Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God– Part Thirty One

On p. 722, we have a brief discussion of what the ‘obedience of faith’ means for Paul, and a connection between Rom. 5.3-5 and Rom. 8.27ff. in regard to what is said about the love of God. Tom suggests that in Rom. 5 the focus is on our love for God, as it is in Rom. 8.28. He asks, following Caird what sense it would make to speak of God’s love for his people in ‘our’ hearts. I see what he is driving at, however, the text says the Spirit is pouring out this love into our hearts. It’s source then is God, its receptacle, our hearts. So yes, it is God’s love, but also yes it is now in our hearts and we are enabled to love God back with it.

On pp. 724-27 Tom is mainly engaged in an interpretation of the pneumatic monotheism as expressed in 2 Cor. 3-4 in particular. There are some good things about this exegesis, in particular he is right that Paul is contrasting the OT people of God with the NT people of God in regard to the issue of hard heartedness. But there is more to it than that. There is also a contrast between the ministry of Moses and the glory involved in that which faded, and the ministry of Paul, and it is quite impossible to talk about covenant renewal from 2 Cor. 3, when what Paul says is there is ‘the thing which is to be abolished’. What is that thing? What used to be glorious says Paul has come to have no glory at all. He is surely here talking about the old covenant. It would make no sense to talk about the abolition of: 1) Moses (obviously he is dead), or 2) God’s glory. It fades, but is not abolished. No it is the ministry of Moses and its product the Mosaic covenant, which is abolished. One should not lump together the fulfillment of OT texts and prophecies with the renewal of the Mosaic covenant, but that is what happens in these pages. And there is one more problem with all this. It is simply not true that there was no problem with the Mosaic Law. There was— it was impotent to change fallen human beings, hence the contrast with the Holy Spirit. Even if Israel did not involve fallen persons, it is doubtful Paul would ever say the Law without the Spirit in one’s life would be adequate. But for sure, the effect of the Law on fallen persons is death-dealing, not life-giving, and Paul says so in 2 Cor. 3– the letter kills he says, but the Spirit gives life.

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