N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 15 (Israel’s Unrighteousness and God’s Righteousness, Part 2)

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.

Rom 3:1-6

Let’s look a little closer as some of the verses to make sure that Wright’s interpretation really fits the text.

(Rom. 3:1-2 ESV) Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?  2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. 

Remember the context. Paul had just argued that circumcision of the heart by the Spirit matters in preference to circumcision of the flesh, at the end of chapter 2. That gives rise to the very natural question: What’s the point of physical circumcision? Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 12 (Circumcision of the heart, Part 6A)

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.

David’s comment

I want to respond to a comment by David,

David wrote,

It would seem that Joel 2:30, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” was the apostle’s prooftext to show that when the Messiah and Spirit came, the ceremonial laws of Moses would be irrelevant.

I agree, and I think there’s even more to it. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 14 (Israel’s Unrighteousness and God’s Righteousness, Part 1)

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.

Rom 3:1-6

Wright probably spends more words in his book on Rom 3 than any other chapter of Romans. He sees the interpretation of this chapter as the turning point in how the rest of Romans should be read, especially the last few verses.

Wright explains,

Israel’s privilege was to be entrusted with the divine oracles; that is a way of summing up the vocation spelled out in 2: 19– 20 [JFG: to be a light to the world]. But Israel had been “faithless” to that commission, putting in question the divine “faithfulness” (3: 3) and the divine “truthfulness” (3: 4); but God will be seen to be dikaios, true to his covenant justice, despite it all (3: 4b– 5). Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 13 (Circumcision of the heart, Part 7)

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 accomplishes our salvation.

Rom 2:25-29

(Rom. 2:25-29 ESV)  25 For circumcision [the mark of a Jews] indeed is of value if you obey the law [Torah], but if you break the law [Torah], your circumcision becomes uncircumcision [of the heart under Deu 10:16 and 30:6].  

26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law [Torah], will not his [physical] uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision [or the heart]?  27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code [Torah] and circumcision but break the law [Torah].

28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical.  29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter [merely knowing Torah rather than obeying Torah]. His praise is not from man but from God.

I realize that I’ve spent too much time on this one passage, but if you don’t get this passage, you don’t get Romans. If you assume that Paul is talking about the importance of individual Bible study, you’ve missed Romans. If you think that Spirit is irrelevant to the modern church, then you’ve missed Romans.

In fact, Paul did not write this passage to address the faith/works controversy. And he’s not focused on atonement theory (how we get saved). Of course, the passage does speak to those questions — profoundly. But that’s not the over-arching point. The main point is that Gentiles are welcomed by God into the Kingdom, along with Jews, without having to become Jewish proselytes. They may enter the Kingdom as Gentiles because their hearts are circumcised by the Spirit — and this is the true mark of a child of God.
Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 12 (Circumcision of the heart, Part 6)

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.

Rom 2:25-29, Part 6 [JFG]

(Rom. 2:25-29 ESV)  25 For circumcision [the mark of a Jew] indeed is of value if you obey the law [Torah], but if you break the law [Torah], your circumcision becomes uncircumcision [of the heart under Deu 10:16 and 30:6].  

26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law [Torah], will not his [physical] uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision [or the heart]?  27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code [Torah] and circumcision but break the law [Torah].

28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical.  29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter [merely knowing Torah rather than obeying Torah]. His praise is not from man but from God.

Joel [JFG]

We have to cover Joel 2:28-32a, because the NT authors repeatedly cite to this passage:

(Joel 2:28-32a ESV)  28 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.  29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.  31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.  32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

At Pentecost, Peter declared this prophecy fulfilled. We generally skip ahead to Acts 2:38, ignoring almost all of Peter’s sermon. But this is the passage that Peter both began and ended with. And it’s the passage that Paul relies on in Rom 10. That is, the two passages we rely on to teach the Five Step Plan of Salvation are both based on this passage in Joel! It just might be important. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 11 (Circumcision of the heart, Part 5)

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 accomplishes our salvation.

Rom 2:25-29, Part 5 [JFG]

(Rom. 2:25-29 ESV)  25 For circumcision [the mark of a Jews] indeed is of value if you obey the law [Torah], but if you break the law [Torah], your circumcision becomes uncircumcision [of the heart under Deu 10:16 and 30:6].  

26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law [Torah], will not his [physical] uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision [or the heart]?  27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code [Torah] and circumcision but break the law [Torah].

28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical.  29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter [merely knowing Torah rather than obeying Torah]. His praise is not from man but from God.

Jeremiah, the Spirit, and the New Covenant [JFG]

While Ezekiel was speaking for God to the Jews in Babylon, Jeremiah remained behind in Jerusalem, prophesying for God to the king. (Anyone who longs for the gift of prophecy needs to read what Ezekiel and Jeremiah went through for God.)

Like Ezekiel, Jeremiah has much to say about the end of Exile, but he does not speak much in terms of God’s Spirit. Rather, he focuses on the hearts of the people, clearly influenced by Deuteronomy’s insistence that Israel not be “stubborn” and circumcise their own hearts to love God with all their hearts (Deu 10:16). Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 10 (Circumcision of the heart, Part 4)

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 accomplishes our salvation.

Rom 2:25-29, Part 4 [JFG]

(Rom. 2:25-29 ESV)  25 For circumcision [the mark of a Jews] indeed is of value if you obey the law [Torah], but if you break the law [Torah], your circumcision becomes uncircumcision [of the heart under Deu 10:16 and 30:6].  

26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law [Torah], will not his [physical] uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision [or the heart]?  27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code [Torah] and circumcision but break the law [Torah].

28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical.  29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter [merely knowing Torah rather than obeying Torah]. His praise is not from man but from God.

Ezekiel and the Spirit  [JFG]

Ezekiel’s prophecies about the Glory of God establish many of the NT’s metaphors used to describe the Spirit. But there are also several passages speaking more directly to what the Spirit will do in the Messianic age.

(Ezek. 11:17-21 ESV)  17 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’  18 And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations.  19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,  20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.  21 But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord GOD.”

Now, “spirit” in v. 19 is generally translated with a lower case “s” — although this is far from certain. The word (ruach) can mean Spirit, life, breath, wind, or even attitude. And Ezekiel is certainly saying that the people will have an attitude change. But as we’ll see, Ezekiel likes to play with the multiple meanings of ruach, so that “spirit” often carries more than one meaning — such as both Spirit and attitude. After all, the Holy Spirit does change our hearts to have a better attitude. Continue reading

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