Monday, March 15, 2010
What Saint Paul Really Said 3
Here are some points of interest in Wright's chapter entitled 'Herald of the King':
- After his 'conversion' Paul remained loyal to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who made promises to Abraham, the God who gave the law, the God who spoke through the prophets.
- The Church misunderstands the gospel when they make the focus some kind of 'order of salvation'. It is not an individualistic and ahistorical message about how one gets saved.
- The background of Paul's gospel stands firmly in the Hebrew Scriptures and in the Greek world. Israel awaited a day when God's promises, as predicted by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekial, would come true. God would rescue his people from exile and comfort them. God would be king of the whole world. The term gospel was also an announcement of a great victory, birth or accession of an emperor; this came with promises of peace and security, a start for the new world. If a person was preaching and teaching that the former was coming true then it challenged the latter. If YHWH was king then Caesar was not.
- The gospel is a true story about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus through which God becomes king of the whole world.
- The cross is at the heart of Paul's theology. The cross of Christ is a royal victory which confronts the 'powers' and declares that their time is up. It is the fulfillment of God's promises to Abraham where God deals with sin and evil. The cross is a covenant fulfilling act when God executed a judicial sentence on sin itself. It was the fulfillment of the Isaianic message and is the center and starting point for what the gospel is all about.
- If Jesus defeated sin then death could not hold him. When Jesus was raised it meant that sin had been dealt with, God had achieved what he promised to Abraham. The great eschatological event had taken place. For Paul, resurrection meant bodily resurrection. This event was 'according to the scriptures' which meant that the entire biblical narrative was moving in this direction. The Age to Come had arrived but was coming in two stages. It demonstrates that Jesus was and is Israel's true Messiah, the anointed King.
- The gospel is the 'gospel of Christ', or the gospel of the King. This king has defeated evil at its very heart. The messianic promises of salvation have come true in him and he is now the King of the whole world.
- When the King came he would be Lord, not only of Israel, but of the whole world. Paul's language here comes from Isaiah and from the imperial cult.
- The message of the gospel was a message about God, the true God as opposed to false ones. Those who believe the gospel are known by God.