Chapter 3: Messiah and Apocalyptic

Chapter 3 speaks to the concept of Messiah and Apocalyptic.

Messiah: N.T. Wright states that there is a school of thought that Paul was a ‘political’ thinker rather than a ‘religious/theological’ thinker.  That the concept of Jesus as the Messiah would have had no meaning to the Gentile audience that Paul evangelized so that Paul’s concept of Messiah was a political category rather than a religious one.  Wright argues than Paul, in his writings was very clear that Paul saw Jesus as the true royal Messiah that was promised to Israel.  That Jesus was a descendent of the royal house of David (that Jesus came from “the seed of David”).  That Jesus fought the ultimate battle against evil and death, and won.  That had built, in himself, the promised new Temple; and has done all of this as both Israel and God’s representative.  Bringing to a culmination the promised Old Testament covenants.  Which leads into party two of Wrights chapter…

Apocalyptic:  Wright states that over the last few generations the word apocalyptic has been interrupted in a variety of ways.  Many believe this to be a reference to the ‘end times’, or as Wright states God’s abolishing “the space time universe forever, in a cosmic conflagration”.  Most recently in popular culture, is the concept of the righteous being ‘taken’ to God’s eternal glory and those deemed unworthy ‘left behind’.  Wright argues that Paul believed that the apocalypse has already come about!  For Paul, the apocalypse was the “sudden, dramatic, and shocking unveiling of secret truths, the sudden shining of bright heavenly light on a dark and unsuspecting world”.  That Jesus Christ the Messiah, through his death on the cross and resurrection has fulfilled the Old Testament covenant plan “through which the whole creation would be liberated from corruption, evil and death.

Regarding Messiah, I completely agree with Wright.  Regarding Apocalyptic, I had never considered the perspective of Paul presented by Wright – that the apocalypse has already occurred.  In reading this chapter and contemplating on it, I can see and understand the perspective presented.  As presented it makes complete sense.  That said, I am not certain that I fully agree with Wright on this. I will have to consider this more.

12 thoughts on “Chapter 3: Messiah and Apocalyptic”

  1. Great insight Franz. yes this chapter and the rest of the book I have read so far does give us different insights that we need to consider more. I also get a hint of justification by faith alone. Guess we will see where he is going with all of this as we read on. Thanks Franz. Great Job! Tom

  2. Good one Franz. Fr Brady was spoiler for this chapter in last Wed class but it was good to hear him speak and then to read this. Having been raised in the belief of the rapture (unless you have been part of this you cannot understand what a big deal the rapture is to the non-Catholic Christian world) and then slowly understanding the churches stance on this, the teachings from class and the book are really good information to explain our Catholic beliefs.

  3. Great summary, Franz, on another difficult read. I agree with you on the apocalyptic portion – I had not thought of it in that way either and not sure I agree. I especially liked Wright’s comments on Messiahship at the top of p. 45, equating Israel to a “young son” who receives the law from God to “keep it (Israel) under control” until the “moment of maturity” when the Messiah comes.

  4. Well done Franz…..Paul refers to Jesus as God’s son….. N.T. Wright points out that “Gods son” carries out the messianic meaning it had for some Jewish groups of Paul’s day in various old testament passages. The passage that grabbed my eye was in Psalm 89 where “the Messiah is God’s firstborn” …..Wright further stresses that “ what the Torah could not do, God has done , sending His son in the likeness of sinful flesh”.

  5. Nice summary, Franz, I find when reading these chapters, am beginning to better understand Paul. Last para. on 48 and 58 interesting. Yes, this book has weight. it has kept me awake and wanting to read further. Again, very nice Franz.

  6. Very nice summary Franz, I like how the chapter establishes that Paul is declaring Jesus the Messiah which allows him to draw on the Jewish apocalyptic. Also, his use of Christos shows his belief of Jesus as the Messiah.

  7. Thank you Franz! I found your summary of the first part on “Messiah” very helpful, as I think I needed a second chance to fully understand that section. Sometimes I find that this author saves things until the end of a section that would have been better clarified at the beginning before going into all the details.

    I did enjoy the section on “apocalyptic,” especially as Wright pointed out that we often think of that term as pointing to shocking events. Wright emphasized a couple of different times that God had accomplished through Jesus what He always meant to do, but it wasn’t what anyone expected it to look like, and it was shocking to men (although not, of course, to God). I think this is a perspective that can be applied to our personal lives as well, since often God’s plan for our lives is nothing like what we expect.

  8. Franz the summary is very well done, I must say that this was a very difficult chapter.
    On of the reason because Wright would talk about the second temple and it was difficult to understand what he was trying to say.
    Wright moves us right into what the Massiah was to be for Israel and how Jesus Christ did fulfill that role.

    It was great to come to a better understand of the apocalyptic, Wright pointed out that it was about revealing and unveiled what was not understand by Jesus Christ life has the Massiah .

  9. Franz, I too hadn’t thought of the apocalypse having already occurred. Please correct if wrong, but Paul seems to say the distance between heaven and earth is not as great as thought. We need to recognize Christ within us, to understand God has fulfilled His convenant.

  10. Franz, a very thoughtful summation. Although it was somewhat difficult to get through, I appreciated the way Wright refutes the many misconceptions about the nature of the Messiah and of apocalypse, from both the Jewish side of Paul’s time to the Protestant factions of the last 500 years.

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