N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 58 (if her husband dies, she is free from that law)

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 7:1 -4

(Rom. 7:1-4 NET) Or do you not know, brothers and sisters (for I am speaking to those who know the law [Torah]), that the law [Torah] is lord over a person as long as he lives?  2 For a married woman is bound by law [Torah] to her husband as long as he lives, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of the marriage.  3 So then, if she is joined to another man while her husband is alive, she will be called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she is joined to another man, she is not an adulteress.  4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law [Torah] through the body of Christ [by joining in his death through baptism], so that you could be joined to another [that is, Jesus], to the one who was raised from the dead, to bear fruit to God.

Paul is continuing the discussion begun in chapter 6. That is, he’s still answering why we shouldn’t sin so that grace may abound. In 7:1, however, he changes metaphors. He was talking about Christians as slaves to God. Now, he speaks of the “law of marriage” and freedom from this law through death.

Now, Paul is not teaching a lesson about divorce and remarriage. Rather, he is using marriage as an example to reason from — and he is making no effort to lay out a complete doctrine of marriage and divorce. His point is simply that death ends a marriage — which no one disagrees with. His point is not that only death can end a marriage. He simply doesn’t address that question at all in this passage, and we should not read more into the passage than is really there. In fact, the Torah allows divorce. Deu 24 is quite clear on the point.  Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 57 (the gift of God)

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 6:19

(Rom. 6:19 NET) 19 (I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh.) For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

Paul begins next to back away from the slave market analogy. He is speaking in “human terms” because of our fallen natures. We’ve been justified and reconciled to God, but we are still broken eikons — images of God. We’re still prone to sin, and our comprehension of spiritual truths is still difficult for us. Continue reading

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An email about the name “Church of Christ”

I get emails.

My question is could we break down our fortress walls among people by taking down signs that mislabel buildings etc. and put up simply “A PLACE OF WORSHIP”? (and times when people gather?)

This Church of Christ business has been a thorn in my flesh for a long time now. Isn’t “church of God,” used 8 time when referring to a particular congregation in scripture where as “Church of Christ” is not? My favorite is “church of the living God.” Why do Church of Christ advocates seem to semi-worship “Church of Christ”? Help me out with this. 

Well, it’s complicated but not all that complicated. These are the assumptions underlying our relationship with our denominational name: Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 56 (slaves of righteousness)

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 6:15-18

Paul next shifts gears, only slightly, to speak in terms of the slave market. This fits well, of course, with the Exodus metaphor Paul works within.

(Rom. 6:15 NET)  15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not! 

Notice that Paul is now speaking of law (Torah) as though it were Sin and Death. Up to this point, he’d only argued that baptism moves us from the rule of Sin and Death to the rule of Jesus. But now his argument assumes that being under the Torah is to be under Sin and Death. Continue reading

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On Sojourners, Walls, and Illegal Aliens, Part 9 (Where the Rubber Hits the Road)

[This is too long for a single post, but I couldn’t find a good way to split it and spread it over two or three days.]

walls-of-jerusalem

The Pottery Barn rule

The civil law question of who should get into the country and on what terms is a very different question governed by  considerations that don’t apply to the church as the church.

There is no biblical command to the USA as a nation-state to be hospitable, although the moral argument is very powerful — just as was true of Sodom and Gomorrah. After all, we’re the ones who helped make such a colossal mess of the Middle East. It was Thomas Friedman who applied the Pottery Barn rule to foreign policy: You break it; you own it.

This is why so much of the world is outraged at the American refusal to allow immigrants from Syria. We helped break it. We should help fix it. And maybe immigration isn’t the best solution. But that’s a political question having to do with nation building, the use of the military, relationships with the Russians, and lots of other things that the Bible wasn’t written to address. The Bible can inform our foreign policy, but it’s not really a manual on how to do good government. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 55 (Jesus died once for all)

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 6:8-10

(Rom. 6:8-10 NET)  8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  9 We know that since Christ has been raised from the dead, he is never going to die again; death no longer has mastery over him.  10 For the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God.

Verse 9 is, of course, central to the Christian message. Jesus was not merely resuscitated to die again. Rather, a resurrection defeats death. Jesus, by being resurrected, has overcome the “mastery” of Death and Sin. “Mastery” could also be translated “dominion” (as in the NIV, ESV, and NASB), which likely is closer to Paul’s thought. Although, if we were to think in terms of “master” and slave, the “mastery” would work very well. It’s just that that word has lost most of its slavemaster flavor in contemporary English. Continue reading

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On Sojourners, Walls, and Illegal Aliens, Part 8 (To Whom Are the Commands Given?)

walls-of-jerusalem

To whom are the hospitality commands given?

The original series from May 2016 has now concluded. Reflecting back on those posts, I now realize that I failed to meaningfully address what may be the biggest question: To whom were the sojourner and hospitality commands given?

Well, obviously enough, the commands about how to treat the sojourner were given in the Torah to the nation of Israel. They were to be obeyed  by the individual Israelites, but also by the king and the other leaders of the people. The sojourner commands are largely part of the civil law of Israel. Continue reading

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