Friday, April 16, 2010

Reading Paul with Michael Gorman 8

I am continuing my short summaries/thoughts of Michael Gorman's small book Reading Paul (Cascade Books, 2008). This is a great little book; although one won't agree with him on some important issues, it is a good little tool for those interested in understanding what Paul was all about.

God Raised and Highly Exalted Him

The cross means absolutely nothing if Christ was not raised from the dead. Gorman begins by explaining Why the Resurrection Matters. For Paul if Christ has not been raised then Christians are still in their sins; the cross is emptied of its saving significance and Paul's life of suffering is foolish. But if Christ has been raised that means that he is the "first fruits" of the general resurrection for all those who have died in Christ. The Christian life in not vain. Moreover, the resurrection demonstrates that Jesus is the Messiah, that God has graciously dealt with sin and the church is God's work.

God and the Logic of Resurrection

When Paul encountered the risen Christ he believed that it was carried out by God. There were two major consequences of this: 1) Paul came to see that the crucified Jesus was God's righteous servant who atones for our sins; he is the suffering servant. "If Jesus' crucifixion has been vindicated and validated by God, then clearly his cross must not ultimately be a sign of divine curse but a means of divine blessing" (p. 94-5); 2) The resurrection of Christ is the beginning of the eschatological age which caused Paul to rethinking the relation of Gentiles to Israel. "Since the eschatological age has begun, the Jewish people must be experiencing the eschatological promise of new exodus and new covenant made by the prophets, and the Gentiles must be about the come the the knowledge of the true God, as the prophets (and Jewish tradition) also taught" (p. 95).

Christ and the Resurrection: The Exalted and Present Lord

The resurrection of Christ was physical into a new transformed bodily existence. This resurrected Jesus can be known personally by the church, the "body of Christ", as he dwells in them and they in him. Jesus is the present Lord but he has been exalted to royal status. Jesus is the Messiah who has a unique relationship with the Father and is worthy of the title "Lord".

Jesus is Lord

Gorman claims that in Paul's day there were three lord's that claimed people's allegiance 1) the God of Israel; 2) Caesar; 3) Jesus.

Paul proclaimed Jesus as Lord; but if Jesus was Lord that meant that Caesar was not. The two are mutually exclusive. The Christian gospel and the Jewish gospel, however, are not. The God of Israel is now revealed in his Son, the Messiah.

The Resurrection and the Human Condition: Now and Later

Believers participate in the resurrection now causing them to live new lives. Christ's resurrection was bodily so now we must use our 'members' in service to him. In this way we anticipate the resurrection of our bodies in the future. "What ties these two types of resurrection together, then, is their shared bodily character and the reality of transformation - moral transformation of life in the body now, and actual transformation of the body in the future" (p. 107). Through the power of the power of the Spirit Christians can live resurrection lives in the present. The crucified and risen Lord is present within the community of believers and makes their obedience to him a joy.

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