Jul 18, 2007

During our second class in this series, we walked few multiple texts that deal with the theme of creation and covenant, both in the Old Testament and in Paul's writings. Here are the texts that we reviewed:

  • Psalm 19
  • Psalm 74
  • Deuteronomy 28:1-14; 15-19
  • Isaiah 51:12-16
  • Colossians 1:15-20
  • I Corinthians 15
  • Romans chs 1-11

The theme of creation and covenant is most succinctly seen in the Colossians text, which reads as follows:

[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

In this text, we see Christ both as the means by which creation is renewed ("firstborn over all creation") and the means by which covenant is fulfilled ("God was pleased...through him to reconcile to himself all things"). Wright tells us:

[Paul] believes that Israel’s God, the creator, has acted decisively to fulfil the covenant promises and to renew both covenant and creation. Paul thereby understands himself to be living at a different moment in the story….The new age has already begun, though the old age continues alongside it….

…[T]he twin themes of creation and covenant offer a context, an implicit narrative, within which we can grasp Paul’s understanding of what has gone wrong in the world and in Israel and how it is put right…

For Paul, God's "project" is to fulfil his covenant promise to renew creation. Everything that God is doing through Jesus serves the purpose that he has held all along - that of rescuing the world from bondage to sin and death and bringing it into new life.

Next week, we will look at two additional themes in Paul's writings: (1) that of Messiah and Apocalypse and (2) that of Gospel and Empire.



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