Archive for December 16th, 2009

I am nearly finished with Justification and, as I have said at some point in each post I have made on this book, I am thoroughly amazed at the depth of NT Wright’s understanding. His ability to see an entire letter in one stroke is mind-boggling and a profound example for all exegetes and preachers.

I have just a short thought for today, one that will hopefully generate some conversation about the issue it raises. Here it is:

The Gentiles are fellow heirs! They are part of the same body! They are co-sharers in the promise through the Gospel! And, tellingly, this bringing-the-world-together gospel was the main aim of God’s grace in calling Paul to be an apostle.

Why? What’s the point? Yes, say the scoffers, ethnic divisions are broken down, we know that, but why make such a fuss about it? The answer is that the church, thus united through the grace of God in the death of Jesus, is the sign to the principalities and powers that their time is up. Ephesians is not about the ordering of the church by the gospel for its own sake. ‘Ecclesiology’ may sound secondary and irrelevant to some ardent enthusiasts for the old perspective, but that could just be because they are unwilling to face the consequences of Paul’s ecclesiology. For him, the church is constituted, and lives its life in public, in such a way as to confront the rulers of the world with the news that there is ‘another king named Jesus’ (Acts 17:7).

Why should not the point of justification itself be precisely this, that, in constituting the church as the single family who are a sign to the powers that Jesus is Lord and that they are not, it serves directly the mission of the kingdom of God in the world? It cannot be, can it, that part of the old perspective’s reaction to the new is the tacit sense that once we associate ecclesiology with the very center of the gospel we will have to go all the way and rethink the political role and task of the church? Surely the wonderful ‘objective’ scholarship of so many old perspective exponents would not allow such a motive to affect exegesis! (NT Wright, Justification, 173, 174)

What do you think? Could he be right?

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