I’ve put together here a very incomplete list of common biblical terms. With the top bullets I try to replicate conventional theologically-oriented evangelical thinking and with the bottom bullets I reach out for a more historically-grounded understanding of these Biblical concepts.
- Tells of the world’s perfect creation and subsequent fall into sin; foreshadows the spiritual redemption of humanity through the spotless sacrifice of Christ.
- Tells of Israel’s troubled priestly existence in the midst of hostile pagan nations; foreshadows the establishment of a viable priestly kingdom over those same pagan nations.
- As the sinless God-man, Jesus dies for our sins so that we might enjoy a right relationship with God in this life and the next.
- As the obedient prophet to Israel, Jesus brings about the end of pagan domination over the nations for the sake of his people in accordance with God’s will.
- The triumph of God’s people over personal sin and its eternal consequences through the power of the Holy Spirit and the atoning blood of Christ.
- The triumph of God’s people over their concrete cultural and political enemies (i.e. Babylon) brought about by faithful eschatological suffering in emulation of Christ.
Kingdom of God
- The will of God as he calls individuals to repentance and belief in Christ’s atoning death.
- The will of God as he calls rebellious nations into obedience to Christ so that his people might serve him in safety as a priestly community.
- A post-mortem “not-guilty” legal standing awarded to believers through faith in the substitutionary death of Christ.
- Assurance that God will eventually publicly vindicate his churches despite opposition from pagans and Jews.
Wrath of God
- The post-mortem punishment that befalls unbelieving sinners for their sins.
- The concrete punishment applied through historical circumstances that abolishes and transforms idolatrous systems for the sake of God’s people.
Coming of the son of man
- The final divine act that brings about the end of history, the last judgement, and the resurrection of the dead.
- A history-transforming event akin to the conquest of the Promised Land. God’s people are exalted upon the socio-political world stage.
6 thoughts on “A quick comparison of terms”
Nice work, Alex.
One thing that struck me reading through your list was how, with some items, the popular evangelical emphasis doesn’t even seem to be on the radar, whereas with others, they’ve latched on to something actual, but it’s just a small facet of the larger picture.
Yeah, that’s a great observation. I imagine there’s a lot going on there.
1. Some believe Jesus has in some sense spiritualized Israel’s history. Not that the Old Testament didn’t happen as it says it happened, but that what’s important are the internal and personal lessons about obeying God, not the land and the kingdom and the satisfaction of human needs and wants.
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Spiritualized the history and virtually everything about it that there is. This pull is so powerful. I can’t count the number of times it was explained to me growing up that the main reason “the Jews” didn’t understand Jesus was they kept expecting things like being delivered from the Roman Empire and that the Messiah would be an actual king over an actual kingdom. Jesus had to keep correcting them that everything he was doing was spiritual.