N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 84 (the Image of His Son)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Romans 8:29-30, Part 3

(Rom. 8:29-30 ESV)  29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

“the image of his Son”

There’s a lot packed into these two verses, and we really can’t leave without discussing “image.” I mean, we tend to get so enamored of the arguments about Calvinism that we often fail to see other key lessons that may be far more important. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 83 (He Predestined)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Romans 8:29-30, Part 2

(Rom. 8:29-30 ESV)  29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

“Predestined”

Of course, we’ve covered the heart of the predestination question in the previous two posts. But there are a few remaining points that need to be considered.

First, Paul clearly considers predestination distinct from foreknowledge. Many modern readers assume that foreknowledge necessarily triggers predestination, because there can be no foreknowledge if there is free will. But Paul plainly sees predestination as a blessing beyond foreknowledge — “those whom he foreknew he also predestined” — and so as the words are used by Paul, they are not logical equivalents. What’s the difference? Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 82 (He Foreknew)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Romans 8:29-30, Part 1 

(Rom. 8:29-30 ESV)  29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

“Foreknew”

The first full-quarter Bible class I ever taught in church was in 1978. It was the college class, and somehow or other, the subject of predestination came up. I explained that I believe in predestination. The class was, of course, shocked.

But I read this passage as well as Eph 1:15, both of which speak very plainly of predestination. “If the Bible teaches predestination, then I believe in predestination. I just don’t believe it means what Calvin says it means. But we should believe it and we should teach it–but only in the sense in which Paul used the terms.” My opinion has not changed (on this question).

(By the way, the way you get college students to believe your teaching is to be honest even when it runs against conventional wisdom.)

Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 81 (a Called People)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Romans 8:28, Part 2

(Rom. 8:28 ESV)  28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 

“Called according to his purpose”

“Called” is often used in the NT to refer to saved people. Calvinists argue that God only calls those unconditionally elected to salvation. Arminians argue that “call” means “efficacious call,” that is, a call that the lost person responds to either as a matter of free will or after receiving prevenient grace in the form of the Spirit allowing him to respond but not forcing him to respond. Hence, the issue always boils down to free will. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 80 (all things work together for good)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Romans 8:28, Part 1

(Rom. 8:28 ESV)  28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 

This is a difficult verse. I mean, we teach it to children and paste it on refrigerator magnets. But it seems to be tinged with Calvinism with this language about being “called”  — and Paul will soon be talking about predestination. And the fact is that bad things happen to good people — not always but often enough to make us want to question the usual way of reading this passage.

“Work together for the good”

One common reading of this phrase is that Paul essentially repeating the thought of Rom 8:18. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 79 (the Spirit Helps Us in Our Weakness)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Romans 8:24-25

(Rom. 8:24-25 ESV)  24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?  25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 

New Perspective commentator James D. G. Dunn explains,

The not-yetness of the salvation process at present means that Christian faith is characterized as hope. Paul makes something of the point, quite likely because he feared that there were some in the Roman congregations who, like others at Corinth from where he was writing, overemphasized the “already” aspect of salvation, who took a too enthusiastic delight in the experience of the Spirit already given. …

His logic is straightforward: if we “hope” for something, that must mean by definition that we do not see it within our grasp, we do not yet have it. We exercise hope in relation to that which lies ahead of us, in the still invisible future. Paul the Christian will not allow his attention to become wholly absorbed in the present, whether its responsibilities or its frustrations. His gaze repeatedly lifts to the far horizon, and the hope of what lies beyond it is what sustains his faith despite the contradictions of the present.

He would probably have no need to remind his readers of the positive character of this “hope” (unlike the weaker modern version which merges into mere wishful thinking). And the no doubt deliberate use of the aorist (“we are saved,” rather than “we are being saved”) makes the same point. Salvation is something certain for those who have the Spirit and are led by the Spirit. 

James D. G. Dunn, Romans 1–8, WBC 38A; Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988), 491-492. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 78 (Groaning in the Pains of Childbirth)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Romans 8:22-23

(Rom. 8:22-23 ESV)  22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 

“Groaning” 

I take Paul’s language regarding the Creation to be an anthropomorphism. That is, it’s poetic imagery to make a vivid point. I don’t think that the entire Creation is sentient or capable of emotion. But that doesn’t allow us to ignore Paul’s point. The Creation is in bondage (slavery), waiting to be set free. The heavens and the earth will be changed into something better — as freedom is better than slavery.

And it’s a result of humanity’s sinfulness. It’s not just Adam’s sin. He’s been dead for quite a long time. Our continued sin continues to enslave the Creation under the curse of Gen 3.  Continue reading

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