outlook. Gorman is extremely helpful in this area. He doesn't choose an apocolyptic message over a cross message. He sees God having a grand purpose for Israel, and the whole world, and the way this comes about is through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Another thing essential to grasp is how Paul is rooted in Israel's scriptures. In a lot of biblical theology people jump straight from the fall to the cross without giving any attention to God's workings with Israel. However, the very foundation for God's plan for dealing with sin is rooted in his plans for Israel. In Christ God's purposes have come to their climax.