The New Testament in Its World

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This is an amazing overview. Listening zo it as an audiobook, the quality of the recordings wasn’t always up to scratch however.

Sessions 1-3

  • 1st century contemporaries would have primarily seen the church as an educational institution
    • the church’s mission was to teach
  • To understand the parts of the New Testament that are the ‘instruction manual’, we must understand the larger drama
  • God didn’t just interact with the world in religious experience but in the here and now, space and time world. He engaged in a specific time in history. Therefore it is important to understand history.
  • First, Paul wrote the letters to make sense of the events of Jesus’ life death and resurrection and to enagge specific church issues in that. Then prayerfully four Apostles codified the story of Jesus
  • Paul was one of the most influential public intellectuals of all time


Meaning can reside in three instances: Author, Text and the reader. On their own, they fall short. A sole emphasis on

  • Author: divine inspiration
  • Text: extratextual world
  • Reader: text is transformation, not just mirror


Ancient Judaism

  • Ancient Judaism was diverse: different teachers would differ an what it meant to be a ‘good jew’
  • However, there were core beliefs
    • Jewish Monotheism: there is one God who is involved in, while being sovereign over, creation
    • Israel’s Election: Israel was chosen to be God’s people. When Israel is transformed, the world will be transformed.

Cultural/Religious influence

  • Through the conquest of Alexander the Great, Greek/Hellenistic culture spread
    • Greek philosophy and religion spread
  • The History of Rome
    • Rome was a democracy. It had it’s fair share of tyrants and tried to prevent each consul from becoming too powerful.
    • when Julius Caesar became to powerful, a civil war started. Mark Antony & Cleopatra vs Octavius. It was won by Octavius, Julius’ adopted son.
    • Octavius presented himself as having brought peace and order to the world by military might. His poets (among them Virgil), spread that the son of the deified Julius brought the glorious day of justice.
    • these narratives clash explicitly with the narratives of the apostles and the message of Jesus
  • The apostles lived in a world that was culturally Greek and politically Roman
  • The early Christians lived in the paradox that they both proclaimed that Jesus was kyrios, a term ascribed to Caesar, and they were good citizens, loving their neighbours.

Son of Man

  • the message of Jesus was not just what he said but also what he did
  • son of man can mean just human being it is mentioned and also in the Book of Ezekiel
  • son of man is also referenced in Daniel 7
  • Jesus’ choice of 12 disciples were symbolic for the restoration of Israel

Jesus’ response during the trial

by Jesus saying that he was being enthroned during his trial he was placing himself in a divine place. This was explicit and divine Images this is explained in Ezekiel 1 and Daniel 7. He also talks about coming on the clouds which is another image. That’s why the priests called out blasphemy. Because he was claiming to share divine power.

Focus in ressurection in the gospels

  • Mark stresses kingship,
  • Matthew fulfillment of Scripture,
  • Luke innocence and nobility,
  • John the glory of God.

in 1st Corinthians 15 Paul insists that Jesus’s resurrection is both the model and the reality of how all believers will be resurrected.

Paul talks about how without the resurrection there would still be bondage to sin

Gospel letters predate the gospel quite certainly by a decade or two or three

The gospel accounts of ressurection are credible

The gospel accounts of the resurrection of Jesus are credible because

  • firstly, they used women as witnesses in a time where women didn’t have legal credibility. You can’t make that stuff up,
  • secondly, there was no Jewish conception of a singular resurrection right now it was not a thing that you just believe,
  • and thirdly the word resurrection how it was used meant physical bodies. It didn’t mean a vision or an impression but it’s specifically talked about bodies.

New bodies and Paul’s use of ‘spiritual’

37: Paul here explains the new ressurection body we will attain. He contrasts a couple of attributes. In 44 “spiritual” vs “physical”. Looking at the Greek reveals a deeper understanding: psychikon (“natural”) and pneumatikon (“spiritual”).

Adjectives ending in -ikon in Greek describe what the object is animated by. The human psyche vs pneuma, the Spirit (Greek translation of “Ruach”). Our resurrection bodies will be animated by the Spirit, not merely our will.

The resurrection is a historical fact

  • The first witnesses were women
    • Largely the witness of women were legally worthless. Why manifacture that account?
  • The first accusations were that rhe disciples stole the body. That presupposes the tomb was empty and nobody knew where the body was.
  • On multiple occasions, Jesus appeared to people: Doubters, sceptics, even 500 people at once.
  • Jesus being resurrected was totally not in the worldview of Jews. It was thought that all people would be resurrected. That would be an out-there thing to make up.
  • The idea of resurrection was at the heart of the momentum of the early church. The only thing then that makes sense is that Jesus really had risen.

Paul saw Jesus as the fulfillment of Israel’s hope of God

Phil 2 is straight out of Isa 45 -“christological monotheism”

The things Paul said about Jesus were what people said about Caesar

The fastest growing religion was the imperical cult, the worship of Caesar and his family. Wherever Rome annexed, priest and sacrifices of the cult would follow.

When Christians said “Jesus is Lord”, that goes exactly against Caesar. Rom 13 means that Paul was not an anarchist but he establishes that all auhority comes from God and in Rom 15 that the “root of Jesse” will rise up. Christians weren’t thrown to the lions for saying “Jesus is the Lord of my heart” but by claiming that through Jesus’ death and ressurection, he is Lord of all.

Justification in a nutshell

  • God intends to put the whole world right in the end
  • he has launched that project by raising Jesus from the dead
  • and he puts us right in the present by faith and the power of the Spirit and the work of the gospel
  • so that we can be part of his putting right project for all the world

The ressurection breaks in New Creation

With the ressurection, New Creation breaks in and begins.1 Cor 15: There is one God who made the world and is in the business of re-making it. So turn away from the life you’ve been living and turn to the One True God.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John say this as well: They are missional statements.

One of Paul’s main topics is the church

The church ought to be united

Yes, he does talk about justification but in every letter he talks about unity: people from all different areas coming together.

The church ought to be holy

It is meant to live differently than people around them. With that it is bound to be a suffering community.