October 16, 2011

The New Perspective on Paul-- A Pastoral Explanation, Pt. 4: "The Works of the Law" [EDITOR'S NOTE: This is Part 4 of a 4-part series. It would be critical to read Part 1 , Part 2, and Part 3 of this series first.] The final focus of my attempt at a pastoral explanation of the "New Perspective on Paul" also has to do with the meaning of a phrase. This time, we won't need to turn to Greek grammar or explore the use of the phrase in the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The phrase is the "works of the law." The NPP's new shade of meaning on this phrase has to do with the context of "Second Temple Judaism", or Judaism around the 1st century. Based on writings that were part of the Dead Seas Scolls and other inter-testamental writings, some scholars have argued that the phrase, "works of the law", referred to specific Torah-observances. These were Torah-observances that specifically marked out their Jewish identity, a matter of central importance for a people who have come out of exile and begun to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. What were these specific "works of the law"? Jewish dietary laws, Jewish holy days, and circumcision. Each of these "Torah-observances" specifically marked their ethnic identity as the people of God, as descendants of Abraham. It is no coincidence that the specific Torah observances that Jesus and Paul set aside were....Jewish holy days (Jesus healing on the Sabbath!), circumcision (Paul's arguent in Galatians), and Jewish dietary restrictions (Paul in 1 Corinthians). Without this reading of the phrase "works of the law", Paul and James seem to be in conflict with each other. Paul wrote: Romans 3:27-28 (NET) "Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded! By what principle? Of works? No, but by the principle of faith! 3:28 For we consider that a person is declared...
Live In a Way That Makes No Sense Stanley Hauerwas, the famed ethicist at Duke and one of America's greatest theologians, described "Christian ethics" this way: Living in such a way that would make no sense if Jesus Christ had not risen from the dead. For Hauerwas, believing in the resurrection of Christ is good, but not as good as really living lives that make sense only if Jesus Christ did in fact rise from the dead. So, what does that mean? What would that look like? As we begin a new year, it's worth reflecting on what type of lives would make no sense if Jesus has not risen from the dead and ascended to His throne as the righful ruler of this world. Here are a few ways... Forgive freely and quickly. The power of forgiveness has been released in the world because the crucifed Son of God did not stay dead. All the force of wickedness and evil was laid on him, and He exhasuted it in His death...then rose in victory over it. Speak words of life and blessing...even about those (and to those) who say hateful and hurtful things. Discern the prejudices we hide in the name of "protecting our children" or "defending our freedom." Tell the truth to yourself about the ugliness of our own hateful hearts. And let the Word of Christ that brought life to us bring life to others through you. Choose peace over power and violence. Christ is the strange Savior who chose to be killed rather than to kill, who told Peter to put away the sword, who defeated violence by refusing violence. He let Evil and Violence do their worst to Him, and then God rasied Him in vindication, establishing Him as the Ruler over all. The world is fueled by pride and is motivated by...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

The Typepad Team

Recent Comments