Paul and James on the Meaning of Genesis 15:6

Gerald Hiestand: One of the more revealing aspects of Paul and James’ soteriology is the different ways they both use Genesis 15:6 (“And Abraham believed God and it was counted for him as righteousness,”) as a proof text to defend their comments about the gospel. The key observation to make is that in Romans 4, Paul views the birth of Isaac as the fulfillment of Genesis 15:6, whereas in James 2, James views the offering of Isaac as the fulfillment of Genesis 15:6. These readings are not mutually exclusive, and ultimately serve as complementary theological readings of the same OT text. In what follows I offer a sketch (scratchy notes, if you will) of my reading of Paul and James’ use of Gen 15:6, with a view to showing how their use of this text sheds light on their respective soteriological frameworks. Paul and Genesis 15:6 In Romans 1-3 Paul is laboring to show that righteousness comes through faith in

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What Ephesians Teaches Us about Our Past, Present, and Future

  Edward T. Welch: The Rich Story of Scripture You probably have a friend or family member who has told the same story dozens of times, but somehow, each time, you are still interested in hearing it. Stories that have this kind of staying power are not simply entertaining. They are instructive. They are about the past but affect the present and might even point the way to a future. That’s what we want to do with Scripture. We want to be able to tell and retell the story and have it shape us. This will help us remember it and quickly return to it when life’s troubles come our way. Ephesians 1:3–14 is a particularly rich way of telling the story of Scripture, and Paul’s excitement is such that the original passage is one long, breathless sentence. The flow of his thought goes from past, to present, to future. Past Our past is a mess of good things and

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Simon Gathercole Gets It Wright

  Andrew Wilson: Simon Gathercole is one of the brightest New Testament scholars around, as well as being a conservative evangelical, which makes him something of a unicorn. In a recent review of Tom Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God, he puts his finger on something I’ve never quite been able to nail down, but have always had a funny feeling about: . “The argument here is, at risk of caricature, that big is better. The broader the canvas and the more all-encompassing the narrative, the more important the theme is. But I’m not sure that that does best justice to Paul. It remains unclear to me that the main theme of Paul’s gospel was ‘God’s restorative justice for the whole of creation’. When he summarises his gospel, he uses not themes and language comparable to those of Romans 8.18-27, but rather talks of Christ’s death for our sins and his resurrection on the third day. This is the focus in

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The Great Antithesis of Galatians 3

A helpful summary from Dane Ortlund: Our Natural Intuitions The Gospel of  Grace Activity: works  (3:2, 5, 10) faith  (3:2-9, 22-25) Source: law  (3:2, 5, 10-13, 17-24) promise  (3:17-19, 22, 29) Power: flesh  (3:3) Holy Spirit  (3:2, 3, 5, 14) Key OT figure: Moses  (3:15-22) Abraham  (3:6-9, 14, 16-18) Identity: slaves  (3:22-29) sons  (3:7, 26-29) Verdict: condemnation justification (3:6, 8, 11, 24) Recipients: insiders only anyone  (3:7-9, 14, 26-29) Eternal result: curse  (3:10-13) blessing  (3:8-9, 14) Social result: disunity  (3:28–29) unity  (3:28–29)

Paul Was Preaching Bad News, Not the Gospel, at Mars Hill

Justin Taylor: Daniel Strange of Oak Hill College, speaking at the Evangelical Alliance’s “Confidence in the Gospel” initiative, argues that Paul’s Mars Hill speech in Acts 17 is not actually gospel, but the necessary context for understanding the gospel. In this 10 minute talk, he gives a nice overview of Paul’s attitude, approach, and appeal: Here is a summary from Dr Strange: Paul’s speech to the Areopagus (Acts 17) is bad news. It doesn’t talk about God’s love or grace, it talks about judgement. Then, when he does talk about the resurrection, it’s to point to the coming judgement! It doesn’t mention the cross and neither does it mention the name Jesus—only ‘he’ at the very end. Actually, Paul’s speech is not expounding the gospel, rather it is commending the gospel; drawing attention to its ultimacy and urgency. The point is this: you will not understand the good news of Jesus and his resurrection unless there is a context to

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Gospel Fellowship

Dane Ortlund: Silly Peter: ‘Before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles, but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party’ (Gal 2:12). Fellowship broke. Now how does Paul handle this? Certainly, he rebukes Peter—’I opposed him to his face’ (2:11). Yet how does Paul do this? What is his diagnosis?Paul identifies Peter’s error as gospel error. ‘I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel’ (2:14). What was Peter’s mistake? Gospel leakage. But in what way was Peter’s heart leaking out gospel? How specifically was he not believing the gospel?The text tells us: ‘fearing the circumcision party’ (2:12). Fear. That was what drove Peter. To sum up: Paul says Peter feared other men, causing him to not walk in step with the gospel, causing him to introduce all kinds of dysfunction into his relationships with other people. I conclude: the gospel liberates us not only from

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The Book of Galatians in 30 Tweets

  By David Mathis: Paul is en fuego in his letter to the Galatians. He’s flaming with a righteous apostolic anger. Best advice perhaps is don’t try this at home. But do read it at home. Hear it preached. Study it. Write about it. Even tweet it. Whatever it takes to have Paul’s blazing fire warm the coals of your love for Jesus and for his gospel of grace. Here’s installment number four in tweeting Paul’s epistles. We started with Romans. Then 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians. Now batting: The Book of Galatians. For starters, here’s a one-tweet summary of the letter: Jesus’s astounding grace is to be admired and appreciated, not added to. #Galatians What follows are 29 more designed to walk you through six red-hot, gospel-rich chapters, each with a Galatians hashtag. Grab a Twitter account and help us get #Galatians trending today, if you would. Here’s the full slate of Galatians tweets we’ll be dispensing throughout the morning: Chapter 1 Jesus gave himself

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Do You Expect a Response to the Preaching of the Gospel?

“St Paul expected his hearers to be moved. He so believed in his preaching that he knew that it was “the power of God unto salvation” [Rom. 1:16]. This expectation is a very real part of the presentation of the Gospel. It is a form of faith. A mere preaching which is not accompanied by the expectation of faith, is not a true preaching of the Gospel, because faith is a part of the Gospel. Simply to scatter the seed, with a sort of vague hope that some of it may come up somewhere, is not preaching the gospel. It is indeed a misrepresentation of the gospel. To preach the Gospel requires that the preacher should believe that he is sent to those whom he is addressing at the moment, because God has among them those whom He is at the moment calling: it requires that the speaker should expect a response.” —Roland Allen, Missionary Methods—St. Paul’s or Ours? (Grand Rapids, MI:

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Christianity Is Christ

James Dunn argues that the much-disputed ‘center’ of Paul’s theology is, simply, Christ. Dunn writes– For Paul Christianity is Christ. Any restatement of his theology, any theologizing which seeks to sustain a dialogue with Paul will simply have to recognize this. The centrality of Christ, as showing what God is like, as defining God’s Spirit, as the channel of Israel’s blessing for the nations, as demonstrating what obedience to Torah means, as the light which illumines Israel’s scriptures, as embodying the paradigm of creation and consummation, his death and resurrection as the midpoint of time, as the magnet for faith, as the focus of all sacramental significance, as determining the personal and corporate identity of Christians, as the image to which the salvation process conforms, is simply inescapable in the theology of Paul the apostle. –James D. G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle (Eerdmans, 2006), 729 (HT: Dane Ortlund)