“The culture we inhabit is just like the air that we breathe." And this week, Steve argues that trying to understand the Apostle Paul without understanding his culture will fail to give us the full picture.
Paul’s culture was Second Temple Judaism: an ideology built around the core belief that God – the God of all creation - had made an unbreakable promise to the people of Israel. Steve suggests, "if you were to try to convince an orthodox Jew that by praying a certain prayer she or he might be ‘saved’, they would find your words incomprehensible.”
To understand Paul’s worldview, how it was counter-cultural to the ideas of his day and why it’s based deeply in inclusion, it’s best to look at Isaiah 25. “The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from ALL faces…’ “For Paul,” Steve argues, “this is a revolution; the beginning of a new creation; a new liberation – not just for the Jews – but for ALL the people of the whole world.”
So some questions.
If it is true that this is the way that Paul understood the world, what difference do you think it makes to the core message of what we call ‘the gospel?’ What difference should it make to the message and work of any and every local church?
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