A Brother’s Wisdom 19

NewBirth.jpgHere is one of the earliest Christian reflections on the new birth:


18 
He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

There are a number of things to observe here:

1. God’s desire contrasts with human desire: human desire is driven toward death and vacillates between the good and the bad. God’s desire, springing as it does in a fountain of utter goodness and faithfulness, remains constant. God’s desire — his purpose — is the new birth.

2. New birth is the recreation of life; this implies that James understands humans — as does Paul — as captured in desires dance with death.

3. New birth happens through the “word of truth,” and here we need to connect the word “word” with “law” (cf. 1:22-25) and the teachings of Jesus on love (cf. 2:8-10). Somehow — and James doesn’t give us the details — the “word of truth” is the gospel for James, but that gospel is not detached from Law/Torah.

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  • David B. Johnson

    Scot,
    What do you think of the notion that James is drawing from Isaiah 55.10-13 in this text? In other words, the works of love that should be found in the lives of his readers are evidence that the New Creation Word from Heaven has planted in their “hearts” and these works of selfless love are the fruit of New Creation, the purpose for which God sent the Word.

  • Scot McKnight

    David,
    I see nothing really clear that James is referring to Isa 55:10-13. That God’s word creates is implicit in Isa 55, but is there anything explicit that makes you think he’s got Isa 55 in mind?

  • David B. Johnson

    1) The Word being planted as a seed and resulting in New Creation. 2) The new creation imagery in both texts. 3) I guess just a basic desire I got from somewhere :-) to read the Bible as one story and thereby see how different texts are always relating to each other.

  • http://heromama.org Karen

    A good word on a beautiful spring day. Thanks, Scot.