Chapter 5 – Rethinking God

In Chapter 5 of “Paul, N.T. Wright reviews the way that St. Paul puts forth a fresh new way of looking at God, steeped in Jewish tradition but redefined in terms of the reality of Jesus of Nazareth as the long awaited Messiah.  He covers the Jewish theology of Monotheism (one God), Election (one People of God) and Eschatology (one future for God’s world), but in the light of Christ. 

Wright reviews the Jewish foundational theology of the one God of Israel as the God of both creation and covenant.  He then explains the Christological dimension, equating Jesus with God the father, often in the redefining of the Shema prayer with God the father/creator and Jesus as Lord.  The second phase of the redefinition of God is expressed in terms of Jesus and his Spirit together.  Paul famously explains that there are many gifts, but one Spirit, many types of service, but one Lord in Jesus, and one God and Father who accomplishes all in all. 

Finally, Wright shows how Paul uses Old Testament passages to show their fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah.  Paul continues the Jewish theme of the people of God against the pagans found throughout the Old Testament, but now meaning both Jews and Gentiles who accept Jesus as Messiah and savior.  Paul goes on to show how this new people of God must necessarily be set apart from the pagan communities around them and live in a certain way of Christian love and service.

This reader found Wright’s analysis to be thorough and convincing.

12 thoughts on “Chapter 5 – Rethinking God”

  1. Mark, Great summery of the chapter. I also thought this was a good chapter showing the Jewish theology. A little tough read but you summarized it perfectly. Thank you

  2. Well done Mark… I agree with you that the author N.T. Wright’s analysis is thorough, convincing and brilliant. Helped me as a reader, how the author continually references old testament readings and how they are revealed in the new testament. Jesus Christ is the new exodus, the new creation.

  3. Thank you, Mark for the excellent summary. One thing the author noted that really sticks out to me is Paul’s look at the cross as being both shocking and glorious. That the cross became for Paul the revelation of both the love and justice of God. The cross is where God’s justice is truly displayed.
    This chapter has me reflecting on idolatry in our current times. How it is present and active in today’s world.

  4. Great summary, Mark, on this wordy chapter which I found difficult to sort. I’m beginning to see and appreciate Paul in a whole new light. I never really thought about the times in which he was evangelizing – him being a devout Jew now turned to Christ, speaking to devout pagans about the One True God/Messiah who is a Jew, and how this Jew in order to make Himself known, allows Himself to be innocently crucified. It would take only devout faith on Paul’s part to continue on that journey. With God, all things are possible.

  5. Thanks for a great summary! I really enjoyed reading about how St. Paul takes Jewish prayers and restructures them around Jesus. I am used to looking for Old Testament imagery in the New Testament and vice versa, but having not studied the Old Testament and Jewish tradition as thoroughly as the New, I always appreciate when an author points out something that is new to me and that rounds out my understanding of Scripture even more.

  6. Mark nice summary of the chapter. I thought the author did a great job explaining Paul’s belief in the Trinity, he summed it up nicely on page 101 when he explains how Paul sees Jesus and the Spirit as two “poles around which to redefine the traditional Jewish doctrine of one God”

  7. Nice and succinct summary Mark. Well done. The chapters don’t get any easier – they are all jam packed and dense. That said I have found a gem of a phrase in each chapter. In this chapter I liked Wright’s comment (page 98) that in his view Paul’s view of Jesus as the Messiah was such “that if the doctrine of the Trinity had not come into existence it would be necessary to invent it”.

  8. I agree Mark. Nice job summarize a very dense chapter. I really enjoy the section on how for Paul “the cross became … the fullest possible revelation of both the love and the justice of God…” His description in this section was very moving for me.

  9. Mark, very good summary. I had read this chapter twice and will read it again.
    pg.102 thru 107 (wow). I found it some what difficult but it pays to reread to better understand. thanks Mark.
    God is good ALL the time and ALL the time GOD is good.

  10. Mark – Nice job – It does make one think – how hard would it have been for a Jewish person to embrace the idea of Jesus as the one true Gad along with the God of Israel – especially without the luxury of the internet or modern communication.

  11. this chapter was one that gave me the answer that i was always looking for which is what does Monotheism , election and eschatology are and how Paul defines them.
    Great work , hopefully i will be able to give that good of a short summary of my chapter

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