The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

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A - Z of Paul: Zeal

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
St. Paul mostly uses the concept of zeal or eagerness in a negative way perhaps because he associates it with the zeal for persecuting Christians that he had before his conversion. Paul thinks of zeal as the attitude of a man who is focused on attaining righteousness through the law. He writes in Philippians 3:6, describing how pious he was before his conversion, that “as to zeal, [I was] a persecutor of the church”. Paul was a man whose zeal for the Lord was so great that he could not bear to see what he then thought of as the blasphemy of Christians who dared to claim that this man Jesus was divine. This zeal led him to persecute Christians and to oversee the execution of the first martyr for Christ, St. Stephen: “And Saul approved of their killing him” (Acts 8:1).

The Greek word that is translated 'zeal' can have several meanings including striving and jealously. From this we can infer that when Paul writes of pressing on towards the prize (Phil 3) he is describing the kind of zeal that should characterise a Christian. In the place of zeal for the ritual purity of the law should be a zeal for Christ and his gospel, and who could be a better example of this than Paul who evangelised an astonishingly large area of the Roman Empire with great fervour. The Christian regards as rubbish everything that he cared about in the world before he came to Christ and is willing to suffer the loss of all things in order to have Christ and to preach the good news to all. For Paul the focus of one’s desires is what characterises the Christian. The Christian man or woman does not have their mind set on earthly things but contemplates the heavenly glory that awaits those who suffer for the sake of the gospel. In Philippians Paul makes clear that our zeal is not to be for earthly things like power, wealth and prestige but instead we are to place our trust in the Spirit of Christ Jesus who overcame the world and the death that was the wages of sin.
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A-Z of Paul: Yes

Sunday, September 21, 2008
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A-Z of Paul: Xenophilia

Wednesday, September 17, 2008
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A-Z of Paul: Weakness

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A-Z of Paul: Victory

Saturday, September 06, 2008

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A-Z of Paul: Unity

Thursday, September 04, 2008
Paul A-Z: Quarreling Read more

A-Z of Paul: Timothy and Titus

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A-Z Paul: Son/sonship

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Baptism of the LordIt is clear from his letters that for Paul Jesus' sonship was in some sense unique, that Jesus possessed a unique status and favour with God, that he in some way shared in the divine glory and so was worthy to be venerated with God at Christian gatherings. Yet Paul develops his understanding of the sonship of Jesus against the backdrop of Jewish tradition and Old Testament themes. In the Letter to the Romans, for example, Paul describes how Jesus was 'declared Son of God by a mighty act in that he rose from the dead' (Romans 1:4). This seems to echo the Lord's promise to David in the Second Book of Samuel: 'I will raise up one of your family, one of your own children, to succeed you and I will establish his kingdom [...] I will be his Father and he shall be my Son' (2 Samuel 12,14). Here Paul uses language and imagery from the Jewish, royal-messianic tradition to explain his belief about Jesus' place in God's plan. At the same time, he goes far beyond Old Testament ideas in his account of how Jesus was constituted God's son by his resurrection from the dead.

Later in the Letter to the Romans Paul writes of how 'God did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for us all' (Romans 8:32). Again it is possible to identify Old Testament allusions, to the offering of Isaac and, in particular, to the angel's words to Abraham: 'inasmuch as you have done this and have not withheld your son, I will bless you abundantly and greatly multiply your descendents' (Genesis 22:16). In his decription of Jesus as 'the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me' (Galatians 2:20) Paul may have been aware of the Jewish tradition which attributed to Isaac a ready willingness to offer himself up in obedience to God.

For Paul the purpose of God sending his Son was 'to purchase freedom for the subjects of the law, in order that they might obtain the status of sons' (Galatians 4:5). Through Jesus, therefore, Christians are brought into a filial relationship with the Father. Christians are fellow-heirs with Christ and are thus enabled to call God 'Abba, Father' (Romans 8:15). The sonship of Jesus, however, remains unique. The sonship of Christians is a derived sonship which is patterned on and given through Jesus' own Sonship which is not derived from another. Read more

A-Z of Paul: Resurrection

Sunday, August 24, 2008
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A-Z of Paul: Quarrelling

Friday, August 22, 2008

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