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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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 77 (Futility)

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 8:20-21

(Rom. 8:20-21 ESV) 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope  21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

Wright says,

Whereas, up until now, it might have been possible to think that Paul was simply talking about God’s salvation in relation to human beings, from here on it is clear that the entire cosmos is in view. Nor is this a strange oddity, bolted on to the outside of his theology, or of the argument of Romans, as though it were simply a bit of undigested Jewish apocalyptic speculation thrown in here for good measure. No: it is part of the revelation of God’s righteousness, that covenant faithfulness that always aimed at putting the whole world to rights. This is why, as we saw in 4:13, Paul declared that God’s promise to Abraham had the whole world in view.

N.T. Wright, “The Letter to the Romans,” in The Acts of the Apostles-The First Letter to the Corinthians, vol. 10 of NIB, Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), 596. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 76, Part 2 (the Creation Waits with Eager Longing)

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.

Does the OT agree with Paul that the Creation groans in anticipation of is redemption? [JFG]

It’s not unfair to ask where Paul got his doctrine. And it’s possible that he knows what he knows solely by direct revelation from God. Or maybe there’s even more to it.

(Isa. 65:17-25 ESV) 17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. … 25 The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the LORD.”

Notice that Isaiah, in highly poetic, metaphorical language speaks of the NHNE in terms of the wolf and lamb grazing together, etc. Isaiah sees the redemption of the Creation as extending to the animal kingdom. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 76, Part 1 (the Creation Waits with Eager Longing)

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 8:18

(Rom. 8:18 ESV)  18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

The translations differ as to whether Paul means revealed “in” (KJV, NKJV, NIV) us or “to” (ESV, NET, NASB, NRSV) us. The Greek preposition is eis, usually translated “into,” “unto,” or “toward.” Wright says that the preposition is —

implying not merely that we are to be shown a vision of glory (as the NRSV implies), nor simply that a glory will appear within us (as the NIV implies), but that the future revelation will bestow glory upon us, from above, as a gift.

N.T. Wright, “The Letter to the Romans,” in The Acts of the Apostles-The First Letter to the Corinthians, vol. 10 of NIB, Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), 595.

That is, not only will we see glorious things, and not only will glorious things take place, but we’ll participate in the glories of the New Heavens and New Earth (NHNE) (which Paul will get to shortly). Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 75 (We Suffer with Him)

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 8:14-17, Part 3

(Rom. 8:14-17 ESV)  14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  17 and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 

Suffering

I’m not a fan of the verses on suffering. And so it’s really tempting to skip them, and I doubt that many readers would complain. We rarely preach on these, and we tend to gloss over them in Bible class. We Americans just don’t suffer as the First Century Christians did. I mean, to us, “persecution” is a threatened loss of tax-exempt status. I commend to your reading some of the martyrdom accounts in the Ante-Nicene Fathers. They’ll give you a new appreciation for the price that was paid for Christianity to survive the brutal persecutions of the Romans. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 74 (Sons and Heirs)

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 8:14-17, Part 2

(Rom. 8:14-17 ESV)  14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  17 and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 

V. 16 has always been difficult, especially for me growing up in the Churches of Christ. My Baptist friends insisted that this verse promises a subjective assurance not only of salvation but of perseverance — that you’ll never fall away. But by high school, we all knew kids who’d “been saved” and clearly weren’t living the lives of Christians. My Baptist friends assured me that such people had never really been saved and that their internal assurance had been self-deception.

I granted the theoretical possibility but told them I failed to see any advantage in an internal, subjective assurance that might really just be self-deception. They were not happy with me at all, and they correctly pointed out that their doctrine was better than my “hardly ever saved” doctrine. And so this passage has always held a fascination for me. Continue reading

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