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09/01/2009

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Steve Rives

Lee,

This is exactly what N. T. Wright is missing (or what he fails to write about clearly). My previous pastor mailed Wright a copy of Kingdom Prologue, the idea being that it would be great if theologians accounted for the rightly-dividing that goes on there.

Your two-part summary gets to the essence of the matter of the larger discussion about Wright. The content of these two posts is not beyond the reach of any thoughtful Christian pastor. To that end, that this is not widely understood by more pastors and teachers is a real head-scratcher. That N. T. Wright is missing this part of the story (since he loves the story) is a worse case of head-scratching.

Re: the content of what you wrote, Isiah 49:3 comports well, because The Servant (the man Jesus) who suffers is named. Jesus is the second Adam, and also the suffering Servant who himself is named "Israel". He is all that Israel was supposed to be. When we want to understand Israel's mission and purpose, we look to Jesus for the answers, not to the rebellious nation. In keeping Torah, Jesus embodied and showed us Israel wedded in covenant fidelity to God.

Representative theology is critical here. Jesus is Israel. Likewise, one modern rabbi made the clever observation, "sinful Israel is like the rest of rebellious humanity, only more so!" OT Israel is an intense representative of sin and Adam's fallen family. But going beyond this rabbi's clever observation, we know that Jesus is the true Israel whereby in Him, Jew and Gentile share in true circumcissioin -- of the heart. Jesus is the head of a new humanity, a true Adam, and a true family, a true Israel.

Along these lines, as I use your Five Stages of the Kingdom of God in my own teaching, I tie the second stage, the Promise of the Kingdom given to Abraham, to Gen 3. That is, the promises made to Adam and Eve are the basis of the second stage of the kingdom of God and get fleshed-out in the covenant with Abraham.

Thanks again for great posts, I wish N. T. Wright would work this into his writings.

Steve

Joe Branca

This is a helpful overview. There's so much that can be fleshed out, but one thing I'm thinking about a lot is correlating Paul and the author of Hebrews on this. One of the points made in Hebrews is that the tabernacle and rites of Israel could not deal with what was the true barrier between God and the people, an inward guilty conscience. Heb. 9:9b, cf Psalm 51:16,17.

Overall the Hebrews author does limit the discussion of the significance of Christ's death to the particulars of Israel's history, but by showing how the institutions of Israel always pointed to something beyond themselves, ultimately fulfilled in Christ. The implicit reason being that the true barrier between God and man, the guilty conscience of the individual sinner, is a universal concern! (i.e. not just a late medieval European concern) The tabernacle institutions demonstrated, in imperfect localized concrete symbols, there was an as yet undisclosed way of free access to a holy God.

Paul holds to the same view as Hebrews, but elaborates on it differently. He obviously considers Christ's atoning work in terms of our federal representation in the two Adams. But also look at the context of Eph. 2:17-21, where he writes about the peacemaking effects of Christ's saving work in joining together Jew and Gentile (a big theme for Wright). Paul doesn't seem so concerned about the visible community rightly identified, but that it is a revelation of the one way of free access to a holy God made possible for both Jew and Gentile through the saving work of Christ. It's revolutionary because, once again, in context there is this universal problem of the guilty conscience plaguing both Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:1-3).

j

T. David Gordon

Lee,

You are surely right when you say: "I would argue that the role of the Davidic king is what most clearly points backward to Adam and forward to Christ as the second Adam." This was Isaac Watts's point--to understand the Psalms correctly, the "I" who authors them is David, who is far more like the "Son of David" than he is to Joe Israelite or Joe Christian. I don't suggest for a moment that Watts has ended our efforts to paraphrase the Psalter; but he surely began it, and he did so on good grounds.

T. David

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