At two particular points in the New Testament narrative the Holy Spirit breaks through the heavenly seal and escapes into the earthly realm. In the first case, the spirit descends upon Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan. In the second case, the spirit is poured out upon believers as they celebrate the feast of … Continue reading When did Jesus and his followers receive the spirit?
The significance of Christ’s resurrection in early preaching
I argued last time that the early Christians placed more significance on the exaltation of Christ to heaven than on his resurrection from the dead. Two observations pointed me in this direction. Some early confessional material managed to tell the story of Christ without an explicit reference to bodily resurrection (Philippians 2:5-6, Hebrews 1:1-4, 1 … Continue reading The significance of Christ’s resurrection in early preaching
Which nations are the nations?
Christ's possession, judgement, and reign over the nations (τὰ ἔθνη) constituted a central eschatological hope among the early Christians. They believed God was acting to bring about the obedience of the nations. Across the empire pagan Greeks were "turning from idols to serve the living and true God and await his son from heaven" (1 … Continue reading Which nations are the nations?
To whom did God send his son?
John's universal gospel To whom did God send his son? To those of us who have been shaped by the theology of the church, the answer may seem obvious: God sent his son to the whole world. Any casual reader of the Fourth Gospel knows this. John's unexpected Messiah does not come strictly to or … Continue reading To whom did God send his son?
Christmas according to Mary and Zechariah
Songs about David Luke adorns his nativity story with two psalms of thanksgiving, Mary's Magnificat and Zechariah's Benedictus. In wording and theme both have much in common with Hannah's song concerning the birth of the prophet Samuel and the establishment of the Davidic dynasty. In exultation Hannah announces that through David and his sons "the Lord will … Continue reading Christmas according to Mary and Zechariah
Acts of the Apostles: Telling the story of the second psalm
When Christians speak of their favorite psalms, Psalm 2 is not often mentioned. If we were to pose the question to Luke or the author of the Apocalypse, however, they would likely have identified this particular psalm as one of the most important if not the most important. Their quotations from and their allusions to … Continue reading Acts of the Apostles: Telling the story of the second psalm