Sunday, 10 December 2017

The Overarching Story of the Bible, according to N. T. Wright

When N. T. Wright was asked to summarise his understanding of the overarching story of the Bible, he answered something like this:

"If I can try and summarise the whole Bible in a couple of sentences, which is always a ridiculous thing to do, but it is remarkable how in a book composed of many books written over the space of more than a thousand years, there is a sustained narrative which is about a good creation in which humans play a central role under the Creator; then about the dramatic 'fall' so-called, in which humans rebel and refuse this purpose;

then about the call of Israel to be the people through whom God puts both the human race and the whole world right, and how they get it wrong as well, so we have a double-bind now;

then of course about the coming of Jesus Himself as God in person, who is both Israel in person and human-kind in person, to sort out the double-problem; and then about the way in which, through the coming of Jesus and then through the work of Jesus' Spirit in and through His followers, um the plan gets back on track, leading to an eventual future in which Jesus Himself will be the One uh who has flooded God's whole creation with the justice and peace and joy and purpose and fruitfulness which was always the Creator's purpose.

So that's the big story. And once we see that big story, it's hugely exciting to see how all the different bits of it as it were come up in three dimensions within it."

Tuesday, 5 December 2017


Some historians date the Jewish Diaspora back to AD136, more so than to AD70.
Certainly the Temple was destroyed in AD70, and Jews of Jerusalem were taken as slaves to Rome. The loot from the Temple funded the construction of the Colosseum.
But Jews weren't always disallowed from living in Jerusalem, from that moment on.
And they were still allowed to carry on their 'religion', what was left of it.
Christianity still wasn't completely distinguished from Judaism, as far as Rome was concerned.
In AD115, Jews managed to revolt again, killing 200,000 Romans in Cyrene, and 240,000 in Cyprus (according to Greek-Roman historian Cassius Dio, born AD155).
Then in AD133, the Jews managed to regain control of Jerusalem, including 985 surrounding villages and 50 fortified strongholds. The leader of the revolt was regarded as a Messiah - they even minted coins with the inscription "Year Two to the Freedom of Israel". Hundreds of thousands of Romans were killed.
Emperor Hadrian sent in 12 legions of troops, including troops from Britannia and Egypt. An estimated 580,000 Jews were killed.
This time the city was renamed.
Jews were banned from living there.
Many survivors were sent as slaves to Egypt.
Practising the Jewish religion (what was left of it) was banned all over the Empire.
At that point it became clearer to the Romans that Christianity was distinct from Judaism.
In light of that history, is it possible we try to squeeze too much significance into the AD70 box?
At least I can say this: there's no historical or literary evidence, as far as I know, that early Christians thought the resurrection had happened, or had to have happened, either in AD70, or AD117 or in AD136...
But there's plenty of evidence they still looked forward to it happening, in the future.
And they didn't see any conflict between that and what Jesus said, or what the Apostles had written.

A Quasi Torah Debate

If the Temple still stood, and the Levitical priesthood was still functioning, maybe the Torah-debate that raged in the first century BC would still be a valid debate to have today. But it doesn't, it isn't, and so it no longer really is the same discussion today. 

No matter which way we explain the place of the Torah today, after it's all said and done, it really only boils down to two lifestyle differences between us: diet, and days. And those two things could hardly make a person a Torah-keeper.

Overdoing AD70

AD70 was bad, but we can try to squeeze a bit more significance into it than was intended, I think. 

The resurrection didn't happen (Paul said the dead will rise, at Christ's coming).

Marriage didn't end (Jesus said marriage won't exist in the new age).

The time of the Gentiles didn't finish (there were at least two more wars with the Romans).

The Jews weren't fully dispersed (that happened more fully about 66 years later).

The Jews' problems didn't end. 

Persecution of Christians didn't end - it was really only just starting. 

Rome didn't stop causing problems. Rome itself wasn't destroyed. That came hundreds of years later. 

The world's problems didn't end. Earthquakes, famines, wars, and pestilences all continued. 

The Gospel still hadn't reached literally every tribe in the world. And it still hasn't, actually. (If anyone is willing to go and preach to an unreached tribe, inbox me for potential placement.)

But some predictions were fulfilled in AD70. And yes, it was bad.

Thoughts About the Olivet Discourse

When the disciples asked Jesus about His 'coming', they didn't at that time have a concept that Jesus was ever going to go away in the first place, did they?

I know Jesus told them He was going away. But Phillip asked "Where?" Did they know He meant, 
Go to heaven? Maybe, or maybe not.

If not, then 'coming', in their minds, maybe didn't necessarily mean only that He must descend to planet earth. He was already on the earth! And they may or may not have known He was going to leave the planet.

So could what they were in effect really asking have been something like: 

"When are you going to take this to the next level".

"When are you going to gear this up."

"When are you going to show this for what it really is".

"When are you going to really show yourself up".

"When are you going to wrap this up".

"What actions or events will mark the occasion".
"What can we expect in the lead-up".

And they knew what it would ultimately involve: the end of this present world, and the start of the new. 

They also knew the righteous-dead would be resurrected, to participate in the new world. That was a given (only the Sadducees didn't believe that, but pretty-much everyone else did). The disciples also saw no need to later redefine what was meant by 'resurrection' either.

But now they were being told that the Temple was going to be destroyed too. And Jerusalem was going to fall. That meant, not all Jews were going to enter the new world just because they were Jewish. That was sobering, but not entirely a new idea - the Qumran community, and the Pharisees, and probably the Essenes warned of the same. As did John the Baptist, who was from a priestly family.

After Jesus' ascension the disciples more clearly understood that the heavens must receive Jesus until the time of the end of all things - until the time of the restitution of all things - then He would come back again the second time. 

But for now, in the disciples minds, might they have been basically just asking Him:

"When are you really going to hit your straps?"

"What events will happen in the lead-up?"

So Jesus mentioned a number of things, so they wouldn't be alarmed when they happened. All of which, even their own generation would see, Jesus said. Not necessarily His immediate audience (Peter, James, Andrew and John), but their general generation. 

These things were all 'the beginning of sorrow', early contractions, 'signs' - not the 'birth' itself, Jesus said (of 'that day and hour' knoweth no man) - these were still all lead-up things to that ultimate Day.

That generation saw all of those lead-up signs. And many of the same things kept occurring in subsequent generations. And still do. But the final end - when death shall be swallowed up in victory - when the resurrection will occur - and all enemies political shall finally be put down - and all things end, and all things are made new - that's still to culminate in future, and no-one knows when.

Monday, 4 December 2017

New Jerusalem

I think there will come a real new heaven and earth, for sure. But the Book of Revelation describes the New Jerusalem as a present reality too, in some way. It's in heaven. It's coming. It'll establish itself on the new earth. Heaven and earth will kind of be joined together! But in the mean time, the river flows. On either side are the tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations.

That describes a present-day function, not a future one. Because after the final judgment, there won't be any more healing for the nations, will there? It describes sinners being outside the city, but still living. That's the case now - but you wouldn't describe the situation after the final judgment like that, would you? 

So the New Jerusalem is a present, heavenly, spiritual reality, and we on earth belong to it, have come to it, and are interacting with it - even though it is yet to come in all its final glory. 

Not every symbolic detail in Revelation is meant to happen chronologically in history only after the previous symbolic detail has seen its fulfilment in history. A key to understanding the Bible, I think, is to understand when there's an 'already' and a 'not yet' aspect to the kingdom of God.

Some Thoughts

When 'Hebrew-Roots' folk say they're following 'Messianic Judaism', I think to myself, "Which of the Judaisms are you incorporating into your Messianism?" Because there were numerous Judaisms, from the first century BC to the first century AD.

Upon hearing that, a lot of the Messianic-Judaism folk look a little puzzled, and just retort that the Torah is quite simple and that we should of course take it on face-value. But the differences among the Judaisms of the first-centuries BC and AD, each of whom were reading the same Torah, were as great if not greater than the differences among organisations today who are each reading the same New Testament.

The answer of course, is that Messianic Jews don't adhere to any of the Judaisms of that period. No Jews do. Pharisaic Judaisms (there's reason to believe there likely was more than one type of Phariseeism, or at least variety among Pharisees) were likely able to adapt after the destruction of the Temple (circa AD70) better than some of the other popular forms of Judaisms were able to - but even the Rabbinic forms of Judaisms (which putatively resulted from those adaptations from Phariseeisms) underwent further variations, and some forms of Judaisms didn't start looking very much like their modern forms of Judaisms until centuries after that again. And of course today the differences among denominations within 'Judaism' still vary significantly. But none of them look very much like any of the first-century Judaisms. As the joke goes, two Jews three opinions.


Reportedly, Gamaliel II, when challenged by his students for not obtaining permission not to say the Shema at his wedding night, replied that he would not cast off from him the responsibility of the kingdom of heaven, even for a moment.

That implies that, in their minds, the Shema had a political import (there is only one universal King); and so did 'the kingdom of heaven' - it wasn't just about piety.


Flavius Josephus reportedly wrote that the Pharisees believed in a measure of freewill, not just in Divine sovereignty, unlike the Essenes:

The Antiquities of the Jews, 13.172

Flavius Josephus  translated by William Whiston
172Now for the Pharisees, they say that some actions, but not all, are the work of fate, and some of them are in our own power, and that they are liable to fate, but are not caused by fate. But the sect of the Essenes affirm, that fate governs all things, and that nothing befalls men but what is according to its determination.

And Paul said that he had been a Pharisee. Yet some people want to impose onto Romans 9-11 the kinds of meanings which would be more Essenian than Pharisaic.


Ways to Evangelise

Ask God, "What do you want me to do?"

And expect an answer within two weeks!

Then step out in faith.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened" (Matthew 7:7,8).

Prayer opens a door of utterance.

"Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:Jesus is the opener of doors" (Colossians 4:3).

"And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel," (Eph.6:19)."For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries" (I Cor.16:9).

Jesus is the opener of doors.

"I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name" (Rev.3:8).

"And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open" (Isaiah 22:22).

God gave to Peter the keys of the kingdom.
"And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:19).

Pray for boldness to speak, and also for the opportunity to speak boldly.

And you shall receive! 

True in General v True in Particular

Some statements in the Bible, while of course true in the sense in which they are made, might not be true in another sense that the Bible discusses a related topic.

For example, baptism. Peter said baptism saves us, and that's true. Baptism is part of the salvation-package. But it would be wrong to say a believer who hasn't been baptised isn't saved - because Cornelius' household believed and even received the Spirit and spoke in tongues, before being baptised.

So, it's the same with being filled with the Holy Spirit. It's true to say all believers have the Spirit of Christ. But it's also true that receiving the Spirit is, in another sense, a distinct experience to salvation - because most of the time in the Bible, believers received the Spirit as an experience distinguishable from the moment they first believed, even separated by a number of days sometimes.

And it's the same with spiritual gifts. All functions in the Church are 'gifts' in a sense, but there's another sense in which only the nine manifestations of the Spirit listed in I Cor.12:7-10 were being discussed as gifts.

Salvation is another topic. The Bible says Jesus is the Saviour of all men. But that doesn't teach universalism. Only believers are truly saved.

Israel. It's true to say all Israel will be saved. But if we want to examine the question in more detail, we might find it doesn't literally mean all citizens of the modern State of Israel. The Bible itself might unpack "all Israel" for us, in its own detailed way.

And yet many times people establish a whole doctrine on taking isolated statements a certain way. What we really should do is examine the Bible's treatment of such topics as a whole.

Synergy of Idealist and Other Views on Revelation

Some say it's mainly about a special period of future-history immediately before the second coming of Christ. Others say it's mainly about the destruction of Jerusalem and related events, which occurred around AD70. Others say it's a timeline of events spanning the entire age of the Church.

But someone else has written that it's all mainly about not so much a sequence of historical events or eras, but sort of about the single reality that "through the awful turmoil and trouble of the world, God is establishing through Jesus a people who, following the lamb, are to bear witness to God's kingdom through their own suffering, through which the world will be brought to repentance and faith, so that ultimately God will be king over all".

So we have futurist, preterist, historicist, or...what would you call the fourth view - idealist? 

New Perspective Gospel Tract?

If Tom Wright wrote a Gospel tract, approximately the same size as Bill Bright's 'Four Spiritual Laws', or Jack Chick's 'This Was Your Life', what would he likely say?

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Robert Lackie 1. As the highmark of his good creation, we were made to be God’s image-bearers in the world, dwelling in his presence.
2. When our worship of him turned to worship of the created, sin entered the world and our exile from God began. 
3. God sent Jesus 
was rescue and restore his creation, taking evil and death upon himself and launching, through his life and death and rising on earth, his New Creation.
4. When we worship him and live with Him as our Lord, we become part of that New Creation which has started with Jesus but is not complete until he brings all things fully under his Rule.

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5 hrs

On Freewill

A lot of us read Romans 9-11 with 16th-century dichotomies in mind, rather than first-century dichotomies: as if the two dichotomies, with regard to God's sovereignty, are Calvinism or Arminianism.
But in the first century AD, the two dichotomies, with regards to God's sovereignty, weren't a choice between Calvinism or Arminianism: there was the Sadducees' view and the Pharisees' view.
And the question that was being asked, with regard to God's sovereignty, was not "how and why do some individuals get saved while others don't" - it was more to do with "how must Israel's restored kingdom come about".
The Pharisees believed (or at least one school among the Pharisees believed) in a certain amount of freewill - that is, they believed they had a role to play in bringing about the kingdom, a somewhat military/political role; while the Sadducees believed God would bring it about all by Himself in His own good time and that the Jews shouldn't engage in any activism to try to make it happen. 
The questions Paul was answering, with regards to God's sovereignty, in Romans 9-11, had more to do with the interaction between God and Israel and Israel's status in the kingdom - a different issue entirely to the Calvinists' issues with Arminians in the 17th century. Interestingly, Paul's background was Pharisaic, the most hands-on type of Pharisee at that, the type that believed most strongly in freewill with regard to Israel finding its place in God's purposes. 

Paul's Paradigm

As readers of literature, it's important that we seek to understand a writer in terms of his own worldview, narrative, stories, questions, problems and solutions - rather than in terms of our own.
I think Paul has often been read through the eyes of 17th century theological and ecclesiological issues and questions - when really Paul's thought should be located within first-century thought, within first-century questions and issues, especially within first-century Jewish story and worldview.
First-century Jews believed they were part of a national story that was going somewhere. Israel had been created out from slavery in Egypt; and their nation had subsequently been exiled, and restored - but they felt their restoration was still incomplete, morally and politically. Then by early in the first-century AD, expectation that the Anointed should come and set everything right, reached fever-pitch, and was soon to reach breaking-point. The Anointed was to come and complete Israel's story - the righteous-dead would be resurrected to participate in that new age.
Israel saw their national story as fitting within a larger story: the story of Abraham and his promised seed. And they saw Abraham's story as fitting within the still-larger story: of Adam and Eve, and of all mankind. Creation itself had begun in paradise, and should be restored to Paradise again. The earth - mankind - were somewhere along the timeline of that unfolding story, and Israel were privileged to be the main actors in it.
The Jews felt their nation was called by God with a special vocation - privileged to be the custodians of that promised-restoration - and agents in bringing it about. They were marked-out for that privilege, they believed, by the 'Torah', their special law - circumcision, and other things - given to them by God, through Moses, through angels.
The Sadducees (and maybe some others too) didn't believe in angels or resurrection - but apart from that detail, pretty-much all first-century Jews lived within the same overall worldview, the same national-story.
But in the fist century, there was a new problem in the 'hood. Rome had recently occupied the land of Judea, and were administering it with an increasingly heavy hand. The Roman rulers were pagans. Idolaters. Uncircumcised. Without Torah. Being under their rule didn't fit Israel's story, looking forward.
Meanwhile they had the Scribes telling them that based on the Scriptures, it was time for the Anointed to arrive.
So what should the Jews do at this juncture? Should they do something to bring-about this 'kingdom'?
"The problem is, the current priesthood just isn't up-to-scratch," said the Pharisees, "We need to start observing the Torah properly."
"Lets be activists in that cause," said the Shammaite school of Pharisees, "there's too much pagan-influence."
"We'll even coerce our fellow-Jews, using violence if necessary," said some of the more zealous ones.
"No, let's not resort to aggression - let's just use more stringent rhetoric," said the Hillel school of Pharisees.
"Yeah, God will bring-about His plans all by Himself, without our help," said the Sadducees, as loath as they were to ever agree with a Pharisee on points of the Torah.
"No, the Temple-priesthood is too far gone," said the Qumran community, "a pure Zadok-priesthood must be restored".
The Temple-building included baptismal pools, but the Qumran community started performing baptisms of their own.
"We'll be like a true Israel within Israel," they said, "Messiah's kingdom will revolve around us, and the rest of 'Israel' will miss out!".
And the Essenes pretty-much agreed with them.
For every two Jews, as the saying goes, there were three opinions.
Enter: John the Baptist. He was from a priestly-family. But he came baptising, not in the Temple, but outdoors (a bit like the Qumran community maybe; the Temple also baptised) - but John's baptism was different: it was a baptism of repentance, promising the forgiveness of sins. Hoards of people turned-out to be baptised by him, but some sects didn't like his popularity.
John even publicly identified who the Anointed One was: a man named JESUS. Everyone knew what that implied: it meant their long-awaited 'kingdom' must be at hand; and with Roman soldiers keeping a watchful eye and always ready to be a bit too interventionist for Israel's liking, such an announcement about the kingdom couldn't have come too soon.
Move forward a few years. A zealous young Pharisee is on the highway. He's got authority from the main priests at Jerusalem to imprison any Jews who he thinks aren't quite doing Torah right. In Gentile cities like Damascus, perhaps the Jews were acting, he thought, a bit too pagan. And those ones who believed in this Jesus! With a name like Saul, Israel's first king, he may have seen himself as helping bring-about Israel's covenant-promised kingdom.
Then as you know, Saul encounters Jesus. "Who are you, Lord?" he asks. "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting".
This meant to Paul that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead. Saul knew the resurrection belongs immediately before the kingdom-age. The fact it had happened to Jesus, means the kingdom must have been inaugurated already in some sense at least, in some very real and powerful way.
It meant God evidently had approved of Jesus. His resurrection meant death had been defeated. Since death came by sin, it meant sin had been defeated.
It meant Jesus' death had been no ordinary death: His death had been substitutionary, and it meant His death had won the decisive victory: over sin, over death, and therefore over the rule of evil.
And the fact Jesus was now appearing to him in glory: meant Jesus was reigning already as Messiah and as Lord!
Paul knew that all this had been the goal of the Torah. It was where Israel's story was always meant to end-up. And now it all appears to have happened, in advance, in Jesus.
That meant JESUS was central to what Abraham's story was all about.
It's what the Old Testament Prophets were foreseeing.
It meant, the new and real way to be 'Israel', to fulfil 'Torah', to be Abraham's 'children', to experience what the Prophets foretold, is to belong to JESUS.
To worship Him.
To spread this good news - the glad announcement - to Jews of course, but also to the whole world, since the original idea was that through the Seed all nations would be blessed.
The light dawned. JESUS is the King! He has won the victory through His substitutionary death, and resurrection, in accordance with Old Testament shadow and prophecy, God has visited His people, acted in history. Jesus reigns victorious over sin, death, the devil, and all enemies political.
All who believe on Him, reign in new life with Him, through baptism.
They can receive the promise of the Spirit, right now.
This is it!
The blessing is for all nations - as Abraham was promised - Israel's vocation (to bless the world) has been fulfilled through God's faithful servant Israel - that is, God's own Son.
Since all this had been God's plan all along, it means that God justifies (declares to be 'in the right') the community of believers in Jesus - even Gentile ones - without them needing to become proselytes to the old Judaisms.
Many ethnic Jews were still unbelieving, like Paul (Saul) himself had been. But that didn't mean God's promises had failed, because many Jews had believed.
It was because of unbelief that the Jews handed their Messiah over to be crucified - but it was through His crucifixion that salvation came to the Gentiles, and also to the Jews themselves. How amazing is God!
That didn't mean God's mission to Jews was over: He was still seeking to save Jews, while ever Gentiles also were still getting saved.
In that scenario, promises concerning Israel were seeing their exact fulfilment.
And then Jesus will come the second time. And complete the salvation-story. God's mission to Jews was over: He was still seeking to save Jews, while ever Gentiles also were still getting saved.
In the meantime we must carry-on exhibiting His kingdom, even through suffering if need be, like He suffered. God is love. If we suffer with Him, we will also reign with Him.
Paul was a changed man. He still had the same big-picture, but now he understood that JESUS is at the centre of it, and some old ways dropped off the side.
His new message created some conflict with Caesar's empire; and not least with the Jews, and even with ex-Pharisee Christians who wanted Gentiles to become proselytes to Judaism, and there was also the possibility that Gentiles, particular in the city of Rome, might think too lowly of Jews.
Those were the kinds of issues and questions Paul addressed. So when he uses terms like predestination, election, justification, the law, "all Israel", kingdom, and salvation - it all fit within his larger worldview, his story, Israel's story.
It wasn't, for example, intended to answer the questions which Calvinists disputed with Arminians over, in the 17th century.
It mightn't even have been intended to make a point which trending 'Hebrew-Roots' people want to make about the 'law', or Dispensationalists want to make about Israel's future.
If we don't identify what questions Paul was answering, we won't understand properly what his answers are about.
Paul was explaining how the gospel fits in, and explains, the first-century Jewish worldview and narrative. How the gospel-scheme of things, as it was seen in the first century Church, exactly fulfilled Old Testament promise.
That's the good news! It's the message which still has power to save today.

The 'law'

It's interesting seeing the different ways the New Testament treats the 'law': 

In one place, Jesus referred to the 'law', then proceeded to quote from the Psalms. So 'law' can refer to the entire Tenakh, the whole of the Old Testament Scriptures. 

In another place, it refers to the Pentateuch, Moses, the first five books. The first five books weren't all commandments - a lot of it was history, even promise (prophecy). So by referring to the 'law', someone could be referring to a promise in Genesis, for example.

Then in another place, the 'law' refers to all of the commandments, statutes and ordinances which God gave to Israel through Moses. 

In another place, it's narrowed down even further to just what was written on stone, the Ten Commandments. 

Then in another place, it mentions the Gentiles having the 'law' written in their hearts even though they didn't have 'the law'. This wasn't precisely the same as Moses' law in every detail, yet it is referred to as 'the law' nonetheless.

Then in another place it mentions the 'uncircumcision' 'keeping the law'. Hang on a minute - circumcision was required by the 'law' - yet here it describes a people as 'keeping' 'the law' even without them becoming circumcised. So that's a different definition of the 'law' and of what it means to 'keep' the law again.

Then it mentions not being under the 'law', yet not being entirely without 'law', but under 'the law' to Christ. 

One place says the 'law' won't pass away 'til it's all fulfilled...

Yet another place mentions a change of the 'law' - an annulment of the 'commandment' - of the 'that which was written on stone' being done away with - even 'abolished' - it describes the covenant as 'old'...

...yet at the same time it still says we don't make the 'law' void, but we uphold it and fulfil it. 

It discusses a 'new covenant' - and yet it's still God's 'laws' which the new covenant writes into new hearts. 

Sometimes the New Testament even uses the same term in a way which means one thing in one place, but something slightly differently in another. 

What does this all mean? How do we unpack all this? Can it all be answered with simple either/or yes/no this/that categories. Or does it require a slightly wider view of the unfolding picture, the whole New Testament considered. How did the Apostles apply what Jesus said? That's an important study-exercise to do.

But here's the thing. For all our differences in how we think the 'law' applies to us today, it all boils down to really only two differences, in the way true believers in Jesus behave: diet, and days. And interestingly, those are two things which the New Testament says are not the essence of the kingdom of God; those are two things about which we can live and let live.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

A Version of Romans 1:16,17

I saw this take on it:

" the gospel the righteousness of God is disclosed which is by fidelity and for fidelity, as it is written, ‘My righteous one [=Jesus] shall live by his faithfulness.’” (1:16-17)

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Message of the Gospel


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Kerygma (from the ancient Greek word κῆρυγμα kêrugma) is a Greek word used in the New Testament for "preaching" (see Luke 4:18-19, Romans 10:14, Matthew 3:1). It is related to the Greek verb κηρύσσω kērússō, literally meaning "to cry or proclaim as a herald" and being used in the sense of "to proclaim, announce, preach". Merriam-Webster defines it as "the apostolic proclamation of salvation through Jesus Christ".[1] Amongst biblical scholars, the term has come to mean the core of the early church's oral tradition about Jesus.

Oral tradition[edit]

"Kerygmatic" is sometimes used to express the message of Jesus' whole ministry, as[2] "a proclamation addressed not to the theoretical reason, but to the hearer as a self"; as opposed to the didactic use of Scripture that seeks understanding in the light of what is taught.[3] The meaning of the crucifixion is central to this concept.
During the mid-20th century, when the literary genre of the New Testament gospels was under debate, scholars like C. H. Dodd and Rudolf Bultmann suggested that the gospels were of a genre unique in the ancient world. They called the genre kerygma and described it as a later development of preaching that had taken a literary form. Scholarship since then has found problems with Bultmann's theory, but in Biblical and theological discussions, the term kerygma has come to denote the irreducible essence of Christian apostolic preaching.
The ancient Christian kerygma as summarized by Dodd from Peter's speeches in the New Testament Book of Acts was:
  1. The Age of Fulfillment has dawned, the "latter days" foretold by the prophets.
  2. This has taken place through the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  3. By virtue of the resurrection, Jesus has been exalted at the right hand of God as Messianic head of the new Israel.
  4. The Holy Spirit in the church is the sign of Christ's present power and glory.
  5. The Messianic Age will reach its consummation in the return of Christ.
  6. An appeal is made for repentance with the offer of forgiveness, the Holy Spirit, and salvation.

New Testament[edit]

The New Testament is a collection of early Christian writings taken to be holy scripture. It includes many of the same proclamations as the oral tradition that preceded it.
  1. The promises of God made in the Old Testament have now been fulfilled with the coming of Jesus, the Messiah (Book of Acts 2:30; 3:19, 24, 10:43; 26:6-7, 22; Epistle to the Romans 1:2-4; 1 Timothy 3:16; Epistle to the Hebrews 1:1-21 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:18-19).
  2. Jesus was anointed by God at his baptism as Messiah (Acts 10:38).
  3. Jesus began his ministry in Galilee after his baptism (Acts 10:37).
  4. He conducted a beneficent ministry, doing good and performing mighty works by the power of God (Mk 10:45; Acts 2:22; 10:38).
  5. The Messiah was crucified according to the purpose of God (Mk 10:45; Jn 3:16; Acts 2:23; 3:13-15, 18; 4:11; 10:39; 26:23; Ro 8:34; 1 Corinthians 1:17-18; 15:3; Galatians 1:4; Heb 1:3; 1Peter 1:2, 19; 3:18; 1 Jn 4:10).
  6. He was raised from the dead and appeared to his disciples (Acts 2:24, 31-32; 3:15, 26; 10:40-41; 17:31; 26:23; Ro 8:34; 10:9; 1Co 15:4-7, 12ff.; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1Tim 3:16; 1Peter 1:2, 21; 3:18, 21).
  7. Jesus was exalted by God and given the name "Lord" (Acts 2:25-29, 33-36; 3:13; 10:36; Rom 8:34; 10:9; 1Tim 3:16; Heb 1:3; 1Peter 3:22).
  8. He gave the Holy Spirit to form the new community of God (Ac 1:8; 2:14-18, 33, 38-39; 10:44-47; 1Peter 1:12).
  9. He will come again for judgment and the restoration of all things (Ac 3:20-21; 10:42; 17:31; 1Co 15:20-28; 1Th 1:10).
  10. All who hear the message should repent and be baptized (Ac 2:21, 38; 3:19; 10:43, 47-48; 17:30; 26:20; Ro 1:17; 10:9; 1Pe 3:21).